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DOJ to Defend Trump; Coronavirus Misinformation in Wall Street Note; Coronavirus Spikes in Colleges; Creek Fire Rages in California; Wildfire Escape in California. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 9, 2020 - 08:30   ET



DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, if this was a position legally that the Trump team rite large wanted to take, why didn't they do it months and months ago, why eight weeks before an election. I'll tell you why. Because this case had been showing signs of progress at the state court level. And the Supreme Court ruled by allowing cases in New York to go forward, that they were closer to being able to depose trump or get a DNA sample and they wanted to choke that off here.

And so then you have what we see, which is a pattern of the president using his Justice Department as his own personal law firm.

And Jeffrey mentions the other examples, notably Sullivan. And so, you know, I mean Sullivan and the Michael Flynn case. And as you know, I should disclose, my wife represented Judge Sullivan in the case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But the -- but the timing is of a -- of a campaign and of a president who sees in a kind of desperate way something that's personally embarrassing that could move forward at a time when all these books are coming out who decides, oh, it's time for the attorney general to step up and that attorney general's been quite willing to do that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He got his Roy Cohn. I mean I think, you know, pure and simple, he got his Roy Cohn.


BERMAN: I want to -- I want to move on to a different subject if I can, very quickly, David, because we haven't had a chance to talk about this, and I do think people need to see it.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was the press secretary under President Trump, is now a private citizen. After the story came out in "The Atlantic" which said that the president had called people who had served and died in the military suckers and losers, a bunch of people who had worked for the president came out with various forms of denials.

I want to play Sarah Sanders here and she is saying something which is just not true at all. So listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, FORMER TRUMP PRESS SECRETARY: I have also sat in the room when the president had to make the most difficult calls of his presidency, when he had to let a parent know that their son had been killed in the line of duty. That's a call no president wants to make. In those moments, I saw the president's heart. And I also saw his commitment to the men and women of our great military. That story couldn't be further from the truth.


BERMAN: The president does not call, David, families to inform them that their loved one has died in service. That's not how it happens. The military sends someone in person, often a chaplain, often several people to go inform them. What Sarah Sanders said there is just a lie. I mean she's never sat in the room while the president's called people to inform them of the loss of a soldier it's never happened because the president doesn't do it.

So she later went on to clarify, oh, I meant it was a condolence call. But how does the -- how -- how can you explain how her mind works to make a video like that, that gets seen by millions and millions of people that includes something so egregiously dishonest?

GREGORY: Well, look, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was willing to do that as press secretary to the president. So, I don't think she's a very credible source. You know, the reality is, that this reporting by Jeff Goldberg, who I know as a colleague and as a friend for a long time, is rock solid. You know, Donald Trump will come and go, but the likes of Jeffrey Goldberg, journalists of that caliber, like Jeffrey Toobin, are going to be around to stay. And you can take that reporting to the bank.

The fact that you have these stream of odd non-denial denials, trying to vouch for some aspect of the president's character and concern doesn't change the fact that we know what he's said publicly about John McCain. We know that he lashes out at anyone who questions him, the guy who doesn't want the cancel culture to go forward, including his own generals. I mean it really does speak for itself and people can make a determination about what they think of him as commander in chief and how he feels about an institution that he leads as commander in chief.

But something like this, I don't think it makes a lot of difference, other than to try to sow distrust about, you know, the reporting and get people to somehow turn away and think about something else.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, no, I think it's just the flagrance, the brazenness of saying something that is so demonstrably proven wrong immediately and she already has been called out for it.

David Gregory, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you both very much for all of that perspective.

Thousands of coronavirus cases reported as students return to college life. So how universities are taking action to try to keep students safe.



BERMAN: All right, U.S. stock futures have been rising overnight following this brutal sell-off that dragged the Nasdaq into correction territory. This is only adding to the uncertainty of an economic recovery from the pandemic. And now CNN has learned that misinformation about coronavirus is clouding the picture for investors as well.

CNN's Cristina Alesci joins us now with this exclusive reporting.

And this really makes you scratch your head.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Wall Street research is now showing signs that at least one research note that coronavirus misinformation has been included now. We don't know to be clear how widespread this practice is, but it does suggest that the campaign to downplay the coronavirus, led by the president and his supporters, is gaining traction.

Let me tell you what happened. In August, a well-respected analyst was trying to paint a rosy picture of herd immunity, only he cited an ophthalmologist to support his claim. This ophthalmologist had no background in immunology or epidemiology. He left medicine to start a cryptocurrency fund. And he appeared in a viral video on Hydrochloroquine (ph) that was later removed by FaceBook and YouTube.

Another industry insider caught this information in this note in August and wrote to his clients saying -- this is Michael Sembalest (ph) of JP Morgan saying that it was the most disturbing piece of research he has seen in his 33 years in Wall Street history.


Misinformation and mindless regurgitation of poorly vetted sources are, in my view, part of the reason that the United States is behind other developed countries in controlling the virus.

Now, one thing that I do want to point out, John and Alisyn, when the analyst did include this information in his note, he did hedge it by saying that he's not a health care expert and that investors should take it with a grain of salt, but Sembalest points out that once this information is in the minds of investors, it's sort of like a defense attorney who says something that is technically stricken from the record but retained in the minds of the jurors.


CAMEROTA: Cristina it's so good to have you going back and trace the steps for how these things get into the consciousness. So, really appreciate your reporting from there.

Tens of thousands of students on college campus have been infected with coronavirus. What happens when schools shut down and they go home?

CNN's Bianna Golodryga has more on the campus chaos.

Hi, Bianna.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hi. Good morning, Alisyn, and that's a great way to describe it, campus chaos.

While most college students began the year online, about 20 percent of colleges at least started some in-person lessons and classes. And now, as you see, we've seen tens of thousands of cases pop up. School officials I spoke with said that they were well prepared with testing and PPE. So the big question now is, what went wrong?


GOLODRYGA (voice over): Just a few weeks into the new school year, colleges and universities across all 50 states have reported more than 37,000 cases of Covid-19. UNC-Chapel Hill among the first and largest schools to open for in-person classes was also one of the first to reverse course, sending students home to complete the semester online after just 130 Covid cases were reported.

Several colleges, including Towson University, East Carolina University and SUNY Oneonta have now done the same.

For schools who had plans, PPE and ample testing, the question quickly turned to what went wrong. The answer may be as simple as campus life getting in the way. Despite warnings, guidelines and pledges, students continue to gather off campus, mostly for parties. That has led some local officials, like the mayor of Tuscaloosa, to close bars for at least two weeks.

MAYOR WAIT MADDOX (D), TUSCALOOSA: The ever increasing numbers of coronavirus cases on campus will create two major disruptions for Tuscaloosa if left unabated.

GOLODRYGA: The governor of Iowa following suit.

GOV. KIMBERLY REYNOLDS (R-IA): And so while we still know that this population is less likely to be severely impacted by Covid-19, it is increasing the virus activity in the community and it's spilling over to other segments of the population.

GOLODRYGA: The Greek system also facing heavy scrutiny with outbreaks traced back to fraternity and sorority parties. Indiana University now recommending that all students living in Greek housing reconsider their living situation.

NYU, Ohio State, Purdue and West Virginia University have all suspended students for violating safety precautions. Northeastern University in Massachusetts went a step further, dismissing 11 students for the semester without returning their tuition. Along the way, public health experts have urged schools to keep students on campus as opposed to sending them back home, even if community spread was detected. DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Please

isolate at your college. Do not return home if you're positive and spread the virus to your family, your aunts, your uncles, your grandparents.

GOLODRYGA: The jury is still out on whether colleges can successfully pull off in-person classes. Experts say the more planning and options a school offers, the better.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The ones who were doing that, and who have the capability of handling students who ultimately get infected seem to be successfully being able to open.


GOLODRYGA: And John and Alisyn, we should note that the Tuscaloosa mayor has since lifted that bar ban this week despite the fact that there have been continued increases in cases in the University of Alabama. As far as the bar closures in Iowa, that ban will continue through September 20th. So you can understand these college towns, it's just off of campus. There's a lot of concern about community spread, which is why they are trying to shut these bars down, to mitigate the spread and keep these students isolated on campus if there is in fact an increase in infection rate on campus.

BERMAN: Yes, look, it's hard to make these college campuses islands, which almost needs to happen once it starts spreading.

Bianna Golodryga, thanks so much for that.


BERMAN: Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:00 a.m., Senate hearing on vaccines.

12:00 p.m., White House press briefing.

1:15 p.m., Biden campaign in Michigan.



BERMAN: Wildfires raging in California. One man who was with his family and trapped by the flames tells us about his dramatic escape. You'll want to see this, next.


CAMEROTA: The Creek Fire in central California destroying nearly 400 structures and threatening thousands more. Officials say it is still zero percent contained. CNN's Ryan Young joins us now with the latest.

What's happening there, Ryan?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we are in one of those neighborhoods where they've been told to evacuate. In fact, look above me right now, you can see the fire just above my head there. That's the Bobcat Fire. There's zero percent containment, over 10,000 acres have burned so far.


We've been watching all morning as it sort of ebbs and flows and we can see it shift because of the wind.

Talking about that Creek Fire, that's also 163,000 acres that has been burned so far with zero percent containment. All this going on as firefighters and National Guard crews have been out there trying to save people. In fact, the National Guard rescued 385 people just in the last 24 hours. We've seen they've had to evacuate folks using helicopters. In fact, right now, from the position where we are, we can hear a helicopter in the distance. But you can see just how dangerous this can be because if the winds shift, obviously this neighborhood stands in the way of all that danger. It's a situation that continues to evolve in the area, especially with the high winds and the very dry heat.


CAMEROTA: Ryan, thank you very much for that update.

OK, wait until you see this next story of a family who thought they were going on a fun camping trip only to find themselves surrounded by wildfire and trapped.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, my wolf pack, just wanted to show you if we make it out of this. Look (INAUDIBLE). We are completely trapped. There's fire on all sides, all around us. All the roads are burnt. A bunch of us are stranded here and supposedly there's -- well, we have no cellular phone reception. And, supposedly, there's nobody coming. Anyway, (INAUDIBLE) get home safely.


CAMEROTA: The man who shot that video, Jeremy Remington, did get out alive and he joins us now.

Oh, my gosh, Jeremy, that video is so terrifying because you were just sitting -- you're in the middle of a -- truly a ring of fire. And when you say supposedly there's nobody coming to rescue us, how did you -- how did you know that? What word were you getting from the outside?

JEREMY REMINGTON, FAMILY RESCUED FROM CREEK FIRE: There was no word. There was no word. Talking with other people who were stranded and no one heard anything and none of us -- we all thought we were goners.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Jeremy. You were with your mom. It was supposed to be her -- a celebration of her retirement.


CAMEROTA: And your partner and your brother and his wife and their two kids, five and 10 years old.


CAMEROTA: And so, I mean, how long were you in this situation of being surrounded on all sides by fire?

REMINGTON: Probably 10 -- 10 hours, 10, 12 hours, somewhere in there.

CAMEROTA: And was it getting closer all the time?

REMINGTON: Yes, there -- I mean there were times when -- and that's what made it so frightening. It -- it all happened so fast, you know? It just -- it started on one side and then it literally surrounded us and you could feel the heat. The embers were falling on you and hitting you in the face and, you know, it was -- it was unreal. It was unreal.

CAMEROTA: It seems unreal, Jeremy. And when you said that you thought you were a goner, I mean were you having those conversations with your family members?

REMINGTON: Actually, no, we were trying to tell each other that we're going to be all right. We had -- we tried to keep it together as best we could for -- especially for the young kids and just for other people around and their children. You don't want to lost it. You've got to do your best to just hang together, even though you're falling apart inside.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, I really -- I really can't imagine being in that situation.

And so how did it end? How did you get rescued?

REMINGTON: It was unbelievable. So it -- we were just hunkered down with towels over us, with, you know, wet towels to try to keep as much smoke out as we can. And after, what, 10, 12 hours we heard a helicopter in the distance. And everyone -- it was amazing. Everyone started flashing their lights, putting their -- you know, their hazard lines on their cars, flashlights on to make to make sure the helicopters saw us. Once they saw us and they started getting lower, we knew that rescue and help was on the way. It was -- everyone was cheering, jumping, screaming, hugging. It was one of the best feelings of my life.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God. And were there about 200 of you at -- still trapped at that camp site by the time the helicopters found you?

REMINGTON: I would say at least, at least. Yes, there was a lot of people.

CAMEROTA: And so, of course, the helicopter can't ferry all 200 of you out. You stayed behind, as I understand, as your family was rescued. What were you thinking at that point?

REMINGTON: I hope they come back. Essentially just, I hope they come back in time, you know, before the smoke or the fire, you know, overtook us or whatnot. So --

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. And tell --

REMINGTON: (INAUDIBLE) was going on.

CAMEROTA: And tell -- I mean tell me about the moment you were rescued.


What -- what happened? What did the rescuers say to your family and you?

REMINGTON: There wasn't a whole lot of talking just because they all had their -- their full tactical gear on. So -- but as far as the family, it was just -- it was -- that was unreal as well. I think there's a photo out there, similar with my brother, doing a thumbs up while in the Chinook. And it was just -- it's -- you can't describe it unless you have been in that situation, like, you know, you're going to die and then all of a sudden you're not. It's just an amazing feeling. It's really hard to explain.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God. And how are you guys doing today?

REMINGTON: Well, we're doing OK. We're trying to get back to life as we can. We still don't know anything about our belongings or vehicles. We just assume everything's gone. That's probably the best way is to assume. And then if it's not, you know, thumbs up.

CAMEROTA: Jeremy Remington, oh, my gosh, we -- that was a miracle. It's a miracle that they found you and that you were rescued and you had no cell service.

REMINGTON: Yes, it was. Yes.

CAMEROTA: It's just a miracle.


CAMEROTA: And so we're so grateful that your whole family survived. Thank you for sharing that horrifying experience with us.

REMINGTON: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Take care of yourself.

REMINGTON: Yes, thank you. Bye-bye.

CAMEROTA: A major company's coronavirus vaccine facing big questions this morning. CNN's coverage continues right after this.