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Live Coverage of Judge Amy Coney Barrett Nomination Statement; Hearing Loss May Result From COVID-19; President Trump Returns to Campaign Trail. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

AMY CONEY BARRETT, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: More than the style of his writing though, it was the content of Justice Scalia's reasoning that shaped me. His

judicial philosophy was straightforward. A judge must apply the law as it is written, not as she wishes it were. Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like, but as he put it in one of his best known opinions, that is what it means to say that we have a government of laws and not of men. Justice Scalia taught me more than just law. He was devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs and fearless of criticism. And as I embarked on my own legal career, I resolved to maintain that same perspective.

There's a tendency in our profession to treat the practice of law as all consuming while losing sight of everything else but that makes for a shallow and unfulfilling life. I worked hard as a lawyer and as a professor. I owed that to my clients, to my students and to myself but I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life.

A similar principle applies to the role of courts. Courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of law, which is critical to a free society, but courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and valued judgments of government must be made by the political branches, elected by and accountable to the people.

The public should not expect courts to do so and courts should not try. That is the approach that I have strived to follow as a judge on the 7th Circuit. In every case, I have carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties, discussed the issues with my colleagues on the court and done my utmost to reach the result required by the law, whatever my own preferences might be.

I try to remain mindful that while my court decides thousands of cases a year, each case is the most important one to the litigants involved. After all, cases are not like statutes, which are often named for their authors. Cases are named for the parties who stand to gain or lose in the real world, often through their liberty or livelihood.

When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party. I ask myself how I would view the decision if one of my children was the party that I was ruling against. Even though I would not like the results, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in law? That is the standard that I set for myself in every case and it is the standard that I will follow, so long as I am a judge on any court.

When the President offered me this nomination, I was deeply honored, but it was not a position I had sought out and I thought carefully before accepting. The confirmation process and the work of serving on the court, if confirmed, requires sacrifices, particularly from my family.

I chose to accept the nomination because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the place of the Supreme Court in our nation. I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written and I believe I can serve my country by playing that role.

I come before this committee with humility about the responsibility that I have been asked to undertake and with appreciation for those who have come before me. I was nine years old when Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman to sit in this seat. She was a model of grace and dignity throughout her distinguished tenure on the court.

When I was 21 years old and just beginning my career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat in this seat. She told the committee "what has become of me could only happen in America." I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat but no one will ever take her place. I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.

If confirmed, it would be the honor of a lifetime to serve alongside the Chief Justice and seven associate justices. I admire them all and would consider each a valued colleague. And I might bring a few new perspectives to the bench -- as the President noted when he announced my nomination, I would be the first mother of school age children to serve on the court and I know that it would make senators Young and Braun happy to know I would be the first justice to join the court from the 7th Circuit in 45 years. I would be the only sitting justice who didn't attend school at Harvard or Yale but I am confident that Notre Dame could hold its own and maybe I could even teach them a thing or two about football.

As a final note, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the many Americans from all walks of life who have reached out with messages of support over the course of my nomination. I believe in the power of prayer and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me.

I look forward to answering the committee's questions over the coming days, and if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I pledge to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties to the American people as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Thank you.

GRAHAM: Thank you very much, Judge Barrett.

Is -- let's try Professor O'Hara, any luck with her?

O'HARA: I'm here, Chairman Graham.

GRAHAM: Thank you. I apologize for the problem. The floor is yours.

O'HARA: That's very kind of you. It's anticlimactic because you've already heard from the most important person from whom you need to hear, but it's very kind of you --

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BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, let's talk about what we just heard from the nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin first to talk about this along with Gloria, Joan and Abby with me.

It was interesting to the end there, Jeffrey, she talked about the different perspectives that she will bring, but primarily what she said was she'll be the first mother of school-age children to serve the court, she noted that she'll be the first justice from the 7th Circuit, and that she'll be the only sitting justice who didn't attend law school at Harvard or Yale.

With particular interest, I think, we were listening to what she said about her time clerking for Justice Scalia and the similarities that she shares with him as how he viewed the law. What did you take away from this, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I thought the most important passage was when she said, you know, the policy choices should be left to the people's representatives -- to the House, to the Senate, to the state legislatures. And it's important to remember what that means in the context of what the Supreme Court does.

You know, Justice Scalia felt like if a state wants to ban marriage between two men or two women, that's a policy choice that a state should be allowed to make. Justice Scalia thought that if a state wants to ban abortion, that's a policy choice that a state wants -- should be allowed to make.

You know, what Justice Ginsburg thought was that the Constitution trumps those policy choices, that the Constitution forbids states from engaging in acts that are discriminatory, violating the 14th Amendment or the First Amendment.

And so the language of the deferring to the policy choices of the states has real political content, and it's conservative political content and it's what Justice Scalia believed. But you know, people should understand that's what it means in the real world. It is not just, you know, boilerplate, it has real political content.

KEILAR: Joan, what stood out to you?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: You know, she's not running from her record, she's pretty much putting it all out there in terms of just how she's going to interpret the Constitution, her allegiance -- once again -- with Justice Scalia, her reference to believing in the power of prayer. She knew that her past record on religion, faith and the law could be

controversial, and she's -- she wants to show herself for who she is, for better or for worse, for members of the Senate panel.

And I think you're going to see someone who, tomorrow, when she has to field questions, is going to appear, just as she did now, incredibly disciplined, pretty firm in what she's saying but with a tone of modesty. And I think that what the senators are going to have to cut through is look at what those consequences will be.

She'll face some hard questions about the Affordable Care Act, but she will -- but I could see her just repeating exactly what she's doing today, saying, this is my philosophy, this is what I'm going to stick to. And in some ways, it's a departure from what we've seen from other nominees who wanted to present themselves as different, noncontroversial.

[14:10:06]

But to Jeffrey's point, what you have to do is look beyond those words that sound very reasonable, and understand the consequences for the law which, as we said earlier, Bri, would be the opposite of what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did for the law.

KEILAR: Yes. And she talks about bringing different perspectives, right?

Abby, what did you think?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, there was that passage where she talked about how she views the rulings that she writes from the perspective of the losing party. And I did think that that was the kind of framing of how she thinks about her rulings that is designed to just convey to people that she will be a reasonable jurist, evaluating each decision individually.

But then you go to the question of, well, what does it mean to not -- to leave policymaking to legislators in the context of the Affordable Care Act, which has come up all day long today. And I think this is one of those interesting things, and perhaps, Jeffrey or Joan has some insight into this.

Republicans, all day long, have been saying that the court should not legislate. Amy Coney Barrett basically reiterated that idea today. But what we face with this Affordable Care Act case that is going to come before the court in November, is a case in which Congress did legislate, and the federal government now wants to invalidate that law.

So I do think it raises some questions -- and I think this will be borne out later this week -- about how this whole policymaking-is- left-to-the-legislature applies specifically to the Affordable Care Act, because I think that's going to be the question of the week.

KEILAR: Jeffrey, what do you think? TOOBIN: I -- can I -- well, I'm just laughing because I mean, Abby is

so exactly right on that point because you heard this over and over again from the Republican senators, is that, you know, the courts, the Supreme Court should let legislators legislate and not try to solve society's problems, and that you know, we should be the ones to do health care.

But what are they doing in the Affordable Care Act case? They are demanding that the Supreme Court of the United States throw the whole thing out.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and --

TOOBIN: With no replacement. And that -- I mean, it's just so outrageous that of all issues to be exercised about policymaking from the bench, the Trump administration having failed, over and over again, to come up with a replacement for Obamacare is simply throwing it on the courts and saying, you get rid of it. And then maybe something good will happen as a result.

BORGER: Well, and let me just add to that. If you want to leave everything up to the legislators -- which means you're leaving everything up to the voters -- what about her own nomination, which is taking place in the middle of an election?

And so you might be able to say, wait a minute, let's let the voters speak -- as Kamala Harris said -- before jamming through a Supreme Court nominee, which is exactly what's going on here.

And there's one thing I -- you know, you didn't hear from her and of course I think it's going to be asked, Brianna, but this question of whether, you know, she said, I see this from the point of view of my opponents, if it were one of my children who lost a case.

The question then I think has to be raised to her, would you recuse yourself from election cases if you're looking at (ph) from the opponent's point of view? Because you are being appointed by somebody with a vested interest in the outcome of that case.

And I'm sure that the members -- Democrats -- will be asking her that question. I don't know, I doubt they're going to get a direct answer about it, but I think the public deserves to hear it.

KEILAR: Yes --

PHILLIP: I did, Brianna (ph) --

KEILAR: Go on, Abby.

PHILLIP: Just to that point, I mean, I really did note she emphasized that she would be an independent justice on the --

BORGER (?): Yes.

PHILLIP: -- Supreme Court, that really struck out to me considering how much of a box she's been put in by this president on the election, on ACA, even on Roe v. Wade. I think it's made this path for her to navigate this week very difficult.

KEILAR: Yes. Thank you all so much for this discussion, I really appreciate getting all of your insights on this historic moment that we are watching on Capitol Hill, the confirmation process for Amy Coney Barrett.

And 11 days right now after the president's COVID diagnosis, he's returning to the campaign trail, he's spreading more misinformation as cases are rising across America.

Plus, California officials have launched an investigation into fake ballot boxes that have popped up in multiple locations.

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And several Republicans facing tough re-election battles are now trying to distance themselves from President Trump. We'll roll the tape.

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KEILAR: There are troubling signs in the nation's fight against COVID-19. Thirty-one states right now are showing an increase in new cases. This is compared to just a week ago. Only three states are seeing a decrease in new cases.

More than 50,000 new infections were recorded every day from last Wednesday through Saturday, which is something that we've not seen since August. One influential model -- often touted by the White House -- now projects nearly 400,000 coronavirus deaths in this country by February 1st, nearly 181,000 more deaths than have been reported in this country thus far.

That new forecast, coming as new research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows there were 1.3 million deaths between March 1st and August 1st, 20 percent more deaths than would be normal during that time. With COVID-19 officially accounting for roughly two thirds of them, those findings are bolstering beliefs that deaths tied to the pandemic have been undercounted.

And while some health officials have expressed concerns about a second wave of the coronavirus, there's a group of experts at NYU that is saying it may already be here in the form of a mental health crisis.

I want to bring in CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, with me now. And I do want to dive into those findings here in a moment, but first there's a professor, Elizabeth, at Johns Hopkins University who now says hearing loss should be added as a symptom of coronavirus. Tell us more about this.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. Doctors are finding that many of their coronavirus patients are saying that they've suffered hearing loss. I actually spoke to two patients, one age 42, one 23. So both young, completely healthy, got COVID, didn't get very sick but did lose their hearing in one ear. For one of them it came back, for one of them it didn't. But even the one for whom it did come back, this poor guy has ringing in his ear, probably for the rest of his life.

So let's take a look. There haven't been a lot of studies on this, but there has been one -- let's take a look -- that was done in the U.K., that looked at 138 COVID patients. Eight weeks after they were discharged from the hospital, 13 percent said that they had experienced a change in hearing, hearing loss of some kind. And in fact, autopsies of people who died of COVID show that in the inner ear, they found virus, they actually found virus in the inner ear.

So, Brianna, this is yet another reason why you want to wear your mask, do social distancing: you do not want to get this virus.

KEILAR: Wow, that's very interesting and alarming.

There's also, Elizabeth, some news around mothers who test positive for coronavirus, and just how close they can get to their newborns. Tell us about this.

COHEN: You know, Brianna, there had been a concern early on in the pandemic that they should separate moms after giving birth if the mom had COVID-19 because they didn't want her to give it to the baby. But that never really took off, they never really were separated.

And what they found now is that that was OK. What they found is they looked at 101 babies that were born to COVID-positive moms, only two of those newborn babies had COVID. So it doesn't seem like this is really being transmitted from mother to child, and that of course is a good thing.

So what the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests is, look, we used to say separate them, we don't say that any more. What we say now is if you can keep distance from your newborn baby, do. But of course you should hold your baby, wear a mask while you hold your baby and perhaps most importantly, do breastfeed your baby because that breast milk can actually help protect them against various infections.

KEILAR: All right, Elizabeth, thank you so much for that information.

And now to the ever-expanding disconnect between the president and the pandemic. President Trump says the virus is, quote, "disappearing," but you just saw the numbers. It's very much still here and it's actually getting worse, and President Trump, back on the campaign trail today, just 11 days since he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

His doctor says the president is, quote, "no longer considered a transmission risk to others," carefully chosen words there. The president himself says he is immune, which scientists are questioning because it has not been clinically proven that immunity occurs after an infection. And the White House is being pretty mum on critical details, like when the president last tested negative and if he's taken fever-reducing medication.

Nevertheless, the president is insisting on keeping on with his COVID misinformation tour, taking it to Florida tonight, a state that added 5,000 new cases over the weekend. It is in a fully reopened phase. It could soon be a, quote, "house on fire," as one infectious disease specialist put it, because of its new cases.

I want to bring in Dr. Peter Hotez, he's a professor and he's the dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, with us now.

Doctor, if you were in the White House, what would you say to the president and his campaign? Is it possible to no longer be infectious in 11 days?

PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT AT TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, the big picture, Brianna, is I would say the president of the United States, you have an obligation to protect the public. And what we continue to see is the same playbook that we saw all summer, where they were downplaying the epidemic, downplaying the public health impact, downplaying the severity.

You know, the president kind of neglects the inconvenient truth that the reason he's able to do what he's doing is because he's been privileged to get unique treatment.

I mean, look, we're in for a horrible winter. I mean -- before I tell you something terrible, I want to just preface it by something good, which is that I think our lives will get better in the fall as vaccines become available. So by middle of next year, our lives will be better. So we have a lot to look forward to.

[14:25:00]

But in the interim, we're in for a horrible winter. The cases are already starting to rise, the northern Midwest is already seeing a steep increase in the number of cases. This will be true across the northern states, maybe the entire country.

We're already starting at a high level. We've started at 35,000 cases, now we're up to 50,000. The deaths are projected to double. This is going to be a historically awful time for the country, both in terms of cases and deaths and, as was pointed out, our mental health. People are going to be scared, we've got to make hard decisions now about who we're going to socially distance with as we hunker down for this terrible, terrible winter.

We have to get ready, and this is a time when we really need the comfort, the soothing and the advice of the president and the executive branch of the government, and it's gone, it's evaporated. And what happens after the election could be even more vacancies in the White House.

So this is a time when we really need a strong federal government, and I feel like we're being abandoned in many respects.

KEILAR: I want to, Doctor, have you look at some scenes that we're seeing on Capitol Hill.

There is of course the Supreme Court confirmation hearing under way, you can see Republican Senator Mike Lee there without a mask at times after testing positive for coronavirus 11 days ago. He says his doctor has cleared him. And then I want you to look at this moment with the White House chief

of staff, Mark Meadows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: That way I can take this off to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh (ph).

MEADOWS: Well, I'm more than 10 feet away. I'm not -- well, I'm not going to talk through a mask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: All right, I believe that was someone from the press corps telling him no, get your mask back on.

He tested negative, but he's now been exposed to people who have become sick. Should these men be wearing masks at all times when they are inside a building when others are present?

HOTEZ: Yes, of course. They should be -- first of all, they should be -- everyone should be wearing a mask, point one. Point two is, particularly given all the massive amount of virus transmission going on in the White House right now, I mean, it has been horrible in terms of the number of people who have been infected, as you know, CNN has provided a list and it's extensive.

There's so much virus transmission going on. I mean, that was the reason why I was discouraging any in-person debates, both the vice presidential debate last week and future presidential debates. It wasn't just the president and the vice president, it's that (ph) the staff has such a high rate of infection that I didn't see how you could assure the safety of everybody present.

And then again, you have this deliberate political -- this deliberate defiance of wearing masks. Somehow, not wearing masks has been tied to political allegiance, and it makes absolutely no sense and it's so self-destructive.

And it's a reason why we are going to climb towards 400,000 deaths by the early part of next year, the worst globally, is because of this political posturing around masks, which still hasn't gone away even though we've suffered such catastrophes.

KEILAR: Dr. Hotez, thank you so much, it's good to see you. Thank you, sir.

HOTEZ: Thank you.

KEILAR: It's been two months now since many schools started to reopen, but it's hard to know how they're doing when there's no national tracking of schools.

Plus, accusations are flying as fake ballot drop boxes are popping up across California. Hear who's being blamed for this.

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