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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President's Muddled Message on Response to Virus; Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) to Become White House Chief of Stuff, Mick Mulvaney Will Now Serve As Special Envoy to Ireland; President Trump: "Anybody That Needs A Test Gets A Test" (That's Not True At This Time); Coronavirus Outbreak In Washington State; How Life Is Changing In The Seattle Area; 6 Former College Wrestler Say Rep. Jim Jordan Knew About Abusive Team Doctor; Congressman Denies Allegations. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 6, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Good Friday evening to you.
Anderson is off tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto.
We begin with perhaps the clearest example yet of how the president of the United States is conducting himself in the face of the growing coronavirus outbreak. And it is growing, topping 100,000 cases globally today. The death count now rising as well.
But here's the question: does that figure grossly understate how many Americans are actually infected? And more disturbingly, is the president deliberately standing in the way of an honest accounting?
Let's take a look at what we learned today. We learned tonight that 21 passengers aboard the Grand Princess off the California coast have tested positive, but only 46 of the more than 3,000 passengers and crew on board have even been tested yet.
So, this afternoon, with all that as a backdrop, with the markets falling, civic life in this country shrinking, the president visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Vice president's task force held a briefing a short time afterwards back in Washington. It's possible that much of what the president said got lost in all the live coverage of that.
But because his remarks are so apparently revealing of how he approaches what, after all, affects all of us, we're showing them to you up front and at some length. His own words presumably reflecting his own thoughts and sensibilities and priorities here.
He began the day with senior counselor Kellyanne Conway declaring the outbreak has been contained which, it is not. Look at the numbers. And with questions growing about the availability of testing, the president weighed in on that and then segued to the Ukraine phone call that led to his impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They're there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.
Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. As of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test. That's the important thing.
And the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right? This was not as perfect as that, but pretty good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Well, the facts may not back up what the president said, just as a matter of fact on the testing, which affects millions, not the transcript which only affected the president himself.
Here is what Vice President Pence who the president put in charge of the response said just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Fairly clear statement.
Today when asked, the vice president did say that all state labs that have requested test kits have received them. And he pointed to the number of private labs now joining the testing effort but said that widespread testing for individuals might not be available for several more days.
However, he did not characterize the availability of testing the way the president did. So there's that.
The U.S. does lag far behind other countries in how many people get tested but there seems to be something else in addition to that. The president who clung for days to the notion that there were only 15 total cases here appears not to -- appears to not want to do anything that would make that number rise, even if the fact is there are more people infected.
For instance, that cruise ship off the coast of California. The president wants the passengers to stay on board and he doesn't mince words as to why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have great experts, including our vice president, is working 24 hours a day on this stuff. They would like to have the people come off. I'd rather have the people stay but I told them to make the final decision. I would rather, because I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.
And it wasn't the fault of the people on the ship either, OK? It wasn't their fault either. And they're mostly Americans. So I can live either way with it. I'd rather have them stay on, personally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Americans stay on board a ship offshore. You got that? He doesn't want the numbers to go up, even if facts are there are more people infected.
He did, however, ask about and boast about the ratings for his town hall last night on Fox. But back to the serious stuff, the things that matter to you and me, the president falsely claimed the administration was unique in trying to determine where the hot spots really are. He also suggested he would just assume not do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are being proactive. We're going out and looking for spots. Nobody else is doing that. Not by leaving samples or anything else.
We're going out and proactively looking to see where there's a problem.
We don't have to do that, but we're doing it to see if we can find areas which are trouble spots. I even don't know if I agree with that. You'll find out those areas just by sitting back and waiting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Well, the fact is other countries are testing more aggressively. South Korea among them, sitting back and waiting the president says. The question is, waiting for what? For news reports? For rising hospital admissions or perhaps worse.
He did not say whether he was basing what he said on a hunch as he did the other day about the mortality rate. He did, however, give himself high marks in the science here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: You know, my uncle, he's a great person. He was an MIT. He taught at MIT for I think like a record number of years. He was a super genius. Dr. John Trump.
I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of those doctors said, how do you know so much about this? Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead running for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Yes, his uncle did, by the way, study a completely different field.
Anyway, presidential second thoughts aside, he is the president. Part of that job as president, along with everything else involves working with 50 state governors when their states are getting hit by something that only the federal government truly has the resources to handle. Washington state, that now means 14 fatalities. Universities have canceled classes, transportation coming to a standstill. Millions of lives changing in ways this country hasn't season since about 100 years ago, the great flu epidemic in 1918.
So with that mind, here's what the president said at the CDC, remember, in a crisis. Remember, about how the vice president should work with Washington's Governor Jay Inslee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I told Mike not to be complimentary of the governor because that governor is a snake, OK, Inslee. I said if you're nice to him, he will take advantage. And I would have said no. Let me just tell you. We have a lot of problems with the governor, and the governor of Washington. That's why you have many of your problems, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The president did say earlier he was working with and speaking with the Democratic governor of California. Different words, of course, for the governor of Washington state -- problems we should point out that are far greater for the people of Washington and it would appear far sadder as well than for the president of the United States.
For more now on all of this, let's check in with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.
You know, you look at the president's comments there, Jim, on him wanting to keep the numbers of confirmed cases down. Is the president deliberately standing in the way of an honest accounting of how many infected Americans there are?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, I think the president is engaging in some wishful thinking. As his experts are trying to contain the outbreak, he's trying to contain the political fallout in all of this. But here's a thing -- a million tests are going to be going out, distributed across the country over the next couple of days, millions more after that.
But the president was asked this question at the CDC earlier today. How can you fully understand how big the problem is if people aren't being tested on a wide scale?
Here's what he had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is there a chance there's a limited testing means that the numbers are low and the public has been misled about how widespread this is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have been diagnosing cases here from the beginning, originally linked to travel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So you can see, there was a pregnant pause there where the officials really didn't have a good answer for that. But, Jim, unless they want to stand in the way of those delivery trucks distributing those testing kits over the next couple of weeks, they're not going to be able to stop the data coming in.
And as soon as people are getting tested on a widespread scale, the experts here in Washington, people inside the administration, are going to have a better understanding as to how broad this problem is. And the suspicion inside the president's task force right now is obviously that it's much bigger than where it stands right now.
SCIUTTO: There's been a direct contradiction about the availability of tests. How many people can get tested? Can everybody who wants to be tested be tested? The president saying one thing.
The vice president granting yesterday, not all those tests are available today, you asked the vice president about that. Did he give you any more clarity?
ACOSTA: Not really, Jim. I think what the vice president was trying to do is essentially clean up a little bit of what he said yesterday and he was trying to address this concern that there aren't enough tests out there. And they are insisting to us that these tests will be available broadly over the next couple of weeks.
The vice president said as much during the press conference. They'll have another briefing over here at the White House tomorrow on all of this.
But the closest we got from a straight answer from Vice President Pence during this briefing is perhaps in the next couple of weeks, any American who goes into their doctor and says, I think I have the flu, perhaps I might have coronavirus, that that test could be conducted.
But at this point, all they are saying is that it's going to be up to these individual medical professionals to determine whether or not a test should actually take place. So, it doesn't sound like they are anywhere near to the point where they can do this on a widespread scale across the country.
That's going to take some time, and they are just not prepared to admit that at this point, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Is there a sense at the White House of why the president went off message or apparently off message at the CDC today? I know that's happened before.
SCIUTTO: But is there an understanding in that building as to what the president intends here?
ACOSTA: It's interest, Jim. I talked to an adviser just before we went on the air. And, you know, the political people around the president believe he has good instincts, and that when he's -- he's a counterpuncher. When he gets punched, he punches back.
And that formula has always worked for him, they believe. It didn't work so well in the 2018 midterms but they felt like it worked in the 2016 campaign and works in his dealings with Congress.
The question that you get when you talk to some of his advisers now is whether or not it works in a case like this. This is a very different case.
We're in the middle of a national medical emergency and so whether or not the president goes out and takes swings at Governor Inslee of Washington, for example, calls him a snake or compares these tests to his call with the leader of Ukraine, whether or not that's going to be effective with the American people, I think there is some real questions inside the president's political team as to whether or not that is a good strategy at this point.
But you saw the president earlier this afternoon. He is not changing the way he communicates about this crisis. You contrast that with the vice president, a very different posture from the vice president, trying to sound in command and trying to calm people down. Not engaging in that kind of rhetoric.
I think it will be interesting to find out in the coming days as to how the politics shakes out and whether or not the president's approval ratings go down when it comes to the handling of this crisis.
SCIUTTO: Well, there are political strategies and then strategies for handling a health crisis. Imagine those are different things.
Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Perspective now from CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Also, Dr. Seema Yasmin, she's director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative, former CDC disease detective. And CNN national security analyst Lisa Monaco, she coordinated the Obama administration's response to the Ebola crisis.
So, we've got a lot of experience on the air here. We're going to focus on the hard questions. I know people at home want to know what the facts are here.
So, Sanjay, if I could start with you, the president is saying today, anybody who needs a test gets a test. The vice president said yesterday, we don't have the tests to do that. What are the facts?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The tests aren't out there yet, you know, Jim. I think you and I have been talking about this for a week and you probably asked me this question and I keep hoping I can give you a better answer every time.
But, you know, the tests are not out there yet. We heard a million tests, maybe were supposed to be out by the end of this week. It's the end of the week. They're not out yet.
By the way, a million tests doesn't necessarily mean a million people can be tested. Sometimes people require a couple of tests or even more than that.
We also hear that when the tests do go out, they're likely to go out to areas where there's evidence of this community spread. So Washington state, California, for example. But even the ship, this cruise ship, Jim, which has been in the news a lot today, they were able to test 46 people out of the 3,000-plus people on that ship.
So, it's not even clear that there were enough tests for that ship right now. So, they're not there. I think they're going to get there. I think they've also empowered state hospitals and university hospitals to do testing.
And then two of the big commercial providers, LabCorp and Quest. LabCorp released a statement saying by Monday, they should be able to start taking samples in and turning test results around within three to four days. But, you know, this has taken a long time.
And it's not one of those things where you can necessarily catch up after the fact. It's good -- it's good to test people but we're behind on surveillance quite a bit. Just quickly, 1,500 tests so far by the CDC have been performed. You know, seven, eight weeks into this now. Compare that to nearly 160,000 tests in Korea. So you can get an idea of the order of magnitude difference here, Jim.
SCIUTTO: With a much smaller population. Look at that ship, that is 1/70th of the people on that ship who have been tested so far and they know coronavirus was on the ship. It's mind-boggling.
Lisa, let me ask you about the president's answer there. When he said, I don't need to have the numbers double because of people on that ship.
Is that revealing that the president's focus here is on artificially keeping down the number of confirmed cases, even when the science shows, which I imagine what folks at home want to focus on, that there are likely far more people actually infected.
LISA MONACO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Look, I think it's quite clear the president said it himself. He wants to keep those numbers down. And we should be focusing on the science. We should be focusing on the facts.
And what we quite clearly heard today in the lengthy press conference that Vice President Pence and the public health and medical experts did today, which I listened to, and I watched, is that we do not have the testing capacity out there yet. Now they are working with commercial laboratories to get the test kits out there. And that's a good thing, and we did hear from experts about their plan for that. [20:15:02]
But the fact of the matter is, as we get those test kits out there as they get distributed, as people get tested, the cases are going to go up. And so, it is really not responsible and it just isn't factual to say that it's contained.
I don't say that as political criticism. This isn't about politics. This shouldn't be about politics. And I don't say it as an alarmist issue, but rather just sticking to the facts.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's a basic question, is it not, Dr. Yasmin? You cover this. If you want to treat people but also crucially keep infected people from infecting others, you have to know if they're infected.
And I have to imagine people at home who are hearing this are wondering, well, goodness, if my child or my grandmother is not being tested and needs to be tested, then, therefore, they may not get the treatment they need.
DR. SEEMA YASMIN, DIRECTOR, STANFORD HEALTH COMMUNICATION INITIATIVE: Jim, you're so right. On the one hand you have political strategy and then you have health crisis strategy. When there's already so much uncertainty and so many unknowns about a new virus, what we need is consistency and transparency around the numbers and around what is known.
And I'm worried here at the beginning of this crisis, we were looking back, those of us who have studied the SARS epidemic, to say, well, back then, we saw there was a critical delay in transparency from Chinese officials and we hope that doesn't happen now. Unfortunately, we're seeing a potential transparency issue with American health officials.
It's the CDC's job. I work there. I can vouch for the fact there are thousands of accomplished experts there whose job it is to track what disease is spreading where in America.
It's how we that know that 22 million Americans had flu. This many died from the flu. What we're seeing, though, is numbers disappear from the CDC website. On Monday, we had a clearer idea than we do now.
If you look at the CDC website now, it looks like about 100 Americans tested positive. But if you look at the Johns Hopkins tracker, it's more than 200.
So to actually get an accurate picture who has been tested and how they tested positive or negative, you have to actually call the 50 individual states and then the territories and find out bits of information from here or there. That's not how public health works. It's about being collaborative. It's about having the CDC allowed to do its job to be that central coordination point. It's not happening.
SCIUTTO: Sanjay, we have a number on the screen there as you see it, nearly 300 cases in 26 states. I asked you this question this morning. But I'm going to ask you it again. Once real comprehensive testing begins, how quickly and how far does
that number rise?
GUPTA: I think it rises quickly and significantly. And, I mean, that's one of those things that's going to sound alarming to people, and I get that the numbers going up obviously is not a good thing, but it also probably means there's a lot of people out there who weren't that sick that may get tested now and that's part of what -- why these numbers are going to go up, because as we've talked about, some 80 percent of people are going to have minimal or no symptoms.
But, you know, it is concerning this point that you raise, Jim, that the president was concerned that the -- he doesn't want the people on the ship to come on land because that will increase the numbers. You know, the numbers are going to go up, and I don't know how that's going to be handled at the White House. Like Seema said, I hope there's full transparency here because with that data, you can actually start to plan more effectively.
SCIUTTO: Americans have a reasonable right to honesty on this one when health is at stake.
Dr. Gupta, Dr. Yasmin, Lisa Monaco, thanks so much.
There's more discuss on this next.
Meanwhile, we have breaking news. The president's acting chief of staff, he's out. We'll tell you who is in.
Later, a major metropolitan area that is also at the center of the outbreak. What life is like in Seattle. That's coming up ahead on 360. Some interesting images from that town.
SCIUTTO: These things tend to happen on Friday nights. We have some breaking news out of the White House involving one of the president's closest advisers, now a former adviser.
For that, let's get back to Jim Acosta.
Mick Mulvaney is gone.
ACOSTA: He's gone. He was an acting chief of staff, never became a permanent chief of staff here at the White House. That's never a good sign when it comes to your longevity.
The president announcing on Twitter just in the last several minutes that he's naming the Republican congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows, as his new chief of staff. This has been speculated, Jim, for some time. This has been expected for some time.
Meadows is a staunch Trump loyalist, as we all know. But he's been quietly campaigning behind the scenes, talking to our sources. Meadows has been pushing for this for some time and I think Mulvaney has seen some of that writing on the wall.
The president, obviously, was not happy when the acting chief of staff was in the briefing room during the impeachment saga and essentially admitted to a quid pro quo, saying they happen all the time. These things happen for political reasons. That never was fully, you know, rectified in the president's view as always a problem for him.
But we can put this tweet on screen. This is what the president tweeted a short while ago saying: I'm pleased to announce that Congressman Mark Meadows will become White House chief of staff. I've long known and worked with Mark and the relationship is a very good one. I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the administration so well. He'll become the United States envoy for Northern Ireland.
One thing I'll tell you, I talked to a staffer in the White House close to Mulvaney just in the last few minutes. This staffer says this is a job that Mulvaney wanted, to be the special envoy, and he's looking forward to it. This official was saying that Mulvaney was not railroaded, that they had a decent amount of heads-up about this. Obviously would be the case if the president is naming him special envoy as he's announcing Congressman Mark Meadows.
But no question about it, Jim, as we've been talking about the staunch loyalists coming back into the fold, that is also happening again tonight with this naming of Mark Meadows as the new chief of staff.
Just recall, just a couple of weeks ago, Mick Mulvaney was at Oxford saying some critical things, things that sounded like he was putting some distance between himself and the president on a number of policies. I think that was the indication of what's happening tonight, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and it would be the first time someone was offered an off ramp after being fired in Washington. It happens.
SCIUTTO: Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.
Joining us, CNN senior political analyst Kirsten Powers, "USA Today" and former Clinton administration official. And CNN political commentator Scott Jennings, he's a former special assistant to President George W. Bush.
Kirsten, first of all, loyalty seems to be the calling card for positions, particularly following the president's impeachment. You see director of national intelligence. You see that now in his chief of staff.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's been an evolution since Trump first came in at the beginning. He had some people that were actually, I think, giving him information and feedback he didn't necessarily want to hear and those people have slowly been moved out and replaced by people who are more loyalist. Mark Meadows absolutely falls into the category of one of the staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill. And I don't think Mick Mulvaney and he were ever going to last that long. The president's never really been that crazy about him and I think Jim is right.
SCIUTTO: That moment.
SCIUTTO: Spoken the truth.
SCIUTTO: Scott Jennings, you've watched the president's choices in the last few days and weeks. Is the president building a good team? A team that gives him honest advice, or a team built purely on loyalty?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he's building a team in which he has confidence. Look, I think Mulvaney did a good job for the president. He held the job for quite some time and, obviously, went through some turbulent periods. These are high anxiety, high stress positions. And people don't hold them forever. This has probably been in the works.
Also, I think it's important to point out, this looks like an orderly transition. Obviously, Mulvaney wanted this appointment to be the envoy for Northern Ireland. Meadows has been in the mix for some time. I think this is sort of expected, orderly and now the president is putting his team around him that he wants to have for the stretch drive for the re-election campaign.
So, obviously, he loves Meadows. Meadows loves him. And the job of Meadows isn't to come in and make policy. It's to run the White House and make sure the administration is functioning in a way that carries out the president's agenda.
And, obviously, in this job, there's one thing that matters. Do you have the confidence of the president? Do you have the pleasure of the president? Meadow does.
SCIUTTO: Yes, is that the only thing that matters, is it, in these positions? Doesn't some level of confidence and speaking truth to power matter? And you see that?
JENNINGS: Well, I mean, I think that the president and meadows have the kind of relationship where they can be honest with each other, as I understand it. And so I would expect that to be part of their relationship.
Look, I think that at this level of the White House, it would not be normal for a president to appoint someone that he didn't agree with or that he didn't have confidence in or was constantly fighting with. You usually appoint people that support your agenda.
SCIUTTO: I wasn't talking about fighting. I'm just talking about being able to deliver honest information. Kirsten, what's -- what's your reaction to that?
POWERS: Well, look, the presidents obviously want to have people aligned with the way they think about things, but I do think good leaders have people about them that will tell them things they don't want to hear and don't just have people who you can basically push around. And it seems like the president when he first came in, he had some of those people around but he's gotten rid of all of them.
And I think that -- it's not that Mick Mulvaney was necessarily standing up to him. There's a reason he was acting. I don't think Trump ever had that much confidence in him.
But the president's made clear he wants to be the person who is just basically front and center doing all the talking and he wants people around that are going to be supporting actors in his show.
SCIUTTO: Kirsten, Scott Jennings, good to have you both.
We'll take a quick break. We'll return to the coronavirus story. The president, the government's response to it as the outbreak grows.
Stay with us.
SCIUTTO: More now on the coronavirus outbreak and how the President is handling it, the government, how he is conducting himself, and the message it sends and how the people are seeing it.
Back now, Kirsten Powers and Scott Jennings. Scott, if I could begin with you. You were with President George W. Bush. He had to deal with his own, smaller scale, but there were concerns at the time about SARS, et cetera. And you know the importance of speaking honestly to the people in the midst of this.
Just give you an example, the President says today anybody could be tested who wants to be tested. The vice president who he put in charge says, actually, we don't have the tests. We're trying to get them out. They're not there yet. Why that disconnect? Why can't the administration speak with one voice on this?
JENNINGS: Well, I think the President was projecting the optimism and confidence that the American people will have access to the tests as fast as we can deliver them.
SCIUTTO: That's not what he said. He said that today they can all be tested. That's not true.
JENNINGS: Like I said, I think the President was trying to project the optimism that we'll be able to deliver the tests. I think the vice president spoke more precisely, which is that we don't have the tests today but I think they're obviously working as hard as they can to get them out as quickly as they can. So, I think it was a difference between someone who's projecting optimism and someone who's projecting precision.
SCIUTTO: Or Kirsten, someone who is telling the truth and someone who is not. I don't know. It's health information. If I'm -- if my grandmother is sick and wants to be tested by the doctor and the tests aren't there, it's not an optimistic answer your family wants. Your family wants to know what's true.
POWERS: He's not giving accurate information and he hasn't been giving accurate information throughout this crisis, telling people that they should go to work and that, you know, everything is just going to be fine. Don't even bother going to the doctor.
I mean, that's just not the information you're getting from health experts. And his job in this situation is to help reassure people, help provide stability. He's not doing that. And if you don't believe me, look at the markets, right?
POWERS: That's not a partisan situation. Those are people who are responding to the fact that they don't feel like the U.S. has control over this situation. And if you look at other countries and their response compared to the United States, clearly the United States is very far behind the 8 ball despite the fact we were given so much advance warning because this happened in China. So there should have been more than enough time to plan for this.
SCIUTTO: And Europe before -- I spoke, Scott, earlier today with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy who is an M.D. himself. And he made -- as we spoke this morning, he said, listen, he's dealt with public health issues before. I asked him if it was a mistake that the U.S. wasn't testing enough people quickly and broadly enough early. Here's his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): It was a mistake. One thing we learned from the Chinese pretty early on is that there are people who were infected but not symptomatic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The reason he made that point, Scott, is because those asymptomatic people are still going around spreading it. So you need to test them early so you can identify them to keep them from going out and giving it to someone else. When you hear that from a Republican senator, does that make you think, yes, the U.S. should have tested earlier and more broadly?
JENNINGS: Well, look, I think -- I mean, yes. I mean, obviously, you'd love to test everybody as fast as possible and that obviously didn't happen, but they're working to make it happen. I mean, I think that the job of the President in this particular case, and in these cases where, you know, these are nonpolitical situations, is to project honesty, confidence, transparency, optimism and calm.
And I think in the case of the President, he's got these experts, Fauci and the folks at the CDC who, if it were me, I would let them do most of the talking, honestly. People trust them. They're experts. They, you know, they give this sort of calm information about what's happening and I also think there could be a broad acceptance here at the political layer of the administration that people are going to get this.
It's going to spread. It's a virus. It's obviously spread all over the world. But it doesn't mean we should be in panic mode. And the way to keep people from panicking is just to be honest with them and just tell them, this is how many people have it. This is how many we expect to get it. These are when the tests are coming. You know, sort of -- you know, here's just the facts, ma'am, kind of operation. So less hyperbole, more just straight up, here's what's happening. I think people would respond to that, honestly.
SCIUTTO: We went to a doctor earlier this week. He said the best the antidote to fear is honesty, right? You could make that case. Just quickly, Kirsten, do you see the administration making a turn and if not quickly enough, but getting around to responding as necessary?
POWERS: I don't know. I mean, that's the thing. I don't know how you can believe anything that they're saying because I don't think -- I think Scott is right that that is what you want is honesty, but I don't think the President has been honest.
I think if you look at the way he was talking today when he visited the CDC, the things he was saying -- I mean, he actually thinks he is an expert, Scott. I mean, he was saying, you know, maybe I should have done this instead of running for president? I mean, what is he talking about?
SCIUTTO: We'll have a test in the coming days and weeks, particularly more were tested. Thanks to both of you. Great to have you on tonight.
Just ahead, more on our top story tonight. We head to the state of Washington where 14 have died so far from the coronavirus, the most any of state. How Americans there are coping, when "360" returns.
SCIUTTO: Let's go to Washington State. It could be a sign of things to come. There are now at least 80 cases of coronavirus there, and as we mentioned, 14 deaths, the most of any state so far. There's also word tonight that two more elder care facilities in Washington have received presumptive positive results for the illness. That's, of course, concern because older people more vulnerable. And these are just a few of the headlines and realities that people are coping with.
CNN's Omar Jimenez has more from how it looks there on the ground.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Seattle, there's a new reality beginning to form, affecting nearly every aspect of life from business, to travel, and even education.
(on camera) On a normal weekday morning, like today, these hallways would be packed with students. As you can see, there are absolutely none. This school is 1 of 33 in the Seattle area school district that will look like this for the foreseeable future, empty classrooms, instead moving to online learning for up to 14 days all as a precaution for the novel coronavirus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was actually prayerful that it was the right decision.
JIMENEZ: And you feel like it is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely, no doubt.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Dr. Michelle Reed is the superintendent of Seattle's Northshore School District where parent volunteer tested positive for the coronavirus.
MICHELLE REED, NORTHSHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT: When we have a fact pattern that affects the safety and health of our students that we're going to stop and recognize it's not business as usual.
JIMENEZ: But this district wasn't alone. The University of Washington announced shortly after they, too, are suspending in-person classes.
ANA MARI CAUSE, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: We are very much guided with the very best public health information possible.
JIMENEZ: Between the university and the Northshore School District, that's around 80,000 students now out of classrooms. Statewide, cases have soared, going from just a few to more than 75 in less than a week, including double-digit deaths. In the wider Seattle area, they've felt a difference.
MICHELLE AULD, BAKERY OWNER: It can be stressful when you're just in your day-to-day trying to do what you normally do and you are running into stumbling blocks of things, you know, beyond your control.
MARGARET WINDSOR, SEATTLE RESIDENT: On a rainy day, I mean, I hardly see anybody around here. You'd see groups. It's kind of empty.
JIMENEZ: But some, like at Seattle's signature fish market, famous for tossing fish, say they're not changing a thing.
MIKE KIRN, PIKE PLACE FISH MARKET: It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from. You're going to travel all this way to see a fish fly, I'm going to give it to you.
JIMENEZ: And while life in Seattle hasn't entirely shut down, it is adjusting to a new reality at the epicenter that the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
JIMENEZ: And Jim, the legal world hasn't been immune to the shadow of the coronavirus either. A judge here in Washington State announced they would be postponing all in-person court proceedings at multiple courthouses here in Seattle. Many of these places are in crucial assessment periods.
University of Washington, for example, just last night learned one of their staffers tested positive for coronavirus, but they say those two factors weren't related as they've were already planning to close down classrooms before they even learned of that staffer. But they say just an overall reminder of the precautions they already are putting in place.
SCIUTTO: Tens of thousands of students just at the University of Washington, perhaps a sign of things to come. Omar Jimenez, thanks very much.
Just ahead this hour, the controversy and serious allegations surrounding one of the President's staunchest defenders in Congress.
SCIUTTO: Let's check in with my old friend, Chris Cuomo, to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris, what you got?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Usually when you say old friend and like we're joking around, we've known each other over 30 years.
SCIUTTO: I know and I'm 31 right now so, you know, we met as babies.
CUOMO: Anyway, you know, it's good to have something to make us smile because what this President said tonight about coronavirus, what he compared it to and how he deceived people, it can't be allowed. It's not just politics anymore. He's playing with people's welfare and health. We have to call it out.
We have the mayor from Seattle on to follow up on your reporting and hear her about the state of play there, the reality. And Al Franken in his first interview since he had to leave the Senate is on tonight.
SCIUTTO: Well, you could lie to people, but they're going to find out the extent of this. In fact, they're going to come out. They're going to see it. Chris, I look forward to watching.
A reminder, don't miss "Full Circle," Anderson's digital news show that gives him a chance to dig in to some important topics and have in depth conversations. You can catch it streaming live weekdays 5:00 p.m. Eastern, cnn.com/fullcircle. Up next this hour, one of the President's most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill under fire.
SCIUTTO: Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio swears that he knew nothing about a now deceased doctor whose victims, and in an independent report say, sexually abused athletes while Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. But multiple victims are telling CNN's Drew Griffin that's simply not true.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He calls them all liars, but more and more former Ohio State University wrestlers are coming forward to say their former assistant coach, Congressman Jim Jordan, knew student athletes were being sexually abused and are dumbfounded to understand how Jordan can deny it.
TITO VAZQUEZ, FORMER OSU WRESTLER: That's a lie. He's lying.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Period?
VAZQUEZ: Period. He's a liar.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Tito Vazquez is the latest, a walk-on wrestler in 1989 who took an elbow to the nose. Sent to team Dr. Richard Strauss to stop a nosebleed, the doctor fondled his genitals.
VAZQUEZ: There were some wrestlers with Jordan over to my left-hand side and I said something to the effect the doc's hands are freezing and that he, you know, he examined me thoroughly, extremely thoroughly. You know, my private parts and everybody was just like, you know, kind of snickering. Jordan said, I have nothing to do with this.
GRIFFIN (on camera): But Jordan heard what you said?
VAZQUEZ: Oh, he heard what I said.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Vazquez, a public schoolteacher for the past 27 years, is the sixth former Ohio State Wrestler to tell CNN they directly told Jim Jordan of the abuse or Jim Jordan was present when someone was recalling abuse by the team's doctor.
Eight more former wrestlers tell CNN the abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss was such a routine topic of conversation that it's inconceivable Jordan did not know. Yet, Jordan, now a powerful Republican congressman, refuses to budge.
(on camera) You've got six former Ohio State wrestlers who absolutely say you knew about Dr. Strauss, because they had told you at the time or you were there and heard it.
REP. JIM JORDAN (D-OH): You guys are still asking about this after --
JORDAN: -- the Perkins Coie Law Firm investigated this and didn't even mention my name once?
GRIFFIN: Well, they didn't mention your name but they did mention that 20 coaches knew about it.
JORDAN: Every single coach said the same thing I have. All kinds of athletes have said the same thing I have. And the reason they have all said that is because it's the truth. Look, if I had known there was some kind of problem, some kind of this, I would have helped out our athletes. What you're saying is just not true.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Richard Strauss killed himself in 2005. Last year, an independent investigation concluded while Dr. Strauss worked at OSU over two decades, he sexually abused at least 177 male student patients.
Jim Jordan called the report a vindication, because it did not name him. The report did not name any wrestling coach at Ohio State, did not find documentary evidence coaches were aware of complaints against Strauss, but 22 coaches confirmed to the investigative team that they were aware of rumors and/or complaints about Strauss.
Former OSU wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, says Jordan is one of the coaches who knew because he told him. In January of 1993, Yetts went to see Strauss for a thumb sprain and the doctor tried to pull down his pants. Yetts says he kicked to open the doctor's door to escape, Jordan was right outside next an ice machine.
DUNYASAH YETTS, FORMER OSU WRESTLER: He jumped up like, what's going on? I said, coach, he just tried to give me a physical exam for my thumb injury. It looked like a baseball. It swelled up. And he was like, man, if he ever tried that, I would kill him.
GRIFFIN: Jordan supporter say Yetts can't be trusted because of a past conviction for fraud. But two other wrestlers told CNN they witnessed the encounter.
DAN RITCHIE, FORMER OSU WRESTLER: What Dr. Strauss took from me that day was my dignity.
GRIFFIN: Last year, former wrestler's Dan Ritchie and Mike Flusche told the Ohio legislature that among athletes and coaches, Strauss' sexual abuse was an open discussion.
RITCHIE: I do recall somebody bringing up something to one of the assistant coaches and his response was simply, well, if he ever tried that with me, I'd snap his neck like a sticky dryer ball to it.
MIKE FLUSCHE, FORMER OSU WRESTLER: And I remember the exact phrase about, you know, if that happened to me, I'd break his neck.
GRIFFIN: The coach who talked about breaking Strauss' neck was Jim Jordan, according to both Ritchie and Flusche, who didn't name him in front of the legislature but have since confirmed it to CNN. JORDAN: And what they're saying now is just not accurate.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Mike Flusche, Dan Ritchie, you don't remember telling them you'd break the guy's neck if he did that to you?
SCIUTTO: Quite a story. Drew Griffin joins me now. Drew, these wrestlers, they were recalling specific facts about Jordan's knowledge of this. Is he simply not responding to those?
GRIFFIN: He's not. And Jim -- because he was either interrupting us or as you saw, walking away, we did give him all the details in writing. We've got no response, just this flat denial.
SCIUTTO: Goodness. All right, so Jordan says these wrestlers -- I mean, he says they're the liars. What incentive do they have to lie?
GRIFFIN: According to those behind the congressman, the wrestlers are out for money, a lawsuit perhaps with the school settlement. But I got to tell you, these wrestlers by in large, Jim, are telling me they really liked Jordan as a coach and a friend. Many of them told us they're speaking out now because they have been watching Jordan lie, they say, for two years and they've just had it.
SCIUTTO: Goodness. Well, patience running thin apparently. Drew Griffin, thanks very much for the great reporting.
Of course, the news continues tonight so I want to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "Cuomo Prime Time."