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Confirmation Hearings for Supreme Court Pick; U.S. Sees Highest Number of Cases; Trump to Hold Campaign Rally; Early In-Person Voting in Georgia; Financial Devastation for Many in Texas. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired October 12, 2020 - 09:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The same approach with Judge Barrett or will it be different, will it be softer, will it be walking that tight rope?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is an interesting question and a position that she's in. And everything that I've heard seems to suggest that while she's not going to necessarily avoid tough issues, she's not likely to try to make that kind of -- that same kind of, you know, that kind of viral moment that she had with Kavanaugh that really kind of shot her into the stratosphere in terms of being a rising Democratic star.

And I think her objectives today, or this week, in the context of this election are completely different in the sense that she's going to be trying to advance the Democratic objectives on the Affordable Care Act, but she's not going to try to create any potential issues for the Democratic ticket.

I mean they're in a delicate moment where Biden is, according to the polls, winning. And so I don't think that there's a sense among Harris aides or Biden aides that they want to do anything to really upset that apple cart one way or another. But I do think you can expect her to really hone in on the Affordable Care Act.

The question I have, though, about Kamala Harris is, will she touch on reproductive rights because that is something that she has talked about. Obviously, she is a woman herself. But even when Amy Coney Barrett was announced, she talked about ACA predominantly, but she did mention reproductive rights. And I wonder if she will mention that and, if she does, how she will do it, you know, based on our conversation earlier.


PHILLIP: This is a sensitive topic for Democrats, and they don't want to step into a trap being laid right now but Republicans.

HARLOW: Yes, very good points. Manu, to you. As I said earlier, there were three, you know,

Democratic senators who voted for her confirmation three years ago to the seventh circuit. Two of them remain in the Senate. And then you have at least four, by our count, Schumer, Hirono, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, who didn't meet -- who refused to meet with Judge Barrett. I'm not -- I don't know, maybe you know if Senator Kamala Harris did meet with her or not. But what do you make of that? I mean not even meeting with her.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because of the -- a number of these Democrats say they don't want to give legitimacy to a process that they believe should not even be happening, given the arguments that we were hearing this morning, even Lindsey Graham acknowledging that there has not been a presidential election year past July of a presidential election year when a Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed.

Now, Graham himself was defending this process by saying it's not unusual to confirm someone in a presidential election year, arguing it's different than 2016 when the Democrats had the White House and the Republicans had the Senate, now it's one-party control in the Senate and the White House. That's what the argument that the Republicans have been advancing, why they're saying that this should move forward in this lightning fast moment.

Now those two senators, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, they're both indicating they're going to vote no on this nominee because of this process. They believe they are siding with their party on this. And we do expect this essentially to be along party lines. You heard Lindsey Graham, in his opening statement, saying this -- we expect -- he knows how this is going to go down, all the Democrats on this committee are going to vote no, all the Republicans on this committee are going to vote yes.

The ultimate question is going to be whether or not she trips up in any way in these confirmation proceedings that could change the dynamic. It is not expected at all, which is why both sides are expecting her to get confirmed.

And you're talking about White House presidential politics. Also keep in mind, of course, Poppy, the Senate majority is at stake in this election. And on this committee, several members in difficult races are sitting in the committee.


RAJU: Joni Ernst is sitting here. Thom Tillis. And not to mention the chairman himself, Lindsey Graham, suddenly in a neck and neck race where his opponent raised $57 million in the last quarter, shattering all fund-raising records of any Senate candidate in history in a single quarter. So a lot is riding on these hearings to happen. Republicans hoping it ultimately helps them come November.


HARLOW: Thank you. Thanks, one and all. Manu, Jeffrey, Joan, Abby, we appreciate it.

We'll be checking in on this all day again. You won't hear from the nominee until this afternoon. Appreciate your time this morning, guys. We will be right back.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

This morning, coronavirus cases are still surging across the country. We have 31 states that are now seeing a spike in infections. Five states reported a 50 percent jump in cases in just a week and now a key model predicts nearly 400,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 by February.

Let's go to our Alexandra Field. She has more on these disturbing numbers.

Good morning, Alex.

I mean I -- you know, some doctors are saying this is a second wave. I don't know if it's get -- the first wave getting worse, but it is tragic.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've warned us it would get worse as we head into flu season and the winter months. That's exactly what we seem to be seeing, even as early as October now. Some 50,000 average cases a day just last week. That puts the country at the highest numbers we've seen in about two months now. So clearly moving very much in the wrong direction.

Poppy, you pointed out that IHME model projecting nearly 400,000 deaths by February 1st. The other news that's part of that prediction is, if 95 percent of Americans wore a mask, we could say 80,000 lives by February. You will see the hardest-hit parts of the country, still the Midwest, lit up in red there. Even in the northeast, where positivity rates have been lower, there is a fight to fight.

In New York we've been talking for weeks now about these clusters of cases in Brooklyn, in Queens and even outside of New York City. The governor, over the weekend, saying there has to be aggressive enforcement in these hot spots. These hot spots are home to the Hasidic Jewish community, which has pushed back, even protested against some of these strict guidelines now in place. The governor says those guidelines will stand and that they will be enforced.


HARLOW: Alex, let's hope it makes a big difference. Thanks so much for that.


This morning, we are learning about a new symptom that could be tied to COVID.

Our Elizabeth Cohen, our senior medical correspondent, joins me with details.

Hearing loss?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hearing loss. You know what, viruses like mumps and measles have been known to cause hearing loss and it actually might be even worse with COVID. It's just heartbreaking, Poppy. I spoke with a 42-year-old, a 23-year-old, both previously healthy, both got COVID, didn't get particularly sick, but each of them lost their hearing in one ear.

Let's take a look at what one small study shows. It looked at 138 patients with COVID after they were discharged from the hospital. Eight weeks later, 13 percent -- that's quite a few -- experienced hearing loss. And, in fact, when they've done autopsies on people who have died from COVID, they've actually found the virus in the inner ear.

Now, what this means is you just need to be so careful. There's so many reasons not to get COVID, to do social distancing, to wear your mask. This is another one.


HARLOW: Elizabeth, it certainly is. Thank you for that.

Now to the president. He is heading back on the campaign trail today. He actually has four rallies scheduled over the next four days.

John Harwood joins us at the White House.

OK, so, his physician wrote that letter over the weekend clearing him and pointing to CDC guidelines, saying, you know, he meets them to be out and interacting with people. However, do we know, for example, and have we seen a negative COVID test from the president?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We do not know that, Poppy. The letter did not say that. The president has indicated that he is clear of the virus, that he can't transmit it to others. But we have not been able to question Dr. Conley, the president's physician, for a week now. The president has not taken questions either, except from friendly interviewers on Fox. So we are pretty much in the dark about the exact state of the president's health.

We know that the White House has not talked about additional precautions being taken before the rallies in Florida tonight, later in Iowa and Pennsylvania. In the past, of course, they've distributed masks and recommended that people wear them but not require it, talked about social distancing and responsible behavior, but not insisted on that. The president clearly draws energy and emotional satisfaction from seeing crowds packed in and cheering for him and he's going to go out and get it this week.

HARLOW: Let's hope safely. John, before you go, there's a new Trump campaign ad, and they play

sound from Dr. Fauci talking. And it sounds a whole lot like Fauci is praising and giving high praise to the work of the administration on handling COVID-19. But Dr. Fauci has a big issue with being used in this ad.

HARWOOD: No, he's pushed back very strongly against the use of this quote in the ad without his permission, said it was taken out of context. He was talking about the administration as a whole.

This quote is being used to suggest that the world's leading infectious disease specialist, certainly the leading one in the U.S. government, was endorsing the president's re-election, when, of course, the president has pushed Dr. Fauci aside when it suited his purposes. And Dr. Fauci did not restrain himself and put out a statement saying, yes, this was taken out of context. I've never endorsed a presidential candidate in my life and I'm not endorsing one now.

HARLOW: Yes. OK, we'll talk more about that ahead for sure.

Thanks, John. Appreciate the reporting at the White House.

So, early voting is now early in-person voting underway in the state of Georgia. Take a look at this. It's a polling place that is pretty packed already. We'll take you there, next.



HARLOW: It is only, if you can believe it, 22 days until November 3rd. And that means 22 days until Election Day. And, this morning, voters in Georgia are now getting their first chance to hit the polls for in- person voting.

Nick Valencia joins us at a polling location in Atlanta.

Good morning to you, Nick.


HARLOW: Unfortunately, already learning about some problems -- some problems there this morning?

VALENCIA: That's right. Election Day starts today. And for the next three weeks, Georgians across the state will have a chance to early vote. But it has been a rocky start here at State Farm Arena at one of the untraditional voting sites, early voting sites, that were put in place to alleviate some of those disastrous issues that we saw this summer where voting machines were down, people were standing in line up to seven hours, predominantly in communities of color.

I want to pan over here because it was a crush of people that were waiting outside State Farm Arena, home to the NBA's Atlanta Hawks. You see this line. They're social distanced. It goes all the way down, snakes around to the entrance.

But you mentioned those glitches here. Earlier this morning, Steve Koonin, the CEO with State Farm, as well as the CEO for the Atlanta Hawks, told us that 60 of the voting pads had glitches, technical glitches. They were issued by the county. Fortunately, there were representatives here on site to help alleviate those issues. But it caused about a 45-minute to hour delay.

Voting has since resumed. We did talk to some of those voters who have experienced those glitches, getting their voting cards rejected. They said that they were -- you know, had to wait around for about 30 to 45 minutes but were satisfied with some of the communication that they were receiving from those here on site.

They're expecting between 3,000 to 6,000 voters per day. So a lot of intensity around this early voting. Georgia could potentially be a battleground state. Not only do we have the presidential election on the ballot. We also have two Senate seats here in Georgia that are expected to be very much so contested.



HARLOW: Absolutely.

Also, Nick, if I could, let's talk about what is happening in the South Carolina Senate race. We just heard Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, in the spotlight this morning, right, leading these hearings.


HARLOW: But his challenger, Harrison, raised $57 million in the last three months. That is -- that's the most ever, right, in that period of time in a Senate race?

VALENCIA: That's right, Poppy. And it goes to show you just how much literally is being invested in some of these races. Lindsey Graham is facing something that, you know, perhaps he didn't think he was going to be facing with his -- you know, the person up against him, Jaime Harrison, raising, as you mentioned, $57 million during the final full quarter.

That's shattering the latest record that we had in 2018 when Beto O'Rourke, you remember that name, Texas Democrat, he raised about $38 million. But Jamie Harrison shattering that. Lindsey Graham going on Fox News just recently appealing to more people to donate to his campaign because he knows he's been outraised.


HARLOW: I mean almost $20 million more in the quarter than Beto O'Rourke.

VALENCIA: Yes. HARLOW: And we thought that number was stunning.

Nick, thanks for that reporting on both fronts this morning.

VALENCIA: All right.

HARLOW: Well, this pandemic has left so many -- so many renters facing eviction. We're seeing an historic crisis here. We'll head to a small Texas community near Dallas where so many are feeling the impact.



HARLOW: Well, as you know, COVID-19 has been so financially devastating for so many families that the CDC, last month, extended the moratoriums on evictions in the U.S. for the rest of the year. But it doesn't help everyone. Still millions of people are behind on their rent and are losing their homes as we speak.

Our Ed Lavandera spoke to a woman out of work for months who is now in this crisis facing eviction. He joins us from Dallas with more on her story.

Good morning, Ed.


Well, as congressional lawmakers continue fighting over stimulus package because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's clear that the tentacles of this pandemic have reached into every corner of the country and every segment of society.


LAVANDERA (voice over): For three months this year, Diane Lusk was out of work and watched unpaid bills pile up and her electricity turned off.

DIANE LUSK, FACES EVICTION: It scared me whenever I lost my job and I was like, how am I going to make it? What am I going to do?

LAVANDERA: Now she's making $11 an hour cooking philly cheese steaks in a little place called Happy Eats in Dallas. But when Lusk leaves work, she doesn't know what she's coming home too.

LUSK: The constable was in the driveway and handed me court papers.

LAVANDERA: Lusk faces evictions from the house she rents for $600 a month. Her landlord isn't renewing her lease. The 60-year-old cook is struggling to find a place she can afford.

LUSK: I just never dreamed that I would see the days that I'm seeing. All I can do is pray. That's all I can do is pray.

LAVANDERA: We met Lusk in this food line at Praise Fellowship Church in Wilmer, Texas, where she comes to get meats and fresh vegetables. It's stunning to see the endless car line that shows up every Tuesday at this unlikely place, a little church on the side of an interstate.

Pastor Edwin Favors says COVID-19 struck and the crisis knocked on his church doors. They went from helping 400 people a week to 3,000.

PASTOR EDWIN FAVORS, PRAISE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH: This is a crisis that has literally hit every household. When a crisis comes, it doesn't stop.

LAVANDERA: From the kitchen of his Dallas home, Mark Melton is witnessing the edge of the pandemic cliff.

MARK MELTON, DALLAS ATTORNEY: Normally evictions are a two-step process.

LAVANDERA: Melton is a lawyer. In March he started offering free legal advice to people facing evictions.

MELTON: And I got your message. I hear you're having some trouble.

LAVANDERA: This woman is calling for a friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's unable to pay her rent tomorrow. Been on unemployment since the beginning of this year.

LAVANDERA: So many calls poured in that Melton has recruited an small army of 150 lawyers to help.

MELTON: There are definitely days where I just turn the lights off and sit in here and just cry my eyes out trying to figure out how to take the next step.


LAVANDERA: And, Poppy, it' important to remember, as this pandemic continues to unfold, that it's not just people directly affected, but it's also inspired many people across the country to step up and help, like the Mark Melton, like the Praise Fellowship Church. A reminder of the famous words of Mr. Rogers, you know, in times of tragedy, always find the helpers.


HARLOW: Yes. Yes. A good reminder. So sad to hear that man saying, just crying his eyes out.

Ed Lavandera, thank you for the reporting.

It is the top of the hour this Monday morning, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 a.m. Pacific. Glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

Right now the confirmation hearing for President Trump's Supreme Court pick, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is underway. Senators on the Judiciary Committee are making their opening statements.

Moments ago we heard from the chairman of the committee, Lindsey Graham. He is defending the Republican's quick move to fill this seat.

We're now just about three weeks from Election Day. The ranking Democratic member, Dianne Feinstein, made it clear that the Democrat's main argument, the future of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is at stake.


Listen to this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): What will happen is that my Democratic colleagues will say, this has never been done.