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Trump's Personal Valet Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Texas Supreme Court Orders Release Of Woman Jailed For Running Salon; 3 Major Pork Plants Reopening Today. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Back now to the hours of big breaking news. CNN has learned that a personal valet to President Trump tested positive for coronavirus. According to a source the valet began showing symptoms Wednesday, yesterday.

A spokesman for the White House said President Trump and Vice President Pence have both since been tested and tested negative for the virus with me now to discuss this and other White House developments, the White House correspondent for The New York Times Maggie Haberman and White House reporter with The Washington Post Toluse Olorunnipa.

Maggie, I want to start with you in the sense of what now for the President. He is -- he gets exceptions. He's the president of the United States. I call him the country's most essential worker. However, according to the own white house guidelines talked about repeatedly by Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx back to the beginning, if we come in contact, if we know we came in contact with someone who is positive for coronavirus, we are supposed to self isolate and take other precautions. How will this impact the life and the work of the President?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It won't, John, I mean, this is not the first time this has happened. You had the President at Mar- a-Lago. Remember when it was very clear that there was community spread of this. And you had the President at Mar-a-Lago at the beginning of March with the Brazilian President, whose aid tested positive for coronavirus.

Other members of the President's team got sick after that. They were tested, tested negative, reportedly. But this is not the first time the President has been exposed to somebody who had this and he certainly didn't change his behavior then at the time, he was still talking about continuing to hold rallies.

I don't think you'll see a change. I think what the President has made clear, and throughout, John, he has a, you know, the doctor standing with him in close quarters at the podium, briefing room, you have seen the President disregard the advice that has been given. I understand some of that is just the logistics of being President is, you can't really do this the same way as others.

I think that they do have the exclusive benefit of the fact that they have access to immediate testing whenever they want it. And I think that's what they're relying on.

KING: And that is what they will rely on and have to rely on now just from a medical standpoint for days and days and days, because let's hope the test keep coming up negative. But if you were exposed in the last couple of days to this valet, it's going to be some time before you are sure about that.

And so Toluse today, we learned this about the President's valet, obviously, it sends a shutter through the West Wing. People want to get tested. If you just look at a basic contact tracing plan, whether it's for the City of New York or the State of Massachusetts, or anything else, I should say, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and you go through it. What it says is that everybody who comes in contact should be looked at.

The President traveled to Arizona, he was on Air Force One. He was on a factory floor. He was around other people. This military aid obviously is walking in and around the West Wing. So they have some work to do now to connect the dots.


TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN ANALYST: Yes, that's exactly right. And when people look at the West Wing on television or on television shows, it seems like it's this grand big places but it's actually a very tight corners. There are very small spaces within the West Wing. And it's not hard to imagine that this official, this valet may have been in contact with a lot of White House officials, other valets who may have also caught this highly contagious disease.

And there's going to be a rush within the White House and within the West Wing to figure out who has it, who was in contact with this particular valet. And even though the President has said he has tested negative, this is, as Maggie said, not the first time he's come in contact with people who are, you know, testing positive for this disease or where he's been exposed to this disease.

And the fact that, you know, the President went to Arizona, he did not wear a mask when he toured the facility there in Phoenix. He's been resistant to, you know, this idea that there should be social distancing. He's talked about wanting big crowds, wanting rooms to be full of people, and even talking about holding rallies in the future.

I think this is going to be sort of give a pause button to anyone around the President who wants to return to normal very quickly, even though the President seems to be ignoring some of the advice of his advisors who says -- who say that, you know, he as a 74-year-old man should be taking some of these extra precautions. He's been very resistant to doing so.

KING: And there is Maggie my words a bit of a, do as I say, not as -- do, you know, do it not as we do, in the sense that you have the President today, he supposed to be sitting with the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott at the White House.

The governor of Texas has an ambitious reopening plan that doesn't even meet the initial White House guidelines put out about a 14-day trajectory declined in cases, about having a certain level of testing regimen in place in your state. The Texas plan falls short of those and we know the White House has sideline this more specific draft recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.

They talk about in phase one your restaurants should be picked up curbside and delivery. Texas is opening them. Churches should say online, places of worship should stay online, Texas beginning to opening them in its phase one. So you have a President who is going to face questions today, A, about his own health and his own safety protocols, if you will, and whether he is ignoring the scientists now, in his aggressive push for the economy to get restarted.

HABERMAN: Well, John, I think the question of whether he's ignoring the scientists was going to that has happened repeatedly in the last couple of weeks. It was clearly going to continue, when the White House acknowledged after our reporting this week that they were considering winding down the task force.

The President reverse course did a day later, I think, in part because he liked the task force branding. But I do think that you are going to continue to see the President, you know, talk about what states should be doing, but they are not going to follow those same instructions themselves.

And I don't know how rigid they're going to be about states for complying with some of those guidelines. If anything, you've heard the administration talk about the opposite, which is the economic issues.

KING: Right. And those new numbers today only going to give in the President's view, input, as to we need to get the economy going. As he says you cannot keep America closed down. Maggie and Toluse, appreciate the insights and reporting today.

Coming up for us, a Dallas salon now in the middle of the coronavirus reopen debate.



KING: To Texas now on a flashpoint in the coronavirus reopened debate, the state Supreme Court this hour, ordering the release of a salon owner. A Dallas County Judge had sentenced her to a week in jail for opening her business in defiance of stay at home orders.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas tracking this for us. Ed, this became very political, the governor and the Attorney General weighing in on this case. What happened?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this story has taken a dramatic turn here this morning over the last 24 hours, we've heard from state leaders who says that -- who have said that the jailing of Shelley Luther is a shameful act. Senator Ted Cruz described it as nuts. Others have described it as excessive.

A little bit of the back story here, but essentially what has happened is that, Texas Governor Greg Abbott this morning, revised his stay at home order that he issued in early April to say that business owners, residents could not be confined in jail for violating the very order that he issued back in early April.

Shelley Luther was issued a citation by police after she refused to close down her salon. She was given a cease and desist order letter from a judge here in Dallas County. She ripped that up. After all of that, the judge had her in court. He said that if she had apologized and admitted that what she did was wrong, then she wouldn't be sent to jail. She refused to apologize. And that's where we got where we are, right now, Shelley Luther in jail.

And then on top of that, the Texas Supreme Court here within the last hour has issued that Luther should be released from jail as well. Luther has become a celebrity among people who want to reopen the economy here much faster. But John, what many people here are asking is if she can violate this order, you can't be confined for violating these stay at home orders and the restrictions put on businesses.

What is to say that other business owners that are still under these restrictions don't just come back in full force and open up whenever and wherever they want? That's the question that is swirling around here in Texas today, John.

KING: That's an excellent question to raise if you have rules, but no teeth what will happen next, Ed Lavandera live in Dallas for us. It's a fascinating story. We'll keep an eye on that one as we go forward.


When we come back, some of the country's biggest pork plants reopen, but safety questions very much still linger.


KING: Three of the country's biggest pork producing plants are reopening today. They were closed down because each was hit with an outbreak of the coronavirus both in and around those plants, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Waterloo, Iowa, and Worthington, Minnesota.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has been tracking the food chain for us. She's with us here live. Dianne, are they opening at full capacity, all the workers being tested, what else can you tell us?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so that's the important thing here right now, John, these plants are not opening at full capacity, some of that by choice, intentional, Worthington, Waterloo, and Sioux Falls, don't really have the workforce right now to open back up at full capacity either.


So, in part, it's due to these new measures trying to adhere to those CDC, OSHA guidelines that would encourage more social distancing. You just can't have as many people and as many lines running, if you're going to try and meet that guidance. But also there are still a lot of workers who are sick right now, who are still doing those 14-day quarantines and who still have been recently exposed to the virus.

I mean, we're talking between 1,500 and 2,000 people who may have been infected with the virus from just these three plants. And look, at full capacity, they're about 15 percent of the nation's pork production, but they're not going to be running anywhere near that.

Now some of the measures that have been put into place, let's take Smithfield in Sioux Falls, for example. They're expecting to potentially be fully operational by May but they say that testing is available to all employees. All employees have not been tested fully at every single one of these plants yet. But a good chunk of them have. They're doing temperature checks. They say that PPE is available. And they've installed these physical barriers on the production floor.

Again, John, that's something that's not going to let them -- that's going to help them social distance a little bit. But the key here is, do those workers feel safe and comfortable? I've talked to some of them. They're scared. They're apprehensive. But, you know, they're willing to give it a shot right now. We'll see once they've done a couple days how they feel.

KING: We will see. And we'll keep on track of this. Dianne Gallagher has been doing some great reporting on it. Dianne, thank you very much.

And what we saw in those areas where the meat plants are close or what called another word in our new normal, coronavirus clusters. Those local outbreaks are just one of the challenges now as states begin reopening, and more and more people start interacting again.

Dr. Lee Norman is the Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment. Dr. Norman, thank you for being with us. Twenty-five to a third, 25 percent to a third of the country's beef supply comes out of your state. What are you seeing in Kansas? And when you see these other clusters in these meat processing, meatpacking plants around the country, what lessons are you learning?

DR. LEE NORMAN, SECRETARY, KANSAS DEPT. OF HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT: Well, I think that we got a little quicker jump on it in the four counties that are affected in Kansas, we haven't had shut down to the plants. You're right. It's all beef production in Kansas. About 25 percent of the beef to the United States comes through here.

The same measures that Dianne mentioned about the workplace, OSHA-type changes were put into place we've got on testing quicker and involving the communities quite well with their family members as well.

KING: So you're in the big early stages of the reopening plan in the State of Kansas and you have these clusters, they've been 75 of them total, I think in Kansas, 22 in long term care facilities. We've seen that in other states as well, 8 in churches, we've seen that, places of worship where this has happened. Some of the meatpacking plants, as you mentioned, some of the correctional facilities, 30 in private businesses.

So one of the questions is, if you're having these issues in places that are currently open or were open at the beginning of this, again, what lessons can you learn to apply as you go through the phases of your reopening plan in terms of if you just look at these long term care facilities, the meatpacking plants, places of worship, private businesses, it's a pretty obvious lesson. If you put people in tight spaces, the virus spreads. So what can you do if you go through the phases of your reopening to apply the lessons?

NORMAN: Well, we first recognize that a state especially a state as large as Kansas has very urban areas also rural and frontier. And these congregate settings are where the problems are occurring. So we don't put an equal amount of effort in every single one of the 105 counties throughout the state.

Congregate living situations, like you mentioned, John, are absolutely devoted -- we're devoting most of our time to that and certainly a disproportionate amount of testing. We're not as limited on the testing ability as we used to be. We have much more just within the last couple weeks, availability of testing really statewide.

KING: And you mention, a lot of -- as you go state by state, some states are doing better than others. You say all of a sudden you have more. What's that from? Are the state ramping up, help from the federal government, combination of the two?

NORMAN: It's really mostly the availability of testing materials coming to us through the federal sources. We were competing to buy this. We have had millions of dollars worth of invoices out. We're willing to buy it. But we are competing with other states, competing with the federal government.

And I think that it's been through the federal channels where there's much more testing. We're getting about 60,000 tests for this month, and that will help us a lot.

KING: Well, that's encouraging to hear somebody say that progress is being made on that front because it's been a sticking point for some time. Dr. Norman, appreciate your insights. Best of luck in the very important days and weeks ahead as you go through the reopening in Kansas. Appreciate it, sir.

NORMAN: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.


A rare unanimous decision from the Supreme Court which overturned convictions for two officials involved, and you might remember this one, the New Jersey Bridgegate scandal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: The Supreme Court today overturning a pair of federal convictions connected to a 2013 political scandal, Bridgegate. You might remember Bridgegate damned New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's then rising political star. Members of his administration use the power of their office to administer political payback.

They snare traffic funneling through Fort Lee tunnel up to the George Washington Bridge. Today The Supreme Court said, yes, Bridget Anne Kelly an aid to Christie and Bill Baroni, a Christie ally, who is Deputy Director of the Port Authority did act corruptly.


But, no, the high court, said -