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Now: Infected Trump Opens WH To Guests, Two Weeks After Super Spreader Event In Rose Garden; U.S. Added Over 57,000 New Coronavirus Cases Yesterday; Thirteen People Charged In Alleged Plot To Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer; Federal Judge Rejects GOP Fears Of Voter Fraud. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired October 10, 2020 - 12:00   ET



MATT EGAN, CNN LEAD WRITER: The really important thing to remember is that women have been hit very hard by this crisis. They're dropping out of labor force at a rate that we've never seen before. So as Republicans and Democrats struggle to get a deal here, real lives are hanging in the balance Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: That's the understatement for sure. Matt Egan, thank you so much.

EGAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right we begin at the White House where right now guests are starting to arrive for what could well become a potential COVID super spreader event.

President Trump, still possibly contagious from the coronavirus, is holding his first public events since testing positive nine days ago and we know the president has invited 2000 people and plans to greet supporters from the White House balcony.

Today's event is taking place alarmingly close to where the last large gathering on the White House grounds took place. That one now considered to be a super spreader event at the Rose Garden. At least 20 people in President Trump's inner circle have tested positive for the virus since that ceremony to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee including among those who tested positive; the president, First Lady, advisers, the press secretary and two U.S. senators.

Meanwhile Americans across the country are suffering a worsening pandemic. The nation added over 57,000 new cases yesterday. The third consecutive day infections hit over 50,000 and this outbreak putting so many lives in danger while the president in an act of potential political desperation is putting thousands of his supporters at risk by inviting them to the White House.

And all of this as we are just now 24 days out from the election and we won't see the candidates share the stage next week as scheduled because the president refused to participate in the second scheduled debate which has changed from in-person to virtual. That was the pitch following the COVID diagnosis. Well, that prompted the Debate Commission to cancel the event because the president didn't agree to the terms of a virtual event.

And this is the first time in decades, seven decades that a presidential debate has not happened. All right, let's start at the White House. CNN's Sarah Westwood is there so Sarah the president's behavior has been described as erratic. The incumbent perhaps willing to put so much and so many at risk with today's event.

Now what do we know about the arrangements made for the event and who are the nearly 2000 you know who would show up?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes Fred, we're expecting this to be a large crowd. Hundreds and potentially as you just mentioned, thousands of people are expected to gather on the South Lawn and in fact, they should be arriving within this past hour.

That's when the gates opened for guests to attend. Now these people are not necessarily going to be tested for COVID before they get out there on the South Lawn. There are some precautions that the White House announced. They say masks are going to be mandatory for the people out there and that they're going to conduct some kinds of screening which is going to entail temperature checks and a questionnaire likely about exposure and symptoms and things like that for the people to answer.

But that mask requirement was not enforced just moments earlier in the briefing room where national security adviser Robert O'Brien was seen giving a tour and they're not wearing a mask despite signs everywhere in that briefing room that everybody in that room needs to be wearing a mask.

Now White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said there are going to be these precautions in place but the president's speech today is expected to be brief.


ALYSSA FARAH, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We're making sure we're taking precautions so that those in attendance are screened before they come in. The president's at a great distance. He's going to be up on the balcony and very, very briefly address supporters there. They'll be screened. It'll be shorter but he's going to give some remarks and it'll be all outdoors distanced of course.

And then hopefully once he's cleared by the doctor, we're going to have him back on the road soon.


WESTWOOD: Now keep in mind, we're still awaiting the results of the president's most recent coronavirus test so we don't know if he is heading into this event, giving a speech while still positive for the virus and we gave an update on his health last night in which he said he is it no longer taking any medication for the virus but he revealed for the first time that lung scans at some point since his diagnosis revealed that there was congestion in his chest.

So a potential point of concern there, nonetheless the president is expected to hit the campaign trail this week. He has a rally in Florida scheduled for Monday, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood, thanks so much at the White House. All right, the president's rally at the White House also comes as there is a disturbing rising COVID cases around the country. The U.S. reported the highest daily rising cases in more than two months on Friday and the surge is happening in multiple regions and as Americans head into the holiday season Dr. Deborah Birx has a dire warning.



DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE MEMBER: So the communities that are seeing upticks, please bring that same discipline that you're bringing to the public spaces into your household and really limit engagement outside of your immediate household.


WHITFIELD: All right, the U.S. is also recording its third consecutive day of more than 50,000 new cases. I want to bring in Dr. Rebekah Gee. She is the CEO of the LSU Health Care Services division and a former Louisiana Secretary of Health. Dr. Gee, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: All right, before I ask you about you know Dr. Birx's outlook, what is your view on the fact the president says there were some lung scans done and it does show congestion? What does that tell you about the president's condition right now as he's about to host this big event at the White House?

GEE: Look, he's doing something that we're telling the public not to do, which is that if you're actively infected you should not be among other people. You should be quarantining. Whether what those lung scans showed, I don't know whether it was pneumonia or something else, clearly he was on dexamethasone and other medications that are usually used for moderate to severe COVID but the most important thing is I think it's unconscionable that he's having a public event with active COVID potentially exposing others to the disease.

WHITFIELD: All right and then just moments ago, we heard from Dr. Birx there who says you know she's concerned about the upcoming holidays, families getting together, what are your concerns?

GEE: Yes, look, I mean COVID is something that we can't see and we can't assume that just because someone is family that they don't have it. We are not at the point that we need to be with our testing and we know that people who are asymptomatic spread this disease more than people who are symptomatic so we have to carry the same precautions in public that we do when we are at home.

And so that means the Holy Trinity; mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing and particularly being conscious of those who are elders. You know this is the time to have a virtual Thanksgiving, virtual high holidays. You know these are concerning times but we know that mask wearing works.

In fact an Arizona when mask wearing was implemented, we had a new study come out yesterday, 75 percent drop in COVID cases so it's no surprise that it works with family and it also works in the public.

WHITFIELD: Among those who are asymptomatic, many of which are young people, what are your concerns about reports that it's the younger adults, young people who might be the biggest spreaders of this virus?

GEE: Yes look, we've seen big upticks in 28 states. Three states with more than 50 percent increases and nine states with seven day in a row historic increases in COVID and many of these states are in areas where colleges have reopened.

We know that 3,000 cases a day in addition to what we would expect are related to college campus reopenings and we know that the American Academy of Pediatrics in a recent report released last week said that kids are much more likely to be the ones diagnosed with COVID right now.

In fact in October about 10 percent of our COVID cases are kids. In April, it was 3 percent so certainly a dramatic rise in the number of children infected and likely responsible for local community spread.

WHITFIELD: OK, I heard you on the message you think the White House is sending with its scheduled rally today and then there is. The New York Times is reporting that the White House blocked a move by the CDC to require all passengers and workers on all forms of public transit around the country to require a mask.

You know at this point in the pandemic, the message from anyone you know to discourage mask wearing, it is just astounding. What does this tell you that the White House was discouraging the CDC to take these kinds of measures?

GEE: Well unfortunately, I think that this president has treated the American public like he's treated people in the White House and those at this event today you know with disregard for their health and I unfortunately, this is an unfortunate thing but I think that we need to listen to the scientists, the CDC and other officials like Dr. Birx who have been credible sources of information.

Dr. Fauci, throughout this epidemic and you know, not listen to politicians. They should be you know in general stop talking or when they do talk, they should use information from our experts and unfortunately, that's not what's happening.

WHITFIELD: Wow OK, yes, what a message that is. I mean all these elected leaders are that, they are leaders and it's pretty sad to hear a message that people shouldn't be listening to the leaders because some are just not honoring you know, the studies and the research and the results found by our medical and scientific community.

Dr. Gee, please stick around with me. We've got more to talk about. Meantime, Joe Biden is campaigning today in Pennsylvania and the president's decision to hold a White House event as the pandemic forces worsens is drawing fire from both Biden and his campaign.

The former vice president's campaign stops come one day after up president Trump rejected a virtual debate. CNN's Jessica Dean joining us now from Pennsylvania. So Jessica, how strongly is the Biden campaign trying to send this message?


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good afternoon to you Fred. I think it's pretty clear from the Biden campaign, they don't want Donald Trump as they said rewriting the rules for the debate this late in the game.

Their argument is that this these dates were agreed upon back in June and once Donald Trump was not willing to accept a virtual debate which the Biden campaign was, they went off and did their own thing so now Joe Biden will be in Philadelphia for a town, his own town hall next Thursday and that debate has been officially canceled by the commission on presidential debates so that means that likely the last time we will see those two men together on stage out will be October 22.

That's the third debate that was scheduled for Nashville, Tennessee. The Biden campaign has requested that that debate be a Town Hall format so that voters are allowed to interact with both the candidates but it remains to be seen exactly how all of that will shake out for the 22nd. Meantime Biden back on the campaign trail yesterday.

He was in Arizona and Las Vegas over the last couple of days in Nevada and we heard him really have his sharpest rebuke yet since President Trump's coronavirus diagnosis. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis, the destabilizing effect it's having on our government is unconscionable. He didn't take the necessary precautions to protect himself or others. And the longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he gets. How can we trust him to protect this country?


DEAN: And of course, the Biden campaign and Joe Biden have made Donald Trump's response to the COVID pandemic absolutely central and integral to their case to the American people making the case, that Donald Trump fumbled the response and as a result Americans are worse off.

You heard horns honking in the background, Biden talking there. The campaign is moved toward having drive-in events. They've been very particular about having socially distance events that are safe, Fred and here we are in Erie, Pennsylvania, a rural part of Pennsylvania.

Joe Biden has been going into some of these parts, making his case to white working-class voters right outside of the Union Hall. You can expect to hear from him this afternoon that message of economic recovery for those workers, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jessica Dean, thank you so much in Erie, Pennsylvania. Appreciate it. All right, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reports he went home from the hospital, this morning following treatment for coronavirus. He tweeted the news adding, "I will have more to say about all of this next week."

Christie tested positive for COVID-19 a week ago today. He had helped the president prepare for the first debate and attended the nomination ceremony in the Rose Garden there for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Christie, who is overweight and asthmatic had checked himself into Morristown Medical Center as a precautionary measure.

He was prescribed the antiviral drug Remdesivir. All right, coming up flooded roads, downed power lines and displaced wildlife. Hurricane Delta leaves a trail of destruction during the middle of a pandemic. I'll talk live with a doctor who was on the front lines of two disasters.

Plus an alleged terror plot foiled against Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Are President Trump's words becoming a rallying cry for extremists?




WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. We're getting our first look at the destruction caused by Hurricane Delta. The storm dumping 17 inches of rain in some parts of Louisiana and leaving nearly 600,000 people without power. Delta is the fourth named hurricane to hit the Louisiana coast this year, a new record.

The storm if swamping the state just six weeks after Hurricane Laura slammed into Louisiana and right as COVID cases continue to rise, Louisiana reporting 265 new infections and 26 new deaths on Friday. The state is part of a countrywide surge that saw over 50,000 new cases yesterday alone.

Joining me right now Dr. Rebekah Gee. She's back us, the CEO of LSU's Health Care Services Division and a former Secretary of Louisiana Department of Health so doctor, welcome back. Let's begin with the impacts of Hurricane Delta. What was Hurricane Delta and what kinds of challenges officials there are facing you know trying to assess the damage, get storm victims to safety all during a pandemic?

GEE: So look, this was a devastating blow during one of the most active hurricane seasons ever recorded six weeks after one of the strongest storms that has ever to hit the United States hit almost the same area. Fittingly, started in Cameron Parish in town called Creole and inundated with water many of these same buildings.

Over 500,000 claims in fact. Many of these same building that were hit six weeks prior. People having tarps, people not fully recovered yet, still without electricity and again being pummeled by rain.

WHITFIELD: And of course, in situations like this in the disaster zone, you know there aren't always proper protections for people who need rescuing and the rescuers themselves and now you've got that layer of this pandemic so how do emergency officials try to prioritize the various safety concerns during these rescues, evacuations?

GEE: Well look, we have one of the best governors in this nation with the strongest teams. I know they're sitting in the Situation Room right now planning for the safety of first responders and the people of Louisiana and look, we've done a good job so far. Hurricane Laura battered our coastline and 10,000 people remain housed as evacuees.


And yet we have not had a large COVID spike and that's because of great leadership, extensive testing and good public health resources so now we have been able to weather the storm previously and do a good job and so I expect and anticipate the same thing will happen with Hurricane Delta.

WHITFIELD: So what do you suppose the situation is like in the shelters where perhaps distancing, the same kind of precautions that are being recommended, I mean can they all apply at many of these shelters?

GEE: Well, I think the proof is in the pudding. We're not seeing spikes in COVID. However, it's more challenging. What we saw previously was we could put people in mass shelters. In fact, the mega shelter in Alexandria, the one that we normally use for medical evacuees is already full and we see hotel rooms throughout the region, over 10,000 as I said in Louisiana and Texas and more to come, we have about 5000 ready if evacuees need them.

But you know the good news is this is good for the hotel industry. We are able to solve the problem of getting people a place to stay but also fill a hotel room for businesses that - where it's greatly needed you know but it's been really, really challenging and it's hard for workers and certainly PPE is important, distancing is important, all of the same things and it's more difficult to transport people than it is prior to COVID because you can't pack people on buses.

But so far that that has been - the experience post Laura has been that the state and the governor have done a phenomenal job managing this.

WHITFIELD: And you used to head up Louisiana's health department so what do you believe the most critical needs are right now likely?

GEE: Well you know, usually in COVID, the governor has said, stay put, stay safe and stay vigilant but people can't stay put, right? Because they have to leave before the storm and so people need to remember to bring their medications. The things that we see in shelters are the people start to have opioid use withdrawals, people have high blood pressure, psychiatric conditions that without treatment will start to become acute.

And so immediately after storms we start to see acute medical needs, acute needs for medication and that becomes more difficult with pharmacies being overrun and not necessarily stocked for the number of people that go to certain areas.

So certainly those same type of considerations will be for Hurricane Delta.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Of course, our wishes - best wishes are going out to everybody there who are just being hit way too hard especially this year. All right Dr. Rebekah Gee, thanks so much.

GEE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right coming up, 13 men charged in a plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer but why hasn't U.S. Attorney General William Barr even discussed the case publicly? We'll talk about the growing fallout next.




WHITFIELD: On Thursday, federal and state law enforcement officials revealed that Michigan's governor was the target of an alleged domestic terrorism plot. 13 men are charged in this plot to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Six face federal charges of conspiracy to kidnap and seven others linked to a militia group are facing state charges.

According to the federal complaint, one of the goals of the group was to start a civil war. After the announcement Whitmer placed some of the blame on President Trump for refusing to condemn white supremacists. The president attacked her by saying she did a terrible job which did not sit well with the governor.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D) MICHIGAN: The fact that after a plot to kidnap and kill me, this is what they come out with, they start attacking me as opposed to what good, decent people would do is to check in and say are you OK.


WHITFIELD: Joining me now to take a closer look at the broader implications are former FBI Special agent and legal and national security analyst Asha Rangappa and Rashawn Ray, David M. Rubenstein fellow at the Brookings Institution. Good to see you both. ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right so Asha, you first. What do these charges tell you about the evidence investigators and prosecutors have on these suspects?

RANGAPPA: Well, they have direct evidence in this case, Fredericka. If you read the complaint, the FBI was using a confidential human source, an informant who was on the inside of this domestic terrorist cell, recording the conversations, both audio and video, describing their plot and this included you know firearms trainings, you know use of explosives, how they were planning to kidnap governor -- the governor and put her on trial as well as what they planned to do with law enforcement when -- in order to divert them and or you know confront them as well with violence.

WHITFIELD: And Rashawn, you know the governor isn't the only one who's making a correlation between you know these allegations and the president's rhetoric. How do you evaluate what the president has said even post these charges now and perhaps the silence of the U.S. Attorney General?

RASHAWN RAY, DAVID M. RUBENSTEIN FELLOW, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, I think what happened - well, thanks for having me on. I think what happened is unfortunately predictable. Rebecca Shankman and I at Brookings, we wrote a piece about the relationship between COVID and guns and also thinking about the economy and right-wing racism.


And one thing we know is that in places where Donald Trump campaign that in 2016, that hate crimes increased 200 percent. We also know that during this moment, particularly from say February through April, that ammo purchases increased 600 percent. And from this time compared to this time last year, that gun purchases have increased 70 percent, we know that Donald Trump in April said liberate Michigan. We also know that the recent presidential election, he says stand by talking to the Proud Boys. And then we also know that he called Kamala Harris a monster the other day.

So Donald Trump is complicit in what we're seeing happening in the Department of Homeland Security report recently stated that domestic terrorism is the biggest threat to our democracy.

WHITFIELD: And Asha, I mean, exactly what Rashawn said and then if you look at the detail, as you mentioned, of these allegations, I mean, it only adds credence to what the FBI Director Wray and others in National Intelligence had said about domestic terrorism being a huge if not the number one threat of the United States.

RANGAPPA: Yes. The FBI has been warning about this since 2019. The director testified again early this year that homegrown violent extremism is the most persistent threat to the nation right now. We also know that foreign actors like Russia, or exploiting this homegrown radicalization to agitate for things like Civil War, this is one of their disinformation, you know, talking points with which they're saturating these circles.

And I think to Dr. Ray's point, what we need to understand about the messaging that is coming from the President is that even if it is not explicitly directing these groups to commit violence, what he is doing is undermining social trust. It is telling people, you cannot trust your fellow Americans. You cannot trust the process, when he's calling it ring. You can't count on, you know, the Democratic values to, you know, protect you.

And what it does is it means that there are no ground rules. These people take this as you're helpless. You have to take this power into your own hands. And I think that breakdown of social trust, when it's coming right from the top is incredibly damaging to our Democratic fabric.

WHITFIELD: And then Rashawn and is it your feeling that as a result of these arrests of the evidence gathered, this is a microcosm of the bigger picture and threat of domestic terrorism across this country, or the severity of what we're hearing of these charges? Do you believe that this is, you know, an anomaly?

RAY: No, unfortunately, it's not an anomaly. What we know is that 75 percent of domestic terrorist acts are committed by right wing extremists. And 75 percent of them are committed by white nationalist or white supremacists.

Now, with that being said, this group is much more complex than that. They seemed to really be rallying around a distrust for government and the fact that the government has failed, the government has failed the economy, the government has failed the health and well-being of people. And their responses to that is happening.

Rebecca and I, one of the interesting things we found is that purple states, some of these battleground states like Michigan, where oftentimes you see a Democratic governor, and oftentimes a Republican- led legislature or something along those lines, that these purple states is where we see these types of fractions happening. And what happened in Michigan is not simply an anomaly. It's a pattern that we need to be serious about.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much to both of you. Appreciate it.


All right, and this just in a major ruling, on elections in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: All right, this just in, a major setback for President Trump's campaign in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. A federal judge has denied a request by Trump and the Republican Party to make ballot drop boxes in Pennsylvania, unconstitutional. CNN's Kristen Holmes, joining me now by phone. So Kristen, what else did the judge say? KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, this is a huge loss to the Trump campaign and for Republicans. And it should not be understated that this will shape the way that votes are counted both by mail and in person in this critical swing state.

So you talked about this, the drop boxes. That is a key part of it. Republicans had argued they were unconstitutional. The judge said nope. Signature mapping another big issue with mail-in voting, Republicans have tried to argue that they couldn't have just similar signatures that they had to be exactly the same as what the state had on record, which we know actually ends up having a lot of -- making a lot of ballots be rejected. A judge overruled on that.

And the last one was on poll watching, Republicans had argued that people should be able to be poll watchers outside of the counties that they live in. And of course, as we know, in Pennsylvania, there are urban areas that are more Democratic. They were arguing the people in more -- in red districts to be able to come into those districts et cetera, so again, overruled on all this.

And one very important thing to note, this judge who made this decision was appointed to the bench by President Trump. So there's no real political athlete -- politics at play here as we usually hear from the campaign. They say this was an Obama judge or this is a democratic judge. I suspect that's going to take away that argument from them.

I do want to note that there are still cases in front of the Supreme Court that have been asked to be reviewed by Republicans in the state. One of them is involving the counting of absentee ballots. A lower court judge said that it was OK for state officials to count valid up to three days after the election if they had the valid postmark.


Now Republicans in Pennsylvania had said that's not fair. They want to bring it to the Supreme Court. So obviously, it is a never-ending battle. And Fred, as we've talked about and this is a huge part of the Republican strategy, this election to keep things tied up in court.

WHITFIELD: Right. And of course, we'll see what, you know, what the Trump camp plans to do now that this judge has rendered this decision. And in this, just to underscore what you said, you know, Kristen, that he was appointed this judge, Judge Nicholas Ranjan, was appointed by Trump.

And in this 138-page opinion, he says while plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is certainly impending. They haven't met that burden. At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions, a pretty strong language coming from of the judge there.

Kristen Holmes, thank you so much. We look forward to more reporting on that. Appreciate it. And we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: Coronavirus is surging again internationally threatening to spiral out of control. The World Health Organization reported a record number of coronavirus cases Friday, more than 350,000 in one day and another 6,339 deaths. CNN international correspondents have the latest.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Melissa bell in Paris. Here in France and other record set on Friday, more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases were declared for the previous 24-hour period. This comes as for extra cities this Saturday enter the maximum alert zone that already Paris and Massey had been in.

Already here in Paris, concerns for the days to come and emergency plans been put in place for regional hospitals, with authorities fearing that there could be a flood of COVID-19 patients coming in over the course of the next few days and weeks.

Europe wide, it's a story that's being reflected elsewhere, with several countries seeing record rises this week, and several countries introducing new measures in the United Kingdom, worrying rises as well. The British Medical Association a group of doctors now calling for fresh measures including mandatory masks in public places in order to bring down what they describe as spiraling infection rates.

This comes as the World Health Organization warns that the Europe region is now declaring more coronavirus cases than the United States, Brazil, and India.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Delia Gallagher in Rome. This week, Italy has seen its highest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in six months. And while they haven't yet had to shut down or impose curfews on bars and restaurants like other European countries, they have imposed the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors. There is a fine of up to 1,000 euros for failure to comply.

Italy has also placed the United Kingdom on its list of high risk countries. That means anybody coming to Italy from the U.K. must undergo swab tests at airports and other points of entry. Other European countries on that list include France, Spain, Greece, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Italy has extended its state of emergency until January 31st.


WHITFIELD: Melissa and Delia, thank you so much for that.

All right, with just 24 days now until the U.S. election and we are witnessing yet another crisis in Washington. President Trump is still recovering from COVID. Yet today, he is invited -- he has invited thousands of his supporters to an event at the White House. And here you see a line, a very long line of people trying to get in. The world is watching what appears to be a high risk undertaking from a seemingly desperate incumbent. This brings me to a new CNN special after four years of Donald Trump serving as the President of the United States. CNN's Fareed Zakaria looks at how the world sees America. Here's a clip.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" (voice-over): Now the Queen was holding a reception for NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace.

The mood grew edgy as everyone waited.


ZAKARIA: Donald Trump was late.


ZAKARIA: One group of leaders was enjoying itself --


ZAKARIA: Canada's Justin Trudeau, Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron, Princess Anne, and Mark Rutte, the Dutch minister. They were caught in a hot-mic moment making fun of the American president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've watched his team's jaws just drop to the floor.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They were essentially laughing at the U.S. president there. That's remarkable.

ZAKARIA: The president of the United States, the most powerful country in the world, being mocked by some of its own staunchest allies.


WHITFIELD: Whoa, I am joined now by Fareed Zakaria, good to see you. In addition, of course, to the special -- Fareed is also the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS and the author of a new book, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World. Congratulations on all of that Fareed.


All right, let's talk about today first, boy, there's a lot that we can tackle. But first what is happening, you know, at the White House on the South Lawn, the President inviting people, supporters, at the White House for, you know, kind of a makeshift rally there. He's recovering from COVID and may very well still be contagious. You know, the U.S. is the world leader in COVID infections as well. How does the world see this act, this White House, this President in the way he's conducting himself right now?

ZAKARIA: You know, Fredricka? It's a great question. Because when I wrote the book, I was trying to get at the idea that this was really a huge global event that had taken place, the biggest event in a century, at least, you know, the first truly global pandemic. And for some reason, the President of the United States just doesn't seem to get it. He doesn't seem to get the idea that this is big, this is sweeping, this is global, and it is still going on.

You know, we may have COVID fatigue, the virus does not. And so to undertake something of the kind he is doing, is adding to what has become now a fixed perception in the world, based on reality, which is that the United States far from being the leader, in fighting this kind of global healthcare problem, the way we have traditionally been.

The United States is now the poster child for incompetence, we remain with 5 percent of the world's population, having 25 percent of the world's COVID deaths. We are not -- we have not taken control of it. And this is all part of this larger decline of America's image around the world.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, that is so sad. You know, you use the term knowledge, you know, get it. But, you know, the President while he was at Walter Reed, when he did his, you know, video chat with people saying, you know, I get it, I get it, I get COVID. And then he left there, A, possibly prematurely, right? And then everything that he has said or even done, and then today exemplifies, no, you don't get it. I mean, this this is costing the U.S. serious capital, not just, you know, domestically, but globally.

ZAKARIA: You know, I quote in my book, Irish commentator, who says that the world has had many reactions to the United States. Over the years, there has been awe, there has been envy, there has been fear, there has been anger and disagreement. He says, for the first time in history, the world looks at America with a new emotion, pity. They are pitying us because we are being so badly led.

WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. So while I have you here, I also want to ask you about the unfolding conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. A temporary ceasefire, agreed on for today is already on shaky ground with both sides accusing the other violations. This is just one of the multiple conflicts and crises, you know, erupting within Russia's, and Vladimir Putin's sphere.

So this New York Times piece this week also reported that Putin's image, you know, as a master tactician on the world stage is actually taking a hit in what way?

ZAKARIA: Well, you know, what's happening is that COVID has become a kind of stress test for governments around the world. Some are coming through very well, the governments of East Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany, some are doing very badly. And Putin's Russia has not done particularly well.

In addition, what you were seeing is that some of his closest allies are under stress. So it's not just the Azerbaijan-Armenia situation, which is flared up. And remember Russia was the one had that had been holding the balance. You're seeing protests in Belarus. You're seeing protests in Kyrgyzstan. These are all parts of Russia's sphere of influence, where Putin had thought he had kept things under control. But as I say, in my in my book, COVID has turned out to be the great geopolitical stress test.

WHITFIELD: Fareed Zakaria, thank you so much, always great talking to you. And of course, a great reminder with your special, you know, United States is on a global stage. The special is called How The World Sees America, a Fareed Zakaria special airing tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. I very much look forward to that. Thanks so much, Fareed.

All right, more news in a moment. But first, I want to highlight 2012 CNN Hero Scott Strode, his nonprofit provides free athletic activities and a sober support for the community for thousands. When COVID-19 forced the organization to close its gyms, they found ways to stay connected online.

Here CNN's Phil Mattingly, who joined the class to see how they've kept the interaction going strong.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep moving everyone. Let's try to get two or three more, you've got 20 seconds. I sure feel --

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was kind of your thought when coronavirus first started to spread and lockdowns really started to kick into gear?


SCOTT STRODE, FOUNDER, THE PHOENIX: I just knew that, that social isolation was going to be a big risk for relapse for a lot of people. So, pretty quickly, we pivoted to offering virtual programs. We knew we had to keep people connected in this sort of uncertain and stressful time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one. And down for the sit-up.

STRODE: Just always lifts my heart to log into a Phoenix virtual class and meet somebody in recovery who is doing the workout in their basement somewhere in Tennessee where we don't even have in-person programs, but they can come to the Phoenix, anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice job everyone.


WHITFIELD: That's awesome. For more information, go to