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Trump Downplays Virus, Says He's Immune; Trump Returning to Campaign Trail After COVID Diagnosis; Battle Intensifies Ahead of Barrett's Confirmation Hearings; Biden Silent on Adding Justices to Supreme Court; Protesters March Against Restrictions Across Europe; Boris Johnson Set to Introduce COVID Alert System; COVID-19 Cases on the Rise in Parts of Europe. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead --

President Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail today claiming he is totally negative for COVID-19.

Plus, a show down looms on Capitol Hill, the confirmation hearing for Mr. Trump's Supreme Court pick is set to begin in the coming hours.

And the U.K., Germany, Ireland, Italy, across Europe, frustration with new coronavirus restrictions as cases across the continent surge.

Good to have you with us. Well, it has been one week since U.S. President Donald Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center. Now questions about his health and COVID-19 status are following him back onto the campaign trail. He insists he's totally negative. Those are his words, negative for the disease he suggests, and keeps downplaying a virus that's killed nearly 215,000 Americans.

In a tweet, he even says he's immune. Twitter flagged that as misleading and potentially harmful. The President made a similar statement Sunday on Fox News. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to tell you, I feel fantastically. I really feel good. And I even feel good by the fact that, you know, the word immunity means something. Having really a protective glow means something. I think it's very important to have that.


CHURCH: Well, the President is set to hold a campaign event later today in Florida. This as he comes under fire for a misleading ad. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has details from Washington.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is heading back to the campaign trail, hitting a trio of battleground states beginning today in Florida. Tomorrow, the President is going to go to the battleground state of Pennsylvania before heading to Iowa on Wednesday.

Now President Trump heading back onto the campaign trail after the President's physician says that he has recovered from the coronavirus, also saying that the President is no longer infectious. Now the President himself claimed that he had gotten a negative test for coronavirus, but the President's physician Dr. Sean Conley didn't exactly say that. Instead, he said simply that the President's latest molecular test for coronavirus show that he is no longer infectious, that he can't infect other people, but he did not say that the President had tested negative for the virus.

But nonetheless, the President and his campaign are seizing on that letter from Dr. Sean Conley to say that that second debate that had been canceled by the Commission on Presidential Debates after President Trump withdrew from that second debate.

The President's campaign is calling for that debate to be reinstated, saying the President should be able to participate after he has been cleared by his doctor to resume public activity. But another controversy is hitting the President and his team on Sunday. Dr. Anthony Fauci putting out a statement to CNN after the Trump campaign aired this misleading ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America. Together, we rose to meet the challenge. President Trump tackled the virus head on, as leaders should.


DIAMOND: Now Dr. Fauci saying in a statement to CNN, in my nearly five decades of public service I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.

Now it is clear from looking at that interview which was taped all the way back in March in the early months of this pandemic that Dr. Fauci was indeed referring to the members of the coronavirus task force and other public health officials, but nonetheless, the President and his campaign standing by the ad, the President noting that these are Dr. Fauci's own words.

Of course, what is notable here is that the President and his reelection campaign seem to realize that the President is getting bad marks on his handling of the coronavirus. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans have said in recent polls that they disapprove of the President's handling of the virus. And what's also clear is that the campaign is using Dr. Fauci's image and his words here, because Fauci is far more trusted by the public on this issue of the coronavirus than the president is himself.



CHURCH: And that was CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House.

Well, Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for a political show down on Capitol Hill as confirmation hearings for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin in the next few hours. Senate Republicans are moving forward to confirm Barrett quickly despite some committee members testing positive for the coronavirus recently.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Anybody that has a concern about showing up can virtually interview Judge Barrett. She will be there. I will be there, and to my Democratic colleagues, America has to go to work Monday, including us. We're going to work. We're going to work safely.


CHURCH: CNN's Lauren Fox has a preview of today's hearing.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Those critical hearings beginning on Capitol Hill on Monday. And first day of hearing is going to be lawmakers getting to make their opening statements as well as Amy Coney Barrett, the nominee making her opening statement, which CNN has obtained.

We expect that she'll say quote, there is a tendency in our profession to treat the practice of law as all-consuming, while losing side of everything else, but that makes for a shallow and unfulfilling life. I worked hard as a lawyer and as a professor. I owe that to my clients, my students and myself, but I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life.

Now, also looming over this hearing is going to be the fact that coronavirus is still very much a factor in these proceedings. Remember, two lawmakers, both Republicans on the judiciary committee tested positive for coronavirus just more than one week ago.

Those individuals, Thom Tillis of North Carolina as well as Senator Mike Lee of Utah, both tested positive. And while we know that Tillis is expected to attend the hearings in person later this week, we still don't know whether or not Senator Mike Lee will attend the hearings in person. It's critical whether or not they show up.

That's because the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer told reporters on Sunday, that if those two members -- and it has to be both of them being absent -- are not there on Thursday, the day of a critical vote in the Judiciary Committee, he will not provide the critical number of Democrats necessary to get a quorum. That essentially could slow down this entire nomination process.

So, while the first order of business is going to be what lawmakers say in their opening statement tomorrow, what Amy Coney Barrett says in her opening statement on Monday, it's also important to remember that the health of the individual members on this committee is going to be closely watched over the upcoming days.

For CNN in Washington, I'm Lauren Fox.


CHURCH: New polling on the presidential race finds Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden well ahead of President Trump nationally. Biden is also leading or neck in neck with Mr. Trump in key battleground states. CBS news polls showed Biden favored 52 to 46 points over Mr. Trump in both Michigan and in Nevada. They are tied in Iowa and with all eyes on the upcoming Supreme Court hearings, many are wondering about Joe Biden's plans for the court, should he get elected. CNN's Arlette Saenz has the details.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden and his campaign continue to deflect on the question of whether the former vice president supports adding more justices to the Supreme Court. This comes as Republicans are seeking to turn this into a campaign issue as hearings are about to begin for President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

Now, the Biden campaign on Sunday, again called this a distraction from the President and his allies. Take a listen.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, BIDEN DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: This is a distraction that they want to throw out. This is a hypothetical that they want to throw out right now to distract from the fact that they are trying to ram through a nominee who, as I said, is going to change the make-up of the court against the will of the American people.

They don't want to talk about that. So, they are trying to create a distraction and, you know, send folks down on a rabbit hole, talking about this.

SAENZ: Now, during the Democratic primary, Joe Biden said he opposed packing the Supreme Court and there had been no public indications yet that he has changed his position on that, but he has said that he will not answer that question until after Election Day.

Now, on Monday, Joe Biden is heading to the battleground state of Ohio where his polls have recently shown that President Trump and Joe Biden are locked in a tight race just four years after President Trump won Ohio back in 2016. And Joe Biden hoping to make the state more competitive heading into that November election.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, Washington.



CHURCH: Joining me now is CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So Republican Senator Mike Lee says he will decide Monday morning if he will attend Amy Coney Barrett's hearing after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, along with Senator Thom Tillis. It is of course key that both are present to make up a quorum for the crucial vote Thursday for Barrett to advance this nomination for approval before the election. Where do you see all of this going?

TOOBIN: Well, the Republicans have decided that they are on a mission to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the election and it seems likely that they have the votes to do it. But this is really a surreal event because this committee hearing is really a matter of these Senators risking their lives.

You have two Senators as you pointed out who were very recently diagnosed with COVID. You have two Republican Senators, the chairman, Lindsey Graham and the Senator Grassley from Iowa who refuse to take COVID tests. And several Senators, including Grassley, Pat Leahy of Vermont, and Dianne Feinstein, the regular -- the ranking Democrat, who are in their 80s and terrifically vulnerable to this disease, which is spreading through the Senate. So, you know, this is not just an important hearing. This is a literally life or death matter for the members of Congress who have been -- who have to conduct it, and the Republicans have chosen to conduct.

CHURCH: Yes, certainly a lot of factors to consider. And Jeffrey, on Monday, we will hear the opening statements from Senators in the hearing, and then Barrett herself will give her opening statement, and we have that now if we can just bring that up.

Barrett says she was shaped by the late Justice Scalia's reasoning, and she adds that his judicial philosophy was straightforward, a judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. So clearly, she hopes to convince Democrats that she won't be flounced by her religious beliefs here. How will that likely play?

TOOBIN: You know, I think the Democrats are smart enough to stay away from her religious background. You know, there have been very liberal justices who were Catholic, and very conservative justices who are Catholic. That's not the issue here. The issue is her judicial philosophy. Justice Scalia's view of the use of the Constitution were very different from those of Justice Ginsberg whose seat is at issue here.

And what makes this nomination so important is that it looks like a strongly liberal member of the court is going to be replaced by a strongly conservative member and that has very profound, real life implications for life in the United States.

CHURCH: And Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is demanding that Barrett recuse herself from the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, and any possible election case that might come before the court. How likely is it that Barrett will recuse herself, and what questions should Senators be asking her about these two issues and the controversial case of Roe versus Wade?

TOOBIN: Well, I do think there is a pretty good argument that she should recuse herself from anything related to the election. President Trump has been so explicit in saying that he wants his justice, Amy Barrett, to vote for him on anything related to the election, that there really is an odor of impropriety about it.

As for the Affordable Care Act, I don't really see why she should have to recuse herself on that. And on Roe v. Wade, which is the Supreme Court decision that prohibits states from banning abortion, you know, that is one of the profound issues in American law. But I look for Judge Barrett to duck questions about that the way most Supreme Court nominees duck it. And she will say it's settled precedent, which it is, but that doesn't mean that she won't vote to overturn it. Because that she has given every indication in her background and her history and her associations that she is someone who is profoundly opposed to constitutional protections for a woman's right to choose abortion.


CHURCH: Jeffrey Toobin, always a pleasure to get your legal analysis. Many thanks.


CHURCH: And be sure to tune into CNN for the latest from Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing. It all gets underway at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, that's 2:00 p.m. in London.

And still to come, anger across Europe over coronavirus restrictions even as some countries log record spikes. How leaders are balancing public health with COVID fatigue. That's next.


CHURCH: COVID-19 cases are spiking across Europe, and leaders are struggling to balance public health with fragile economies. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now set to announce a new alert system to try and tackle the virus in those cities where it's spreading the fastest. But from London to Paris, many Europeans are already unhappy with coronavirus restrictions. Isa Soares has our report.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Frustrated protesters in London march against COVID related restrictions.

[04:20:00] In Glasgow, bar and restaurant workers dump ice on the street outside city chambers in protest. Anti-mask protesters in Dublin say they are sick of being told to what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have they got a mask and then they go to a funeral. The mask and whether they've got.

JEAN MURRY, ANTI-LOCKDOWN PROTESTER: This is justly unfair, and it's a crime against humanity, and shame on the government of Ireland.

SOARES: And in Rome, citizens pushed back against government measures to curb the spread of the virus, despite daily case numbers in Italy spiking this weekend to levels not seen since late March when the country was in lockdown.

Across Europe, many citizens are craving a complete return to normalcy, even though the numbers paint an alarming picture.

England is at its tipping point says its deputy chief medical office officer. And on Monday U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce further steps to control the spread of the virus.

Over the weekend France has a record with over 26,000 new cases in 24 hours on Saturday.

As cases are on the rise, so is frustration as governments across the continent are responding. Restrictions on night life in Berlin have left business owners agitated.

Mark Stolz, bar owner who filed complaint against curfew (through translator): Because of this measure, the world is watching Berlin. I don't understand how the mayor can destroy the largest economic sector of his city. It's unbelievable.

SOARES: But the German leaders continue to stress the importance of those restrictions.

MICHAEL MULLER, GOVERNING MAYOR OF BERLIN (through translator): I once again make an urgent appeal to the 20 to 40-year-community in big cities, to understand this is not a time for partying, not a time for negligence but it is a time to protect others, especially the elderly and prevent the number of infections from exploding.

SOARES: For now, people continue living within confines, desperate to go back to the life they once knew.

Isa Soares, CNN.


CHURCH: And our correspondents are tracking developments from across Europe. Nic Robertson joins us live from London, and Scott McLean is standing by in Berlin. Good to see you both. And Nic, let's go to you first. Prime Minister Johnson will soon outline new COVID restrictions as cases search. But there is considerable resistance as we heard from people of Britain. How will authorities deal with that and what measures are expected?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: yes, Rosemary, there's a big north/south divide at the moment in England. And that's what Boris Johnson will be focusing on today. The north of England has a much higher rate of infection generally speaking, compared to the south of the country. The Prime Minister is trying to simplify the restriction measures that different areas of the country will face.

So, there will be three tiers. That's what's expected. A medium, a high and a very high, and the government -- or at least some members of the cabinet today will be meeting to fine-tune the details of what will apply in those three tiers.

But the highest tier we understand, will affect the city of Liverpool at least. And we understand from officials in Liverpool that that means their pubs, their casinos, their gyms will be shut down. So, there's a question of whether or not their restaurants will shut down.

So, you have this frustration in the north of the country from people generally, who feel that the south are getting off light, and are having unfair restrictions imposed on them. You have the councils, the sort of regional authorities in those areas in the north of the country are saying the government restrictions that have been applied really aren't coping very well to bring down infection rates in their areas. That local knowledge is more important, and the government hasn't been listening to that.

That's particularly relevant on track and trace, which isn't working as well as the government said and is leading to an erosion in confidence generally, in the government.

And I think the other piece of the picture that the government will focus on today is the economic support that these local areas want from central government when the businesses like the pubs, like the gyms, like the casinos in Liverpool get shut down, what financial support will there be for those workers, and that's also -- we're expecting to get details on that as well today -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, many thanks to our Nic Robertson. Appreciate that. Joining us from London. All right let's go now to Scott. And Scott, Germany, France, other European country, struggling with restrictions and increasing case numbers. What is the latest on this?


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rosemary, so just to put things into context for you here. Almost every large city in Germany is now considered a coronavirus hot spot. Stuttgart down in the southwest has even called in the military to help it try to tamp down cases there.

And it's really a similar picture that we're seeing across Europe. France, the Czech Republic, Poland, over the weekend, they all reported record new case counts. Poland actually has recorded new daily records for the past four days.

France in response has closed bars and restaurants in the Paris region. In the north of the country, they are also cancelling non- COVID related procedures in some hospitals to make way for the onslaught of coronavirus patients that they are expecting.

And if If you look at the numbers, the main hot spots around the world, India, Brazil, the United States, they're all starting to see cases either slightly declining or just slightly starting to rise in the case of the United States. But in Europe, the cases are really only going in one direction, and that is straight up. And there is one area of particular concern here that we can add on to that graph, and that's Czech Republic. So per million people, their cases have absolutely skyrocketed.

Which is interesting because this was a country that was an early coronavirus success story, a country that managed to close its borders relatively early. The travelers that it did allow in had to show a negative test in order to be admitted to the country. Now though the Prime Minister, well he's asking all health workers in the country to help fight the coronavirus after a large number of doctors and nurses tested positive for the virus. He's warning if things don't turn around in a hurry, there could be a second nationwide lock down. Something that every country in Europe is trying desperately to avoid.

In Italy, they even brought a nationwide mask mandate even outdoors in order to avoid that. In Germany, they also have mask mandates across the country. But in Berlin -- as you heard in that last story -- they closed bars and restaurants early this past weekend to try to tamp down the virus. We're also going to hear more from government officials later today on testing strategies and on quarantine rules -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Many thanks, Scott McLean, joining us there live from Berlin.

Well, there's new polling out from key battleground states three weeks before election day, and with the coronavirus raging in many parts of the U.S., we'll discuss the state of the presidential race with our panel. That's next.