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Trump Holds Rally With Few Masks, No Social Distancing; Trump Names Supreme Court Pick, Sows Election Fears; Protesters Gather In Louisville Ahead Of City Curfew; Trump Campaign Spreading Misinformation On Social Media; Trump: Only Way We Lose The Elections Is If There's Mischief. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 26, 2020 - 20:00   ET


DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We've seen it happen before and I'm so worried that we'll see it happen again because of what he announced yesterday.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Dr. Yasmin, thanks much. Mayor Gelber, thanks to both you. Good luck.

I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington. Our special coverage continues right now. CNN "NEWSROOM" with Ana Cabrera starts right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We begin with breaking news. The president makes his Supreme Court pick and he continues to sew doubt about the election and whether he'll accept the results. Here was President Trump just a short time ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to see a very peaceful transition. But it's got to be a legal process. When you get thousands of ballots sent to people and they're double ballots where you get two votes, and that's just one of many problems.


CABRERA: And president's comments followed this Rose Garden ceremony where he announced that a favored of conservatives, Judge Amy Coney Barrett is his nominee to replace liberal icon, the Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The announcement was a hit with his base.


TRUMP: Please, Amy, say a few words. Thank you.


CABRERA: A crowd in Middletown, Pennsylvania, watching on a big screen as they awaited the president's trip there. He was making his way from Washington for tonight's rally. Now, any Supreme Court nomination is historic but few are as immediately consequential as this one. President Trump wants Judge Barrett to get confirmed quickly, as in before Election Day, for one reason, his helping a court skewed to the right would settle any election disputes.

As if a contentious election weren't enough, there's the pandemic. But you wouldn't know it from today's historic Rose Garden event, few masks, no social distancing, even Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar not practicing what he's been preaching about taking coronavirus precautions.

And we have this just in. Dr. Anthony Fauci revealing the White House has now pivoted away from daily coronavirus task force briefings. We'll have more on that in just a moment.

But, first, President Trump right now holding his first re-election rally since making this historic Supreme Court justice nomination at the White House. Let's get straight to CNN's Ryan Nobles in Middletown, Pennsylvania, right now.

Ryan, the president just arrived. What it is the mood there?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, what we're seeing play out here in real-time is the president and his campaign adopting the Coney Barrett confirmation process as part of his overall campaign strategy.

Listen to what the president said just a few minutes ago about his nomination of Coney Barrett.


TRUMP: I've just come from the Rose Garden of the White House where I proudly nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. Judge Barrett is a brilliant legal mind and extraordinary scholar, you know that, number one in her class. You know the professor, one of the most respected people, he said the greatest student he's ever had, that's pretty good. That's a little better than Biden, wouldn't you say? She should be running for president herself.


NOBLES: And as you can see how the crowd responded here, they obviously agree with President Trump. They want to see Coney Barrett seated, and they want it to see it happen before the election.

And, Ana, what's interesting about the campaign strategy is that it seems as though President Trump has the votes in the Republican Senate that doesn't seem to be in any real doubt. But the fact that the campaign is going to put a big effort behind bolstering her campaign in her confirmation process using real dollars, $10 million in a digital ad campaign, they're going to make it part of the messaging of their volunteers that are going door to door and knocking on doors, that's because they know it plays well with their conservative base, reminding them of the stakes of what is happening in this election.

And you see it playing out in real-time here tonight in Middletown and it's going to continue right through Election Day. Ana?

CABRERA: As you wear your mask reminding us all about the pandemic that's still going on. We saw very few masks at the Rose Garden ceremony earlier. We see a few masks behind the president. But what are you seeing out there in the crowd, because, clearly, there isn't any social distancing?

NOBLES: You know, Ana, this is like every single one of these campaign events for President Trump, there is little to almost no regard for the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. There are thousands and thousands of people out here. They are packed in shoulder to shoulder. There are hardly any masks being worn.

And I should point out, Ana, you're right to make note of the fact that all of the people sitting behind President Trump are wearing masks.


They're basically the only ones at this rally aside from those of us on the press riser that are wearing masks. And that is a strategic ploy for the most part that's put out by the Trump campaign. They hand out those masks, they ask the people sitting behind the president to wear them. It does not reflect the rest of the crowd.

So you can -- it shows that the campaign realizes that there's a problem in terms of the optics of these crowds taking place. But yet they still attempt to at least show some sort of symbol of it happening, even though in reality that's not what's happening at all.

CABRERA: It's like they're trying to have it both ways. Ryan Nobles, thank you for your reporting.

Joining us now, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist, Carl Bernstein, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, he's also the Host of the podcast, Stay Tuned with Preet, and CNN Political Commentator and former Special Assistant to George W. Bush, Scott Jennings. Gentlemen, thank you all, for being here with me for this conversation.

Carl, the president has made no secret of the fact that he wants this nominee rushed through because he thinks this election could be decided by the Supreme Court. Clearly, he thinks this is to his advantage.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is exactly right. And one of the things about the hypocrisy of today's exercise in the Rose Garden is the fact that this justice to be is probably going to have to deal with the criminality of the president of the United States in his conduct about trying to undermine this election. Trying to talk about a coup, in which insurrection would result he's threatening almost if he is not favored in the election results, saying he will not necessarily abide by the results of the election.

There's a lot of talk. The president talked about law in order, it's the foundation of the American system of justice, he said today. Well, what really need law in order is in the White House to restrain the criminality of the president of the United States but it's especially true as he tries to undermine the most basic aspect of our democracy and he's doing it in plain sight at the very rally that we were just at on this air threatening about not abiding about the results of an election, questioning, undermining, trying to thwart the will of the people and throw doubt on our electoral system.

CABRERA: Preet, we're hearing that Senate Democrats are -- well they can't maybe stop this nomination from happening, they are at least planning to ask the president's nominee to promise to recuse herself if the Supreme Court does, in fact, hear a case that could impact the result of the election. Is that a fair request?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think it is, given the context, given the circumstances and given the fact that you had a president who is so far, according to almost every poll, losing an election, has been stating himself and through his attorney general that there will almost certainly make a contestation of the election. And if it winds its way to the court, it might it end up in the Supreme Court.

And he and others, including Senator Ted Cruz, are pretty clear in talking about how they want nine justices. They don't want to hang-up court that could divide 4-4, but nine justices. The most recent of whom would be the un-appointed of the president of the United States in order to prevail and take the election back.

And I think although it is true that Supreme Court justices, as a general matter, they do recuse themselves on a fairly common basis but it's up to their own discretion. There is no other body that decide whether or not a decision to recuse was fair or not, and there been cases justices have been criticized for not recusing.

But I think it's probably smart rhetorically and also substantively to say, look, look at the appearance of coming on the court, weeks before an election even though Mitch McConnell and other said that we weren't going to engage in this practice in an election year, and weeks later, make the decision about whether or not Trump has won the election if a case comes before the court of that sort.

It was devastating to the court in back in Bush v. Gore and I think it will be devastating again. And to avoid the appearance of looking like you're putting a thumb on the scale for the president, I think that Amy Coney Barrett should say that she might recuse herself, yes.

CABRERA: What happens if it is, if it were to come down to a 4-4 vote?

BHARARA: Well, it depends of what the underlying decision is. So, for example, if you have a case that winds its way through to the circuit court and that decision is favorable to Trump, and then it goes to the Supreme Court, it's 4-4, that favorable decision to Trump stands. And if the underlying decision was 4-4 favorable to Joe Biden, and the Supreme Court is 4-4 split, it's favorable to Biden. So whatever happens below is what stands if it's 4-4. CABRERA: Scott, we heard the roar from the crowd when the president made his nominee announcement. Does Amy Coney Barrett now essentially become Trump's running mate on this ticket between now and November 3rd, forcing voters to focus on gun rights and abortion instead of the failure to handle the coronavirus?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that's a -- no, she doesn't become part of the partisan back and forth between Trump and Biden because she has proven and said time and again that she exists in the law to apply the law, and not to be a partisan player.


And everybody is trying to ascribe partisan qualities to her and the reality is everybody who's worked with her, her clerks, the people she's been around at Notre Dame and throughout her career have all said she's fair, she's brilliant, she's generous and she applies the law as written.

So, look, I think she will be discussed, but to expect her to be part of the partisan back and forth here, I just don't think it's going to happen. She showed extreme poise under really partisan attacks in her circuit court confirmation hearing and I would expect she well show fairness and poise when she undergoes what I expect will be partisan attacks on her Supreme Court hearing.

CABRERA: But, clearly, the president would much rather voters be thinking about the Supreme Court than the coronavirus or be thinking about issues, like abortion or gun rights or religious liberty or whatever it may be versus the situation that we all find ourselves in, which is in the middle of the pandemic that seems to have end in sight and is only getting worse here in the U.S. as we look at the pictures, Scott, of, you know, people packed in very tightly.

This rally in Pennsylvania, they're obviously not afraid to be out in public, which is why a lot of Democrats believes Trump supporters will be more willing to vote in-person rather than mail-in-a-ballot.

So is the president just simply laying the ground work to say, you know, on Election Day when the votes start being tabulated, maybe he'll be in a position to be able say, see, look, I'm ahead on election night, forget about the mail-in ballots?

JENNINGS: Well, he can say whatever he wants. The reality is the president doesn't run the election. The federal government doesn't administer the election. The election is administered by the state level officials and the people who run the state.

So, I mean, people, I think, are ascribing powers and qualities to the chief executive, whether it's Donald Trump or anyone else that don't exist. He doesn't have any influence over the election. It's a state level-administered election, as it should be.

And so, my view is we're going to have an election, you will see a disparity in mail-in-ballots versus election night ballots, it is possible Donald Trump could win Election Day ballots, but every legal ballot should be counted and we will eventually have a winner and we will eventually have a transition of power or a continuation. And there's really nothing that the individual who holds the office of the president can do about it.


BERNSTEIN: First, Scott, the president of the United States has huge influence over this process, not no influence, as you just said. And he is using it by his threats and why his willingness to undermine the Constitution of the United States, the orderly electoral process of this country, as it has existed for more than two centuries. We've never had a president of the United States who has gone anywhere near the outrageous statements and threats of this president to influence and undermine the electoral process.

Dan Coats, the former director of National Intelligence in an op-ed in The New York Times, talked about Trump being a threat to our democracy with he -- with what Trump is doing in this election and trying to undermine.

Mind you, Dan Coats, an Evangelical Christian, former Republican Senator and Trump's director of National Intelligence, Coat's has called very reasonably for a national commission to be established on the Congress of the United States to oversee and monitor this election.

And it is something that the press should be looking at, that every Senator should be looking at right now, because I can imagine that if we pay attention to what Coats is talking about, there would well be. and I would like to ask Scott, his feeling about this, five, six, seven Republican Senators willing to go along with this proposal by Dan Coats, so that we can have some oversight over the election.

And certainly all the Democrats would back it. And why would anybody oppose a national commission to guarantee the integrity of this election when we have a criminal president in the United States trying to undermine it?

Scott, I'm going to ask you, do you think McConnell would go forth?

JENNINGS: Well, look, I think two things. Number one, you're pre- supposing that there some fraud when we don't have any evidence that that exist.

BERNSTEIN: He's threatening fraud.

JENNINGS: And number two, we have a long history in this country of states and localities managing elections. We do not have federalized elections in this country for good reason. And I think Republicans and conservatives would be reticent to federalize any election, this one or any other.

There's been a lot of resistance today in the Republican Party over the years. And I think you would run into that with your proposal, Carl. But, again, this is run -- this election is run by the states and the secretaries of states and county clerks. They don't answer to the president.

CABRERA: Yes. But the president does have influence, as we know.


And we've heard not only the claims about mail-in-voting, these false claims about widespread fraud. The president has urged supporters to act as poll watchers, raising concerns about voter intimidation. He's made comments suggesting North Carolinians should vote twice, and they should mail-in a ballot and they should also go try to cast a ballot in person to try to test the system. And we've had Trump and his attorney general dismissing intel warning about Russia's meddling.

Preet, I want to ask you about the role of the attorney general, Bill Barr. He has, again, openly question mail-in-voting. And now we have an assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts who wrote a letter to the editor, this is in the Boston Globe, heavily criticizing Barr. And he writes this, quote, the attorney general acts as thought his job is to serve only the political interests of Donald J. Trump. This is a dangerous abuse of power.

How unprecedented is it for an assistant U.S. attorney to publicly speak out against his boss like this?

BHARARA: In fact, I've never seen it before. But just very quickly further the point that was being made before, this innocuous picture being painted of how the president is helpless and local officials is go about doing what they're going to do. The president can obviously put pressure on them.

The president could put pressure on his attorney general, who has done among other things, painted the picture of fraud that does not exist with respect to the mail-in-ballots and foreign interference, with respect to the mail-in-ballot process.

He made a big deal of this idea that there was mail-in-ballot fraud in Pennsylvania. It turned out they had to issue a retraction, it was not correct, and that the attorney general briefed the president of the United States before it became public. That is also one unheard of.

With respect to this assistant U.S. attorney, you know, it's a pretty buttoned-down organization. People have their own political and personal views that they keep to themselves. Mostly, nobody knows at all what party anyone is affiliated with. We don't talk about politics when we're in that position. It's a pretty brave thing that I think he has done and said.

I have talked to him formally to various people who are in the department who were appalled by the kind of things that the attorney general is doing and saying. I think if they can get over some of the things that the attorney general is saying, including comparing line assistant U.S. attorneys in the department to preschoolers, but it's little bit harder to get over what he's doing as opposed to saying, including interfering in cases that relate to associates of the president, like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

And the fact an AUSA, who is a career employee, felt -- by the way, this AUSA, as I understand it, went to the ethics official in the district of Massachusetts U.S. attorney's office. He didn't just send off a letter. He wanted to make sure it was appropriate. He is an individual American who has rights to express himself, got permission from the ethics officer and made this statement. And I think it's probably the tip of the iceberg with respect to how people feel about this particular attorney general.

CABRERA: Preet Bharara, Carl Bernstein, Scott Jennings, gentlemen thank you very, very much for being here.

BHARARA: Thanks Ana.

CABRERA: More to come on the CNN NEWSROOM, as the president holds a massive campaign rally in Pennsylvania this hour, the United States speeds past more than 7 million coronavirus infections.

Meantime, his own Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, disregard social distancing or wearing mask at the Supreme Court nomination ceremony.



CABRERA: You are looking at live pictures from Middletown, Pennsylvania, where the president is holding yet another rally with very few masks and no social distancing. The crowd jammed in there for hours waiting for him to make this trip from Washington to Pennsylvania after announcing his Supreme Court nominee. And it comes as Dr. Fauci reveals the Trump administration has pivoted away from receiving daily guidance from the White House coronavirus task force.

Joining us now, Dr. Patrice Harris, she is the former President of the American Medical Association. Dr. Harris, thank you for being with us.

This rally comes after a week where the CDC projected another 20,000 people will die by October 17th. If you could speak to the president right now, what would you say?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, you know, Ana, and, first of all, thank you for having me this evening. You know, leadership is so important particularly in times of crisis and it would go a long way if our leaders not only gave voice, not only talk but actually modeled what we all need to be doing to increase or, I'm sorry, to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

And so, it is so important to make sure that science and the evidence guides all of our decisions and that we continue to encourage everyone in this country to do what we know works best at this point, and that's to wear a mask and wash our hands and watch our distances and not gather in large crowds, particularly indoors.

So, you know, I just hope all of our leaders in this country really give voice but not only voice but model what we need to be doing.

CABRERA: And it's not just in Pennsylvania where we are not seeing that modeling. I want to show you this scene earlier in the White House Rose Garden, where the president introduced his Supreme Court nominee and her family, including young children, none of them wearing masks. There were barely any masks in the audience. Apparently, anyone in close proximity to the president, we are told was tested, but we don't know about everyone else in the Rose Garden.

I wonder if just one person was infected at that event, how fast could it spread?

HARRIS: Well, we note this virus has one job and it is relentless in trying to infect others to replicate itself. And we know, again, no one is immune. As you state, we don't know the testing status of everyone in the Rose Garden.

And so, we've seen these super-spreader events. We've seen this virus infect and kill others when they are in close proximity in crowds, not wearing masks.


So this is very concerning.

And we're seeing in some states the rates of infection going up, hospitalizations going up. So we are certainly not out of the woods. Of course, I hope everyone knows that. And it is so important that we continue to be vigilant.

We are coming upon the flu season, more people will be indoors. Perhaps the weather won't allow us to be outdoors as much. So this is a critical time and we should take advantage of this time that we have to prepare and do all that we can in any setting to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

CABRERA: And we know that the spread is increasing with 55,000 plus cases reported in one day just yesterday, the highest number we've seen since sometime in August. We know that hospitalizations and deaths are lagging behind that typically in the increases.

A few days ago, we heard, you know, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaking in front of the sign that literally said, beat the virus, wear a mask, and now look at him today, not wearing a mask, in close contact with others, fist bumping. What's your reaction when you see that?

HARRIS: You know, that, again, is very concerning because I know that people are watching. People watch our leaders. They not only watch what they say, more importantly, they watch what they do. And so, it is critical, and particularly those of us who are physicians and scientists and public health officials. People watch what we do and they take their lead oftentimes from what we say.

And so, again, we need to be consistent. You know, part of the reason we have issues right now is because there have been so many mixed messages, and part of the mixed messaging is saying one thing and doing another.

So, you know, let me just say to the American public that we should continue to wear our mask. We don't have to have increased deaths, increased number of infections. We are not hopeless, so we can act and do the things, again, those basic public health measures that we know work.

CABRERA: Okay, Dr. Patrice Harris. Thank you for your time tonight and thank you for all you do.

HARRIS: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: We're following another developing story. Demonstrators taking to the streets in Louisville. These are live pictures, protesters, again, tonight, over the lack of charges in the death of Breonna Taylor. We are on the ground following all the very latest. We'll take you there live next here in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: Right now, protesters are gathering again in Louisville, Kentucky. This is now the fourth night of demonstrations. Since the Kentucky Attorney General announced no officers are being charged directly for the killing of Breonna Taylor. Twenty-two people were arrested in the protest last night for unlawful assembly in violation of the city's curfew.

CNN crime and justice correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz, is there for us. The curfew, again, strikes in about a half an hour from now. Set the scene for us. What is happening there tonight?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Ana, in 30 minutes is when the curfew here end. And I just -- it's a very different situation here tonight. And I just want to show you around as I step out of the camera. We have a much larger crowd here tonight gathering here at Jefferson Square Park, and they're setting up a different situation here.

They're telling people to stay in the park. And they're warning them that if they stay in the park and they're encouraging them to stay in the park, that they are going to face confrontation with the police.

Now, I've been here for the last several nights. And this is the first night that we've had a situation like this here. Usually, the protesters will leave the park and they will head to a local church that has been set up as a sanctuary.

But for tonight, they're vowing to stay. They say they're going to occupy the park, they want to set up a perimeter, which would then almost certainly lead to confrontation with police as we approach the curfew hour which is at 9:00. They've asked people if they're willing to stay, if they're not willing to stay to leave. And so, we will see what happens here.

With the police, here is the announcement here. I want you to -- this is the police now making their announcement.

So, the police now, we're 30 minutes as you said away, from the curfew. They are making that announcement because many of them have been saying they are vowing to stay. So, the police now reminding them that this curfew ends begins at 9:00 and that basically they have about 25 minutes or so to evacuate.

So, it's going to be obviously very interesting to see what happens how the police approach this situation. Right now, so far, we're not seeing any of the officers set up yet. But as we approach the 9:00 hour, that is likely going to change, Ana.

CABRERA: So, you know, you've been there, obviously, for the past several nights, Shimon. I'm curious, does it feel different there tonight than it has in past night? And also, we mentioned the 22 arrests are -- what are those for? Are they just mostly for curfew violations? Or has there been other activity that is criminal going on?


PROKUPECZ: Well, mostly curfew violations, Ana, and then also unlawful assembly. There were some possession of marijuana arrests, but majority of them have been for curfew arrests. For tonight, there are a lot more people here, usually, gathering. And usually, you don't have this many people gathering in the square.

And it does appear that some of the faces that I'm seeing are new faces. And in talking to some of the people here, they say that they have asked for more people to come here and to stand with them in solidarity. They're a little upset about how the police have been treating them.

Remember, yesterday, I was at a protest of marching with them. We were walking with them as they were marching, and the police had fired flashbangs at them. And the reason the police say they fired flashbang is because they -- flashbangs -- is because they wouldn't get on the sidewalk.

So, after yesterday's incident, it seems that some of the protesters here asked for reinforcement. They asked for other people to come. And now where we're at this situation, which is much different than any night that I've been here, Ana.

CABRERA: OK. We know you will, of course, be our eyes and ears on the ground. And we'll check back with you, Shimon. Thank you for that reporting.

Coming up, a remarkable CNN investigation on the misinformation Trump supporters are seeing on their Facebook feeds and other social media. What we learned, next.


[20:40:34] CABRERA: President Trump's social media feeds and those of his allies have been repeatedly flagged for spreading misinformation and manipulated videos about the election and Joe Biden. The President's campaign claims these doctored videos are just humor. They're funny. But as you're about to see, oftentimes, Trump's supporters aren't on the joke.

CNN business reporter Donie O'Sullivan is joining us now. Donie, you went to a Trump rally. And you talk to supporters about what they're seeing on Facebook and other social media. And what you found is eye- opening.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right. We see these fake videos and false claims circulating on social media pretty much every day. So last week, we went to a Trump rally in Minnesota and we asked supporters a simple question to show us what they see in their Facebook feeds. Have a look.



O'SULLIVAN: So, we've come to a Trump rally in Bemidji, Minnesota today to ask Trump supporters what they see, when they open their Facebook feeds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one has been more wrong more often than Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The November 3rd election result may never be accurately determined.

O'SULLIVAN: On that post, is there any label or fact check or anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they have a little thing at the bottom that says voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the U.S.

O'SULLIVAN: Are you a Facebook user?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I use Facebook. Yes.

O'SULLIVAN: So, what sort of pages you follow on there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody that agrees with me? Only people that agree with you. You don't want to be --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that would be a Republican and anti-abortion guy, and pro-gun, and pro beer. But do you not think it would be good to follow some pages of people who disagree with, see their opinion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they call me stupid, ignorant, you know, why would I follow people that throw rocks at me constantly because they don't agree with me? I got tens of thousands of people that do.

O'SULLIVAN: So, Trump his campaign, a lot of senior Republicans over the past few weeks have been sharing doctored and manipulated videos on social media.

Now, the Trump campaign and Trump supporters will often say these videos are clearly jokes. They are memes, people know their memes. People know they're fake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they say, well, this is fact checked. It's wrong because it's taken out of context. Like when Joe Biden fell asleep during a live interview on television.

O'SULLIVAN: Claimed that he fell asleep. I think that was an edited one, right? That was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think it was -- it looked pretty live to me with no cuts in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joining us live this morning from New York. Hey, good morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wake up. Wake up, wake up. This is your wake-up call here.

O'SULLIVAN: Is this the video that you're talking about?


O'SULLIVAN: Biden falling --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should I watch it really quick?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Washington Post.

O'SULLIVAN: So, an article there is saying that, that it was fake, but it looked real, right? I mean, it looked real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, I definitely wouldn't doubt that it would happen.

O'SULLIVAN: Even if it is fake, does it change your opinion of Biden?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God. No. You got to sift through it. I missed that one. But it was a good laugh. It was a really good laugh. And like I said, I wouldn't doubt it.

O'SULLIVAN: A lot of people we spoke to today are sharing posts on Facebook, that later get fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checkers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything I put on there about our president is generally only on for a few minutes. And then all of a sudden, they're fact checking me saying this that the other thing which I know is not true. The fact checks -- their fact checker is wrong? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll right away Go to the conservative sites and say that's wrong, then they pull it and they're not going to the liberal sites. And Dem are the real lies. They're the real liars out there.

O'SULLIVAN: Also circulating online more insidious forms of misinformation, including baseless claims about Vice President Joe Biden being a pedophile.

Do you guys seriously think that Joe Biden's a pedophile?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do. But that's my opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel he is. I feel it's part of the game of the whole thing.

O'SULLIVAN: That baseless, fabricated claim about Biden is circulating among supporters of QAnon, a conspiracy theory that the FBI says this is a potential domestic terrorism threat. Some of these false claims have been amplified by the President himself.


The FBI said QAnon is a dangerous conspiracy theory. Does that make you think for a second, hang on? Should I be following this thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because if the -- QAnon is bringing up the bad things about the FBI, that's why they're saying it. That's why they're afraid of him.


O'SULLIVAN: Facebook is designed to show you posts and videos and articles that it thinks you will like. But that has drawn many people into these online echo chambers, where they only see opinions, information, and indeed misinformation that confirms their biases. So, it's all contributing, Ana, to the polarization we're seeing in the country right now. And, of course, it's all just playing out weeks before the election.

CABRERA: That's so fascinating, and you could tell those people are being so honest with you, which is a credit to your reporting.

Donie O'Sullivan, thank you for getting on the ground and giving us that kind of insights, really helpful.

And as the Trump campaign feeds misinformation to supporters, the President continues to sow doubt about the integrity of November's election and America's enemies abroad are watching. Your weekend presidential brief is next.



CABRERA: Just 38 days now until the election and President Trump is not backing down from his repeated attempts to undermine confidence in the outcome, should he lose. Here is the president just last night at a rally in Virginia.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's the only way we're going to lose is if there's mischief. Mischief and it'll have to be on a big scale. So be careful. And we do want a very friendly transition, but we don't want to be cheated and be stupid.


CABRERA: CNN National Security Analyst, Samantha Vinograd, is here for your Weekend Presidential Brief.

Sam, the President's baseless attacks on mail-in voting his repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power, should he lose the election. Just how dangerous is all of this?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, double standards really do define this administration. We sanction foreign leaders who behave like Trump. And even if the president doesn't follow through on his threats to further usurp our democracy, his behavior is having immediate adverse impact on our national security. His actions and his words really give credence to the Russian narrative that U.S. democracy is in decay. He's a key contributor for the Kremlin at this point, plus, their global impacts.

The United States used to lead the charge when it came to advancing democracy overseas, based largely on how we behaved here at home, we had credibility. At this point, any official that tries to credibly promote democracy in another country is probably laughed out of the room. The President has made his entire team look like hypocrites.

CABRERA: The FBI warned the public this week that foreign actors might spread disinformation about the results of the election and encouraged voters to be patient with delayed results. There are even some administration officials now publicly criticizing the FBI for this warning. How big of a threat is this?

VINOGRAD: Well, remember the FBI has a lead when it comes to investigating cybercrimes and foreign influence operations. They're a reliable source on those issues. The FBI is doing its job and then some. They issued these unprecedented public service announcements about the election security threat landscape.

The goal of these PSAs is to inform the public and to protect us. While the FBI is trying to mitigate threats, members of the Trump team are amplifying them. We have Trump, Barr, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows publicly contradicting and insulting the FBI. They're also spreading baseless conspiracy theories. They seem to be basing their talking points on campaign needs rather than on an intelligence.

Their rhetoric really amounts to domestic disinformation attacks. They're fueling Russian information, warfare operations against the United States, and they're helping Russia and hurting us. That's the most unpatriotic thing I can think of.

CABRERA: Speaking of Russia, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, called for an agreement. So, it was on Friday, he wanted to have an agreement with the U.S. proposing a reboot and relations as it relates to interference in cybersecurity and electoral processes. Should anyone buy this?

VINOGRAD: Well, I'm trying not to roll my eyes. But remember, Putin made this offer while Russia is actively attacking our elections. Not to mention the fact that Russia doesn't even have free and fair elections, and well, Putin violates every agreement that he signs.

So, you may be asking, is anybody buying this? But if history is a guide, the answer may be clear. Back in 2017, after we already knew that Russia was attacking us, could meet a similar offer. He offered to establish a bilateral cyber working group with the United States. Trump didn't reject this offer. Instead, he tweeted about it, twice. So, it appears as ridiculous as his offer may sound that Putin is probably just playing with POTUS and he seems to be really enjoying it.

CABRERA: OK. Samantha Vinograd, good to see you. Thank you.


CABRERA: The most anticipated moment of the election is here Donald Trump-Joe Biden face off in the first presidential event. I will be on the ground in Ohio where this first debate is taking place getting reaction from voters there. You can watch it all play out live on CNN. We have special coverage Tuesday night, starting at 7:00 Easter. We'll be right back.



CABRERA: We're alive in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for staying with me. We continue to follow breaking news tonight.

President Trump announces his Supreme Court pick and he tries to sow more chaos and fear about the democratic process. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is Trump's nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.