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Remembering the Lives Lost to Coronavirus; Michael Cohen's Daughter Speaks Out in First TV Interview; How Conspiracy Theories Could Shape the 2020 Election; Trump Defies Science and State Ban on Large Gatherings with Indoor Rally. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 14, 2020 - 07:30   ET



ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "POLITICO": Well, I think two things. One, it shows the money advantage at the Joe Biden campaign now has compared to the Trump campaign which has really pulled back a lot of its advertising with this cash that they are experiencing.

I think the other thing is, health care is something that Democrats feel very solid on. If you look at the past two elections, at least, that is something that they drove home, and that Republicans don't have an answer for. I think everybody is concerned about their health right now. And this is just a reinforcing the message.

You don't have to talk about coronavirus. You don't have to talk about that. But people do wonder where their health care is going to be. Particularly as more people are unemployed. Particularly as people are facing some of these challenges around the coronavirus.

And so, this is definitely an area where Democrats and the Biden campaign feel very, like they're on steady ground compared to where the president is.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: They've got $100 million coming their way to help out in Florida. Thanks to Michael Bloomberg there, as well. Anna palmer, David Gregory, thanks so much for being with us.

So, this morning, we're beginning to remember some of the 194,000 Americans lost to coronavirus. Pamela Ford was a community program supervision specialist at the Broward County Sheriff's Department of Florida for nearly three decades. She was 54 years old. Her mother also tested positive for the virus and passed away last month.

67-year-old Johnny Lee Peoples and 65-year-old Cathy Darlene Peoples were married for 48 years. The North Carolina couple died within four minutes of each other while holding hands in the hospital last week. Their son, Shane, says he feels cheated.

Dr. Rebecca Shadowen was a prominent specialist in infectious diseases in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She died on September 11th after a four- month battle with the virus. Before she got sick, Dr. Shadowen was involved in trials for the National Institutes of Health to develop treatments for coronavirus. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Michael Cohen's daughter is speaking out about what has happened since her father was convicted in connection to the Stormy Daniels scandal. And what it's like to become President Trump's, quote, "collateral damage."

In a new "Vanity Fair" interview, Samantha Cohen says her father, quote, "had a twisted umbilical cord to Trump," And it was her family that paid the heaviest price.

Joining me now for her first TV interview, is Michael Cohen's daughter, Samantha. Samantha, it's great to have you here.

SAMANTHA COHEN, DAUGHTER OF MICHAEL COHEN: Thank you for having me, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here for this. I was really looking forward to talking to you after I read the "Vanity Fair" piece. Because I know that you in particular have been through hell. You know, what -- the decisions that parents make affect their children. And you're living proof of that. Let's just start at the beginning.


CAMEROTA: Your dad started working with Donald Trump when I think you were 11.


CAMEROTA: And do you remember what you thought of your dad's boss, Donald Trump, and what you thought of his job back then?

COHEN: As I told Emily, we lived in a Trump-branded building. I remember seeing commercials for "The Apprentice" on TV, and I knew my dad was working for someone famous, but I think that's the extent of the realization at the time.

CAMEROTA: So, it was cool, I mean, I guess, at that time, it was cool?

COHEN: Yes, for sure.

CAMEROTA: But at some point, I think well before your dad got ensnared in all of this, you turn -- your impression changed?


CAMEROTA: And what was that? What happened?

COHEN: There were a few instance that changed that impression and they happened over the course of a few years as I got older and as I started to realize how Trump treated my father, one of which is in the book, where my daughter explains what happened at the golf course.

CAMEROTA: Let me read that.

COHEN: OK, sure.

CAMEROTA: Because I mean, I think that this is one is illustrative of something.


CAMEROTA: Basically, you were at President Trump's -- well, he was just Donald Trump -- his country club. And you were playing tennis and you came off the court.

And here's how it was written in "Vanity Fair." "Somehow Trump's attention was diverted to another skirt walking off a tennis court. 'Look at that piece of ass,' Cohen recalls Trump saying, as he whistled and pointed. 'I would love some of that.' It so happened that Trump was referring to Cohen's then 15-year-old daughter, Samantha."

Do you remember that moment? Because it goes on to write, that after that, you came over, he wanted you to give him a kiss and he said, when did you get such a great figure?

COHEN: So, as I told Emily, the story is a little bit less clear to me. I'm sure many women can relate, you become desensitized to men making these kinds of comments to you and you allow them to go over your head and you kind of tune out the noise. But what stood out to me in that moment was he said to my dad, well, there's no way that she got her looks from you. Thank God you married a beautiful woman.

And I was desensitized to men making creepy comments about me, but I was not desensitized to someone blatantly insulting and degrading my father in front of me. Someone who I looked up to and loved very much. And that was very upsetting to me. And that made me think, OK, maybe Trump doesn't want to treat my father so well.

CAMEROTA: I do want to get to that in a moment, about the way he treated your father. But first, back to that for a second. He also - I mean at least in the book, it says, that he said to you, be careful. I'll be dating your friends in a few years. He was married to Melania -


CAMEROTA: -- at that time when he said that to you. Did you ever get the impression that he was hitting on you?

COHEN: No, I didn't get the impression that he was hitting on me directly, but I had the impression that he was interested in younger women and that, you know, women would age out for him and that when one woman became too old, he'd find a new younger one.

CAMEROTA: He's also said inappropriate sexual things about his own daughter, Ivanka. From all of the time that you spent with the Trump family, what was your relationship or what are your impressions of Ivanka? COHEN: As I told Emily in the article, she was incredibly icy towards me. She never paid me much attention. If I saw her in the lobby without my father, she would just look past me and ignored me. There was never any warmth or recognition that I got from her.


And I think that that's something that other people who know her say as well. She's just -- she's cold. I always felt like maybe I wasn't good enough for her attention. But that was my impression.

CAMEROTA: But you did become close friends, in college, with Tiffany Trump, his daughter with Marla Maples.


CAMEROTA: And what did she think of her dad?

COHEN: Well, Tiffany had a strained relationship with her father because she grew up in California, away from the family with Marla. And Tiffany and I became very close in college. I still have you know very fond feelings for her, but clearly, we can't be speaking in this time and myself along with other people that used to be close with her just are disappointed that she's supporting this rhetoric, that we know she doesn't believe. Our close circle of mutual friends included gay people, black people, people of all different races and ethnicities and it's just very sad to see her going along with this.

CAMEROTA: Why is she doing that?

COHEN: I don't know. Maybe for her father's affection. I can't imagine what it's like to grow up being, I guess, unwanted by your family. My dad has never been anything but the best father in the entire world to me. I can't relate with that feeling of wanting it so badly that you'll go along with anything.

CAMEROTA: So now let's talk about your dad. So, one of your -- part of the reason that you have so soured on Donald Trump, just part of it, is because of how he treated your dad. Of course, John and I interviewed your dad many times during the course of the campaign and he would come in here and he was always, you know, obviously, completely polite. But my impression of him was that being Donald Trump's fixer had become his identity.


CAMEROTA: He was very connected to being that fixer. What was it like from your side to watch him become this person?

COHEN: I think I saw a duality in him, because as I told Emily in the article, I realized, you know, only recently that, wow, my dad spent so much time with these people that I never got to witness, and it was this whole second life that he lived. And he would come home and be a completely different person. Yet, there was always this pull back to Trump. And as I said in the article, my dad is being completely honest when he says the first and last call of the day was between him and Trump. They were incredibly close and I think that it took over a huge part of him, as I said, in the article, we'd be on vacation, he would be running around the beach in search of cell service. God forbid Trump call and he couldn't answer. He missed ringing in New Year's with us because he was outside on the phone, discussing something with Trump. And it took over far, far too much of his weigh consciousness.

CAMEROTA: And what do you say to people who now say, your father knew full well that he was working for a corrupt, racist, cheater. These are the words that he used when he testified to Congress, now that he says he's seen the light about President Trump.

COHEN: What I would say to that is, you know, it was a different time, not so long ago, but before a lot of these types of men started to be outed and put in front of the camera and actually had the spotlight shine on them. And I think that in the world of hardball in New York real estate, as my dad likes to call it, the Trump character worked. And it worked on "The Apprentice," and he was able to become very successful.

However, you move that over to politics and suddenly you're under a different microscope. People hold you to a different standard of character and conduct and integrity. And you can't play that game anymore.

CAMEROTA: I just very quickly want to play that moment when your dad was convicted -- the day your dad was convicted. Because we all saw you going to court and he was helping you -- I was so struck that day, because you were on crutches, and what I saw here, was a father who was more concerned about you being OK -

COHEN: Than himself.

CAMEROTA: -- than himself. I just saw that in sort of his body language.

COHEN: That's always how he's been.

CAMEROTA: I mean, and I know that you really love him as a father and say that he was a great father. Obviously, that --

COHEN: I do.

CAMEROTA: -- that goes such a long way towards who he is. But what has all of this -- his conviction, his time in prison, what has all of this done to your family?

COHEN: Well, the footage that you just played is incredibly painful for me to watch. And unfortunately, I was forced to watch it again and again and again. Imagine having the most horrible, painful day of your life captured by thousands of paparazzi and then displayed across every TV station, magazine, and newspaper in the country and in part, in the world. You know that day was really difficult for my family. We all love -- we love my dad so much.


And as you so astutely pointed out, he was more concerned about us than he was about himself that day. I had hip surgery from a dance injury, and I was on crutches and the Internet went crazy, calling me Tiny Tim or asking if I had polio. And it was just -- it baffled me how mean-spirited people could because of how much they hated my dad at that moment.

CAMEROTA: I know this has -- your relationships, your opportunities, your reputation, I know all of that has been affected by this. But I am happy to hear that you're turning a corner and that your family is turning a corner and that you think that you're coming out of all of this.

Samantha, thank you very much. It's really great to talk to you this morning.

COHEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And best of luck to you.

COHEN: Thanks so much. Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: NEW DAY will be right back.



BERMAN: New this morning, we have new evidence that we are suffering now not just from a pandemic in this country, but also a plague, a plague of conspiracy theories. All you have to do is attend one of the president's rallies. And even though 194,000 Americans have dried from coronavirus, you will hear people call the pandemic a hoax.

"TIME" Magazine national correspondent Charlotte Alter has spent some time in Wisconsin talking to people and has this new remarkable reporting on just how dire this plague is.

Charlotte, thanks so much for being with us. You spoke to some seven- dozen people in Wisconsin. What did you find?

CHARLOTTE ALTER, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Well, I found an alarming proportion of them, roughly one in five, believed things that were patently untrue, that verge into the realm of conspiracy theory from the notion that COVID-19 is a hoax to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which is a viral delusion that makes people believe that there is a cabal that is kidnapping and raping children in order to drink their blood. Of course, that is not true. But the number of people that I met in ordinary scenarios, not at a Trump rally. You know at the grocery store, the parking lot, you know on the street, in a downtown area, in a suburb who believed this was alarming to me.

BERMAN: Thinking about QAnon specifically, the FBI has warned that QAnon could lead to violence, domestic terrorism in this country. And as you said, they espouse just incredibly dangerous theories, a secret cabal of politicians are in a sex trafficking ring, and cannibalism and they've overtaken the 5g cellular network.

We have a graphic of this, so people could see it.

It's just dumb founding what they believe. But what you found and I think we're all finding this, more and more people believe this now.

ALTER: So one of the things I found in my reporting, which is again alarming and discomforting is that one of the definitions of a conspiracy theory is a belief that if you present evidence to the contrary, the person will immediately believe that by presenting disproving evidence or questioning evidence that you're somehow in on it. So that's one of the things that's so dangerous about this. Is that when I - when I -- the more you push, the more you question, the more you attempt to convince people that this is not true, the more they believe it.

BERMAN: What impact has the president and his supporters, including the vice president, had on this? The president says of QAnon, the conspiracy theories, all I know is that they love America. I had Mike Pence on here a few weeks ago and he had -- well, he claimed, he said I don't even know what QAnon is. This is the vice president of the United States after the FBI has issued warnings on that. So, what impact does that have?

ALTER: So, the president has been espousing conspiracy theories since the beginning of his political career and even before. Remember, this is the man who really contributed to the rise of birtherism, which is another conspiracy theory. I know that the people that I spoke to who believe in QAnon believe that Trump is their savior. The entire world view of QAnon you know really aligns with a lot of what the president said about the deep state, about people conspiring against him. And although the president has not yet you know explicitly acknowledged QAnon, their followers definitely see him as their leader, the person who is going to tackle this deep state cabal that they're so afraid of.

BERMAN: One of the things I like most about your piece is you also note that as human beings, we're susceptible to these conspiracy theories. Our brains are wired for this.

ALTER: Yes. And you know, one of the things that's particularly alarming about this moment is you know conspiracy theories are nothing new in the United States. I mean everybody knows that there were conspiracy theories around JFK's assassination, and around 9/11, and you know going back even further into the - into the 20th and 19th century, every - every era is marked by conspiracy theories.

What's different about this era is that these ideas spread on the Internet with the help of algorithms that are designed to bring people sort of deeper into the crazy. So people who you know in - in previous eras you might have to get a pamphlet, buy an obscure book, subscribe to a sort of offbeat magazine in order to find some of these ideas.


Now, they are served up to you on Facebook and YouTube. And you know even more alarming is that in previous times you had sort of stopgaps like local news or strong offline social ties, you know a bowling club or a church group or you know places where people would meet in person and their friends and neighbors, if they started saying something like, hey, you know the moon landing was fake, their friends and neighbors would say, I don't know, are you sure about that? And now people have fewer of those kinds of stopgaps that stop them from sort of slipping into the realm of conspiracy theory.

BERMAN: There's just aren't as many agreed upon sets of facts. And the other thing as you point out, we've also had an assault on the concept of truth. And once you have that, once you erase truth as a concept, it allows almost any conspiracy to sprout and prosper.

Charlotte, thank you very much for being with us. This is such a terrific article. You'll find it in "TIME" magazine. Everyone should go read it right now. Appreciate you being with us.

ALTER: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Along these lines, as if on cue, the president holds an anti- science rally in Nevada putting thousands at risk. Next.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And overnight, the president held an anti-science rally. That's really what it was. The president spoke to a packed indoor rally in Nevada. Many of the thousands inside were not wearing masks.