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Trump Denies Misleading Americans; Fauci: Need to "Hunker Down" for Difficult Fall & Winter; Chiefs, Texans Open NFL Season in Kansas City. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 05:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump stoking fear and deflecting blame as he denies he misled the American people about coronavirus.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Friday, September 11th, 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

And we begin this morning with President Trump on the defensive. With 53 days left until the election, he's running short on time to convince the country that he was trying to prevent panic by downplaying the virus, when in fact, when he was intentionally misleading the public about the severity of the pandemic every step of the way.

When called out on his lies yesterday by reporters, he once again deflected blame.


REPORTER: 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. Of course I did.


REPORTER: The flu and you went out and told the American public that this was just like the flu.

TRUMP: Let me tell you something else.


TRUMP: 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 people also. And we've been losing them.

Scott, what kind of a number have we lost over the year with flus? Into the hundreds of thousands?

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

REPORTER: This is worst -- deadlier than the most strenuous flu and you went on to say it's just like the flu.

TRUMP: What I went on and said is very simple. Listen, what I went on 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 our country is going to be fine one way or another, whether we lose 1 person. We shouldn't have lost any because this shouldn't have happened. This is China's fault.


JARRETT: So, now that so many of his lies about the virus have been exposed, Trump has continued to turn to fear to drum up enthusiasm among his base of supporters. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Does anybody want to have somebody from Antifa as a member and resident of your suburb? I don't think so.

Say, darling, who moved in next door? It's a resident of Antifa, no, thank you. Let's get out of here. Let's get the hell out of here, darling. Let's leave our suburbs. I wish Trump were president.


JARRETT: So that was last night at Michigan rally. A key battleground state that's also one of the 16 states where coronavirus deaths are on the rise right now. It's also the 16th rally Trump's held since he told Bob Woodward in early February that he knew how deadly this virus was and that it was airborne.

CNN's Jim Acosta has more on all this.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Laura, during a rally in Michigan, the president largely steered clear of the Bob Woodward book that captured Mr. Trump downplaying the coronavirus pandemic. During his speech, the president attacked Joe Biden but also went after the governor of Michigan, saying she doesn't know what she's doing when it came to the coronavirus.

The president said during a rally in an aircraft hangar where thousands of people were not practicing social distancing and many were not wearing masks. The president went on to explain one controversial excerpt from the Woodward book when he tells the author about a top secret nuclear weapons program.

And here's more of what the president had to say about.

TRUMP: You know, the fake news today, I said, and we have systems and missiles and rockets and military and -- we have city systems that you've never even seen before. President Xi has nothing like it. Putin has nothing like it. Nobody has anything like what we have.

And they said, is he giving away military information? No. I'm saying we have the greatest weapons in the world. That's what I'm saying.

ACOSTA: During his remarks, the president also claimed that the U.S. is rounding the corner on the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, that is not the case as the U.S. is projected to potentially the number of dead in this country right now -- Boris and Laura.


SANCHEZ: Thanks for that, Jim.

An estimated 3,000 more people crowded into the hangar at last night's Michigan rally. You can see them behind Jim. Very few masks inside, almost no social distancing.

Our White House chief correspondent, Jim Acosta, spoke with a few of the president's supporters about those conditions. Listen to what they said.


ACOSTA: Why are you guys not wearing masks?

TOM WOOD, TRUMP RALLY SUPPORTER: I have one with me. It's my prerogative.

ACOSTA: Why not wear one? You'll stay safe.


WOOD: I have a hard time understanding people when they talk so that's why I don't wear it.

ACOSTA: You can hear me right now?

WOOD: I can hear you.

ACOSTA: Why are you not wearing a mask?

ROD BEEBEE, TRUMP RALLY SUPPORTER: Because there's no COVID. It's a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.

ACOSTA: But the president said to Bob Woodward that there is a virus, a coronavirus, and it's deadly.

BEEBEE: That's his opinion. The truth is the CDC said less than 10,000 people die from COVID. The other 190,000 have 2.6 or 2.8 other mortalities.

ACOSTA: Does it worry you guys at all to be in this crowded space with all these people?

DANIEL GUILDER, TRUMP RALLY SUPPORTER: I'm not afraid. The Good Lord takes care of me. If I die, I die. We've got to get this country moving.

Panic. What are you going to do, wear masks and stay inside for another year? Huh? Where will that get us?


JARRETT: Well, that was revealing.

The director of the National Institute of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, says he's baffled as a scientist when he sees people choosing not to wear masks at the president's rallies. He offered this assessment at last night's coronavirus town hall here on CNN.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: It just deeply puzzles me, Sanjay. How did we get here? Imagine you were an alien who landed on planet earth, and you saw that our planet was afflicted by an infectious disease and that masks were an effective way to prevent the spread. And yet when you went around you saw some people not wearing them and some people wearing them and you tried to figure out why and it turned out it was their political party. And you would scratch your head and say, this is a planet that doesn't have much promise for the future.


SANCHEZ: Also this morning, a new warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci. He says the next few months could be daunting.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I just think we need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it's not going to be easy. We know every time we restrict -- we lift restrictions, we get a blip. I mean, it's getting -- it's whack-a-mole.


SANCHEZ: More than 191,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, nearly 900 losing their lives in the last 24 hours.

CNN's Nick Watt has more.


DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: How many people could have been saved out of 190,000 that have died? My guess is 180,000 of those.

DR. CRAIG SPENCER, DR. GLOBAL HEALTH IN ER MEDICINE, NY- PRESBYTERIAN/COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I'm furious because you want to talk about panic and wanting to reduce panic? I think of the panic of every single family I called on FaceTime to let them know their family member was dying or had died.

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, FORMER NYC ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH: This is medical malpractice, negligent homicide on a grand scale.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: This is stunning. He should resign. This is really stunning.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But the president still thinks or says he's been great.

TRUMP: If you look at our numbers compared to other countries, other parts of the world, it's been an amazing job that we've done.

WATT: OK, let's look at the numbers. Compare the U.S. to other countries. "Foreign Policy" magazine does just that and ranks the U.S. very near the bottom, just below Ethiopia, Russia, Hungary and Indonesia.

The magazine highlights the federal government's limited use of facts and science.

TRUMP: You know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. I hope that's true.

WATT: A new poll shows 62 percent of Americans are worried the FDA will rush approval of the vaccine due to political pressure.

And a new study suggests the U.S. massively undercounted COVID-19 cases in the early days, confirming just over 720,000 cases by April 18th. Researchers estimate there were really over 6.4 million by that point.


Because there wasn't enough testing. Still isn't. And the CDC's guidance still says, if you have been at an unmasked gathering of more than ten people but don't have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test, unless you're from a vulnerable population -- something the administration's own testing czar contradicts.

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We do need to test asymptomatic people. There is no doubt about that false stop.

WATT: Still with the mixed messaging. Look at the president's slides this afternoon as we passed 40,000 cases on college campuses in every single state.

As always, there are state-to-state differences in terms of spread, attitudes and safety measures. New York City doing great, still super cautious as they prepped to reopen some indoor dining, with temperature checks at the door, and a warning.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: If we get to 2 percent infection rate on a regular basis on that seven-day average, at that point, we need to immediately reassess indoor dining.

WATT (on camera): So, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force is now telling anybody who might let their guard down a little over the long Labor Day holiday weekend to get a test.


That is now just a little bit harder here in Los Angeles County. You can see as smoke from wildfires have burned 3 million acres in the state. As a result of the air quality, L.A. County has now closed six COVID-19 testing sites.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


JARRETT: Nick, thank you so much.

We move now to the West Coast where the death toll has climbed to 15 this morning as the wildfires burn in California, Oregon and Washington. Firefighters discovered seven bodies in northern California on Thursday. It's estimated that at least a half a million people have been forced from out of their homes.

At least out of control fires are burning in Oregon alone.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov has the latest for us.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Boris, good morning.

The situation across the state of Oregon incredibly dangerous as these fires continue to spread. Now, we are in Clackamas County which has been hit very hard by these spreading, raging fires. This particular area sort of the safe staging zone for the fire crews as they figure out their plan for which areas to tackle next, they can tell you that the residential areas all around us are under a mandatory level 3 evacuation order. That means people are being told to get out while they can.

This is a rural agricultural area. There are a lot of farms and livestock. Some people have been trying to stay back and save their animals, protect their structures. But again, officials are urging people to get out.

Now, Governor Kate Brown on Thursday said that more than 900,000 acres burned just the last 72 hours. Just to give you some context, 500,000 acres burned last year on average. So this is an unprecedented, historic fire situation. They are predicting a loss of life, a loss of structures.

We know that 30,000 to 40,000 Oregonians have evacuated so far, and that number is expected to grow. The wind dynamics are changing and they are facing unstable air conditions that make the response difficult because firefighting teams don't know exactly which direction these fires could spread. And there is the worry of some of these major fires sort of merging together.

They have not been able to contain any of these fires right now. The focus has been on evacuating people, saving some structures. But again, with the weather conditions changing, they're hoping to be able to begin the process of containing the fire as soon as it's safe to do so.

Guys, back to you.


SANCHEZ: Lucy Kafanov with that report.

This morning marks 19 years since the September 11th attacks on America. We have more on today's remembrances after a quick break.



SANCHEZ: Today marks 19 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks and we'll see several observances taking place across the country this morning. This morning, a blue tower of light rises from the Pentagon. Ceremonies will be scaled back this year because of the pandemic.

Meantime in New York, a tribute of light will rise this evening from where the Twin Towers once stood. The reading of the victim's names will be on audio recording this year.

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will attend the ceremony. Joe and Jill Biden will also visit the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, later today.

President Trump and the first lady are expected their first ceremony this morning.

JARRETT: Well, New Yorkers are about to face fines for failing to wear masks on subways and buses and yet another university struggling with coronavirus.

We have reporters covering this pandemic for you from coast to coast.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Martin Savidge. An entire class at the University of Central Florida has been placed in quarantine after a student tested positive with coronavirus. According to the university, face coverings were not warn in the classroom the entire time. A faculty member moved the tables closer together, the class even ate together.

The interim provost Michael Johnson said he was shocked about several reports of faculty members not wearing face coverings during class, and advising students they could take theirs off. According to the provost, the class quarantine could have been avoided had everyone wore a mask and practiced social distancing.


A new study from the CDC suggests that adults with COVID-19 are twice as likely to say they dined at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to feeling sick. Researchers looked at more than 300 adults who were tested for COVID-19. There were no major differences between those who tested positive versus negative when it came to other activities, such as shopping or going to a salon.

The CDC says low risk ways to enjoy your favorite restaurant are to order takeout or delivery. Outdoor dining based to six feet apart is lower risk than indoor.


Well, starting Monday, transit riders in the Metro New York area will be find if they don't wear masks on subways and buses, the Long Island Railroad, and Metro North. The New York Transit Authority's interim president says mask enforcement will be handled by the New York Police Department and the Metropolitan Transit Authority Police.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to all of our reporters for those updates.

It feels like the Super Bowl was just yesterday, but football is back. Opening night of the NFL season, but some of the biggest drama taking place before kickoff. The "Bleacher Report" is live from Kansas City, next.



JARRETT: Well, the NFL season kicking off last night and already teams are split on how to handle the national anthem.

Andy Scholes has more on the "Bleacher Report" this morning, live from Kansas City.

All right, Andy. What happened?


So, as part of the new social justice initiative, the NFL is playing both the black national anthem, which is the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and the national anthem before games this week. And while the Chiefs decided to stay on the field for both of those anthems, the Texans opted to remain in the locker room. A team executive telling NBC they didn't want to be seen as celebrating one of those and throwing shade at the other.

Now, the Chiefs, they lined up on the goal line for the black national anthem in a video tribute. Then just one player, defensive end Alex Okafor kneeling during the "Star Spangled Banner" with his fist raised in the air.


Now, once the Texans did take the field, both teams gathering at midfield for a moment of unity.

Now you can hear some boos on the broadcast when that happened.

Now, I was in the stadium. I didn't hear any fans booing in the area where I was sitting, but JJ Watt said after the game he didn't understand why anyone would boo that moment.


JJ WATT, TEXANS DEFENSIVE END: The booing was unfortunate during that moment. I don't truly understand that. There was no flag involved. Nothing involved with that besides two teams coming together to show unity.

PATRICK MAHOMES, CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: We wanted to show we're unified as a league. We're not going to let playing football distract us from what we're doing in making change in this world.


SCHOLES: Right before the game, the Miami Dolphins in a powerful video described what they were going to do during pre-games this season. In week one, they, like the Texans, deciding to remain in the locker room for both national anthems.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lift every voice and sing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a way to save face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lose a mask and stop hiding the real game face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if my dad was a soldier but the cops killed my brother, do I stand for one anthem and then kneel for the other?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's an attempt to unify creates more divide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we'll skip the song and dance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as a team we'll stay inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need change of hearts, not just a response to pressure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough. No more fluff and empty gestures.


SCHOLES: As for the action on the field, Chiefs coach Andy Read facing a foggy face shield all game long.

His team though picking up right where they left off, scoring 31 unanswered points. At one point in this ballgame, Patrick Mahomes, great game, 3 touchdown passes. And rookie running back Clyde Edwards- Helaire, a nice 27 yard scamper. He had 138 yards rushing as his debut as the Chiefs just cruised to a 34-20 win over the Texans.

And, Boris, you know, this was the first game since the pandemic started for the NFL and they had about 16,000 fans in attendance. I spoke to many of those fans, they said they felt safe at the game, they felt like actually they could have packed in a lot more fans into the stadium, because it was rather empty, no lines at concession stands, no lines entering the game.

So, we'll have to wait and see how other teams react. The Chiefs and Jaguars, the only two teams in the NFL that are having fans during opening week.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and it's nice to have some degree of normalcy in these turbulent times, even though it comes with these kind of modifications, weird not seeing the stands packed with fans.

Andy Scholes reporting from Kansas City, thanks so much.


SANCHEZ: President Trump comparing his response to the coronavirus pandemic to Winston Churchill. We'll explain next.