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Soon: Federal Reserve Expected To Raise Interest Rates Again; President Biden Speaks In Rose Garden After Negative COVID Test; Brittney Griner Says She Was Not Read Rights When Arrested. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 27, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by right now to hear from President Biden at the White House. Just this morning, Biden's doctor announced that he has tested negative for COVID and he can leave the isolation that he's been in since last Thursday. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live in the Rose Garden where the president will be headed shortly. She's joining us now. Kaitlan, what do you expect me to hear from the president?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House says he's going to talk about, of course, the fact that he was vaccinated and double boosted. They say that helped him have a pretty mild case of COVID-19 after he tested positive last Thursday, Kate. He now has had a negative rapid test last night and another negative test this morning and that's why people in the Rose Garden are going to be, many of them, seeing President Biden for the first time since he tested positive because he's been isolating in the White House residence. So we will see him walk over -- from the residence over here to the Rose Garden where we are and we've got some staff gathered behind us waiting to hear from the president as he talks about that.

But, of course, this has been a trajectory where the president's physician, Dr. O'Connor, has been updating us on a daily basis about how he's been doing taking that Paxlovid treatment as well, the antiviral pill that, of course, so many physicians, including once here at the White House have encouraged people who are eligible to take as soon as they test positive for COVID-19. So expect to hear him talk about that.

But that is one thing that we hear -- we did hear from Dr. O'Connor this morning. They will be watching, Kate, because there are some cases of people who have taken Paxlovid and often rebounded from it following a negative test. And so they said that they will be increasing how often President Biden is tested to make sure he himself has not rebounded. So they'll be watching that closely. And of course, we'll see if he also takes our questions on the news of the day as well, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And there's a lot of that. Kaitlan, thanks for being there. We'll get back to you shortly. We're standing by now to see the president walk out. Thank you, Kaitlan.

One of the things Kaitlan's likely talking about when we're talking news of the day is we are hours away as well from the Federal Reserve's expected announcement raising interest rates again. Stocks are -- have been on the rise ahead of the Fed's big decision to try to tame inflation and also not trigger a recession. CNN's Matt Egan is live in Washington. He's tracking all this for us. Matt, what's expected?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS & ECONOMY REPORTER: Well, Kate, it is shaping up to be a historic day for the American economy. As we speak, the Federal Reserve is wrapping up a meeting where officials are debating their next step to try to get inflation under control. It is a slam dunk that the Fed is going to raise interest rates. The question is, by how much? Investors are anticipating the Fed is going to raise rates by three-quarters of a percentage point for the second meeting in a row. We've never seen anything like that in back-to-back meetings in the modern Fed era. So what does this actually mean for all of us?

Well, it means higher borrowing costs, credit cards, car loans, student debt, and of course, mortgages, where we've seen mortgage rates almost double over the past year. And you know, very few people had anticipated such an aggressive stance from the Federal Reserve. It was kind of unthinkable about six months ago, but that's because inflation has been so much worse than many people anticipated. We have 9 percent inflation in the United States for the first time, in more than 40 years. It's gotten worse in part because of the war in Ukraine.

People are feeling it right now at the grocery store, at the gas station, and at the mall when they're paying rent. And the Fed was late to the scene of this inflation fire, right? They didn't do anything major to address it until March. Now, they're being forced to play catch up. Kate, hopefully, they're able to get inflation under control. The tricky part, of course, is making sure they don't do so much that they end up causing a recession.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right, Matt is there for us standing by to hear what comes out for the expected rate hike.

In the meantime, let me get back over to the White House. Jared Bernstein is standing by, a member of President Biden's Council of Economic Advisers. It's good to see you again, Jared. So Matt laid it out well. The rate hike is likely coming in just hours. Do you think the Fed -- are you worried the Fed could go too big?

JARED BERNSTEIN, MEMBER, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We were very careful not to get into the Fed's knitting in any kind of specifics regarding their interest rate policy in terms of too small too big.


What we have great faith in, and the president has said this many times is both the importance of the Fed's independence but also members of the Fed board that including the chair that the President renominated, so look, history is littered with presidents who are harassing the Fed, including our predecessor when they were contemplating rate hikes. This president isn't anywhere close to that because he recognizes that the Central Bank is the first and foremost fighter against these unacceptably high inflationary pressures.

BOLDUAN: So let me then ask you about tomorrow because that's when new GDP numbers will be coming out. It will -- it could bring news that the U.S. economy shrank for the second quarter in a row. And the White House we know usually sees these numbers the night before. Meaning that you could -- you could have a chance to look at them later today. What will you be looking for when you do?

BERNSTEIN: Well, we're, first of all, making sure that the president is well aware of every economic data release, including this one that goes in his book the night before. What I think every economic analyst is going to be looking at is getting under the hood of this GDP report. You know, in the first quarter, GDP had a negative handle and it was brought down by inventories and net exports. Some of the key components of underlying economic growth, especially consumer spending, and business investment, were actually quite positive. Together, those represent over 80 percent of GDP.

Inventories actually went up in the first quarter. They just didn't go up as fast as they did in the prior quarter. So there's a lot of complicated moving parts here. What we're most interested in is how is the American middle class and lower-income families faring in an economy that has some real headwinds from price pressures, but some real tailwinds from consumer spending and from our very strong labor market? So we'll be evaluating the report with those contexts in mind.

BOLDUAN: That means, we've -- it's been very clear the president and your whole team has been pushing back aggressively on if the country is in a recession, how -- and how worried the country should be about entering a recession in light of this. The New York Times put it this way today, to paraphrase an old political adage, if you're explaining how recession calls are made, you're losing. Do you see that, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: No, I don't think so. I mean, I think we've gotten into a technical discussion about what constitutes a recession. And I think, look, bringing the facts to the table is something that we as economic advisors have to do. I think, what's more to the point is that there are a lot of people out there who call it what you will, what they want to know is how far is their paycheck going. In that regard, look, there is absolutely some tough news regarding how high inflation has been. But there's also some positive news that we should not overlook. I mean, the price of the pump is now $4.30 a gallon.

BOLDUAN: I was going to --

BERNSTEIN: That's down 70 cents off of its peak. So that was the savings of --

BOLDUAN: So I was going to ask you about that, Jared. I was -- that was -- I was --


BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you about gas prices.

BERNSTEIN: Please do.

BOLDUAN: Because they do continue to fall.


BOLDUAN: Do you think with that, this element of this crisis is over?


BOLDUAN: Can Americans breathe easy now that this marker of inflation that people feel so much that it won't spike again?

BERNSTEIN: So, let me be unequivocal about that. This is no victory lap, this is not all of these concerns are behind us, this is not at all hey, you know, we used to have inflation and now it's fine, far from it. When the president says inflation is unacceptably high, he means it. But look, I mean, part of what we're trying to do is present all of the information. What -- when it -- when it looks good, we're going to talk about that. And when it looks bad, we're going to be straightforward about that, too. Now, if drivers are saving about $40 a month, and if you aggregate that up across the country, it's about $260 million a day of savings at the pump. That is a little bit of much-needed breathing room, and I think everyone ought to agree with that.

What it's not is you know what you said something like, you know, are -- is everybody breathing freely again? Of course, not. We have much more work to do and we're going to continue to do that. But some of our work is actually reflected in these lower prices, particularly the president's release of all those barrels of oil struck -- from the strategic reserve. That is -- it's not the only factor in the global price, but it's in the mix. So we've got to tell both sides.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, let's see what happens today, and let's see what happens tomorrow. Please come back on. It's good to see you, Jared. Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. WNBA star Brittney Griner. She testifies in her trial in Russia in a Russian courtroom once again. What she says happened in court? Next.



BOLDUAN: All right, we're going to break in here and we're going to go live now to the White House. President Biden heading to the Rose Garden, getting a lot of applause as he's now finally out of isolation, is tested negative for COVID. Let's listen to the president of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I was walking out, I thought I heard a rumbling from my staff saying oh, he's back. Thanks for sticking around. Hello, everyone. I've just tested negative for COVID-19 after isolating for five days. Thankfully, I'm not be able to return to work in person but I want to thank you all for your well wishes, your prayers over this past week, and the calls I've gotten. I also want to thank the medical team here at the White House for the incredible care they gave me. Fortunately, God, thankfully -- thank God willing, there was -- my symptoms were mild, my recovery was quick and I'm feeling great.

The entire time I was in isolation, I was able to work to carry out the duties of the office without any interruption. It's a -- it's a real statement on where we are in the fight against COVID-19. Right now, we are facing a new variant, the BA.5 variant, a very transmissible version of the Omicron variant. We saw it here this past winter. In fact, this new variant that infected me is getting a lot of people infected all around the world, not just here in the United States.


We should take precautions to try to slow the spread of this virus. My administration has made billions of dollars in funding available to improve ventilation in our schools and our public buildings. We made the test widely available so you can take one before attending large indoor gatherings or visiting with high-risk individuals. We've made high-quality masks available for free so you should consider wearing a mask when you're in a crowded indoor public place. These precautions add an extra layer of protection for you and for those around you.

But the reality is that BA.5 means many of us are still going to get COVID even if we take the precautions. That doesn't mean we're doing anything wrong. Unfortunately, this COVID is still with us, as it has been for two and a half years. But our fight against COVID is making a huge difference. What's different now is our ability to protect ourselves from serious illness due to COVID. In fact, that's radically different today than it was just a year ago.

COVID isn't gone. But even with cases climbing in this country, COVID deaths are down nearly 90 percent. And when I took office -- that's 90 percent difference for the day and when I took office. That's what's new -- that's what's new in COVID response. Different from where we were just a year ago.

Even if COVID -- even if you get COVID, you can avoid winding up in a severe -- with a severe case. You can now prevent most COVID deaths and that's because of three free tools my administration has invested in and distributed this past year, booster shots, at-home tests, and easy to use of effective treatments. We've got through COVID with no fear. I got through with no fear, a very mild discomfort because of these essential life-saving tools.

And guess what, I want to remind everybody they are free, they are convenient, and they're safe, and they work. First, booster shots. They weren't available a year ago. They are now everywhere. Every person aged five and over should get a booster shot. If you're over 50 years old, you should get two booster shots. I did. And if you have your boosters, one if you're under 5o, two, if you're over 50, your odds of getting severely ill from COVID are very, very low.

Even all Americans are very unlikely to get severe COVID if they have two booster shots. Most COVID deaths are among those who are not up to date on their shots, their COVID vaccinations. So if you're over 50 and you haven't gotten a booster shot this year, go get one right away. Go to, type in your zip code, and find a place where you get a booster shot for free. Usually at a site that's less than five miles from your home.

Second, at-home test. A year ago, at-home tests were rare and expensive. Now, everyone in America, you can get them for free, shipped to their door. Shipped to their door, there's no excuse. Again, go to and order at-home tests for free. Testing to find out if your symptoms mean you have COVID is critical in getting treatment quickly.

Third, treatments. If you test positive, you have a new powerful -- we have a new powerful treatment called Paxlovid. It wasn't available a year ago. It's now. It's a pill. And now you can take these pills at home. You can get them for free at tens of thousands of local drugstores around the country. The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, even put in a special rule so many pharmacists can prescribe this particular drug. So you don't even have to go to the doctor to get a prescription. Millions of Americans have used Paxlovid -- excuse me, Paxlovid. I tell you what, I think it's -- I used it.

Paxlovid, including me, this life-saving drug reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by about 90 percent. Again, it's free, safe, and easy to take. And we move quickly to make it widely available, including the thousands of convenient test-to-treat sites where you can get tested. And if you need it, Paxlovid is at the ready right then and there when you make your visit. Again, go to to find where test and treat sites are there near you.


Here's the bottom line. When my predecessor got COVID, he had to get a helicopter to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill. Thankfully, he recovered. When I got COVID, I worked from upstairs of the White House, and the office is upstairs and -- for the five-day period. The difference is vaccinations, of course, but also three new tools free to all and widely available. You don't need to be president to get these tools to use for your defense. In fact, the same booster shots, the same at-home test, the same treatment that I got available to you. My administration has made sure that all Americans across the country, more walks of life, have free access to those tools.

COVID was killing thousands of Americans a day when I got here. That isn't the case anymore. You can live without fear by doing what I did get boosted, get tested, and get treatment. At the same time, my administration remains vigilant. Right now, we have the tools to keep you from getting severely ill or dying from COVID. But we're not stopping there. Earlier this week, we had a conference at the White House about the next generation of vaccines with a goal of keeping people from getting sick in the first place getting COVID at all you've been getting it.

Let me close to this. Over the past 18 months, my administration has left no stone unturned, and in our fight against this pandemic, none. We brought down this by nearly 90 percent since I took office because of the help of all the people in this Rose Garden. Businesses and schools responded, grandparents are hugging their kids and grandkids again, weddings, birthday celebrations are happening in person again. So let's keep emerging from one of the darkest moments in our history with hope and light for what can come.

Get vaccinated if you haven't gotten it already, and now get boosted or do your free test. And if you get sick and test positive, seek treatment. Take advantage of these life-saving tools. We have more of these tools than we ever had before. And my friends in Congress, let's keep investing in these tools, vaccinations, treatments, tests, and more so we get help making them available to Americans -- the American people on a permanent basis. Let's get moving -- when I say permanent basis as long as they are needed. Let's keep moving forward safely. God bless you all. And now I get to go back to the Oval Office. Thank you all very much.


BOLDUAN: And, definitely, not taking questions as he walked back into the Oval Office. Kaitlan Collins is standing by for us, who's -- was in the Rose Garden for this. The president says he's feeling great, says he got through it without any fear, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, the president used this appearance his first one since last Thursday, of course, when he tested positive for COVID-19 as he was on his way to a full day of event in Pennsylvania that day. To tell to the treatments that he's gotten the vaccines, the booster shots, Paxlovid, saying that he does believe that is what helped him have a mild case. And he even invoked his predecessor's case with COVID-19.

Of course, Kate, just a few steps away, that was when President Trump tested positive. And we saw him make the trip from the residence of the White House to a Marine One so he could go to Walter Reed Hospital where he was there for several days. And so he talked about the difference in that, the difference in the treatments, and why he had such a different experience than his predecessor did. And so he was advocating for that, pushing for that, telling people if they are over 50 years old, they need to go and get a booster. Amid questions about whether or not it will soon be authorized for those under 50 to also get a second booster shot, Kate.

So using his own illness, his own diagnosis to push that message for COVID-19, he did not answer questions. We should note that there are many of them. Especially this week as it's really become this moment of truth for the White House on the economy with the numbers expected today a potential interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. The second quarter GDP numbers coming out tomorrow. He said he's going back to work. Obviously, all of those things are going to be at the top of his to-do list, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's great to see you, Kaitlan. Thank you so much for that. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: New this morning. WNBA star Brittney Griner testifying in her own trial in a Moscow courtroom. Griner is saying that she was not read her rights when she was arrested on drug charges, she also says that an interpreter translated, only a fraction of what was said during her questioning and that officials instructed her to sign documents without providing an explanation. Griner has been behind bars in Russia for more than five months now.

Joining me right now is CNN contributor Patrick McEnroe. He's played professional tennis all over the world. It's good to see you, Patrick.


BOLDUAN: She also said -- she said this before but she said it in court again today that she packed the cannabis oil, in question started all this, by mistake so that she was in a hurry when she was packing to get back to Russia. You've traveled all over the world as an athlete, as a coach, as an analyst, what do you think of this whole thing?

MCENROE: Well, I think, first of all, Russia is a sovereign country, right? They have their own laws, which are a lot different than our laws certainly when it comes to drug use, and so on. You have to be aware of what those are. I remember traveling once to Singapore in my 20s going to a tournament there. And it is very clearly said on the landing card. If you are caught with drugs, you will be -- I can't remember was life in prison or the death penalty. It -- whatever it was, it gets your attention pretty quick.

So, Brittney, to me, there was nothing malicious about what she was trying to do. I'm sure she was using it for her own personal medical reasons, which is not uncommon at all. But now she's in this situation where let's be honest, she's being used by Putin as a political pawn because of her stature, because of who she is. She's American. She's African American. She's a famous woman. She's married to another woman, which by the way is against the law in Russia.

And even a Russian tennis player, Daria Kasatkina, who wasn't allowed, do you remember, Kate, to play at Wimbledon because she's Russian. She's a top Russian player. She just came out and said she's a gay woman. She's with another Russian athlete who's a woman as well. So these are situations that I think have made this even more in the spotlight and allowing Putin to continue to use this for his own political game. BOLDUAN: Because as you point out, President Putin has a track record, has a history, and seems to like to use athletes as political pawns for various purposes. I mean we've seen that more than once, just more than one recent example of this.

MCENROE: Yes, absolutely. And I think this is -- this is a situation where Brittney Griner, in my view, exercises poor judgment by bringing this into the country at all. She's been to Russia before, she's played for the team there times before. So you have to think that she was aware of the different laws and regulations going into the country, whether she --- I find it a little hard to believe that she was packing in a way that was rushed. And that's one of her arguments.

Just said -- listen, I needed this for my own medicinal reasons. That makes sense. Unfortunately, the laws in Russia are what they are. You're caught carrying this type of drug. You could be in jail for up to 10 years.

BOLDUAN: He says the -- how do these conversations go? Is it coached athletes or among athletes when you're traveling abroad, with -- the understanding that you just pointed out that obviously, every sovereign nation has its own laws?


MCENROE: I think you need to be very aware of what you are getting into, where you are going, what the laws are, what the regulations are getting into the country, getting out of the country. And just be very, very judicious in how you go about this, and certainly this was a case where this is not turned out to be very good for Brittney at all. We hope she gets back quickly.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's good to see you, Patrick. Thank you so much for coming in and spent a minute. And thank you all so much for being here and joining us at this hour. I'm Kate Bolduan. Inside Politics with John King starts right now.