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Microsoft Says Russian, Chinese, Iranian Hackers Targeting 2020 Election; McConnell Defends Trump Amid Fallout over Woodward Book; NFL Kicks Off Season with New Health Protocols; NFL to Highlight Social Justice Issues with End Zone Messages; Trump Takes Questions Amid Outcry Over New Book Revelations. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Well, with fewer than eight weeks to go until election day we have new information about how foreign hackers are trying to interfere with this whole election process.

Microsoft is revealing new data this afternoon saying that hackers from Russia, China and Iran are targeting various groups ahead of the Presidential election. And those targets include both the Biden and the Trump campaigns.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is standing by with those new details. And so Donie, what exactly are these hackers -- what are they doing to interfere?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Brooke. Yes, lots to unpack here. So I'm going to show you this full screen that helps break it down.

The same Russian hacking group that's tied to Russian military intelligence, that broke into the Democratic Party in 2016, according to Microsoft, has tried to hack recently, both national and state parties here in the U.S., and political consultants working with Republicans and Democrats.

Chinese hackers have targeted Biden's campaign and at least one person, a prominent person, formerly associated with the Trump administration. And between May and June, Iranian hackers tried to log into the accounts of Trump administration officials and Trump campaign staff. That's all according to Microsoft.

It's important to point out here that Microsoft is not saying that these attacks on the campaigns specifically were successful, but it's also important to note that this, you know, is unlikely to be the full story.

Microsoft is obviously a huge company, but it only has a limited window into what is going on. It's possible that hackers are using other services and companies. It's possible that Microsoft missed some of these attacks and, of course, it's possible that they haven't made all of this information public, because of security concerns.

But the fact that this is happening, that all of these nation states and hackers tied to these nation states are working to try and break into entities, organizations and people tied to the 2020 election is of great concern to all campaigns, and both the Biden and Trump campaign told us this afternoon that they take security very seriously. And obviously the nightmare scenario, Brooke, is something like what happened in 2016, where hacked materials appear online and are distributed all over the internet.

BALDWIN: Donie, I'm still hanging on what you said. This is unlikely the full story. We'll leave it there. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much for just the latest on that.

The Senate Majority Leader is reacting to the stunning revelations in Bob Woodward's book that President Trump knew how deadly coronavirus was back in early February but never said so publicly. So here was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox News just last hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know how dangerous coronavirus was back in February?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: 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)

BALDWIN: And that was it. There was no follow-up question about the content of the audio recordings. But let's get straight to CNN's senior Congressional correspondent Manu Raju who is up on Capitol Hill.

[15:35:00]

And Manu, you have also noticed a number of other Republican who have been avoiding comments on these new revelations?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, particularly Republicans who are up for re-election. Many are steering clear of weighing in, they are not criticizing the President. They're also not saying if they defend what the President is saying. One being Susan Collins of Maine. She's in a very difficult reelection race last couple of days. I've tried to ask her about these remarks as she's ignored questions about it.

Other Senators, too, in difficult races, like Joni Ernst of Iowa, yesterday she would not discuss them. Today when I asked about it, she said, quote, I haven't seen it. She's persistent that I haven't read it, haven't seen it. So give me a chance to take a look. Of course, these are comments that have been reported widely over the last 24 hours. And other Republicans like Mitch McConnell are defending the President's overall handling of the crisis.

Thom Tillis of North Carolina who's in reelection in North Carolina made it clear that he believes the President's handled this well. He also said that he agrees the President shouldn't try to create any sort of panic.

And that's what David Perdue, a Georgia republican, also in a tight race, said today, that he understands why the President didn't want to essentially mess with the psyche of the American public.

So you're seeing a bit of a response, a pattern forming among Republicans who are up for reelection. They are steering clear. They're avoiding criticizing the President at all costs, even though Democrats, others, are sharply criticizing the President for not telling the American public what he knew and giving a much different and opposite message after he was clearly aware how deadly this virus was.

One exception to that, on the Republican side, is Mitt Romney who told me early today that he thinks leaders should level with the American public, when they know something, but that's not a message that we're hearing from other Republicans, particularly ones in difficult races.

BALDWIN: Yes, also in this interview I wanted to ask you about leader McConnell was asked, you know, what's next for the coronavirus stimulus talks? That so-called skinny bill he just brought to the floor, didn't get enough votes. So what next?

RAJU: Well, look, it appears that we're probably going to have to wait for relief. Americans -- waiting for Washington to do something may have to wait until after November, because there are no bipartisan talks that happening at the moment.

Democrats are saying Mitch McConnell needs to make the next move. Mitch McConnell saying Democrats need to make the next move. The Democrats in the House passed their own bill in May. The Republicans have sharply criticized it.

They cited Democrats blocked the Republican plan at the moment. So. It looks like it'll be ultimately up to voters to make a decision about who to send back to Washington and then they'll have to decide what to do post November.

But that's really not going -- it's really going to come as a surprise or could hurt so many Americans who are waiting for Congress to act. Particularly people who are facing eviction after the expiration of that eviction moratorium -- Brooke

BALDWIN: We'll see if all of that factors into how people vote come November 3rd. Manu Raju, thank you for all that.

Coming up, football is back. The NFL season kicks off tonight with limited fans in the seats and some striking changes to the game. So, we'll talk to a former player and current doctor ahead.

[15:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The NFL season kicks off tonight when the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. But fans and players alike are in for a very different experience. The Chiefs are among just a handful of teams allowing fans but capacity at Arrowhead Stadium is capped at 22 percent, to be precise. Cheerleaders, mascots, and sideline reporters are banned from the field.

Coaches required to wearing a masks and players are encouraged and, in some cities, required to wear those masks as well. And there will be no post-game handshakes between those two teams.

There was another huge change after years of restricting players from protesting for social justice on the field, the league will stencil the phrases "it takes all of us" and "end racism" in each end zone.

Joining me is Dr. Myron Rolle, a neurosurgeon resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and former NFL safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans, Dr. Rolle, nice to have you back. Welcome.

DR. MYRON ROLLE, NEUROSURGEON RESIDENT AT HARVARD, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: So we chatted just back in July, and we were talking about, you know, should they play again? And you told me at the time that the NFL should delay or even cancel the season. What are you thinking today ahead of the first game tonight?

ROLLE: Well, you know I was skeptical then, as you mentioned, that they can start a season in the midst of a pandemic that's not fully controlled. And I still honestly remain skeptical now that they can even complete the season or complete half the season without a major disruption of players contracting the virus or a player getting severely sick.

We've seen a Division II college football player die of COVID-19 complications unfortunately and that's the extreme example but nevertheless still it needs to be included in the discussion.

And when you have players who are in a pseudo-bubble like they are now in training rooms, in their hotels, really being controlled in their sort of local cities, now you expose them by traveling and having to go on the road. Being exposed people who don't know their COVID-19 status, like these players do when they get tested every single day. It becomes an uphill challenge for the NFL for sure.

BALDWIN: No, and I hear you on the pseudo-bubble for now. And I mean listen if the NFL would point to these numbers. Let me just point everyone -- this the most recent update this week. The NFL and Players Association reported that only one positive COVID result among, you know, more than 2,600 players tested. [15:45:03]

Does that at all reassure you that the safety protocols in place are working?

ROLLE: Well, you know, there's issues here. Right? There's one where you're not sure if technically these tests are being done the same way, consistently. Are you getting accurate results? Are you being transparent with your results?

What we do know is that the NFL is putting a lot of resources, energy- focused money into making sure that their products can get on the fields. And it's a business. So they want to make sure that they can have a business and have consumers enjoy the entertainment of National Football League. It's an amazing sport.

I played it and frankly helped pay for medical school. But nevertheless, the issue here that comes to my mind is that if you're putting all of these resources into making sure that these players are safe, staff members and equipment managers are safe. You know, where does that fit into the juxtaposition of the American populace being safe? Right?

Where does that come into a broader systems, you know, 360-degree look at investing some of these resources into lab and bench research for our vaccines and our therapeutic regimens to really thwart this virus as best we can? Or to treat people in other parts of the country who may not have access to rapid testing like NFL players do.

So, it's a very complex situation. I know the NFL is doing best they can. But to the players my recommendation would be, to be neurotic about your health, like I mentioned before, and to really protect yourself and your family if you're going to be placed in a position to play the season through.

BALDWIN: Well, here's what I want to know -- because I know you're talking to your friends, you know, your former teammates, current players. What are they saying?

ROLLE: Well, they feel actually very positive about how much money and how much testing has gone in. Even in their off days they go to the facility and need to be tested. But they have mentioned that they're nervous about the idea of opening variables and factors of, you know, getting in touch with maybe flight attendants on their planes, or, you know, bus drivers when they're being transported from the hotel to the stadium and these other, you know, factors that you really can't control.

You can control being in a training camp. But you can't really control what happens outside of it. And they're just not sure and not certain if things are going to be able to last throughout the season. And so I think we need to sort of take a step back. Realize that our players have a very important role here, and their health is probably the most important role of it all.

BALDWIN: Now, I want to pivot a little bit. We're talking what's going to happen on the field, but, you know, you and I have been watching closely what's been happening off the field and in the streets across this country all summer long.

The protests, you know, in the wake of violence, oftentimes with, you know, black men and women in this country. So here you have the NFL now they are rolling out this series of social justice initiatives from playing, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" before games to players being allowed to wear decals and honor victims of police brutality to a voter registration push.

Just two years ago, Dr. Rolle, you know, owners said players must stand for the national anthem. I mean, did you ever think you would see such a change like this? What do you make of this reversal?

ROLLE: Yes, it is certainly a reversal. You're absolutely right. And I think they're trying to be on the right side of history now. Colin Kaepernick started it years ago when he made his peaceful protest of kneeling for the San Francisco 49ers. And now you're seeing the NFL saying, well, maybe he was right and maybe we were wrong?

BALDWIN: Yes, I hear you're saying. Well, they're getting it right now.

ROLLE: Yes.

BALDWIN: Actually hang on one second, Dr. Rolle, forgive me. I got to go to the President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- what I said is, we have to be calm, we can't be panicked. I knew that the tapes were -- these were a series of phone calls that we had, mostly phone calls.

And Bob Woodward is somebody that I respect just from hearing the name for many, many years. Not knowing too much about his work and not caring about his work, but I thought it would be interesting to talk to him for a period of calls, so we did that.

I don't know if it's good or bad, I don't even know if the book is good or bad. But certainly if he thought that was a bad statement, he would have reported it because he thinks that, you know, you don't want to have anybody that is going to suffer medically because of some fact, and he didn't report it because he didn't think it was bad, nobody thought it was bad -- wait a minute. Wait a minute

And your question, the way you phrased that is such a disgrace, it's a disgrace to ABC Television Network, it's a disgrace to your employer. And that's the answer, you're ready? Because ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are saying ...

TRUMP: ... I love -- of course I didn't, of course I didn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that it was deadlier than the flu, and then you went out and told the American public that this was just like the flu. (INAUDIBLE) you told everybody else something else. TRUMP: No, in five times. Right? Five times. Have you ever heard the expression five times? We've had flu years where we lost 100,000 people. The flu is a very serious problem for this country also, and we've been losing them -- Scott, what kind of a number have we lost over the years with flu into the hundreds of thousands?

[15:50:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: WelI, I mean, the last five years have been something like 35-80,000 per year, every year, even with antiviral drugs and even with --

TRUMP: Flu is a very serious problem. But just so you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) like 35 to 80,000 per year. Deadlier than the most strenuous flu.

TRUMP: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then you went out and said it's just like the flu.

TRUMP: What I went out and said is very simple. Listen.

What I went out and said is very simple. I want to show a level of confidence and I want to show strength as a leader. And I want to show that our country is going to be fine one way or the other whether we lose one person -- we shouldn't lose any, because this shouldn't have happened, this is China's fault, this is nobody's fault but China, China should not have allowed it to happen.

Whether you have one person, 180,000 people or 2.5 or 3 million people, which it could have been very seriously if we didn't make the moves. And when you look at the opposition where they said, oh, why did he put the ban on?

Dr. Fauci said, we saved hundreds of thousands of lives by putting the ban on China, and then ultimately putting the ban on Europe. There was no lie here.

What we're doing is we're leading, and we're leading in a proper way. And if frankly somebody else was leading it, they wouldn't have closed it. If you look at a Nancy Pelosi, you look at Cuomo, you look at de Blasio, you look at Biden, months later they said there's no problem -- they're talking about me, months later. And before any statement was made, you have to remember, I put the ban on China, so obviously, outwardly, I said, it's a very serious problem.

And it's always a serious problem, that doesn't mean I'm going to jump up and down in the air and start saying, people are going to die, people are going to die. No, no, I'm not going to do that. We're going to get through this. And we're right now, I hope, really think we're going to -- we're rounding the final turn. And a lot of good things are happening with the vaccines and with therapeutics. But there's no lying, and the way you asked that question is very disgraceful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, should people trust you?

TRUMP: Phi, go ahead, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Mr. President --

Donald Trump: But I do think so, I think we did a great job. I think we did a great job and the people that did say -- our generals, our admirals, Mike Pence, all of the people that have worked so hard, and now Dr. Atlas, all of the -- Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, they should be respected for the job they've done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you won't downplay it again? You won't downplay it again? Because you said you downplayed it that you told Woodward.

TRUMP: All I'm doing is -- no, I don't want to jump up and down and start screaming death, death, because that's not what it's about. We have to lead a country. We're leading a great country, and we're doing a great job. And the people that have done such a good job should be given the kind of credit that they deserve.

We possibly have done the best jobs when you start looking at what we're doing with the vaccines and therapeutics and ventilators. We had no ventilators, John, we make thousands of ventilators now a month and we're supplying them to the whole world. The job we've done is the best job. And don't give me any credit, give the people that have done this the credit, they've done a great job. Yes, Phil, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now Mr. President, you talked about the need to stay calm and not jump up and down and scare people, a lot of other world leaders were calm, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was very calm as she presented information to the German people so that they could say safe and protect their families. So why, as you as President of the United States, did you not level with the American people, did you not share the information that you knew at the time in real time?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know what Angela is doing. But if you look at the European Union right now, they're having breakouts like you've never seen before, and frankly, their numbers are at a level that are much than the levels here. We have done --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean the United States.

TRUMP: Phil, we have done much, much better than the European Union. I just read you numbers that are not good on their behalf that are very good at ours, and we have rounded the final turn and we have -- we're going to have vaccines very soon, maybe much sooner than you think. Listen, maybe much sooner than you think.

But we have done a phenomenal job and the people that have done this job, including the American public, that's had to put up with a lot, with the lockdowns and all of the things that they had to do. They have to be given credit. They have to be given credit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you knew this was a deadly virus. You knew it was airborne. You knew on February 7th. You told Bob Woodward how it transferred from person to person in the air, how deadly it was. Why didn't you not come to the podium and tell us about (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: Well, let me ask you this. If Bob Woodward thought that was bad -- because this is stuff that everyone knew. There's a report that I have here someplace where China said it was airborne earlier than the statements I made. People knew it was airborne. This was nothing. This was no big -- when I say it was airborne, everybody knew it was airborne. This was no big thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You found out in February.

TRUMP: Read the reports. China came out with a statement that it was an airborne disease. I heard it was an airborne disease. I assumed it early on. The fact is, there has to be a calmness. You don't want me jumping up and down screaming, there's going to be great death! There going to -- and really causing some very, very serious problems for the country.

[15:55:00]

If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare and let them know. But he didn't think it was bad. And he said he didn't think it was bad. He actually said he didn't think it was bad. The only one that said was bad or thinks it was bad were the fake news media, because they take it and they try and put it a certain way.

If Bob Woodward thought it was bad then he should have immediately gone out publicly, not wait four months. You know, he's had that statement for four months, maybe five months. He's had it for a long time. It was a series of taped interviews, mostly by telephone, quick ones. Not long ones, quick ones. And I did it out of curiosity because I do have respect and I want to see -- I wonder whether or not somebody like that can write good. I don't think he can, but let's see what happens here. Yes, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President. We're just about 50 days out from the election and we haven't seen a lot out of the Durham Investigation yet.

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is that? And do you have confidence in the investigation?

TRUMP: Well, I can't tell you that yet. I have to see. I'm not involved in it. I purposely stayed uninvolved. I'm, I guess, considered the chief law enforcement officer of the country. I could be involved if I wanted to. I thought it would be a better if I wasn't. I think it's better if our great Attorney General handle it. He has Durham who is a very, very respected man. And we're going to see what it is. I can't tell you that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will there be more indictment?

TRUMP: I can tell you this. They lied, they cheated, they leaked, they got caught. They spied on my campaign. Never in history has there been anything like this. And I guarantee you if the roles were reversed and I was on the Democrat side, people would have been in jail at the very highest level. People would have been in jail for two years already. Nothing like this has ever happened and the term would be for many, many years because it's treason and other words can be used also.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you think there should be more indictments as a part of this investigation?

TRUMP: Well, I think just on what I read in your wonderful papers. I think and see what, you know, just looking at the media, not even what I know. I think Comey is a disgrace to our country. I think Strzok, who just wrote a book, which is a total fake, is a disgrace. I think Page, Lisa Page, his lover, is a disgrace to our country.

I think that when you look at McCabe where his wife got $700,000 in campaign contributions from Hillary Clinton. Right? And then Hillary Clinton is under investigation, and yet she paid the head of the FBI, one of the top people. But actually, the head because he took over for the other guy, who fortunately I fired. I made a good move when I fired him. That was a smart move because they were looking to take down this administration, duly elected administration. So, I fired him. That was a great move when I fired him. Because maybe if I didn't I wouldn't be here talking to you as President.

But when McCabe's wife gets $700,000 in campaign contributions when she was running for whatever office she was running from Virginia, and yet he's in charge of the investigation of Hillary Clinton. Now he says, well, I wasn't really in charge. Of course, he was in charge. He was totally in charge. He knew exactly what was going on.

These people got caught in the -- probably the biggest political scandal in the history of our country. They got caught. Now, what the Durham Report is going to say, I can't tell you. But if they say half as much as I already know, just from seeing it.

You know, you have people, I watch some of the shows. I watched Liz McDonald. She's fantastic. I watched Fox Business. I watched Lou Dobbs last night. Sean Hannity last night, Tucker last night, Laura. I watched Fox and Friends in the morning. You watch these shows, you don't have to go too far into the details. They cover things that are -- it's really an amazing thing.

They got caught in the biggest political scandal in the history of our country. They were spying on their opponent's campaign. Not only spying, they were making up fake dossiers. You have the "Dirty Dossier". They were making up. The dirty -- it was all made up. It was all fiction. It turned out to be fiction. And then they were using that in the FISA courts, this revered court.

Well, it's not so revered anymore because when you look at what they did and how they played it, and they hurt a lot of people. General Flynn is still being hurt and is being hurt very badly. He is a wonderful person. I spoke to General Millie about General Flynn two weeks ago. I said, what do you think of General Flynn? He said, he's a great soldier, sir, and he's a wonderful, wonderful human being. He's been destroyed. He's been destroyed.

Now, I think that this -- without knowing anything about what Durham is going to release, the Durham Report we'll call it, or maybe it's going to be more than a report. Maybe it's going to be much more than a report, I don't know.