Return to Transcripts main page

CUOMO PRIME TIME

Trump Uses Fearmongering About A Biden Presidency, But Doesn't Want To "Panic" Americans About COVID-19; Trump Blames Woodward For Not Reporting His Candid Coronavirus Comments To "Authorities"; Biden Maintains Lead In Key Swing States. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Saturday morning, CNN and Sesame Street are teaming together for "A Town Hall for Families," Sesame Street, "The ABCs of Back to School." It's an hour special, staying safe in classrooms, making the most of virtual learning. It's Saturday morning, 10 A.M. Eastern, here on CNN.

The news continues right now with Chris Cuomo. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Now, we know the President lied to you about the worst medical crisis in our generation. We know he encouraged you to do things that were bad for your health, ignoring masks, going to crowded rallies, defying governors who told you the truth about the need to socially distance and shut down for a while.

Remaining question is why would he do this? Now, early on, when it was mostly Blue states and minorities getting sick, in the largest numbers, in the biggest cities, remember that, well, that seemed to be out of convenience for Trump, right, about playing to Party.

I know that sounds wicked, but after what you just heard on this tape, can you really say it's not a legitimate question about whether he would do that, whether he would sacrifice people for his own benefit? Really? Didn't he already tell you he would do that in not so many words?

But I don't know about that theory that it was just about the Blue states because he kept up the same perfidy, the faithlessness, with his own base.

In fact, I argue to you, the facts make it clear he did use supporters more dirty because he kept telling you especially to go where you could get sick, and not wear a mask. Talk about eating your own!

He wanted to con us about COVID so badly he put the people counting on him most in the worst position. So, what's the real lesson? He not only won't admit his breach of

duty, right, he never does. Remember, this is the man who told you Christians, he's never had to ask God for forgiveness.

Not only did he do it before, not only does he, refuse to admit that it was wrong, but he is continuing it tonight in Michigan.

This is what's happening with cases in Michigan. Do you see the chart? Pretty simple picture. But what did he do in Michigan?

Take a look at the crowd. Take a look. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(PRESIDENT TRUMP HOLDS CAMPAIGN RALLY IN MICHIGAN)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Oh, they're outside, sure, but they're all sandwiched together, masks optional. But remember, he's told them so many times that masks are weakness. Yes, he said it's your patriotic duty. Once! Right?

The only one in that crowd at a safe distance from exposure for sure, Guess who? Trump.

Clearly, he favors his own feelings over the fates of his supporters. Otherwise, would he really hold such a reckless event? And not a word from him about how risky this is, to not have a mask on. Not one! Instead, you know what he told them? "We're rounding the turn on the virus."

Put that graph up again.

That is what he told them in Michigan, "We're rounding the turn." Does this look like rounding the turn to you? Do you see any kind of curve there other than up?

The CDC says more than 25,000 of us could die from COVID in the next 23 days. It doesn't have to be that. What if he went on like a mask tour? They give out MAGA masks.

Why not say "Wear them? Everybody, everywhere, I'm not holding any more rallies. In fact, I'm not holding any rallies until the numbers come down. Not doing it. Wear those masks.

Let's get the numbers down in the Red states more than the Blue states ever could. And I am all over testing. I'm sorry that kids aren't back in school. I'm going to do everything to get them back in there. It's wrong for kids not to be in school."

But remember his rationale. He can't tell you the truth about the virus or even how to reduce your risk because that would cause panic. And that's not leadership.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: America will prevail over the China virus. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

As the British government advised the British people, in the face of World War II, "Keep calm and carry on." That's what I did.

This whack job that wrote the book, he said, "Well Trump knew a little bit." They wanted me to come out and scream, "People are dying! We're dying!" No. No. We did it just the right way. We have to be calm. We don't want to be crazed lunatics.

(CROWD CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: My brothers and sisters, who lost people, who have had sick people in their family, who are worried about their kids, who had this themselves, who have the long-haul syndromes, you think he did it exactly right?

[21:05:00]

200,000 dead and he is giving himself a pat on the back?

You want to call Woodward a "Kook?" Fine. Why did you give him so many hours of access, twice? He didn't say you knew things, Mr. President. You did. You said it in your loud, obvious voice. You said it.

You told him it was worse than the flu. You told him you knew the numbers were more. You told him it was a deadly thing. You told him you knew it wasn't just old people, it was kids. You said it, not Woodward. That's the fact.

FDR, Churchill? I used them last night as points of contrast. They did nothing like what Trump did. If they did what he did, we'd probably all be speaking German today.

They said, "Here's the truth. It's going to be bad. We have to get in the fight. We're going to bleed." Of course, they said it more eloquently. That's why they're great leaders, and I'm somebody who repeats their thoughts.

But he is the leader. "I have to be calm. That's leadership."

This is what he thinks is non-panic-causing leadership. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If Biden wins, the mob wins. If Biden wins, the rioters, anarchists, arsonists and flag-burners win.

The Left wants to get rid of me, so they can come after you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Non-panic inducing? "Here come the crazy Blacks and their kooky anarchist White friends for the suburbs, led by a monster named Cory Booker. Blue-eyed Assassin!" That's not panic-inducing?

"The illegals coming for your women, selling drugs and killing." "Islam hates us. We must keep them out of the country." That's not panic-inducing? That's calm leadership?

Why does this all matter? Why does it matter more than anything else that we've learned about this President?

I'll tell you why. Because it is right to say that those who support this President often do so despite how he is as a person that there are bigger concerns, feelings of humiliation and disaffection and disenfranchisement, and you are right.

There is an intractable class structure in this country that is horrible for Whites and Blacks. There are unique problems of color. No questioning it. They are systemic, means they happen everywhere, how we hire, how we lend, how we educate, but it happens with Whites, too.

And you have all these people looking down on you, and saying this is as good as you get and, in fact, what you have, you may have to give it to somebody else, and you may have to pay more, and it makes you angry. And then, they seem to not respect you.

So, it's is not about Trump for you. It's about him being angry at the same people you are. But here's the thing. Is he doing you right? Is he the right agent for you?

His wife said, "We deserve complete honesty from a president," and she's right. But he has never given you that. Honesty with Trump is as real as a Jackalope. That's a Jackalope. They don't exist, I'm told.

Even about something that has killed so many of us, compromised too many of our kids, he lied to you. It matters because not only did he lie, but he defied the best guidance with the people that should matter the most to him. He encouraged you, his own supporters, to put yourselves at risk and your families.

It matters because he kept those around him in power, quiet, or echoing the same poison. They made choices. They made choices. The people around him that didn't tell the truth, and kept people quiet, who wanted to, they should be exposed.

I know that's a dangerous thing to say. Believe me, I know the price. But there is no reason to do this job otherwise. I will not be remembered as somebody who watched this go on and didn't say anything about it.

You deserve the truth, especially if he gets another term. He's got to do this job better than the way he is doing it right now. How will you be remembered? Will you call these things out?

Case in point about why this matters, what he did? Echo effect. Florida, you think it's a coincidence the Governor there was allegedly saying there was no COVID there, when there was? That he hid the truth from people, hid the numbers from people there? And punished those who tried to reveal it?

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Same time, same game, doing what the boss does.

[21:10:00]

Confronted with the reality of the contagion-- contagion, the man elected to fight it, what does he say to you? "It is what it is."

Now, that expression was very common where he and I grew up. "It is what it is." It means there's nothing you can do. "Broke my ankle! Season's over! I'm sad, but it is what it is, can't do anything about it."

The response to a pandemic is what you make it. You can do something about it. Trump chose to lie to you and to make less of it. Not only was it bad faith, it was bad strategy. You can't lie about a virus and make it less contagious.

And, on top of it, he did not even have the brains to tell you it's not a big deal, but do everything you can, to at least give him a chance, give himself a chance to be right, give you a chance, believe in you enough, care about you enough to at least give his supporters a chance to be safe, instead of encouraging you to do the worst for yourselves.

Wow! Double dumb but singularly sinister!

Now, major Trump zones have suffered, and our kids, the people he must protect most are not in school, in too many places, and that is wrong. And it is true, at least partly, because he failed to muster the testing and guidance they did need and do need.

It is not what it is. But he is who he is. He is a liar, who would rather expose you to health risk than expose himself to political risk. And I don't care who comes after me and about what. It is true, time and time again, seven days out of seven.

And he is on tape doing it here. And he did it about what it matters most. Is he trying to clear it up instead of owning it? Of course.

Here's the new defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I didn't lie. What I said is we have to be calm. We can't be panicked.

I don't want to jump up and down, and start screaming "Death! Death!" because that's not what it's about.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: First of all, that's not what you did. What you did was you told one person on tape that you knew it was bad, you knew what it was, and then in public, you said it was not those things.

What you did was in private, you - not private, you were talking to a freaking reporter. What did you think was going to happen? That's why they wanted him to keep it quiet until after the election. Nope!

You said, "I know it's bad." And then you told people in public, "It's not that bad. Go to the places they're telling you not to go. Go without a mask." I do not know how any of you can be OK with this, because it is not OK.

And remember, he doesn't even believe the theory of his own case.

"Got to be calm, but the Black man's coming. Helter-skelter!" "Got to be calm. But Islam hates us." "Got to be calm. But don't vote. Don't vote by mail. Oh, ho. It's going to be a fraud. The election is going to be rigged."

Am I calm enough?

Illegal immigrants, "We love immigrants, but they're coming. They're going to rape you. They're going to rape you. They're going to sell you drugs and they're going to kill you like these two, three people I found." Is that calm?

This is about life and death, not Left and Right. It can't be bad to make people panic but good to let them die. Giving people information is not panic. Trusting in the American people enough to let them do something with the information that affects them, there is nothing wrong with that.

He wants to play whataboutism and blame Biden. Biden is not the President. Bob Woodward, this isn't about him. You said it on the tape. Look at the excuses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad, then he should've immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities, so they can prepare and let them know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: You believe his BS? You're going to put it on the Reporter? Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? You say something because your arrogance make you think that you can charm anyone.

You'd get away with anything. You could go in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and shoot somebody, one of your own, with a red hat on, and it'd be OK. But it's on him? It's not on you. It's not on you to tell the truth, huh?

"He should have told the officials," oh, because they would have spoke up, right? How did that work out for Fauci when he told people the obvious about

wearing masks? Remember what you said? "Fauci has been wrong about a lot of things. Fauci, I don't know about Fauci."

[21:15:00]

And then you had all your boys, the puppets, the Trumpets, go out there, and he got his family - his family is getting threats because of you, because he tried to tell people things that you didn't want him to.

That's what Woodward should have done? He should have told people that you weren't telling the truth? That's not your job? I thought you alone could fix everything? You alone certainly did make it worse.

He didn't turn you in for your lies, so it was OK to keep lying?

200,000 dead and you're telling people not to wear masks? You say nothing about it tonight, in a State where the curve is going like this? That's a curve? It's called a spike. Up is where it's going. Curve means kind of two different directions.

But you know what? He does make one good point. Where is everybody else? Where are the voices out there who call themselves pro-life? "Got to protect it. That's what my faith teaches us." The ones elected to keep checks and balances on the President? "Country first! Party second!"

Many GOP senators, conservative, moderate, Collins, Ernst, they won't answer questions. They won't answer any questions about the Woodward tapes.

Cornyn said he wouldn't comment since he didn't have any confidence in the reporting. It is a tape, brother. The President doesn't deny the tape. It's the media's fault?

Others, like Senator Perdue and Tillis, they defended tramp - Trump, Tramp! Along with the big kahuna himself, Mitch McConnell, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, I haven't read the Woodward book. But we all knew it was dangerous. The President knew it was dangerous and, I think, took positive steps, very early on, for which he should be applauded, not criticized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: You wonder why we're in the worst shape in the world!

That is the face of the response to the pandemic, more so than Trump, you know why? You know Trump is not up to the job by himself. You know he's relying on the people around him. You know that an old horse like that was supposed to be able to guide him.

They knew. They knew what he knew. These weren't top-secret briefings. They knew what he knew, and they knew when he knew it.

And now you know what the President knew, and when he knew it, and you know all of them didn't tell you the damn truth, and it made people sick, and it allowed people to die.

So, how do we figure this out? Well here's what we do. We listen. It's time to listen. We are just outside this election.

We have former National Security Adviser and Ambassador John Bolton. You know, he left his job exactly one year ago, today. Talk about an anniversary, I'm sure he likes marking! He is the Author of "The Room Where It Happened."

Let's go to break, and come back, and get his take on what the Woodward tape reflects, the reality of it, the context of it, and what he makes of what it means for you going forward, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The President calls legend Bob Woodward names, blames him for his own yapping on a recorded interview.

Trump was told about Coronavirus, told how bad it could be, told what we needed to do, and lied to you about it. He was dangerously close with authoritarians like Kim Jong-un in ways that don't make sense and certainly didn't yield the results promised.

It lines up with another book by someone who was on the inside. That book is "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir." The Author is Trump's own former National Security Adviser, Ambassador John Bolton.

Welcome to PRIME TIME.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AUTHOR, "THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED": Well thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

CUOMO: What do you make of what the President said to Woodward and his refusal to acknowledge that he did anything wrong?

BOLTON: Look, this is a very serious political problem for the President, which is what he understands it to be. It's not a matter of truth or falsity here for him. This is an existential threat to his re-election, which I think explains the vehemence of his response to it.

And I think it's just absolutely striking how clear he is, on these tapes to Woodward, of his appreciation for how dangerous the Coronavirus was, compared to what he was saying publicly at the time, what his senior advisers and cabinet officials were saying at the time.

There is no way you can reconcile those things. And that coming out of his, own mouth, I think - I think this could be nearly the point where the campaign ends.

CUOMO: So, when I originally read your book, it kind of gave me the ability to give the President a break, because of how you detail his, just, incurious nature that the man doesn't want to read. He didn't want to listen.

So, I gave him the benefit of that inadequacy, so that he probably didn't know what was going on with Coronavirus. Now I know he did.

What I don't get is this part, Ambassador. Why would he do his own people worst? Why would he tell his own supporters not to wear a mask and to go to places where they'd be exposed to the virus when he knew that the virus could get them?

[21:25:00]

BOLTON: Because I think he was driven by his own logic.

My reaction, of course, I was out of the government, at this point in January/February, was that he was simply resisting information he didn't want to hear.

He didn't want to hear bad things about Xi Jinping, about the extent of the disease in China, about, most importantly, the potential negative impact on the U.S. economy, his ticket to re-election.

So, once you're saying it's not a problem, we don't have to worry about it, you then can't tell people "Wear masks, do social distancing," because it sounds like there is a problem. And I think he couldn't figure out how to get out of that. That's what drove him in that direction.

But what the Woodward book does is make it much more serious because if he did know, and he did it anyway, you simply can't reconcile that with the qualities, the character you need in a President of the United States.

CUOMO: And your assessment that the NSC told him, and he didn't do anything, about risks to the country, I don't understand. Again, you spent so much time around him, and getting a sense of what he does, or doesn't do, in terms of cogitation, thinking.

Why did he think it was a good bet to deny the pandemic when doing that almost assured that it would be extended, and therefore do more harm to the economy, whereas, what is every first term President dying for, a crisis right, not to be callous, but to put his arm around it, and say "Look, I owned this. I did everything we could. Re-elect me."

BOLTON: Look, I think Trump believes that if he talks about a particular threat or a particular crisis in ways that he thinks benefit him that he can get away with it endlessly. I saw this in situation after situation.

"Don't talk about North Korea's ballistic missile tests. Call them artillery. Call them something else. They won't be in the news, and therefore they won't be a threat."

How you characterize foreign leaders? Same kind of approach.

I think he just didn't understand that Coronavirus wasn't reading the memos, and that they were not - the disease was not subject to that same kind of treatment. As I say, once that logic drives him down a particular path, it's very hard to correct from that point.

CUOMO: And in terms of how you saw this extended, the idea that you had witnessed this President not wanting things discussed, and then that's it, "You want to keep your job? You have to stay there," for instance the other story in the headlines right now, from the whistleblower.

The whistleblower saying, "Hey, Wolf and Cuccinelli told me, "No more briefings of Congress about Russian interference. And you got to taper what you say about Russian Intelligence - Russian interference Intel to what the President wants to hear," do you believe that could have happened?

BOLTON: I believe it could have happened. And I think people were self-censoring to a certain extent. And I think that's a real problem.

Look, you can receive Intelligence from the Intelligence Community, disagree with it, disagree with the implications of what the policy is, disagree with what the priorities ought to be, in terms of gathering new Intelligence. These are all legitimate subjects to discuss.

It's when you close your mind to what's coming in entirely, and just refuse to receive it that you're in real trouble. This is a Trump characteristic. And it carries over as well to what he says publicly.

You made a very interesting remark on the Coronavirus. He said that not just that he didn't want to cause panic but that he was a cheerleader, and he wanted to keep people's spirits up.

I think that's a telling aspect of his character, but it's not what a president is. He's a leader not a cheerleader.

The American people are not children. They're adults. And the way a leader reacts is you tell them the truth. If you don't think the American people can take the truth, you're saying we've got a very serious problem with our system of government. And you mentioned at the beginning, Roosevelt, Churchill, really great

leaders, who can inspire people, also tell them the truth. That's just not part of the Trump approach.

CUOMO: Cheerleader, it's also a function of what he wants to cheer on. I mean, he's basically pitching race invasions right now, and saying that this election is going to be rigged. So, I don't know exactly what he is cheering for.

More to your Bailiwick, you say that in terms of this kind of displacement of reality, for his own advantage that when it came to the MBS situation, Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Woodward says that Trump was bragging about saving MBS' ass.

And you said that Trump was sometimes defending Saudi Arabia for personal reasons of distraction. How so?

BOLTON: Well, the time that Trump made the statement supporting Saudi Arabia happened to coincide with a lot of press reporting about Ivanka Trump's use of personal e-mail.

[21:30:00]

And, as he often does, I think, he hoped that his statement would cancel that out, and he was right about it, by diverting people's attention to MBS.

I do think there is a - there is a legitimate argument here about the American interests, dealing with Saudi Arabia. That wasn't necessarily at the top of his agenda, though.

CUOMO: Just to be clear, when I was talking about the NSC before, not to confuse people, the National Security Council, you say in the book that the NSC saw the threat from COVID.

I don't want people confused. "What? But Bolton left." Yes. But the NSC, you understand, saw the threat. It wasn't that they missed it.

BOLTON: Now, that's exactly right. I mean it's been reported in a number of sources.

"The New York Times" did a long TikTok on the government's reaction to COVID, and they say in this long article, in early January, staff at the NSC, and elsewhere in the government, were raising the red flag about that.

The first page of Woodward's book--

CUOMO: Right.

BOLTON: --talks about how my successor and his Deputy were seeing (ph) the President at the end of January. People knew what was going on. The problem was not failure to understand this was a threat. The problem was in the Oval Office.

CUOMO: Right. BOLTON: And the President's empty chair. He did not want to deal with this.

CUOMO: They got things wrong, early on, even at the Task Force level. But once they figured out they were wrong, they wanted to make a shift. It was the President who didn't, and now we see that on the tapes.

A few more things for you, Ambassador, if you would.

First, Woodward says that Mattis, General Mattis said that the President is dangerous and unfit, Coats, former official Coats, doesn't know the difference between the truth and a lie, he said, about the President.

And he said - and you said, in your own book that you, now Secretary of State, Pompeo, and obviously Treasury Secretary Mnuchin that you were all worried.

Worried about what?

BOLTON: Well, worried about the way the President conducted affairs with foreign governments in many cases, in my view, coming close to, if not crossing the line on obstruction of justice, interfering in prosecutions and investigations in this country.

It was very hard for people, and remains very hard for people in the Administration to know how to handle the President in these cases. Everybody had a different take on it.

But there's never been an administration in contemporary history anyway where so many people went in hoping to serve the country, and just finally came to a realization they couldn't live with their own conscience and continue to do it. The country suffers when that happens.

CUOMO: Here is the criticism that always assures I don't get the first interview with the book. Why did you wait, if you saw these things, when you were in office, especially you, you are such a veteran, you're so savvy, you've been at the highest level so many times.

If you knew that this wasn't just aberrant, but it was dangerous, why save it for a book? Why not say it when you were there and step down?

BOLTON: Well, look, the question of how long you stay in a job like this is complex. Everybody makes his own calculation. I felt that I could prevent worse things from happening. You can call that a rationalization. It may well be. I finally left when I couldn't stand it anymore.

Why did I put it in a book? Because I felt it would take 500 pages to detail it, fact-by-fact.

CUOMO: I'm OK with you writing the book.

BOLTON: Not just make a statement and knock dead (ph). CUOMO: It's good that you wrote the book. But do you regret not saying what's in the book on a show like this, or 10 shows like this, when you were there and you were already sure? Couldn't have taken you that long to figure out that you shouldn't be there anymore!

BOLTON: Well, I could have - I could have left after 30 days, too. And I would have - I would have had one opportunity to make that point.

I felt, and I continue to believe, and there're other people who were in the government, some are still in the government, trying to do the right thing for the country, which is what we all owe our real loyalty to, the Constitution, not the individual in the Office.

And I think, look, different people are in different situations. And I don't criticize any of the others. I've had disagreements with people like Mattis. But I've never doubted he acted in a patriotic fashion. He left after two years.

If I had a better answer for you, I'd be happy to give it. But you try and make the contribution you can and prevent bad things from happening.

CUOMO: Well, I'll tell you what is, a group of people who have no reason to concert or coordinate their answer, there are so many of you, who had high positions, who say, "Look, I was afraid to leave. Not afraid of Trump. But I was afraid of what would happen. But I also wanted people to know" and they had the same struggle you say you have.

[21:35:00]

So look, there is only one thing required for your book to be helpful, and it's an open mind. There is a paucity of those. The book has done very well regardless. The book is "The Room Where It Happened," its Writer, Ambassador John Bolton.

Sir, thank you very much for coming on the show. We'll see you again.

BOLTON: Well thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right, be well, Ambassador.

All right, so now, what is the effect of what the President admitted on the tape? As I pointed out, you saw echo effect, right? Other officials had to stay quiet, couldn't tell you the truth because he didn't want you to, right?

You saw that he had other governors of Red states would echo him, right, like happened in Texas, until he got burned, like happened in Georgia until he got burned, like happened in Florida, and they're still getting burned.

But how about the governors who relied on him to their own detriment? We have one, a Governor who says "You know what? I would have taken a more aggressive action, sooner, if Trump was giving me better information early on, when we didn't have our own information." That Governor is Phil Murphy of New Jersey. What's his basis? What

does it mean? And where are we today? Next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, I know that when you hear the number of cases in the millions and 200,000 dead, it just becomes a haze, a fog. The number themselves lose meaning, but the perspective is that it didn't have to be like this.

The CDC is projecting we could lose more than 25,000 additional Americans over in the next three weeks.

How many fewer would we lose if everybody was on the same page, instead of what we saw at the Trump rally, even tonight, even on the heels of him being accused of exposing his own people to risk that he knows exists.

Studies have shown earlier action would have saved lives, tens of thousands of lives. You know who believes that? New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. He says he knows it all too well, painfully so. He was one of the early epicenters of this.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME, Gov.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Good to be with you, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: February 7th, Trump tells Woodward he knew about airborne transmission. He says, and around that same space, knew it was going to be worse than the flu, he knew it wasn't just old people, it was young people. It was going to be bad. This was deadly stuff.

You remember him telling you that?

MURPHY: Listen, my reaction to this is we were in a whole different mindset. On behalf, I think I can speak on behalf of the governors, who moved aggressively early, we were as early as anybody, your brother, Connecticut, Michigan, other states, right, this common threads to those actions.

Number one, we were voracious and remain voraciously interested in the facts, the data, any data we could get. Secondly, that data informed our policies. Thirdly, we shot straight with our people, even if it was not comfortable, even if it was truth that they necessarily didn't want to hear.

We built up a bridge of trust with folks. And, as a result of all of that, we crushed the curve. We brought it right to as close to the ground as you can do it. And notwithstanding that, we paid a huge price.

So, when I hear the February 7 anecdote, and I'm asked the question, "Do you think it could have - you could have saved more lives?" The answer I have to believe is "Yes."

You know this. We memorialized folks at each one of our press conferences. I speak to families of folks who have lost loved ones almost every day. The thought that I could have made one less memorial or one less phone call, just if we had that extra step of data, I think that weighs on us, and it should weigh on us.

CUOMO: Substantiate it for people who push back. The pushback is, "Ah, come on! You had your own reasons to know or not know. Don't put it on the President. He wasn't in - it's not his job to tell you everything."

MURPHY: Well I think it is his job. And, in fairness, I think the leader of the country has to shoot straight, not just with governors, but I think with our entire population.

And the fact of the matter is we - as you know, we've got our own experts. We speak to experts around the country, around the world, all the time. But the federal government sits on the CDC, the NIH, reams, gobs of data and experts, and they can play an existential role that no one else can play.

So yes, we can find a lot of the answers ourselves, and we did, and we moved aggressively. But boy, knowing the full - having full insight into what the federal government knew, and knows, is a dimension that I wish we had.

CUOMO: Well, the past is history, right? The time to act is now. That's all we control.

So, going into the fall, we know what the concern is. People actually get sick in the fall. They get all kinds of stuff. A lot of it will present and maybe be COVID. You still don't have the testing to do in real-time, any kind of rapid testing, of a significant part of your population, let alone your school population.

So, what are your concerns heading into fall?

MURPHY: First of all, Chris, we talk about the February 7 conversation like it was an event that happened and is over.

I just want to say, on September 10th, the President can still bend the curve in the right direction. Mandating a national masking policy is the best example I can think of. We do that for three weeks or four weeks, we have a whole different fall.

So, I want to make sure that we all remember that this is not over. We're still playing the game. We're still in the event. Listen, we've built up as much testing capacity per capita as any American State. But God knows we can all use more.

[21:45:00]

We're back to school. We're a combination of both, hybrid, some modest amount of full in-person, and some good amount of remote. And the remote schools have all committed to a date by which they'd be back in-person safely.

So, our principles are safety, high-quality education, equity. So far, I'm knocking on wood here in New Jersey, so far so good. I've toured a couple of in-person schools. It was really, really impressed.

But you are right. The experts will tell you we could face a second wave in the fall, and we've got to be prepared. We're doing everything we can be. We just need the federal government to be as robust a partner as possible.

CUOMO: I really believe that from the best data, you know, not all data is equal, right, you want accurate data, that if you get masks into places where you have community spread, and you amp up testing of accurate testing that is quicker turnaround, and subsidize it in the places that need it, you shouldn't have a second wave.

You should be able to get kids in school and we should be able to control it with some spikes in areas that are understandable based on what we've been through.

So, Governor Phil Murphy, of New Jersey, we will be here for you to make the case of what's happening, and what you need, as always.

MURPHY: Thank you, Chris, for having me.

CUOMO: All right, Governor. God bless and be well. Stay healthy.

All right, so where are we? Where are we? As we count down the weeks to the election, let's bring in the Wizard of Odds, OK? He's going to do a little time travel, a couple of years, why? He wants to show us where we may be headed.

Well that was good. Is that time travel? Next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: All right. We're going to cover Trump and Biden a lot, probably close to daily. I mean, we're coming right up to the election. What about Biden versus Clinton? "What? What?"

Hillary Clinton losing four years ago surprised a hell of a lot of people, right? So, the Wizard of Odds wants to look at the numbers behind why Trump versus Clinton is not Trump versus Biden.

Hello, my brother, Harry Enten. What do you have for us today? No secret, Biden is in better shape than Clinton. Tell us why.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: Yes, I mean, it starts off really just by looking at the national polls.

Look at where we are right now compared to four years ago on this date. What you see is that Biden's lead nationally is not only more than double what Clinton's lead was, at this point, but Biden is over 50 percent. Clinton never got anywhere close to that.

When you look at the polls, and you're honest with yourself, there's only one conclusion to reach, Christopher, and that is that Joe Biden is in a significantly better position right now than Hillary Clinton was at four years ago at this point.

CUOMO: Popular vote pizza (ph). Swing states, please. Yes, I know. This is your thing all the time, right, the swing states.

ENTEN: Here's the key nugget, right? Look at these key swing states. Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and look at where Joe Biden is. He is up in all of them.

And I know we had this discussion on Tuesday night, "Oh, the race is closing." Look at where we are right now compared to a month ago in those states. All of those polling averages are within a point of where we were last month, and in all of those key states, Joe Biden has a 5-point lead or better.

CUOMO: If you take the MOE into consideration, is it more than a 3- point to 4-point race anywhere?

ENTEN: I mean, look, if you look at those swing states, and you take into account the margin of error, of course it might be closer than these averages indicate. But that is the reason why we take an average, right Chris? It helps to shrink that margin of error and gives us more confidence in these results.

There have been a ton of polls conducted in these states, specifically in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And the fact is in the polls that I trust most often, Joe Biden pretty much has never trailed in any of these states, at least over the last six months.

CUOMO: Florida, not on your list. Does it matter still as much as always?

ENTEN: I mean Florida matters. Look, if you're Joe Biden, you want to win in the State of Florida, right? If you win in Florida, Donald Trump pretty much has no map to win.

But we have a slide up here, if we can just flash-forward to it that shows the electoral map. And this gives you a really indication.

If you just give Joe Biden in the states, where his lead was at least 5 points in August and September, he gets to 279 electoral votes. That is enough to win, and that is without Florida. Florida is great for Joe Biden, but he doesn't need it to the same extent that Donald Trump does.

CUOMO: What this past week shows us is we are a lot farther away than just the days count. This is about moments, transition, the debate, a little bit, but there's a lot that can happen that will change these numbers one way or the other. Harry Enten will be along for the ride. Thank you very much.

And we'll be right back.

ENTEN: I'll be riding shotgun with you.

CUOMO: Yay!

We'll be back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Let's bring in D. Lemon. I watched him wrestling with his tie like it was a python.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Are you kidding me?

CUOMO: Still wrestling with it.

LEMON: You're, like, 3 minutes early.

CUOMO: Well, I owed you some time.

LEMON: Yes. You did that on purpose. What did I do to you? CUOMO: Only good things. Only good things.

LEMON: What did I do to you?

CUOMO: Only good things. Only good things.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: You look good. It's all right.

LEMON: Thank you, so do you.

CUOMO: Believe me, the less they see that tie, the better.

LEMON: Man, you need some Grecian Formula. I got a bit - I think maybe--

CUOMO: I don't fake the funk.

LEMON: All right.

CUOMO: I paid a lot of money for this ferret.

LEMON: So.

CUOMO: As long as it stays in place. So, John Bolton is on our show tonight, right?

LEMON: I was just going to say I saw. That was a great interview.

CUOMO: And I chase him a little bit because I don't like that these guys didn't say anything when they were in Office, and it seems gratuitous and opportunistic, just because there's the book coming out.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: However, I will push back on myself, while you're getting your tie straight.

LEMON: I'm good now.

CUOMO: I've heard it from too many of those guys for it to just be about self-interest. There is something apparently to the notion that whether it was Mattis or McMaster or Coats or Bolton that, "Look, man, we couldn't just leave, you know, once you are aware of how reckless this guys is," as Bolton says, they wouldn't leave him in the room alone with Kim Jong-un.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: They wouldn't even think about it. That you can't leave. It's too dangerous to leave this guy. And I can't really say anything because he'll go nuts. It's all he cares about. And then I really have no ability to help this.

LEMON: Yes. I see - look, I hate to be--

CUOMO: Both sides Cuomo.

LEMON: I hate - I hate - I hate that. I see how one could feel that way. But there are certain times and certain situations in your life where you have to say this is beyond the pale.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: "This is nowhere near normal. This person is a danger, and what is happening here is a danger to the democracy."

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: "And what they're doing is so egregious that I can no longer be a part of it, and therefore I'm going to leave. Not only am I going to leave, I am going to inform the American people about what's happening, because it's really" - what this Administration has - I was watching this President today deal with the press, and say things like, "Oh, find out for yourself," and just completely spinning about--

CUOMO: Saying Woodward says I knew something. Woodward doesn't say it.

LEMON: Woodward is not the president.

CUOMO: Trump said it.

LEMON: But Woodward - the whole thing about blaming.