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Trump Undermines CDC Director On Masks And Vaccine Timing; A.G. Barr Invokes Slavery To Attack Coronavirus Lockdowns; Hurricane Sally Leaves Historic Flooding Across Gulf Coast. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 17, 2020 - 05:30   ET






DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he got the message maybe confused.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The president publicly contradicting his own CDC chief, once again creating uncertainty rather than stability.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the attorney general with some inflammatory remarks about the pandemic, slavery, and his own prosecutors across the country.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett, about half past the hour here in New York.

A nation in dire need of consistent factual information about coronavirus still hearing everything but that. President Trump contradicting his own top health officials, yet again, on the importance of wearing masks and the timing of a vaccine.

It all started Wednesday when CDC Director Robert Redfield, testifying before Congress, delivered this sobering reality check about the vaccine for the general public.


REDFIELD: I think there will be a vaccine that will initially be available sometime between November 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 a vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we're probably looking at third -- late second quarter, third quarter 2021.


JARRETT: Now, that timing, inconvenient as it may be for an incumbent president, is in line with what other experts have said about the timing for a vaccine. And even the president, himself, told Bob Woodward it would probably take a year to develop one.

Yet, just a few hours after Dr. Redfield testified before Congress on Wednesday, the president said he was wrong.


TRUMP: I think he made a mistake when he said that. It's just incorrect information. And I called him and he didn't tell me that.

And I think he got the message maybe confused. Maybe it was stated incorrectly. No, we're ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced.


ROMANS: Whenever a vaccine is ready there's another problem. Vaccine skepticism has accelerated in the last few years, fueled in part by the president's attacks on science. People who refuse to take precautions could pass the virus to others.

Here's Dr. Anthony Fauci.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would happen if only a third or -- I'm sorry, two-thirds or a half of the public got vaccinated? Would that be enough?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: No, I don't think it would be at all and I think that's important for the public to appreciate. It's the combination of how effective a vaccine is and how many people use it.


ROMANS: So this isn't just semantics. The president is continuing to mislead the public about a virus that has already killed 197,000 Americans, and with 47 days to go until the election, apparently hopes voters simply take his word over his own health experts.

JARRETT: All of this continued misdirection and confusion at a time when the virus is showing real signs of resurgence. Cases are now up in 23 states. On Monday, it was only nine.

Still, the president seems pleased.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: So we're down in this territory (ph) and that's despite the fact that the blue states had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we're at a level that I don't think anybody in the world would be at.


JARRETT: Take the blue states out. He sees this nation as his supporters on the one hand and everyone else on the other. But it's worth noting here in the south where almost every state voted for Donald Trump in 2016, that's where the cases and death rates are actually going up. In those so-called blue states, numbers are down.

ROMANS: All right.

Attorney General Bill Barr with a stunning comparison Wednesday, suggesting that state-level lockdowns due to coronavirus were second only to slavery when it comes to restrictive intrusions on civil liberties.


Attending a Constitution Day celebration at Hillside (sic) College in Michigan, Barr was asked to explain the constitutional hurdles for banning church gatherings during the pandemic. The attorney general then went on a four-minute rant accusing state governors of using their executive powers to stifle citizens and businesses from returning to work.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Putting a national lockdown stay-at-home orders is like house arrest. It's the -- it's -- you know, other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.


ROMANS: According to the CDC, coronavirus has taken a devastating and disproportionate toll on minorities, including African-Americans.

JARRETT: Well, we know they used tear gas. Now, CNN has learned the Trump administration considered using a heat ray against protesters in Lafayette Park back in June where those peaceful demonstrators were cleared so the president could hold up a bible at a boarded-up church. The heat ray makes people feel like their skin is on fire.

This revelation comes in written testimony from a senior National Guard official who was at the scene that day.

And this is not a first for this administration. The president suggested using a heat ray on migrants as a deterrent back in 2016, but that idea went nowhere.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, at least one person has died from Hurricane Sally. That's according to the mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama who also tells CNN affiliate WSFA that another person is missing at this hour.

Hundreds of people near the Florida-Alabama border are being rescued from these catastrophic floodwaters. Authorities fear many more could be in danger in the coming days.

Pensacola, Florida was hit so hard an entire section of the newly- built Pensacola Bay Bridge, known to the locals as the three-mile bridge -- a big chunk of that is missing.


CHIEF GINNY CRANOR, PENSACOLA FIRE DEPARTMENT: The flooding is bad. We had 30 inches of rain in Pensacola -- 30-plus inches of rain, which is four months of rain in four hours at some, so it is very bad and severe.


JARRETT: Parts of Florida and Alabama were submerged by flooding. Rivers rose near dangerous levels and several counties were put under curfew to keep the residents safe. One woman who rode out the storm in Gulf Shores, Alabama says it looks like a war zone, as you can see there, and that the threat is clearly not over yet.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is live for us in hard-hit Gulf Shores, Alabama. Polo, I'm glad to see you dry this morning. The road to recovery, I know you're hearing from residents there, is going to be long and hard.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura. As you point out, the threat far from over, specifically that financial threat that some of these businesses could potentially face here.

Because you do have these seaside communities in Alabama, like Gulf Shores and neighboring Orange Beach that made that very difficult decision yesterday to simply close out their communities to visitors, to tourism at least for 10 days. And you have to remember that many of these communities, it's what keeps them afloat.

But they also have to come to terms with the reality that when you have businesses like this that are still dealing with the remnants of coastal flooding, though those waters are receding it's still leaving behind flood damage and you still have widespread structural damage -- not to mention those widespread power outages. If it weren't for our lighting we would be in the dark here in this community.

So that is why many of the residents here and even some of the business owners are actually supporting this. They know that in order to try to get their community back online after Hurricane Sally dealt them such a serious blow, then they have to do that. They have to close up and actually rebuild.

We actually caught up with one of those small business owners, Janel Hawkins, who told me that she feels that it's necessary. In fact, she even rode out Hurricane Sally just recently.


JANEL HAWKINS, BUSINESS OWNER, GULF SHORES, ALABAMA: I definitely wasn't expecting it to be that bad. I -- oh, I wish I would have -- you know, you always wish that you could have known and stuff, you know. Looking back, you know, hindsight is 20/20. But at the same time, you just cross your fingers and hope.


SANDOVAL: Now they are expecting for this closure to tourists to end possibly on September 26th, a date that can't come soon enough.

And also, keep in mind that the landfall of Hurricane Sally came almost 16 years to the day that Hurricane Ivan carved a very similar path of destruction, guys.

So people in this community, they've done this before. They certainly didn't want to do it again. But they said that they are quite resilient and they do hope to get back online as soon as they can.

JARRETT: They are resilient, for sure, Polo. Thank you so much for being there for us this morning.

ROMANS: All right, to TikTok now. President Trump wants the U.S. to have more control of TikTok after a reported deal to put the popular app in American hands with Oracle leaves Chinese-based ByteDance with majority control.


TRUMP: Conceptually, I can tell you I don't like that. If that's the case, I'm not going to be happy with that.


ROMANS: The Treasury Department is evaluating the deal designed to solve the Trump administration's national security concerns about the app.

The president had previously described the sale of TikTok in these landlord and tenant terms, saying that the app owes the U.S. for its success. The Treasury Department deserves a fee for making the app pair up with an American company. Trump seemed surprised the administration can't legally demand a payment from the companies in exchange for approving this deal.



TRUMP: I said no, I want a big chunk of that money to go to the United States government because we made it possible. And the lawyers come back to me and they say well, there's no way of doing that.


ROMANS: The president said he will be briefed on this deal today and that he's not prepared to sign off it until he has more information.

But, Laura, this is the president who wrote "The Art of the Deal" -- the dealmaker in chief -- and this has been such a messy process. It is -- it is just a saga you can't imagine a Republican American business leader-president really with his hands all over this international deal.

JARRETT: Yes, and running up against some clear legal restrictions there --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- he seems to be informed of.

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: All right.

Well, the Trump administration is also planning to appeal another lawsuit over the 2020 census to the Supreme Court. Last week, a three- judge panel blocked a White House directive that attempted to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count used for congressional apportionment.

Earlier this week, the administration also urged a federal judge to shield thousands of documents on its effort to end the 2020 census count one month early. Now, critics say these are all the ways that the White House is playing politics with the census.

This administration has a history of trying to withhold documents from the public -- everything, of course, from the Mueller probe to the impeachment inquiry to COVID. The difference this time is that the census will help set critical funding for cities nationwide and congressional representation for the next decade.

ROMANS: All right.

New overnight, a big move to celebrate vaccine production overseas with good news for the U.S. CNN live in Berlin.



ROMANS: Companies around the world racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Now, a German biotech company will rapidly speed up production. How will they do it and how much can they ramp up?

Senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen live this morning in Berlin. Good morning, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Christine. Yes, this is the company, Biontech, that's currently developing a coronavirus vaccine candidate together with Pfizer in the United States. And essentially what they've done is they bought another plant that's going to be able to make this vaccine. It is here in Germany.

There was a press conference there earlier today where the CEO of Biontech announced that through this plant alone, the company is going to be able to ramp up its production or produce 750 million doses more per year than before.

Now, Biontech and Pfizer currently developing this vaccine candidate that they call BNT162 and they continue to say that they plan to have it ready for regulatory approval by the end of October of this year. And they say they're both going to file for that approval with the FDA and also with the European Regulatory Agency as well.

Now, Biontech and Pfizer say that if everything goes according to plan, they want to produce about 100 million doses of this vaccine in 2020 and then 1.3 billion in 2021. And they've also confirmed today that part of those first 100 million doses will, indeed, go to the United States if they get that regulatory approval.

Of course, this is something that's also being debated around the world as the Oxfam group is saying today that the rich countries of the world have already secured more than half of what people believe is going to be the supply of coronavirus vaccines that are believed to be available. Of course, the big question is is there going to be a disparity between rich and poor nations as far as fighting the novel coronavirus, guys.

ROMANS: Oh, we have so much work ahead of us here. All right, thanks so much. Fred Pleitgen for us in Berlin -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right.

A historic change at the U.S. Supreme Court will resume, at least for the start of the new term.

CNN has the pandemic covered coast-to-coast.



The Supreme Court is sticking to its plan to hearing arguments over the phone when it starts its new term next month. The justices have not heard arguments in person since March, and in May, they began hearing arguments telephonically for the first time.

All of these procedures were put in place because of the pandemic and it's allowing everyday people easier access to hearing these arguments in real time, online.

The Supreme Court begins its new term on October fifth, and among the many arguments will be the Trump administration arguing to eliminate, completely, the Affordable Care Act.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Randi Kaye in Miami, Florida.

Just north of here in Broward County, the school superintendent says that he would like to start in-person classes as early as October fifth. The superintendent, Robert Runcie, announcing this in a tweet, saying that the same science criteria we used to close our schools is what we will use to open our schools.

Now, the superintendent does say that even though he's in favor of in- person learning, he says that some children, if their parents prefer, can continue to learn at home.

This does need to go before the county school board. That should happen sometime next week, likely September 22nd.


A new poll finds that the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a major blow to the financial stability of minorities.

The survey commissioned by NPR, Harvard, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 72 percent of Latino, 60 percent of black, and 55 percent of Native American households report the pandemic has caused them serious financial problems, including trouble paying their mortgage, utilities, buying food, making car payments, or affording medical care. Thirty-seven percent of Asians and 36 percent of whites reported similar financial problems.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill in New York, where the positivity rate is now back under one percent in the state. Of course, that's an important benchmark as we look at the progress here -- what was once the epicenter for the coronavirus in the United States in the early days.


And New York State also removing, this week, six states from the list of states and territories from which travelers must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New York, including the state of California.


ROMANS: Thanks to our colleagues for all those reports.

One of the two Los Angeles County sheriffs' deputies injured in that ambush attack is out of the hospital. The 24-year-old deputy was released Wednesday. His partner, who helped save his life by applying a tourniquet to a gunshot wound, remains hospitalized.

Now, the manhunt for the shooter now in its fifth day. A reward for information leading to the suspect's capture is now up to $300,000.

JARRETT: Queen Elizabeth is being removed as head of state in Barbados. The Caribbean nation plans to become a republic next year, 55 years after declaring independence from Britain. The island's governor-general says the time has come to leave the colonial past behind.

It will be the first time in three decades the monarch has been removed. The queen is head of state in more than a dozen countries formerly under British rule, including Australia, Canada, and Jamaica.

ROMANS: All right.

Looking at markets around the world right now, Asian shares have closed and Asian markets closed lower. European shares have also opened down here this morning.

On Wall Street, U.S. stock index futures are also falling here. Stocks finished mixed after the Federal Reserve's meeting Wednesday. The central bank said it will keep interest rates lower for longer, reminding investors the recovery will take some time.

The Dow closed up just 37 points. The Nasdaq fell 1.3 percent.

Shares of Snowflake -- that's a cloud data firm -- more than doubled on their first day of trading in the biggest software IPO ever.

We'll also get another look at the jobs crisis in just a few hours. Economists expect another 850,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week.

The pandemic pain on Main Street is becoming permanent. New data from Yelp shows about 60 percent of businesses that have closed during the pandemic -- 60 percent will never reopen.

Restaurants have suffered the most. Several factors have made it difficult for restaurants to survive. People are spending less on dining out. Owners have had to invest in items to keep customers and staff safe and fewer people are allowed in restaurants, leaving fewer seats. The National Restaurant Association says the sector is on track to lose $240 billion in sales this year.

Airlines are working to limit job losses before funding from the CARES Act expires October first. The United Airlines pilots' union has reached a tentative deal that will -- that will allow the airline to avoid furloughs until June 2021.

Delta Airlines says it has avoided most furloughs because employees took unpaid leave, retired early, or resigned. But its CEO still expects an overage of pilots next month and talks with its union continue. Delta said it is burning through $750 million each month.

All right, would you sit through ads for a cheaper phone plan? AT&T, which owns CNN's parent company, WarnerMedia, is considering offering cell phone plans partially paid by ads. CEO John Stankey told Reuters he thinks if given a choice, customers would take some amount of advertising for a lower bill. Stankey said the new plan could come as early as in a year or two.

JARRETT: I would take that in a minute. ROMANS: Would you, really?

JARRETT: Absolutely. Anything to lower that bill right now. All right, Christine --

ROMANS: All right. There you go, you've got a customer.

JARRETT: Well, are you in the market for a dinosaur during the middle of this pandemic? One of the world's most complete T-Rex skeletons is up for sale. Stan walked the planet some 67 million years ago. Now, the 40-foot-long frame will be displayed at Christie's in New York for auction in early October. The T-Rex and all of its 188 bones is expected to fetch $6 million to $8 million.

All right. Well, history was made last night at the Academy of Country Music Awards.


KEITH URBAN, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Oh, no way. We have a tie.

SONG: "Look What God Gave Her" by Thomas Rhett.


JARRETT: A tie in any major category in the show's 55-year history. The night's biggest prize, Entertainer of the Year, went to both Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood. It's Underwood's third win in the category and Rhett's first.


SONG: "Love Wins" by Carrie Underwood.



"SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Carrey.


ROMANS: All right.

Jim Carrey is "SNL's" new Joe Biden. The comedian has signed on to play the Democratic presidential candidate for the upcoming 46th season of "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE." Carrey will go head-to-head with Alec Baldwin's President Trump.

"SNL" will have a limited studio audience this season. The season premieres on October third.

But they're getting back in the studio. That's, I think -- that's super huge.

JARRETT: It's progress, it's progress. He's so good. Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris. That's going to be good, too.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us everybody, this Thursday morning. Have a great rest of your day. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think we may well be within a month or so of having the first safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's showing efficacy (ph) in November or in December, we don't have enough vaccine doses.

FAUCI: The idea of getting the entire population that wants to get vaccinated, vaccinated in a month or two, that's going to be very, very difficult to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are continued threats here in this area posed by some of the damage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I'm sorry -- I just can't believe what I'm seeing out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The house was shaking. It was shaking. It really was. I was concerned about the roof coming off the house.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.