Return to Transcripts main page


Infections Rising in 30+ States, Nearly 400,000 Deaths Projected by February; Trump Pushes COVID Misinformation as He Returns to Campaign Trail; V.P. Nominee Speaks at Hearing for Trump's Supreme Court Pick. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 13:00   ET



DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In fact, starting November 13th, if you do not wear one, you're going to pay a fine, roughly $87.

JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: See you tomorrow. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: Hi there. I am Brianna Keilar. Welcome to viewers here in the United States and around the world.

There are troubling signs in the nation's fight against COVID-19. 31 states are now showing an increase in new cases compared to just a week ago. Five of them, Montana, New Mexico, Tennessee, North Carolina and Vermont, experiencing a surge of 50 percent or higher, and just three states are now on the decline.

From last Wednesday through Saturday, the number of new U.S. infections topped more than 50,000 each day. The last time that happened was more than two months ago.

And today, new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that there were 20 percent more deaths than expected across the country between March 1st and August 1st. This is a total of 1.3 million with COVID-19 officially accounting for about two-thirds of them, bolstering beliefs that deaths tied to the pandemic have likely been undercounted.

Tom Foreman is with me now. And, Tom, we're seeing records set for new cases in a single day as well as seven-day averages. Tell us which states are reporting these numbers.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as a practical matter, Brianna, more than 30 of them are headed upright. But if you look at the map, overall, and look at those states that are really seeing the biggest increase in the seven-day average, what you do see is a greater propensity for that as you move into basically the more northern states. You see it worse in the northern states. Easy reasons, right? We went back to school and because, by the way, getting cooler.

Get north of the line there where you see more of the states clustered, you see the two down there, Oklahoma and New Mexico, the only two below that line. Well, above that line, above that line, the temperature right now tends to be 60 degrees or cooler, below that line, 60 degrees or warmer. So, of course, people are being forced closer together, more issues coming up there. Those are the 13 states with the highest seven-day average.

But if you look at those that have had the spike, the seven states that have had the highest spike so far in the handling of this virus, there you see them and they're all through that middle of the country.

These are representative of exactly what you started off talking about there, Brianna, the notion that as we headed into fall, as we've been warned over and over again, we were going to see this start surging back up. And, sure enough, the numbers say it is surging back up. The weather is not going to let up. More states are still trying to open up.

There is no real reason to believe this is going to get better and that difficult fall and difficult winter that you and I have been talking about for months and months indeed is under way.

KEILAR: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you so much for showing us that.

You wouldn't know that our nation was in the grips of a pandemic, one that has killed nearly 215,000 people in this country and infected almost 8 million if you listen to the president. Here is what he told a crowd at the White House on Saturday.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Science, medicine will eradicate the China virus once and for all. We'll get rid of it all over the world.

It's going to disappear. It is disappearing.


KEILAR: Today, the president is returning to the campaign trail in a four-state swing that kicks off in Florida and is followed by Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina, all states, mind you, that are not doing particularly well when it comes to coronavirus.

And the president is bringing a new round of COVID misinformation along with him, including this tweet from over the weekend in which he says he's immune from the virus. That language earning the president a warning label from Twitter saying the tweet was misleading.

Kaitlan Collins is our CNN White House Correspondent following the president right now. And, Kaitlin, we've learned that nine people in Minnesota tested positive for the coronavirus following the president's rally there a few weeks ago. Is the Trump campaign changing any guidelines around these events? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So far they haven't said as much. They said they're going to keep the guidelines they had in place, which is asking people to wear masks. Though, of course, as we've seen, people mostly do not follow this. It's actually you see just few and far between people wearing masks at these rallies, though they do have their temperatures checked as they're coming into the doors.

As you're seeing, these are largely at airport hangars where people are mingling outside but there's no social distancing at this event. And you've seen how problematic that can be if you're not wearing a mask and you're not social distancing just from the event at the Rose Garden, and how many people tied to that now have coronavirus.

And they're not changing these protocols, even as coronavirus isn't going away in the United States but also just not here at the White House either, Brianna, because several aides are still not coming into work because they are at home isolating after testing positive or quarantining after coming into contact with someone.

But the president himself is emerging from isolation and he's taking his first trip outside of Washington today, Brianna, for a campaign rally in Florida. But he's got a packed schedule the rest of the week. And campaign officials have told us we can basically expect that to be the case up until Election Day.


KEILAR: And this weekend, you got an exclusive with Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is pushing back against a Trump campaign ad that Fauci says took his words out of context. Tell us what happened here.

COLLINS: Yes. This is a new ad that the Trump campaign debuted last week after he was released from Walter Reed. And in it, it's talking about the president and his coronavirus response. And it flashes to Dr. Fauci briefly saying he doesn't think that there's anything more they could have done. Basically, they were doing as much as they could. It doesn't have a date on it, Brianna.

But that's a comment that Dr. Fauci made in March, and he says that he believes that they took his words out of context because he says what he was describing in that interview --

KEILAR: I'm going to have you pause just for a moment. We're going to Capitol Hill and watch the Supreme Court hearing.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Just wait just one second. We don't see you.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Of course. You don't see me?

GRAHAM: One, congratulations on being on the ticket. I hadn't told you that. There we go.

HARRIS: Can you see me now?

GRAHAM: I can see you now. I hear you loud and clear. The floor is yours.

HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, can you see me and hear me?

GRAHAM: I see you, I hear you. The floor is yours.

HARRIS: Okay. I appreciate it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed-door room for hours while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus. This committee has ignored common sense requests to keep people safe, including not requiring testing for all members, despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators of this very committee.

By contrast, in response to this recent Senate outbreak, the leaders of Senate Republicans rightly postponed business on the Senate floor this week to protect the health and safety of senators and staff. Mr. Chairman, for the same reasons, this hearing should have been postponed. The decision to hold this hearing now is reckless and places facilities workers, janitorial staff and congressional aides and capitol police at risk.

Not to mention that while tens of millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills, the Senate should be prioritizing coronavirus relief and providing financial support to those families. The American people need to have help to make rent or their mortgage payment. We should provide financial assistance to those who have lost their job and help parents put food on the table. Small businesses need help, as do the cities, towns and hospitals that this crisis has pushed to the brink.

The House bill would help families and small businesses get through this crisis, but Senate Republicans have not lifted a finger for 150 days, which is how long that bill has been here in the Senate to move the bill. Yet this committee is determined to rush a Supreme Court confirmation hearing through in just 16 days.

Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and a devastating economic crisis. Their priorities are not the American people's priorities.

But for the moment Senate Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are.

The Constitution of the United States entrusts the Senate with the solemn duty to carefully consider nominations for lifetime appointments to the United States Supreme Court, yet the Senate majority is rushing this process and jamming President Trump's nominee through the Senate while people are actually voting, just 22 days before the end of the election. More than 9 million Americans have already voted and millions more will vote while this illegitimate committee process is under way.

A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins this election to fill this seat, and my Republican colleagues know that. Yet, they are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act.

And let's remember, in 2017, President Trump and congressional Republicans repeatedly tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. But remember, people from all walks of life spoke out and demanded Republicans stop trying to take away the American people's health care.

Republicans finally realized that the Affordable Care Act is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of the voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work.


That's why President Trump promised to only nominate judges who will get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

This administration with the support of Senate Republicans will be in front of the Supreme Court on November 10th to argue that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down. That's in 29 days that that will happen.

And that's a big reason why Senate Republicans are rushing this process. They are trying to get a justice onto the court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections of the Affordable Care Act. And if they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time, in the middle of a pandemic. 23 million Americans could lose their health insurance altogether.

If they succeed, they will eliminate protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and asthma, heart disease or cancer, a list that now will include over 7 million Americans who have contracted COVID-19. Insurance companies could deny you coverage or will sell you a plan that won't pay a dime toward treating anything related to your pre-existing condition.

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down, you will once again have to pay for things like mammograms and cancer screenings and birth control. Seniors will pay more for prescription drugs and young adults will be kicked off of their parents' plan. These are not abstract issues. We need to be clear about how overturning the Affordable Care Act will impact the people we all represent.

For example, Micah, who is 11 years old and she lives in Southern California. So Micah enjoys being a girl scout and ice skating and reading and eating pasta and baking. Her mother says the only reason Micah is able to live her life, as she does now, is because the Affordable Care Act guarantees that her health insurance cannot deny her coverage or limit her care because it's too expensive.

You see Micah has a congenital heart defect. She goes to multiple specialists throughout the year and gets an MRI with anesthesia every six months. At just 11 months old, Micah's family had already hit $50,000 in medical expenses and her biannual MRI costs $15,000 a session. And so -- correction, she -- by 11 months old, her family had hit $500,000 in medical expenses.

If Republicans succeed in striking down the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will be able deny coverage for children with serious conditions, children like Micah. And parents, well, they'll be on their own.

No one should face financial ruin to get their child or their spouse or their parent the care they need, and no family should be kept from seeing a doctor or getting treatment because an insurance company says that the treatment is too expensive.

In America, access to health care should not be determined based on how much money you have. Health care and access to health care should be a right. Micah and millions of others who are protected by the Affordable Care Act know this is fundamentally what is at stake with this Supreme Court nomination.

Of course, there's more at stake. Throughout our history, Americans have brought cases to the United States Supreme Court in our ongoing fight for civil rights, human rights and equal justice. Decisions like brown versus board of education, which opened educational opportunities for black boys and girls, Roe Versus wade, which recognized a woman's right to control her own body, Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized that love is love and that marriage equality is the law of the land.

The United States Supreme Court is often the last refuge for equal justice when our constitutional rights are being violated. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg devoted her life to fight for equal justice and she defended the Constitution. She advocated for human rights and equality. She stood up for the rights of women. She protected workers. She fought for the rights of consumers against big corporations. She supported LGBTQ rights. And she did so much more.

But now, her legacy and the rights she fought so hard to protect are in jeopardy.


By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans' rights for decades to come.

Every American must understand that with this nomination, equal justice under law is at stake. Our voting rights are at stake. Workers' rights are at stake. Consumer rights are at stake. The right to a safe and legal abortion is at stake. And holding corporations accountable is at stake. And, again, there's so much more.

So, Mr. Chairman, I do believe this hearing is a clear attempt to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take health care away from millions of people during a deadly pandemic that has already killed more than 214,000 Americans.

I believe we must listen to our constituents and protect their access to health care and wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after Americans decide who they want in the White House. Thank you.

GRAHAM: Thanks, Senator Harris.

Senator Kennedy?

KEILAR: All right. We are watching the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. And that was a pretty stunning moment there where you have a vice presidential nominee, who is a sitting senator, and a participant in this Judiciary Committee hearing, three weeks before the election with comments saying that the woman you see there on your screen who is the nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, is someone who's going to undo Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy.

And I want to bring in folks to talk about this, including Gloria Borger. Very much focused on Obamacare, which is going to be before this court very soon. And just that split screen of Barrett listening to Harris as she said that she felt this nomination of Amy Coney Barrett is an attempt to take away the health care of millions of people in the middle of a pandemic. This is a historic moment that we're watching.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. And she also made it very clear that she felt that the nomination was, what she said, trying to bypass the will of the voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work, is the way she put it, when it comes to rolling back the Affordable Care Act.

So this was clearly a frontal attack, not only on what Amy Coney Barrett would do if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court, but an attack on the Republican Senate, which clearly she wants to change control of the Senate to Democratic hands, and saying that they are going around the will of the people, that the people ought to decide after this election, also making the case very clearly, Brianna, that it took 150 days for them to decide what to do with the stimulus bill, which is sitting in the Senate, but 22 days for them to push through a Supreme Court nomination.

So, very direct, very clear, she outlined the stakes, I think, as the Democrats see it, very well and aimed directly at the Republicans and at the nominee.

KEILAR: Joan Biskupic, you are our Supreme Court Analyst. Tell us what stood out to you as you listened to Senator Harris' opening remarks/

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Thanks, Brianna. Yes, she was more emphatic than we had heard earlier today, but she certainly struck the same note, and I'm sure we're going to hear more about the Affordable Care Act tomorrow. And that's because right away on November 10th, shortly after Justice Barrett will likely be seated, the Supreme Court is going to hear the third major constitutional challenge to that law.

And as much as President Donald Trump keeps saying that he would like to preserve pre-existing health coverage for people with such conditions as cancer and diabetes, his administration is before the Supreme Court saying, kill it all, get rid of pre-existing coverage. And I think that's what Senator Harris and some of her colleagues who came before her want to stress.

And they're taking their message obviously to the American people, to the electorate, rather than trying to comment on what might happen in the Senate committee. It's such a done deal given what Chairman Graham said earlier today. Everyone knows how everyone is going to vote, but what Senator Harris is trying to do is to remind Americans watching of the immediate stakes.

And one last thing I would mention is not just do we have the Affordable Care Act stakes right away on November 10th, we could have an election-related case that a Justice Barrett would sit on also and looking forward obviously to sit on all sorts of cases involving reproductive rights, gay and transgender rights, religious freedom.


She will be deciding the law of the land for a generation.

KEILAR: Abby Phillip, what stood out to you?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think what Joan said at the end there is really important. And one thing to note, that as we watched earlier today, a lot of the Democrats, everybody was on message. It was all about the Affordable Care Act. Very few people mentioned other cases as well.

But it was notable to me that Senator Harris specifically mentioned and brought up reproductive rights several times in her opening statement as part of several other types of what she described as equal justice rights being at risk here. And I think that's significant because Democrats are trying to stay on the Affordable Care Act message, because, politically speaking, they believe that is the strongest message for them.

But if you look at what Republicans are doing, they're trying to entrap Democrats by basically laying -- laying out this kind of scenario in which any conversation about how Justice Barrett might rule on abortion cases or on, you know, LGBT rights cases are attacks on her religion. And I think you saw Senator Harris basically saying, no, I believe that these cases are about her jurisprudence. They're also about the tradition of the courts in upholding equal rights and equal justice for all Americans.

And I thought that was unique among the Democrats who have spoken today because they have really tried to avoid walking in that direction at any moment. But you saw Senator Harris really trying to actually be right on the line and trying to reframe this conversation in a way that I think she thinks is important to her as a woman and as the only woman on either of the two tickets going into this November election.

KEILAR: And, Joan -- sorry, go on, Gloria, yes.

BORGER: I was just going to add to that. The only people talking about raising her Catholicism or her religion seem to be the Republicans and not the Democrats at all. The Democrats understand, as Abby is saying, that this is a trick. And they're not -- they're just not going to do it. They're going to talk about health care. That's what they're there to talk about.

And the president has been tweeting, Republicans, let them know that we're going to protect pre-existing conditions because he's watching and he sees what's going on in the committee and he doesn't like it.

KEILAR: Yes. How are they going to do that though, right? It's very unclear.

And what we see also Senator Harris saying here, joan, is that Barrett will undo Ginsburg's legacy. And it was pretty stunning to watch her say that, as you see in the other frame. Amy Coney Barrett just there listening to Senator Harris say this. So let's fact check that. Do we know based on Amy Coney Barrett's record that that would be something that would happen, that she would undo Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy?

BISKUPIC: In broad strokes, much of it, if it comes to that. And I'll tell you why. Her philosophy, as she's laid it out, is akin to Justice Scalia's legacy, that he wanted and what she subscribes to is the originalist, textualist approach to the Constitution and statutes. And what that does, just to remind our audience some of this legal jargon, it means that she would interpret the Constitution in the terms that its framers back in the 18th century understood it.

And it's a legitimate point of view from where she's coming and where many of the Republican senators are coming from are, but it's the opposite of where Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes from. Ruth Bader Ginsburg believes that -- believed, I'm sorry, I'm still talking about her in the present tense -- believed that you don't go back to just what the framers saw, you can expand the rights and the liberties in the Constitution to fit the dilemmas of today.

And the difference on that is the difference between upholding Roe v. Wade or striking down Roe v. Wade. The difference is between approving of same-sex marriage and not approving of same-sex marriage.

Now, I do want to caution one thing when you rightly ask for a fact check on that, Brianna. Justice Ginsburg's legacy in terms of sexual equality for women's rights and for equal protection for women under federal law and the Constitution is that is unlikely to be rolled back, just the way Ruth Bader Ginsburg first made her name as a woman's rights advocate.


I don't see those kinds of protections for women being undercut, with the exception of being in the area of reproductive rights.

Amy Coney Barrett has not ruled in an abortion case but she has certainly spoken about who has the role to safeguard things like reproductive rights and she has said that it's a legislative function, not a court's function. That's clearly indicated in her writings. Now, we'll have to see what she does when she gets on the Supreme Court. But in that respect, Brianna, yes, it would be night and day between what Justice Ginsburg stood for and what a Justice Barrett would stand for.

KEILAR: I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin, our Legal Analyst, into this conversation with all of us. Jeffrey, what do you think? Because as Joan said, you look at her record, and it does stand in contrast to where Ruth Bader Ginsburg was. What do you think about this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It's 180 degrees different. I mean, the idea, to listen to all these Republican senators talk about, oh, I want to pay tribute to Ruth Ginsburg, I want to say how wonderful she was. By confirming Amy Barrett, they are undermining absolutely everything Ruth Ginsburg stood for. You know what thinks -- you know who thought that? Ruth Ginsburg.

I mean, Ruth Ginsburg understood the stakes of this nomination. That's why she wanted this put off until the next president. But, you know, whether it's abortion, whether it's gay rights, whether it's voting rights, whether it's civil rights, I mean, she -- everybody knows she and Antonin Scalia were great friends. But on controversial issues, they voted against each other all the time.

And Amy Barrett, as she very explicitly said, is a -- is a protege and a follower and a believer in Justice Scalia's judicial philosophy. So that the idea that it is somehow an honor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg to see Amy Coney Barrett nominated to replace her is just an obscene revocation of history. I mean, it's just -- I mean, they could not be more different.

KEILAR: We're going to be waiting to see if that is demonstrated tomorrow, right? This is going to be the big moment where she answers questions. What are you expecting to see?

TOOBIN: Not much. I mean, she's learned -- I mean, she's a very smart woman, as every nominee has been a smart person since Robert Bork in 1987. And they have all learned that it is a far safer course not to engage with the questioners about their judicial philosophy, especially about specific cases. And I anticipate that it will be interesting and it will be dramatic at times, but I doubt we are going to learn much about Amy Coney Barrett's philosophy of the Constitution.

I think one thing that we might learn something about is the issue of precedent, because everything that I've seen in her academic writing suggests she is more like Justice Thomas than Justice Scalia. Justice Scalia understood that precedent mattered. And even though you might disagree with a former Supreme Court opinion, there's a certain reliance interest. People think that's the law.

Justice Thomas thinks if it's wrong, it's wrong, and you just throw the whole thing out. That does appear to be much closer to Judge Barrett's approach, which suggests a more radical conservative approach than even Justice Scalia. But perhaps we'll see some interesting questioning about that. KEILAR: Yes, that's a huge distinction, so we'll be looking for that tomorrow. Jeffrey, thank you so much. Thank you so much to everyone for this conversation.

11 days after the president's COVID diagnosis, he is returning to the campaign trail as cases are rising across America. Plus, he's also spreading new misinformation about the virus including a new line that it will, quote, run its course.

And vulnerable Republicans in the Senate are starting to distance themselves from the president. We'll roll the tape.