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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Tonight: I Didn't Downplay Coronavirus, I 'Up-played' It; Hurricane Sally Hours From Making Landfall, More Than 18,000 Customers Without Power In Three States; Nearly 90 Wildfires Burn In Western U.S. As Trump Deflects On Whether He Believes In Climate Change; Dramatic Video Moments After Ambush Shows Deputy Helping Her Partner After She Was Shot Herself; Biden Heads To Florida Amid Struggles With Hispanic Voters. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 15, 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: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next the breaking news, the President telling ABC News he did not downplay the virus that he 'upplayed' it. That is not true.
Plus more breaking news, conditions deteriorating quickly along the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Sally now just hours from making landfall. Tonight, growing fears of a devastating storm surge.
And new video tonight of the two L.A. County Sheriff's deputies who were ambushed. Are officials any closer to identifying the shooter? I'm going to speak to the Sheriff OUTFRONT. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT this evening, the breaking news, President Trump says he never downplayed the threat of coronavirus during a town hall with ABC tonight. In fact, the inverse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Well, I didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways I up-played it in terms of action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you not admit to it yourself, saying that you ...
TRUMP: My action was very strong. Yes, because what I did was, with China I put a ban on. With Europe I put a ban on. And we would've lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on. So that was called action, not with the mouth but in actual fact, we did a very, very good job when we put that ban on. Whether you call it talent or luck, it was very important. So we saved a lot of lives when we did that.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: There were holes in the ban, and the European ban didn't come for another month.
TRUMP: Well, they were Americans, I mean the holes in were if you have somebody in China that's an American citizen, we had to let them in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. There's a lot in there, but let's just start with this that he said he played it, he never, never downplayed it. That is obviously not true. I mean, here is President Trump's own words on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now it's turning out it's not just old people, Bob. But just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It's not just old, older ...
BOB WOODWARD, VETERAN REPORTER: Yes, exactly.
TRUMP: ... young people too, plenty of young people young people.
Well, I think, Bob, really to be honest with you ...
WOODWARD: Sure, I want you to be.
TRUMP: ... I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.
WOODWARD: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, he says he played it, but you heard it from him that he downplayed it. And, of course, we know that, I mean, he did so repeatedly, and he has criticized the scientists from the start.
And now CNN is learning the spokesman for the administration's Coronavirus response, Michael Caputo, may be forced to go. This comes because he was accusing scientists working on the pandemic of 'sedition'. In fact, claiming the CDC has formed a 'resistance unit' that is trying to undermine the President during a deadly pandemic, even warned of violence from left wing so called hit squads related to this.
So now this all comes out, Caputo admits to saying all of these things, apologizes to staff at the Department of Health and Human Services. But this may not be enough, a source telling CNN Caputo is on thin ice. His baseless conspiracy theories, of course, are dangerous.
Now, the thing about this is he is now blaming stress and health issues for his comments, but that may be true in terms of his feelings but what he said and those kinds of comments of sedition and left wing mobs, that is reflective of the sentiments of his boss, President Trump. That's President Trump's kind of things he says and thinks, so it's no surprise it comes from spokesperson.
Trump's disdain for scientific facts on things including masks are partly why scientific magazine is endorsing Joe Biden. It is the first time Scientific American has endorsed a politician in 175 years, its entire history. They have never done it and they're doing it now because of science. Trump's assault on science and it is now taking a toll on America's reputation. Here's a poll.
According to Pew Research, the world's view of America has plunged, a poll of 13 nations found only 15 percent saying the United States has handled the pandemic well, that is lower than China.
And not only across that, people across the globe actually trust Trump less than the leaders of China and Russia according to this poll, two authoritarian leaders with regimes associated with things like poisoning rivals, murdering journalists, hiding coronavirus facts, both of those leaders poll better. And yet the President of the United States 1900 [00:04:40] polls believes the world envies his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are an absolute leader in every way.
We are the envy of the world.
JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS HOST: The figure I look at his death and death is going up now.
TRUMP: OK. No. No.
SWAN: That's a thousand a day.
TRUMP: If you look at death ...
SWAN: Yes, it's going up again. Daily death.
TRUMP: Let's look. Take a look at some of these charts, OK?
SWAN: I'd love to.
TRUMP: We're going to look.
SWAN: Let's look.
TRUMP: And if you look at death ...
SWAN: Yes, start to go up again.
TRUMP: This one, well, right here United States is lowest in numerous categories. We're lower than the world.
SWAN: Lower than the world. What does that mean?
TRUMP: We're lower than Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, the U.S. lags Asia and Europe. In fact, Bill Gates, who called this the pandemic of a century on day one who has since donated more than 100 million dollars to find a vaccine tell STAT news now, "You know, this has been a mismanaged situation every step of the way. It's shocking. It's unbelievable - the fact that we would be among the worst in the world."
That's what he said. The United States' failure to stop the death toll now putting these words from President Trump in jeopardy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to be respected again. We're not going to be a laughingstock like we have been.
We have gone from being a laughingstock, we'll go to the exact opposite.
We're no longer going to be a laughingstock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: China polls better. Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live at the White House. Kaitlan, you've been talking to your sources on this Caputo news and some big developments there. What are you learning tonight?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So basically what we saw happen today was this pretty abruptly scheduled meeting where Caputo apologize to other HHS staffers after he went on that rant on Facebook on Sunday, something that the New York Times first reported where he was basically saying that they believe that government scientists are actively working against the President.
He said committing sedition and also said that Joe Biden, if he lost the election, he did not believe would concede and that there would be political violence that would follow. Obviously, these alarming statements coming from a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services during a time of crisis that we are seeing with this pandemic going on.
But Erin, basically what we heard was that he was apologizing for putting the department in a bad light, embarrassing the HHS Secretary Alex Azar. But there are genuinely people, including Michael Caputo and others in this administration, even that we've seen from the President himself that do believe there are government scientists working in this administration who are actively trying to undermine any kind of effort to produce a vaccine or therapeutics because they think politically it could hurt the President.
So that is definitely a sentiment that people in this White House and this administration overall actually do believe. But I think with Caputo, what we've seen is he said that he would consider potentially taking a leave of absence for some physical health issues that he's going through. It's still not clear if he's actually going to do that.
It doesn't seem that a decision has been made, but he is someone who was brought on early on during the coronavirus, basically to serve as a check on the HHS Secretary Alex Azar when there was some distrust among White House officials of him. So he is someone who is a political ally of the President's, a longtime friend of Roger Stone's, that kind of person.
So the question of whether or not he's staying or going is still to be determined, but overall the response on coronavirus here is still being harshly judged. And you can see the President now in that ABC town hall that you showed at the beginning of this where he is trying to change what he has been saying publicly about this.
Because not only did he admit to publicly downplaying or to privately downplaying or privately acknowledging the dangers of coronavirus to Bob Woodward on those audio tapes, he defended doing so just last week. And now he is trying to say he did the opposite by the actions he took when, of course, we have all seen what the White House did or did not do in the month of February when it comes to coronavirus.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan.
And I want to go now to Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, which has been at the forefront of the effort to increase testing in this country which, of course, as we all know, has been a huge struggle and a failure. So much of the way, you're doing so much to change that and the foundation working with a number of states run by Democrats and Republicans to increase testing capacity.
So Dr. Shah, I really appreciate your time. Let me ask you about what the President just said in that town hall. He said he actually was up playing the virus by his actions as opposed to his words. Obviously, we know that he downplayed it and he told Bob Woodward. So what's your reaction to that when you hear the President say he up played the virus?
DR. RAJIV SHAH, ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know how to react to up playing or downplaying his words. The reality is from the very beginning in March, the Rockefeller Foundation brought together on a bipartisan basis, Republicans and Democrats, scientists and industry leaders, public health experts, mayors and governors across the country, and issued a plan to get ahead of coronavirus.
And it was anchored in widespread ubiquitous testing when we were doing 500,000 or 600,000 tests a week and we called for getting to 30 million tests a week before the new flu season hit this fall. And we've supported 30 cities and states around the country, including 10, five led by governors, five that are Democrats, five by Republicans that have come together to follow the strategies and technical recommendations we've issued.
In my view, what we need is bold leadership and a massive effort around testing and contact tracing, because this is going to get much worse if we don't take this even more seriously than it's being taken right now.
BURNETT: Which I think is a really significant thing to say. When you say this is going to get much worse if we don't take it more seriously. I mean, obviously, the President is telling Americans we're rounding the corner. And this news on Michael Caputo, the HHS Spokesperson, is coming right after, Dr. Shah, we learned that Caputo and his team at HHS were pushing to change the language in the weekly science reports released by the CDC.
And you wrote in an op-ed after the CDC changed its testing guidelines and I quote you, "The CDC, the federal agency that should be crushing the pandemic is promoting policies that prolong it." So when you hear about fights over the weekly science language and this kind of flip flop on policy, how much can we trust the CDC now that we know politics are so much a part of this?
SHAH: Well, the reality is the CDC has been the world's best Centers for Disease Control for 70, 80 years. It's an absolutely critical global institution. And the reason I did that op-ed with Harold Varmus, a former Director of the National Institutes of Health was to make the point that unless the CDC starts putting out guidance that allows schools, and universities, and nursing homes and meatpacking plants around this country to figure out how to test regularly people who do not have symptoms, America is not going to get ahead of COVID- 19.
And I stick by that because the reality is 40 percent to 50 percent of all spread is in asymptomatic individuals. We now have, thanks to the work of - parts of Operation Warp Speed and HHS as well as the Rockefeller Foundation and dozens of partners in industry, we now have new tests that are fast, that are fairly accurate, that are cheap, that could help America turn the corner.
But we have to prioritize screening people who do not have symptoms and to allow schools to be operational and nursing homes to be safe and America to actually get ahead of this and that's going to take more investment and more leadership than we're seeing right now.
BURNETT: And you talk about these tests, people basically have a need to wake up in the morning and take a test and get results, have it wirelessly report to their school or their workplace and all of a sudden - then this would work. And you've talked about 30 million tests per week by October. You mentioned that number in the in the interview.
Your foundation released a report saying we need to be doing 193 million tests in schools and nursing homes monthly to safely reopen and keep it keep it open. But yet the numbers now are 21.5 million over the past month. That compares to the 193 million you say we need. Why are we so far behind your recommendations?
SHAH: Well, we've actually parked with the Duke-Margolis Center to put the report out that you mentioned. I think it's because we have not had a national priority around asymptomatic screening testing, testing people who do not have symptoms and national strategy would involve first and foremost, paying for those tests so that the local public school systems don't have to bear the brunt of that. That hasn't been put in place yet.
We've asked Congress for up to $45 billion for that purpose. We have not yet seen, although HHS has gone out and pre procured about 150 million of these rapid antigen tests for use in nursing homes and other critical institutions, that is still weeks to months away from having impact on the ground and the new flu season is approaching right now.
So I remain very concerned and I think it's not too late for America to embrace the massive public investment, the new clear protocols and guidelines, and new best practices for testing, contact tracing and the very basics of a science-based public health response, so that frankly our kids can go back to school and we can operate more safely.
BURNETT: Dr. Shah, I really appreciate your time. I'll remind our viewers Admiral Giroir, who's been in charge of testing for the White House recently said we're doing the appropriate amount of testing to reduce the spread. So we're still getting all this contradictory information out of the White House team. Thank you so much, Dr. Shah.
SHAH: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, live pictures out of Pensacola, Hurricane Sally already lashing parts of the Gulf Coast. The third hurricane to hit the area just this season and we've got months to go. Tonight, the major concern, life threatening storm surge that is just hours away.
And the President tonight deflecting questions about climate change as the U.S. is getting hit with the busiest hurricane season on record with wildfires in multiple states, ravaging.
And dramatic new video from the moments after two deputies were shot point blank. Do investigators tonight have any leads on the shooter? Sheriff of Los Angeles County is my guest.
BURNETT: Breaking news, hours away from Hurricane Sally making landfall on the Gulf Coast, the third hurricane this season to hit the Gulf Coast. Conditions, I'm sorry, quickly deteriorating this hour. The region bracing after warnings the storm could bring extreme life threatening flash flooding, several months worth of rain, several months worth of rain in just a couple days.
And check out these amazing images. This is sort of space. It's stunning, you see those, I guess, it appears to be bright thunder and lightning showing the bubbling clouds and lightning erupting there all the way around that storm.
I want to go straight to Gary Tuchman. He's on the ground in Pensacola Beach, Florida, more than two feet of rain possible in some areas where you are. Gary, three to five feet of storm surge. What is it like? Wow. It's certainly - we can see the gust, what are you seeing?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, Pensacola Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, but right now, it's not particularly inviting. The outer wall of Sally has arrived here and the rain has been torrential for several hours now and it's expected to continue that way for most of the day tomorrow too.
This beach right here is on Santa Rosa Island. It's barrier island. Right now many of the bridges around the area are closed down. Many of the roads are already flooded. Once again, this is the beginning of the event. Up behind me as you can see it it's like whiteout conditions, it's like being on a ski slope.
It's the 1,400 foot fishing pier here in (inaudible) excuse me, here on the beach, the water just got in my mouth. That pier is a very popular place for people to fish. It's almost a third of a mile long. We're very concerned what's going to happen to that pier. A lot of hurricanes that we cover appears like that get destroyed.
I remember during Hurricane Katrina, I was in Louisiana and I was looking at Gulfport at this aquarium. And this aquarium, I said to myself, this place is going to be destroyed And sure enough, it was. Several dolphins ended up being washed in the Gulf of Mexico. Miraculously, they were rescued a few days later, but I always think of that when I covered a hurricane of this power, what's going to happen to the homes and the businesses and the people.
What I can tell you, Erin, is most of the people are safely in the homes. We've seen very few people wandering around. There are very few evacuation centers. Part of the reason is because of COVID, a lot of people don't want to be with others during this pandemic. It blowed up my hat, that's amazing.
But the fact is, people are taking it seriously. They're staying in their home and this is not going to be the event that we've had 2.5 weeks with Laura. There's not going to be 140 mile per hour winds, 80 mile per hour max, but a lot more rain and it's going to create a lot of flooding. There's no question about that, Erin.
BURNETT: And Gary, as you're standing there, how many hours do they say you are away from it really hitting? I mean, it is amazing. It does look like snow, like you're blanket in snow behind you.
All right. Gary, I think he can't hear me. But there he is. He obviously can, he's walking out of our shot there. You start to see these kinds of things with transmission as that storm approaches.
I want to go to Tom Sater in the Weather Center. So, Tom, you see those pictures and I was just saying to Gary behind him, it really did look like snow, right?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND WEATHER ANCHOR: Yes.
BURNETT: I mean, just that sort of whiteout conditions and just that amount of rain that's coming through. Where is the storm right now and how dangerous could it be?
SATER: Well, I tell you as bad as it was in those pictures with Gary, it's worse just to the west, areas of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Dauphin Island. We're looking still at a category one. Erin, it reached its peak last night and overnight when it was a category two, we don't expect it to grow anymore, but it doesn't have to.
It's moving at two miles per hour. If it stays at two miles per hour, it won't make landfall till tomorrow afternoon. If it picks up in speed, just one to two miles per hour. It'll be tomorrow morning. We're not really sure. We've lost all steering currents in this, we've had so much rainfall.
New Orleans, they may get a passing light shower, tornado watch in red here, this box until six in the morning. Now, you could see where the spin is and again it's not moving much so it's been wave after wave of heavy rainfall. Tornadoes are a possibility.
Just to the east of the center, all this in purple, that's rain that has fallen. This is already six or 10 to 20 inches, some areas over 20, so that all has to move in. So Pensacola over to Destin and Panama City, they're going to get hit hard with these waves as well.
But let's break this down, wind gusts already near 60 in Pensacola. They're expected to get 70, 80, 90 in the coming hours as it's still offshore. When you look at, again, what we're forecasting here because it's ongoing, two days ago, it was expected to head over to New Orleans. They're not even in the warnings anymore.
So it's been whittled down somewhat. It does look somewhere around Mobile Bay, but areas to that east is where it's going to be significant. This model and outlier heads toward Pensacola. It's still possible. We're still not sure.
The surge right now in the possibility of winds, we do have power knocked out. There are piers that are damaged, homes that are damaged. We had two riverboat casinos broke away from their security. Notice the surge, it's been reduced significantly from seven to 11 feet down to three, four or even six, but it doesn't matter, because that surge even at two or three feet, Erin, is going to keep the barrier. It's going to act like a wall.
Keep all of that rain flooding in one area. We may have several regions that could have a one in 100-year flood event. That's how dangerous and the flooding will go all the way to the Carolinas.
BURNETT: It's unbelievable.
SATER: It's amazing, yes.
BURNETT: In fact, this one in 100-year events keep happening every year. All right. Tom, thank you very much.
As we're watching the storm and by the way, multiple storms behind it now on their way. On the other side of the country, the West Coast death toll rising from the wildfires at least three dozen people killed in California, Oregon and Washington as firefighters race to control now nearly 90 wildfires. Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice over): In Oregon, firefighters loading up and heading out, including elite hotshot teams, trying to rein in the massive Riverside fire outside Portland. One of three dozen blazes burning in the state.
The effects of the historic western wildfires now spreading far beyond the region, seen from space smoke from the fires streaming across the country, reaching the skies of New York.
The smoke even forced flight cancellations. Schools in northern Oregon remain closed as millions shelter in place from smoke choked air classified a health hazard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): These fires in Oregon, they're apocalyptic going through a couple of towns that had been absolutely incinerated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (voice over): Oregon's Governor says the state is stretched to its limits. Last week, it had 3,000 firefighters. This week, nearly double that number and still more are needed. And in an ominous sign for the first time in its history, Oregon is preparing to use its mobile morgue, with a team of 75 forensics specialists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. TIM FOX, OREGON STATE POLICE: We're able to take those trailers out and set them in a central location and this time we're able to take in any fire victims from all the counties enter this facility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (voice over): With as many as 50 people listed as missing or unaccounted for, the State is bracing for a rising death toll even after the flames subside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOX: Purpose behind this facility is so that we could give families closures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (voice over): In neighboring California where the fires have been even deadlier, the Campus family considers themselves fortunate to be alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's the fire coming down to burn all my barn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (voice over): First trying to fight the flames on their farm before fleeing.
On the outskirts of Los Angeles at the Bobcat fire, a desperate battle is shaping up between firefighters in flames at the historic Mount Wilson Observatory. The next 24 hours could be decisive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. DAVE GILLOTTE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: We've got a lot of dirty brush and dirty 1925 [00:01:37] laddered and layered, and so it burns deep down in there and climbs through the trees and then it rolls with the hills. Luckily, we don't have any wind driving the fire right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (voice over): Back outside Portland in the near deserted neighborhoods of Estacada, volunteers deliver food to those refusing to leave.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY DIFRANCISCO, ESTACADA RESIDENT: We all had a pretty grim outlook and the fact that the firefighter stopped it, nothing short of amazing. I think it's a miracle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (voice over): Across Oregon and much of the West, they will need a lot more miracles in the days and weeks to come.
SAVIDGE: Out here at the Riverside fire, they had another good day. Firefighters made good progress. They're trying to build up the containment around this fire and others in the state. They are pressed for time because weather is moving in. It'll bring high winds, it will bring lightning. It could also bring welcomed rain, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Martin. And I want to go now to Christine Todd Whitman, a former Republican Governor of New Jersey, former EPA Administrator under President George W. Bush and now supporting Joe Biden for President.
Governor, I appreciate your time tonight. So we're seeing this extreme weather across the country. The wildfires, at least three dozen people killed, 90 of them now burning across the western part of this country, Hurricane Sally, the seventh of the season. There's on average only six hurricanes and there's three other named storms behind Sally and we've got 2.5 months to go on hurricane season. Do you have any doubts at this point? I mean, is this just a variety of different reasons and happening this year or is this about climate change?
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR UNDER PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's largely about climate change, but there are the things. I mean, with the fires, there's no question that forest management could be better in some places. But, of course, in California, the majority of forest burning are under federal control, federal land, so that comes back on the federal government.
But this is exactly what we have been told to expect from climate change. What scientists are telling us has been telling us for ages. And oh, by the way, there are more things that come along with this because after you have these fires, after you have temperatures warming, you have different - you change the ecosystem and different pathogens start to come together. Animals interact with one another that didn't before and come closer to humans and they carry diseases for which we have no immunity.
So there's a whole lot of reasons why we should take this issue extremely serious and start to back our scientists when they tell us the kinds of things we can do. We can't stop it, but we could slow it and we can prepare ourselves better and that's where we need to focus.
BURNETT: So again, the President today deflected when he was asked whether he believes in climate change, right as if it's something one would believe in or not believe in. But he deflected it and, of course, yesterday laughed the whole thing off. Let me remind you of what he did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians.
TRUMP: OK. It'll start getting cooler. You just watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish science agreed with you.
TRUMP: Well, I don't think science know it ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: As a former chief of the EPA, what did you think when you watch that exchange?
WHITMAN: It was mind boggling. It was shameful. It was embarrassing to have the President of the United States be that ignorant and to say that that scientists don't know, when he is not a scientist, when people more and more people understanding this is quite a change. This is what happens. We've seen it. It's coming at us, as you pointed out earlier.
You have the 100-year floods and storms coming more frequently, certainly not every 100 years. This is something that is real. It's not -- and just as he said with COVID, it was going to go away.
Do we really believe him that it's going to suddenly get cooler magically? I mean, the man doesn't -- he won't support any kind of science that doesn't support his narrative.
And unfortunately, everything he says and his entire focus is about his re-election. Whether it's true or not, he puts other people in jeopardy. I mean, these rallies he holds indoors where he has the supporters behind him on camera wear a mask but not the rest of the crowd. You know, it may be fun. They may get sick, that's great. But they also will probably infect others who don't want to go to rallies, that don't want to have part in them. It's so self-centered and so ignorant that it really is frustrating to see this happen.
BURNETT: Governor, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
WHITMAN: My pleasure.
BURNETT: And next, the manhunt growing more urgent tonight after two deputies were ambushed, shot in Compton. What do authorities know about the shooter? The sheriff of Los Angeles County is going to tell you everything that he knows next.
And Joe Biden fighting back as Trump ramps up claims of a rigged election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're going to have problems with the ballots like nobody's ever seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, heroic actions by one of the deputies shot in an ambush attack in Compton. New video we're about to play shows the deputies taking cover moments after the shooting.
We want to warn you the video is disturbing.
Sara Sidner has the report.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An incredible show of bravery. A 31-year-old L.A. sheriff's deputy profusely bleeding from a bullet to the face is seen helping her partner. She applies a tourniquet to his bloodied arm and moves him to avoid taking more fire. Both have already been shot multiple times.
Surveillance video shows the ambush. A shooter fires into their car while they sit in their vehicle outside a metro stop in Compton. MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES: The female deputy, after getting shot, both of them four or five times, her with a broken jaw in the face stepped out, gave a tourniquet to her fellow deputy who had been shot in the head as well, probably saved his life, while calling for help.
SIDNER: She and her partner had just become deputies 14 months ago.
The mother of a 6-year-old is seen here as she proudly graduated from the Police Academy in 2019.
As they are recovering from their injuries at a hospital, a callous call for their death by a gathering of about five people outside the hospital.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the police.
I hope they die mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
SIDNER: The leader of the group that calls itself L.A. Africa Town Coalition says he hopes the shooting is in retaliation for the shooting of black and brown people by the LASD. The most recent shooting sparked protests in Compton when deputies shot Dijon Kizzie for an alleged bicycle violation. The family says Kizzie was shot in the back. An investigation was still underway.
KEVIN WHARTON PRICE, AFRICA TOWN COALITION LOS ANGELES: So, this is a start of retribution, then I think this is a very good start.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is set to go, I assume.
SIDNER: The LASD has faced serious controversy over the years. Its sheriff convicted of lying was fired and jailed. There has also been a lawsuit brought accusing deputies of forming a gang inside the department. The most recent accusation and complaint by a deputy, the whistleblower said in a deposition, the deputies formed a group called the Executioners in Compton. He says they sported the same tattoos and used excessive force on suspects.
ART GONZALEZ, FORMER L.A. SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: Me being an officer, I'm a supervisor. And I have to report this behavior.
SIDNER: The sheriff deputy's union responded to those claims.
RON HERNANDEZ, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF LOS ANGELES DEPUTY SHERIFFS: The accusations that there are being criminal gangs within the sheriffs department, that's ridiculous.
SIDNER: California Congresswoman Karen Bass responding to the union and the horrific shooting.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): That was horrific that happened, but that gang issue is one that surfaces in the sheriff department every few years. And for the union to say that they don't believe that exists I think is a problem.
SIDNER: But they both agree, even the idea of retaliation like this is sickening.
HERNANDEZ: So, the people, the group that came out here and screamed, we hope you die, that in itself is also pathetic. Maybe not as bad as the guy that actually pulled the trigger, but it's just as bad.
SIDNER: And a long-time Compton resident who owns a business here came up to us and said he can't believe anyone would wish for the demise of these two deputies. They are still recovering in the hospital behind me. They are in critical but stable condition. A $175,000 reward is now being offered for anyone who can give information leading to the arrest of a shooting suspect.
BURNETT: Sara, thank you.
And I want to go to the Los Angeles County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva.
Sheriff, I really appreciate your time. I know you have been able to visit both deputies in the hospital. How are they doing?
ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: Well, they're still in intensive care. They're in stable condition. They're facing a long road to recovery and a lot of subsequent surgeries because the damage inflicted -- both took a round to the head and multiple shots to the arms. So, there's definitely going to be a very painful path for them. But thankfully no vital organs, and so their prognosis is good.
BURNETT: But a long path. I mean, just a horrific act and a tragedy. I mean, I want to try to understand where you are in finding who did this horrific thing. We're hearing there's heavy law enforcement activity after a suspected carjacking near Compton now.
Is this connected to the manhunt for the gunman?
VILLANUEVA: No, that is a separate carjacking suspect. He's still in a containment area, supposedly armed. So, we're taking all the precautions necessary to bring that person to justice and to a safe part of the community.
BURNETT: So, now, it's been three days since the attack.
We know there's $175,000 reward. Why do you think it's been so difficult to name, to locate the suspect?
VILLANUEVA: Well, that reward is increased up to $275,000 due to some very generous donations and commitments from other members of the community. So, definitely, I want to thank them for that.
And it's just -- there are a lot of obstacles to overcome, but we're getting good information. We're on positive tracks with our homicide investigators. Hopefully, we're in the right direction and we're making progress. BURNETT: So, you've released a photo of the suspect describing him as
a black man between the ages of 28 and 30 wearing dark clothing which describes a lot of people. Have you been able to use facial recognition tools to narrow anything down about the person's identity at this point?
VILLANUEVA: We've actually been getting video from dozens of locations around the area. We're analyzing right now with our forensics specialists that are specialists in this particular area. And, again, there are things being developed and paths that we're following and hopefully we're making progress.
BURNETT: So, I spoke to the mayor of Compton last night, Asia Brown, and she condemned the attack on the two deputies, Sheriff, but did speak about the long history of tensions in the community with your sheriff's department.
Here's part of what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR AJA BROWN (D), COMPTON, CA: We can't continue to accept this unfair treatment for people. If it doesn't happen in our communities, it shouldn't happen in ours or of people of color. And this is a systemic issue. This is nothing new.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It comes -- I don't know if you heard our piece before, but obviously people know about the investigation underway into an alleged gang in your department known as the Executioners. A former deputy alleges that this celebrated shootings of civilians.
You know, Sheriff, what is being done to address what is clearly deep distrust, deep distrust in your community with law enforcement?
VILLANUEVA: Well, I can say that the distrust is in a very narrow segment of the community. If you talk to the average person on the street, they appreciate law enforcement. They appreciate our presence in the community, in particular Compton. We started policing Compton in the year 2000. Prior to that, Compton was -- it was awash with crimes of violence, homicides, gang-related violence spiraling out of control.
So, we definitely have improved the situation in Compton. And, you know, we're working on the issue of trust, and it's always a concern to us. But we have to go on facts. If you're talking about losses, anything like that, there are no gangs within the department.
And let's not -- let's get that off the table. Even the term Executioner, we've been studying where that comes from. It turns out an attorney coined phrase during a deposition, a lawsuit. We have yet to find a single person who identified themselves as that name. It's very inflammatory and, obviously, it inflames the passions.
BURNETT: Yeah, but you're saying that investigation has concluded and there is no alleged gang.
VILLANUEVA: No, no. We have not concluded that investigation. We're taking positive action. We did investigation at East Los Angeles station that resulted in 26 employees being either disciplined or terminated. And that means we're taking steps forward.
BURNETT: So, you just mentioned a moment ago that there have been members of the community that have come forward, you've been able to increase the reward for any information on the shooter to $275,000. You challenged LeBron James and the Lakers to match that original $175,000 reward.
Why do you feel that he should do something about this?
VILLANUEVA: Well, he made some comments about a month ago after the tragic shooting of Jacob Blake that really, it kind of piqued my interest and I was kind of concerned. But it was emblematic of comments I heard from politicians, elected leaders across the spectrum, and including the civic leaders who are jumping on the band wagon. For example, after the George Floyd, which it was, somehow there was a George Floyd in every single community and every police department across the nation, and that there's a massive conspiracy against people of color.
And I want to have that nonsense stopped. We want that nonsense to stop. We have bad apples in every organization, just as we do in the law enforcement. We hold them accountable. I'm not going to tolerate anyone crossing the line.
But at the same time, I'm not going to throw out the overwhelming majority of deputies that are doing the right things for the right reasons. We have to support them just like we have to support these two deputies.
What they went through shows the dangers, the threats of this. And we recruit from our communities. We're not recruiting out of state. So, we have deputies born and raised in Compton who are now deputies serving Compton and East Los Angeles and all the other communities throughout L.A. County. So, we are part of the community.
BURNETT: Sheriff Villanueva, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
VILLANUEVA: Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. And next, Joe Biden knows he has a Hispanic voter problem.
And the head of the largest Hispanic group in the United States tonight says Biden's campaign has been, quote, lackluster reaching out to the Latino community.
And Trump and Biden campaigns both lawyering up, matching signatures. Could that be the hanging chad of 2020?
BURNETT: Tonight, Joe Biden has a problem with Hispanic voters. CNN's senior writer and analyst Harry Enten looked at 20 polls, went through them, analyzed them, found on average Biden is 9 percentage points behind where Hillary Clinton was with Hispanic voters in the final polls from 2016.
Nine percentage points. Obviously, something significant to note across 20 polls. Biden racing today to Florida, as he admits he still needs to make his case to Hispanic voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My case is an easy one. Education, health care, immigration, the whole notion of dealing with COVID in a way that -- that doesn't so damage the Hispanic community, which is being hurt very badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham. She's the first Democratic Latina elected governor in U.S. history and a co-chair of Joe Biden's transition team.
And I appreciate your time, Governor.
So, Joe Biden admitting his numbers with Hispanic voters, that need to be higher. Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is the largest Hispanic organization in the country, tells "Newsweek" there's now a sense of urgency, and that they're trying to go to third parties to activate the Latino community because the Biden campaign has been so unresponsive to Latino organizations.
Is this an alarm bell you have been sounding, and why is the campaign not doing better with Hispanic support right now?
GOV. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D-NM): Well, any campaign, Erin, that doesn't ask itself every single day what can you do better, how many voters can we reach, isn't serious about winning. And I think one of the nuances here that we sort of lost sight of is the fact when you got a really contentious large primary, it changes the way in which -- and where you are with segments of voters.
So, instead of sounding an alarm, I reiterate to the campaign and work with them every day on the issues that matter to Hispanics families and voters, and they're going to matter, I agree, with the vice president to Florida, and no one better to make the case than the vice president directly, even though Senator Harris I think was really well-received and we're seeing those numbers tighten up in states like Florida.
And I think we'll continue to see exactly that and we'll see the vice president begin to take the lead and I'm going to do my part to make sure that's exactly what happens.
BURNETT: So, in Florida, Joe Biden obviously going there and recognizing it is a must win, right, and the Hispanic vote there must win for him. There is a Monmouth poll where Biden leads Trump 58-32 with Hispanic voters, right? So, that's good news.
But then you look at the other polls out there, NBC/Marist has --
LUJAN GRISHAM: Telemundo looks good. There's a bunch of polls. I didn't mean to interrupt you, but I love that.
BURNETT: Yeah, no --
LUJAN GRISHAM: Yeah.
BURNETT: Go ahead. I mean, there's some -- there is some that look good, some that don't and I guess -- I guess maybe the overall point since you, you know, it's fair, we don't know, is that Hillary Clinton beat Trump in Florida with Hispanics 62 to 35.
We don't see any polls anywhere like that. Does that concern you?
LUJAN GRISHAM: Again, polls are a reflection of a moment in time and if you are campaigning to a poll, I would submit that that's a mistake. Ignoring any voter particularly Hispanic voters, look, it looks to me like Biden is really doing the right work with young Hispanic voters.
Looks like he's at 60 percent in Florida and in the state like New Mexico, organizations like H.O. (ph) which are young Hispanic voters who are really clear about the outdoors, the environment -- look, we're going to talk about putting Hispanic families and Hispanic voters back to work.
All of our Latino community in Florida, preserving the coastline, reinvesting and cleaning up the Everglades, the $2 trillion in investments in renewable energy and in climate change.
And when we get to COVID, and I hope we can do that in this interview, when you talk about the incredibly terrible outcomes for all communities of color and for Hispanic families, look no further than environmental justice not having access to health care, affordable coverage, education and a public health system that really makes a difference. And I think these are going to be the kind of bread and butter issues that will win over and make the case for the vice president in Florida.
BURNETT: All right.
Governor Lujan Grisham, appreciate your time. I know you're doing everything you can to do that and thank you for your time in joining us.
And next, mail in -- LUJAN GRISHAM: Thank you, Erin. Thank you for letting me interrupt
you. I was getting excited.
BURNETT: Now, that's okay. No, I know it's hard with the delay. I always appreciate talking to you.
And next, mail in voting. What is going to happen here? What could go wrong?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ballots are going to be a disaster for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, new details about both Trump and Biden's campaigns lawyering up, racing for an extremely messy legal battle ahead.
Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT.
BIDEN: Vote, vote, vote is my message.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As COVID-19 drives more Americans to vote by mail in unprecedented numbers, both the Biden and Trump campaigns are planning to deploy teams of lawyers and volunteers to keep a watchful eye on the vote counting process in battleground states.
These ballot watchers will oversee and potentially challenge ballots if there are issues, an effort that could slow state's ability to count votes and leave an opening for misinformation to take hold if it's a close race.
DAVID BECKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ELECTION INNOVATION & RESEARCH: The longer it takes to count the ballots, the more of a vacuum for foreign adversaries and others that want to sow disinformation and reduce confidence to fill the void about misinformation about getting an extensive voter fraud.
BROWN: The president has falsely declared if the election is not called that night, it is rigged.
TRUMP: You won't know the election result for weeks, months, years after. Maybe you'll never know the election result. That's what I'm concerned with. It will be fixed. It will be rigged.
BROWN: Repeating the debunked lie that mail-in ballots which require a signature will lead to widespread fraud.
TRUMP: You're going to see a mess on election night that's going to be -- it's going to be legendary.
BROWN: This week, Joe Biden fired back, saying he believes it serves Trump's purpose to disparage the process.
REPORTER: Do you have confidence in voting in November? That all votes will be counted?
BIDEN: I have confidence that Trump will try to not have that happen but I'm confident the American public is going to insist on it.
BROWN: Already this year, mismatched signatures have become a flash point.
TRUMP: I'm not saying --
BROWN: With Republicans and Democrats drawing battle lines across the country over how signatures are evaluated and whether voters can fix ballots under dispute, reminiscing of the hanging chad controversy that led to the Florida recount in 2000.
Adding to potential election confusion, the key battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania all have laws that don't allow mail in ballots to be counted until Election Day. And several states including Wisconsin allow ballot watchers to look over the shoulders of election officials to dispute ballots or voter signatures.
BECKER: If it takes just normally a few seconds, maybe 20 seconds to process a mail ballot, but there are people unnecessarily challenging a bunch of ballots and that will increase the amount of overall time it will take to process these ballots.
BROWN: Republican National Committee chief counsel Justin Riemer says the purpose of sending challengers is to make sure every vote is accurate and every signature is valid, telling CNN, quote: We are not there to obstruct the process. If they're supposed to check signatures, they need to check the signatures. We understand there is an urgency to count the ballots but it needs to be done right.
Embracing for potential fights over ballots, both campaigns have beefed up their legal teams to streamline anticipated state level lawsuits.
Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
BURNETT: And thanks very much to Pamela and to you for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.