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Trump Holds First Rally Since Coronavirus Diagnosis With Few Masks, No Distancing; Fauci: Holding Political Rallies Is "Asking For Trouble"; Fauci: Appropriate For Trump To Wear A Mask; Judge Barrett Expected To Face Fiery Day Of Questioning From Senators, Including VP Nominee Kamala Harris; Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) Is Interviewed About Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Hearing. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You can always tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the President holds his first rally since his battle with coronavirus in Florida right now, speaking to a mostly maskless crowd standing shoulder to shoulder as you see. Has the White House learned anything from its own hot zone outbreak?

Plus, Dr. Anthony Fauci with a warning to the White House tonight, don't use me in another campaign ad.

And a four-star general, lifelong Republican, POW for seven years says he has never spoken out about politics before until now. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, President Trump returning to the campaign trail tonight, the first time since getting coronavirus and being hospitalized for days heading to a state that reported 1,500 cases so far today with a positivity rate above 10 percent over the past week, as hospitalizations rise across much of this country.

You are looking at live pictures of the President's rally. Thousands of supporters packed together. No one is socially distanced and there are very few in that crowd as we've looked through it with all of the cameras and our reporters there wearing masks. It is stunning, especially given the President now knows firsthand how dangerous this virus is and how easily it spreads. It's why the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is sounding the alarm.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We know that that is asking for trouble when you do that. We've seen that when you have situations of congregate settings with a lot of people without masks. The data speak for themselves, it happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what's going on in the United States, it's really very troublesome. A number of states right now are having increase in test positivity.

So if there's anything we should be doing, we should be doubling down in implementing the public health measures that we've been talking about for so long.


BURNETT: And that is because the death toll now is 214,000 Americans and nine states right now are recording record high hospitalizations, 31 states heading in the wrong direction with an increase in cases over the past week. And yet for the White House, it's been business as pre COVID usual.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is going to be in Sanford, Florida today. Then, he's going to be in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Then Des Moines, Iowa and then Greenville, North Carolina. When it comes to these events, will anything be different, Kayleigh, in terms of the distance and the more, I guess, more deliberate when it comes to putting on masks?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We will have the same policies that we've had in place.


BURNETT: The same policies that they've had in place, which give Trump the optics he wants, big crowds of supporters shoulder to shoulder and masks really not frequently worn, most never worn. This is an Eric Trump event today. I just want to show you.

He tweeted these images of him speaking and greeting supporters in Wisconsin. You can see this room just like - there's no masks. It's an indoor room. There's no masks. This is insanity and here's Mike Pence in Florida over the weekend. According to the campaign to their own numbers, they were nearly 3,000 people at this rally. It was at a retirement village. Thousands of senior citizens the most vulnerable age group in this country.

This is a message Trump and his team are sending to the American people. That even now, he flout the number one thing that we know prevents the spread of coronavirus, a mask. As the President boarding Air Force One, the only one who did so not wearing a mask and here's his chief of staff today in the halls of the Capitol. There you go.

Here's Republican ally Republican Senator Mike Lee tested positive for coronavirus 11 days ago taking his mask off at times during the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing. This all comes as Fauci is now hitting back at the President for releasing this campaign ad which gives the very clear impression that Fauci is directly praising the President.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump tackled the virus head on as leaders should.

FAUCI: I can't imagine that anybody could be doing more.


BURNETT: OK. Fauci making it very clear that comment is being taken quite hugely out of context. He was talking about members of the task force with anybody. He's right, the context does not add up because Fauci and the science have, well, never backed Trump up on coronavirus.


FAUCI: We're facing a serious problem now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I think we are in a good place.

FAUCI: It's a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.

TRUMP: If you look at the chart of deaths, deaths are way down.



BURNETT: So again and again Trump going against his top scientist on the disease. So the context is pretty clear, it doesn't add up at all. And when asked about possibly being featured in another campaign ad, here's what Fauci told Jake Tapper today.


FAUCI: That would be terrible. I mean, that would be outrageous if they do that. In fact, that might actually come back to backfire on them. I hope they don't do that, because that would be kind of playing a game that we don't want to play.


BURNETT: Well, I mean, that's pretty incredible and pretty direct.

So Jim Acosta is traveling with the President tonight OUTFRONT at the rally in Sanford, Florida. And Jim, so you're there, what are you seeing and, of course, the White House just releasing some new information about the President's health.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes, that's right. Forgive me for our shots going down (inaudible) talking to you by phone here. But, yes, you're right, the President's doctor, Dr. Sean Conley did (inaudible) saying the President has negative for the coronavirus on consecutive days (inaudible) statements from Conley (inaudible) a rapid test ...

BURNETT: Obviously, we're having trouble hearing Jim there at that rally. If we get him back, we're going to know what he has to say. Obviously, the President's touting that he has the all clear and on that campaign trail.

OUTFRONT now Dr. Todd Husty, Medical Director for Emergency Medical Services of Seminole County, Florida, where the President is holding this rally tonight. So doctor, looking at these pictures and our crews have been in there throughout the day, it's the usual, very few masks except for in some people who are behind the President, where the cameras are pointed. Lots of people no social distance.

Dr. Fauci today said political rallies are 'asking for trouble'. We do know people contracted COVID after attending the President's other events. How concerned are you?

TODD HUSTY, MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES, SEMINOLE COUNTY: I'm obviously concerned, Erin. I mean, I'd be a liar to say anything else. I think everybody in Seminole County, all the leadership in Seminole County has worked really hard and the people of Seminole County to knock this thing down.

We're still not low enough. We're not low enough to really ease off at all. It's not that hard, you wear a mask, you social distance. It's what we've been doing medically for years for decades. It's really not that hard.

So it's discouraging to see any group gathering where people are not doing the right thing. And then we've seen other gatherings. I mean, obviously, this one makes big news. We've seen a lot of them.


HUSTY: As a medical person, I'm just discouraged.

BURNETT: So your county, I know, has a mask ordinance. And obviously, that's being ignored tonight with the White House says they have their same policies in place. But obviously, they're not mandating that anybody respect that ordinance in your county and what do you say to that?

HUSTY: Well, we have not enforced our mask ordinance. We really went to the people to say, listen, we're going to have a mask ordinance but we want to educate you about how important it is. And I think the people of Seminole County listened. We sure knocked this thing down from where it was.

So we were hoping that anybody that has any kind of gathering will take heed. Now we know that there have been gatherings where they didn't do that, we don't arrest, we don't cite people, we don't give them a fine. And this is just in a bigger way, obviously, Erin. We're leading by example.

BURNETT: Right. Well, I mean, that's the big point. I mean, you would think it's a presidential rally. This is a place where you would tell people this is what they have to do. If you're them and I know that you do believe your county is doing well, thanks to the mask ordinance, because it is directly when you look at the charts, directly correlated with the success that you've had against the virus.

But overall, the State of Florida seeing an upward trend, Dr. Fauci overall, says in the United States, we're on a trajectory of getting worse and worse. Those are his words exactly, Doctor. How concerned are you about the message sent out at a rally like this with no masks required?

HUSTY: Well, it's obviously all of us. I'm 69 years old this month, so I wear a mask. I'm fairly widely known locally and I wouldn't be caught dead out there without a mask on, because somebody will go that's Dr. Husty without a mask on. I don't need to wear a mask now.

In such a smaller way than the President or anybody else of authority and I would fault the President, but there are a lot of other people who have not been clear on this. There's been a lot of - it's just unclear support. We need to be clear masks and social distancing work, end of story. We've known it. All of the hospitals in Seminole County unanimously support a mass mandate and enforceable mask mandate and it's worked and they're still a hundred percent behind it because we were getting bad there for a while.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Dr. Husty. Thank you, sir.

HUSTY: Thank you, Erin. I appreciate it.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Director of Cardiac Cath Lab at GW who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush and Abby Phillip, our political correspondent.


So Dr. Reiner tonight, it's Florida. Cases, obviously, on the rise there. As I said you've got nine states with record hospitalizations in this country and the President is heading to Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina this week, all with upward trends and we're gonna see more maskless rallies. Things are getting worse and worse, according to Dr. Fauci. The President had coronavirus and still, he still won't do it.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think you use the most apt word, which was this is insane. It's obvious that the President has given up on trying to mitigate the spread of this virus and it's just waiting for, at some point in the future, a vaccine to make its way into this country and he's focused on getting reelected. He's not focused on preserving the health of the population.

Florida has a 10 percent positivity rate right now. Later in the week, he's going to Iowa. They have an 18 percent positivity rate. You can't bring people together like this. Your previous guest used exactly the right phrase. He said he wouldn't be caught dead without a mask. Well, that's exactly what's going to happen to some people in these crowds.

Two to three weeks from now, they're going to be caught dead because they went to one of these events. It has to stop. There's just no explanation for it, other than the President is desperate to get reelected and he doesn't care who gets in his way.

BURNETT: I mean, Abby, these massless rallies we're seeing again and again, and I should point out, I mentioned a moment ago that the people who wear masks are the ones that are behind the President. The campaign wants that. That's where you see the few of the masks. Otherwise, it's pretty much none and, obviously, no social distancing. You wouldn't even have any idea this was happening this year.

Then today, Abby, there was the Eric Trump event, he tweeted about it today. I mean, this was incredible. This was in-doors. This is inside with no masks and no social distancing. I mean, that is really dangerous and reckless.

And then Mark Meadows, he wouldn't answer any questions when someone asked him to put his mask back on, he refused to answer questions. Abby, why are they so stubborn on this and proudly so right, Eric Trump tweeted that image out, because he wanted people to see they're in a closed room not wearing masks.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really doesn't make any sense. Dr. Reiner just described it as insane from a medical and scientific perspective. Yes, it's insane. But it's also insane from a political perspective. He is going to Florida. That's a state where he's suffering with senior citizens who think he's been reckless in his handling of this virus and then he's going to Florida and having a giant rally in which many, many, many people are not wearing masks and then going back into the community and potentially spreading the virus to vulnerable people.

It doesn't make sense to throw these images in the face of voters who already don't think you're taking this seriously enough. And everyone in that crowd, they are the diehard Trump supporters. They love the President. And if he said to them, do it for me, take that mask in your hand and put it on your face, wear that mask tonight, they would probably do it.

But the President is not doing that because he continues to view mask wearing as something that is sort of antithetical to his political image. So much so that - like you said, the Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill wouldn't even wear a mask when talking to reporters when they asked him to even though he could easily be heard and understood with a mask on.

Nothing has changed, Erin, his position on this hasn't changed. The President is looking for a cure for this virus, but he's not willing to encourage the public to take responsible steps to get it under control.

BURNETT: So Dr. Reiner, you heard Dr. Fauci say they're using his words out of context and that it would be outrageous if they did it again. We, by the way, gave people the context of time after time after time on these crucial issues from testing to masks to social distance where the President has contradicted his chief scientist. He says it'll backfire on the Trump campaign if they use him again. And it was strong words from Dr. Fauci that it could backfire on them, it's outrageous. What do you make up that threat from Fauci? REINER: I think he's telling it exactly the way it is. I think he's

telling the administration not to do that again, because he'll just speak very forthrightly about that. I thought for a long time that Dr. Fauci should ignore the administration's efforts to muzzle him. And if he's asked to speak and he can speak and he wants to do an event or an interview, he should just do it.


There is zero chance this administration will try and fire Dr. Tony Fauci three weeks before the election. He has twice the public approval rating as the President does. The public trusts him. So I don't think they can muzzle him.

And if I were Dr. Fauci, I would do whatever media opportunities presented themselves, because this administration should not be muzzling him. The public should hear the truth. And I think now you're starting to hear that Dr. Fauci is very willing to do that if they push him just a little bit more.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, it was clear, just even the set of his mouth, his jaw, Abby, when he said that, he was really, really angry and rightfully so, because we know that it's not true. But does the campaign care at all about Fauci's objection? How much weight does this threat carry?

PHILLIP: I mean, it seems very much like they don't care about Dr. Fauci's objections. And one of the interesting things about their use of Dr. Fauci in these ads is that many of the President's own supporters and surrogates have actually spent many months attacking Dr. Fauci, criticizing him for talking about the severity of this pandemic.

So it's ironic that they would then turn around and try to use Fauci as credibility, but it also seems to be a tactical mistake, because Dr. Fauci has been pretty reserved in sort of keeping to the medical aspect of this and I think he does not want in any way to get involved in politics.

But I do not think that he enjoys being used, he describes it as him being sort of - kind of harassed actually.


PHILLIP: He told a reporter he was being harassed by the Trump campaign. It is a mistake to make an enemy out of someone who is viewed as more credible than the administration. And at the end of the day, I think that this White House would be better off and just sort of keeping Dr. Fauci out of it, rather than creating potentially a kind of very public rift in which he has no choice but to defend his credibility as a scientist and as someone who is not involved in politics in any way.

BURNETT: All right. Abby, thank you very much. And I should emphasize when Abby said that he told reporter he felt harassed. I mean, he did and that is a stunning thing to say. Dr. Fauci says he feels harassed, his word, by the Trump campaign in terms of what they're doing. It is it is a pretty incredible precipice here that we stand on the edge of.

OUTFRONT next, the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis arriving at the rally just moments ago and there was the scene. You see the scene. There are no masks. There are high fives, it's 2019.

Plus, Democrats united and on message against Trump's Supreme Court pick.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESUMPTIVE VICE PRESIDENT NOMINEE: President Trump promised to only nominate judges who will get rid of the Affordable Care Act.


BURNETT: By the way, I just want to say, Amy Coney Barrett had COVID. She's wearing a mask because examples matter.

And also tonight here white women who supported Trump in 2016 say they can no longer vote for the President.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret your vote?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where we are today, yes, I do.




BURNETT: All right. Live pictures of President Trump's rally near Orlando, Florida. And this comes as we're seeing alarming new Coronavirus trends showing the United States going in the wrong direction. Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): The numbers are not good. Nationwide, we're adding an average of more than 49,000 new cases a day, up 41 percent from just last month.




HILL (voice over): New cases are surging in 31 states, more than a dozen posting their highest weekly averages for new daily cases. Seven states reporting their highest daily new case counts since the pandemic began.


DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: These are extremely alarming trends and there should be warning bells going off around the country.


BURNETT: Texas now sending extra resources to El Paso as hospitalizations rise, rural areas across the country also bracing.


DR. GEORGE MORRIS, PHYSICIAN VICE PRESIDENT, CENTRACARE: We have the beds. We have the people. But as we get more of these exposures, what's going to happen to our availability.


HILL (voice over): North Dakota, which leads the nation in cases per capita has fewer than 20 ICU beds available.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And people are continuing to operate kind of as they had before COVID even was here and that's leading to a lot of our numbers increasing.


HILL (voice over): New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds a 20 percent increase in U.S. deaths from March to August, adding to the evidence that our current COVID death toll is likely an undercount.


DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: If you died from COVID and you also had diabetes, you died from COVID.


HILL (voice over): As an influential model now projects nearly 400,000 COVID-related deaths by February 1st. But if more Americans wore masks, that could change dramatically.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If 95 percent of Americans wear a mask, we will prevent roughly 80,000 deaths over the next few months. I mean, it's a remarkable statistic. Those are people. I mean, if you saw those people you would try and do something to prevent their deaths, but somehow, we just ignore it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL (voice over): The human toll is growing, both in lives lost and

in lives forever changed.


DR. DEEPAK CHOPRA, CLINICAL PROF., DEPT. OF FAMILY MEDICINE & PUBLIC HEALTH, UC SAN DIEGO: People are going through different stages of grief. So some feel victimized, some are angry, some are hostile, some are resentful, some are helpless.



HILL: And just to pick up on that point, researchers at NYU are warning of a second wave of devastation. This one tied to mental health and substance abuse. And they write that the magnitude will likely overwhelm an already frayed mental health system in this country, a particular concern, Erin, are essential workers, including those on the frontlines.

BURNETT: All right. Erica, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to Dr. William Schaffner, Infectious Disease Professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, also former official with the CDC. So Dr. Schaffner, just before the last commercial, we showed you these images that just came in. I got to show you again, OK.

This is the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. He's at the rally that Trump is at right now and this is his entrance. No mask, high five in the crowd, then touching his face with the hand that he used to high five.


What do you think when you see that at this rally, which I should clarify is indeed happening now. And not a year ago, since there's no mass one might be confused.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIVISION, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Erin, I'm afraid I weep. I'm so unhappy about this. Yet all those numbers are indicative of what's coming and what's coming will be worse than what we have now. There are so many people with COVID fatigue, so many people who just don't understand, so many people who just don't care anymore that this virus is spreading.

You bring all those people together and I promise you the virus is there, whether it's an indoor event or an outdoor event in these large gatherings. This virus will spread.

Some of those people will become sick. They will spread it to others when they get home and they will become sick. These are accelerator events that promote the distribution of the virus. And the fingers now show that that's correct. It's happening literally all over the country.

BURNETT: Right. And obviously, as you point out when you're outside, but you're jammed in shoulder by shoulder with people on all sides of you, you take away the benefit of outdoor, just so people understand. I want to ask you about a new study that came out, Dr. Schaffner, today that compared basically the coronavirus death rate among 18 other countries. The President always likes to say we're so much better than other countries. We're not and we're not on a per capita basis.

And now we're at the highest mortality rate since May 10th. So this is what it shows, if the United States had done what Australia did at the start of the pandemic 187,661 Americans of that 215,000 who have died, that many, 187,000 would be alive. If we responded just like Canada, just a land border, 117,622 of those Americans would still be alive. What's your reaction to that?

SCHAFFNER: Well, there are numbers and as my friend, Dr. Offit (ph) said in the previous piece, each one of them is a human being with a family. And there would be so many fewer families grieving today. And it's a predictor of what's going to come, it's going to get worse.

This is winter time, more people will be spending more time indoors. There are holidays coming up, people will revert to the old normal and Thanksgiving, Christmas, other holidays will be the scene of spread of this virus, unless we get careful and we all turn this around wear masks and observe social distancing.

BURNETT: Yes. And we've now seen all the warnings about how it's spreading in small family settings. These are very serious warnings for people in this country. I just want to tell you something, Doctor, the President just said on that stage, our John Harwood is reporting who's there.

The President says that I could kiss everyone in the audience. That's how healthy he is, that he's fully recovered. So his response is not to do it. Amy Coney Barrett also had the virus, but is nonetheless masked in her hearings to set an example. But to go maskless to a rally and say, I could kiss everyone in the audience. So what's your response to the President of the United States when he says that?

SCHAFFNER: Well, it's exactly the wrong modeling. It's exactly the wrong message. It's not about his machismo and it's not about his immunity, which is likely to be correct, at least for a short period of time. It's what he demonstrates should be done by everyone in this country at the rally, out of the rally. It doesn't matter. We should all be wearing masks.

We should all avoid kissing. It should be kind of a hug free zone out there. And we should all be cautious, careful and as a consequence, safer.

BURNETT: Right. Dr. Schaffner, I appreciate your time as always, sir.

And next, a dire warning from Mitch McConnell 'the Democrats are on fire'. Why is he sounding the alarm? And a retired four-star Air Force General has never spoken out about

politics until now. But now he says he cannot stay silent anymore, why?



BURNETT: Tonight, all eyes on Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, and Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

The intense questioning in Barrett's confirmation hearing starts tomorrow. And tonight, we're getting a preview of what's about to happen.

Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The floor is yours, Judge.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amy Coney Barrett starting off her confirmation hearing this afternoon spelling out her judicial philosophy.

JUDGE AMY CONEY BARRETT, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.

SCHNEIDER: The 48-year-old was a clerk for late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. And while she would step into the spot of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it's Scalia's seat she'll really fill.

CONEY: 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.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats immediately aired their disdain that Republicans are racing to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat before the election.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a 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.

SCHNEIDER: Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris skipped the in- person hearing to go virtual and slammed the committee for moving forward without mandatory testing.

HARRIS: 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. SCHNEIDER: While Harris stayed in her office, Republican Senator Mike

Lee was there in person without a mask, despite having tested positive shortly after the White House event announcing Barrett's nomination two weeks ago.


Lee released a letter from the Senate physician today clearing him to attend in person.

While six of Barrett's seven children sat behind her, the political posturing played out for hours in front of her. Democrats warned Americans that their access to health care is at stake when the Supreme Court hears arguments on the affordable care act November 10th.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): The president has promised to appoint justices who will vote to dismantle that law.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans preemptively made Barrett's Catholic religion the focus, calling out any Democrat who makes Barrett's faith an issue, though no Democrat did.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): When you tell somebody that they're too Catholic to be on the bench, when you tell them they're going to be a Catholic judge, not an American judge, that's bigotry. The pattern and practice of bigotry from members of this committee must stop.

SCHNEIDER: Barrett, meanwhile, kept the focus on her family and her resume. Noting how she would be the only justice without an Ivy League degree.

BARRETT: I would be the first mother of school-age children to serve on the clerk. I would be the only sitting justice who didn't attend school at Harvard or Yale.


SCHNEIDER: And today's format kept things relatively tame, but it could get a lot more fiery tomorrow and Wednesday when all members of the committee will question Amy Coney Barrett. Democrats will stay zeroed in on health care. And that's also something that was on the president's mind during the hearing.

Erin, he tweeted twice before noon about health care, saying he has a plan that is lower cost and better than Democrats'. But, of course, up to this point, Erin, we have yet to see any concrete plans on health care from the president -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Jessica, thank you very much.

Yeah, if he has a plan, he hasn't showed it to anyone.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So, Senator, I appreciate your time.

I know you said today that you made up your mind to oppose Amy Coney Barrett's nomination.

Did you hear anything today which suggests that she is not qualified for a seat on the highest court in the land?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): There was no reassurance today, Erin, none, that she will do anything but strike down the Affordable Care Act and end protections for people who suffer from pre-existing conditions.

She has been vetted by Trump screeners. She passed the Trump litmus test, that she would not only strike down the Affordable Care Act but also overturn Roe v. Wade.

And she's written that if she'd been on the court she would have struck down the Affordable Care Act in the cases before the Supreme Court. She did nothing today to rebut that conclusion. And we brought into that room real people who would suffer as a result.

BURNETT: So, the Harvard law professor Noah Feldman who, as you know, testified in favor of President Trump's impeachment last year wrote in an op-ed that Barrett -- who by the way he's known for more than 20 years -- is more than qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

His argument, Senator, quote, it is better for the republic to have a principled, brilliant lawyer on the bench than a weaker candidate. That's Barrett.

He, by the way, went on to say just like you he doesn't agree with a lot of the things that she might do. But he calls her brilliant and qualified, more than qualified. What do you say to that?

BLUMENTHAL: Qualifications are important. Credentials on paper. What really matters is judgment.

And by her legal positions, she has really shown herself to be extreme or radical, which is the word she used to describe her position on eliminating gun violence prevention provisions in state laws. And we need a justice who has judgment and a sensitivity to the people who would be caused harm by striking down those protections for people who suffer from pre-existing conditions. One of them now is COVID.

BURNETT: So, speaking of COVID, the Republican Senator Mike Lee did attend today's hearing in person. He had tested positive for coronavirus 11 days ago. He was cleared by his doctor to attend. He did, though, choose at times not to wear a mask in the committee room, right? Which was more a statement than anything else.

You were in the room. Do you think it was appropriate how he handled it?

BLUMENTHAL: I was concerned for the health of our colleagues as well as myself by his presence, particularly when he took off his mask. We've called on all our Republican colleagues to be tested. I've been tested twice over the past few days, both negative.

But even more important than our health is a national testing strategy for the whole nation. More PPE. More money for vaccines. Instead of rushing this nomination, without giving the American people a say about the next justice through the next president and the next Senate, we should be actually addressing a health care crisis.


President Trump is trying to jam through the Senate a nominee who is antithetical to health care during a health care crisis.

BURNETT: So, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, we understand, warned lobbyists on a call that, quote, Democrats are on fire, just talking about fund-raising and performance in polls. It comes as Lindsey Graham's opponent pulled in $57 million.

And you know -- so I guess how do you see this? Do you think Democrats are in a really great position when you look at taking over the Senate, or do you say, hey, Beto O'Rourke raised a heck of a lot of money too and it didn't work out so well for him in his bid?

BLUMENTHAL: I'm really hopeful that the spirit and energy and outrage that those numbers show will be reflected in calls to Republican colleagues who should merit the outrage of people who see them supporting a nominee who would decimate American health care during a pandemic. I hope that the American people will respond by standing up and speaking out.

It's a break the glass moment. And I think those numbers about fund- raising reflect a growing movement that in the end will mean my Republican colleagues will be held accountable.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time. Thank you, Senator Blumenthal.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, a lifelong Republican, retired four-star general speaking out for the first time about politics and this president.

Plus, Republican women are key to Trump's victory. He must have their turnout and their support. But some are questioning why.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Was there a moment when you decided I cannot support him anymore?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was almost instantly.



[19:45:36] BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump suggesting that questions about whether he will agree to a peaceful transfer of power are an attempt to oust him from office.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Then they say we want to know if you will agree with a friendly transfer of power. For four years they've been trying to get us out of office. Four years they've been trying to get us out.


BURNETT: This comes after he retweeted two stories about mail-in voting with baseless comments saying that the election is rigged. It's comments like those that have one retired four-star general, long-time Republican, now saying he's endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden and he's OUTFRONT now.

Retired Air Force General Chuck Boyd, four-star general who spent nearly seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

General, you I know have been a long-time Republican, and you have been silent on politics. You've said you perfectly believe that even retired military officers should not get involved in presidential politics.

But now, you feel that you must speak out. Why now?

GEN. CHUCK BOYD (RET.), LONGTIME REPUBLICAN WHO IS ENDORSING BIDEN: Well, I think we've reached a crisis that I have not anticipated before. And so my restraint, so long -- I just had to put it aside.

I had to get involved. I had to get in combat. I had to go to the sound of the guns. And so here I am.

BURNETT: So, you know, what is it that made you feel, you know, that you wanted to do this now and you needed to do it before the election? You know, I guess a non-eloquent way of putting it, what was the straw that broke the camel's back for you?

BOYD: I think the straw -- I've been watching this president of course for a long time and his egregious activities, but when he began his campaign to cause the American people to doubt the honesty of their election, when he started telling the American people that it was a rigged election, that it was fraudulent, that it was particularly the mail-in ballots. I saw that as an attack on the very foundation of our democracy, any democracy. When people can no longer believe in the mechanism by which they choose their leaders, they can have no confidence in any other aspect of their democracy, it seems to me.

So that was the tipping point. That was --

BURNETT: So like Senator John McCain you were a POW in Vietnam for seven years. And obviously, you know, we all remember the words the president used to describe John McCain during the 2016 election. Let me just play them again for you, sir.


TRUMP: He's not a war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a war hero.

TRUMP: He's a war hero --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five and a half years --

TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured.


BURNETT: My question about that for you, general, is actually two parts. One, how did that make you feel?

And two, you heard that and it was deeply personal for you. And yet still you waited until now to speak. That even something as egregious as that was not enough to make you break that sacred sort of feeling you felt about not weighing in on an election.

BOYD: Well, my -- when he did it with John McCain, it was disgusting, of course. But it didn't really trigger me into any kind of an action at the time.

But when "The Atlantic" article came out in which he called me, because I took it personally, he called me a loser and a sucker, he called all people who serve under him with contempt, with disdain, the -- every man and every woman that chooses to serve their country in the military, they do two things.


First of all, they take an oath of office that they will protect the Constitution. But second, and this is the one that I think there is this sort of an informal contract that has an unlimited liability clause in it. And that clause says that I will commit myself up to impeding my life if necessary in support of this nation's security, that kind of commitment, and for a commander to hold those kinds of committed people calling them losers, that really got to me. It sickened me.

BURNETT: Well, General, I so much appreciate your time and you are speaking out. I know it came after a great consideration. Thank you so much, General Boyd.

BOYD: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, the president heading to Pennsylvania tomorrow where he may find a different reception from some of the women who back him in 2016.



BURNETT: President Trump is heading to Pennsylvania tomorrow. Crucial to his victory, white women voters.

Kate Bolduan is OUTFRONT.


HOLLIE GEITNER, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: I'm probably a good example of someone who's gotten through a lot of changes the past four years.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, "AT THIS HOUR" (voice-over): Hollie Geitner, a registered Republican, is a working parent of two kids living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and she wasn't alone. Fifty percent of white women in Pennsylvania did the same, according to exit polls.

(on camera): What do you feel today about your vote four years ago?

GEITNER: I can tell you how I felt four years ago, shame.

BOLDUAN: Do you regret your vote?

GEITNER: Where we are today? Yes, I do. I don't think this was the great again that everyone thought it was going to be.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): So, Hollie is voting for Joe Biden. And so is Nin Bell.

(on camera): What drew you to Donald Trump? Why did you vote for Donald Trump then?

NIN BELL, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: For his celebrity, 100 percent.

BOLDUAN: It was the brand?

BELL: It was.

BOLDUAN: The image.

BELL: Successful. Funny. He was funny, I loved his show. "The Celebrity Apprentice." never missed it.

BOLDUAN: Was there a moment when you decided, I cannot support him anymore?

BELL: It was almost instantly.

BOLDUAN: It is not just outside suburban women are questioning their support for Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. It's even out here in Westmoreland, rural Pennsylvania, considered Trump country. We're about to meet two of them.


BOLDUAN: Oh, you're definitely sisters.

(voice-over): Joan Smeltzer and Julie Brady are registered Democrats and both voted for Trump in 2016.

SMELTZER: I felt like I've been duped. I got it wrong and it hurts my heart. I mean, it truly hurts my heart because the things that I saw, I didn't take seriously.

BOLDUAN (on camera): Throughout the campaign, he was making sexist, misogynistic remarks, and then there was the "Access Hollywood" tape.

How did you guys process and digest that and being out there and voting for him?

SMELTZER: It was not easy. I look at myself and think, how could I do that?

BRADY: I felt like I did a disservice by voting for this guy.

BOLDUAN: Was there a moment where you said, I can't do this again?

BRADY: The COVID pandemic, the way he handled it, that was the absolute last straw for me. He didn't create the virus but he kind of lefts us all in the dark guessing what was going on. And that wasn't fair to us.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Among the women we spoke to, the coronavirus, the president's handling of the pandemic, and the racial unrest following the police killing of George Floyd were the overwhelming driving issues.

GEITNER: George Floyd's killing was a pivotal moment for me. When I read he was begging for his mom, as a mother myself it brought me to any knees and to see what happened since, I feel like he's added fuel to flames of hatred and that really bothers me.

BOLDUAN: Nin Bell, who registered as a Republican in 2016 just to vote for Trump in the primaries, now protest weekly in her town just outside Philadelphia, often met by groups, she used to consider herself apart of, Trump supporters setting up counter demonstrations.

BELL: I think Trump kind of thrive on that, on that division. I see it in my own town.

SMELTZER: Integrity, that's what we are lacking.

BRADY: And accountability.


BRADY: Being a mom of a nine-year-old, that's one thing I push with my son all the time is, you know, you made a bad decision, it's your fault. You learn from it and you move on. We have a president who nothing that happens is ever his fault. It's always somebody else's faults.

BOLDUAN (on camera): There are consequences.

BRADY: There are consequences. He's about to find them out.


BOLDUAN: Now, the women that we spoke to, of course, don't speak for every woman voter in Pennsylvania. But what they have to say and why, Erin, shows the uphill battle that Trump is facing right now in this battleground state. The latest polling shows that Trump is trailing Joe Biden by 23 points among women in Pennsylvania.

BURNETT: Wow, stunning. Incredible.

All right. Kate, thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you for watching.

Anderson starts now.