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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Recording Reveal Trump Knew How Dangerous Virus was & That He was Intentionally Trying to Downplay it; New Book Reveals Trump Knew in Early February That The Coronavirus was Deadly, Dangerous, & Highly Contagious; Trump Campaign Scrambles to Respond to Woodward Tapes; Source: Many in Campaign Shocked by President's Comments. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 9, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump on tape. The President in his own words admitting that he deliberately misled the American people and downplayed the threat of coronavirus, his word. How many lives did that cost?
Plus, the White House in full on damage control pointing fingers. But why did Trump's advisors allow him to speak to a journalist whose last book was so damaging in the first place?
And he is the lawyer that Republicans turned to in order to win an election. But now he says Trump is dead wrong about voter fraud. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening to you all. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, caught on tape. The President in his own words tonight revealing he knew a lot more about the deadly pandemic back in February than he ever let on. And not only that, he downplayed the dangers of coronavirus from the start, that is his word not mine.
These are stunning admissions by the President of the United States. So I want to play them for you. First, the President back in February, OK, so that's what you're going to hear now. Back in February, President Trump speaking to veteran reporter Bob Woodward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, VETERAN REPORTER: And so, what was President Xi saying yesterday?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, we were talking mostly about the virus. And I think he's going to have it in good shape, but it's a very tricky situation. It's ...
WOODWARD: Indeed it is.
TRUMP: It goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch. The touch you don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so, that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one.
It's also more deadly than your - even your strenuous flus. People don't realize we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?
WOODWARD: I know. It's much forgotten.
TRUMP: I mean, it's pretty amazing.
WOODWARD: What are you able to do for ...
TRUMP: And then I say, "Well, is that the same thing?" This is more deadly. This is 5 percent versus 1 percent and less than 1 percent. So, this is deadly stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: More deadly than the flu by massive margins he's saying at the time, right? I mean, that's amazing. The President of the United States never told us that, never told the American people that.
Thirty-one days after that conversation though with Bob Woodward, he did have this to say, tweeting on March 9th, which actually is exactly six months ago from tonight. Here he is.
"So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life and the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus with 22 deaths. Think about that."
Well, think about that. So he knew that to be completely wrong, right, in terms of the implication that he was making. I mean, this is deadly. This is deadly stuff. This isn't the flu. That's what he tells Woodward 31 days before he tweets that. He tells it to Woodward on tape. So he told the exact opposite of what he thought to be the truth to the American people.
So he knew and that means he lied. And it was a lie that put American lives at risk, so why? Why did he do it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now it's turning out it's not just old people, Bob. But just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It's not just old, older ...
WOODWARD: Yes, exactly.
TRUMP: ... young people too, plenty of young people young people. We're looking at what's going on in ...
WOODWARD: So, give me a moment of talking to somebody going through this with Fauci or somebody who kind of, it caused a pivot in your mind because it's clear just from what's in on the public record that you went through a pivot on this to, "Oh, my god, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable." TRUMP: Well, I think, Bob, really to be honest with you ...
WOODWARD: Sure, I want you to be.
TRUMP: ... I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.
WOODWARD: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That interview is from March 19th. Now, at that time, the U.S. death toll was 265. It is now almost 200,000. So I just want to be really clear about one thing here, because you can hear the President trying to twist around on this, not wanting to create panic is very different than lying directly to the American people about how dangerous something is, right?
You tell them the truth. You tell them it's going to be bad. We're going to get through it together. We're going to do this. You don't tell them that it's not a problem, not a big deal, not as bad as the flu when for a full month you thought it to be, at least 10 times worse than the flu by his own numbers he shared with Bob Woodward.
Tonight though it is clear that this whole trying to prevent a panic is going to be the President's line of defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm a cheerleader for this country. I love our country and I don't want people to be frightened, I don't want to create panic.
The last thing you want to do is create a panic in the country. The best word is panic. We don't want to have to show panic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Again, this is not about stopping people from panicking. This was about telling people the truth that they can get really sick, that they can die. That in fact, the numbers he had showed that he thought it was 10 times deadlier than the flu, not to tell people, oh, the flu is so much worse, don't worry about it, right? That is a lie.
Had Trump been honest with the American people about what he knew, perhaps 10s of thousands of people and lives could have been saved, right? The Governor of New Jersey saying they would have shut down earlier. Things would have happened differently and earlier warning the former head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
But Trump was not honest. And again and again, from the time this country started shutting down that dishonesty, that total difference of what he said to Bob Woodward and what he said to all of us now just is so stark, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And we're prepared and we're doing a great job with it and it will go away. Just stay calm, it will go away.
There are certain sections in the country that are in phenomenal shape already. Other sections are coming online, other sections are going down.
It'll go away at some point. It'll go away. It may flare up and it may not flare up. We'll have to see what happens.
And the crisis is being handled and we are likewise getting under control.
They are dying, that's true. And 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And now the White House tonight trying to rewrite history as they defend the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has never lied to the American public on COVID. The President never downplayed the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Except for Kayleigh, he said on tape that he did, so that's kind of an absurd thing to say and the tapes don't lie. The President though did.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. So Kaitlan, was the White House caught off guard by these tapes? I mean, it certainly seems from Kayleigh's comments there which, obviously, are just counterfactual that they were not prepared.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They knew he was doing the book, they knew that he had sat down with Bob Woodward many times to talk to him. They didn't know that there was going to be audio played of the President's comments. And, of course, they didn't know that he was going to be on those audio tapes, admitting that he intentionally downplayed the virus to the public when behind closed doors, he actually knew the severity of it and what was really going on.
So that was caused kind of a scramble inside the White House today when these excerpts started coming out in the White House that didn't have a copy of the book, because even though the President and several of his aides sat down extensively with Bob Woodward, they weren't sure what the book was going to say. The President had been asking people in recent weeks based on our reporting what the book was going to look like, what it was going to turnout, how it was going to turnout for him.
Because that's really, Erin, the primary reason why the President sat down with Bob Woodward. He thought he could outmaneuver him. He thought the book could make him look better than the last Woodward book did and that's why he wanted to cooperate with this book, because he did not the last time around. And now he's on tape saying, yes, he did intentionally downplay the pandemic. And saying back in February, he knew it was an airborne disease, primarily, yet he continued to hold packed rallies with thousands of people over the next several weeks.
I believe we counted it was six rallies that the President held after he made those comments indoors before masks were even close to being a thing here in the United States. And so that's what the White House is dealing with now. The blame over who it was that let the President sit down with Woodward this many times, say this kind of stuff on the record with a famed author who, of course, is known to chronicle White Houses and bad decisions that they have made.
And so that is the blame going around inside the West Wing right now. But I think, Erin, what's ultimately important to remember is it was the President who made this decision to sit down with Bob Woodward and to make these comments and there was really no stopping him from any of those aides on whether or not he was going to sit down and talk to him.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan Collins. Just to understand the President would call Bob Woodward up at night, talk to him, give him his personal cell phone and no one knew what happened on those calls and now, of course, we're hearing.
All right. Kristin Urquiza joins me now. She lost her father to coronavirus in June. And Kristin, I'm sorry for your still so raw loss. You spoke at the Democratic National Convention and you blame the President for this horrible loss. You said your father's only pre existing condition was trusting Donald Trump.
So when you hear his words to Bob Woodward, how does that feel to you?
KRISTIN URQUIZA, LOST HER FATHER TO CORONAVIRUS: I am so enraged. His words confirm that the President intentionally lied to the American public about the severity of this crisis. It's undeniable and it's inexcusable.
BURNETT: So, your father went to a karaoke bar with friends in late May and I know you've said you believe that's when he got sick.
June 11th, he woke up he had symptoms. Hospitalized five days later in a ventilator by June 26th and he died just four days after that. As all of that was happening, Kristin, the President was telling people, the American people, that the virus would disappear, right? That even though he's telling Bob Woodward he knows that it's 10 times deadlier than the flu. That's what he thought at the time. Would it have changed things? Do you think things would have changed for your father if the President had said what he said to Bob Woodward to the American people as early as February and then consistently?
URQUIZA: Absolutely. My dad was a follower of President Trump. He trusted him and the President betrayed him and 10s of thousands of other people across the United States. Listen, in late May when the state of Arizona was opening up, I was telling my dad, "Look, dad, it's still not safe." And my dad's retort to me was, "Well, Kristin, I hear what you're saying, but why would the President and the Governor say it's safe if it's not safe?"
I couldn't compete with the lies from the White House. And because of that, my father passed away and it's inexcusable.
BURNETT: Kristen, nothing can change what happened at this point to your father, nothing can make this right for you. This has now changed the trajectory of your entire life. What would you want to hear or see from President Trump though right now?
URQUIZA: The President needs to resign. He has shown that he is unfit to lead this country and that he does not care about the public health of Americans. That is the only sensible solution at this point in time, given that we have the smoking gun evidence that he knew about the severity of the crisis and he chose to mislead the American public and lied. He needs to resign.
BURNETT: Kristin, thank you very much for talking to me. And again, I am so sorry. I am. I know that June is just like yesterday to you. Thank you.
URQUIZA: Thank you.
BURNETT: Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now and Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at GW who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.
Sanjay, when you hear Kristin's words, she's saying she was telling her father don't do this and his response was why would the President and the Governor say it's fine if it isn't. I trust them. And this would have been very different, she thinks had the President said the truth which he now he - was saying it to Bob Woodward.
Do you think things would have been different, Sanjay, if he had said what he said to Bob Woodward in February, in March to the public?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Erin, and that was a heartbreaking interview. I mean, I can't even imagine. I've known people who've died of this disease. I've taken care of some of these patients. I've met with their families. I mean, it is heartbreaking to hear Kristin describe it like that, but totally understandable.
Look, there's no question that things could have been different. I mean, we just have to look around the world, most countries around the world to see how things may have been. South Korea, the first patient was diagnosed the same day first patient was diagnosed here. They've had fewer than 350 people die.
I mean, I'm not just saying this to sort of mock our strategy. This was a failed strategy and people pay for it with their lives. There was a report that came out of Columbia. This was in May. We can show the numbers here. Basically said, look, if they had acted just a week earlier at that point, how many lives could have been saved. Take a look, 36,000 lives could have been saved just acting one week earlier, Erin. Two weeks earlier, 84 percent of deaths could have been prevented.
So, I can understand her frustration. A lot of people who are watching tonight, their frustration, their anger, because the President said this on February 7th that he knew this was five times deadlier than the flu and he had information presumably that most people don't have access to. So he knew this on the 26th, when I asked him about it, he said the exact opposite that flu was much worse. I mean, as you know, Erin, so, yes, it could have been very different picture.
BURNETT: And just to be clear, when you say 84 percent fewer deaths, I just want everyone to understand, we're about to hit 200,000 deaths. So you would have had 30,000 instead of 200,000 just to put that number a different way, the sobering and awful reality.
Dr. Reiner, Bob Woodward is speaking out about his book just a moment ago. I want to play what he told 60 MINUTES. Here's that clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODWARD: This is the tragedy, a President of the United States has a duty to warn.
The public will understand that. But if they get the feeling that they're not getting the truth, then you're going down the path of deceit and cover up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, how much damage did the President do by lying? And I know I feel lying is the right word not misleading, because he's saying what the truth was as he knew it to Bob Woodward and he was saying the exact opposite to the American people at the same time.
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Let me start by saying that I'm so sorry for Kristin's loss, but I completely agree with her. The President should resign. He's failed the public. Look, many of us have wondered for a long time whether our catastrophic response was simply incompetence or what how much malfeasance was in that.
Now, we know that from the very beginning the President knew that this was a lethal virus, at least five times as lethal as the worst flu. We know that the President knew this was airborne. He told that to Bob Woodward on February 8th. We also know that he was briefed a week before that and told that the Chinese were seeing this in large numbers and asymptomatic people, but yet months went on before the President embrace masks.
Not only that, his Surgeon General discouraged people a month later from wearing masks. If a tornado was coming to your town and the mayor of that town or the governor of that state told you it's just going to be windy, don't worry about it, and it destroyed your house and killed your family, you'd want to know why you weren't warned.
Well, a tornado was coming to the United States in January and the President of the United States knew how lethal this tornado was and yet he failed to warn the public. If you're trying to understand why his supporters haven't taken this seriously, it's because he told them not to. He's failed the public. The President of the United States should resign.
BURNETT: So Sanjay, OK, what Dr. Reiner just said there, Bob Woodward February 7th, he says to Bob, "You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed and so that's a very tricky one." Now, we all remember back then publicly there's a lot of discussion over how it was spread and whether it was actually airborne, right. But he knew it to be airborne, he's talking about that and he went ahead and had indoor rallies with thousands of people, no masks, no social distancing. Herman Cain went to one of them died afterwards. We don't know if that's where he got it, but certainly could have.
I don't know what the right word is to use here now, Sanjay. First it was - well, is irresponsible the right word, but that word may not be even appropriate here. If he knows that's how it's passed and he has rallies, he knows people could die.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, I don't know the right word either, Erin. I mean, I think for a long time I was sort of wondering the same thing, did he just not know, did he just ignoring this. It's one thing to minimize it, but was he minimizing it because he just didn't know and didn't believe in the severity of this. I really didn't know.
And, frankly, people's motivations maybe they're not as important as what the outcome is. The outcome is that we've had a failed response in this country regardless. But now I think the thing that really struck me today was that he knew. I think that's what I really taking away from this is in February 7th, again, to have said that, yes, this is five times deadlier than the flu. And by the way, we know the flu kills 10s of thousands of people.
He knew that. He had just spoken to people in China. We know that there was data that was coming out. Maybe they even had access to data that we didn't have at that point. He is the President, but he knew and not only did he not act on it, he's still not acting on it. A book like this comes out and we start talking about this as if it's a retrospective. We're still in the middle of this.
GUPTA: And there's been a significant, significant loss of trust as a result.
BURNETT: And loss of life. Thank you both so much. And next, major finger pointing at the White House over the stunning
interviews with Bob Woodward. Who thought this was a good idea?
Plus, according to Woodward, Trump's National Security Adviser warned the President in late January that the virus would be the 'biggest national security threat of his presidency'. But then Robert O'Brien told CNN a very different account.
And the man who spent his entire career trying to give Republicans the advantage in elections to win is now taking on Trump's claims of a rigged election. Ben Ginsberg is OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Tonight, the Trump campaign doing damage control in the wake of new tapes of Trump's conversations with Bob Woodward. A source close to the campaign telling CNN they were shocked to hear the President knew how deadly coronavirus could be as early as February. They say the President kept that information even from his own campaign.
Joining me Dana Bash, our Chief Political Correspondent, John Harwood, our White House Correspondent and Jim Sciutto, our National Security Correspondent.
So, John, President Trump gives Bob Woodward 18 interviews, 18 interviews, OK? And he knew he was saying this on tape. This wasn't one of the things that people in Trump orbit like to do, which is tape people when the other person doesn't know. He knew. And he said it without hesitation despite concerns from several White House aides. How did this even happen, John?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I think it has its roots in Bob Woodward's last book two years ago, Fear. That book depicted the President by the accounts of his aides as dangerously incompetent, showed aides manipulating, tricking him to try to prevent him from doing destructive things and he expressed regret as the book was coming out that he had not participated given interviews in the book, blame the staff for keeping that information from him.
This time, Trump decided he was going to be large and incharge. Nobody was going to stop him from doing these interviews, even if he had to call from the residence late at night. And the astounding thing, Erin, even for somebody who always overestimates his ability to persuade other people of what he is saying is that he seemed to think that he was going to charm and win over Woodward by giving him the inside scoop of what he really knew about the coronavirus, while he was publicly downplaying it, without evidently giving thought to the fact that that would come to be seen as the kind of criminal negligence we're talking about today, directly connected to the loss of 10s of thousands of American lives.
[19:25:16] BURNETT: I mean, Dana, it does seem and having known the President
for many years, he does like to cultivate that kind of personal connection with people. So, he gives Bob Woodward his personal cell phone number and no doubt he felt that that would make Bob Woodward feels so important that somehow it would endear him to him, right?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Our colleague, Jamie Gangel, who's gotten the goods on this Woodward book before anybody, she has a new story out talking about just this. And this, of course, comes from the Woodward book. It's not going to be out till next week, going through the fact that he, the President, even went to the point of having props on his desk in order to try to impress Bob Woodward.
And Woodward writes that he's interviewed multiple presidents in the Oval Office. And when he does that, when he's historically done that, they sit in a couch next to the fireplace and they have a conversation. But this President wanted to show him things on the Resolute desk even gave him a poster of the President and Kim Jong-un, showed him pictures from the DMZ that the President went to between North and South Korea.
And so the fact that Woodward writes about that and not just kind of the showman part of the President and not just the content of the really unbelievable things that we've heard about coronavirus and other aspects of the of the book I think is very telling and answers the question about what the President was trying to do in giving Woodward such access to his thoughts.
BURNETT: It does give the kind of a window into the President. Jim, Woodward also writes about the former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, and his concern about Trump. And we know when he resigned, he wrote that unbelievably searing letter.
He says that Matt has repeatedly went to the Washington National Cathedral to pray for the country under Trump's leadership. I want to read this exchange between Mattis and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats about Trump, again, this is according to Woodward that's in the book. Here's the conversation.
"'This is not good," Mattis said. 'Maybe at some point, we're going to have to stand up and speak out. There may be a time when we have to take collective action.' 'Well, possibly,' Coats said. 'Yeah, there may.' 'He's dangerous,' Mattis said. 'He's unfit.'"
Now, Jim, this is pretty incredible. He's dangerous and he's unfit says the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, revered general. And he references collective action coming from a general, what do you think that means?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, at a minimum, it sounds like blocking the President's agenda. Possibly, it could it maybe going so far as finding a way to remove him. I mean, it's conceivable. It wouldn't be the first time, if you remember from Nikki Haley's book, she recounts john Kelly and Tillerson coming to her and talking about blocking the President's agenda and possibly standing in the way of impossibly working towards removing him, so it wouldn't be the first time.
And keep in mind the pattern here, I mean, let's not take any of this in isolation. Here you have Mattis. We know from John Bolton's book he doesn't believe this president to be competent. You've heard Kelly and Tillerson by the account of Nikki Haley question his competence, talk about resisting his agenda. I've interviewed a number of people on the record for my own book who talked about the need to block this President's agenda, because it was a danger to the country's national security interest.
So what you are left to question is do you believe all of those people, former generals, stalwarts of the Republican Party or do you believe the President's claim that they're all Never Trumpers and not to be believed. I mean, there is a pattern here of people working for him at the highest levels, doubting his competence.
And by the way, the moment described in the book with Mattis going to the National Cathedral is specifically about North Korea, has concerns at the time that the President was going to take this country to war unwittingly and it reminds you what a dangerous time that was.
BURNETT: It was and, of course, now still is. All please stay with me.
Bob Woodward writes that Trump's National Security Adviser warned Trump that the virus could be the biggest national security threat of his presidency. So we're going to talk about this next because what was Trump's response when he heard that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODWARD: Do you remember that?
TRUMP: No. No.
WOODWARD: You don't.
TRUMP: No, I don't. No, I don't. I'm sure if he's said it - I'm sure he said it. Nice guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, the White House says it wants a winner declared on election night. So many people do, but the chances of that happening are slim, slim.
BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump was reportedly warned in January by his national security adviser Robert O'Brien that the coronavirus posed a serious threat to his presidency and the country, according to recordings obtained by CNN, of President Trump speaking to journalist Bob Woodward.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: Your new national security adviser O'Brien --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right.
WOODWARD: -- said to you on January 28th, Mr. President, this is going -- this virus is going to be the biggest national security threat to your presidency. Do you remember that?
TRUMP: No, no.
WOODWARD: You don't?
TRUMP: No, I don't. No, I don't. I'm sure if he said it, you know, I'm sure he said it. Nice guy.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Sort of giving up there, I'm sure he said it, nice guy.
Well, O'Brien told CNN in a spring interview -- again these time stamps are really important because with Bob Woodward, he's talking back in January 28, right, is when he warns about this being the biggest threat. But then in the spring, O'Brien tells CNN, quote, initially no one understood the magnitude of the crisis.
Everyone is back with me.
So, Dana, O'Brien tells Trump, you know, something about the virus, right? Saying this is going to be the biggest national security threat to your presidency, according to Bob Woodward. That's on January 28th. Excuse me.
In the spring, months later, tells CNN, no one understood the magnitude of the crisis. Well, it sure sounds like he did. And what he's doing in terms of saying one thing privately and an entirely different thing to the American public is much like Trump.
How deep does this go at the White House?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Listen, I mean, there's a lot of CYA happening or there was at the time. This is what you're referring to. Robert O'Brien spoke to our colleagues, Vivian Salama and Kylie Atwood. They went in because they were initially doing a story about the fact that there were a lot of people telling us that there was O'Brien's lack of experience and his fealty to Trump that was causing some of the problem when it comes to the administration's response.
And that was part of his response to that, saying, well, no one really knew how bad it was. So, he was downplaying his own abilities there in order to protect the president of the United States. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the dysfunction, I don't know what does.
BURNETT: So, Jim, in that same briefing, Woodward reports that O'Brien's deputy, the same briefing to President Trump, O'Brien's deputy was there, and according to Woodward warns the president that the coronavirus could be as bad as the 1918 influenza pandemic, 675,000 Americans died then. Obviously much greater share relative to population than that even seems.
But less than two weeks later, right, after he get this is dire warning to from his national security and his deputy national security adviser, he goes out publicly and says this to the nation's governors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The virus that we're talking about having to do, you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat, as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We're in great show though. We have 12 cases, 11 cases. And many of them are in good shape now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Jim, I mean, he's -- obviously that's how he wants people to see this, right? At that time. When he's being told by his national security adviser this is the greatest threat and it could be like the 1918 flu, he goes out and says we have 12 cases. I mean -- yeah.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, this is a "Wizard of Oz"" moment, right, don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain, right? The facts are clear. We have dozens of public statements by the president saying this was not a big deal, you have nothing to worry about, and while he knew and his senior most advisers knew that wasn't the case, that it was very serious, it was a big deal.
So, now, the argument is that, well, we didn't want to panic people. But here's the problem, by saying that the heat was going to make it disappear, you don't have to worry about wearing masks. This was not a big deal, et cetera, it encouraged behaviors here which helped spread the outbreak, right?
So, you know, you could claim that this was about tamping down panic, but it had a real public health effect. And that's the issue here. There have been studies done that look at that. People look at his guidance here and didn't take precautions. There's a hard result of that.
And, listen, the public statements are clear at the time. The president knew it was serious. He said it wasn't. That is disinformation by definition.
BURNETT: Right, right, it is. And now, we don't just have the public record of him saying one thing, you know, to the American public. We have the tapes now of Mr. Woodward.
So, John, Woodward also quotes Jared Kushner and he says Jared Kushner was disliked by many in Trump's cabinet. The quote he has from Kushner is this. Kushner says to Woodward, the most dangerous people around the president are overconfident idiots, which Woodward interprets to mean specifically, you know, Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, and Gary Cohn. Woodward also reports Kushner was disliked by many in Trump's cabinet.
So, what do you -- what do you make of Kushner's role in all of this?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, let's leave aside the fact that Jared Kushner is calling other people overconfident in the White House when he entered a senior job without knowing much of anything about government and public policy. But I think the evidence is that all those overconfident idiots that Jared Kushner says they got rid of have left a White House staff without the gumption and strength to stand up to the president and apply their own independent judgment.
If you want the evidence, consider that picture in front of the St. John's Church earlier this summer after the administration had used a federal force to clear out a mostly peaceful demonstrator so the president could walk across with the bible.
There you had the tableau, Mark Meadows, now the White House chief of staff was the fringe player on the far right of the Republican caucus in the House. Kayleigh McEnany, now the White House press secretary, who came out today and said the president never downplayed the virus after we heard tape of the president saying I downplayed the virus and I'm continuing to down play the virus.
Bill Barr who's done the president's bidding, Robert O'Brien who'd been talking about, that was a portrait of these people who lacked wisdom to understand that that was a disastrous mistake or the strength to prevent it from happening or stop themselves or keep themselves out of it even.
BURNETT: So, Dana, the president also talked to Woodward about his views of white privilege and the advantages in life that Trump had, right, as the son of a very wealthy real estate developer. Take a listen to that.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WOODWARD: But let me ask you this. We share one thing in common. We're white privileged who -- and my father was a lawyer and a judge in Illinois and we know what your dad did.
And do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave to a certain extent as it put me and I think lots of white privileged people in a cave and that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain, particularly black people feel in this country? Do you see --
TRUMP: No. You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn't you. Listen to you, wow. No, I don't feel that at all.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: That is very consistent, Dana, with his public comments.
BASH: Yeah. And Woodward was trying to give the president cover by saying that he, Woodward, also has had a privileged life, not just now that he's famous but growing up. And the president didn't bite.
And so, he was trying to get him to try to come to the idea that there is a reckoning going on, that people like them don't understand, don't have an understanding of what it has been like for the last almost 300 years -- 400 years in this country to be black. And he wouldn't go there.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
And next, the top lawyer that Republicans turn to on elections to win. He says Trump's claim of voter fraud do not add up, and he's going to explain exactly why.
In a story we first brought you, a doctor accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women, including Andrew Yang's wife, now facing federal charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVELYN YANG, ANDREW YANG'S WIFE: I remember trying to fix my eyes on a spot on the wall and just trying to avoid seeing his face as he was -- as he was assaulting me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: New tonight, the White House saying it wants a winner declared in the presidential election on election night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We want election night to look like is a system that's fair, a situation where we know who the president of the United States is on election night. That's how the system is supposed to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, of course, from watching American history, it did not work that way and it is extremely slim odds that we would have any idea who wins on election night because of expanded mail-in voting, right? So many people because of the pandemic are voting by mail and those ballots don't start to be counted until Election Day.
The White House knows all of this. And this comes as a major Republican election lawyer is now calling out President Trump for trying to discreet mail-in voting, and claiming it will lead to widespread voter fraud, which the president says every time he gets a chance.
OUTFRONT now is Ben Ginsberg. He spent 38 years representing Republicans on voting fraud and other election issues, including George W. Bush during the 2000 recount in Florida.
So, Ben, thank you very much for being with me.
So, you have an op-ed in "The Washington Post." You write in part, quote, the president's words look like less like sincere concern and more like transactional hypocrisy designed to provide an electoral advantage. The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there's no proof of widespread fraud.
Obviously, this time, Ben, we're going to see more voting by mail than ever before, so that will be different. But do you come to the same conclusion that widespread fraud is just an absurd allegation?
BENJAMIN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: I've been part of Republican Election Day operations for the last four decades looking for that very fraud. So far, there has been a few smatterings of fraud, but no widespread fraud. And so, therefore to make allegations that elections, the bedrock of our democracy, were somehow rigged or fraudulent on such scanty evidence really is sort of beyond the pail in terms of that bedrock foundation of the country.
BURNETT: Yeah, I mean, you know, the president has said the only way they can take this election away from us is if it's rigged and the election will be the most rigged election in history, right? He's using that word constantly and saying the only way he loses is if it's rigged. He has also, though, and this is pretty incredibly, Ben, repeatedly encouraged his supporters to try to vote twice, both by mail and in person.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So, let them send it in and let them go vote. And if their system's as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote.
Send in your early ballot and then go and make sure that ballot and tabulated or counted. And if it's not counted, vote.
Go to your mail-in place and see whether or not your mail-in vote has been tabulated or counted. If it has not been counted, vote, which is every citizen's right to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, saying you can't trust the mail-in at all, so go vote twice which would be cataclysmic to the system. What do you say to him? GINSBERG: Well, it's wrong on the basic fundamentals and he should
probably have a chat with his supporter, the attorney general of Georgia, who today announced he would prosecute up to president told people to do.
So this is a Republican attorney general saying voting in person after you've already submitted an absentee is a felony yet the president is urging supporters to do that. It puts them in a really bad position.
BURNETT: So, you know, what you're saying tonight all makes sense. As I said, the president has continually said that if he loses, it is rigged. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't want to see a crooked election. This election will be the most rigged election in history.
This whole thing with this mail-in ballot, that's a rigged election waiting to happen. It's rigged and everyone knows it.
The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What's your response when he says that?
GINSBERG: If you're going to make charges of that about the elections, you have to have some proof. And it's the complete lack of proof that is so distressing.
There is a lot of experience in the country with absentee voting. There is also mangling of terms in his explanation but basically, the widespread absentee balloting problems that he maintains are there just haven't been found not by a legions of Republican election lawyers looking for them, not by law enforcement agencies. There have been a few random prosecutions but that's all.
Again, if you're going to criticize the basic bedrock of our elections and their reliability, you have to produce some proof. So that proof has not been forthcoming yet, and hopefully, if he's really got it, it will be and it will be corrected before the election. I don't expect to find it, though.
BURNETT: Certainly as of this point, to your point, there has been absolutely none. Thank you very much, Ben. I appreciate your time coming on tonight.
GINSBERG: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, the doctor accused of sexual assaulting Andrew Yang's wife with dozens of other women now facing federal charges. The reason let's just be honest, she had the courage to speak out and she speaks out tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, a step towards justice. We first told you about atrocious accusations of sexual assault at the hands of an OB/GYN at Columbia University earlier this year.
Tonight, that man has been indicted.
And the reason his story gained public attention now is because of Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. She says that he sexually assaulted her in 2017 when she was switch months pregnant. Yang spoke out exclusively to our Dana Bash about her assault for the first time in an interview that aired here on OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YANG: I was confused and then I realized what was happening and then I just kind of froze like a deer in headlights, just frozen. I knew it was happening. I remember trying to fix my eyes on a spot on the wall, and just trying to avoid seeing his face as he -- as he was assaulting me.
BASH: Was --
YANG: Just waiting for it to be over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That courage enabled many other women to come forward, and now charges, finally.
OUTFRONT, Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent.
Dana, tell me more about this. This is a major development in a case that, you know, this to a lot of people, this had gone away. Not now.
BASH: It had. And Evelyn yang's goal in what you just saw was making it so that it doesn't go away and Hadden was taken into custody this morning in New Jersey. He was indicted on six counts of enticement and inducement to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Now, prosecutors accused him of abusing dozens of female patients, including multiple minors over more than a decade. And this was the indictment said under the guise of conducting purported gynecology and obstetrics examination. Now, Hadden is facing multiple charges, including one of them that says he sometimes used free birth control to entice his victims to come back at frequent intervals to sexually abuse them.
Now, the SDNY called Hadden a predator in a white coat and asking for any victims or co-workers to come forward and contact the FBI if they have any information about Hadden, Erin.
BURNETT: Dana, I think it's very clear that had Evelyn Yang not spoken to you, had she not done that, this would not have happened because after that, people came forward. You spoke to Evelyn Yang today after these charges were announced. She knows what happened, her role.
What did she say?
BASH: She did. She provided a statement to me. She thanked the attorney's office of the southern district of New York for bringing charges against Hadden and said that they were long over due. The reason that she and others were so frustrated is that Hadden avoided jail. You remember from a report this year, he got a sweet heart plea deal with the Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance.
Yang also told us that the physician abused dozens of women including minors under the guise of practicing medicine that should not be walking free. She said I hope that this action leads to institutions like the hospital, Dr. Hadden worked at for decades to take complaints of assault and abuse seriously immediately as opposed to ignoring them.
And I should say that since Evelyn Yang revealed to us earlier this year that Hadden sexual assaulted her while she was pregnant, you mentioned this, 110 women are involved in a civil suit against Columbia University where Dr. Hadden worked. I should say Columbia has denied the allegations in the civil suit and we have reached out to Columbia for a statement. Haven't heard back.
But Evelyn Yang, this was not easy for her to do. She got results.
BURNETT: It's incredible and such courage.
Thank you so much to Dana. Thanks to all of you.
Anderson starts now.