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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Holds Rally With No Distancing & Few Masks, Proving What He Admitted Months Ago: He's Still Downplaying Virus; Trump Claims He Downplayed Virus to Avoid Panic Even as He Tries to Create Panic About Protests, Voter Fraud; CDC Projects Up to 25,000 More Virus Deaths in Next 3 Weeks; Trump Today: "I Really Do Believe We're Rounding The Corner"; Trump Claims "Everybody Knew" Virus Was Airborne in Feb; New Details on Trump's Phone Calls with Bob Woodward; GOP Senator on Trump's Health Care Plan: "It's B.S."; Fox News Dismisses Revelations in Bob Woodward's New Book. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 10, 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: His Sunday conversations with his dad. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump claims he's not a liar despite being caught not telling the truth about how dangerous the coronavirus is and tonight he's again putting the lives of his own supporters at risk.

Plus, the CDC now projecting up to 25,000 more Americans could die from coronavirus in the next three weeks.

And remember when Trump promised a health care plan more than three years ago, within three years ago, where is it? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, President Trump about to speak at a rally without social distancing or masks. The President defiant tonight as he's facing fire for recordings that prove he intentionally downplayed the severity of the virus. Tonight, again, choosing to put the lives of his own supporters at risk.

Take a look at the crowd. This is in Freeland, Michigan. This is September 2020, just to make that clear, because I don't see - oh, there, I see one. No social distancing. No masks. It is a scene that is becoming far too common.

Two thousand Trump supporters packed together, 2,000 people, no social distance. You just saw one mask there in the shots we've been showing you. None in any of these shots we're showing.

And the truth is the President understands the severity of the virus. He knows how easily it spreads through the air. He knows that it's worse than the flu. He told Bob Woodward all of this actually back in February 7th. He knew it then. Yet since then he has held rally after rally like tonight's, right, rally after rally; Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Charlotte, Grayling, Michigan, again and again.

And today, he's trying to clean up his comments to Bob Woodward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON KARL, ABC NEWS: Why did you lie to the American people? And why should we trust what you have to say now?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Such a terrible question and the phraseology. I didn't lie. What I said is we have to be calm; we can't be panicked.

KARL: You told him that you knew that ...

TRUMP: Of course I didn't. Of course I didn't.

KARL: ... it was deadlier than the flu.

TRUMP: No, no. No, no.

KARL: And then you went out and told the American public that this was just like the flu.

TRUMP: Let me tell you something, we've had flu years ...

KARL: I mean, you told Woodward one thing and you told everybody else something else.

THE PRESIDENT: No. And five times, right? Five times. You ever hear 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 flus? Into the hundreds of thousands?

DR. SCOTT ATLAS, ADVISER, WH CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Well, I mean, the last five years have been something like 35,000 to 80,000 per year, every year, even with antiviral drugs ...

KARL: But you told Bob Woodward this is worse than the most deadly - deadlier than the most strenuous flu.

TRUMP: OK.

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

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

KARL: And that it was going to go away.

TRUMP: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: President says he didn't lie that he was just trying to

protect the American people. So let's just break this down again. First, I want to play, again, what President Trump told Bob Woodward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Obviously, that is not what the President told the American people at that time or for months afterwards. He repeatedly compared it to the flu. And in fact, not just compared it to the flu, he explicitly did so in the context of telling all of us that the flu was worse.

He would put out all these numbers and how many people died from flu and look we had 15 people from coronavirus or 11 people or the point is he kept saying it was all nothing, it will all go away, that the flu was worse. And on top of all that, he continued to hold rallies, fully knowing it was airborne, as you heard him tell Mr. Woodward.

And he did this thinking that it would kill 5 percent of the people who got it. The number he told Bob Woodward, 5 percent, so he's thinking 5 percent of the people who get this virus are going to die, which means he was holding rallies thinking 5 percent of people who attended could die.

Now, that is appalling and the President is now trying to suggest that he did all this in order to prevent Americans from panicking. OK. So let's take that part of it in case you think maybe there's something in there. It just doesn't add up as a claim, because Trump thrives on blowing up fears. It is part of his political and presidential brand.

Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists and some I assume are good people.

[19:05:02]

They set up these caravans. In many cases, they put their worst people in the caravan. They're not going to put their best in. They get rid of their problems.

If Biden wins, it will be a giant jailbreak for MS-13 and vicious criminal gangs.

This will be the most fraudulent election in history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. This is not a person who tries to keep people from panicking on topic after topic. That is a president who feeds on fear.

Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT live at Trump's rally in Freeland, Michigan tonight. And Jim, we've been looking at all of those pictures. I saw one person with a mask in all of the different angles that we just showed people a moment ago. You have been speaking to some of the people who are there tonight, gathered to hear the President. What do they think about all this?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, a lot, like the President, who was defying reality earlier today when he was insisting he wasn't lying to the American people about the coronavirus or trying to blame it all on Bob Woodward. We've been talking to a number of people this evening who don't believe the coronavirus is an actual threat and they're going to believe the President no matter what he says.

I can tell you right now standing in this aircraft hangar that you have hundreds, if not thousands, of people standing shoulder to shoulder, not social distancing and not wearing masks. And while I talked to some of the folks here gathered for this drop out, the President just arrived here just a few moments ago on Air Force One.

Some of the attendees told me point blank that if they contract the coronavirus, so be it. Here's what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not afraid. The good Lord takes care of me. If I die, I die. We got to get this country moving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So there you have it. One gentleman in the audience here saying if I die, I die, so be it. Erin, I talked to another man here. I asked him why he wasn't wearing a mask. He said he doesn't believe that coronavirus is a problem at all. He doesn't really believe that it's a threat to him or his health.

And when I pointed out to him that the President talked to Bob Woodward and said on tape that this virus is deadly, it is dangerous and it is more harmful than the seasonal flu, the man was sort of frozen for a moment and said well he still doesn't believe that coronavirus is a problem, but he believes the President. And Erin, that is the sentiment you'll find throughout these rallies.

This is, I think, if you look at what's brewing here tonight, this is a potential super spreader event. You have people brand in this aircraft hangar. Yes, there are some outside and there are a few here and there wearing masks. But by and large just like the President, they're defying this administration's own guidelines for preventing COVID-19, Erin. BURNETT: Defying. Yes, thank you very much, Jim. And I think also

giving an example of the President, the power he has, the power he could have had to have a very different outcome here.

OUTFRONT now, two frontline workers from two hard hit areas of the country. Dr. Mike Saag runs an outpatient clinic for COVID. He's a Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. And Dr. Murtaza Akhter is an ER doctor at Valleywise Health Medical Center, Assistant Professor also at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix.

Dr. Akhter, your county is number three right now in the United States for confirmed cases and you are number six for deaths. The President says that he did not lie to the American people when he said that there were thousands of - 10s of thousands of deaths from flu and 11 or 12 from coronavirus, don't worry about it even as, obviously, he told Bob Woodward it's airborne and 5 percent of the people who get it are going to die. Those are the numbers he thought at the time.

Do you think that what he said to the American people made this worse?

DR. MURTAZA AKHTER, ER DOCTOR, VALLEYWISE HEALTH MEDICAL CENTER: Oh, it absolutely made it worse. He clearly has some sort of a cult following that regardless of data will follow whatever he says. You will think as president he would use that to his advantage and tell topical things that would help them help save lives.

The fact that he knew even when doctors and scientists were debating whether it was contact or aerosolized or droplet, the fact that he knew it could be breathed in means that he could very early on said, people, if you wear masks, you could dramatically reduce the amount of deaths. And yet, despite knowing that he went the other way and now we have a couple hundred thousand people who are dead, it's really appalling.

BURNETT: Right. And as I said, a forecast for another 25,000 in the next three weeks.

Dr. Saag, you had COVID yourself. You have recovered. Your state has had more than 135,000 confirmed cases so far. So if the President had said publicly what he said to Bob Woodward privately, in the context of, look, this is bad. This could be incredibly deadly. We're going to get through this together. This is what I need you to do that involves masks. Would he have made things better or would he, as he says, make people panic and have made things worse?

[19:10:00]

DR. MICHAEL SAAG, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT UAB: Well, I think it would have been a game changer and it still can be. That's the part that we don't want to miss out on. I mean, we still have the epidemic spreading throughout our communities right now.

And as you just showed, 2,000 people at a rally not wearing masks, this is an opportunity to pivot. This is an opportunity to make a difference, not just for those people at the rally, but for the whole country. What we're up against is we know from a public health perspective that masks work, yet we have a political current that's pushing against that.

If the President would just simply say, we're all going to wear a mask, we're going to get behind this. You're right, aerosols do spread, so let's work together on this not only would he stop the pandemic in a major way, at least reduce the transmission, he also, my opinion, could improve his political fortune. I don't understand why he's not doing that.

BURNETT: So Dr. Akhter, the President said today that everybody knew the virus was airborne when he said that to Bob Woodward on February 7th. Let me just again play what he said on February 7th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. So he's making it very clear that he knows it travels through the air, 12 days after he said that on February 7th privately to Bob Woodward, publicly he's saying that this is nothing, it's going away. Held and indoor rally without masks, no social distancing in your state. I remember talking to you at that time.

He held five additional rallies in other states after he made those comments as well. And, of course, tonight's rally just adds on to that list. This is a kind of a strange question to be asking about a President of the United States, but given what he said and what he knew and then what he did, he also said he thought 5 percent of the people who got were going to die. How much responsibility does he bear for holding these events?

AKHTER: Well, I don't know whom else you can hold responsible. It was a rally for him. People came for him. Like you said, you and I discussed how much they were aerosolizing, they were yelling, they were chanting. We know this is how germs are spread. There's no debate about that.

There are some things that, yes, maybe you need to lick to get sick, but E. coli, but viri, we know whether you have kids, you have siblings, you have family members, a lot of them are through coughing, laughing, sneezing. And to hold a rally in that situation on top of which you're saying masks aren't that important, you're basically asking people to get sick.

Again, in some sense he was right. Everybody knew. We knew it was going to happen and they still hold a rally and say, you know what, if people get sick, oh, well, I think that's really disgraceful.

BURNETT: I'm just keeping up live pictures here of the rally of people in Freeland, Michigan.

Dr. Saag, Alabama, of course, is a red state with a lot of Trump supporters. But last night I spoke with a woman whose father died from COVID and actually in Arizona and she said he was a supporter of the President, and that he believed him. She said his only pre existing condition was trusting the President and she said she would call him and say don't do this, don't go out. And he would say, I hear you, but the President says it's fine. The governor says it's fine, so it's going to be fine. They had that explicit conversation.

So when you see COVID patients every day, how much do some of them take the President's words an example to heart? I mean, do you hear them say that, but if it's fine for him, it's fine for me?

SAAG: Yes, I do somewhat. And I was cringing quite a bit when the interview happened with the rally person who said, I don't care if I get it, I get it. I just walked through the ICU on rounds about two hours ago and saw bed after bed after bed of people struggling to breathe.

And if you don't know that, if you don't see it, I guess you might cavalierly say, oh, it doesn't matter. I don't care if I get it. Just walk through the wards one time and you'll change your mind.

The other thing as I was thinking as I heard the part about aerosol. The way that I got infected was riding in a car with my son back from New York. It turned out he was infected and asymptomatic, we didn't know it. And that was at a time in early March when we weren't a hundred percent sure about aerosols. I wish I had known that, because we would have worn masks and we would have kept the windows cracked or at least down and had some airflow.

We were thinking transmission by contact back then, it wasn't right.

BURNETT: Right. So thinking your own example, when you look at the time when you were in the car versus that thing, that that's an explicit, specific case. Dr. Akhter, let me give the last word to you. What are you seeing now?

SAAG: Well, things were ...

AKHTER: Sorry. Was that for me, Erin? I thought (inaudible) ...

BURNETT: Yes. Yes, go ahead. I'm sorry. Yes, go ahead, Dr. Akhter.

AKHTER: Things in Arizona have gotten a lot better, fortunately. Now, remember, we were in such a bad state that there was basically nowhere to go but better. And so when I'm working in the ERs, we have fewer cases, we have fewer people with those symptoms, which is really reassuring.

But when you go out, you'll see people who sometimes aren't wearing masks or who aren't distancing.

[19:15:04] And I don't want people thinking, oh, things are getting better. Let's

just give up and go party again. That's what we did back in May. And you saw what happened, we became the worst hotspot in the country.

So I really would encourage people to stay vigilant. The reason things got better was because people were distancing in particular because people were wearing masks. We really all need to play our part together to make America safe again.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both and I should say in the context of this conversation and what you're warning about, right now the model the White House uses, the taskforce uses projects more than doubling in death in this country by the end of December. Which would mean you start to see a death rate worse than we saw at some of the peak, so when you think it's in the rearview mirror, that's what the model says. It's a model, by the way, that has been wrong, before wrong because it underestimated the number of deaths.

OUTFRONT next, the CDC with a new projection of up to 25,000 more American deaths in the next 21 days. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT.

Plus, Trump as we have seen tonight campaigning with supporters while Biden campaigns alone to maintain social distancing. Do those optics and the audio that comes with that matter?

And Trump tonight breaking one of his biggest campaign promises, which one?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:19:47]

BURNETT: Breaking news, the CDC projecting the U.S. could see up to 25,000 more coronavirus deaths as many as 217,000 total deaths in the next three weeks. And yet President Trump earlier touted his response to the virus.

[19:20:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The United States has done really well. I'm very proud of everybody that worked on this. And I really do believe we're rounding the corner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Chief Medical Correspondent. So Sanjay, up to 25,000 more deaths in the next three weeks. The President says we're rounding the corner. Of course, this is as to a litany of things he said, like it's going to go away in April when it gets warm and then it's going to go away and now we're rounding the corner.

But the new projection, and this is from the CDC, shows they're not expecting really a slowdown in deaths here, are they? SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. They're really not

and the CDC projections tend to be shorter term projections. They're looking at all of these various factors and what they're essentially saying if we look at sort of the country as a whole right now in terms of cases and in terms of these sad deaths, was sort of plateaued, Erin.

We've said this, I know, a few times now, but I kept thinking the numbers were going to start to do down. But we're sort of plateaued. We dips here and there, but around 40,000 or so new infections per day on average and around a thousand people dying, again, on average, if you do the CDC calculation, it actually means the death rate will actually go up. There'll be more than a thousand people dying a day by the beginning of October. So this is exactly the wrong direction you want to be going in.

And as you well know, Erin, opening schools, people are becoming increasingly mobile. A lot of people look at this, I keep people hearing say, you remember that COVID thing, COVID was bad, it's not in the past tense. We're still very much in the middle of this.

BURNETT: Right, right. And again, I point out that that model used by the task force, which projects a doubling in death by December. I mean, just to think about that, they're putting 400,000 and to the extent that model has been wrong, it's been under estimating death thus far.

So the President, Sanjay, was asked about that interview with Bob Woodward back in February, in the beginning of February, where he said the virus could be transmitted through the air. And he dismissed the question today by saying, "Everybody knew it was airborne. Everybody knew it was airborne on February 7th." That is not actually true.

GUPTA: No, it's not true. It's very interesting, because we look back now from our vantage point so many months later and we say, of course, this is spread through the air. I will say, I think the President is conflating two separate things. One is the idea of respiratory droplets, which is spreading through the air and then there's through airborne where the virus could become suspended on dust and last for hours and hours, which is still a bit of an open question.

But it wasn't until February 14th, a week later, the CDC had a tele briefing saying at that point, we believe that the mode of transmission of this virus is through these respiratory droplets through the air. At that point, they still said we believe.

There wasn't enough data for the CDC to say this at the point, so clearly it wasn't widely known. People thought it's a respiratory virus. Maybe it's going behave like flu, coughing, sneezing, but it wasn't clear at that point at all.

BURNETT: Right. And he's saying he knew even before they said believe and he knew continuing to hold those rallies. So this timeline is just - it's consistent. I know that you had an in depth interview today, Sanjay, with the White House testings are, Admiral Brett Giroir. And you talked about testing, here's one thing he told you. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, HHS: What I want to do is create as many tests as possible. There will be a day where there will be at home tests that are widely available in the hundreds of millions that are cheap, that we can test as frequently as we want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So he's saying there will be a day, I realize he's not saying now. There are other places in the world where that is now. But he's optimistic there and that seems very different from what he's said many times recently about testing problems in this country. Here's examples over the past couple weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIROIR: It's great to talk about this utopian kind of idea wher everybody has a test everyday and we can do that. I don't live in a utopian world, I live in the real world.

Not only do we not recommend this strategy of testing everyone on a frequent basis, but I think it could instill a false sense of security. We are doing the appropriate amount of testing now to reduce the spread, flatten the curve, save lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: The second one is particularly jarring to me. We don't recommend testing everyone on a frequent basis and that was a couple of weeks ago. Now, today, I want to create as many tests as possible. I want a day where everybody can just, hundreds of millions, get tested. That seems to be polar opposite.

GUPTA: It really is. I mean, I was surprised by this. I thought he was going to sort of dig into what he has said before, we're not going to test our way out of this sort of minimizing testing. But you're absolutely right, Erin, there was a clear shift. There was a shift in this idea that, yes, we need widespread testing. I even brought up this idea that people would get tested in the morning at their home as they brush their teeth.

[19:25:00]

You and I talked about that months ago that possibility. It's like checking your app for the weather, you would get tested. If you're positive you'd stay home. That's the sort of testing that we do see in parts of the world and we could have had by this point.

So the fact that he's coming around and saying it's important is great, but we could have already been there at this point here in this country as well. He also came around on this idea that people who are asymptomatic, who are not showing any symptoms now should also be tested, because this has been a crazy point of confusion.

The CDC came out a week and a half ago saying, asymptomatic people don't necessary need to be tested. Even if you've been in the presence of someone diagnosed, you don't need to be tested necessarily. That's bad advice. You do need to be tested. That's where a lot of the spread is coming from and at least the Admiral conceded that as well.

BURNETT: All right. Interesting though what would cause such a shift.

GUPTA: Yes.

BURNETT: And again, to the point that we're hearing Bob Woodward has raised, if things had been said differently for a long time here, where would we be? We should point out those kinds of tests are available in other places in the world. It'd be transformative for schools and the economy. Thanks so much, Sanjay.

And Dr. Gupta will be back at the top of the hour for CNN's GLOBAL TOWNHALL CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS. NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, will be on tonight. That starts at eight o'clock Eastern.

And next, new details on the taped conversations Trump had with Bob Woodward, more extensive than what we previously knew.

And the scary alternate reality that is playing out on the channel that Trump says he spent all day yesterday watching.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump today had a great day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a booger dress as a bombshell, it's nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:31]

BURNETT: Breaking news, we've got new details on President Trump's phone calls with Bob Woodward. You know, obviously, you've heard him admitting that he played down the coronavirus in early February, misleading Americans on how deadly it was.

Our own Jamie Gangel tonight is reporting there were a total of 19 phone calls between Trump and Woodward, 19, that lasted a total of nearly 10 hours.

Now, that's a lot of calls and it's a lot of time, particularly in the context of what Trump said today, when he said, yeah, there just wasn't very many of them and they were short. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it would be interesting to talk to him for a period of, you know, calls. So, we did that. It was a series of taped interviews, mostly by telephone. Quick ones, not long ones. Quick ones. And it was -- I did it out of curiosity. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Quick, not long. Ten hours time from the president of the United States in the worst pandemic in a century. I would say that's some serious time.

OUTFRONT now is CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip, CNN political analyst David Gregory, and Zoe Clark. She's the program director of Michigan Public Radio, and the co-host of "It's Just Politics."

And, Zoe, I want to start with you because these images tonight are pretty stunning in your state. The president is there holding a campaign rally in Michigan. And these are live, okay? So, you can see there's no masks, there's no social distancing. And a lot of these people are inside, inside the airport hangar, not outside.

The president won your state in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes. So, what impact do you think revelations in the Woodward book will have on voters in your state? Obviously the Trump supporters here are passionate.

ZOE CLARK, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN PUBLIC RADIO: It's interesting to think about. I think it really depends on which side you're on. And I think both sides, it makes folks more enthusiastic, either more enthusiastic to vote for Trump, as you're seeing some 5,000 people rally right now in Michigan, or even more reason to be enthusiastic and to come out and vote against Trump.

And that's where we are in America right now in 2020, right? It just feels like these incidents happen. And I don't think there are these moderate people in the middle who are going, hmm, who am I going to vote for? But just am I going to actually turn out on Election Day?

BURNETT: So, David, to Zoe's point, this is going to be about turn out. There aren't a lot of people who don't know who they're going to vote for. There are some. There are some who are conflicted for various reasons. There's not a lot.

So, when you see the Bob Woodward revelations, do they help Joe Biden at all?

It looks like David is working on his web cam.

So, Abby, let me put that question to you. Do you think that helps in terms of passioned engagement for Biden voters, these revelations? They obviously don't impact Trump supporters. They're not going to change their minds, but does this help Biden?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, I think Zoe is absolutely right that this is becoming quickly a turnout type of election. One of the things that the Woodward book does do is that it reminds voters about one of the things that had made them turn away from president Trump or at least become much more enthusiastic about voting for Biden, which is the coronavirus. The whole idea of the Trump campaign over the last several weeks was to try to take people's attention off of this pandemic. And now, the Woodward book has just refocused them on it.

You know, at this point, you know, a lot of polls have borne out that a lot of Biden supporters are, in fact, voting against Trump and not necessarily for Biden. The Trump campaign says that that's problem, but I'm not sure that it is. I mean, whether they're voting for Biden or against Trump, as long as they show up, I think the Biden campaign wants them to be there.

And moments like this really light a fire under Biden's base, these voters who he needs to turn out, who he doesn't want to stay home in any way, shape or form. It lights a fire under them to show up in November.

The problem is, though, we're 54 days away from the election. We have a long way to go here.

BURNETT: I know, it's like, in a sense it doesn't seem like a long way --

PHILLIP: Yeah.

BURNETT: -- but in other ways it does.

Right. So, you know, the pictures we've been seeing out of Michigan tonight, David, the president speaking at the campaign rally, supporters fired up.

[19:35:00]

This is -- you know, this is -- you've been seeing rally after rally. I'm saying what I'm seeing in the video, fewer masks. There's a few now. But fewer here than even at other Trump rallies recently. And that's saying something.

President Trump just this about the crowd. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know, this is not a crowd of a person who comes in second place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, he has them. And Joe Biden, meantime, is abiding by what the White House task force says and the CDC, right, and so no crowds, social distancing, masks, you name it.

And OK, I don't need to say it, it's a really different feel. Do those visuals matter or mean anything?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we're going to find out. I mean, on the one hand, what's hard for Biden is to compete with the excitement that you see for Trump in these rallies. He's got excited supporters, there's no question about it. And there's no question that there are excited critics of the president who want to vote for Biden. We're not seeing that as much. We didn't have that at conventions. And Biden wants to be able to demonstrate that because that has a kind

of catalytic effect on other voters. But these images are also incredibly divisive, right? People who are watching this on our air are either saying, hey, good for those people for not being afraid and getting out there to support Trump, or a lot of people are saying that's not safe.

But if you're Trump, everything is on his turf. He's being evaluated. It's a referendum on him. You know, my big take away on the Woodward book is that it just reinforces how do you think he did responding to the pandemic. If you think he did poorly, you're unlikely to reelect -- to vote for his re-election. That's what's some damning about the Woodward revelations after all the revelations we've had about Trump.

But in this case, Biden is competing to say, hey, this is why you should be excited about me, not just against the other guy.

BURNETT: And what are you seeing, Zoe, on the ground? Is it more -- from people who are Biden supporters, I use the word generally, right? Are they more supporting Biden or just going because they don't like Trump?

CLARK: Yeah, I mean, I think at this point, that's sort of what we're talking about nationally, right? It is this idea in Michigan in 2018 that we have the highest midterm election in 2018, that was not a Biden on the ballot. Trump wasn't even on the ballot. There were candidate who is had nothing to do with Trump. But that voter turnout and the enthusiasm and what we saw in Michigan was a Democratic wave.

So, so much of this is not necessarily a vote for Biden. And I would go as far to say and I've said it before that even in 2016 here in Michigan, a state that went Republican for the first time in six election presidential cycles voted for Trump. But it was less that Trump won Michigan and that Hillary Clinton really lost the state.

BURNETT: And, David, you also have just -- I want to bring out Jamie's reporting because she's been the one who's been breaking all this. The president saying it's just a short little call, short little conversations, 19 for ten hours.

OK. When you look back at presidents who have talked to Bob Woodward and others for books, how would you -- I say that sounds like an incredible amount of time from the president of the United States during the worst pandemic in a century. But you tell me as a reporter, is that -- is that a lot of time?

GREGORY: I look at it a little bit differently. When I covered the Bush White House, you know, the feeling was then no president is usually happy with the outcome. But they make a calculation that you need to cooperate with Bob Woodward because he's going to get to people and he's going to get to documents and he's going to have it all. So, you might as well get your interpretation out there.

Trump took it to this X factor where other presidents have done interviews that were taped by President Bush. But here he gave all this time. But the added element here with Trump here with Trump is how -- sorry my work from home issues with the light going out. I can turn on a different light. I can control the Gregory studio. Maybe I can't.

Anyway, the point for Trump is he was impressed by Woodward just like wanted to be thought of legitimate by "The New York times," he wanted to be thought of as legitimate by Bob Woodward.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you all very much.

Yeah, the studio needs a little bit to be desired there on the lighting.

GREGORY: I've got to get -- I've got to get to boss here of the studio. Wait, that's me.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks all three, Abby, David, Zoe, I appreciate your time.

And next for years, Trump has been promising a plan to overhaul Obamacare. Where is it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We'll be announcing that in about two months, maybe less.

We're signing a health care plan within two weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And as the damning reporting of Trump surfaced, this is what you heard on Fox.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump started off the day with a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:48:59]

BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump's silent on one of the top issues of this election, health care. He promised more than three years ago that he would have a health care plan to replace Obamacare. But it's nowhere, nowhere.

Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: I want to have a great health care bill and plan. And we will. It will happen.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been three years, and President Donald Trump still doesn't have a comprehensive health care reform plan. He didn't when he said this in June 2019.

TRUMP: And we already have the concept of the plan. We'll be announcing that in two months, maybe less.

MATTINGLY: When he promised this in July.

TRUMP: We're signing a health care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health care plans.

MATTINGLY: Or most recently when he pledged a plan by the end of August.

TRUMP: I do want to say that we're going to be introducing a tremendous health care plan sometime prior, hopefully prior to the end of the month. It's just about completed now.

MATTINGLY: It's now September in the middle of a once in a century pandemic, with the death toll surpassing 190,000.

[19:45:05]

And on Capitol Hill, Republicans say they've received zero indication any health care plan is coming. It's B.S., and you know that, one GOP senator told CNN of Trump's health care plan this week.

Trump's empty healthcare promise now spans years now, sparked by the GOP failure in 2017 to repeal and replace Obamacare, and exacerbated by the Trump administration's decision to sign on to a legal effort to strike the law down altogether, even without a clear replacement in the waiting, despite another Trump promise.

TRUMP: If a law is overturned, that's okay because the new law is going to have it in.

MATTINGLY: But surrounding Trump's bold if empty promises are two stark realities, first, Republicans haven't coalesced around a single proposal up to this point, including inside Trump's own White House where sources have battled over the ideas for years and settled instead of unilateral decisions.

And second, the politics of health care moved sharply against Republicans. Democrats in ad after ad after ad hammered Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare and with it its coverage of pre-existing conditions in 2018.

Republicans lost the House, and Trump pledged to reverse the slide, promising the GOP would, quote, become the party of health care. Republican candidates have moved forcefully to rebut the attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we'll always protect everyone with pre- existing conditions.

MATTINGLY: Framing the issue in the most personal of terms. But it remains a top election issue. One Democrat polls say continue

to hold advantage on. That according to more than anything else according to aides is why Trump promised an executive order that he said would protect pre-existing conditions.

TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions will be taken care of 100 percent by Republicans and the Republican Party.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And, Erin, there's some question about that executive order, whether it's legal, what the rationale for it is, and we don't have those answers. Not unlike the comprehensive health care plan hasn't been signed and at least as far as we know hasn't been released publicly -- Erin.

BURNETT: Phil, thank you.

And I want to go now to the former Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich. He has endorsed Joe Biden.

Governor Kasich, you've always made a big deal about health care and the president has made repeated promises about health care plan, right, again and again and again for more than three years, and yet we don't have one, doesn't seem close to having one.

One Republican senator telling CNN, quote, it's B.S., OK? So, that may be a senator, but what about Republican voters. Do they care?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, they wanted a repeal health care for 20 million Americans and they didn't have a replacement and still don't have a replacement.

And, Erin, this takes me back to the days I was in Congress and we had a fight, a big fight over, we need to have ideas. We need to get them out there and some Republicans say, oh, we can't put them out there, because people will shoot them down and criticize them. And I said, no, no, no, we have to do that. And a group of us forced them to make decisions on things.

Look, they don't have a plan on healthcare. They don't have a plan on environment. They don't have much of a plan on race, although the senator tried to put one together. They have no plan on debt. They have no plan on the difference between the rich and the poor.

So, you might say, well, why are they -- what's the story?

And, Erin, look, here's the thing they think. It's my team. It's my party. And we need to keep power because everything in Washington is about power.

Now, the senator says, you know, that this is bologna, what Trump has to say. Where's his plan? What are the ideas out of that party?

Now, for Biden, Biden better make it clear to him he's not going to be pushed around and be some left winger. He's got to make the case that he's strong and he's basically a centrist, somebody center right, center left. That's where people are.

So, it's going to be awe big turnout election.

But Erin, haven't you become convinced now that there are people in either party, and particularly now the Republican Party, they don't care about any of this. I want to stay in power. And if we let the other guy get in power, they're going to just do terrible thing. So, whatever we do is okay. It's ridiculous.

BURNETT: Right. Well, whatever we do or don't do, right? I mean, it's a -- it's a --

KASICH: Yeah, or whatever we don't do. If we do anything, we might get criticized. They didn't even have a platform at the convention, Erin, and it's crazy.

BURNETT: So -- OK. So, when you talk about that, the platform at the convention, it is not just health care, right? As you know, Governor, the president struggled to articulate what his to-do list is, right? He's very good.

He just a few moments ago said if Biden wins there's going to be mobs and rioters and arsonists and fire and that's what happens. But what would he do? What would the positives be? What will Trump do if he wins?

Well, here's what he said?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: What are your top priority items for a second term?

TRUMP: Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good.

[19:50:02]

I always say talent is more important than experience, I've always said that. But the word "experience" is a very important word. It's an important meaning.

I never did this before, never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington, I think 17 times, all of a sudden, I'm president of the United States. You know the story, I'm riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, this is great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And we had to cut that down. He went on to slam John Bolton but didn't give anything specific about what he would do a second term.

KASICH: Well, not only that, but the people that are supporting him, God bless him, they don't seem to care, because whatever he says, that's good, and because we can't be for the other guy, because the other guy is terrible. So, we got to be with our person and no matter what happens, what they say, what they do doesn't matter, because we need to keep power.

You see, Erin, the thing you have to realize is Washington has now become all about power. Either -- whoever is in power wants to keep power, whoever is out of power wants to have power. What I ask is, what are you going to do when you have the power? What are you going to do on these issues that I went through, on the environment, on race, in debt, and the gulf, the gulf between the rich and poor? What are you going to do about those things?

But I just need to have power. When you have power, just for the sake of having it, you're bankrupt. And that's kind of where -- it's why I went to that convention and supported Biden. But Biden can't just float home, either. He's got to be out there.

BURNETT: No, and you --

KASICH: I know he's got to be out there saying things.,

BURNETT: So, you know, you're one of the people -- and there aren't a lot of people in this country that have a decision to make, but you made yours. But there's others like you who are out there and not sure. So, this week they see "The Atlantic" talking about the president, right, the reporting about losers and suckers, referring to troops that way, Bob Woodward tapes. What was your reaction when you heard them?

KASICH: Well, it's just appalling to me. But my reaction electorally, this is for the people still undecided, and there aren't a lot of them. You know, I asked friends about -- well, what do you think the impact of this will be? Nothing.

And, you know, it's because, Erin, I know how clearly I can communicate this, but all you want is to be in charge. That's all you want. And that's all you care about.

It's the president, it's the people below him, when -- and that's been Washington forever. All about I'm in charge and I'm not going to let you, because you're bad. And that's a disaster for the country. That's why we're heading in the wrong direction.

Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Governor, thank you. Sorry to end on that note, but hank you very much. I'll talk to you soon.

And next, we're going to take you inside Fox News alternate universe. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:56:40]

BURNETT: Tonight, Trump's singing the praises of Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I watched Lou Dobbs last night, Sean Hannity last night, Tucker, 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Well, if you were watching Fox yesterday, there was generous praise for the president's Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

As for the Bob Woodward revelations, what revelations?

Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" and author of the new book "Hoax" is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you tuned into Fox News in the past day --

HANNITY: We'll talk about the non-stop, never-ending hysteria.

STELTER: -- you might have noticed a different reality.

LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK TV HOST: President Trump today had a great day -- a day that any president could only dream of.

STELTER: A complete dismissal of Bob Woodward's bombshell and rage.

GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS TV HOST: It's a booger dressed as a bombshell. It's nothing.

STELTER: In this reality, these comments by President Trump --

TRUMP: I wanted to -- I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: Yes.

TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.

STELTER: A confession about downplaying the coronavirus? No, Fox's stars said it was not a big deal at all.

GUTFELD: It's so obviously nothing.

STELTER: Mostly, the network just changed the subject.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: What was Joe Biden doing for the last 47 years?

STELTER: They distracted.

DOBBS: President Trump started off the day with a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. STELTER: They downplayed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The timing of this is interesting. You know, we're less than two months out from an election and seeing his niece write a negative book about him. We're seeing Michael Cohen's book. We're seeing this book come out. It's a time for them to sell their books.

STELTER: And they defended the comments.

HANNMITY: Let's make one thing perfectly clear, President Trump has never misled or distorted the truth about this deadly disease. No, he acted faster than anyone else.

STELTER: Tucker Carlson even offered a scapegoat for the president's predicament.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS TV HOST: It was Lindsey Graham who helped President Trump talk to Bob Woodward.

STELTER: While Sean Hannity pivoted right back to Joe Biden.

HANNITY: This show has exclusively now uncovered video of Joe Biden downplaying the coronavirus one month after the president's travel ban.

STELTER: Fox's other staple -- media criticism. Questioning, why Woodward withheld these tapes from the public for six-plus months?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Woodward is coming under scrutiny with many asking why he waited so long to come forward.

STELTER: President Trump picking up that argument saying if Woodward thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn't he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STELTER: Again, at that press conference, this is another example of the Fox/Trump feedback loop. Trump getting his talking points from Fox.

But as for Woodward, he says he needed time to know if what Trump said in February was true, and once he confirmed it, he rushed to finish writing "Rage" and get it out before election day.

Here's the thing, Erin, anybody who thinks they know the outcome, thinks they know what Trump voters are thinking about this, you have to watch this through Fox News goggles to see the alternative reality.

BURNETT: Yes, absolutely.

All right. Brian, as always, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

BURNETT: Thanks to Brian and thanks to all of you for joining us.

CNN's global town hall "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson starts now.