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White House, Top Democrats Signal Progress on Stimulus Negotiations; Congressman Louie Gohmert Rebuked By Daughter for not Wearing Mask. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 4, 2020 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning. President Trump talking about the death toll from coronavirus in the United States in this "Axios" interview. Listen to this.


JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Oh, don't worry about wearing masks. I mean, these are people -- many of them are older people, Mr. President --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's your evidence of control? Yes --


SWAN: It's giving them a false sense of security.

TRUMP: I think it's under control. I'll tell you what?

SWAN: How, if thousands of Americans are dying a day?

TRUMP: They are dying, that's true. And you -- it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us.


CAMEROTA: Jonathan Swan; the national political reporter for "Axios" who conducted that interview joins us now. Jonathan, great to have you here this morning -- wow, what an interview. We've been playing excerpts of it all morning. It's stunning and so, it's really helpful to get your take on it. When the president says about the death toll, "it is what it is, we're doing all we can". I hear a level of impotence and powerlessness.

Does he truly think that his administration is doing all they can to keep the death toll down? How did you interpret that response?

SWAN: Well, what I found to be most striking from that is, I'm used to seeing him argue testing, you know, talk about test numbers, et cetera. But there was a part of the interview where he actually tried to litigate the death toll with me.

And there really is no getting around the fact that 150,000-plus Americans have died of this virus and a thousand are dying a day. But he did try to present to me -- he brought his own chart and tried to present to me that America was actually doing better than the rest of the world, the whole world, in fact, in -- on the metric of death.

And so, I was genuinely puzzled as to what he handed me. I was looking at this sheet, and then I realized that what he was actually was talking about was death as a proportion of cases, which was not what I was asking about. I was trying to get to the point of, why is it that America, the United States of America, with all of its advanced science and technology is performing so much worse than other advanced countries like South Korea and Germany, when you look at death as a proportion of population. It's not even close.

That's what I was trying to get at. And when I tried to confront him with that, he said, you can't do that. It was a really sort of striking exchange to have with the president of the United States.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In fact, we have that right now. I want people to see this. Watch carefully.


TRUMP: Well, right here, the United States is lowest in numerous categories. We're lower than the world --

SWAN: Lower than the world?

TRUMP: We're lower than Europe.

SWAN: In what?

TRUMP: Look --

SWAN: In what?

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

SWAN: Oh, you're 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 --

TRUMP: Well --

SWAN: Much worse than South Korea, Germany, et cetera.

TRUMP: You can't do that --


BERMAN: How dare you confront him with facts, Jonathan Swan? It wasn't clear to me whether or not he's believing in this fantasy or whether he's deliberately deceiving, Jonathan. Both may be true at once.


SWAN: President Trump has a way of thinking. He talked about -- he's talked about his adherence to a philosophy called positive thinking, which is the idea that if you say something, you believe it, you know, you actualize it, it actually happens. It's a philosophy that's sort of very much -- you see it among salesmen. And you know, it probably does very little harm in the realms of commercial real estate and reality television.

This is the first time we've ever seen that philosophy applied in real time to the worst pandemic in a century. And the problem is, when you talk to all public health experts, they say that communication from leaders is critical during a public health crisis. In fact, it's probably the most important thing they can do, more important than organizing logistics of ventilators, for example.

And what is needed is consistency, is communication that's rooted in facts and rooted to reality. And so, when you have the president who, instead of saying, yes, we've done substantially worse than South Korea and Germany, and here's why and here's what I've learned and here's what we're going to do differently, it's not that. It's saying, firstly, I don't believe the South Korean figures, you don't know that. Here's this other metric upon which we can be compared favorably. It's a completely 180-degree different way of confronting this extreme public health threat.

CAMEROTA: And shockingly, the death toll stubbornly refuses to be spun in that other mode that you're describing. Let's show this exchange now, Jonathan, about where you asked him about John Lewis and how he felt that John Lewis would be remembered. Watch this.


SWAN: John Lewis is lying in state in the U.S. capitol. How do you think history will remember John Lewis?

TRUMP: I don't know. I really don't know. I don't know. I don't know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose -- I don't -- I never met John Lewis, actually, I don't believe.

SWAN: Do you find him impressive?

TRUMP: I can't say one way or another. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive, but no -- but I didn't go --

SWAN: Do you find his story impressive?

TRUMP: He didn't come -- he didn't come to my inauguration. He didn't come to my State of the Union speeches, and that's OK.


CAMEROTA: He really struggled. He really struggled to answer that question other than that it was just the politics of grievance because John Lewis didn't go to his inauguration. How did you expect him to answer that? I mean, you kept sort of pressing, but how do you believe he'll be remembered? How did you expect the president to answer that?

SWAN: The reason I asked the question is because I genuinely didn't know how he was going to respond to it. I've seen him asked, you know, are you going to -- I think even that day or the day before, he was asked whether he would go to visit John Lewis in the capitol as he was lying in state, and the president gave a very curt, "no". So I thought I would maybe try and pull him back and ask him to reflect on John Lewis' legacy. I thought it was important to try and do that, given that at this moment we're having a national conversation about race and racism and civil rights.

And I have to say, I'm not -- I wasn't entirely surprised that the president saw it through the prism of his own personal relationship or lack thereof with John Lewis and viewed John Lewis' legacy primarily, you know -- the question of how history would view John Lewis -- his first instinct was to consider the question of how Lewis treated him, Donald Trump. That was his first port of call in answering that question. And that, I must say, did not surprise me.

BERMAN: I have to say, John Lewis deserved better than that answer, and I think the country deserved better. And to see that answer inside the White House was really remarkable. Jonathan Swan, we really appreciate you being with us. It was a terrific interview and revealing, what can happen when the president is confronted with just simple facts. Simple facts. Thanks so much for being with us.

SWAN: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: A couple from an ultra-conservative corner of Arizona says they paid the price for not taking coronavirus seriously. We have their story, next.



BERMAN: This morning, no deal on a new round of economic relief to help the millions of Americans left unemployed in this pandemic. Is there any progress? CNN's Lauren Fox live on Capitol Hill. Lauren, what is the latest in the negotiation?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, productive talk does not necessarily underscore any progress. There are still some very key sticking points. Of course, we've talked about this unemployment and insurance benefit from the federal government, Democrats still holding on to the idea that they want $600 a week. Republicans' offer, of course, has been much less than that,$200 a week.

We also know that there are disagreements about a number of other issues, including state and local funding. Democrats want a trillion dollars for state and local governments, Republicans arguing there's still billions left over that need to be spent. And of course, Republicans drawing that red line, saying that they want liability protections. That's something that Democrats have not come around to yet, so a lot hanging out there, even though Pelosi has been meeting with White House officials for the last week, no real significant progress yet, John.

BERMAN: So, Lauren, Congressman Louie Gohmert caused a big stir on Capitol Hill, he tested positive for coronavirus last week. Now his own daughter is speaking out critical of him. What's going on here?

FOX: Well, you know, John, when we found out that Louie Gohmert had coronavirus, one of the concerns was that he is a member who consistently does not wear a mask up here on Capitol Hill. In hearings, on the house floor, he gets close to individuals within 6 feet.


This is what his daughter, Caroline, tweeted yesterday, quote, "wearing a mask is a non-partisan issue. The advice of medical experts shouldn't be politicized. My father ignored medical expertise and now he has COVID. This has been a heartbreaking battle because I love my dad and I don't want him to die."

And this really underscores the fact that the medical advice has been overwhelming -- wear a mask. It's something simple. It's something that Dr. Fauci said repeatedly last week when he was on Capitol Hill, and it is something that a few members on Capitol Hill have consistently ignored.

Of course, Louie Gohmert told my colleague, Manu Raju, that he would wear a mask if and when he got coronavirus. But of course, as we know, some people are asymptomatic and spread can still happen, John. So, that's why there is so much outrage on Capitol Hill that people need to be wearing a mask.

BERMAN: This is a little bit connected to it, Congressman Grijalva has also tested positive for coronavirus. We know both Congressman Gohmert and Grijalva well, but the Trump administration, the Interior Department, is using this opportunity to attack Congressman Grijalva? I don't understand.

FOX: Well, there was a hearing last week that Grijalva held and he wanted to do it remotely, but the Trump administration said if they wanted to have witnesses, they needed to have this in person. Of course, a few days later, after being in the same hearing with Louie Gohmert, Grijalva got coronavirus. Of course, we don't know how he got this virus.

But you know, it's interesting because the statement from the Interior Department was, quote, "we wish Chairman Grijalva a speedy recovery. He's paid a lot of money by the American people to be an elected official, a job he has sought and was entrusted to uphold. And showing up for work like millions of other dedicated public servants, such as our law enforcement officers and firefighters is true leadership."

This just underscores the relationship between Grijalva, the chairman of this committee on Natural Resources and the Interior Department which has been ongoing and has been tensed for about 2 years now since he came into power. But they've been fighting about both national monuments as well as this issue of force used in Lafayette Square Park, John, obviously, there's still a lot of tension there between the Interior Department and the chairman.

BERMAN: Lauren Fox, we thank you for your reporting. Thanks so much for being with us. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: John, listen to this. An Arizona couple who joked about coronavirus now has a new outlook after they got sick with the virus. CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Phoenix with their story. Really interesting. So, tell us about them, Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, these people weren't exactly deniers, but they didn't take it seriously, either, like much of the country. But after the outbreaks, we've seen here in Arizona and the outbreaks we see going on in other states, theirs may be the most important voices to hear from.


DEBI PATTERSON, SURVIVED CORONAVIRUS : We were totally lackadaisical about it.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Debbie and Michael Patterson didn't think that coronavirus would ever affect them.

D. PATTERSON: It was sort of almost like a joke in our group of friends.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Did you wear masks?


MARQUEZ: Did you hang out with your friends as normal? So, all the things you're told you should back off of you did?





D. PATTERSON: And we still --

M. PATTERSON: And we paid the price for it.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): From Lake Havasu City on Arizona's border with California, the Pattersons didn't give the virus much thought. Even once developing symptoms in late June. D. PATTERSON: We just kind of carried on, went to the pool, did

stuff, you know, over the rest of the weekend. And then that Monday morning is when we both woke up and --


D. PATTERSON: Were just -- felt like a train had gone --


D. PATTERSON: Over both of us.

MARQUEZ: Michael got sick, Debi had to be hospitalized, put on oxygen, but did not need a ventilator. Over a month later, how are you now?

D. PATTERSON: Well, obviously, still short of breath, coughing, just the fatigue and dizziness, headaches almost daily. It's almost like somebody hit you in the head.


MARQUEZ: They once laughed about the virus. Now they say it's no joke.

(on camera): What is your message to people now?

D. PATTERSON: Be more careful.

M. PATTERSON: Keep your distance and wear a freaking mask.

MARQUEZ: In this ultra-conservative corner of the state, masks still highly controversial.

PATRICK BAUGHMAN, DOESN'T AGREE WITH WEARING A MASK: We make any member or any customer that's walking through our doors remove their face mask. Again, that's our pride. That's also the understanding that you're --

MARQUEZ: So you make people remove the mask when they come in?

BAUGHMAN: Absolutely. You do not shop my store without -- with a mask on, period.

MARQUEZ: For gun shop owner Patrick Baughman, the coronavirus itself doesn't add up.

(on camera): But a 150,000 people are dead, over 150,000 --

BAUGHMAN: Well, I definitely don't agree with that number that you just threw out there. I think that --

MARQUEZ (voice-over): What do you not agree with?

BAUGHMAN: There are so many cases of fraudulent claims as far as how they're reporting numbers. [07:50:00]

MARQUEZ: Public health officials believe the number of dead from COVID-19 is probably higher than the official count, not lower.

(on camera): When the president comes out and says "wear a mask", do you think he's just playing politics?

BAUGHMAN: Unfortunately I do at that point think he's playing politics because originally he did come out calling this entire thing a hoax.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): For the Pattersons, the coronavirus is no hoax, and speaking out, not a political act. It's a friendly warning.

D. PATTERSON: It's ridiculous not to take this seriously. I mean, I could have died just like the next person. I mean, anybody can. It could have been either one of us or both of us.


MARQUEZ: So if you think you can't get this in the small town or an out-of-the way place, you can. And the Pattersons are sort of a testament to that. It's also worth saying that it's brave of them to speak out. Difficult to talk to CNN in this environment, they're -- she voted for Trump in 2016, probably will again. Their friends are all conservative, tough to speak out. But they wanted to get their message out there that people just have to listen to them. They have to wear a mask. They have to take this thing seriously. Back to you, guys --

CAMEROTA: Oh, Miguel, the Pattersons are doing a public service for their friends and for all of us --


CAMEROTA: That is braver that they're doing it, and I couldn't help but notice the T-shirt that Patrick was wearing, I guess for the very occasion of being interviewed on CNN. He -- it was a mixed message is all I can say.

MARQUEZ: Yes, he came out there in the communist news network T- shirt, we've heard that quite a bit out here in Arizona and it was impressive, it was good colors, great shirt, I actually kind of thought it was cool.


CAMEROTA: I like that he just changed for you for the occasion. Anyway, hats off --


CAMEROTA: To the Pattersons.

(LAUGHTER) Hats off to the Pattersons. Miguel, thank you --

MARQUEZ: You got it --

CAMEROTA: Very much. OK, how do schools restart classes in person safely? And what should we as parents tell our children about returning to school in a few weeks? We ask an expert involved in these team discussions and decisions, next.



CAMEROTA: Parents want to know if their kids are going back to school in a few weeks, and can it happen safely? Teams of experts in local school districts have been trying to answer these questions. One of the experts on the medical taskforce for schools in Pinellas County, Florida, is here to explain how these decisions are being made. So joining us now is Dr. Allison Messina; she's also the chief of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. Dr. Messina, great to have you. And it's just --


CAMEROTA: Really helpful to look at Pinellas County as a microcosm of other school districts. So, Messina, how are these decisions being made? Parents are desperate to have answers, and I think that specifically what they want to know is how much weight is given to parent's wishes to really have their kids back in the classroom versus teacher's wishes, many of whom are much more reluctant to return to the classroom?

MESSINA: Sure. Well, in Pinellas County, parents at least do have some options. There is an option to have kids attend school online, and there's an option for them to go to the brick-and-mortar institutions. We have really painstakingly looked at the guidelines, follow the AAP, the CDC guidelines in trying to ensure that for the kids who go back to school in the brick-and-mortar locations that we do so as safely as possible.

And as safely as possible for the children and also as safely as possible for the staff. So that means that school's going to look a little different this year in terms of policies and procedures. Every child will need to wear a mask. Every staff member, everyone who enters the school campus will need to be masked. We will arrange desks, arrange activities such that we can keep that 6 foot separation between students and staff.

Lunch time will look a little different, in times that we need to take the masks off, we need to be physically separated or outside. So things like that are going to look different. There are going to be hand sanitizing stations all over the place. There's going to be a lot of instruction and reminders and things like that. So we're really doing our best to try to make this as safe as an experience as possible for our students and our staff. CAMEROTA: In terms of all kids wearing a mask, "New York Magazine"

here did a sort of extreme dramatic take on the types of protections that we would be sending kids back to school with. I don't know if you can see it, but they're in a full Hazmat suit, they're wearing masks, I think that they might have goggles or eye protection on. And so, that's, you know, obviously, one extreme and a joke. However, when you looked at how easy it is for kindergartners or young kids to wear masks, can they comply?

MESSINA: So I think that they can, actually. Clearly, we're going to do the best we can. And at times of the day they are going to take their masks off for a little bit of time. That's not a big deal. The teachers need to model that behavior for them. And as parents, I think we can model that behavior for them. We need to show that -- our kids that we are wearing masks when we go out in public. And I think that the little -- that the children for the most part I have faith in them.

I think they're going to do OK. We see kids in -- you know, in the pediatrician's offices in the hospitals wearing masks, and they seem to do pretty well with it. But they have a bit of a challenge I think at first for them to get used to wearing the mask all day long. But then again, I think after a while, they will probably get used to it, and they will look to their peers, look to their leaders. It's going to be very important for schools -- for school leaders --


MESSINA: To be seen wearing masks. And I think that we might be surprised that they'll be OK.

CAMEROTA: Allison --

MESSINA: I have a --

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's -- I hear you. You're making a good case. I just want to look at a snapshot right now of where Pinellas County is because it is worse off than many places.