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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Donald Trump Holds Press Conference At The Rose Garden; U.S. Deaths Surpass 136,000 As News COVID-19 Cases Rise In 37 States; CDC Director Says He Mistakenly Believed U.S. Would Get A Break From Coronavirus In July And August; Trump Defends Confederate Flag, Gives Misleading Answer About Police Killings Of Black Americans; Niece To Trump: "Resign". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. With more than 136,000 dead in this country due to the coronavirus pandemic, the President of the United States today stepped into the Rose Garden and tried to turn into one of those political rallies that he can no longer do because of the pandemic.

For the better part of an hour, he railed against China, the Democrats and Joe Biden. He lashed out at the World Health Organization, the Paris Climate Accords, energy saving air conditioners, statue vandals. He went on and on.

The President at times sounding like he was reading a list or a litany. At other moments, he just seemed to free associate. He talked about all the bombers under his command and said quote, "Hope we don't have to use them," and boasted of things he did three years ago with the wall, undocumented immigrants.

All the old applause lines, but there was no applause, only silence because this wasn't some stadium packed full of supporters who'd come to cheer and cheer and bask in the glow of this artificially tan man. His meandering screed was not close to anything one would normally expect or accept of a President, but that shouldn't surprise us; that he chose to do it in the Rose Garden just steps away from the Oval Office. That too should not surprise us either. That's how numb we are.

We listen to this man muse and meander, rant and regurgitate the same tired tropes and untruthful claims. We watch him boast and brag and preen and do that odd thing with his nose when he sucks in air very loudly, and none of it surprises us. That is how far we have fallen.

More than 136,000 of our brothers and sisters, our moms and dads, grandparents and friends are dead. The President did briefly mention them, but only to boast about how many more people would have died, had it not been for his actions. He calls it leadership, but to call it that would be misleading. The largest single peacetime loss of life in this country since the

1918 influenza pandemic and no end in sight, and today, the President was taking another victory lap, yet again.

The graves are still fresh, but this President ignores them. He spreads more falsehoods, and standing apart from so many others opponents and supporters alike, including within his own circle who are now beginning to face reality.

So before we play you some of what he had to say from the biological bunker he lives in where everyone is tested and wears masks to protect him, here are some quick dispatches from the real world that you should hear.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be the probably one of the most difficult times that we've experienced in American public health.

Keeping the healthcare system from being overstretched, I think is really going to be important, and the degree that we're able to do that, I think will define how well we get through the fall and winter.


COOPER: That was CDC Director, Robert Redfield today. Taskforce member Anthony Fauci going even further, saying it could get as bad as the 1918 pandemic.

Tate Reeves, the Governor of Mississippi and a staunch supporter of the President making a full throated plea for mask wearing in his state. Republicans now weighing the idea of holding their convention in Jacksonville, Florida outdoors.

All signs that regardless of where people stand in the political spectrum, they are facing up to the facts, or at least beginning to, and the facts with few exceptions, they continue to be crushing.

Texas reporting a record high of 10,745 new cases. Florida reporting their highest death toll so far. Cases now rising in 37 states.

The President today brushed it off as flames to be put out, other than lives being extinguished, and then got straight to the boasting and the falsehoods.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We saved tens of thousands of lives, but we actually saved millions of lives by closing -- by closing up, we saved millions, potentially millions of lives, could be a number that we're actually working on, but it could be two to three million lives.

And frankly, if we didn't test, you wouldn't have all the headlines because we're showing cases. And we have just about the lowest mortality rate. But if we did -- think of this -- if we didn't do testing, instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing, we would have half the cases. If we did another -- you cut that in half, we would have yet again half of that.

The cases are created because of the fact that we do tremendous testing. We have the best testing in the world.


COOPER: I mean, this is just ludicrous. This is the President of the United States. We have got more than 130,000 people dead in this country, and he just continues this ridiculous lie. It's nonsensical. It defies any belief.

Although, we shouldn't be surprised because this is what he does. It's one of the favorite -- President's favorite lies. It's on heavy rotation these days.

The United States is not the best or close to it in deaths, it's the seventh worst in the world, and testing doesn't cause cases, it discovers them.

And by the way, according to Redfield and others, the cases we know about probably are far under estimating the actual spread of this virus.


COOPER: Testing helps stop the spread. The President also spoke to CBS News tonight. He said the testing is working, quote, "too well." He is probably the only person who thinks that.

He equated the Confederate battle flag with people protesting the disproportionate killing of African-Americans by police. But more on that shortly as well.

But first more on the rally in the Rose Garden from CNN's Jim Acosta.

I mean, Jim, I think I know the answer to this, but I mean, it seems like there's just no one around the President. I mean, Mark Meadows, you know, the Chief of Staff. You know, he is new. He came in, I guess, some people thought maybe there would be some sort of a change.

It seems like his job is really like routing out leakers right now, which seems to be kind of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Is there anyone around the President who, you know, shakes their head when they hear him rambling in the Rose Garden like this?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, Anderson, we are down to Kool-Aid drinkers and next of kin here at the Trump White House. There are no more adults who will level with the President and tell him he can't deliver a rally like rant in the Rose Garden as he did earlier this evening. The reason why that event that took place in the Rose Garden was so

much like a rally is because of the way he just went into the lies, the myths and the truth stretching that he does out on the campaign trail.

You know, one of the reasons why the rallies aren't covered as much anymore is because the President can't be relied upon to tell the truth at those kinds of events and what he essentially did in the White House Rose Garden is transform one of the last places in any presidential administration that is supposed to be sort of removed from politics and plunged it headfirst into a cesspool of just campaign politicking.

And, you know, we heard him check all of the boxes that you would hear checked at a rally. He went off on Hunter Biden. He went off on immigration. At one point, he was making these magical claims that the wall was going to be finished by the end of the year almost completed by the end of the year. That is not true.

And Anderson, as you just illustrated a few moments ago, he continues to lie to the American people about the state of testing and the spikes in coronavirus cases in this country.

He continues to lie to the American people that the reason why we're seeing these spikes in cases is because we're doing more testing.

Well then why is it that the former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who essentially still works for the administration, why did he just put out an op-ed on CNBC yesterday saying that testing remains a very big problem in this country.

And so, no, Anderson, getting to your question. There aren't any adults to rein him in to make sure that he doesn't do what he did in that Rose Garden earlier this evening, and what I think we're left with for the rest of this campaign cycle is the President using the Rose Garden like a rally space.

What we saw tonight was a bait and switch. They told us it was going to be a press conference. The White House put out a press release that said, he is having a press conference in the Rose Garden. He spoke. He went on that rambling tirade for 53 minutes, and then took 10 minutes of questions.

One of those questions from what is essentially a propaganda outlet for the President.

COOPER: What I don't understand is, you know, the President early on, tried to portray this as you know, he was a Wartime Commander-in- Chief, fine. If coronavirus is invasion from outside our shores, attacking America. If that really is what it is, which is what the President early on was saying it was, and that's a fair enough way to look at it.

The idea that in the midst of an attack on America, a President of the United States would, you know, not just continue to make the lies that he does constantly, but spend an hour in the Rose Garden saying this rambling, you know, riff on all his greatest gripes and grievances. He would be relieved of duty if he was a Commander-in-Chief.

I mean, it is really extraordinary if we are under attack. This is what the president of the United States is doing. And you know, if he spent an hour doing it in front of reporters today, it's what he does all day long to the -- you know, as you said, the Kool-Aid drinkers in the next of kin who are the only people who can stand to be around him any longer.

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. And you know, one of the things that he did during this press conference -- so-called press conference, it wasn't a press conference -- was he went back at attacking China and going as you said, one of the greatest hits that he likes to put out there that China is solely responsible for this pandemic in this country and what's been taking place around the world.

As we all recall, and we've been trying to make this clear to the American people from the very beginning of all this, the President has time and again, praised China, praised Xi Jingping, and so on.


ACOSTA: And so, Anderson, I think one of the reasons why this event in the Rose Garden was 53 minutes of rambling incoherence and 10 minutes of questions, is because the President is out of good answers.

And he kind of -- I think, you know, as incoherent as he was, I think he knows what the questions are going to be. But he knows he can't answer them, and so that is why we got a rally in the Rose Garden.

COOPER: But there is no policy. He has no -- there is no plan.


COOPER: I mean, there is no plan. There is no plan for opening schools. There is no plan for improving testing.

ACOSTA: And mostly especially -- exactly. Most especially for --

COOPER Especially for improving testing. There is no plan for the PPE, which we're still freaking talking about PPE four months into this thing. It is just stunning.

ACOSTA: And you have to wonder why he thinks the American people are going to trust him when It comes to putting children back in schools when he has been wrong on so many different occasions since the beginning of all this -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thank you. Digging deeper now in the political and public health fronts. Joining us now, Dr. Peter Hotez, vaccine researcher and Dean of Baylor University's National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston, also CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta; and CNN's senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson.

Dr. Hotez, the President standing in the Rose Garden lying again. I mean, can you believe that a Commander-in-Chief, this is what he is talking about in the midst of, you know, the biggest peacetime deaths of people in this country? It's -- I just -- I talk about it every night and I'm still stunned that we are in this mess with this person at the helm.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, I watched his comments this evening, Anderson and I was speechless.

You know, today we have 40,000 new cases just in the southern states. So that southern swath across from Florida to California. Globally, we have at 200,000 cases. So basically, one fifth of the world's cases, one fourth to one fifth of the world's cases are just in -- our new cases on our southern states.

And the deaths are going up. The hospitalizations are going up. Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed. And we're doing this largely without a Federal response.

There are bits and pieces and F.E.M.A. support, but just fragmented pieces. The states are left to more or less figure it out on our own, and it's only going to get worse. You know, this is 136,000 deaths now, but the deaths are starting to increase. And the projections are about 200,000 deaths by October. And again, no end in sight.

The point is, there's no plan. There's no Federal-led effort to bring this back.

COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, I mean, again, the President claiming testing is working too well. You know, there's not even a question to ask you about it. It's just so ludicrous.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's getting worse, Anderson. That's the thing. I've been getting calls today even saying, look, it's taking too long for us to get test results.

So even for people who are getting testing done, which can take hours of waiting, I mean, this is just the practicality of what it's really like for people right now.

I get these calls all the time, waiting in their cars for hours on end to get tested. And then, you know, Quest Diagnostics, you know, a big test provider said today, it could take seven days to get test results back.

It kind of defeats the purpose, right? I think people realize that by now. You're worried you have the virus. You get tested. It takes seven days. What have you done in those seven days? Have you been out potentially spreading the virus? It makes the problem worse.

So, it's hard to believe. Three months ago, the President came to the CDC and said that anybody who wanted to test could get one -- three months ago, and obviously we're nowhere near that still.

COOPER: Yes, Sanjay, I remember Bill Gates was on our Town Hall, you know, months ago, when the White House was talking about the number of tests they were doing and Bill Gates said the point you just made, which is, you know, it takes a week to get test results. Those are phony tests because they're pointless if it takes a week to get the results and you're out spreading it to who knows who, and there's not enough contact tracers to even figure out where you've been spreading it.

Nia-Malika I mean, again, you know, this is clearly just like campaign style speech, the President, you know, attacking the Vice President Biden multiple times, full of lies about the pandemic.

I guess, at this point, since there is no plan and he doesn't want to get involved with the virus and trying to actually come up with a plan and roll up his sleeves and do stuff because then you'd be held accountable for that. He's just kind of leaning fully into living in his biological bunker, and just going after the same kind of cultural touchstones, the same campaign lines that he has used time and time again.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, and I think doing it in a fairly incoherent listless lazy way.

I mean, that was a rambling speech of 53 minutes and then the 10 minutes of questions. After that, it had no real theme. It had no real lift and had no real purpose other than the President getting out there and again, riffing on sort of the greatest hits, you know, all of the falsehoods he likes to peddle, whether it's about Biden, whether it's about his own record, or whether it's about the COVID crisis that Americans are living with every single day of their lives.


HENDERSON: This is an urgent crisis. The President's plan is that he has no plan. I mean, we keep saying, you know, will there be some sort of coherent Federal response, his response is not to really respond and let sort of the states deal with it and so we see this sort of patchwork effort that's going on now and the resurgence of cases, particularly in some of those southern states, those Republican governors who in some ways wanted to please the President and then followed his lead.

And they find themselves now having to reverse some of those efforts to open up the economies down there. So, this is -- the President, I think this is what we're going to see from this President.

He has no vision, not for this present crisis and doesn't really seem to have a vision for why he should be handed another four years at this point.

COOPER: Yes, and you know, no plan, leave it up to the states and attack what the states are doing. Attack, you know, the basic steps we could all take, wearing a mask, social distancing, that would actually help the states reopen.

That's the role he has chosen to play, which is just -- it's surreal and it's -- I mean, it's deeply harmful to this country.

Sanjay, I want to play something that Admiral Bret Giroir and we call him Admiral, he's not a Navy Admiral. He wears a Navy uniform. He is a member of the public health service. He is the administration or was the administration's so-called testing czar, which I'm not sure is something anybody would want to claim credit for.

But I want to play something that he said this morning.


ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, H.H.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY: We are in a much different place now than we were several months ago. A much better place.

We are not there yet, but we are seeing some early life at the end of this tunnel.


COOPER: And again, you know, for anybody who knows anything about the military, light at the end of the tunnel was a phrase, I believe it was used around 1968-1969 about the Vietnam War. We know how long that went on for. So what is he talking about a light at the end of the tunnel?

GUPTA: I don't know, Anderson. I mean, it's a very long tunnel. I mean, you know, and I hate to say it because I get the need and the desire to be optimistic. But I mean, you've got be real here.

And the numbers, I mean, this is an objective story that we're telling, right, because there's numbers, there's data, and people can look at these numbers themselves.

I mean, you don't have to believe us, but look at what's happening in the ICUs in Florida. You've got 48 ICUs in different counties in the state that are basically either full or near full.

I mean, this is happening in other states where Peter is in Texas and Arizona. In California, the numbers have increased. You've got 1,800 patients in ICUs in California. My parents live in Florida.

I mean, they're legitimately worried right now that the hospitals in their area maybe too full if somebody gets sick. I mean, can you imagine? This is what we were talking about in Northern Italy.

It's an incredible source of frustration, I think, Anderson, not just because of what's happening, but because when you hear people then minimizing it in this way, it makes me worried that people aren't actually going to do anything about it or they're not going to do enough about it.

So I don't know what he is talking about. This is likely sadly, I hate saying it, likely to get worse before it gets better.

COOPER: Dr. Hotez, I mean, there still seems to be so much we don't know about long term impact of coming down with COVID. I mean, I used to think early on in this, oh it will probably be better to just get it sooner rather than later and then develop immunity to it. But everybody I know who's gotten it, you know, some of them have had real continuing lingering problems, problems with their lungs problems, you know, in their numbers in the blood.

You know, we heard Dr. Fauci today warn this pandemic could be as bad as the 1980 flu pandemic. Given all we've seen and the lack of action from the President's administration, I mean, do you think he's right?

HOTEZ: Yes, I mean long term neurologic complications, cognitive issues, depression. We're seeing a lot of people with depression now and this is starting to be well documented.

This is a horrible virus, vascular injury, sudden death and, you know, Tony -- Dr. Fauci mentioned and compared it to the 1918 flu pandemic. You know, he may not be far off.

By the end of this year, we may be at 300,000 deaths. The flu pandemic, between -- I remember, it was several years, between 1918 to 1920 to 1921 was 675,000 deaths. So I hope we don't get there, but it's not impossible.

Anderson, this has gone past becoming a public health issue. This is a homeland security issue. People don't feel safe. People don't feel safe going outside their home. They don't feel safe going into the workplace. They certainly don't feel safe with their kids in school. They don't feel safe at so many different levels and this will have a very chilling effect for months to come.

And, and I don't see how we sustain the economy at this rate as well. So, eventually things will start to fall apart unless we can figure out a way to get Federal guidance and leadership, and I'm not sure who takes that over.

You know, there are large pieces of the Executive Branch that are unwilling to do this.


COOPER: Yes, Dr. Hotez, Nia-Malika Henderson and Sanjay, thank you. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, another dose reality from am Emergency Medicine doctor in hard hit Arizona. What it's like on the frontlines right now there.

And later, the President racist remarks about the Confederate flags, remarks echoing what he had to say about good people on both sides back in Charlottesville during that attack.


COOPER: Whether he intended them to or not, or just do what he did because he needed to vent and pretend he was holding one of his rallies, the President's remarks today served as a distraction from what his own Taskforce members were saying about the pandemic, from what state governors in red states were acknowledging, they even distracted from some hopeful news being reported about treatments and vaccines. None of what the President said today focused on that at all.

To the extent it focused on anything at all, which is why it's so important to pay extra attention, we think to what is actually happening in the fight that we are all in right now.

So with that in mind, we're grateful to spend a few moments with Dr. Quinn Snyder who practices emergency medicine in Mesa, Arizona right now.

Dr. Snyder, I appreciate you being with us. Paint us picture of what things look like where you are for you and the people you're working with and treating.

DR. QUINN SNYDER, EMERGENCY MEDICINE DOCTOR, MESA, ARIZONA: You know, it's really unfortunate. Arizona is in a state of crisis right now as we speak. We're watching our healthcare system overflow.

We're starting to see some very unusual behaviors such as transferring patients all throughout the state and even to some of our neighboring states.

Patients we're needing to send them to places like Las Vegas, San Diego, Albuquerque and Southern Utah. We're starting to house patients internally in unusual locations as well.

We're putting pediatric -- excuse me -- we're putting the adult patients in pediatric hospitals, which is very unusual. We're also starting to see providers act outside of their scope of practice.

There's also a significant shortage of healthcare workers in this state. Disaster teams have landed in this state to help with the COVID fight. We're needing a significant number of travelers from other locations coming in, helping out with Nursing and Respiratory Therapy, and we are very grateful that they've come to help us.

And perhaps most disturbingly, we just had some requests for refrigerated trucks to come into our state to house dead bodies because our morgues are beginning to run out of space.

And unfortunately, right now we find ourselves with our backs up against the wall and we could end up in a position where we're going to have to start making decisions like who gets a ventilator and who doesn't?

COOPER: You know, I mean, so much of what you're saying is, I mean, it is horrific. It also just reminds me so much of the conversations I had with doctors, you know, back in April in New York, where I live and where I'm from, you know, exactly, exactly all of those things.

And I remember even doctors in Italy, talking about those difficult choices that they may have to make about who would be able to get a ventilator and who wouldn't, you know, and how do you make those choices in the most ethical way possible? To be in that position in Arizona is crazy.

SNYDER: Well, to be in that position, so many months later, from what had happened in New York and New Jersey, as well as Italy and to not have learned those lessons is frankly inexcusable and some of your viewers in New York and New Jersey might be surprised to hear that, you know, here in Arizona, we still don't have a statewide mask mandate.

And furthermore, I can go walk around down the street and go have a sit down meal inside a restaurant right now and we are at a very critical juncture in the pandemic, and we need significantly more regulation, I think and frankly, it should have been done a long time ago.

COOPER: You know, one of the things when you're in a war zone, people fighting in a war zone, you're around other people who are doing and going through the exact same thing.

I'm wondering when, you know, you are fighting every day in a medical setting and when you leave and you drive down the street and you see people without a mask or you see people eating in restaurants, do you feel like you exist on another planet in your work life where you are -- you know, you are seeing this life and death and yet outside the walls of the hospitals, it doesn't seem like people are paying attention?

SNYDER: It's very challenging to be in this position and doing my best to try to take care of my community and I know that all the people I work with are doing their best to take care of some of the sickest patients we've ever seen.

And that contrast going out and driving around and seeing people at the restaurants is really heartbreaking to us. And frankly, in some ways, it feels insulting. It's probably never been a more difficult time to be a healthcare worker than right now.

COOPER: If you could bring a leader up, you know, the Governor of your state, the President of the United States, whoever it may be, to spend a day with you, what would you -- what would you want to say to them right now?

SNYDER: Wow. That's a great question. I would love to tell the governor of my state and the President, and frankly, the governors of every other state that if they want to succeed in this pandemic, if they actually want to contain it, then they need to step back from the podium and they need to allow medical professionals and they need to allow scientists to handle the pandemic.

They need to let us manage the pandemic because they are putting us in a very dangerous position and I don't think they really know how to handle this correctly, and I understand that they think that they can politic their way around this, but the problem is that the virus doesn't care about your feelings.

The virus isn't something that you can sit down with at a negotiation table and get a good outcome. It doesn't work that way. The virus is going to do what it wants to do and I think that once our leadership comes to that realization, I think we'll all be in a safer place.


COOPER: Dr. Quinn Snyder, I really appreciate it. It makes me sick that we're having this conversation, you know, four plus months into this. Because it is, it's a conversation I've had too often with doctors months ago in New York and elsewhere and to know that it's now similar situations in Arizona and elsewhere, is just it's sickening. And I just -- I wish you the best and I appreciate all you're doing. Thank you.

SNYDER: I appreciate your reporting on this. Anderson. Thank you very much.

COOPER: All right, take care.

Just ahead, more reaction to the President's rambling Rose Garden speech and his claims of historical leadership during the pandemic from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, when we return.



COOPER: President Trump's rambling campaign style speech this evening was also an airing of grievances, some of which were aimed at the nation's governors when he clearly believes for not being grateful enough for his actions as president during the pandemic.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The governors would tell us we'd be on the phone with 50 different governors that all tell us what a great job, great job and then they'll go to the media and say, well, they didn't do such a good job. Well, we did a great job. We made a lot of governors look fantastic.


COOPER: Joining me now is the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. Governor Whitmer, there was a time listening to the president today I got the feeling like that this is the monologue he, you know, like he's the guy in the bar who just rambles to anybody who listened the same story over and over and over again.

I mean, we've heard that so many times him say that about governors or other people. When I don't know if you listen to the President today, I know you're busy. And he was speaking for a long time and didn't really say anything of particular import. What did you make of what you heard from him today?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Well, I didn't listen to the speech. But I will just say this, you know, we've got incredible challenges in this nation. We need to be banding together. And yet, what we've gotten is inconsistent at best. Derisive remarks from the White House. Things that are, you know, aimed at politicizing public health when lives are on the line. We are seeing record numbers every single day coming out of some of

our states with regard to COVID-19 cases. And, you know, the acknowledgement that so many lives have been lost acknowledgement of the pain, the economic pain that we are feeling in this country.

You know, it is really important that anyone with a leadership position is speaking to how we're going to get through this as encouraging people to wear masks is focusing on, can we get our kids safely back in the schools? I mean, it's really troubling and disturbing to hear remarks like that when we've got so much work to do right now when it comes to this virus.

COOPER: Let's talk about what is happening in Michigan. You extended Michigan's emergency declaration until August 11th today, and you said Michigan now faces an acute risk of a second wave when that not only threatens lives may also jeopardize the reopening of schools in the fall. In response, I pause the reopening of our economy. Talk about that decision. And I know you also asked the President to allow the National Guard to stay through the end of the year.

WHITMER: That's right. So, you know, 49 states out of 50 are still in a state of emergency of some sort or another. The only one that isn't is Wisconsin. And that's because they had a lawsuit about the governor's powers. The fact of the matter is COVID-19 is still very present.

We took an aggressive stance, we pushed our curve down. There are studies that show that these actions save tens of thousands of lives. We know how to get this under control. And yet we see people dropping their guard here in Michigan, and all across the nation.

And that's why mandating masks, ensuring that we are tightening up right now. We're supposed to start school in 56 days, that is not that far off. So the conduct that we, you know, engaged in right now is going to determine whether or not our kids get back into school in a meaningful way in-person.

And that's why right now it is time to get more serious push this curve back down. Michigan lead at one point Michigan in New York. We're proud of that. But the slippage is very concerning, and that's why we've got to get right on it. Well, last thing we want to be so of these states that are have, you know, uncontrolled growth going on in the south.

COOPER: The decision about schools, you know, obviously it's not the President's decision, but he said it would be a terrible decision. If schools don't open in time in the fall, obviously, everybody, your mom, everybody wants schools to open, they want their children to, you know, get out of the house and to learn and all of that. And they need to go back to work as well. What's the calculus on schools in Michigan? How is that decision going to be made?

WHITMER: Well, one of the hardest decisions I've made and I've had to make a lot of tough decisions with the vacuum of leadership in Washington, the nation's governors have stepped up. And when I took kids out of schools at the end of March, that week, very heavily on me, it's 1.5 million kids in Michigan, half of whom get a meal or two, you know, five days a week at school.

It created a lot of concerns and those concerns continue. The learning gap, the learning loss that happens every single summer is exacerbated especially for kids in poverty.


But by the stress of COVID in the length of period of time, I want to get our kids back in school and yet, if our trajectory is headed upward, we know it's probably not going to be safe to do that. And that's why tightening right now, when things are still relatively good compared to what's going on across the country, is really important. Because if we continue this trajectory, we just, you know, it's going to be -- we're going to be hard pressed to give parents confidence and teachers confidence and that our kids and everyone is safe to resume.

So that's why right now at the moment is critical masking up across this nation taking the politics out of this, so we can all get our kids back to school and get our economy reengaged. But if the numbers keep going up, we got to follow the science and we got to protect lives. You know, that's got to center out the work we do.

COOPER: Yes, Governor Whitmer, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

WHITMER: Thank you.

COOPER: As promised, we want to come back to that airing (ph), the president of CBS News and touch on police shootings and confederate flag. We'll have more on that. And what Mary Trump has just said about her uncle, the President in her first interview since writing what some are calling her bombshell book.


COOPER: As we mentioned the top of the program President Trump taped an interview with CBS News before his White House session with reporter's day. In one exchange talked about both confederate flag and the number of white people killed by the police as compared to black people.



CATHERINE HERRIDGE, CBS NEWS HOST: President Trump back in 2015, you said the confederate battle flag belongs in a museum? Do you still believe that?

D. TRUMP: All I say is freedom of speech? It's very simple. My attitude is freedom of speech. Very strong views on the confederate flag. With me it's freedom of speech, very simple. Like it, don't like it. It's freedom of speech.

HERRIDGE: Would you be comfortable with your supporters displaying the confederate battle flag (INAUDIBLE)? D. TRUMP: Well, you know, it depends on what your definition is. But I am comfortable with freedom of speech. It's very simple.

HERRIDGE: But you understand why the flag is a painful symbol for many people because it's a reminder of slavery.

D. TRUMP: People love it and I don't view it. I know people that like the confederate flag and then thinking about slavery. I look at NASCAR, you go to NASCAR, you had those flags all over the place. They stopped it. I just think it's freedom of speech, whether it's confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about. It's freedom of speech.

HERRIDGE: Let's talk about George Floyd. You said George Floyd's death was it terrible thing.

D. TRUMP: Terrible.

HERRIDGE: Why are African-Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?

D. TRUMP: And so are white people. Some are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people, more white people by the way, more white people.


COOPER: Obviously the second part of the President's answer deserves some context as far as police killings according to a study published in 2018 by the American Journal of Public Health, adjusted for population, black men are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by the police than white men. As you heard, the President defending displaying the confederate flag as free speech.

Perspective now from Bakari Sellers, CNN political analyst and author of My Vanishing Country, a new book, and David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama and a CNN senior political analyst.

Bakari, when the President of United States goes on national TV, giving misleading information about police violence against black people in this country, making excuses for confederate flags. I mean, I guess none of it is surprising.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: None of it is surprising, but I mean, I think that the question we have to ask ourselves is how far have we come? And I think that's a question that the country literally has to sit back and ask themselves, how far have we come and where do we go from here? Those are two very simplistic questions.

But when you hear the President of the United States and you hear his resolve to come down on the side and the legacy of white supremacy, I mean, the President is a white supremacist, you have to firmly believe that we have so far to go. And this is not new. And I don't want people to get outraged simply over the President's statement.

He is harkening back on a time of leadership like George Wallace, like Lester Maddox, like Bull Connor, he's going back to a time of Medgar Evers and Jimmy Lee Jackson and Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney. And what the President doesn't understand is the history of this country.

I firmly believe that the ignorance that the President of the United States displays and articulates day in and day out, it adds gas into the fire because his followers, there's 35% of the country that still adheres to absolutely everything he says. The President is a danger. He truly is a danger. And what people and I, I firmly believe this and people are going to -

COOPER: Bakari, what if though?

SELLERS: Go ahead.

COOPER: Bakari, what if though if the President actually, he, you know, he doesn't read, he doesn't read history, but you said he doesn't understand the history. What if he does understand the history? And he's doing it because he understands the history? I mean, is it? That's also a possibility isn't? I mean, it's a sickening possibility.

SELLERS: Yes, that's a sick, I don't give them that much credit. I mean, I believe the President to be racist, I believe the President to be a white supremacist, I do not believe that he is the architect of trying to espouse these racial ideologies and racial supremacist ideologies forward.

I just think he's in this moment. He's using racism as a political currency. I think people around him, the Stephen Miller's of the world, maybe more like what you're talking about. But regardless, what I'm attempting to say is that this did not start with Donald Trump. And it's not going to end when he is routed out of the White House.

This is the underbelly of the United States of America. And this is something that we have to have a reckoning with that we are having a reckoning with. And people have to understand that.

COOPER: David, I mean, it certainly seems like the President understands this is the underbelly of America and -


COOPER: -- is very happy to play into it and play with it for his own ends.

AXELROD: Listen, he's riding the horse that he ran in -- a rat -- or rode in on, He became president of the United States by espousing these kinds of views. He's espoused them throughout his presidency. You know, I disagree slightly with Bakari. I think he knows exactly what he's doing.

He's an opportunist and he's exploiting race, because he thinks it's to his political advantage to do that. I think he's badly misreading this moment and where the -- I think the country has moved the President has not.


And if you look at polling, you see that overwhelming majority of Americans suggest that they feel he's off on this. They don't want to see the President of United States pouring gasoline on the fire. And you can see it particularly in the suburban areas that he carried four years ago, where he's now losing by double digits.

And this is part of the reason why people are uncomfortable with this tactic. But he believes that there is this what he calls the silent majority, a term that we heard back 50 years ago that support this kind of ideology, so that support this sort of white supremacist rhetoric and stand up for the confederate flag and that they will take him back to the White House. I'm sure he believes that.

COOPER: I want to play something from Mary Trump's first interview that she spoke to ABC about the president, let's listen.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: April 2017, I'm going to end where I began.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You go, you see the President in the Oval Office? And he said, tell him, don't let them get you down. Did you mean that?

M. TRUMP: I did, actually. He -- that was four months in. He already seemed very strained by the pressures, you know, he'd never been in a situation before, where he wasn't entirely protected from criticism or accountability, or things like that.

And I just remember thinking he seemed tired. He seems like this is not what he signed up for. If he even knows what he's signed up for, and I thought his response was actually more enlightening than my statement. And he said, they won't get me. And so far, looks like he's right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if you're in the Oval Office today, what would you say to him?

M. TRUMP: Resign?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boil it down? What's the single most important thing you think the country needs to know about your uncle?

M. TRUMP: He's utterly incapable of leading this country. And it's dangerous to allow him to do so.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Based on what you see now, or what you saw then?

M. TRUMP: Based on what I've seen, my entire adult life.


COOPER: Bakari, I mean, you know, it's quite a story obviously. Well doesn't even matter. I mean, it's all this big dimin everybody's mind made up.

SELLERS: I mean, I think that proves my point, though, Anderson, like we've known this. This is not anything new. It's not as if the President became racist yesterday. It's not as if he became incompetent. You know, in 2019, this is the same person who rode down the escalators and call Mexicans rapists.

I mean, this is -- we -- this is the same person when I was in the studio playing footsie with David Duke, we know this to be true. And all I'm simply saying is that in the United States of America, we deserve the President we have today and we've never dealt with this issue. And so now we have to, and hopefully we can turn the page.

COOPER: Yes, very quickly, David Axelrod, do you think these matters? I mean, this book will have an impact anyway?

AXELROD: No, no, I think what matters is that 136,000 people have died and this virus is raging and he seems unresponsive to it. What matters is he seems to be pouring gasoline on the fire of race at a time when the country is having a reckoning about it. These things touch people's lives, and I think they're going to vote on what touches their lives not -- I think long ago they've made a judgment about his character.

SELLERS: Correct.

COOPER: Yes, David Axelrod, Bakari Sellers, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

Up next, we're going to remember the victims of the pandemics. We try to do every night, including a couple married for 60 years and a marine veteran.



COOPER: We began the hour with the wrong number of lives lost in this largely preventable National Disaster, more than 136,000 and rising. Tonight we continue to tell some of their stories. Fred and Judy Whitesel were married in 1959 in Miller, Nebraska. They spend the next 60 years together side by side.

When it's time for them to go into nursing home they went together there they both came down with coronavirus. Their son, Judy was rushed to hospital first after she developed symptoms. Fred remained at the nursing home. She passed away a few days later. That same day, Fred was rushed to the emergency room and placed on a ventilator. They died just 12 hours apart.

Their son Stephen said his parents were so connected his father just didn't want to be left behind. Fred Whitesel was 83 years old and Judy Whitesel was 81.

Jerome Rice was a sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served in the Korean War. He was part of the so called Frozen Chosin because he was part of a critical Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. American troops there were outnumbered, surrounded in the middle of a brutally cold winter.

After he left, the military Jerome became a police officer, served 34 years at the Mountainside Police Department in New Jersey. His love for his country was only second to his love for his family. He and his wife Audrey had five children, 21 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren together. Imagine that. Jerome Rice was 86 years old.

Joan Swanson grew up in the Bronx in New York City. She'd often talked about how she loved her neighborhood and the lifelong friends that she made there. After she graduated from high school she works as a secretary which is where she met her future husband Carl Swanson.

They spent nearly 50 years together, raised a son and a daughter. Joan was an active volunteer in her community and in Ho-ho-kus, New Jersey but her favorite title was mom. She loved not only raising her own children, but also welcoming all her children's friends into her home, Joan Swanson, living extraordinary life and she was 89 years old.


That's it for us. The news continues. I want to hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME", Chris?