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President Donald Trump Says Pandemic Is Under Control As Positivity Rates Rise In 33 States; 27 States Reporting An Increase In New Deaths; President Donald Trump: Other Countries Having Big Spikes In Coronavirus Cases; Trump Says He Has "A Lot Of Respect" For Birx After Attacking Her; Court Filing Suggests Wide-Ranging Investigations Into Trump. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 4, 2020 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing this day with us. We begin today with the Coronavirus crisis.

New questions about whether the President six months in still doesn't get the basics about how viruses spread? How testing works? And how cherry picking statistics can backfire? The election is 13 weeks from today. And the President is determined to close the Coronavirus chapter of this most challenging year.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Right now I think it's under control.


TRUMP: They are dying, that's true. It is what it is but that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It is under control as much as you can control it.


KING: It is what it is. The President right there says of wide scale American deaths, that statement and the longer AXIOS interview you saw right there in which that statement was made it is worth your viewing and your study, whatever your politics.

The United States did not do everything it could. It is still not doing everything it can to slow and stop this stubborn virus and the President either not understanding or repeatedly choosing to play down the threat is a big part of why the United States leads the world in cases and in deaths. That said, there are positive developments this morning, the top line daily case number down again, just over 45,000 new infections yesterday. Arizona, California and Florida, three big trouble spots during this summer surge are seeing their numbers come down. It is the President's view that the United States tests too much and that cutting down testing will cut down the case numbers.


TRUMP: There are those that say you can test too much. You do know that.

SWAN: Who say that is?

TRUMP: Read the manuals. Read the books.

SWAN: Manuals? What manuals?

TRUMP: Read the books.

SWAN: What books?


KING: What books? It is unclear what books and manuals the President is referring to. He never filled in that blank. It is also not how health metrics work? Every public health expert including those on the President's payroll says testing is essential to understanding the spread and to knowing whether the virus is really under control.

It is data from testing for example that has experts warning new spikes might be just around the corner, take a peak. This map shows the positivity rate and where the positivity rate is going up? 33 states, that's red, currently heading in the wrong direction meaning 33 states with a higher percentage of positive tests than the previous week.

That means the virus is spreading. Not as the President says receding. Remember back in mid-June he used the word fading? Well, take a look we're averaging 20,000 cases back then when the President said it was fading. It is three times that now.

60,000 cases a day is important context as we look at the map. The map is improving but improving from that high base line of 60,000 new infections a day. And let's take a look and let's be encouraged by this, only 8 states heading up meaning more cases this week compared to last week.

28 states, that's the beige, holding steady 14 states, that's the green, heading down. So when you look at the map it is much more encouraging than it's been in recent weeks. Remember though that's from a baseline of 60,000 cases a day. So this is improvement, the question is can you continue the improvement?

We have learned this the last six months. These are new deaths in the past week and they're heading up even as cases come down a little bit. That's the lagging indicator deaths always track cases and follow hospitalizations.

27 states reporting more deaths in the past week than the previous week, ten holding steady, 13 heading down hopefully you get a handle on the case count. The first map - this map will improve if the first map stays improved for a consistent period of time. This is still a sad number.

If you look at the new case trend, you see the seven-day moving averages the red line, July has been a horrible month. The question is are we seeing at least seeing a plateau, maybe a bit of a dip Sunday and Monday below 50,000 cases 2 days in a row.

Sometimes coming out of a weekend the numbers are bit distorted. Let's hope and see if these numbers continue. Again that's a high baseline, 20,000 back in June. Close to 50,000 here in the last couple of days. Let's see if that continues.

The death trend also down in recent days. And again you saw the high number the map states still going up. Let's hope July 29th we were just shy of 1,500, 1,448 deaths. Monday 540 deaths every one of them sad but let us hope that this line continues as well.

Again sometimes coming out of the weekend the numbers are distorted but let's certainly hope that stays down. In that AXIOS interview the President had a bit of a sparring with the reporter over how to judge the United States versus the world?

This is what the President wants you to look at. He says the United States at least at the moment is doing much better he says than most of the world. Because he says if you look at all the Coronavirus cases and then the death rate, the mortality, the United States in the President's view is down here below Germany in the way he looks at the statistics.


KING: That's the one way to look at them, but here is the other way most medical professionals would say confirmed deaths per 100,000 residents. This goes back to May. This is Germany. This is South Korea. This is the United States of America. Way up here. This again a point of contention as the President sat down with AXIOS.


TRUMP: We're lower than the world.

SWAN: Lower than the world? What is that?

TRUMP: We're lower than Europe.

SWAN: In what? In what?

TRUMP: Take a look. Right here, here's case deaths.

SWAN: Oh, you are doing death as a proportion of cases. I'm talking about death as a proportion of population that's where the U.S. is really bad much worse than South Korea, Germany et cetera.

TRUMP: You can't do that.


KING: With me to share his expertise and insights our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. You can do that because it's the facts, Sanjay. And that's what's interesting to watch the President.

In the entirety of the interview but let's start right there where he wants to cherry pick a statistic that he says make this case but when you actually open your eyes and look at all of the data is there any way to sit there and say the United States is doing much better than the rest of the world, much better than Europe at this moment?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. Sadly, the answer to that question is, no, John. People can look at the right side of the screen and be reminded from an absolute number standpoint we still represent 20 percent to 25 percent of the infections in the world and 20 percent to 25 percent of the deaths in the world. Those are the absolute numbers.

John, I think you know these relative risks I think are interesting but maybe a little bit of a red herring. I think the way to think about it is this. We are humans living on the planet and if the question is what's the likelihood you will die if you get this infection?

Just all comers, old, young, men, women, everybody, according to World Health Organization we don't have the exact number but it seeming to hover around 0.6 percent, 0.7 percent. Okay? So that's lower than 1 percent. It's about 6 to 7 times higher than flu for example.

But humans if we have health care, if you're able to get to a hospital and all that, that's what the death rate should be. Here in the United States we do the math it is closer to 3 percent so it's 5 times higher than what the average death rate should be and that's because people are dying at home. They're getting to hospitals that's what starts to influence the death rate.

The biggest issue is just how many people are getting infected? That is really the number you have to pay attention to. Where the death rate sort of settles over time we will see. But you got to bring the number of people who are getting infected down.

Trying to make amends on the rates versus 100,000 versus the country it doesn't make a difference clearly doesn't make a difference with a 155,000 people who have died. How do you actually evaluate this? If the death rate is the same for human beings all over the planet, you've got to bring the overall infection numbers down in order to make a dent.

KING: It does make a difference in this context, in the sense that the election is 13 weeks from today. Some states start voting in five weeks from today and the President is trying to convince people that he is doing as good a job as he can and that he is doing a better job those other countries around the world. So let's hear a little bit more here from the AXIOS interview about the United States versus the world.


TRUMP: Right now Spain is having a big spike and there are tremendous problems in the world. You look at Moscow, what is going on with Moscow? Look at Brazil. Look at these countries what's going on?


KING: So if you just listen to that and you believe the President, yes, this is hard for everybody but the United States is doing much better than Spain and much better than Brazil, much better than Russia. Let's look at the numbers.

This is the United States versus other countries in terms of total confirmed cases per 100,000 residents and if you look at the graph on your screen, that blue line at the top is the United States. I don't need to explain the numbers.

Look how high the United States and look at the trajectory it is going? Below it you see Spain, you see France, you see China, you see Russia. I'm suspect of the numbers from China just like the President is. But look at those other western nations in there tells that point.

Let's look at it another way. The seven-day average of moving cases, again the United States way at the top, you can make the argument that's starting to bend down if you will. If you want to make that case and yes, Spain has a spike.

You see it right there but the United States is way at the top there. There's simply no way Sanjay to listen to the President. That's just not believable.

GUPTA: No. So these graphs tell the stories. So now we're looking at cases. In the previous graphs we were looking at death rates. And again human beings presumably we're all pretty similar no matter where we live in the world. If the death rate is really about 0.6 percent, keep that in the back of your mind as we have this discussion over next several weeks and months.

Now we look at case count which is exactly what we have to look at because that's speaking to how much virus is spread in this country? How widespread did it become? We lost month of February, we lost a week of March. It continued to spread during that time and now we're starting to see the ramifications of this.

That really does tell the more significant story here, John, in terms of where we are in the world? Can we bring these numbers down? When you look at these places that have had resurgences, I think it is fair to say that any time you start to opening things up we're going to see an increase in numbers. The question is can you handle it?

[12:10:00] GUPTA: Can you immediately do enough testing and tracing to at least tamp it down? Or not let it go into exponential growth? That's what I'm worried about John. We are about to go into school season again. When we came out of the schools, when we started to pull kids out of schools there were about 4,000 or 5,000 people who had died in this country and a few dozen.

I'm sorry, 4,000 or 5,000 who had been infected, a few dozen who had died and now we're going to open up schools where you have 155,000 who have died and 4.7 million infected. What is the difference between then and now? Are we in a better position there? Do we have more robust testing? Do we have more available testing?

Yes, we are doing more tests but still not enough to actually open up these institutions in a safe way so that's the concern.

KING: Well, let me jump in on that point because again in this interview and I played some sound on Sunday from Admiral Giroir I don't mean to beat him up. But at month after month after month he says we are getting a handle on this. You know it'll be ready soon.

This is the President. Remember, it was back in late March, early April summer around there we said anybody who wants a test can get a test. We know today that is still not true. Here's the President's current assessment on testing.


TRUMP: We've come up with so many different tests, the only thing that we have now is some people have to wait longer than we'd like them to.

SWAN: It's a big problem.

TRUMP: We want point to point, we want to have a five-minute to 15- minute test.

SWAN: When do you think--

TRUMP: Like many others--

SWAN: --every American.

TRUMP: --understand we are close to 50 percent, where it's point to point test.

SWAN: When do you think we'll have it for everyone? What day?

TRUMP: I think you will have that relatively soon.


KING: Is he right about the relatively soon part point to point, meaning reliable rapid testing?

GUPTA: Well, I don't know, John. There have been these emergency use authorizations that have come about for some of these antigen tests which are different than the genetic tests that we have been talking about.

The problem is they haven't been entirely that accurate. If you're getting a high false negative rate, test 100 people and 20 of them are told that they're negative when in fact they're positive that's a problem. They think they're negative they're out there continuing to spread the virus.

So you know, the Emergency Use Authorizations that I have seen have been of a concerning high false negative rate so you got to have a rapid test, it's got to be accurate and it's got to be these point of locations. I mean, I like to have it at schools for example, nursing homes, places like that.

I don't think we are near that at all John. And let me just be clear, we could have been, right? We are not talking about sending a rocket ship to the moon here. They talked about having significant testing break breakthroughs three, four months ago.

Let's have this big testing break through Ambassador Birx said. Let's get this point of care testing so it's widely available. That would be like looking at your app for the weather. Do I have it today? Do people in my community have it today? Do I need to carry an umbrella, right? That's the metaphor.

We're nowhere near that and you and I and a lot of other people right now are making decisions about sending kids back to school in a very, very uncertain environment. We don't know and we don't know what we don't know right now.

KING: We don't know what we don't know, six months in we are still saying things like that. Dr. Gupta, very much appreciate your help breaking down, separating fact from spin in that interview. Up next, we'll continue the conversation. New reporting, Dr. Deborah Birx bothered, stung we're told by the President's attack. What she did was to give an accurate assessment of the pandemic?



KING: Dr. Deborah Birx is described as stung by President Trump's Twitter attack. Well, today she will likely be in the company of others who know that feeling quite well. The White House Coronavirus Task Force is meeting this afternoon. Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield are among those who like Birx now have angered the President with their candid assessments of the Coronavirus crisis.

Pathetic is the term the President used to attack Dr. Birx. After she said the virus is in a new phase and spreading more and more in rural America. With me now to discuss CNN's Kaitlan Collins and White House Reporter for "The Washington Post" Josh Dawsey.

Kaitlan, let's start with you. Let's listen to the President yesterday at the briefing describing how I met with Dr. Birx, we'll be fine.


TRUMP: I told Dr. Birx I think we are doing very well. She was in my office a little while ago. She's a person I have a lot of respect for. I think Nancy Pelosi's treated her very badly, very, very badly, very nasty.


KING: Nancy Pelosi has said she doesn't trust her. The President called her pathetic because he was not happy that she said that the virus is spreading and that she said in places where it is spreading in some places where it is spreading you're going to have to keep schools closed.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. John, basically he argued that he thought the reason she was saying that, giving that pretty blunt assessment of how the outbreaks look in the U.S. is as a direct response to Nancy Pelosi criticizing her and saying that she was enabling the President to spread misinformation.

And we're told by sources that Dr. Birx was stung by that comment about her where the President calling her performance pathetic. She had basically been warned that this is something that could happen. Of course everyone has seen what has happened with the President and Dr. Fauci and the President contradicting several other officials in the administration.

But one thing we were told that the President was bothered by was not just what she said about the COVID spread in the United States but also that she said she had tremendous respect for Speaker Pelosi when she was asked about those direct criticisms that she's lobbed at her.

And so it is really anyone's guess how this goes from here? How this progresses because she does have a job here in the west wing. She is someone that briefs the President regularly but it does show how the President isn't just disagreeing with Dr. Fauci.

He is also disagreeing with the Coordinator of the Task Force and even the testing chief as well, disagreeing with him over Hydroxychloroquine.

KING: And Josh, to that point one of my favorite moments yesterday reacting to this was Chuck Grassley, is the longest serving Republican Senator on Capitol Hill, a little bit of Zen from Senator Grassley. He said just on TV the President took exception to some interview Dr. Birx said.

I hope the President knows she is a scientist and not a politician. You might disagree use love, not anger. Little Zen as I said from Senator Grassley there which is important.


KING: The President shouldn't be fighting with his own people. Doubly important or triply important just because of the moment we're at. 13 weeks from today is the election. The President if he is going to be reelected needs to prove to voters that whatever you think of what he has done up to this point that he has a handle on this.

And when you see all these infighting on his team will they have a consistent communication strategy more importantly a consistent public health strategy going forward when they can't agree on so much?

JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, as Kaitlan said, the President has repudiated his public health experts when they delivered news that he saw contrary depending more sunny and more optimistic tone. You have a number of folks in the White House, John, who have not wanted to talk about Coronavirus for several weeks.

And eventually they've became convincing the President had to do more briefings and had to talk about it because his poll numbers had slipped so far. What's frustrating to many of the advisers around the President is political fortunes is that they thought they had 90 days or so to really come back. They're behind in most key battle ground states.

And they want to come back and beat Joe Biden and every day they're fighting with Deborah Birx, they're fighting with Dr. Fauci or fighting among each other on the Coronavirus. They're not prosecuting Joe Biden in the way they want to and trying to convince voters that they should not like Joe Biden that you should pick Trump instead.

And last week or two weeks ago I guess you saw several days of news stories about his battle with Dr. Fauci or Peter Navarro op-ed, the White House putting down an op-ed research. Now you have the President disagreeing with his other main Coronavirus expert, basically the President is trying to paint a picture that things are going well.

And those things are improving that all of the data is trending in the right way. The economy will turn around and when people say things contrary to that they often find themselves on the back end of a tweet.

KING: Well, the people who are living this every day out in the real America they get it because if you want to see a stunning number for this President, we've looked at a lot of stunning poll numbers in recent days that show 90 days out Joe Biden has a lead.

But look at this one. This is from Gallup. Are you satisfied with the way things are going in the country? Only 20 percent of Republicans say they're satisfied. Look back at August 2019, 6 in 10 Republicans said that a year ago, only 20 percent of Republicans 12 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats.

Kaitlan, why this is so significant to me is it if you were asking anybody, Biden versus Trump question, or a Presidential approval question? You put the President's name or you put the political party in it, a lot of Americans will go back to their tribal instinct when they answer the question.

Are you satisfied with the way the country is going? A much more generic question that number there, only 20 percent of Republicans think they're satisfied with the way the country is going. If you are an incumbent, you are in a deep ditch. COLLINS: Yes. He only has three months to fix this and some people do not feel optimistic that he is going to be able to turn this around and turn the trajectory around from where he is now. Because you can ask the question about President Trump versus Joe Biden but President Trump is the one who is in office and he is the one presiding over this.

And people saw what happened when they tried to go get tested initially and they were told that they could not unless they were symptomatic and now even people are still having trouble getting a and if they even get one then they have to wait several days to get results.

People see that and people are out of work and 115,000 Americans are dead so that is something that people are thinking of and that's going to be an issue for them. And so as much as the President has tried to make this about Joe Biden and his age and his health or about these cultural battles that he is tried so hard to put at the front and center of this.

The Coronavirus pandemic is still what is incredibly important to voters and it is what they're going to be considering. And the Trump Campaign knows that and that's why I think it is so notable they're even talking about their advertising over the last few days.

We looked at this tracker and has said that for the entire month of July the Trump Campaign did not run a single ad that mentioned the pandemic. So that gives you an indication of not only where the campaign sees how voters are rejecting the President's handling of it but the fact that the President doesn't want to focus on that. He is not running on his response to that but he is going to likely be judged on it.

KING: That Gallup number, you look at - if you look at Gallup number if you're the President you got a ditch you better dig yourself out of quickly if you want to win. Josh Dawsey and Kaitlan Collins I appreciate that very much.

Now to a new court document that suggests that President's potential legal troubles also go well beyond hush money payments to alleged mistresses. The Manhattan District Attorney Monday argued in a new federal court filing that the President's accountants should have to comply for a subpoena for eight years of the President's tracks returns.

Part of the DA's argument that's financial records are vital to investigations, plural. Joining me now to discuss the significance of that our Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz. Investigations plural Shimon, take us inside what that means?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Certainly this document I think gives us a better look inside what those investigations involve. There was always these questions, I was puzzled why were prosecutors wanting to go so far back to 2011 looking at Donald Trump's tax records, his tax returns and the documents that were used by the accounting firm to make these tax documents? [12:25:00]

PROKUPECZ: What we learned yesterday was that this investigation is - goes far beyond the hush money payments of course, that we're all familiar with and what prosecutors say in the documents that they filed yesterday is that there are bank fraud perhaps allegations here.

And they write specifically that they're looking at what they believe are substantially related to "Among other things alleged insurance and bank fraud" by the Trump Organization and its officers. So they're looking deep into very clear that they're looking deep into the Trump Organization.

Trump's attorneys have been arguing that this subpoena is asking for too much. It's going too far, it is unfair. In many ways what we hear from the President himself, how this is harassment? Well, prosecutors have an answer for that and they're saying it's based on a lot of their information is based on some of the public records that are out there, news reports that have been out there that have been looking into the President's finances.

And what they write is that there are public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization. Again, and they're arguing that there was nothing improper for them to seek this information as part of their investigation going back eight years and looking for these documents from the accounting firm.

Of course the President's attorneys have been arguing that they're going too far, that they're trying to go too far back in all of this. The other thing John important to note of course is that Michael Cohen is a witness for the prosecution. He is met with them many times here at the Manhattan's D.A.'s office.

And the other thing is that Federal Judge, Judge Marrero has already decided on a lot of these issues that the President's attorneys are arguing that this is unfair, that they're going too far. So it could be that we could see a decision here very soon and perhaps this can move a lot quicker than we all think.

KING: We'll watch that one as well one of the many important bouncing balls. We need to keep an eye on. Shimon Prokupecz I appreciate the legal update there. Up next, running out of time, school districts across the country facing a dilemma on whether and how to reopen?