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New Day Sunday

Two Los Angeles County Deputies "Fighting For Their Lives" After Ambush; At Least 33 Dead As Wildfires Rage On West Coast; Tropical Storm Sally Gaining Strength As It Approaches Gulf Coast; Trump To Visit California Monday Amid Historic Wildfires; Trump Criticizes Nevada's Governor Over COVID-19 Restrictions And Mail-In Ballots; Bernie Sanders Pushes Biden Campaign To Appeal More To Liberal Voters; AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials Set To Resume In U.K. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired September 13, 2020 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just don't believe that it's all going to go up in smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Firefighters are battling California's biggest blaze in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After 24 hours, you will be tired. You will be beat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We watched these trees right there beside us go up and then embers flying across the lake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a climate damn emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never seen any winds (ph) like this in my life, in your lifetime. This is very devastating to our town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police are searching for the gunman who brazenly shot two Los Angeles county sheriff's department officers.

SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: That was a cowardly act. Seeing somebody just walk up and just start shooting on them. It pisses me off.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We're so grateful to have you with us this Sunday, September 13th. I'm Christi Paul.


We're starting this morning with breaking news from California. Two sheriff's deputies are in a hospital. They were ambushed and shot several times. This happened in Compton according to the Los Angeles County sheriff. PAUL: Yes. The sheriff's department is still looking for that shooter but released this surveillance video. Take a look of it. This is the ambush. That suspect walking up to the deputy's car near a train station just started shooting and then ran off.

Again, the officers that were shot are alive. We will continue to update you as we learn more about their condition, though.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We know that the sheriff tells us one is 31 years old, the other is 24 years old. Both were sworn in two years ago.


VILLANUEVA: That was a cowardly act. The two deputies were doing their job, minding their own business and watching out for the safety of the people on the train. And seeing somebody just walked up and just started shooting on them. It pisses me off. It dismays me at the same time. There's no pretty way to say it.


BLACKWELL: Our affiliate KCAL/KCBS says the police said to close the streets around the hospital after a group trying to confront deputies there. The sheriff's department called out protesters on Twitter. They said that they were blocking emergency entries and exits to the hospital.

PAUL: Authorities are asking for the public's help in providing any information on that shooting. So if you look again at that video, it is on our Web site. And if you have any information, please give them a call.

This morning there are officials in California as well who have confirmed three more deaths from wildfires. We're talking about 100 fires nearly burning across 12 states right now from Alaska to New Mexico and Arizona. And firefighters are battling two dozen major fires just in California.

Look at some of the newest pictures that we're getting here from Monrovia. More than 3 million acres have burned so far this year. Destroying at least 4,000 structures thus far.




BLACKWELL: In Oregon the officials there say that at least eight of the fires may not burn out until the winter rains start. Across California, Oregon, Washington State, at least 33 people have died in wildfires.

This morning, we're learning about two of the victims. Thirteen-year- old Wyatt Tofte who died in Oregon on Tuesday. He and his dog they died huddled together in a car. They were there trying to get away from the flames. His grandmother was found in another car nearby.


SUSAN VASLEV, FAMILY SPOKESWOMAN: Wyatt ended up going back to the car and tried to drive his grandmother out and so he attempted to drive that car and he -- the roads were so hot that it burnt up the tires. And so he wasn't able to drive it to safety.


PAUL: Camila Bernal is joining us from Marion County, Oregon. Camila, good to see you this morning.

What are you seeing today that may be different from when we talked to you at this time yesterday?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi. Well, the smoke is still unbelievable and we're still seeing these firefighters working around the clock.

Just behind all of these trucks where we're at right now, we're at a command center, there's a number of tents. And those firefighters back there are resting. But while they sleep, so many others are still out there battling those flames that are out of control at the moment. Still, at zero percent containment. They're even telling some areas or people in some of these areas not to use the water because they say they need as much of it as possible to be able to fight these fires.


So it is dire conditions in many of the areas here and the residents also struggling. Some of them even telling me that they're not sleeping. There was one woman that I spoke to who said she stays up at night thinking about her home and those of her neighbors.

And so there are thousands of people who are still under evacuation orders. Some staying at shelters, others staying with relatives. But so many also just anxious and wanting to go back to their homes.

I spoke to one man who wanted to go back to his home. But he told me that in the beginning there was just almost no time to get away from those flames. He said he felt like he was in a movie. Take a listen.


MITCH NEWTON, OREGON HOMEOWNER: It happened so fast that I was there until 5:00 in the morning watering -- trying to water stuff down and -- but it got so bad that I was having to stomp fire out with my feet. And at that point, we just knew we had to go. All the neighbors around us pretty much everything is gone. The whole town, it's just wiped out.


BERNAL: Now, he says his home is OK. But feels guilty that those of his neighbors are not. And he's not the only one. There are still people who are missing in this area. So it is concerning for that family and for so many other families in this area -- Victor, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Yes, certainly. Camila Bernal for there us in Marion County, Oregon.

Let's go now to CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. Tyler, air quality alerts. So many communities across the western U.S. are dealing with this terrible quality of air. Any suggestion there's going to be improvement in conditions today?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: So, it doesn't look like there will be any improvement over the days to come, Victor. We have nearly 100 wildfires across the West Coast. And with weather conditions not improving, that means that fire risk is still there.

We have elevated to critical fire risk from Nevada, California, all the way up into Washington. And with 100 -- nearly 100 wildfires, you're going to get a lot of smoke, you're going to get a lot of haze and that is leading to dense smoke advisories and also that terrible air quality, which is leading to air quality alerts across almost the entire state of Washington and Oregon and it definitely encompasses portions of California and Nevada as well.

We're also watching the tropics because we have Tropical Storm Sally which is just now pushing to the Gulf of Mexico. As of the 5:00 a.m. update, it is now packing winds of 50 miles per hour. And New Orleans, you're now under a hurricane warning because, as Sally pushes to the west, northwest, it is going to strengthen over these really warm gulf waters. And as it takes this journey, not only will it strengthen, but it's going to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane. And it's going to make landfall early Tuesday as possibly a strong Category 2. Then as it pushes up to the north it quickly peters out.

Now as you can see here with what the radar could potentially look like over the days to come it could -- the Panhandle Florida you can start feeling those outer bands as soon as tonight. And then eventually once we get into tomorrow we're going to see the storms begin to impact almost the mouth of Mississippi by late Monday. And come Tuesday, it's knocking on the door around New Orleans. And, New Orleans, you're going to see this system stall out and that means that we have the potential for seeing upwards of a foot of rainfall across this region, storm surge will be pretty bad as well -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We will remember Harvey sitting over Texas for so long. Hopefully, we don't see this with Sally over Louisiana. Tyler, thanks so much.

PAUL: So, President Trump is heading to California tomorrow for a briefing on the wildfires. Today, though, he's in Nevada for more campaign events. He held a rally there last night amid the air quality conditions. State officials called potentially unhealthy because of the smoke as Tyler was referring to.

BLACKWELL: The president did address the fires during his speech there. CNN's Rebecca Buck is with us now. Took him quite awhile to get to it, but what did he say? REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. It did take him a few weeks close to a month, Victor, to really say anything about these devastating fires that have been raging now for weeks across California and the western United States. But the president finally did get there yesterday during his trip to Nevada.

It was really impossible to ignore because as you mentioned, in Nevada, the air quality is being negatively impacted by the smoke spreading from these fires in the region. And so you can smell it. It's difficult for people to breathe.

The president really couldn't avoid commenting on these fires in the region. And so finally, he did offer some words of support for those fighting the fires, also some unsolicited advice.


Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight our hearts are with all of the communities in the west battling devastating wildfires.

But, you know, it is about forest management. Please remember the words. Very simple. Forest management. Please remember that. It's about forest management and other things.


BUCK: Of course, we've heard that refrain from the president before. And forest management is important to preventing and fighting these fires in California and elsewhere.

But one word, one phrase we did not hear from the president last night or previously relating to these fires is climate change. Of course, experts say that is a big reason that the fires have gotten so bad and that they will likely get progressively worse.

So one person did mention climate change. The president's rival, Joe Biden, in the presidential race. He had this to say. "President Trump can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable. We absolutely must act now to avoid a future defined by an unending barrage of tragedies like the one American families are enduring across the West today."

Of course, for now, the fire season is not even close to over. We expect months more potentially of these fire conditions in California. So a lot of people will be watching this week for what the president has to say there -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: All right. Rebecca Buck, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

CNN political commentator Errol Louis with us now. Let's start with that response, Errol, from the president to these wildfires. He mentioned again and he mentioned it a couple of times -- very slowly, forest management. Not the first time that he has talked about that. He has accused (INAUDIBLE) forest management before regarding wildfires particularly in California.

What is the expectation after that kind of language for what he will do, how he will be received in California tomorrow?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he's got a problem, politically speaking, Christi. Because he's running against reality. And this is just as the pandemic can't be denied no matter what he says to the contrary. Just as mass unemployment can't be denied no matter what he says to the contrary. And the bread lines that people see there, neighbors waiting on to get food are real.

Well, this is real. We see the orange sky. We see the satellite pictures that are clouded. We see the heartbreak of people losing their homes over and over and over again. So, if he comes and has nothing better to say than forest management is the problem here, I think he loses against reality.

People know the reality for themselves and even those who like to support Trump. I think they're not necessarily going to buy into this fantasy world he has been trying to create on so many topics including climate change on this theories on how that if he says something false enough times, people will just believe it. I don't think people are going to buy it anymore, Christi.

PAUL: I want to move to something else that he talked about yesterday, Errol. Rigged elections. He mentioned Congress, actually. This wasn't just in the presidential election. He mentioned New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California. And then he took aim at the governor of Nevada. Listen to this.


TRUMP: The governor of your state tried very hard to stop us from having this event tonight. He didn't like us having. They can have riots and they can have all sorts of things and that's OK. You can burn up the house. That's OK. You know, you call it -- we call this a protest because if you call it a protest, you're allowed to have it.

He's in charge of -- he's in charge of the election and the millions of ballots. So if I'm up like millions of votes he can rig the election.


PAUL: So he said that, Errol. He didn't offer any evidence, just to be very clear here, to fact check it. There was no evidence that he offered up that the governor would or could rig the elections as he was talking about. But he does seem to be laying the foundation. And correct me if I'm wrong here that election results in November may be illegitimate if he doesn't win.

Is there a general sense, Errol, right now that as chaotic as things are, they could actually be worse after November 3rd? LOUIS: Well, he's trying to create that chaos. That is clearly his aim. And, by the way, further fact check, when he says the governor is in charge of the elections, that's simply not true. In Nevada, as in many other states, it's really the secretary of state and local county boards of elections. So it's a 16 county boards of election and the secretary of state in Nevada were really in charge of the election, not the governor.

But here again what you'll have is Donald Trump trying to create his own reality. And in this case, he's clearly -- I mean, it's -- you know, in some ways it's amazing. It's brazen and it's audacious. He just lays out for you the strategy of the marginally, probably illegal conduct that he's intending to pursue after the election.


He's trying to create so much doubt, spread so much misinformation and outright lies that there will be nothing but confusion. And in the midst of that confusion he's going to say, I predicted the confusion. Although he caused it. And because of this confusion the results of the election cannot be trusted.

It's an unbelievably cynical strategy. It's out in the open. He did it last night. He'll do it again today, tomorrow and the next day. And voters really have to, I think, get themselves ready for the confusion that is at this point the main strategy of the Trump campaign.

PAUL: OK. So on the flip side here, Errol, there's a report in the "Washington Post" this morning about Bernie Sanders having some concerns regarding Biden's campaign. This is what is written here. "The senator has identified several specific changes he'd like to see, saying Biden should talk more about health care and about his economic plans, and should campaign more with figures popular among young liberals, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."

How does Biden balance thought that centrism that he touts to some degree with people in the camp of AOC? How does he balance that, Errol? Errol --

LOUIS: I mean, look, you've got -- you've got an issue here where the reality is that Joe Biden got to where he is as the nominee by being a so-called centrist. By not necessarily espousing every last strategy and proposal and policy idea that was coming out of the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. So, it's understandable that they want him to say more.

On the other hand, you know, Biden can say, I think, with accuracy, what I've been doing got me to where I am. This is the winning strategy. This is what we're going to do.

Does it make sense for him to try and pump up the enthusiasm of some of his core supporters? Absolutely it makes sense. I think it's more about time though than strategy at this point. We're really coming down the homestretch, Christi.

PAUL: Yes. We have 51 days to go as of this morning. Errol Louis, your perspective is always appreciated. We're grateful for you. Thank you, sir.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, a large coronavirus vaccine in trial I should say is set to resume in the U.K. This is after an unexplained illness of one of its participants.

PAUL: Also, there are several colleges welcoming thousands to watch their football games in person. Take a look at the social distance there. Did they keep it?



PAUL: Well, a large coronavirus vaccine trial is set to resume now after it was paused over safety concerns. We're learning now that two other companies though looking to expand their Phase 3 trials.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Polo Sandoval is watching the latest for us there. Polo, good morning to you.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi.

Before we get to your national look at the situation really in other parts of the country, I want to start in Arkansas. A state that on Friday reported a record 1,100 new coronavirus cases. The governor says a lot of that is because of a backlog in testing. About 13 percent of those new cases has been attributed to younger people on college campuses. So with that it really does provide a snapshot of what other campuses across the country have been dealing with. That is grappling with outbreaks just weeks into the fall semester as some efforts to secure a coronavirus vaccine put back on track.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): The AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine trial halted last week after an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers will resume, the University of Oxford announced Saturday. The university which is developing the vaccine with AstraZeneca did not say when the trail would resume, only that it would take place in the United Kingdom and that it's working with health authorities across the world to determine when other trials can resume.

Also Saturday, U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech announced a proposed expansion of Phase 3 clinical trials for their COVID-19 candidate, BNT162 to include 44,000 participants and patient populations that are more diverse. The company say the expansion could include people as young as 16 years old, as well as people with HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: The importance of these Phase 3 trials is to make sure that before any vaccine goes to widespread use, we understand the true safety profile of it. That includes not only for young healthy volunteers, it includes the elderly, the young as well as those who are sick from other disease. Including things like HIV and people who are on other medications that may affect their immune system to see that they generate antibodies and also don't have untoward side effects that may make them sicker.

SANDOVAL: Meanwhile, as wildfires ravage western U.S. states doctors are warning the bad air quality from smoke can make people more vulnerable to coronavirus infections.

DR. BRAD SPELLBERG, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF THE L.A. COUNTY-USC MEDICAL CENTER: There is evidence that exposure of the lungs to bad air quality, to pollutants can increase the protein that the SARS- COVID 2 virus binds to to infect the lung. Just that hospitals see spikes in COVID cases, you know, within a week after air pollution worsens. So, it seems to be both that it may increase the risk of transmission, your risk of acquiring it may go up and it may also make it worse.

SANDOVAL: It has been six months since coronavirus completely changed our lives and now Dr. Anthony Fauci says that normal life may not return until the end of the next year.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: I think it's going to take several months before we get to the point where we can really feel something that approximates how it was normally before COVID-19.


And for that reason, I made the projection of getting back to that state of normality well into 2021 and very unlikely before then.

SANDOVAL: This comes as a key coronavirus model is now predicting a most likely scenario of 415,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by January.

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Certainly, those numbers are troubling and they point us all hopefully to highlight the fact that lives are at risk. The public health is at stake here.

Now I see in certain areas folks wearing masks and making sure they are keeping their physical distance and not gathering in large crowds. But unfortunately, that is not universal.


SANDOVAL: Back to that issue of college campuses. Students at Michigan State University this morning being asked to self-quarantine in an effort to try to prevent further outbreak here. Already 342 people associated with the university have tested positive since late August. That obviously is deeply concerning.

According to the local health department, Victor and Christi, about a third of those that have tested positive had recently reported attending some kind of a social gathering. And a third of them apparently were sorority or fraternity events according to local health officials.

PAUL: All right. Polo Sandoval, appreciate the wrap-up. Thank you. Later this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION" Jake Tapper is sitting down with White House Economic and Trade Adviser Peter Navarro, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Florida Congresswoman Val Demings. That's "STATE OF THE UNION" today at 9:00 Eastern.

BLACKWELL: Some cellphones belonging to Bob Mueller's Russia investigation team were -- quote -- "wiped" before they could be reviewed by the DOJ's inspector general. Former special assistant to Robert Mueller, Michael Zeldin, joins us next.



BLACKWELL: All right. 31 minutes after the hour now. Two Senate Republicans are calling for an investigation after they learned that several cell phones all assigned to members of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation team were wiped or reset before the Department of Justice inspector general could review them.

Joining me now to talk about this, CNN Legal Analyst and former prosecutor Michael Zeldin, he's also the former Special Assistant to Robert Mueller at the Department of Justice.

Michael, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So, let me start here. Senator Grassley, one of those two Republican senators I mentioned, questioned if this was a widespread intentional effort. What's the plausability of that? We're talking about 27 occurrences, 15 because of incorrect pass codes being entered too many times.

ZELDIN: Yes. It's hard to know what the actual reason this occurred was. And I think it's not unfair for anyone to ask for an accounting of that. And so we'll see whether it was widespread and purposeful or whether it was inadvertent, as the prosecutors whose phones they were seemed to be saying.

But I think the bottom line, of course, is that even if those cell phones weren't wiped, there really isn't much on lawyers' phones that bear on the question of whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians or the president obstructed justice. This is all about the politics of whether or not someone believes this investigation was started without good reason.

But the office of inspector general has already concluded that it was started with good reason. So it's really not much of a substantive argument here. It's more show than substance. But let the show go forward.

BLACKWELL: So, when you say it's not unfair, would you support an inspector general investigation?

ZELDIN: Well, the inspector general actually did investigate -- BLACKWELL: After Peter Strzok and Lisa Page's text messages?

ZELDIN: Yes. And he founded the phones were wiped in the ordinary course. I expect that he'll find the same thing here. If people feel that that would be a good thing to know that the Justice Department or the FBI weren't doing political manipulation of evidence, then let it go forward. It's just not going to amount to anything that bears on Mueller's ultimate findings of collusion and obstruction.

BLACKWELL: And, certainly, that has become a talking point for the president over the last 24 hours or so, and it's on Twitter, his account there as well.

Let me ask you about the Durham investigation and the development at the end of the week that top aide to John Durham who is heading up this investigation looking into the Russia probe, that Nora Dannehy resigned without explanation, the Hartford Courant reporting that some close to her say it was because the attorney general, Mr. Barr, wants to use the findings in a political context and get them out before the election.

What do you make of the timing and the lack of any explanation? Is it unusual for the timing this far into an investigation and to not say why?

ZELDIN: Yes, it is. And we have to understand that Barr handpicked Durham, who is a very well-regarded career prosecutor, to investigate the origins of the Russia probe because he, Barr, didn't believe the OIG's conclusion that it was legitimately started.

So, Durham and this prosecutor have been working on this for a long time and she abruptly quits. And, as you report, Hartford Courant is saying she felt that Barr was trying to pressure them to get the report out before the election.

If that's true, of course, that violates DOJ policy, which says that political investigations -- investigations with political consequences should not be concluded within 60 days of an election.


And so if that's what's going on here, then she's properly resigning from this because Barr is enticing a prosecutor to violate DOJ policy around these types of investigations.

BLACKWELL: I admit and acknowledge this next question is based -- it is actually to speculate. But do you expect that there will be more resignations if that is, indeed, what's happening here?

ZELDIN: Well, I've known Durham. He's well-regarded as a person of integrity. I would hope that if, in fact, Barr is pressuring him to release a report before his conclusions are finalized so that it could have an impact the election, that he too would resign. And we'll see whether that's the case.

But one who has integrity, who was doing an investigation like this, who is being called upon to reach a conclusion prematurely because of political pressure should resign under those circumstances and should say that.

BLACKWELL: Michael Zeldin, it's been a few months since you've been on. Good to have you back.

ZELDIN: Thanks so much. It's been a pleasure.

BLACKWELL: All right. Christi?

PAUL: So, a sheriff's deputy in Clayton County, Georgia is on leave this morning after a video showed him using force to arrest a black man.

BLACKWELL: In the video, you will see two deputies here pinning down Roderick Walker to the ground. They're also seen punching him in the face. One deputy can be heard yelling, he bit my hands.

Now, Walker's attorney says his client was in a Rideshare, one of those for hire apps, pulled over for a taillight violation. And the attorney says the deputies asked Walker for identification but he said he didn't have any and challenged their right to ask for it.

The Georgia NAACP is condemning the officer's actions.


GERALD GRIGGS, NAACP ATTORNEY: And it's just distressing the level of force that was used and then the back story behind it is even more upsetting. Administrative leave is not enough. The level of force used in that video was just abhorrent. And then considering the facts, as we gather them, we've become more disturbed by what we're learning.


BLACKWELL: At the end of it, he had rolls-over with a bloody face and looks to be unconscious. Jail record showed that Walker is charged with two counts of battery, two counts of obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers.

In a statement, the Clayton County Sheriff's Office said, their entire internal affairs unit immediately started investigation when they saw the video.

PAUL: Well, President Trump is renewing claims that former Vice President Joe Biden uses drugs. He's renewing those claims with zero evidence, offering zero evidence for it. We'll have more on this in just a moment.



PAUL: 42 minutes past the hour right now.

President Trump Returning, it seems, to his 2016 campaign playbook, ramping up accusations that his Democratic rival is using drugs. He made this claim about former Vice President Joe Biden while speaking with Fox News' Judge Jeanine Pirro. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there's probably, possibly drugs involved. That's what I hear. I mean, there's possibly drugs. I don't know how you become to being so bad, you can't get out a sentence. I mean, you saw some of those debates with the large number of people on the stage. He was -- I mean, I used to say, how is it possible that he can even go forward?


BLACKWELL: And she's just sitting there nodding.

Last month, the president accused Biden of using drugs to enhance his debate performances during the primary.

Here with us now is CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter. Stelter, good morning to you.

The president has repeatedly called the former vice president all types of names. Now says he's a drug user. At least that's what he hears. Some people are saying. Zero evidence. Does this work? Does this mean anything, really?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I don't know what's worse, right? The president's lie about Biden or, as you just pointed out, Victor, Jeanine Pirro, the interviewer, just sits there and nods and doesn't interject or and doesn't ask the president for any evidence, and doesn't point out that this is nonsense.

But, of course, that's what you get when you have your friends interview you and Trump is a specialist at this in having his Fox wingmen sit down with him and ask him softball questions.

I think this kind of claim, it is part of the president's bag of dirty tricks. And he has been pulling every single thing he can out of that bag, throwing everything he can at Joe Biden. But I think the press has to frame this in the context of the polls and in other data we have that indicates that Biden is the frontrunner. Every poll has Biden in a more comfortable position than Hillary Clinton was four years ago. So when he digs into this bag of dirty of tricks and makes up claims about drug abuse or drug use, it is because he's losing in the polls. And I think that's the important context for these sorts of stories.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Christi referenced that he did this before. Let's go back to 2016. It was October, so it was a little ahead of schedule this cycle. But here is what he said about Secretary Clinton.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We should take a drug test prior, because I don't know what's going on with her. But at the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end, it was like, take me down. She could barely reach her car.


BLACKWELL: Yes. It just seems odd that people performing when there's a debate or an interview seems like there must be some drug involved, according to the president's logic. As you said, it's just reaching into a bag of dirt.

STELTER: Yes, and it also -- every time he talks about someone's performance or health, he brings up the questions about Walter Reed last year and the president's own health.

But I think this is ultimately about not the media fact-checking but about Biden, and what he chooses to do when the president lies about him.

And it thought what we've seen lately from Biden is he is holding more public appearances. So he is taking away one of the president's talking points. Last night, Trump on Twitter said, when I travel the country, Joe sleeps in his basement, basically saying that Sleepy Joe, Biden is not campaigning.

And, of course, it was quickly pointed out that Biden was out in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in New York last week, of course, not in his basement. He's been having campaign events and attending major events.

And I think what's going to be interesting is this coming week, there are two big television events involving Trump and Biden that are preludes for the debates. Trump is going to be on ABC on Tuesday in a town hall format. So, he's going to be taking questions from average Americans, not his friends on Fox.

And then two days later, Biden is holding a town hall here on CNN on Thursday night, and so same format, a town hall format, questions from real people, not from political reporters or sycophants on Fox News. I think that's going to be really interesting because they're going to get different kinds of questions, Jeanine Pirro's softballs where Trump is just able to make up lies about Biden.

It will be really interesting to see how the two candidates fare in that format because it is. We're going to be in that two-week window at that point before the first debate.

PAUL: Yes. And I know a lot of people are waiting for that debate as well. Brian Stelter, always good to see you. Thank you, sir.

STELTER: Thanks.

PAUL: And you're going to be able to watch him again on Reliable Sources today at 11:00 Eastern.

BLACKWELL: The NFL is back. We'll tell you what you can to expect to see and not see at stadiums around the country today.



PAUL: All right. We're officially in NFL season. You know there are concerns over coronavirus, the safety protocols of it in place all summer. But games are going to start playing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Carolyn Manno is with us now. Season starts also with the social justice movement at the forefront. This is something the players demanded from the league.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning to you both.

And the Minnesota Vikings are going to honor George Floyd before their game today. The Atlanta Falcons will honor John Lewis, the late congressman. He's been named an honorary captain. You're going to see messaging for social justice everywhere at every NFL stadium.

As you mentioned, Victor, this is something that the players have been calling for and they're being heard here.

The thing you won't see is fans, not everywhere at least. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to allow crowds this weekend joining the Kansas City Chiefs, who had fans at their game on Thursday. It's also Tom Brady's first game back as the Bucs' quarterback, the division matchup against The Saints and another future hall of famer, Andrew Brees.

Brady admitted that there might be a little bit of rust here on the field without a preseason but that he's ready to play.


TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QUARTERBACK: I think the first quarter of the game is probably going to be new for everybody, just getting our feet wet and understanding the speed of the game will be a little faster than what it's been in practice. Hopefully, I can recall some of the things I have done over a period of time and go out there and try to play a real solid football game against a great football team.


MANNO: In tennis, Naomi Osaka is the 2020 U.S. Open champion punctuating in an impressive run by the 22-year-old that sparked discussion about the fight for racial equality. Osaka had seven masks made for the tournament, each bearing the name of the victim of police brutality. She wore the name of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on Saturday before mounting a comeback against Victoria Azarenka in a fan-less Arthur Ashe Stadium, and becoming the first woman in 26 years to take that title after losing the first set.

She says the stories of the victims that she chose to highlight have affected her personally. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAOMI OSAKA, 2020 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: I just felt like it was important to hopefully use my platform for something good. I wasn't sure the reach it would get. But I just felt like while I'm here, while, for some reason, there is a T.V. camera on me, I might as well use it to the best of my ability.


MANNO: In the NBA playoffs, LeBron James is activated, the Laker star dropping 29 points in a game five route over the rockets. The Lakers now moving on to the conference finals for the first time since 2010. After the game, LeBron saying that he knows what his name comes with when he joins a franchise. It comes with winning, a responsibility that he takes seriously. He proved it last night.

And the Big 10 reportedly considering playing football this fall after all, the decision coming as soon as today. Citing sources Yahoo first to break the story about school leaders voting to resume the season with mid-October as a potential start date.

The Big 10 was the first Power Five Conference to postpone its season. The conference has not responded to inquiries from CNN yet.

The Big 10 likely keeping an eye on the other major conferences. 10,000 fans attended Notre Dame's season opening win against Duke at a stadium where 80,000 usually crammed into the stands. The school had crews cleaning railings. They appeared to be monitoring social distancing as well.

Kansas State allowed 25 percent capacity and required masks for its game against Arkansas State, which was a loss.


And while most fans followed protocols, the student section struggling to socially distance from one another. Christi and Victor, close to 20 college football games were played on Saturday. But already two weeks into the season, we've seen at least a dozen postponements as well because of coronavirus.

BLACKWELL: It's going to be pretty tough to navigate, but schools are -- most of them doing their best. Carolyn Manno, it's good to have you.

PAUL: Thanks, Carolyn.

We're following two developing stories for you this morning. First of all, record wildfires in the west, some of the latest pictures coming out of California for you.

Also, fears of a hurricane in the South. Stay with us.

NEW DAY weekend continues in just a moment.