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STATE OF THE UNION

COVID-19 Outbreak Hits Vice President Pence's Staff; Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Interview With White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 25, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:15]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Dark winter? U.S. COVID cases hit a new daily record, and the virus infects close advisers to Vice President Pence, as the candidates clash over how to best manage the pandemic.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's all I hear. Turn on television, right? COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's given up. He's quit on you. He's quit on America.

TAPPER: Who will the American people choose to lead them out of this crisis? I will speak with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows next.

And stalemate. Time is running out for a deal between Congress and the White House to help struggling Americans by Election Day.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I'm hopeful that we will be able to reach agreement.

TAPPER: How much longer will Americans have to wait? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me to discuss next.

Plus: final countdown. With just nine days left to vote, polls favor Democratic nominee Joe Biden, but President Trump says the energy is behind him. Has Biden gotten Democrats excited enough to turn out the vote?

I will speak with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ahead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is alarmed at the latest pandemic data.

Just nine days until Election Day, and, today, a worrisome late October surprise, a new coronavirus outbreak tied to the White House, this time hitting Vice President Pence's inner circle. The vice president's chief of staff, Marc Short, has now tested positive, as well as Marty Obst, one of Pence's top outside political advisers, and at least one other member of Pence's White House staff, according to an official.

Vice President Pence is, of course, the head of the Coronavirus Task Force and was a close contact of Marc Short's. But, according to the White House, the vice president has tested negative for the virus and is choosing to stay on the campaign trail.

You can see him here yesterday campaigning without a mask. The White House says it's OK for Pence to be out there because he is a -- quote -- "essential worker," though it is not yet clear how campaigning is essential work, as opposed to, say, being in his office trying to use the levers of government to get control of the pandemic.

But, even as the virus spreads within the White House again, the president is out on the campaign trail telling Americans that the virus is -- quote -- "rounding the turn" and criticizing the news media for covering the pandemic.

It is staggering and dangerous misinformation, as the virus is actually spreading more rapidly across the country, according to health experts. Saturday, the U.S. hit more than 83,000 cases. That's the second highest day in the U.S. since the pandemic began. The highest day? Friday.

Overall, the virus has infected more than 8.5 million Americans and killed nearly 225,000.

Joining me now to discuss this and much more, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Mark, thanks so much.

Horrible news about the V.P.'s office. How many...

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, we wish them -- we wish them we wish them best.

Obviously, anybody, not just White House staff, but any American who comes down with this, we certainly wish them the very best.

TAPPER: Yes.

MEADOWS: And it's all about trying to make sure that we have the therapeutics, the treatments, and make sure that we can tackle this in a meaningful way.

And, hopefully, we will be able to do that.

TAPPER: How many individuals in the vice president's office or the White House have tested positive this week? And how many of them have symptoms?

MEADOWS: You know, we don't give out that kind of information. Obviously, Marc Short and a couple of the key staff around the vice

president have come down with the coronavirus. It just goes to show you that we continue to face this enemy that came from China.

And yet what we also know is, the one area that -- where we are rounding the corner is really the death rate as it looks to that. Our ability to handle this has improved each and every day, each and every month.

And when there were estimates that as many as 10 percent of the population that got this would actually experience a fatal result, we're now down to 2.6.

Every death is too many.

TAPPER: Right.

MEADOWS: But, hopefully, we're going to get this to the point where it's not as lethal as the flu.

TAPPER: So, Mark, Pence adviser Marty Obst tested positive days ago, and that was not disclosed to the public at the time.

According to "The New York Times" -- quote -- "Two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep the news of the outbreak from becoming public."

Why would you do that? Is it because it's yet another sign of how much the White House has failed to contain the virus?

MEADOWS: Well, obviously -- yes. Yes, obviously, that's not a report. That's actually a tweet.

And, when we look at this, when we're really talking about...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: No, that was a "New York Times" story. That was a "New York Times" story.

MEADOWS: When we actually -- when we actually have people's health at risk, what we look at there, Jake, is -- is, sharing personal information is not something that we should do, not something that we do actually do, unless it's the vice president or the president or someone that's very close to them, where there's people in harm's way.

[09:05:00]

Listen, any time that there's someone in harm's way, we have an obligation to let people know, to contact-trace. We have done that.

TAPPER: Chris Christie says you didn't do that with him.

MEADOWS: We did that in -- in this particular -- well, in -- in that -- in that vein, when you look at Chris Christie, it's within 48 hours of symptoms. And when we looked at the president, there was not a contact...

TAPPER: Yes.

MEADOWS: ... within 48 hours of the president, where he would qualify under CDC guidelines.

We actually have a CDC person in the...

TAPPER: So, Mark...

MEADOWS: Hold on, Jake.

We have got a person, a CDC person, embedded here in the White House that helps us with contact tracing each and every day.

TAPPER: Right. No, I understand that.

MEADOWS: Yes.

TAPPER: So, Mark, Marc Short has been in close contact with Vice President Pence.

MEADOWS: Right. That's correct.

TAPPER: I mean, they are always with each other.

Short is now positive for the virus.

MEADOWS: That's correct.

TAPPER: So, CDC guidelines say that Vice President Pence should quarantine for 14 days.

Now, I understand the White House is trying to get around that by saying the vice president is an essential worker.

But, Mark, how is going all over the country, how is that -- campaigning -- how is that essential work? It's not like he's helping to contain the virus, in fact, the opposite. He's holding rallies that could be spreading the virus.

MEADOWS: Well, actually, he's not just campaigning. He's working.

We saw a Middle East peace agreement with Sudan in the Oval Office that the president engaged in. And for anybody to suggest that the president has been out campaigning and not getting things done, all you have to do is look at the facts. So...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: He was at a campaign rally in Tallahassee. He was just in a campaign rally in Tallahassee.

MEADOWS: That's -- I'm not saying he's not campaigning. I'm saying that that is only part of what he's doing. And, as we look at that, essential personnel, whether it's the vice

president of the United States or anyone else, has to continue on.

TAPPER: But he's not following CDC guidelines.

MEADOWS: Jake, Jake -- well, no, Jake, CDC guidelines does say essential personnel, if they will mask up.

TAPPER: Yes, if they wear a mask, if they wear a mask.

MEADOWS: And -- and I spoke to the vice president last night at midnight.

And I can tell you that what he's doing is wearing a mask, socially distancing. And when he goes up to speak, he will take the mask off, put it back on.

But he -- he's wearing a mask as it relates to this particular thing because the doctors have -- have advised him to do that.

And, so, Jake, when we start to look at this, here's -- here's where we really need to make sure. On your Web site yesterday, Jake...

TAPPER: Yes.

MEADOWS: ... your Web site is talking about, well, now we think the spread is coming from small social groups and family groups.

First, it was large groups. Now it's small groups. Now...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: It's coming from all sorts of places. It's coming from all sorts of places, because the pandemic is out of control.

MEADOWS: That's exactly the point.

So, here's what we have to do. We're not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Why aren't we going to get control of the pandemic?

MEADOWS: Because it is a contagious virus. Just like the flu, it's contagious.

TAPPER: Yes, but why not make efforts to contain it?

MEADOWS: Well, we are making efforts to contain it. And that's...

TAPPER: By running all over the country not wearing a mask? That's what the vice president is doing.

MEADOWS: Jake, we can -- we can get into the back -- back-and-forth. Let me just say this, is, what we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it's therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don't die from this.

But to suggest that we're going to actually quarantine all of America, lock down our...

TAPPER: I never said -- no one -- no one is saying that.

MEADOWS: Well, they are. Joe Biden is saying that.

TAPPER: That's not what he said.

MEADOWS: He says, lock everybody down. We're going to have -- we're going to have a dark...

TAPPER: He's not saying -- he's not saying that.

MEADOWS: We're going to have a dark winter. We're going to have a dark winter.

TAPPER: That's what health officials say. That's what health officials say, that it's going to get worse.

MEADOWS: No, what -- no, no, that's Joe Biden's...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We had the two worst days in terms of new infections Friday and Saturday, the two worst days.

(CROSSTALK)

MEADOWS: Jake, let's be honest here.

The health officials did not say dark winter. Those were Joe Biden's words. When we look at the...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: He was quoting a health official. I think he was quoting William Haseltine.

MEADOWS: Well, when we look -- when we look at the number of cases increasing, what we have to do is make sure that we fight it with therapeutics and vaccines, take proper mitigation factors, in terms of social distancing and masks when we can.

And when we -- when we look at this, what we're -- we're going to defeat it, Jake, because what we are, we're Americans. We do that. And this president is leading, while Joe Biden is sitting there suggesting that we're going to mandate masks.

TAPPER: Mark, the president -- the president is holding rallies all over the country.

MEADOWS: That's correct. That's correct. In fact, we're leaving...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: No masks required, no distancing.

MEADOWS: We -- we...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: There have already been, according to health officials' contact tracing, there have already been cases of individuals in Minnesota and in Washington, D.C., and in Oklahoma that got the virus at these Trump rallies that Dr. Fauci himself called a super-spreader event, the one at the White House.

MEADOWS: Well, there's also been contact tracing, Jake -- there's...

TAPPER: That is not leading. That is not leading.

MEADOWS: There's all been -- also been contact tracing from reporters, some with your own group, where they actually have worn masks religiously.

And so what I'm here to tell you is, is, we need to find the vaccines and the therapeutics to actually give Americans the relief that this is not a death sentence...

TAPPER: Mark.

MEADOWS: ... because it's not.

And yet, at the same time, to suggest that any of that is -- is not accurate is -- is just not based on the facts.

TAPPER: Here's the bottom line. Here's the bottom line.

MEADOWS: Yes. Yes.

TAPPER: We know, according to health officials, that masks are the best thing people can do in terms of trying to prevent the virus from spreading, period.

[09:10:05]

MEADOWS: Yes.

TAPPER: That's what they say.

MEADOWS: Right.

TAPPER: Until the vaccine and Operation Warp Speed, until that all works out...

MEADOWS: OK.

TAPPER: ... the best thing to do are masks. MEADOWS: Yes.

TAPPER: That's from Dr. Redfield. It's from Dr. Fauci. It's from Dr. Birx. It's from everybody.

MEADOWS: Yes.

TAPPER: OK?

Vice President Pence is the head of the Coronavirus Task Force. He has been exposed to somebody who tested positive.

MEADOWS: Right.

TAPPER: The CDC guidelines say he should quarantine.

Now, you're trying to say his running all over the country, meeting voters, campaigning, is an essential worker business. I don't think it is. But OK, if you do that, why is he not wearing a mask?

We have -- I haven't seen any pictures of him on the tarmac or anywhere wearing a mask.

And should the American people follow the CDC guidelines, or should they not? Because the vice president is not.

MEADOWS: Well, I -- I can tell you he is wearing a mask. He will be wearing a mask today, as we have this. Obviously, when you have an exposure, you have to take additional mitigation factors to do that.

But the other part of that, Jake, is this, is -- is even those experts that you talked about, when we talk about masks, I said, well, if masks is the answer and mandating masks is the answer, can't we put all our students back in schools? If we just mandate masks and make sure the teachers wear masks, will...

TAPPER: Should Americans follow CDC guidelines?

MEADOWS: ... will -- will they be safe? And the answer was no.

TAPPER: Should Americans follow CDC guidelines?

MEADOWS: And so -- so, certainly -- certainly, American should follow CDC guidelines.

TAPPER: They should?

MEADOWS: And when we -- when we look at that, when we look at that...

TAPPER: Does that include the president?

MEADOWS: That includes the president, and it includes everyone.

But there are special -- special...

TAPPER: Well, then why don't your supporters wear masks at rallies? MEADOWS: Well, you're asking about the supporters vs. the president.

So -- and so...

TAPPER: Well, why don't you require -- why don't you require supporters to wear masks at rallies?

MEADOWS: Well, we -- we don't mandate masks because -- here's the other thing is, we offer them out.

We live in a free society, Jake. And -- and when you look at that, under -- under a Joe Biden's America, he would lock everything down. He would make sure...

TAPPER: That's not -- that's not true.

MEADOWS: No. Well, how do you know that? Have you asked him that question? Ask him that question, Jake. How is he going to fix it?

TAPPER: Because I have seen a million interviews -- I have seen a million interviews with him.

We're not talking about a hypothetical...

MEADOWS: No, he doesn't do many -- no.

No, you are talking about hypotheticals.

TAPPER: I have interviewed Biden more than I have interviewed Trump, OK? I will put it that way.

MEADOWS: I get that.

Well, because, from a standpoint...

TAPPER: We don't have to get into that.

MEADOWS: We can get into that.

In terms of interviews, I think most journalists would agree, Joe Biden has largely been unavailable. He's hoping to run out the clock...

TAPPER: All right.

MEADOWS: ... so that the American people will not know.

TAPPER: So, America -- the American people should abide by CDC guidelines?

But you are not even asking your supporters to wear masks, even though...

MEADOWS: We pass them out, Jake. I mean, have you been to...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Do you know how many people in Minnesota have gotten the virus because of Trump rallies?

MEADOWS: Have you been to a rally? You come on with us to a rally, and we will -- we will show you. We give out masks.

TAPPER: They don't wear them.

MEADOWS: Well, it's a free society.

You're not wearing one right now, Jake.

TAPPER: There's literally nobody in this room. There is literally not one person in the studio.

MEADOWS: Yes, and so -- so, you're saying that you always wear a mask wherever you go?

Come on, Jake. The American people know that's not true. I know it's not true.

TAPPER: I wear a mask when -- except when I'm in here, in my office, and home. That is true, 100 percent.

MEADOWS: Yes, but...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I wear a mask when I walk in the hallway at CNN, OK?

MEADOWS: But under -- under your article just yesterday, you're suggesting that Thanksgiving is going to be a super-spreader event.

TAPPER: I don't even know what article you're talking about.

MEADOWS: Yes, well, it's on the CNN Web site. They can all go look at it.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question.

MEADOWS: Yes.

TAPPER: So, just yesterday, President Trump said -- quote -- "We're rounding the corner. It's going away."

MEADOWS: Yes.

TAPPER: Mark, it's not even going away in the White House.

But, beyond that, the U.S. reported 83,000 new cases on Friday and Saturday.

MEADOWS: Right.

TAPPER: That's the two highest days of the entire pandemic so far for new cases.

And it's not just new cases. The positivity rate is going up. Hospitalizations are going up. Deaths are starting to tick up.

For any American...

MEADOWS: But let...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Let me just ask you a question. I have a question here.

MEADOWS: OK. Well, get to the question. Get to the question, Jake.

TAPPER: For any American at home -- for any American at home under the false impression that the pandemic is almost over, would you agree that this remains very serious, the numbers are going in the wrong direction, and people still need to take precaution?

MEADOWS: Well, I agree that it's very serious.

But here's the interesting thing is, we continue to test more and more, more than most other countries. So, the cases that we find will go up. If you're not testing, you're not finding it. So, a lot of these other countries, they're not testing near at the rate that we're testing at, Jake.

And yet...

TAPPER: So, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

MEADOWS: Hold on. Let me finish. You asked a question.

TAPPER: Let me just add some clarity here.

Testing is up -- I am, but I just want to bring some clarity. It is true that, the more you test, the more people you will see.

But testing has gone up 16 percent in the last month.

MEADOWS: Right.

TAPPER: Coronavirus cases are up 55 percent.

So, this is not just about new tests.

MEADOWS: Well...

TAPPER: This is about the positivity rate. And the pandemic is spreading, the virus is spreading, as a factual matter.

MEADOWS: As a factual matter, if you look at the number of tests vs. the number of cases in the last couple of weeks, where you're talking about all these upticks, there is a correlation to additional testing.

I will be glad to go over -- and, someday, when we're...

TAPPER: Some of it, sure.

MEADOWS: OK.

And so, in doing that, I mean, what's the point? What is Joe Biden's plan for the pandemic? How is he going to do it? He's going to wear two masks, like he does every day, and suggest that we skip Thanksgiving?

[09:15:07]

TAPPER: He gave a whole speech about it. And if you're interested in his plan, you can read his plan. I...

MEADOWS: No, I know, a whole speech.

No, no, he doesn't have a plan. He has rhetoric, because you and I both know, for 47 years, he's talked about things, and not done things. You have covered him. I know him. And the American people should know his record.

TAPPER: OK.

I'm asking about what's going on right now, what -- not what, theoretically, Joe Biden would or would not do. He had a whole plan that he outlined on Friday, and I'm sure it's on his Web site, if you want to know.

President Trump was asked this week, if he could do it all over again, if he could take a mulligan, what would he do differently on the virus? He said, "Not much."

Now, a Columbia University study just out says at least 130,000 deaths and up to 210,000 deaths could have been prevented -- quote -- "with earlier policy interventions and more robust federal communication, coordination, and leadership."

MEADOWS: Yes.

TAPPER: And we know the president publicly dismissed concerns about the virus early on. He undermined messages on masks. He continues to do so. He promoted untested treatments. He holds rallies that lead to more infections.

Isn't what is most concerning about the president saying he wouldn't do much differently is that suggests he really hasn't learned anything, if he really thinks he wouldn't do anything differently?

MEADOWS: Listen, we -- we -- some of those different positions on masks actually came from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx and the people you like to tout.

I mean, I can tell you, early on, what was happening is, we were learning about this virus. And we continue to learn about this virus. And where we are today is much better than where we were nine months ago. When it comes to all the things that we have been able to do in record speed, whether it was PPE, whether it was closing down our borders, whether it was creating ventilators, whether it was actually mobilizing for hospitalization, or whether it was actually providing for therapeutics and vaccines in record times, this president has done that all.

That's what you want a leader to do. And to suggest that because of a virus that came here from a foreign country is -- is the whole reason for this pandemic, and to ignore that, Jake, is ignoring the very people that we need to hold accountable. And it's the Chinese.

TAPPER: I'm not ignoring it. And I agree China should be held accountable.

But we're talking about how the president handled it. I have -- go ahead and -- China and the Chinese government were not up front about this.

MEADOWS: Well, we found something that we can agree upon. We found something that we can agree.

TAPPER: Yes, I agree with you on that.

MEADOWS: OK.

TAPPER: I want -- let's turn to coronavirus relief negotiations...

MEADOWS: Sure.

TAPPER: ... because, obviously, millions of Americans are hoping for some relief, some compromise.

If you reach a compromise, Senator McConnell says he will bring any deal that you reach to the floor for a vote.

Do you have a guarantee of that, and do you have a commitment from the Democrats and 13 Republicans that you will need to pass it? Have you identified 13 Senate Republicans who would be on board?

MEADOWS: Well, we don't even have the bill yet, because Nancy Pelosi -- and she's coming up -- I know she can speak to this.

But we have continued to make offer after offer after offer. And Nancy continues to move the goalposts. And, as you know, we're up to $1.9 trillion. I personally have talked to the leader multiple times. I have talked to senators multiple times.

And, at the end of the day, it was the Democrats just last week who said that they weren't going to support a $500 billion deal. So, they said no to some relief coming to Americans.

TAPPER: But you guys are up to $1.9 trillion.

MEADOWS: Yes, $1.9 trillion, that's correct. TAPPER: And I'm just asking, have you identified -- have you identified the -- like, obviously, when the deal happens -- we're all optimistic that Mnuchin and Pelosi are going to be able to come up with a compromise.

Have you identified -- do you have a commitment from McConnell that he will bring the bill to the floor? And have you identified the Republicans that you want to vote for it, and have you gotten commitment that they will?

MEADOWS: Well -- well, obviously, we have identified those Senate Republicans most likely to vote for it.

TAPPER: OK.

MEADOWS: But we're not Nancy Pelosi. We're not going to vote or opine on a bill and pass it before we have read it.

And so we need to make sure that we actually read the bill. We haven't gotten an agreement.

I do have a commitment from Leader McConnell that, if we get an agreement, he's willing to bring it to the floor and get it passed.

But the Democrats -- again, I want to stress this. Senate Democrats had the opportunity to send relief to the American people this last week, and they didn't do it.

TAPPER: OK.

MEADOWS: That should be a headline, Jake.

TAPPER: Mark, I'm being told that we're getting the hook from your team over there at the White House.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Just one last question.

MEADOWS: I don't know if it's from here. Go ahead.

TAPPER: But -- it's not on my end. I will have you for the hour.

Just a quick question. Is the vice president going to be tested every day for coronavirus, just for safety's sake, to be sure he doesn't get it?

MEADOWS: Yes, we -- we don't get into safety protocols. But we do test on a regular basis. I get tested every day. I can speak to my testing.

I would assume that the president -- the vice president and the president are in protocols that are very close to that, yes, sir.

TAPPER: OK. I do think the public has a right to know, because he has been exposed. We obviously wish the best for Mr. Short and everybody else in the

vice president's orbit.

MEADOWS: I do too, yes.

TAPPER: And, obviously, Mark, we hope you stay safe as well.

Thank you so much for your time.

MEADOWS: Thanks. I appreciate it. Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: You just heard the White House position on a relief package for struggling Americans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join me to respond next.

Plus, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary very strongly, so what concerns might she have about nominee Joe Biden? I will ask her.

[09:20:01]

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

The U.S. Senate appears set to make Judge Amy Coney Barrett a U.S. Supreme Court justice as soon as tomorrow, while hope is dwindling for Congress to pass any legislation to help Americans struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic before Election Day.

Joining me now, one of the chief negotiators of a potential deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker Pelosi, I will get to the relief bill in a second, but I just want to get your reaction to what you just heard from White House Chief of Staff Meadows about the outbreak among Vice President Pence's inner circle.

PELOSI: Well, I join you in wishing them well and safety.

And pay attention to the reality of how this -- how this spreads. I'm very sorry that it's reached so close to the vice president. And I hope that he will keep -- he and Karen, his wife, will keep their distance from those who are infected. It's really sad.

[09:25:13]

Now, look, they have all of the protections in the world, all of the anticipation of how this could spread, all the prevention from it and the rest, and yet they're susceptible.

Just think of America's working families, especially America's essential workers, how susceptible they are to this virus. And that's really, really a part of our discussion on the coronavirus negotiations.

TAPPER: Yes.

And let's talk about that. You said a few days ago that -- quote -- "We'd have to have our legislation all written by the end of the week" to get it passed by Election Day.

PELOSI: Right.

TAPPER: That was last week. You still have not reached a deal.

Is it fair to say that a coronavirus relief package is not going to be signed into law before Election Day; there just isn't the time to do it?

PELOSI: Well, you know, I will never give up hope. I'm optimistic. We put pen to paper and had been writing the bill, based on what we hope will be the outcome, what they said they would get back to us on.

Here's the thing. For us to do anything -- I want to just say to our friends out there who are suffering -- and the country is suffering. Working families are suffering, millions more into poverty. In the month of September, nearly 900,000 women left the work force. So, we have to act.

To do anything, though, that does not crush the virus is really official malfeasance. And to crush the virus, we just have to follow the science, testing, tracing, treatment, mask-wearing, ventilation, separation, and the rest.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: And that is what Vice President Biden has put forth.

TAPPER: So...

PELOSI: We have it in our bill. They said they're going to get back -- last week, you remember, they said, we will support the testing language with minor touch. Well, that was 55 percent of the language.

We're still waiting for the final OK. And that is a central issue in all of this. We cannot just say, President, here's trillions of dollars, spend it any way you want.

TAPPER: Right. Right.

PELOSI: We have a plan, a strategic plan.

TAPPER: Speaker Pelosi, when is the drop-dead deadline when a deal cannot happen before Election Day?

Because, as you know, millions of Americans are suffering.

PELOSI: Yes.

TAPPER: They -- they are eight million more in poverty. PELOSI: That's right.

TAPPER: All those women that dropped out of the work force, presumably, I would think, a lot of them probably dropped out because their kids are doing remote education, and they have to be home with their children. Thus, they're giving up paychecks. They need help.

When's the drop-dead deadline for them to get this help?

PELOSI: Well, I do think -- as I say, we're ready. We can change some words in the bill, should they come back with some modifications.

But you mentioned schools. Schools are -- children should be safe in schools. We can make that happen across the country. It only takes more money. And that is for separation, for ventilation, for technology, for more teachers and the rest, children learning, parents earning.

TAPPER: Yes.

PELOSI: So it is related to the separation that we say in our health piece, but the education piece is another policy piece where we have some disagreement.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: Otherwise, we can negotiate the rest of it.

TAPPER: So, we know that the White House has moved closer to your position on lots of issues, coronavirus testing, contact tracing strategy, unemployment benefits, local government -- local government...

PELOSI: No, no. Excuse me. They haven't yet.

TAPPER: They haven't?

PELOSI: That's what we're waiting for.

We're waiting for the final yes.

TAPPER: Well, they -- so, they said they would.

PELOSI: But they haven't yet.

TAPPER: And you're waiting to see it on paper.

PELOSI: They haven't yet.

And also same thing, they keep moving the goalposts. They -- every time they say we move the goalposts, that means they're projecting what they did.

But let's just -- let's be hopeful. We're nine days before an election.

TAPPER: Yes.

PELOSI: We're trying to unify the country.

And one way to do it is to come together to crush the virus, so that we can open our economy, open our schools, feed our people, 17 million children food-insecure in our country.

TAPPER: Right. I...

PELOSI: But, again, the answer is, crush the virus.

TAPPER: So, I get that.

But it just seems like they keep moving closer and closer.

PELOSI: They don't.

TAPPER: I get that you're waiting for it on paper. But it just seems like, you're winning. I mean, that's what it seems like to me.

I'm looking at all the things that the White House is moving forward to your position on. And it seems like you could take yes for an answer.

PELOSI: Well, as soon as they say, this is it.

We -- in our negotiations, yes, that is the case. But then they take it back. And when they come back, it isn't always -- it isn't what we anticipated.

So, I'm hoping, tomorrow, Monday, the secretary -- I -- I sent over on Friday the list of the concerns that we still had about, what are -- what is the answer? What is the answer? What is the answer?

And my understanding is, he will be reviewing that over the weekend, and we will have some answers on Monday.

TAPPER: So, more than 23 million Americans are on unemployment benefits right now, as you know.

PELOSI: Yes.

TAPPER: One study shows the poverty rate is higher now than it's been in the whole pandemic.

[09:30:00]

PELOSI: Exactly.

TAPPER: Three Democratic governors in the Midwest, Whitmer of Michigan, Evers of Wisconsin, and Walz of Minnesota, three Democratic governors wrote to you, President Trump, and other congressional leaders saying, among other things -- quote -- "We implore you to put differences aside and agree to another much needed COVID-19 relief bill."

PELOSI: Right.

TAPPER: In addition, one of your own members, Congressman Max Rose, said this week that the Democratic Party needs to learn, to a certain extent, how to declare victory and go home.

You're getting a lot of messages from Democrats saying: This is good enough. We need to say yes.

PELOSI: Welcome to my world. That is not a lot of messages, although I respect each and every one of them.

The fact is, if we don't agree to the science to crush the virus, if they did what is in our bill that science dictates that we do, then, if we do that, we can lower the incidence of the virus in certain areas, open schools, open businesses and the rest.

If we don't, we're just giving money to the president to spend any way he wants. And that has not been in furtherance of crushing the virus. So, again, in terms of -- we all want an agreement. Nobody wants it more than the House Democrats. We represent these people.

We have been fighting for food for the hungry...

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: ... rent assistance for those who may be evicted.

But, most importantly, we really have to stop the spread of the virus.

TAPPER: So...

PELOSI: And it's, what, nine months later.

TAPPER: Yes, no, I hear you.

PELOSI: ... and they still will -- have refused to honor science with the solutions.

And then, of course, we're praying for the vaccine, and, hopefully, that will be soon.

TAPPER: Yes.

PELOSI: But many more people will die in the meantime.

TAPPER: If the Democrats win the White House and the Senate and keep the House, are you going to hold out until Democrats have control of everything, and you can get a bill more to your liking, or are you still going to go ahead with working with the president and Mitch McConnell, et cetera?

PELOSI: That latter, for sure. I mean, people need help right away.

What I say to them, though, what we are doing right now is to make the bill bigger, better and safer for you. And the benefits will be retroactive.

But, no, we want it the sooner, the better. And that's why we are making concessions. We're making concessions too, you know, And so, no, no, the sooner, the better.

TAPPER: Yes.

PELOSI: And Mitch has even -- the leader has even said, keep working. And he doesn't want to do it before the election.

We want to do it as soon as possible. I thought the president did too. And that was part of the leverage that each side had, that we both wanted an agreement. Why would we even be talking to each other if we didn't believe that we could reach an agreement?

So, again, it could happen...

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: ... this week in the House. But that's up to Mitch as to whether it would happen in the Senate and go to the president's desk, which is our hope and prayer.

TAPPER: So, take a listen to a prediction from President Trump about the House of Representatives.

This was in the final presidential debate Thursday.

PELOSI: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we're going to win the House, OK? You'll see, but I think we're going to win the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What's your response?

PELOSI: You keep thinking that, Mr. President. You just keep on thinking that.

Just another example of his delusional statements he made there. He said that we're on the decline with the virus, that...

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: Cleanest air, cleanest water...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: If Democrats keep the House -- if Democrats keep the House, are you going to run for another term as speaker?

PELOSI: Yes, I am. But let me also say, we have to win the Senate. So, all this discussion of the virus takes us to the importance of the

this election. Vote your health. You see this -- we have a witness -- a nominee for the Supreme Court who would not say, when Dianne Feinstein, Senator Feinstein asked her, do you believe that Medicare is constitutional, she said she couldn't say.

TAPPER: Yes, she...

PELOSI: What do you think about climate change? Well, I'm not a scientist, and there's some disagreement there.

TAPPER: Yes.

PELOSI: So, this is a very important election.

And this nomination makes the election even more important for people's health, for clean air, clean -- the health of our planet, the health of our people, most importantly.

TAPPER: Yes.

PELOSI: And you see people voting their well-being.

And, again, we are -- in this bill, we're trying to get money to help protect the physical...

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: ... the critical infrastructure of our elections, as you see threatened from abroad, as well as to honor people...

TAPPER: Yes.

PELOSI: ... by not making them stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote. Republicans say no to that.

TAPPER: OK.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for coming today. We really appreciate it.

PELOSI: A pleasure.

TAPPER: Coming up, we...

PELOSI: Take care. Be safe.

TAPPER: I will. I have my mask right here.

We thought about doing my next interview over a video game, but, frankly, I don't like losing in front of my kids, and I had no idea what Twitch even was.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will join me on getting out the youth vote next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:37:57]

TAPPER: Welcome back the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Nine days until Election Day, and more than 50 million Americans have already cast their votes.

My next guest is trying to make sure young people join that number. And she's taking a novel approach to getting it done.

Joining me now, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Congresswoman, thanks so much.

I don't know if you were listening to Meadows and Pelosi talking about the stimulus, the relief bill. You have warned of a -- quote -- "mass eviction crisis" in your New York district if a relief package isn't approved as soon as possible.

Do you think it's time for Democrats to declare victory and get this passed now, so your constituents can get the help they desperately need right now?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Yes. Yes, I do think passing a stimulus is incredibly important. There are people that are in a lot of pain.

But, frankly, I think the thing that's important is that the Republican side really needs to get their act together.

When we hear one thing about an offer from the White House, you also hear Mitch McConnell saying that he doesn't have the votes for it internally. And so, while they're trying to present this united message of kind of having all their ducks in a row, the fact of the matter is, they can't even get their own senators to agree to a pack -- to their own package.

And so, really, a lot of this package is going to rely on Democratic votes. It's going to require delivering every Democratic vote in the Senate and peeling off Republican votes to agree to it.

So, we really need folks to make sure that we're getting state and local funding, that people can get a second stimulus check without giving up their protections in their workplace.

TAPPER: Let's turn to climate change, which is an issue of tremendous importance, especially to you.

You introduced a bill earlier this year that would ban all fracking nationwide within the next five years. To be completely candid, Vice President Biden's position on the issue of fracking has been confusing.

During the primary, he sounded supportive of a ban. On Saturday, he told voters in Pennsylvania -- quote -- "I'm not banning fracking, period."

It sounds like now he's on the other side of this issue from you. Does it bother you?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, it does not bother me.

[09:40:00]

I believe -- and I have a very strong position on fracking. The science is very clear. The methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions at trapping heat in the air. And just from a perspective of stopping climate change, there is a scientific consensus.

However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with a fracking ban. And I consider that -- you know, it will be a privilege to lobby him...

(LAUGHTER)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: ... should we win the White House.

But we need to focus on winning the White House first. And I'm happy to make my case. But I also understand that he is in disagreement on that issue.

TAPPER: Do you worry that his opposition to a fracking ban is going to hurt young voter turnout?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I believe that young people right now have a very disciplined, activist mind-set.

And they are not here with the intent of voting for their favorite person or voting for someone that they think is perfect as president. I think young people are actually quite disciplined and quite realistic and pragmatic in their vote, and they want to vote for who they are going to lobby.

They're -- right, now young people are so clear on their stances on many political issues, that they believe that they want to vote for a president that is at least going to be receptive to their advocacy, activism and protest, frankly.

And so there is no question that Joe Biden is a much better person in that position to be receptive and actually listen to the voices of advocates than Donald Trump, who is intensely focused on enriching himself and his friends.

TAPPER: So, last year, Biden told Democratic voters he would eliminate fossil fuels as president.

But listen to what he told reporters after Thursday night's debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We're not getting rid of fossil fuels. We're getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels. But we're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: "We're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time."

You were a member of Biden's climate change task force. Is that good enough for you?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, when he says, we're eliminating subsidies, I think that that is, frankly, an important first step.

There's a lot of folks, with all of -- there's a lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure that they get as much government subsidy and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible.

And the fact of the matter is, is that, if you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day, and, in many areas, they are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels.

So, when you eliminate government subsidies, they -- it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. And so I think, while -- again, while the vice president wants to make sure that he's not doing it by a government mandate or regulation, I do believe that we are moving towards that future.

Again, I believe that there is a way and that we should push that process along. But, again, the vice president and I's disagreements are, I believe, recorded. And that's quite all right.

TAPPER: At the first presidential debate, Biden said -- quote -- "I am the Democratic Party right now." He said the party's platform is his platform.

As you just noted, you disagree with him on a range of critical issues, not just fracking, but also health care. And you have made clear, including just a few minutes ago, that you intend to push him if he wins

Do you think that that's going to be a major part of your role under a potential Biden administration, trying to push him to the left?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I don't want us to start counting our chickens before they hatch.

I believe that we need to be focused on winning the White House, period. The fact of the matter is, there are many critical states that are on the line, whether it's Florida, whether it's Georgia, Pennsylvania, et cetera. And we need to make sure that we win this White House.

Frankly, I think it would be a privilege and it would be a luxury for us to be talking about what we would lobby the next Democratic -- and how we will push the next Democratic administration. But, in terms of my role, I believe that that has been my role. And my

role is consistent, in making sure that we push the Democratic Party to have a larger vision for our future, to listen to the needs of the working class, of people who are living paycheck to paycheck, young people, people of color, because I believe that is the base of the Democratic Party, and that who -- that is who we are, that it is our job to make sure that we are serving all people in the United States, and particularly our base.

And, so, is my job to push the Democratic Party? Absolutely. And that has been my job since and that has been a part of my role since I have been elected.

TAPPER: It has.

I -- OK, understanding your reluctance to count chickens before they're hatched -- and you're right. It remains a competitive election, and, absolutely, President Trump could be reelected. There's no question about that.

[09:45:03]

So, that said, Politico is reporting that Senator Bernie Sanders, who you endorsed for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders has expressed an interest in potentially serving as Biden's labor secretary, if Biden wins the White House.

How crucial is it to the progressive movement that Biden's -- Biden offers an important position to Bernie Sanders in a Biden Cabinet, should that happen, should Biden win?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, what I think is extremely important, and what I think what a lot of people kind of misunderstand about the progressive movement is that it wasn't a slogan when Bernie ran on saying, not me, us.

And so it's not just about what -- where Bernie Sanders is next term or what role that Senator Sanders is playing. But it's really about who the Biden administration is choosing to lead agencies across the board.

And I am not familiar personally with any of Senator Sanders' requests or non-requests. I do not know personally about the veracity of this.

But I believe that it's critically important that the Biden administration appoint progressive leaders, whether it's in labor, whether it's in the Treasury, whether it's secretary of education, et cetera, because the fact of the matter is, is that this isn't just about the progressive movement. This is about making sure that we're not just going back to how things were and rewinding the tape before the Trump administration.

But this is about making sure how -- how are we going to not just make up for lost time, but leap into the future and actually ensure that we are making the investments and policy decisions that will create an advanced American society? And, frankly, conservative appointments will not get us there.

TAPPER: Do you think the Obama presidency was not a progressive presidency?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: No, I think President Obama did everything he could, with the limitations of a Republican Senate, and, frankly, a Republican-controlled Congress with much of his term.

But I think, that being said, there were, of course, progressive demands that were -- or -- and progressive wishes that weren't exactly met. But that wasn't solely due to President Obama. We desperately wanted even to settle for a public option during that time. And it, frankly, wasn't President Obama's fault that that didn't happen.

I do believe that there are certain areas, like foreign policy, where there was much to be desired. And I don't believe that, for example, in certain areas, like progressive policy, there wasn't necessarily -- it wasn't as progressive as perhaps many folks in this country would have liked.

But, if we have an opportunity, if we work hard enough to elect folks like Jaime Harrison, to make sure that we protect seats like Gary Peters', and to make sure that we unseat Republicans like Joni Ernst, and we have -- and we have the unique, frankly, once-in-a-generation opportunity to have the White House, the Senate and the House majorities Democratically-controlled, then I believe we have an obligation to the American people to show what a Democratic administration can actually accomplish...

TAPPER: Yes.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: ... accomplish, and that we can govern, and that we can truly have leaps in policy that people can feel in their everyday lives that makes voting Democratic worth -- not just worthwhile, but a memorable shift from just a flatline of this idea of bipartisanship, which often just becomes Republican manipulation.

TAPPER: You went on Twitch this week and played the video game "Among Us" with popular Internet personalities to encourage young people to vote.

I am obviously not a young voter. I had to ask my children what Twitch is and what "Among Us" is. They, of course, knew all about it.

That video has now more than five million views.

Where did the idea come from? And is it possible to kind of -- to translate this kind of unorthodox, flashy approach to outreach into actual turnout among young voters, who historically do not turn out as much as they could?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes.

Well, I'm -- the idea initially came from, frankly -- you know, I am often on social media, and I have been seeing a lot of people playing "Among Us." Twitch is a platform that I'm familiar with as a livestreaming platform.

And I decided that this was something that I wanted to do, not just for fun, but to actually try in the form of engagement. We do know that Twitch is a very popular engagement platform for other means. People often raise thousands, if not millions of dollars collectively for charities.

We decided to test this out as a voter mobilization strategy. And so, when we actually were able to put on the stream, over -- when you add up the collective streams, over a half-million people were watching live. As you noted, five million people have viewed since.

[09:50:03]

And it actually has been effective. We were directing voters to IWillVote.com, which helps young people not just register to vote, but develop a voter plan.

And the thing about voter plans is that we do know, scientifically and from behavioral studies, that people who make a plan to vote are statistically much more likely to vote than just registering to vote.

And what we found during the livestream is that folks from the DNC were tweeting and reporting that we were the highest driver to IWillVote.com ever during the cast of a livestream.

And we are seeing early returns in places like Florida, where youth turnout is -- in early voting is astronomically higher...

TAPPER: Yes.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: ... than it was than even in 2016.

And so we do know that young people are starting to become an extraordinarily powerful electorate that are issues-focused. Whether it is March for Our Lives on gun safety...

TAPPER: Right.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: ... or whether it is the Sunrise Movement mobilizing on climate change, they're having impacts on the election.

TAPPER: So...

OCASIO-CORTEZ: You could just see, in Senator Markey's reelection, the role that they played.

TAPPER: It is interesting watching you drag your party into the 21st century.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Last question for you.

If Speaker Pelosi runs again, as she just indicated she will if the Democrats keep the House, will you support her? ' OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, again, I want to make sure that we win the House. I do believe that we will.

But it's critically important that we are -- that we are supporting Democrats in tight swing races, making sure that not only all of them come back, but that we grow our majority.

I believe that we have to see those races as they come, see what candidates are there. I am committed to making sure that we have the most progressive candidate there.

But if Speaker Pelosi is that most progressive candidate, then I will be supporting her.

TAPPER: OK. Interesting.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman from New York, thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you.

TAPPER: More than 224,000 people in the U.S. have died of coronavirus, but President Trump says he would not change much about the way he responded. I can think of a few things he could consider. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: This morning in the United States there are more than eight and a half million cases of coronavirus and more than 224,000 deaths. But I want to take you back eight months ago to the day, to February 25th.

As the American people woke up that morning, there were zero known deaths due to coronavirus, and only 57 confirmed cases in the U.S., mostly from a cruise ship. And that morning a highly respected official with the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, who had been there since 1995, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, in a press briefing told the American people the truth about how bad this pandemic could get.

[09:55:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. NANCY MESSONNIER, DIRECTOR NATIONAL CENTER FOR IMMUNIZATION AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES: Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country. It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The American people needed to prepare, Dr. Messonnier said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. MESSONNIER: I had a conversation with my family over breakfast this morning and I told my children that, while I didn't think they were at risk right now, we, as a family, need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives. You should ask your children's school about their plans for school dismissals or school closures, ask if there are plans for tele-school. I contacted my local school superintendent this morning with exactly those questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Eight months ago today, February 25th. Now, President Donald Trump, upon hearing of Dr. Messonnier's warning, was, quote, furious The Wall Street Journal later reported. Flying back to Washington, D.C., from India, President Trump phoned Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and, quote, threatened to oust Dr. Messonnier.

The next day the president was asked about Dr. Messonnier's warning that the virus would spread in the U.S. and he downplayed the threat and lied to the American people about government preparedness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't think it's inevitable. It probably will, it possibly will. It could be at a very small level or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens, we're totally prepared. We have the best people in the world. You see that from the study. We have the best prepared people, the best people in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: President Trump was wrong. Dr. Messonnier was right. Regardless an official at HHS told Messonnier to lay low, sources tell me. Vice President Mike Pence's office towed the CDC to basically stop briefings all together, that the White House briefings would be the only ones.

In May, Dr. Messonnier wanted to brief the public about the alarming trend seen January through March of Americans not getting vaccines, but she did not get proper clearance to do so.

The public has not heard from Dr. Messonnier since March. She has not even tweeted since then. To this day, as much as Dr. Messonnier loves communicating with health care providers and the public, sources tell me she does not want to do it anymore because to do so would put her and the important work of the CDC in jeopardy.

A Columbia University study released this week looked at the question, what if the Trump administration had done things right from the very beginning? What if they had taken all the actions public health experts were cautioning them to do? The study concluded that anywhere between 130,000 and 210,000 American lives could have been saved.

But here is President Trump this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC BOLLING, AMERICA THIS WEEK HOST: With COVID, is there anything that you think you could have done differently? If you had a mulligan or a do-over on one aspect of the way you handled it, what would it be?

TRUMP: Not much. Look, it's all over the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Not much, he said. Not much.

But just imagine if eight months ago today if Dr. Messonnier had been encouraged, heeded, amplified instead of silenced. If everyone had started preparing for the worst-case scenario, as she advised, how many Americans might be alive today? How many more will die unnecessarily because President Trump silences and intimidates those who attempt to correct his lies about the pandemic with facts? The facts we all benefit from and we all could have benefitted from if Dr. Messonnier had been supported and not treated as if facts and truth were the actual virus to be isolated.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news continues next.

[10:00:00]