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State of the Union

Interview With Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer; Interview With White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett; Interview With Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL); Interview With Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 10, 2020 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Rush to reopen. Most of the U.S. takes steps toward reopening, as the economic hardships grow.

KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Each unemployed person is a person whose life is now in turmoil.

TAPPER: But without more steps to combat the virus still claiming thousands of American lives each day, will reopening work?

White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker are next.

And race for a cure. Researchers rush to discover a COVID vaccine, which could be the key to ending the crisis.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we had a vaccine, that would be very helpful.

TAPPER: When can Americans expect a breakthrough? Regeneron Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer coming up.

Plus: devastating tape. Two Georgia men arrested for murder months after a deadly shooting. Why did justice take so long for Ahmaud Arbery? Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is here.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is confused.

This morning, there are more than 1.3 million cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and more than 78,000 Americans dead. The grim metrics come as states across the country are beginning to loosen their restrictions, and President Trump is urging Americans to start resuming normal life.

But the administration, to be frank, cannot even get control of this pandemic within the White House. Late Saturday, we learned three top members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Redfield, who heads the CDC, Dr. Hahn, who heads the FDA, and Dr. Fauci, will now go into some form of quarantine, after exposure to a White House staffer who tested positive.

There are now two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among White House staff members.

And while we wish them a speedy recovery, it is worth pointing out that the White House benefits from surveillance testing and contact tracing, working hard to contain the spread at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to keep those two aides from spreading the virus to, say, President Trump.

And yet President Trump is refusing to heed the warnings of those on the task force calling for him to mobilize an aggressive testing program, so that the public too is able to benefit from surveillance testing and contact tracing, so, for instance, you are safer at work or church, and your kids are better protected at school or at camp this summer.

The lack of widespread organized testing is making it especially hard for Americans and businesses to feel safe as we all begin to reopen.

And that's an issue that could have long-lasting economic consequences, as the nation is already facing the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression, with news on Friday that more than 20 million jobs were lost in the month of April.

I want to get straight to White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett to talk about the economic recovery.

Kevin, but I have to start, I have to ask you, given these two new cases reported in the White House, and key task force doctors self- quarantining, do you regularly wear a mask when you're at the White House? And are you concerned about your health and safety going to work at the White House?

HASSETT: You know, really, Jake, as you know, back in March, I was still a CNN employee, and didn't expect to go back into the White House.

But there was an emergency. They called me back in. And I built a giant data operation to help everybody track the ventilators and things like that. And I knew, when I was going back in, that I would be taking risks, that I would be safer sitting at home at my house than going into a West Wing that, even with all the testing in the world and the best medical team on Earth, is a relatively cramped place, that we set up a big data operation in the basement when I got there.

And we were interacting constantly with people who were going to and from FEMA. Right at the beginning when we were there, there were some people who caught COVID at FEMA. So, we have all been exposing ourselves to risks, under the best guidance we could possibly have to keep us safe.

But we were willing to take that chance because we love our country. And I think that there are things that have to happen in that West Wing, even if the building is a little bit old and underventilated and so on.

And so, yes, I absolutely have a mask in my pocket. I could wave it at you right now, and I practice social distancing. I wear a mask when I feel it's appropriate and -- and so on.

The mask issue is a significant one, but recall that, to get in with the president, that you have to test negative. And there's, according to what the doctors tell me, not a lot of evidence that you can pass the virus, that you have enough viral load to pass it if you test negative.


And so I think that it's sound medical judgment that is urging people to be that way. And it's not my judgment. But that's what I have been told.

TAPPER: So, the White House and White House employees benefit from surveillance testing, which is nonstop testing of individuals just to make sure you haven't contracted it, and contact tracing, for instance, those doctors, Fauci, Redfield, Hahn, all now in some form of quarantine because they came in touch, came in contact with the White House staffer who tested positive.

Nationwide, we are not seeing the same kind of aggressive surveillance testing and contact tracing that we're seeing in the White House.

Why not? Why not implement a nationwide aggressive testing and contact tracing system? What's the downside?

HASSETT: No, there is no downside.

In fact, we should use every single test that we can generate. And that's something that we're working overtime, on ramping up testing. We tested about 300,000 people, I think, on Thursday. And there are some new tests that are being approved.

And you're exactly right that the objective is to get as much testing as possible. But the really sad story about my dear colleague in the West Wing is that, even with that testing, things can slip through.

And so it's a very scary time for everybody. We have got, you know, moving in on 80,000 dead, and we have got more than 30 million getting unemployment insurance benefits.

It's a very, very stressful time for all Americans. And as we, like most every other country on Earth, start to get our economy going again, it is going to be a very difficult, emotional time for everybody, just like it is for the folks in the West Wing this weekend.

TAPPER: I want to turn to the economy, but just to put a period on this, the point the governors and others that I speak with, that they make all the time, and health officials in the administration, is, they need the president to invoke the Defense Production Act, so that this widespread testing, surveillance testing, contact tracing can happen, because they don't have the power to force companies to get the testing, the swabs, the reagents, the labs, the lab equipment all up to speed.

So, if you could convey that to President Trump, I think that's something that governors tell me all the time they need.

But let's turn to the economy. That's why you're here. Millions of Americans are out of work. President Trump...

HASSETT: Just -- just one thing on that, Jake, just -- just -- OK.


HASSETT: I was just going to throw that -- that we're talking to governors all the time. I mean, we have got a call just about every week.

I myself am taking calls personally with the governor. I met with Governor Cuomo just a couple of weeks ago. So, we are absolutely, as you suggested, listening carefully to governors to find out what's going on, on the ground.


Invoking the Defense Production Act is what I keep hearing from people in the administration and out.


TAPPER: But let's move on to the economy.

President Trump talked about all these jobs being lost. He said that those jobs will be back -- quote -- "very soon." Treasury Mnuchin told me two weeks ago, it will be months, not years, until the economy is back to the way it was.

The chief economist at Moody's told Politico that it will take until mid-decade before the economy is back to full employment.

How long do you think it will take to bring these jobs back? As you -- I don't need to tell you, there is a real dire need, and people are really hurting out there.


Well, I think the -- let's put the sort of factors on the table. This is the biggest negative shock to an economy that we have ever seen in our lifetimes. And it hit an economy that in January was about the strongest economy we had ever seen.

And so, when you have got two giant forces like that colliding, then any economist who tells you they know exactly what's going to happen is feeding you a line.

The fact, though, is that, with all of the aggressive bipartisan action to toss maybe as much as $9 trillion at this sort of bridge to the other side, that we see things like, in the jobs report on Friday, almost everybody who declared themselves unemployed said they expect to go back to work in the next six months.

And so there's a lot of hope out there that we have done enough to make it so that, when we get to the other side, we can get going again, and you have a transition back to a great economy.

And the Congressional Budget Office is a very nonpartisan place. They say that we're going to have a very strong second half of the year. I would say their numbers are probably a little bit above mine, but right about where the president is right now.

TAPPER: A working paper from experts at the University of Chicago estimates that 42 percent of the job losses will be permanent.

Is -- you don't agree with that assessment?

HASSETT: I think, you know, we're at that point, just with the COVID, right, right from the beginning, the models are moving all over the place, and we get another week's data, and then we really change what we think about things.

And I think the same is going to be true, sadly, for the economy.

I know Steve Davis and his co-authors at the University of Chicago that put that paper out. I studied it carefully.


And I think that, again, we're in an unknown period, where the biggest shock ever hit the strongest economy ever. And then really smart policies, like the small business loans, the Main Street lending facility, were put in place incredibly rapidly to help build a bridge to the other side.

And I -- it's just -- it's a very, very unusual mix. There's no precedent for it.

But, to put it in perspective, Jake, if you go back and look, when President Obama came in during the Great Recession and the financial crisis, they had an incredibly difficult lift.

And in the middle of December, they started to meet about having a stimulus package. But it didn't pass until mid-February.

This Congress and this president got together in just about a week, and did a phase three deal. And it's really, like, a historic accomplishment.

And I think the -- while there is still a lot of partisan sniping on TV all the time, the fact that people care enough about the country to put that aside and pass things with unanimous consent in this emergency, well, frankly, that's what's great about America.

And that's the kind of thing that should give Americans hope that the CBO forecast is actually a reasonable call at what might happen in the second half of the year.

TAPPER: So, you and other Republicans have signaled that there might not be another stimulus bill.

I was texting with a bunch of governors. Governor Mike DeWine in Ohio, Republican, told me that his state really needs more money for the state and for local governments. He's already cut education by almost 4 percent, which he called a big hit.

He says he's going to need to use up almost all of the rainy day funding in Ohio. He says local governments are going to start needing to lay off police officers, firefighters. This is a Republican governor. And DeWine emphasizes he's -- he doesn't want this money for pensions. He doesn't want this money to get the financial house of Ohio in order.

This is for dire needs, like education.

Can he count on the Trump administration to get him the money that Ohio needs? Can the other governors count on it?


Well -- well, where we are right now in the White House is that we have got a bunch of economies around the country, and really, frankly, around the world starting to turn the lights back on.

We're watching what happens both to economic activity and, frankly, to the path of disease as that happens, and so that we expect that, very quickly, we will have a picture about how quickly we can recover, whether we might have to slow the recovery back down because the disease is spreading and so on.

And I think that it's just premature. Given that the $9 trillion of aid that passed in the last three phases, given that that is still out there, and there's still a bunch of it that's going to be delivered over the next month, we think that we have a little moment, the luxury of a moment, to learn about what's going on, so that the next step that we take can be prudent.

Secretary Mnuchin made efforts so that the monies we have already passed to the state can be used for first responders. I think that was an important bit of help that the governors were grateful for. And, of course, if we go to a phase four deal, I think that President Trump has signaled that, while he doesn't want to bail out the states, he's willing to help cover some of the unexpected COVID expenses that might have come their way. And so I think, right now, the key is to watch the data and to make

sure that the next move is as smart as the previous three.

TAPPER: Kevin, how high do you think unemployment is going to get this year?

HASSETT: You know, I think that just looking at the flow of initial claims, that it looks like we're probably going to get close to 20 percent in the next report. Depending on whether the virus has really abated by that point and economies are getting going again, then it could start to head down from there. But I would guess sort of middle of the summer is when we are going to start to go into the transition phase.

And then I expect that, by the second half of the year, the CBO forecast is what we hope will be right, which will be that you will have very strong growth in the third and fourth quarters.

TAPPER: Before we go, some of your colleagues...

HASSETT: As a matter of fact, Jake, just to add a little to that -- OK.

TAPPER: Go ahead.

HASSETT: Could I add a little? I know remotes, the -- yes.

To add a little bit about that is, you remember that we basically stopped the greatest economy on Earth to save lives. And I think that we're very glad. We have saved lots of lives. We're very glad that we have done that.

Now we're gradually turning the economy back on. If you go from a stopped economy to an economy that's turning back on, then it kind of necessarily needs to be trajecting up, right?

And so it's not a mystery why the Congressional Budget Office expects the second half of the year to be stronger.

TAPPER: Before we go, since some of your colleagues have tested positive for COVID-19, I want to ask you about your health.

Have you had any symptoms? Have you been -- I guess you said that you were -- you were tested yesterday. Is that right?

HASSETT: Mm-hmm. That's right. Yes, that's right.

The way it works is that you can test negative, even though you have been exposed to the virus. And then you need to wait a few days to make sure that it's not going to take off on you.

And, you know, knock on wood, I have tested negative the last two days. I think that we will feel -- and I'm staying very, very distant from folks, which is why I'm here in this remote van, and we have taken extra precautions to keep the people who are -- hooked up the cameras safe.


But, basically, I think it's going to be a few days of watch and wait and make sure. And I'm expected to be tested again in the next couple of days. And then, at that point, we will be sure that -- or highly confident that it didn't come -- I didn't catch it from my colleague.

I was not in close contact with her. And my heart really, really goes out to Katie right now, because I know how stressful it must be, just like it is for so many Americans around the country.

TAPPER: Yes. Our hearts go out to her and the Navy officer as well who tested positive at the White House.

Stay healthy, Kevin. Thanks so much for joining us.

HASSETT: That's right, and the Secret Service men, too, yes.

I will give it a shot. Thanks.

TAPPER: That's right.

Governors are outlining detailed plans to open their states, but could normal life still be years -- years away?

The governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, will join me.

Plus, one company says its coronavirus treatment could be ready by fall. How hopeful should you be?

We're going to talk to that CEO ahead.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I am Jake Tapper.

Illinois is one of dozens of states now beginning to gradually ease some restrictions due to the pandemic, as that state's governor tries to balance concerns about an economic recession with that daily death toll that does not appear to be slowing.

Joining me now, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Governor Pritzker, thanks so much for joining us.

This week, the state of Illinois topped 3,000 coronavirus deaths.

Take a look at this graph. It shows the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois over time. Now, the White House guidelines say there should be a 14-day trend of downward movement in new cases before states begin the process of reopening.

Illinois has not had 14 days of downward movement. So, why are you confident that Illinois is ready to take steps to reopen?

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Well, let me begin by just pointing out that the reason that the COVID-positive numbers are going up is because we have been testing a great deal more than ever before.

In fact, we're the second most testing in the nation among the top 10 most populous states. So, that's why you're seeing just the raw numbers going up, because our raw numbers of tests have really exploded. We just finally passed 20,000 a day the other day. We want to keep

going. We have got to make sure that we test as many people as possible.

But the truth is that what we watch are the positivity rates, you know, the rate at which people are testing positive. So, is that rate stable or going down? And it is in Illinois.

We also watch the hospitalization rate, how many new people are entering the hospital, which is roughly flat around the state. And then we watch the number of hospital beds that are available. In the event that there's a surge, we have to maintain a certain number of available beds.

And, of course, we've already turned on elective surgeries in Illinois. So, you can always -- if there's a massive surge, you can turn off those elective surgeries.

Having said all of that, we're being very careful. We have a 28-day period that we're in now during the month of May in which we're watching all these numbers, monitoring them.

On May 1, I changed our stay-at-home order to make sure that we reopened our state parks and kept people socially distant, put a lot of rules in. We opened golf courses, but only for very small groups going through it, no carts. And everybody has to have their own clubs. Everybody has to wear a mask.

We put in a mask order that everybody across the state has to wear a face covering when they're in public.

So, we have done a lot to make sure that we're keeping these numbers moving in the right direction. And we will not reopen unless we meet all of the standards that I have set for doing so.

TAPPER: So, you were talking about testing 20,000 a day.

But, of course, as you know, you need to get that number higher in order for people in Illinois to have confidence that there is a real program of surveillance testing, of contact tracing.

What do you need, since the White House is obviously not going to lead a national effort to do surveillance testing and contact tracing the way that they do at the White House itself, what do you need in order to get to what Harvard says you need to get to, about 64,000 tests a day?

Are you ever going to get to 64,000 tests a day? And do you need President Trump to do something, or can -- do you have enough power yourself to get there?

PRITZKER: Well, look, you know that I have not been counting on the White House, because there have been too many situations in which they have made promises, not delivered.

Very recently, they promised a lot of swabs. They're supposed to arrive today, the first shipment of those. I'm looking forward to that.

But what we're doing is, we're going it alone, as the White House has left all the states to do. And we have done well spinning up testing. We will continue to grow our testing. We have the ability to do that on our own.

And we are -- we have had contact tracing across the state. We have county health departments that do that. We have our state health department which does that.

But what we're now going to put in place, and we're in process, is a -- we're imitating one of the great collaborative efforts that's happening in the United States, and that's what's happened in Massachusetts. It's the Massachusetts contact tracing collaborative. We can do that in Illinois.


We are, in fact. We have hired somebody who was at the CDC, you know, who is an expert at their outbreak intelligence service. And we think that we can have a massive contact tracing up in the next few weeks.

So, contact tracing, testing, you're right, in order to reopen businesses, in order for people to feel confident, we have to make sure that we're constantly growing those efforts.

TAPPER: So, there's some confusion about what your goal is in terms of reopening.

"The Chicago Tribune" editorial board published an editorial about your reopening plan. They write -- quote -- "He's being more than just cautious. He's moved the goalposts. Governor Pritzker's stated goal was to get the outbreak under control, not eradicate COVID-19 completely. We don't want his pursuit of the perfect outcome to unnecessarily delay the restarting of activities."

What's your reaction to that? And what is your end goal for Illinois to go back to some semblance of normal?

PRITZKER: Well, I think the editorial board of "The Chicago Tribune" didn't read the plan, because we are currently in phase two of my plan, still under a stay-at-home order.

Phase three, which would come if we meet these standards that I have set out, would -- is the next phase, but doesn't reopen everything. Restaurants and bars, unfortunately, would remain closed until we can see how we do in the next phase.

Phase four is just the phase before we would have a vaccine. Assuming we maybe never get a vaccine, we are going to have to deal with hopefully a treatment that will come along that will be very effective.

But, even without that, everyone's going to have to wear a mask. We're still going to have to socially distance. The truth is that coronavirus is still out there. It hasn't gone anywhere. And so we all are going to have to change the way we do things until we're able to eradicate it.

If "The Chicago Tribune" thinks that everything is going to go back to completely normal without us having a very effective treatment or a vaccine, they're just dead wrong.

TAPPER: There have been reported cases of children in Illinois being hospitalized because of a new inflammatory syndrome that doctors think is possibly linked to coronavirus.

In New York, three children have already died from this unknown disease. Are you tracking these cases in Illinois? What do you make of what you're seeing and hearing about these cases?

PRITZKER: We have seen examples of this.

It hasn't been yet categorized in Illinois. But we just put together a group within our department of public health to track these cases and, of course, to bring in folks who can help us answer the question, how do we protect children from this? What is causing this particular strain? Is it really coronavirus?

So, these are a lot of questions that are out there. I mean, I think we all thought that children perhaps were less susceptible to coronavirus. But now perhaps this is a mutation that we haven't seen before.

But whatever it is, it's my goal and, you know, our group's goal to make sure that we protect the children of Illinois.

TAPPER: All right, Governor J.B. Pritzker, thank you so much for your time today.

And good luck with the people of Illinois and keeping them safe. We appreciate your time.

PRITZKER: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: A horrifying video raising questions about justice and race.

The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, joins me next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

In Georgia, the next couple weeks will be a test revealing whether Governor Kemp's decision to quickly reopen nonessential businesses, including restaurants and movie theaters, will or will not cause a spike in COVID-19 cases, as health experts fear.

This as the state is also rolling -- roiling, rather, from the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man -- 26, actually. Two arrests were made this week, 74 days after Arbery's death.

Joining me now is the Democratic mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Mayor Bottoms, thank you so much for joining us.

First of all, it's been more than two weeks now since the governor gave an order allowing nonessential businesses in Georgia to reopen.

A new study from the University of Maryland using cell phone data finds that the number of people statewide staying home in Georgia dropped by at least 30 percent.

You have insisted that people in your city, Atlanta, stay home. Are they listening to you?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Well, you know we're getting mixed information. It's difficult to tell. When you see the crowds on television, it looks as if everyone is out, but we know that's not the reality.

Many young people are out and about as if everything is normal. There -- our malls have opened. Restaurants are reopening. But, anecdotally, I have spoken with just as many people who have said that they will remain at home.

Many of our Fortune 500 companies are not reopening for business just yet. And I think, Jake, therein lies the issue that we have really across this nation. You have Fortune 500 companies and people who have the ability to telework are able to remain at home, but our front-line workers, many who are most vulnerable in terms of having access to health insurance and to quality health care, are the people who are having to go back out to work.


And so we will see over the next couple of weeks what this massive health experiment, what the results are in our state.

TAPPER: And that leads me to my next question, because we know this virus is hitting communities of color particularly hard.

And a recent study by the CDC found that 83 percent of hospitalized coronavirus patients in Georgia were black, 83 percent.

What would you like to see from the federal government or the state government to help stop these racial disparities?

BOTTOMS: Well, I think there are so many things we can and should be doing.

One, I think that we need to make sure that people have access to funding, people who own small businesses, that they have access to these loans, and that they are able to make decisions not based on economics, but what is based best -- what's best for their health and for their families and for their communities.

But, also, I think that we have to be responsible. We know that there will be a time that we have to reopen this country, because we're not at the point that there is a cure or even a vaccine for COVID-19. But I think we have to be very thoughtful.

I don't think the way to reopen up Georgia and stimulate the economy is to send the people out who can least afford to get sick. I think there are ways that we could have done it, whether it be opening up medical offices and dental offices and places that perhaps have access to PPE and doing a truly thoughtful, phased approach to reopening, not just in our state, but across our country.

But it's very difficult to have those decisions put forth when we are getting really what I call erratic leadership from the White House and no clear blueprint on how we move forward thoughtfully as a country.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about Ahmaud Arbery, a young African- American man who would have turned 26 this last week. He was allegedly shot and killed by two white men in the state of Georgia. Those two men are now facing murder charges.

I want you to take a listen to what his father told CNN on Friday night.


MARCUS ARBERY, FATHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: Everybody loved him. If you know him, you would have seen he was a very admirable, good young man.

And to see him just get lynched like that by a racial mob like that, it's just -- it's just devastating to our family.


TAPPER: The shooting happened back on February 23. Authorities had possession of a now viral video of the shooting from the beginning, but the murder charges were not filed until this past week, after the video emerged online and shocked and outraged millions of Americans.

Do you think that the two men were only charged because the video became public?

BOTTOMS: I think that's absolutely the reason that they were charged.

I think, had we not seen that video, I don't believe that they would be charged. And it's -- it's heartbreaking that it's 2020, and this was a lynching of an African-American man.

And I think that, you know, my heart goes out to his family. But I think, again, it's a part of this bigger issue that we are having in this country. With the rhetoric we hear coming out of the White House in so many ways, I think that many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way that we otherwise would not see in 2020, because you have to remember, Jake, you know, in cities across this country, even if local leadership fails, there was always the backstop of our Justice Department to step in and make sure that people are appropriately prosecuted.

But we don't have that leadership at the top right now. It's disheartening. And I can tell you, I have four kids, three of whom are African-American boys. They are afraid. They are angry. And they are afraid.

And I think that it speaks to the need to have leadership at the top that cares for all of our communities, and not just in words, but in deeds as well.

TAPPER: Your name has come up -- speaking of leadership at the top, your name has come up in the conversation about who presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden might pick as his vice president.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, who arguably propelled Biden to the nomination in South Carolina, has called you a -- quote -- "tremendous V.P. candidate."

Do you agree?

BOTTOMS: Well, any time that Jim Clyburn speaks your name and he speaks it in a positive light, then that's certainly an honor.


I think I'm a pretty great person. I don't know if my husband will agree with that. But I certainly think that Joe Biden has the right to pick whomever he thinks will help propel him to victory in November.

So, it's an honor to have my name spoken in that light. But being mayor of Atlanta right now is a -- more than a full-time job, continuing to lead our city, but also in the midst of COVID-19.

TAPPER: I have to ask you about Tara Reade, the former Biden staff member who has accused the former vice president of assaulting her in a Capitol Hill corridor in 1993.

Vice President Biden denies these allegations. He says they're 100 percent false. Do you find Tara Reade's allegation incredible?

BOTTOMS: You know, what the vice president has said has been completely accurate. He says that Tara Reade has -- should be heard and should be taken seriously.

But I think that we have to go to the next level and then vet what her allegations have been. And there has not been anyone with any objectivity who has been able to confirm that her allegations are accurate.

The Joe Biden that I know is a man who respects women, and, again, not just in his words, but in his deeds. He authored the Violence Against Women Act. He has been a very vocal proponent of making sure that women are protected across our college campuses.

And that's not the Joe Biden that I know. TAPPER: When you talk about nobody with any objectivity, I mean,

there are people in her world, her friends and apparently her mother, who vouched for what she is saying.

I mean, I don't know what you mean when you say anybody with any objectivity. I mean, that seems a standard that very few accusers would be able to meet.

BOTTOMS: Well, what I mean by that is aside from people who know her personally.

I'm referring to the media, who has had an opportunity to vet her allegations. Also, there has not been anyone who worked in the office at the time who could corroborate the allegations that she claims she made at the time, and also being mindful of the fact that her story has changed over time.


Mayor Bottoms, most importantly, from me to you today, happy Mother's Day. Thank you so much for joining us.

BOTTOMS: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next: the promising new treatment that could be our best hope to make it safe to leave our homes in the coming months.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Medical experts say the only thing that could get the U.S. back to business as usual is a vaccine.

But that, of course, could take years to discover and create. But there is some promising news about a potential antibody treatment.

And joining me now to talk about that is the CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Leonard Schleifer.

Dr. Schleifer, thanks so much for joining us.

You have said you hope that your new antibody cocktail could enter clinical trials as soon as next month.

How optimistic should the American people be that this drug will actually work and allow us to return to something resembling normal here in the U.S.?


And happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there who are watching.

I just would say that our approach takes advantage of what's been known about the immune system for more than 100 years, that what the body naturally does when it sees a foreign virus is, it starts to generate these proteins called antibodies. And over a period of weeks, these antibodies rise, and they help the body neutralize this virus.

And our approach is to generate these human antibodies artificially, so to speak, and give people those antibodies to either prevent them from getting infected, if they're at high risk, or treat them.

Now, you ask, how optimistic should we be? Look, antibody transfer is a proven mechanism. What does a mother do to her child, her unborn child? She transfers the antibodies to the baby across the placenta. And after the baby is born, she gives the baby antibodies, because the baby's immune system isn't really up to snuff yet, through mother's milk.

And we know this approach works. And, in fact, we have done it with Ebola. We took our technology. We took a really deadly disease like Ebola. And we showed that, if you generate these antibodies, these human antibodies in what's known -- become known as our magical mice at Regeneron, you can give these antibodies to people who would otherwise die from Ebola and save their lives.

So, we should be optimistic about this approach, but we have to get real data. In this environment, there's nothing that can substitute for real science and real data.

TAPPER: As you know, creating and approving drugs like these is a very complex process.

Is it possible we might never have an effective treatment or vaccine for the coronavirus?

SCHLEIFER: Look, I think we have a very robust biopharmaceutical ecosystem.

And there's so much effort now by so many creative and entrepreneurial people. I think we will get something. The question is when.


Vaccines can be tricky. There are no vaccines for some viruses. Do I think we will get something here? Yes. Will it happen overnight? Probably not. Will our approach and others -- I should say, we're not alone. There are others, thank goodness, who are also trying to use this antibody approach.

I think that has a very good chance of succeeding. We have seen some success with remdesivir. It's not a panacea for the pandemic, but I think it is a step in the right direction.

And I hope that there will be even better ones that can be -- either replace that or added on top of it. So, am I optimistic? I am. TAPPER: Do -- whether it's a vaccine or the antibody treatment, does

the United States have the health care infrastructure, once there is something that we all should get, assuming that your optimism is proven correct, to get it out to everybody?

Does that exist?


So, there are two aspects of that infrastructure that have to be in place. One is the distribution networks. And I think that's possible. You might go to your local CVS to get this, for example, or you could go to you your -- even to your doctor, the way you would get a vaccine.

Our distribution capabilities work, OK? So I'm not worried about that.

Our manufacturing capacity, on the other hand, to make these complicated either biologics, if you will, these antibodies, or to make vaccines, I think our capacity is limited.

And if there's something we have to learn from this pandemic, so that when COVID-21 or 25 or 32 comes along, we need a little bit more capacity already in place, so that we can get to everybody.

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to something President Trump said at the White House on Friday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going go away without a vaccine. Eventually, it is going to go away. The question is, will we need a vaccine? At some point, it will probably go away by itself.


TAPPER: Is that true? Is this going to go away without a vaccine by itself?

SCHLEIFER: Well, for sure it's -- that's probably true. The question is, at what cost?

The pandemic, the flu of 1918, it went away, but there were tens and millions of peoples whose lives were lost or affected by that pandemic.

We would not like it to go away naturally. We don't want to wait, so that so many people get sick, hospitals are overrun, people are dying because we have lack of treatment capabilities, or people dying (AUDIO GAP) drug might just be available and isn't there.

So, naturally, these things will go through our population. But, in modern medicine, we like to control how that happens.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Schleifer, thank you very much. And happy Mother's Day to anyone in that house there that deserves to

be happy Mother's Day-ed. Thanks so much.

SCHLEIFER: Thanks. Hey, appreciate it.

TAPPER: Before we leave you on this very unusual Mother's Day, we want to take a moment to give our thanks and express our appreciation to all the mothers who are making the best of a difficult situation these days. For the moms juggling work and homeschooling and the care we all rely on. For the single moms who are truly incredible heroes. And for all the moms who because of this health crisis cannot be with their children today.

We want to specifically thank Shana Jones, a mom in St. Louis, Missouri who lost eight friends and family members to coronavirus and still somehow finds the strength to help others by setting up a table filled with free food, cleaning supplies, even toilet paper outside her house every morning.

We send our appreciation to a mother/daughter pair of nurses from Arkansas who traveled to New York to help treat coronavirus patients. Uchenna Onyia-Murphy and her daughter Ona worry about their own health, of course, but in addition to taking care of patients they also look out for each other.

Gratitude to Kaelyn Duesterbeck, a nurse in Janesville, Wisconsin, working long shifts to fight COVID-19, sometimes going days without seeing her own five children at home and worrying about the risks she might pose to her own small daughter who was born with one lung.

We want to wish a happy Mother's Day to Angela Primachenko, who was in a coma fighting coronavirus when she delivered her daughter Ava (ph). She woke up when her baby girl was five days old but she had to wait to hold her until she tested negative for the virus. Hoping you're getting lots of hugs this morning.

And lastly, because we know this day can be a difficult one, we want to send our deepest condolences to the six children of Sundee Rutter who died of coronavirus in March, at age 42. The children gathered outside her hospital room and said goodbye to their mom via walkie- talkie.


We are so sorry for your unimaginable loss.

To all the moms out there thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything you do.

And of course to my wife and the mother of my children as well as to my mom, my step-mom, and my mother-in-law I love you all.

Hope all of the moms out there can get just a little pampering today.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. Fareed Zakaria speaks to former Prime Minister Tony Blair and

economist Larry Summers for a peek of what the future looks like in the post-COVID-19 future. A Fareed Zakaria GPS special, that's next.