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New Day Sunday

Robert Trump, The President's Younger Brother, Dies At 71; Trump Campaign Plans To Upstage The Democratic National Convention; Biden-Harris Campaign Preps For Democratic National Convention; White House Withdrawing Nominee To Head Bureau Of Land Management; Faster, Cheaper COVID-19 Testing; Democrats Consider Bringing House Back Into Session Next Week Over Postal Service Issues; Mass Protest In Belarus Following Allegations Of Election-Rigging. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired August 16, 2020 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. President Donald Trump has suffered a great personal loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump's younger brother Robert Trump passing away late Saturday night.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a wonderful brother. We've had a great relationship for a long time, from day one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FDA has approved the use of a new saliva test that the NBA actually funded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a possible real breakthrough. Better testing really has to happen for us to know where we are in this marathon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats are considering cutting short the August recess to deal with the postal service funding standoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can easily have absentee voting much more widespread than we currently have and we can do that without using the post office.

TRUMP: Usually at the end of the evening they say Donald Trump has won the election. You're not going to know this for months or for years because these ballots are all going to be lost. They're going to be gone.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. Live look across the city of Atlanta. Top of the hour now and we're beginning with breaking news overnight. Robert Trump, the younger brother of President Donald Trump died at a hospital in New York. He was 71 years old.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Also this hour, this week President Trump will try to upstage the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The president set to speak near Joe Biden's hometown on the night Biden is expected to accept the nomination.

BLACKWELL: And some Democratic leaders are calling for the post master general to resign and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering bringing the House back into session within the next two weeks to discuss the crisis facing the postal service.

We'll start now with more on the death of Robert Trump, President Trump's younger brother.

PAUL: Yes. Here is CNN's Kristen Holmes.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's younger brother Robert Trump passing away late Saturday night. A night after President Trump had gone on an impromptu visit to New York City. The press had know he was going to New Jersey at the last minute they told us that he was going to a hospital in New York to visit his brother Robert. We know that he had been seriously ill. But not clear what illness he had. And he had been in and out of the hospital since the spring.

Now, the White House issued a statement on behalf of President Trump and it is clearly an emotional and sentimental statement here. It says, "It is with a heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight. He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memorial will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace," the president said.

Clearly there you can see the strength of their relationship. President Trump has said on numerous occasions that Robert Trump supported his candidacy for president a thousand percent. And, again, it is unclear exactly what the illness is that Robert Trump passed for. We are waiting to hear more information from the White House. But it is, again, his younger brother who had been ill since around the spring passed away late Saturday night.

Kristen Holmes, CNN, traveling with the president in Bridgewater, New Jersey.


PAUL: Kristen, thank you.

Now Robert Trump was executive vice president of the Trump organization. It included overseeing the organizations Atlantic City casinos.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Born in 1948 and was one of four siblings to the president. In this flamboyant family he led a mostly quiet life. Earlier this year he married Ann Marie Pallan and before that he was married to socialite Blaine Trump.

PAUL: In 2016 Robert Trump said he supported his brother's presidential run. And according to "Town and Country" he hosted events and fundraisers for Donald Trump and other Republicans.

BLACKWELL: In June he filed a temporary restraining order in an attempt to block the publication of an unflattering book by Mary Trump, Fred Trump Junior's daughter. In a statement to "The New York Times" at the time Robert Trump said he was deeply disappointed in Mary Trump's decision to publish the book which included details about the president's family, childhood and upbringing.

PAUL: Mary Trump said in an interview with Greenpeace earlier this week that Robert Trump had been sick and hospitalized -- quote -- "a couple of times in the last three months." He was 71 years old by the way.

Now, two of President Trump's children reacted to the death of their uncle in a short post shortly after the news of his death. Ivanka Trump wrote this, "Uncle Robert, we love you. You are in our hearts and prayers, always."

BLACKWELL: One of the president's sons Eric wrote, "Robert Trump was an incredible man, strong, kind and loyal to the core.


Anyone who encountered him felt his warmth immediately. He will be deeply missed by our entire family."

PAUL: CNN Contributor, Michael D'Antonio is with us now. He's Donald Trump biographer and author of "The Truth About Trump." Good morning to you. So grateful to have you with us, Michael.

What can you tell us about the relationship between the president and his brother, the president saying he was my brother but he was my best friend?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think we should take the president at his word, of course. This is a man, Donald Trump, who valued loyalty, valued trust within the small core that was the Trump organization and Robert, because he was family, I think held a special place for the president. He was involved in finance, involved in a lot of the decision making but very quiet, compared to his brother, you would almost say he was an invisible man because he cut such a small swath through New York City and through the industry but I think that made him available to Donald. I think he was ultimately a trustworthy sounding board for him and this has to be a real loss.

BLACKWELL: You know, Michael, what was evident in the statement, not only from the president but also from Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump was the sentimentality which we often do not see from this family.

D'ANTONIO: Well, you're right. And I think that this is an extraordinary situation for the president and his family because while they're very public, you see this vast record, public facing record for almost everyone in the family, when it comes to the details of their personal lives, they hold those very close.

I think this is going to be a difficult moment. They're going to, I'm sure, be asked why -- what the illness was that claimed Robert. They're going to be asked to talk about him, I think in greater detail. We may learn more about the Trump family in the coming days than we've known for years because, I think, certain truths will come out. I'm not saying that these are controversial things. I think it will actually expose some of the warmer side of the Trumps and perhaps would get to know them little better.

PAUL: That's what I wanted to ask you about because we're coming to a point this week where the DNC is going to be -- you know, they have their convention, we expect that the president is going to have a lot to say about political -- but do you think from this man that we don't see a lot of emotion from we may see something a little different this week?

D'ANTONIO: As a human being, I would hope so. This is a very -- this is lifelong relationship that he's had with Robert. I think Donald Trump has always been a person who has needed trusted friends close. And he's had a sense of being betrayed over the years.

You look at all of the controversy in his life. We're anticipating his lawyer issuing a kind of tell-all book soon. They tried to stop Mary Trump's book. I think the president at times feels besieged by people who are portraying him. Robert never did that. Robert is a person who knew more than almost anybody and he held the things close that the president didn't want revealed and I think that's how it's going to be a significant loss for Donald Trump.

BLACKWELL: Understandably. Michael D'Antonio, thanks so much.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So this is a big week for the Democrats. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, the DNC starts tomorrow. But the Trump campaign is making a pretty big investment to keep the attention on the president. What is the plan and will it work?

PAUL: Also there is a new rapid test for coronavirus that is both quick, it is inexpensive and it is been approved by the government. The question is, will this get the country closer to levels of testing that it needs to control the pandemic? We're going to take a look at that ahead.



BLACKWELL: So the Democratic National Convention starts tomorrow and President Trump plans to try to take some of the attention away from it.

PAUL: Yes. Part of the strategy to upstage the Biden-Harris campaign. The Trump campaign tells CNN they're spending an amount in the high seven figures on digital ads and hours before Joe Biden formally accepts the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday the president is going to give a speech from Biden's home state of Pennsylvania.

CNN's Sarah Westwood at the White House, right now. What do we know, Sarah, about the president's strategy ahead of the DNC beyond this?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well good morning, Christi and Victor. Yes, that strategy is appears to be distraction. The president will engage in some of the most significant campaign travel since the pandemic hit. He'll make a number of trips this week.

Just tomorrow he'll be going to Minnesota and Wisconsin as the Democratic National Convention gets underway. Later in the week he'll be going to Arizona and then as you mentioned Thursday night, the night that Joe Biden will be formally accepting the Democratic nomination, the president is set to give a speech in Pennsylvania outside Biden's hometown of Scranton.

So, obviously the president engaging in a lot of counter programming there in states that will be key to his re-election. In fact those four states are some of the places the campaign is focusing the most attention right now. So very significant travel for the president there. And his campaign will also be engaging in this very significant digital ad buy. I mean, keep in mind that the Democratic National Convention also primary digital and that is where the Trump campaign will be focusing their efforts.


They've picked up some spots and some very prime internet real estate including the banner of YouTube which they purchased for 96 hours and some of those unskippable ads on YouTube and Hulu. And, in fact, people will be -- if they're watching those videos forced to watch some of these Trump ads during the Democratic National Convention so another way that the president will be counter programming the DNC. And that is something we saw him do throughout the primary. He would frequently schedule rallies or speeches, for example, on the nights of Democratic primaries and Democratic debates. So the president is very used to trying to create a distraction.

And all of this will come as Kamala Harris, Biden's new running mate, will be stepping into the spotlight in the most significant way since she was added to the ticket. And the president, after elevating an article that questions Harris' eligibility to be vice president which, by the way, is not up for debate. She is eligible. The president was asked again about that article yesterday in his briefing and I want you to take a listen, his refusal to clarify whether he believed in that article.


D. TRUMP: I have nothing to do with that. I read something about it and I will say that he is a brilliant lawyer that -- I guess he wrote an article about it. So I know nothing about it, but it's not something that bothers me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, sir, when you do that, it creates doubt.

D. TRUMP: Why do you say that? I just don't know about it, but it's not something that we will be pursuing. Let me put it differently.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, you know.

D. TRUMP: Let me be -- let me put it differently. Don't tell me what I know. Let me put it differently. Let me put it differently. To me, it doesn't bother me at all.


WESTWOOD: Let's just be clear, Harris was born in Oakland, California, so there are no questions there. The article questioning here eligibility appeared in "Newsweek" and the president had elevated it earlier in the week during a press conference. So, we are sure to hear the president launch more attacks on Biden and Harris though throughout this campaign travel and his speeches this week, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, appreciate it so much. Thank you.

Let's bring in historian and CNN political analysts Julian Zelizer as well as Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and host of "You Decide" podcast. Gentlemen, good morning to you. Glad to have you with us.

So we know from the communications director for President Trump's campaign and ads, Sarah was just saying, President Trump is the counter programming weapon, Errol. We know distraction works with parenting. Does it work in politics?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We'll see is the short answer but, look, the reality is even if you could stick an unskippable ad on a lot of different screens while people want to do something else like watch their favorite TV series on Hulu, the question becomes, what is the actual message? Are you trying to convey to people in 15 seconds that all of what they were planning to hear from the Democrats just doesn't make any sense? Is it going to be one of these divisive messages about keeping scary, dark people out of your suburbs and all of these things that we keep hearing from the president?

I'm not sure that's going to have the intended effect. So we give them credit, I think we should give them credit for grabbing a lot of prime digital real estate, but, again, the content of the message is really what's going to be key.

I think there are going to be lot of people watching the Democrats to find out what their message is. They're kind of -- they have the initiative frankly at this point. They've got something new. They've got something different. They're talking about changing the country. Trump doesn't have any of those advantages and all of the digital real estate in the world is not going to change that.

PAUL: Julian, when we look back at 2016, what did the Democrats learn then about President Trump and the way he works and the way he strategizes that they might be able to use now themselves?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they learned they have to be more direct about what he's about and what he's saying. I don't think they have to be so restrained as Hillary Clinton often was in calling things for what they are.

And the politics of distraction is his central strategy. He would do this throughout the campaign. He will try to distract the media. He will try to distract the Democrats from what they're trying to say.

The biggest problem, though, for President Trump right now, is the more he speaks, the worse he does. So I'm not sure having more of President Trump out there in the next few days will necessarily hurt Democrats. It might be exactly what they need. It might unify them and it might remind many voters of what is going on in the country and how that connects to the White House.

PAUL: Errol, usually when an incumbent president is vying for another four years they work off what they've done thus far and where they're going to go. What do we know about where the president is going to go, in the next four years?


LOUIS: Unfortunately, that is all he's got as message is to say, if you listen carefully, Christi, what he keeps saying is we're going to have a great economy next year. Things are going to be great after we get a vaccine.

He's projecting forward because the last four years have been a disaster. He can't talk about the economy because we have got mass unemployment. He certainly can't talk about controlling the pandemic because the numbers keep ticking upward.

He's in a very difficult position when it comes to talking about his record. And so he has to talk about sort of a rosy future. Unfortunately, for him, people aren't feeling that. That's not what people are seeing. What people are seeing is we're still on lockdown, we can't figure out what is going to happen with schools in the fall, we've still got people who have yet to mourn their loved ones as this horrific number continues to tick ever upward of people who have died from the coronavirus.

So he's going to have to try to imagine a new future and that's -- you know, he's a great salesman so we'll expect him to try that. But voters, I'm not sure, are in the mood for a lot of fancy talk when they're dealing with so many serious problems right now.

PAUL: And imagining a new future is going to be the whole crux of the Democrats' argument about what they're going to do and what they're going to change.

I want to look up the lineup for the convention here starting this week. We've got the Obamas. We've got the Clintons. We've got Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren.

How persuasive, Julian, are voices like this that are so popular in the party, at a convention, and especially at a time when it is going to be very different? This is a virtual event. And you have to wonder have people made their minds up already, is this going to change anything?

ZELIZER: I'm not sure it is going to transform any kind of public opinion. I'm not sure you're going to see any huge shift. But I do think Democrats have an opportunity to use this format in an effective way.

For decades we've been talking about how conventions are more about what appears on the screen. So now it is almost entirely on the screen. And I do think it is an opportunity for Democrats to set the terms of the debate for the next few months. Even if they're not changing public opinion.

To lay out what are the basic ideas of the party and how do they differ from what the administration and the Republicans have to offer. And to show case some of the brightest voices in the party. Not only the people at the top of the ticket, but also some younger legislators, candidates, and even citizens because of the virtual nature of this who are going to define what does it mean to be a Democrat in 2020. And so in that way I think they could use this very well to start the debate that begins now and goes through November.

PAUL: Julian, real quickly before I let you go. I'm sorry. Did you want to say something, Errol?

LOUIS: Just real briefly that keep in mind that this is a chance for affinity groups within the Democratic Party to make their own internal strategies. There are all of these different meetings that are going to happen outside of the primetime speech making and that's where a lot of the real work gets done.

They get their marching orders. They make connections. They develop strategies, union groups, ethnic affinity groups, all kinds of different organizations within the Democratic Party. That is where the real work is going to get done.

PAUL: OK. So but, Julian, I wanted to ask you about this because you an op-ed out right now and you write that President Obama -- quote -- "initially reluctant to criticize President Trump in direct terms." That has changed the last few weeks. What do you think happened?

ZELIZER: Well, I think he's very concerned not just about the race but about the state of our democracy. And today, this week, he had comments about what is happening with voting, what is happening with the post office. And I think the former president has a huge role to play in being a truth-teller in the coming months about threats to our democracy and insisting that we preserve the basic mechanisms that allow voters to make their decision in November.

PAUL: Errol Louis, Julian Zelizer, it is always a pleasure to sit back and watch all of this with you and get your analysis. We appreciate you both. Thank you, sirs.

LOUIS: Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you. PAUL: And a quick programming note for you. Be sure to watch CNN's special live coverage of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, kicks off tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern.

BLACKWELL: A Trump administration official tells CNN the White House is withdrawing a controversial nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management. William Perry Pendley has been the agency's acting director since July of last year. He has repeatedly denied the existence of climate change. He's also made disparaging remarks about Muslims and immigrants. Pendley was a conservative activist, a commentator and a lawyer before taking the job.

And later this morning be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION." Jake Tapper has his guests White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Cory Booker.


"STATE OF THE UNION" airs at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

PAUL: Well, the FDA has approved what could be a game-changer for widespread COVID-19 testing. It's already been used inside the NBA bubble. We're going to tell you how it works when we come back.


BLACKWELL: A possible breakthrough in coronavirus testing has now been approved.

PAUL: Yes. The FDA has given emergency use authorization for a new saliva-based COVID-19 diagnostic test that's both cheaper to process and has a faster turnaround for results.

BLACKWELL: So students are scheduled to return to the classroom next month but there are several schools, the University of North Carolina, the University of Tennessee, Cedarville University in Ohio, they are all reporting new clusters of COVID-19 cases on campus.

PAUL: In fact more than a thousand Americans die from the virus again yesterday.


That means that the death toll since the start of the pandemic is near 170,000 now.

BLACKWELL: Let's to CNN's Brynn Gingras. She's following these headlines and more.

Brynn, let's start with the new coronavirus diagnostic test now approved by the FDA.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Christi, good morning. Just 24 hours ago, remember, we were talking about the need for more testing. Well, hopefully, this is some promising news, the FDA giving emergency use authorization to five saliva-based COVID tests.

Now, of course, these are different than the customary tests that we know with the nasal swabs and health officials are hoping that they're going to cut down -- because of the saliva base, cut down to those components, which is, in some cases, just the reagent which has caused backlogs in the past. And as you guys mentioned before the break, in one case, the saliva-based tests are being used in the NBA. So we'll see where this goes from here.

But, meanwhile, we are learning about more new cases, new cases, not only on college campuses but also among children.


GINGRAS: This weekend, a grim milestone, the total number of American lives lost since the start of the pandemic approaching 170,000 nationwide. Cases are trending down in many states but California is still the hardest hit state with more than 12,000 new cases including backlogs.

And in Florida, health officials announced 6,000 new cases.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: I think in the next three or four days, the state will surpass 10,000 people who have died. And we're thinking about the death rate going down and we're hoping it is just a few dozen. Just think about what we're normalizing. We're literally normalizing dozens and dozens or 50 or more people dying every single day. That's something that's unimaginable at any other time.

GINGRAS: And just days into the beginning of the semester, the University of North Carolina is reporting the third cluster of cases, this time tied to a fraternity. The State of Alabama reporting that more than 7,000 children there have tested positive, this is as the CDC said cases are rising among children and as many as 45 percent of those cases may be asymptomatic.

A sobering reminder from Georgia, a 15-year-old boy in the Atlanta area has died from coronavirus complications, the news coming as parents and educators face a difficult decision, how to start school.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: If you're in a community with high rates of COVID-19 even with masks on, it is likely not safe to put those kids in an indoor school building with teachers and other staff members who may be high risk themselves.

Listen, we don't want to put our kids and our teachers at risk and we don't want kids bringing the virus home to their parents or their grandparents. That's a burden that kids shouldn't have to live with it.

GINGRAS: Late Saturday, Georgia's governor reversing course and signing an executive order allowing cities to enforce their own mask mandate but exempting businesses from being forced to comply.

And some potentially promising news on testing, the FDA announcing it has granted emergency use authorization to a new method that tests a person's saliva.

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This test which, require a small bit of saliva, it doesn't need the same reagents and swabs that have been the great limiting step to being able to create testing at scale in this country. It really could be a game-changer if we could deploy it.


GINGRAS: And back here live in New York, a 9/11 tribute here in New York was canceled due to COVID concerns. But we got word from the governor's office that the state now is going to step in and help with resources in order for that tribute and lights to actually happen. You guys can imagine, Christi, how important and how significant it is to make sure that that tribute happens next month.

PAUL: No doubt about it. Brynn Gingras, so good to you see this morning. Thank you for the report.

BLACKWELL: A top Democrat says that changes to the Post Service are not only undermining the election, they are endangering lives. We're going to talk about those comments and why he says it is like signing a death warrant.



BLACKWELL: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering recalling the House to Washington to address the ongoing Post Service crisis. Top Democrats have called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to resign because of these changes he's implemented this summer, including eliminating overtime and the impact on the mail delivery.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said the changes endanger the election but hurts people who rely on the post office for medicine and other supplies and could put people at risk for getting COVID-19 if they vote in person.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): We ought not be crippling the post office. And for the president to admit that he's doing this in order to gum up the works when it comes to the elections, he is actually signing a death warrant for a lot of people that he ought not be doing this.


BLACKWELL: Joining me now is David Fineman, former Chairman of the United States Postal Service Board of Governors. Mr. Fineman, good morning. David Fineman, good morning. Do we have you?


BLACKWELL: Excellent. Listen, we are all making our way through this new technology environment so it is go to make sure we've established the shot.


Let's start here now that we have you. And I want to you listen to what the president said yesterday. This was at Bedminster.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, they want to send in millions and millions of ballots and you see what is happening. They're being lost. They're being discarded, they're finding them in piles. It is going to be a catastrophe. And this is beyond the post office.

Universal mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic, it's going to make our country a laughing stock all over the world. I'm an absentee voter because I requested, I got and then I sent in my vote. So that works out very well.


BLACKWELL: What do you make of what the president said there?

FINEMAN: I think it is a lot of hogwash. The Postal Service can handle mail-in ballots. It just has to get itself ready to do it. There was a federal judge in Pennsylvania who recently said to counsel for the Trump campaign, why don't you show me the evidence that there is a problem. So far, what we hear are statements, but we really have not seen any evidence that there would be any problem. All we're seeing, quite frankly, is an attempt at voter suppression.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So that request from that judge, that district court judge, was to show the evidence by Friday midnight. There is no indication that it was submitted. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy sent this letter out to almost 50 states in D.C., 46 to secretaries of state, supervisors of election and which he said that the ballots may not make it in time to be counted.

But let me read you something from the Postal Service's press release ahead of Christmas last year. The U.S. Postal Service is ready to deliver more than 28 million packages per day between December 16th and 21st, will average 20.5 million packages per day through the remainder of the year with a projected 800 million package deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. There are only 137 million votes cast for president in 2019.

Am I comparing apples and oranges here or do the numbers from the post office alone suggest that this is something that they could carry?

FINEMAN: Look, every year, I was -- I served on the board of United States Postal Service from 1995 through 2005 and was chairman in 2005 for the last two years of the time I served, I served under Democrats, I served under Republicans. Never before has there been an political influence into the United States Postal Service.

We deliver packaging, we deliver mail and we deliver it on time. And the Postal Service has done it for years, for centuries. Now, all of a sudden, there is supposed to be a problem. It makes no sense.

BLACKWELL: You know, it is interesting that the Government Accountability Office and even in your piece that you wrote, that was published in Baron, there is acknowledgment that something has to change. The GAO said the post office has lost at least $69 billion over the last 11 fiscal years, $413 billion in unfunded liabilities and debt which is half its annual income.

To those who say what is happening now is an acknowledgment that something has to change and those changes are happening, what do you say to those people that they've got it cut?

FINEMAN: First of all, the first change that has to happen is that the Postal Service has to stop pre-funding its pension obligations. It was written in the law in 2006 that for the next 75 years, they have to pre-fund its pension obligations. That is not needed. And I don't know of a private company that does that. There has been legislation passed in the House of Representatives and died in the Senate.

So I would say to the postmaster general, who is a good friend -- tells us he is a good friend of the president, why don't you go talk to him about supporting that legislation? Why doesn't the chairman of the board go to speak to Senator McConnell, they're both from Kentucky, and talk to them about supporting the legislation.

BLACKWELL: Before we go --

FINEMAN: That is the first step.

BLACKWELL: The first step of many, and you outlined some of in your op-ed. Do you think Louis DeJoy should resign?

FINEMAN: That isn't for me to decide. It is for the Board of Governors and the United States Postal Service to decide.

BLACKWELL: But do you have a opinion?

FINEMAN: I don't have an opinion one way or the other. He has got to stop what has been a stealth move to voter suppression.


We no longer can have these postal boxes picked up in the middle of the night. We can't remove sorting materials from large facilities in the middle of the night.

And, quite frankly, let's assume that that's what your plan is, that is your plan to change the way the Postal Service works. Why don't you show the American public what that plan is? Why don't you show to Congress what that plan is?

When I served on the board of the Postal Service, if we were going to do something, we would consult with Congress, not consult with them to the sense that they would make the decision, but, quite frankly, we would tell congressman from Pennsylvania, where I'm from, the senators from Pennsylvania, how it was going to affect -- BLACKWELL: And we'll have to see this week and Nancy Pelosi suggesting potentially that they'll bring the House back and if that will indeed happen. David Fineman, thank you so much for your time this morning.

FINEMAN: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right. A quick break, we'll be back.



PAUL: Listen to this, an NBA player lost his grandmother to coronavirus yesterday and he was still able to play the game.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Carolyn Manno is with us this morning. Carolyn, obviously, a tough time, tough decision.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, a really, really difficult decision. This is Portland's Jusuf Nurkic that we're talking about. He said he didn't want to play after learning about his grandmother's passing just a couple of hours before tipoff, but he was able to pull it together. He was emotional when he got on the court, as you may expect.

And his team's playoff chances were on the line as well. Not only did he play, he played very, very well. The Blazers center saying he ultimately felt like his grandmother was the one who was behind him making his play. He ended up producing an eye-popping 22 points, 21 boards. His team needed absolutely every bit of it. The Blazers and Grizzlies fought really hard for the final spot in the playoffs. And in the end, Portland held off Memphis to win by four.

After the game, Carmelo Anthony embracing him, his teammates embracing the big man from Bosnia. And Nurkic then tweeting, we did it, grandma, promise to fight like you did. The Blazers facing the top seeded Lakers in the first round on Tuesday, but just a remarkable story, a remarkable game.

Meantime, the Boston Bruins are without their star goalie for the rest of the post-season about an hour-and-a-half before Saturday's game, Tuukka Rask abruptly announcing his decision to leave the bubble in Toronto to be with his wife and three daughters, the rest of the team staying behind, the veterans standing up for him.


ZDENO CHARA, BOSTON BRUINS CAPTAIN: We support Tuukka's decision. There is nothing more important than your family.

PATRICE BERGERON, BOSTON BRUINS CENTER: It is not easy. Again, I don't judge anyone that is making that decision.


MANNO: Thirty-five-year-old backup Jaroslav Halak played in just one game since the shutdown, filled in beautifully. He saved 29 of 30 shots that he faced in the win over Carolina. The Bruins now up two games to one in this series.

And after returning back to school from a week-long break, nine football players at the University of Oklahoma are positive for coronavirus. While disappointed, their head coach, Lincoln Reilly, said positive cases are inevitable.

Meanwhile, the NCAA's chief medical officer telling CNN that the prospects of a season are not good right now.


DR. BRIAN HAINLINE, NCAA CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: The rationale for postponing this season is a few things really need to get in place and one is the testing has to considerably shift in the United States. Right now, if testing stays as it is, there is no way we could go forward with sports.


MANNO: So, Christi and Victor, as you know, we've been covering this all week. This is a very big story, particularly as the Big 12 continues to move forward in their preparations to tentatively play a season along with the SEC and ACC. But now, you have the NCAA saying that it is likely not a possibility. So we'll continue to follow it.

PAUL: All right. Carolyn Manno, we appreciate it, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Carolyn.

Protesters in Belarus are not giving up. They are demanding the country's president step down. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is there and tells us what they're risking.



PAUL: Well, Belarus has been rocked by protests for the past week after a highly contested presidential election that involves allegations of vote-rigging.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Let's go to CNN's Fred Pleitgen, who is in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Fred, we understand that there are protesters being bused in?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Victor. Protesters are being bused in for a pro- government demonstration. Obviously, the longtime dictator of this country, Alexander Lukashenko, trying to sow (INAUDIBLE) have some support left.

However, what you're seeing behind me is the opposition actually moving toward the protesters that they've called for today. They've called for mass demonstrations to be held here in Minsk. And, I mean, if you look around, you could really just see masses of people also on the other side there moving towards the city center.

And one thing, Victor, that we always have to point out is that these people are essentially risking everything. This is a highly repressive society. This is a highly repressive regime that they've been dealing with for the past quarter century. And, obviously, these people are saying that they have had enough of that.

So this is really key a day, if you will, for this country as the government is trying to show that it's still has some support, busing those people into the city center but the opposition is also calling for demonstrations of its own to show that they are the ones who are in the majority of this country.

And as we've mentioned, there have been so many arrests in the run-up to what is going on today, people being beaten also while they were in custody. And if you speak to the protesters, a lot of folks here, folks that we've been speaking to, they say, of course, they are afraid of coming out, of course, they are afraid about going to these demonstrations. They are afraid that security forces might start violence there again.

But they feel that they have to come out because this is such a key moment for their country's future and this is their moment, they believe, to show that they are in the majority and that they are the ones who can invoke change here in this country after, again, a quarter century of a very iron fist rule by Alexander Lukashenko, so a key day here in Belarus today. Victor?

BLACKWELL: And the honking of solidarity continuing there in the background. Fred Pleitgen for us there from Minsk, thanks so much.

The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.