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State of the Union

Trump Hospitalized With COVID-19; Interview With Biden Campaign Senior Adviser Symone Sanders; Interview With Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH); Interview With Former Trump Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates; Interview With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 04, 2020 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Very concerning. President Trump fighting coronavirus in the hospital, while his doctors and his staff give conflicting reports about his condition and when they found out he was infected.

Just how sick is the most powerful man in the world? I will speak to CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, next.

And super-spreader. More people now infected, after flouting health guidelines at the White House.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I'm hoping that this is a wakeup call.

TAPPER: Who else could they have recklessly infected within the halls of government? Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer join me to discuss next.

Plus: weeks to go with more debates scheduled and just weeks left to campaign. How will the president's diagnosis affect the election?

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jill and I pray that they will make a quick and full recovery.

TAPPER: I will speak to Joe Biden senior adviser Symone Sanders and President Trump's former deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, ahead.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is hoping for a full and speedy recovery for President Trump.

He is still in the hospital this morning, his third day, being created for COVID-19, which has killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Late Saturday, the president released another video, and the White House provided images of the president purportedly working from the hospital. The president's physician put out a new statement, saying that he had -- quote -- "made substantial progress" since diagnosis.

But we have to say, information about the president's condition has been confusing, at best.

On Saturday, President Trump's doctors briefed the public on the president's condition. They obfuscated on critical questions, such as whether or not the president had received oxygen, and refused to give basic information about, say, his temperature.

Almost immediately after that briefing, the White House chief of staff told reporters that the president's condition had been -- quote -- "very concerning." And he said the next 48 hours would be critical, according to "The New York Times," a source confirming to CNN that the president has, in fact, received oxygen.

Right now, it is of the utmost importance for the White House to provide you, the American people, with information, accurate information, factual information, about the president's condition.

We asked the White House for someone to be here to do just that today. We asked for the vice president or the chief of staff or the communications director or the president's physician. We asked for members of the Coronavirus Task Force, including health Secretary Azar, Dr. Fauci, or Dr. Birx, or the surgeon general, or the director of the NIH, or the CDC director, or the top vaccine adviser, or Jared Kushner, or the national security adviser.

The White House declined to provide any of them, any of them, to update you on the president's condition. Instead, they referred us to the president's political campaign. We told them we would be happy to take the campaign manager.

But, unfortunately, he, too, is now battling the coronavirus.

So, let's begin with the latest on the president's condition.

Joining me now, somebody that always shoots straight, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, thanks for joining us.


TAPPER: We were told yesterday and today would be critical for the president's health.

Last night, the president's doctor said he did not receive any supplemental oxygen on Saturday, but we now know he did receive supplemental oxygen on Friday.

What does this mean for the president's prognosis and for any long- term health effects?

GUPTA: Yes, well, we're still missing a lot of basic information.

I mean, I watched that press conference, and some of the most basic health information that's typically provided wasn't. Was he fever- free, off of medications? Obviously, you can give medications to reduce fever. It's critical. Was he receiving medications to reduce the fever?

Does he have pneumonia? I mean, he was asked about chest imaging or any impact on the lungs. This is a respiratory virus. Still don't know the answer to that question.

And very critical, the timeline, when was his last negative test? Because that gives us an idea of where he is in the course of his illness overall.

What we do know, as you pointed out, Jake, that he seemed to have unstable vital signs for a period of time, again, according to the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and he was on oxygen.

So, when you put that all together, those last two in particular, that does paint a course where you have got to really be concerned over the next several days. It puts him in a higher risk. The fact that he required oxygen does speak to the impact that this has had on his lungs, even if they won't show us his chest C.T. or something like that.

And we also know that, long term, if you're hospitalized, about to 85, 87 percent of people do have persistent symptoms, shortness of breath or fatigue or something like that.

The next several days are going to be critical, Jake.

TAPPER: I know young healthy people who got coronavirus who, months later, have these persistent symptoms. And President Trump obviously is 74 and clinically obese.

The chief of staff said last night that, on Friday, he was -- quote -- "real concerned" by the president's symptoms, but, publicly, at that time, the White House was downplaying it all, saying that Trump only had mild symptoms.

And, yesterday, his doctors also seemed to confuse the timeline of the president's illness, when the diagnosis happened. They refused to answer basic questions about his temperature.


For example, when's the last time he had a negative test? It really feels as though the president's team is undermining -- and I'm not -- I don't just mean the White House, but the health team, undermining their own credibility by not being transparent and by refusing to answer questions.

GUPTA: Yes, that was -- that was really quite something.

I mean, just as someone myself who speaks to patients' families, I mean, you have a certain amount of specificity when you have those conversations. And, if you will notice -- and I'm sure you did -- when Dr. Conley was out briefing, he was reading a prepared statement.

Dr. Reiner pointed this out to me, because he's briefed the press before about other people. He was reading a statement that had been prepared, had been vetted, I'm sure, and it said 72 hours since the diagnosis.

That meant the president would have been diagnosed on Wednesday morning. This is more than just political intrigue, Jake. I mean, it has real ramifications, first of all, about the time course of his illness and how things are likely to progress.

But we also know that, if he had developed symptoms on Thursday, he was likely contagious, in fact, is most contagious on Wednesday, on Tuesday, perhaps Monday.

So, now contact tracers have got to go back and look at all those people very specifically and see, what was the nature of the contact? Does someone need to be quarantined?

The timeline really matters here. It really matters, both for other people and for the president himself.


And speaking of the timeline, a senior administration official tells me that the coronavirus infections and spread likely happened when the president had that event two Saturdays ago announcing his Supreme Court pick.

That means that the president could have had the virus and could have been contagious, theoretically, at the debate on Tuesday.

GUPTA: Yes, I'm really concerned about that.

And, also, the idea that someone is diagnosed and immediately starts having symptoms is a little bit unusual, right? Once you're exposed to the virus, it does take time to build up to a detectable level within the body and for someone to develop symptoms. It doesn't happen right away.

So, exposure day, usually, on average, five or six days before someone has symptoms. So, it is -- it puts that debate squarely in the middle of what may have been his most contagious period, which is -- which is obviously very concerning.

And this is part of the medical investigation. Now contact tracers have to go back and figure out, who did he come in contact with? I mean, it's a laborious task, but obviously very necessary.

TAPPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks so much.

And one of the states the president visited this week was Ohio.

That's where he debated Democratic nominee Joe Biden. And it's unclear whether the president was contagious at the time, but it sure seems possible.

My next guest met recently with the president in his home state, but has tested negative for the coronavirus.

Joining us now, Ohio Governor, Republican Governor Mike DeWine. GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Good morning, Jake.

TAPPER: Governor DeWine, thanks so much for joining us.

DEWINE: Thank you.

TAPPER: So, President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, top aide Hope Hicks, they all now have coronavirus. They may have been contagious when they arrived in Ohio for Tuesday night's debate.

The White House is now telling me, a senior administration official telling me, that they think that the time that all these people got it was at the event two Saturdays ago at the White House, the Supreme Court event.

Has the White House called you, and, if so, when, to let you know that they potentially were carriers of the virus and did not abide by safety protocols when they came into the great state of Ohio?

DEWINE: Well, no, but I think the basic facts are pretty well -- pretty well-known, what happened.

TAPPER: They didn't call you?

DEWINE: Well, I wasn't there for the debate.

So, I was there when the president came into Dayton and when the president came in Toledo. France and I met the plane in Dayton. We went up in the plane for probably seven, eight, nine minutes, 10 minutes with the president.

So, I was not at the debate at all. So, I was not part of that.

TAPPER: No, I know that. But they flew into your state of Ohio, and they likely were contagious. They likely had the virus.

I'm not -- I'm glad that you're OK. And I know that you weren't at the debate itself or you didn't meet him around the debate.

But, I mean, has the White House reached out to you to coordinate with the White House on contact tracing, to make sure that anyone that they came in touch with, whether on the staff of the Cleveland Clinic or any other Ohioan, that they're paying attention to them and they're making sure that they don't get the virus or, if they do, they get the medical care they need?

DEWINE: Well, they have not reached out to me.

Now ,I know that I talked to the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic the other day, who gave me an update, gave me a report. So, I don't know whether they have reached out to the Cleveland Clinic or not. They have not talked to me about it, no.

TAPPER: Well, I have to say, Governor, the president and his team were -- I mean, empirically, they were reckless. In all likelihood, they brought the virus into your state. You have been working so hard -- you have been on the show many times to talk about it -- to try to help save lives in your state and to contain the spread.


The president didn't get tested before entering the hall, even though he was supposed to. Some on his team turned down masks offered to them by Cleveland Clinic officials. Members of his family who walked in with masks took the masks off during the debate.

You're the governor of the state of Ohio. Does it bother you that the president and his team put your citizens at risk?

DEWINE: Well, I think it's important what the president has done.

The president went to the hospital. That will -- could not have been an easy thing for him to do. I'm sure he didn't want to go the hospital. He made the right decision.

They put up two videos of the president talking to the people of this country. I think that is very positive.

And I think, look, this is -- what I said at a press conference I did the other day, this is -- should be kind of an alert to everybody that anybody can get the virus. Even the president of the United States can get the virus.

And so we ought to use this, and simply just learn from it. And so people who -- maybe who have not worn masks in the past, I'm hoping that they will look at this and say, look, the president can get it, I can get it, it can happen to anybody.

And I hope that that's what happens and that's what comes out of this.


DEWINE: And we pray for the president, and we pray for the first lady and everybody else who has -- who has the virus.

TAPPER: I hear you. And, of course, we all pray for the president and the first lady and anyone who has the virus, of course. We're all concerned about the president's health.

But I'm asking you, as the governor of Ohio, whether you resent individuals coming into your state and recklessly risking the health of the citizens you were elected to protect, whether at rallies, which the president staged, and masks were not required, and there was no social distancing, or at the debate in Cleveland.

Doesn't that upset you? I mean, it's really a pretty simple question. You were elected to protect the citizens of Ohio, and the president and his team were putting them at risk.

DEWINE: Look, the president's team recommended people wear masks at these rallies. There were some masks, I believe, handed out. If you saw everybody on the stage behind the president, they were all

given masks. They were all told to have -- to have the mask on.

So, this is something that we have been dealing with, not only in Ohio, but in this country, is that we have people who don't think that they should be wearing a mask. And what we have tried to talk to everyone about is that, if you do wear a mask, you just -- you're going to cut down the spread, and you're doing it for other people.

And so we're going to continue -- Jake, we're going to continue to message this and talk about this, because we know it does, in fact, make a huge -- make a huge, huge difference.

TAPPER: It's not just...

DEWINE: So, I'm not -- I'm not resentful.

TAPPER: It's not just that people aren't wearing them.


DEWINE: Look, it -- go ahead.

TAPPER: It's not just that people aren't -- people aren't wearing masks.

The president has been leading the charge, mocking people who wear masks, in fact, your own lieutenant governor encouraging individuals -- again, you have been responsible. Your administration in Ohio has been responsible.

But you're -- you -- the crowd openly booed your own lieutenant governor when he tried to encourage them to wear masks. take a listen.

DEWINE: Yes, was -- look, that was...


LT. GOV. JON HUSTED (R-OH): Hang on. Hang on.


HUSTED: Just listen up. Just listen up.


HUSTED: All right! I get it. You could at least say that you're trying to save the country by wearing one of President Donald Trump's mask, all right?


TAPPER: Is that not the consequence of the president's rhetoric against wearing masks?

DEWINE: Look, we talk to the president. I have talked to the president. And that's not what he wanted to see.

He's been very supportive of us.

We just this week -- and this has not got reported very much because of the president illness, but we're going to be getting in hundreds of thousands of the new tests, and they're going to come to Michigan. They're going to come across this country.

The vice president has been -- on behalf of the president, meets with us virtually every single week as governors. So, these are things that people don't see, Jake. And they're things that don't get covered, understandably.

But it shows, I think, what the president and what the White House has been doing to try to help the states in regard to dealing -- to dealing with this -- with this problem.

TAPPER: With all due respect...


DEWINE: What you saw on the video -- what you saw on the video...


DEWINE: ... what you saw on the video, my lieutenant governor, Jon Husted, was up there talking to a crowd.

And, look, this was not a -- obviously, this is not a pro -- generally not a pro-mask crowd. And we have people, not only in Ohio, but across the country, who don't wear a mask.

What I hope is that what we have seen with the president is a cautionary tale for people, and people will understand that, look, it can happen to the president, it can happen to you, it can happen to your family, and you wear a mask to help other people.

And so, if anything good can come out of this tragedy of the president and the White House, we hope just people will look at that, and say, we need to wear masks, and this is what we need to do to slow this thing down.


TAPPER: Yes, I just don't understand the reluctance to state the obvious, which is, President Trump has been mocking people who wear masks.

DEWINE: Look...

TAPPER: And now there are a lot of Republicans who won't wear masks.


DEWINE: Look, do I wish -- look, do I wish the president had worn masks all the time? Of course. Of course. When people go vote, there's a lot -- there's other things besides

that. I think the president has done a very good job, as I just detailed, in trying to get us the things that we need, the testing that we need...


DEWINE: ... and the PPE that we need.

And that doesn't, frankly, a lot of times get reported. And they have done a very good job.

TAPPER: Well, because the number one thing -- because the number one thing right now to help stop the spread, according to the president's own health experts, is for people to wear masks.

And no one has been more undermining of that than President Trump, who you and I both wish well.

Governor DeWine, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate it.

DEWINE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Joe Biden is keeping up his campaign schedule with trips to swing states this week. Is that safe?

Campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders joins me next.

Plus: Americans have missed weddings and funerals, the births of new grandchildren. Why did some of our country's top leaders think it was acceptable, why did they think it was safe to act differently?

Stay with us.



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

Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign has pulled all of its negative advertising after the president's diagnosis this week.

But Biden himself is back on the trail, as he tries to balance sympathy for the president and the first lady with the obvious point that Mr. Trump's battle with coronavirus is, in many ways, a glaring symbol of the president's own failures.

Joining me now, Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders.

Symone, thanks for joining us.

It's now been at least three days since President Trump, his wife, top aide Hope Hicks and others have tested positive for coronavirus. At this point, has anyone from the White House or from the Trump campaign reached out to anyone on the Biden campaign about who may have been infected at the debate to ensure that everyone on your team takes the proper precautions?

SYMONE SANDERS, BIDEN CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Thank you for having me this morning, Jake.

I want to first start by saying, we extend our thoughts and prayers to President Trump and the first lady. We're sincerely hoping that the president makes a very quick recovery, and we can see him back out on the campaign trail very soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, the folks at the White House, and, frankly, anyone that's been exposed as of late to this virus.

No, we haven't heard, to my knowledge, from the Trump campaign or the White House.

But the reality is that Vice President Biden was not exposed. According to CDC guidance, you -- less than six feet away is dangerous. Vice President Biden was always more than six feet away from President Trump.

We have been adhering to public health guidance from the beginning of this onset of this pandemic. And Vice President Biden has tested negative. Our traveling staff has tested negative.

I'd like to note that both Dr. Biden, Vice President Biden, Senator Harris, Mr. Emhoff, they all traveled on Friday, but not one person got on a plane until we were sure that everyone was negative.

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: So, we're going to continue to adhere to the public health guidelines, Jake.

TAPPER: So, I mean, the six feet is a -- is guidelines, but it's not, like, foolproof.

And we have seen cases, there have been studies of people who got the virus from somebody sitting on the complete other side of the restaurant.

Biden was tested twice on Friday, and, both times, he received a negative result. We're grateful for that.

But we know this virus can take several days to appear after an individual is exposed. Biden told reporters he was not tested yesterday, on Saturday. Why isn't he being tested daily?

SANDERS: Well, Jake, I think, in that same conversation -- I think it was a gaggle, where the vice president was going into a building, and the reporters were shouting their very good questions, might I add.

The vice president also noted that he would be tested today.


SANDERS: So, he's going to be tested today. We are tested regularly.

But, Jake, I want to remind folks at home that our campaign has been adhering to CDC guidelines.

On the debate stage, President Trump mocked Vice President Biden for his wearing of a mask. Many folks have mocked our events. Our six-feet circles, our little white circles on the ground, those are there to keep folks safe. We hold events outside.

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: When our events are not outside, we adhere to public health guidance about how many folks can be inside a building.

And so what I want to communicate is that we are not concerned because we are being safe.

TAPPER: OK, but why isn't he being tested every day? Shouldn't he be tested every day?

I mean, he was in a room with a -- with the -- you know, with Donald Trump, who, in all probability, had coronavirus at the time. And we don't know if he was contagious at that time or not, but he certainly has the virus now.

SANDERS: Well, Jake, we are being tested regularly.

And Vice President Biden, Dr. Biden, Senator Harris, Mr. Emhoff, and our staff have also tested regularly. And we're going to continue to adhere to public health guidelines. Look, according to CDC guidelines...

TAPPER: Right, but what does regularly mean? What does regularly mean, though?

SANDERS: According to CDC guidelines, Jake, Vice President Biden was not exposed.

He was well over six feet away from President Trump. And so regularly is -- look, he was tested on Friday.

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: He's going to be tested again today, and he's tested before we travel.

TAPPER: Right.

Symone, the vice president didn't do anything wrong here. I'm not trying to be -- like, blame him for being in the room with somebody who was being irresponsible.

SANDERS: Oh, no.

(LAUGHTER) TAPPER: But, I mean, I think you say he's tested regularly, but he's not tested every day, and he was clearly in a room with somebody who had the virus, if not more than some -- one somebody. I don't -- I'm not exactly sure who was in that room.

Does the Biden/Harris campaign, do you have a contingency plan in place in case, God forbid, Biden were to test positive between now and Election Day? What would you do?


SANDERS: Well, Jake, much like I wouldn't discuss our security plans here on national television, I'm not going to talk about our inner workings of our health plans, if you will.

But let me tell you this. We're adhering to CDC guidance. We are listening to the public health experts. And we are taking every single precaution. Our staff are wearing masks and are social distancing everywhere, on planes, in cars, inside events, outside events.

Jake, I have my mask right here. I had it on right up until...

TAPPER: Right.

SANDERS: ... the folks came to me. And we're wearing the masks that are keeping us safe.

So, I think what's most important here is that look, this -- again, our thoughts and prayers are with the president and the first lady.

But this is a glaring reminder that this virus is real. And because the virus is real, it is incumbent upon everyone to take this seriously.

On the debate stage the other night, the president also asserted that Dr. Fauci said -- agreed with not wearing a mask. And the reality is that his own CDC director, Dr. Fauci and others have noted that wearing this mask, Jake, is the best thing that we can do to keep people safe.

TAPPER: Right.

So, let me ask...

SANDERS: Between now and the end of the year, we can save nearly 100,000 people.

And so what I'm telling you is, look, again, we're tested regularly. We have released our negatives. And we're going to continue to do that.

TAPPER: But what does regularly mean? That's my question for you, Symone.

Like, how -- when you say the -- when you say Mr. Biden, Vice President Biden, is tested regularly, what does that mean? That's not -- that's not like a specific number. That could be every week. It could be every month.


TAPPER: And why not every day?

SANDERS: He's tested before we travel, Jake.

TAPPER: Before he travels, OK.

SANDERS: And so definitely before traveling.

He is -- he is absolutely receiving a test before we travel.


The next presidential debate is scheduled for October 15. If, before that date, President Trump's physician says that he's recovered, he's no longer contagious, would Joe Biden go forward with that debate, or would that not be enough assurance for you and your campaign?

SANDERS: Well, Jake, we are looking forward to the debate on October 15 in Miami.

It's a town hall. And, as you know, Vice President Biden loves a good town hall. And we're hoping that President Trump can participate. We hope -- we're hoping that he's medically able to participate. And, you know, that's up to his doctors to clear him.

But Joe Biden will be at that debate.

TAPPER: All right, Symone Sanders, thank you so much for your time. Stay healthy. We appreciate it.

Put that mask back on. I think you still have it in your hand.

SANDERS: I have got the mask.

TAPPER: Coming up: She's taken -- or right now, actually.

She's taken a lot of heat from President Trump over the past few months for her tough stance on coronavirus in her state.

Joining us now, Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of the great state of Michigan.

Governor Whitmer, thanks so much for joining us.

So, let me ask you. The CDC recommends that anyone who comes into contact with a confirmed positive person should isolate themselves for 14 days after potential exposure.

Obviously, Joe Biden was more than six feet away. But President Trump and the Trump team, they have behaved recklessly, and they did potentially expose Vice President Biden to the virus.

We don't know, in terms of how airborne it is, how far it can travel, theoretically. And Biden went to Michigan on Friday anyway. He tested negative. The virus can take several days to manifest.

Did you have any concerns about coming -- him coming to your state?

WHITMER: I didn't, because, you know what, we know that Joe Biden's been taking this virus seriously, has been following the science.

The Trump administration, on the other hand, has been misleading America, has been ridiculing mask-wearing, has downright undermined the efforts that governors like me and your earlier guest, Governor DeWine, have been trying to get people to mask up.

This virus doesn't care who you are. It doesn't care what side of the aisle you're on. It doesn't care what side of the state line you're on. It is still very present.

Joe Biden has been following the science and modeling the kind of behavior that we should all be emulating, because our lives are on the line.

And that's why -- that's why I'm so enthusiastic about Joe Biden as our next president, because he's got a plan to clean this up and fix this mess that the Trump virus response has gotten us into.

TAPPER: Well, you implemented some severe restrictions in your state to try to contain and control the spread of the virus. And you faced protests and mockery from President Trump.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny was in Michigan this past week. I want you to take a listen to what one voter told him about why this voter will not support President Trump in the fall.


TOM ORLOWSKY, BIDEN VOTER: This is poorly -- been poorly handled. And a lot of it could have been eliminated.

I can't help but think that it's going to be, obviously, a big issue in this election, you -- people that know people that have died or been affected by it.


TAPPER: Now, you faced those protests earlier in the year.

Do you think that view that we just heard from that voter in Troy, Michigan, is more prevalent now in Michigan than it was in March and April, when you were taking those severe steps and facing those protests?

WHITMER: I think our health is personal to every single one of us.

And when there's a White House who undermines our efforts to protect people, when they threaten to withhold resources for a state, the state that put them in the White House in the first place, people remember that.


This is a moment where we need leadership that is focused on protecting every American, whether they supported who's in the White House or not.

The American president should be protecting Americans. And that's where this administration has failed, and has failed spectacularly, 208,000 people dead, tens of millions out of work, small businesses that are shuttered.

This -- and we're still not out of the woods, not even close. We're seeing numbers rise in many parts of the country. So, this is -- this is real. And I think that sentiment is largely -- that was expressed is largely felt by a lot of people in this state, and in other states, too.

TAPPER: It's still -- it's still rough in Michigan, as I don't need to tell you. There were nearly 1,200 new coronavirus cases in your state yesterday.

If you look at the trend in your state, it's plateaued for months, and it's actually began to rise again.

Now, you took that aggressive action early on to try and contain the spread, but you have not been able to turn it around. The -- it's still going up.

Why has the spread gone down in Michigan? And do you think it's going to get even worse as we enter the winter?

WHITMER: Well, I'm very worried about it.

The Upper Peninsula is reporting numbers that were in excess of what we saw back in April and May and in the lower part of Michigan. This threat is still very real.

And the sad irony is that, on the day that the president was admitted to the hospital with the very virus he called a hoax, the Supreme Court in Michigan undermined my emergency rule, my emergency orders that I have had to enact that puts us in the same state as all other states in this nation to save lives.

We have saved thousands of lives. And the Supreme Court, on a slim majority Republican vote, undermined that effort. And so I remain very concerned.

And the thing that I know is that Michiganders have an opportunity to weigh in on our Supreme Court on this November 3 ballot. And I'm hoping they elect McCormack and Welch, because we have got to have justices who do the right thing and follow the rule of law.

TAPPER: Just a quick fact-check.

The president didn't call the virus a hoax. He called Democratic and media concerns about it a hoax. That also is false, but that's just the precise lie that he told. After months of holding...


TAPPER: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

WHITMER: I was just going to say, I appreciate you clarifying that. I think that's an important clarification. He didn't call the virus a hoax.

But he called all of the concern...

TAPPER: Right.

WHITMER: ... all of the efforts, he undermined that, and ridiculed us, ridiculed the press.

And now we see that even he is susceptible to this. The most protected person the planet is susceptible, which means we all are.

TAPPER: It's fact-checking in the age of Trump: He didn't tell this lie. He told that lie.


TAPPER: Governor Whitmer, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

As COVID now cascades through President Trump's inner circle, somebody who knew the Trump campaign well, the president's former deputy campaign manager, joins us next.



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

The president's coronavirus diagnosis has pulled him off the campaign trail with a month ago until the election.

Joining me now for his very first (INAUDIBLE) interview is someone who knows all about the Trump campaign machine, former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates.

Gates is out with a new book following his guilty plea in the Mueller investigation to conspiracy and making false statements. Gates was one of the key cooperators for the special counsel. His new book is -- quote -- "Wicked Game: An Insider's Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed, and America Lost."

Mr. Gates, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

RICK GATES, FORMER TRUMP DEPUTY CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Good morning, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, let me just try to get some insight from you about what's going on now, although I know you're not part of the Trump team right now.

Even after learning that his close adviser Hope Hicks, with whom had been in close contact, had the virus, the president traveled to a New Jersey fund-raiser, where he potentially exposed plenty of others to the virus, including Navy aviators on Air Force One, et cetera.

At nearly every turn, the president's downplayed the virus, disregarded the most basic health measures, such as masks.

Provide us some insight here. You worked with many people now in the White House. You worked with President Trump.

Why did -- is this reckless approach the official policy of this administration? If he had just embraced the medicine, the science, the health care advisers, the country would be in a better place, and no doubt he would be in a better place politically.

GATES: Well, Jake, first, I'd say I think the president is good at -- very good at making his own decisions. And I think he did that in the course of 2016, and he's doing it now.

And I think what you're seeing is an effect of those decisions. And I think that there is no government in the world that was prepared for this pandemic. And I think that we're doing a great job of pulling together the best and brightest that America has.

He's got good scientists. He's got good biotechnology engineers. And I think he's really doing all he can to pull everybody together to find a solution and, frankly, a vaccine to this virus.

TAPPER: Well, the vaccine and Operation Warp Speed is a real success story. And, hopefully, that will work. But everything else you said there is not accurate.

But let's just move on and talk about your book.

You say that you wrote this book because, if American politics does not change -- quote -- "There's a very good chance that the democratic values we stand for as a nation will soon be in jeopardy, if they are not already" -- unquote.

Now, President Trump has been really trying to undermine confidence in voting, to the chagrin of not just Democratic, but Republican governors and secretaries of state. He's repeatedly declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

Isn't that also a threat to the American democracy that you talk about? And do you think he will accept a peaceful transition if he loses?

GATES: Yes, first, let me say about the book, what I tried to do in that was capture two themes in my time.

With the president and the rest of the campaign, what we learned from that whole process is that, first and foremost, the political process is broken. Here's a man that basically went out, has never held political office, and was able to beat the party establishment of his own party.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

GATES: He was able to have a message that resonated with people.

And it was a situation where -- we have never had in this country before, where somebody that believes passionately about his principles, his values, what he stood for was able to capture that with the American people.

And so I think, from that standpoint, watching him beat 17 other individual Republican candidates, and really show how he could take a message to the American people and have that message resonate, that people were tired of politicians.

TAPPER: Right.

GATES: People were tired of political inaction. And -- and President Trump's message resonated.

So, I think, from that process, what I was able to do, being in that position, being in that seat, I wanted to show the American people what it meant to see an outsider actually go all the way to the top.

My hope, eventually, is that other people in America don't think that they have to run for governor or senator or congressman to be president, that anybody in our country can have the opportunity to take a chance at that office.

TAPPER: Obviously, for the last few years, the Russia investigation, the Mueller report, prosecution, all of that has been a part of your life.

You deny that there was any conspiracy -- conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Obviously, Mueller was not able to find any, what he thought, prosecutable evidence of conspiracy.

But you have admitted that you repeatedly shared private Trump internal campaign polling data with your associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who we now know was a Russian intelligence operative.

Now, you have downplayed the value of that polling information.


But former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann in his new book says -- quote -- "It is possible that access to the campaign's polling data could help Russia refine and better target the online disinformation efforts" -- unquote.

Did that never occur to you? What did you think Kilimnik was doing with that internal polling data that you sent him?

GATES: Sure, Jake.

First, I think it's important to make sure that we have all the facts. And I know the idea that Konstantin Kilimnik has been an operative of the Russian government has gone widely through the media.

But I think there's another piece to that. And through this investigation -- and it was very clear through State Department cables from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev that Konstantin was also a high-value asset of the United States government.

He was providing information to the United States government on a host of information that was coming with Ukraine, as well as other countries that I'm not even aware of.

TAPPER: The Senate Intelligence Committee says he is a Russian intelligence...

GATES: So, I think just to say that he was a Russian operative...

TAPPER: But that's according to the Senate -- the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee. That's not from the media. That's from the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee.

GATES: That's correct. But where's the evidence? There's been no evidence to that contrary.

And, more importantly, why didn't they include the evidence that does exist, which is those State Department cables...


GATES: ... U.S. State Department officials recording exactly what they did and didn't do with Mr. Kilimnik?

TAPPER: Yes, so -- but -- OK.

Even if that's -- even if he's a double agent, OK, he's a Russian intelligence operative, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And my question is, you provided him with internal campaign data. What do you think he was doing with it? I mean, obviously, the Russian government interfered in the election in 2016. They did through different disinformation campaign.

Is it not possible that they took the internal campaign data that you provided, and used it to interfere in the election?

GATES: Well, first, let me say about the campaign data -- and there's been a lot of misinformation over the last three years about that specific data.

And just to be clear, and for the first time hearing it from me, that campaign data, in most cases, was dated, and it was called top-line data. That is simply that it has Trump 50 percent, Clinton 48 percent. There was no specific, detailed data about any of those polls.

It was a combination of some internal polling on specific states, as well as a lot of public data that was shared. And in most cases, it was several days after the fact. That information was given to Konstantin to provide information to people in Ukraine. I was never led to believe that it was going to anybody other than the two people that he specified.


GATES: And I took him at his word for that.


I mean, the point of fact is, we have no idea what Konstantin Kilimnik did with that data. And it's entirely possible that it was used for nefarious purposes in the United States.

Let me just put the shoe on the other foot here, hypothetically. If it came out tomorrow that Joe Biden's campaign manager or deputy campaign manager was sharing even just top-line internal polling information with the government of China or the government of Iran, you're telling me that Republicans would not be apoplectic about that?

GATES: Oh, no, I'm sure they would be apoplectic about it.

But I think the thing that certainly I learned throughout this process is, let's make sure we have all the facts. There's been so much misinformation, disinformation, deflection, deception throughout this entire Mueller investigation. And I think the important thing is, let's gather all the facts.

So, to answer your question, if that information came out, let's dig into it. Let's see what it was. What specifically did -- did -- what information was shared with the Chinese government. Let's make sure we have all the facts before jumping to conclusions, which is exactly what they did with the Mueller investigation and the idea that there was Russia collusion with the Trump campaign.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, in terms of -- in terms of, let's get all the facts, I mean, there is no one that was more of a hindrance to all the facts getting out than the Trump campaign and President Trump and the White House.

I mean, they blocked Mueller at every turn. They refused to have an interview with Mueller for President Trump.

According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, you told the FBI in June 2016 that Roger Stone told you that more information would be coming out of that DNC hack.

In your opinion, what did the president know about those hacked e- mails, and when did he know it?

GATES: Great. Thank you for asking that question.

And this has been another point of misinformation, I think, in the media mainstream. And what I want to make clear on that is that the special counsel, when they went through the more than almost 1,000 hours in various interviews with me, they would ask very specific questions, yes and no.

And then they would begin a round of speculative questions. Is this a possibility? Could that have happened?

And all those questions, I think, are designed to kind of gain information that they don't necessarily know or prove or would try to follow.


And then what they would do is, they would cherry-pick some of that information and put it into the final Mueller report. And it was used by other individuals over the course of time.

I am really disappointed to see that was the approach and process.


GATES: With respect to your reference to the FBI interview in 2016, look, there are only two people that know exactly what happened on the telephone call that you're referencing, and that is President Trump and Roger Stone.


GATES: And let me just give you one more piece of information on that call.

There was an instance where they asked me what was happening on that call. From my standpoint, they were talking about bad polling data.

TAPPER: Right. OK.

GATES: So, what I said to the FBI...

TAPPER: I got to go, Rick.

GATES: ... was exactly what Trump said.

TAPPER: I got to go, Rick.


TAPPER: Good luck with your book.

Thank you so much for joining us today.

GATES: No problem, Jake.


TAPPER: Many Americans are likely feeling both sympathy and anger today, emotions that don't necessarily mix well. Sympathy for all of those suffering, including President Trump, who remains at Walter Reed Medical Center. But also anger because so much -- so much of all this pain could have been avoided. So many of us since March have been doing everything we can to

preserve the health of not only ourselves and our families, but our communities, our neighbors, you. Social distancing, wearing masks, holding events remotely, weddings have been canceled, jobs lost, children are missing out on in-person education, and their ability to see friends. It's a real crisis. It's going to leave scars.

208,000 Americans have died. Thousands of Americans have lost loved ones without being able to properly mourn or even say good-bye. But we're in the middle of a once in century pandemic. Health experts say this is what we need to do in order to get to the other side.

Regardless of the sympathy we may feel, we also know the president has been undermining these efforts, expressing disdain for health regulations and those who abide by them. Do you remember this?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Can you take it up because I cannot hear you?

REPORTER: I'll just speak louder, sir.

TRUMP: Okay, because you want to be politically correct. Go ahead.

REPORTER: No, sir. Just want to wear the mask --

TRUMP: Go ahead.


TAPPER: Politically correct.

The Americans who don't listen to science or medicine who think masks are too intrusive, who pack bars, who willfully risk spreading the virus, you are making it worse for all of us. You are extending how long this pandemic will last. And it is tragic to say, many, if not most, of you are taking your cues from the leader of the free world.

Last weekend at an event held both inside and outside but with no masks required and no distancing President Trump introduced his Supreme Court nominee. So far, at least eight attendees of that event have tested positive for the virus.

Look at Senator Mike Lee at this event. My god. How are future generations going to try to make sense of these images of the Republican leaders of the nation acting like this during a once in a century pandemic with more than 200,000 Americans dead?

I wish everyone of these leaders, Senator Lee, President Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, I wish you all a full and speedy recovery. But do you not see? It's not just through failed leadership or setting bad examples. You are all now literally risking spreading the virus yourselves.

The president and his team have been behaving as if the pandemic is over. This callous indifference to the wellbeing of the citizens the president swore to protect, it's no longer just theoretical, it's no longer well, they might get the virus.

After finding out Hope Hicks, a top aide with whom the president had been in close contact, after learning she was sick with the virus and actually showing symptoms, the president flew to a fundraiser in New Jersey and mingled.

Did anyone in the White House or on the Trump campaign consider at all the housekeepers and bartenders at Bedminster, the naval aviators who flew them there on Air Force One, the young interns or old donors with whom the president came in contact? Anyone? Anyone at all?

I wish you all health and recovery and a long life, but we have to note the tragedy here. It is horrible and awful and profound.

Sick and in isolation, Mr. President, you have become a symbol of your own failures. Failures of recklessness, ignorance, arrogance. The same failures you have been inflicting on the rest of us.

Get well, and please, for the rest of us who don't get to go to Walter Reed, get well and get it together.

The new CNN original series "First Ladies" tells the story of six remarkable women who were second to none. "First Ladies" premieres with an intimate portrait of Michelle Obama. That's tonight at 10 Eastern only on CNN.


BARACK VIDEO OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would not be standing here tonight without the first lady.

UNKNOWN: When you were little did you ever want to be the first lady?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't know I could be the first lady.

UNKNOWN: What she was interested in was changing the world.


UNKNOWN: My god, a woman who is actually trying to do something different.

UNKNOWN: All he wanted to hear was I was wonderful and all she was going to do was tell him the truth.

UNKNOWN: She would ask questions. She stepped up when she saw that things were going the wrong direction.

UNKNOWN: She gets the last word.

UNKNOWN: She's 31 years old. She stands up to all the president's advisors. M. OBAMA: When they go low, we go high.

ANNOUNCER: The new CNN original series, "First Ladies", premieres tonight at 10 on CNN.