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Floodwaters Turn Streets Into Rivers As Hurricane Batters Coast; Trump Delivers Alternate Reality On His Pandemic Response; Trump Shares Manipulated Biden Video With Anti-Police Anthem. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us today. I hope to see you back here this time tomorrow as well. A very, very busy news day. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a great day.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar and I want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world.

We're beginning with Hurricane Sally as it is roaring onshore as a Category 2 storm crossing land near Gulf Shores, Alabama. The National Weather Services has issued a flash flood emergency including parts of Coastal Alabama, it also includes the Florida Panhandle. And sally has already dumped about two feet of rain on that area, two feet. But Sally is moving at such a slow pace that some parts may be seeing up to three feet of rain.

The storm is now a Category 1 and it is forecast to follow this track throughout the day as it is turning to the north and then the northeast.

Let's bring in CNN National Correspondent Gary Tuchman who is on Pensacola beach, Florida. Gary, you were close to the three-mile bridge connecting Pensacola to Gulf Breeze, Florida, which was certainly badly damaged during the storm. Can you tell us what happened?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can, Brianna. First of all, I just want to tell you, this is still bad. This rain has been torrential here for 22 hours now since 2:00 Central Time yesterday and it's now noon, and it is still continuing. This is very unusual for a hurricane.

We'll tell you about this three-mile bridge. We're on a barrier island at Pensacola Beach. You take a small bridge to a barrier peninsula, which is a the town of Gulf Breeze, and then there is the bridge, going through that bridge, which you just mentioned, which connects Gulf Breeze to the bigger city of Pensacola, a population of 53,000. That bridge has suffered damage during this hurricane. Apparently a crane or a runaway barge hit the bridge. You can now no longer go over the bridge.

So, normally, the ten-minute drive from here to the city of Pensacola, you can't do it now. Instead, no one is driving right now, and let's make that clear. To this direction and this direction, roads are flooded. You can't get anywhere. It's not dangerous but we're stuck now. But once you're able to drive, if that bridge isn't able to be opened, instead of a ten-minute drive from Pensacola Beach to Pensacola, you're going to have to drive 30 miles to the east, 10 miles to the north, 30 miles to the west, that's 70 miles to get to Pensacola.

We're not sure how significant the damage is. We'll find out soon, I imagine, but not until the tropical storm force winds stop. Like I said, there's a lot of flooding around here. This road just in this direction completely flooded. You cannot drive that way. Your car will float away. That is badly flooded in this direction, but there's also flooding. And that was considered the danger all along here.

This is not the same event that we had three weeks ago with Hurricane Laura. 140 mile-an-hour winds come into Southwestern Louisiana and the upper gulf coast of Texas. These are 105 mile-an-hour winds, so that's significantly less. However, it's continuing much longer and that's creating a lot of confusion and concern, because people didn't expect it to be lasting that long and a lot of residents are here wondering when they're going to be able to get out of their homes.

The fact is there was no mandatory evacuation, it was a voluntary evacuation. The main reason for that is because it's something we've never experienced before in hurricane season, and that's the COVID pandemic. Many people do not want to be in shelters with lots of other people.

So the advice given to folks was, if you have relatives in higher ground and a safer place, go to your relative. But if not, stay in your homes, don't leave. Most people have been abiding by that. We haven't seen people wondering around. People are really surprised it's lasting this long. So far, we know of any casualties. We hope it stays that way. Brianna, back to you.

KEILAR: We certainly do hope it stays that way. Gary, thank you so much, live for us from Pensacola, Beach, Florida.

And for more on Hurricane Sally's forecast, let's check in with Jennifer Gray, our meteorologist. Tell us when will the pace of Hurricane Sally pick up, because it's just sitting there dumping rain on these communities?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, exactly. And this is what we've talked about yesterday. Remember when we talked, we said tomorrow at this time, the radar is going to look exactly like this, because the storm is just sitting over this area, finally has picked up to only five mile-per-hour forward movement. Yesterday, it was two miles per hour and then finally picked up to three. Now it's five and that is still considered extremely slow-paced for these storms.

So, yes, the rain is still dumping on all of the Florida Panhandle, Southern Alabama, portions of Georgia now. We've seen an area with more than two feet of rain. Panama City Beach has received more than a foot of rain. Pensacola has received more than two feet and those totals will go up as more data is released.

So here is a flash flood warning all across the state of Florida Panhandle, portions of Alabama, into Georgia, and that's going to last all into this evening and tonight while this rain continues. This rain is going to slowly head to the north and east. So Central Alabama, Northern Alabama, even into Atlanta is going to get possibly four to five inches of rain from this, and not to mention the wind gusts.

I think that is what's so troubling is, normally, we get these storms in and out.


With one that's sitting over an area, for, say 24 hours with gusts, to 62 miles per hour, 56 to the north, that is going to create some damage in itself just for the longevity of how long these storms -- these winds, rather, are sticking around over the same area.

So 75 mile-per-hour winds now, it's slowly starting to die down, gusts of 100 moving to the north-northeast at five miles per hour. So on the track, it is going to continue to move ever so slowly until we get into the overnight hours tonight. That's when it's going to start to pick up some forward speed and push on out through Atlanta throughout the day on Thursday, and then into the Carolinas by Friday as a 30 mile-per-hour storm, still dumping a lot of rain.

So, Brianna, yes, this is a long duration storm. This is not one of those storms that has gotten in and gotten out. And I think the troubling part about it is this is the sixth storm to make landfall this season, four in the U.S., one in Belize, one in Bermuda, and they all have strengthened before making landfall. We see something that was very rare. Now, it seems to be happening more and more, which is very troubling as well.

KEILAR: It certainly is. Jennifer Gray, thank you for taking us through that.

I want to turn now to the pandemic and I stop and just take a moment to show you the federal government's response in a nutshell. First, you'll be hearing the CDC director testifying before Congress today, followed by the president last night.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: -- CDC director that face masks, these face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have. And I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings. I said that if we did it for 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks, we'd bring this pandemic under control.

These actually, we have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70 percent. And if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will.

So I do want to keep asking the American public to take the responsibility, particularly the 18 to 25 year olds where we seeing the outbreak in American continue to go like this because we haven't got the acceptance, the personal responsibility that we need for all Americans to embrace this face mask.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because there's a lot of people think the masks are not good and there a lot of people, as an example --


TRUMP: I'll tell you who those people are, waiters.

And now they say -- what?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You were saying it was going to disappear.

TRUMP: It is going to disappear.


KEILAR: This is a big reason why we are where we are six months later now. The U.S. seeing its biggest one-day spike in cases and deaths in a month. Just take a look at the numbers here. More than 52,000 new cases added just yesterday and 1,422 more Americans dying from the virus.

As you see there on the right side of your screen, the nation is now nearing the tragic milestone of 200,000 Americans dead to this virus, yet a big reversal coming now from the Big Ten conference saying that it will play football as early as next month.

President Trump was among those pressuring the universities after its leaders said the pandemic made it too risky to play this fall.

In the race for a vaccine, the Trump administration saying today that once a vaccine receives emergency use authorization or approval from the FDA, Operation Warp Speed aims to have vaccines moving to administration sites within 24 hours. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield saying the vaccination for the general public likely will not be available until next summer.

I want to bring in CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. And, Elizabeth, I wonder what your big takeaways were as you were watching this congressional testimony today.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: As I watched it and I heard what Dr. Redfield said, director of the CDC, I thought, this seems to be a bit of a turn. Instead of getting the word out, when the president tries to get the word out, oh, we're going to have a vaccine by Election Day, this seemed to be sort of an effort to say, hey, guys, let's be realistic. Let's take a listen to what Dr. Redfield said today.


REDFIELD: I think there will be a vaccine and initially will be available sometime between November are and December, but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized. If you're asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine, to get back to our regular life, I think we're probably looking at third -- late second quarter, third quarter 2021.


COHEN: So we really have to look at this vaccine as a process, Brianna, not as a sort of on/off switch. Even once there is a vaccine authorized by the FDA to go on the market, it's not like you and I can get it the next day. It's going to be given out slowly to different groups with higher risks and frontline workers getting it first. Other people are going to have to wait months.

Remember, there are 300 million Americans. Also remember, likely, we'll have to get two doses of this vaccine, not one, which also slows down the process. Brianna?

KEILAR: A process, not an on/off switch, it's a very good thing to remember. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

Next, we will fact check the president's other claims that he made at that town hall, including one about herd immunity.

Plus, the president shares a manipulated video of Joe Biden and NWAs anti-police anthem. So what will social media do about it?

And just in, new video of a Trump top aide baselessly accusing doctors and scientists of wanting Americans to suffer from the virus.



KEILAR: The president faced voters last night at a town hall and he lied over and over again. He lied about everything from health care and ISIS to the protests and the stock market. But his alternate reality again focused on his response to the coronavirus.


TRUMP: Well, I didn't downplay it. I -- actually, in many ways, I up- played it in terms of action.


KEILAR: Up-played it? Someone he greatly admires disagrees.


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


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


KEILAR: Not only did he downplay it publicly despite knowing it was a, quote, killer behind the scenes, the president is still doing it to this day.


TRUMP: We're going to be okay and it is going away. And it's probably going to go away now a lot faster because of the vaccine. It would go away without the vaccine, George. But it's going to go away a lot faster --

STEPHANOPOULOS: It would go away without the vaccine?

TRUMP: Sure, over a period of time.

DR. MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCY PROGRAM: This virus may become another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away.


KEILAR: The president says it's going away. Over the past 24 hours, the U.S. saw the most cases that it has seen in a month. And speaking of a vaccine --


TRUMP: We're within weeks of getting it. It could be three weeks, four weeks, but we think we have it.


KEILAR: No true. And earlier that same day, yesterday morning, that three to four weeks was by, his own account, four to eight weeks.

Both timelines next to impossible even according to the most optimistic of experts. Here is the Dr. Fauci's response on whether this will be available by Election Day, which is now seven weeks away.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's unlikely that we'll have a definitive answer at that time, more likely by the end of the year.


KEILAR: And the president's CDC chief just said it won't be available to the general public until next summer, summer, 2021.

But the president goes on trying to rewrite his response to this crisis.


TRUMP: My action was very strong. Because what I did was, with China, put a ban on it, with Europe, I put a ban on it. And we would have lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on.


KEILAR: There was no ban. He never put complete bans on anything. In fact, the travel restrictions from China still allowed thousands of travelers to enter the U.S. And the virus that hit New York was from Europe, where restrictions came too late.

But the U.S. could have saved 36,000 lives if the president acted just one week earlier to implement social distancing measures, according to a Columbia University study. And had he acted two weeks earlier, that number rises to 54,000 lives saved.

Here he is on masks.


TRUMP: They said at the Democrat convention they're going to do a national mandate. They never did it because they've checked out and didn't do it. And a good question is, you ask, like, Joe Biden, they said, we're going to do a national mandate on masks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's called on all governors to have them. It is the state's responsibility.

TRUMP: Well, no, but he didn't do it.


KEILAR: Didn't do it? Joe Biden is not president. He's a private citizen. Next.


TRUMP: Because there are a lot of people think the masks are not good. And there are a lot of people, as an example --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Who are those people?

TRUMP: I'll tell you who those people are, waiters.


KEILAR: Now, if anyone wore masks, waiters included, the simple action would save more than 115,000 American lives over the next few months and that's straight from a model that the White House uses.


TRUMP: It is going away. And it's probably going to go away now a lot faster because of the vaccine. It would go away without the vaccine, George. But it's going to go away a lot faster --

STEPHANOPOULOS: It would go away without the vaccine?

TRUMP: Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: With many deaths?

TRUMP: And you'll develop like a herd mentality. It's going to be -- it's going to be herd-developed and that's going to happen. That will all happen.


KEILAR: It's the herd immunity concept, which would deliberately allow the virus to spread to build up population resistance. But that strategy would kill more than 2 million Americans, according to a Washington Post analysis. It's a concept that his controversial new task force member, Dr. Scott Atlas, has floated in the past, even though he's recently denied it.


DR. SCOTT ATLAS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS ADVISER: It's not just a lie, it's an overt lie. I have never advised the president to push a herd immunity strategy. I have never told the task force that I advocated a herd immunity strategy.


I've never told anyone.


KEILAR: There are past clips and columns from Dr. Atlas talking about this, but his boss has also fact checked this.


TRUMP: You look at Scott Atlas, you look at some of the other doctors that are highly from Stanford, look at some of the other doctors, they think, maybe we could have done that from the beginning.


KEILAR: But didn't the White House tried to tell us that the herd immunity, that that theory isn't even a thing there?


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Herd immunity so-called theory was something made up in the fanciful minds of the media. That was never something that was ever considered here at the White House.


KEILAR: So she lied. Even with nearly 200,000 Americans dead from the virus and still no national strategy, the president is touting some imaginary report card.


TRUMP: We're starting to get very good marks. If you look at what we've done compared to other countries with the excess mortality, the excess mortality rate.


KEILAR: All of that is just not true. We have the most cases and the most deaths of any country in the world.

And a new survey shows that the president ranks lower than President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping when it comes to being trustworthy in the wake of this pandemic.

And speaking of China, when Trump is asked why he constantly praised China at the beginning of the pandemic --


TRUMP: No, no. I didn't say one way or the other. I'm not saying one way or the other.


KEILAR: Once again, let's let the president fact check himself.


TRUMP: And now we're friends with China. In fact, maybe we've never had a better relationship, and we're working with them very closely on the coronavirus.

REPORTER: Are you concerned that China is covering up the full extent of --

TRUMP: No, China's working very hard.

He is working very hard. He is very capable. The country is very capable.

And we've been working very much with China. I have spoken, as you know, with President Xi. They went through hell. And their numbers are starting to look very good.


KEILAR: It may be 2020 but it is feeling a lot like 1984.

Still ahead, two weeks, that has been the timetable that the president has promised for his health care plan for months now. Well, see what happened when he was called on it.

Plus, what are social media companies going to do about the president's behavior as he tweets out more manipulated media is? And we are tracking Hurricane Sally as it is battering the gulf coast right now.



KEILAR: One day after the president shared a vile and baseless tweet about Joe Biden being a pedophile, he is at it again, this time re- tweeting a manipulated video of Biden appearing to play the infamous NWA rap song at the police, when in reality, Biden was playing Despacito during a Hispanic heritage month celebration in Florida.

Business Reporter Donie O'Sullivan is joining me. Donie, Twitter slaps this manipulated label on this video. What's the impact of that?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Hey, Brianna, yes, Twitter placed a tiny, really tiny label underneath this video, and all it says is manipulated media. It doesn't explain how the video has been manipulated or even if it's false.

So this has been Twitter's policy with manipulated videos and doctored and edited videos for the past few months when we've seen President Trump, his campaign and senior Republicans sharing more and more doctored and altered videos.

Now, the Trump campaign and his supporters will say that a video like this, the original video of Joe Biden was pretty awkward as it was, but that a video like this was clearly a joke. But that is sort of an excuse that we're seeing used over and over again with videos that are being posted in this way, all of which, of course, play into narratives, some, of course, false, about Joe Biden, and in this case, about his attitude towards the police.

And the campaigns are doing it, because they know they can get away with it, because even though this video has been labeled, it's still being viewed millions of times on Twitter. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes. So it's been viewed at this point 4.1 million times, I believe, and the label certainly doesn't seem to stop people from sharing it. It doesn't, right? They can still share it?

O'SULLIVAN: They can still share it. And, you know, Twitter has been praised because with some of the voter misinformation that Trump has shared, they have placed more prominent labels on them. And they have also stopped people from being able to share those tweets. But when it comes to these sort of doctored videos, they just have this tiny label that's placed on them.

And speaking to people at these companies, they get it. They understand that they have a very serious role to play in this election. I mean, just in the past few days, Twitter announced that it was bringing in new rules to prohibit posts that could disrupt a peaceful transition of power after the election if Joe Biden were to win. Obviously, with rules coming like that, that it's -- technology coming

out to bring in rules like that in the context of an election in the United States of America in 2020, is quite stark, surreal and bleak.



KEILAR: I mean, what else can they do? I guess that's the question.