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Trump And RNC Kick Off The Republican National Convention This Week; Joe Biden And Kamala Harris Sit Down For First Joint Interview; Trump Announces Plasma Treatment For Coronavirus; Trump's Sister Blasts Him On Audios Secretly Recorded By His Niece. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 23, 2020 - 20:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He was 51 years old.

May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Welcome to a special edition of 360 on a historic night. Historic because the Republican National Convention officially begins tomorrow. For a campaign that's been turned upside down by the coronavirus, forcing campaigns to reinvent the big tent revival aspect of these events and to keep their candidates socially distanced from their most vocal supporters.

Historic because like the Democratic convention last week no capacity crowds for a president who feeds off the live energy of his base. Unlike the Democrats, Republicans are hoping to have some kind of audience at their convention site in Charlotte, North Carolina, to react to what one Republican tells CNN will be nightly appearances by the president.

Currently there have been more over 5.6 million coronavirus cases, more than 176,000 deaths from the virus in this country. On Friday, a model that's been cited by the White House projected about 310,000 deaths, that's an increase of 15,000, by December.

And historic because the timing of the convention, coming not only a day after audio was released by the "Washington Post," the president's sister, a former federal judge, harshly criticizing her brother, the president. But also days after his 2016 campaign chairman, Steve Bannon, was charged with fraud in relation to fundraising for their signature issue of Trump's campaign four years ago, the border wall.

Top campaign adviser Jason Miller said today the convention will be optimistic and upbeat and focus on what they say are the accomplishments of the administration. The convention will also very much be the Trump show with family of the 45th president taking key primetime speaking slots on every night of the convention.

We've got reporters in Washington and Charlotte with the latest details about how these next four nights may unfold and how the Biden campaign is planning on reacting. That's where we start, with our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

So what is the latest on how the convention is going to play out, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you were saying, we're going to see a lot of the Trump family this week. As a campaign adviser once told me this is a Trump administration, not a Republican administration. That person said that in jest. But you're going to see a lot of the Trump family this week and you're going to see a lot of Trump surrogates.

You're also going see some unusual additions to the lineup. The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is going to be appearing during the convention from Israel, appearing to use his official capacity as secretary of State to lend some heavyweight status to this convention. Now the State Department is saying and the Trump campaign is saying that the RNC is going to be footing the bill for that, but it's hard to think that taxpayer dollars won't be going to that to some extent.

I will tell you one of the other wrinkles in all of this which is interesting, Anderson, is that you're going to see the president appear every night of this convention, from what we're hearing from our sources. That is highly unusual. As you saw last week with Joe Biden, he waited essentially until the end of the convention. He did appear with his wife on the third night, with Jill Biden on the third night.

But the president is going to be doing it every night of the week. And I talked to a Trump campaign adviser just earlier this evening, Anderson, who said this is a mistake that essentially the president should not be doing this. He's going to be taking away from the drama that should be building up every night of the convention to when the president, when the nominee, speaks on the final night of the convention.

In the words of this campaign adviser, people are tired of trying to tell the president that he shouldn't do things that he shouldn't be doing, and that they've essentially given up on, you know, giving any kind of pushback. And that is something that we'll have to be watching for as he tries to essentially steal the limelight from himself every night this week.

COOPER: How is the Trump campaign feeling going into tomorrow?

ACOSTA: You know, I do think there are some concerns. I talked to a couple of campaign advisers, people close to the White House, who acknowledged to me, and we've heard a lot of this said publicly, that Joe Biden had a good convention last week. They thought that his speech was well delivered and that the former vice president has essentially set the bar fairly high for the president.

And when, you know, Trump campaign people are telling you, admitting that Joe Biden did a good job, that -- I think that is something. One other thing that I think we should point out is that, you know, the way that Trump people feel about the way Joe Biden handled his convention speech, according to this one campaign adviser, essentially blew out of the water this notion that Joe Biden is somehow, quote- unquote, "Sleepy Joe." So you may hear less of that during this convention this week. They

believe that they need some kind of convention polling bounce to come out at the end of this week, Anderson. The president, as you know, is hyper obsessed with polls.

His people are -- you know, will acknowledge privately that he has some ground to make up over the coming weeks, and he needs that convention bounce that typically come out of conventions. They typically happen after conventions. And if the president doesn't have that at the end of this week, he is going to be in some trouble because it takes a lot to catch up, you know, during the debates and during the tail end of the campaign season.

COOPER: Jim Acosta. Appreciate it, Jim. Thanks very much.


Republicans hoping to have a crowd element at their Charlotte, North Carolina, convention site. For more, let's bring in Ryan Nobles in Charlotte.

So once the president arrives in Charlotte tomorrow, then what? What's the schedule like?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, honestly, Anderson, it's going to be a pretty formal procedure here. What you normally would see during a convention, just on a much smaller scale. You know, when Charlotte won the bid here to host the Republican National Convention more than a year ago, they probably expected a massive gathering of people, all kinds of activity all week.

And it's really just been reduced to a few hours on Monday morning. There's a little more than 300 delegates that have come from around the country. They'll do the traditional roll call vote. And President Trump and Vice President Pence will officially be declared the nominees for the Republican Party for the fall election. And President Trump will be here. He and the vice president are expected to make a very brief appearance.

He's even expected to deliver a few remarks. But this won't be his main acceptance speech. That's not going to come until later in the week. So they're going to try and replicate as much as they can that convention experience in a much smaller venue with a lot less people, trying to counterbalance what you saw from the Democrats last week, which was almost a completely virtual convention -- Anderson.

COOPER: And has the campaign or the RNC said if tomorrow night's roll call is the only onsite event of the convention? Or are they going to attempt other things that sort of have the look and probably not the feeling of a regular convention?

NOBLES: Yes, I mean, really depends on your definition of onsite, right? I mean, this is the only event that will include people that are brought in in kind of a large gathering, if you can call it that, of some 300 people. But we do think that some of the speeches that we're going to see throughout the week will at least have that element of a live audience.

We know for instance, the president's acceptance speech on Thursday is going to be on the South Lawn of the White House and we know that people are being invited to that. In fact members of Congress were sent an invitation and asked if they wanted to attend. We don't know how many people will be there, how they'll be spaced out to -- you know, to try and take into account some of the precautions related to the coronavirus.

And even some of the speeches that are going to take place at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. may also have somewhat of a small crowd in place. The thing that the campaign's going to be forced to deal with, Anderson, is that most of the events are not going to shift to Washington, and there are still very specific standards in place as to how you have to adhere to coronavirus protocols.

So that's just going to make it very difficult for them to draw any kind of a big crowd. What we may see, though, is them using creative camera work to make it seem as though there are bigger crowds than what are actually there.

COOPER: And did -- I mean, what's it like there in Charlotte? Do you get a sense a lot of Republicans traveled in for this? Are people taking coronavirus precautions?

NOBLES: So, Anderson, you've been to many conventions, right? This is nothing like a convention, right? If the actual convention were taking place here, there'd be main thoroughfares that would be completely cut off, there would be an enormous security presence, it would be very difficult to drive in and out of the city. There's nothing like that at all happening here this week.

But even by Charlotte standards, on a regular Sunday evening in August, this city is dead. And much like every city across the country. You know, restaurants are either closed or there's very limited seating because there are still very strict coronavirus protocols in the state of North Carolina. But we have seen a smattering of Republican delegates wearing their lanyards with their credentials around their necks.

But it is very few and far between, and it's basically only around the convention center where most of this is going to take place. There is not much pomp and circumstance at all. This is nothing like a convention, which is what you'd expect, given everything that the world is dealing with right now as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.

COOPER: Yes. Ryan Nobles, thanks for being there. Appreciate it.

The most interested audience of all for the Republican convention is perhaps the team who wrapped up theirs last week. M.J. Lee is following the Biden campaign.

So coming out, you know, by what Democrats deem to be a strong convention, what is the Biden-Harris ticket saying now? M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it has been

exactly 12 days since Joe Biden announced that his running mate would be Kamala Harris. And we have since seen the two of them participate in some joint campaign events together, and then obviously the big event of last week when the two of them appeared on stage and officially accepted their party's nomination. And now they have sat down for their first joint TV interview.

This was with ABC News. And one of the questions that Joe Biden was asked about are the attacks that are coming from Donald Trump questioning Joe Biden's mental sharpness. And he said, look, this is a fair question to be asked, I understand that I am 77 years old, but he essentially said, I believe that my performance will speak for itself. Take a listen.


DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS HOST: I want to turn to the blistering attacks we see from President Trump just this week alone on your mental fitness, whether you're up for the job. His campaign has called you diminished. And I'm curious how you'd respond to that.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Watch me. Mr. President, watch me. Look at us both. What we say, what we do, what we control, what we know, what kind of shape we're in. Come on.



LEE: Now something else that Joe Biden was asked was whether he felt pressure to choose a black woman to be his running mate. He of course ended up doing that. He said he didn't feel the pressure, but he did also recognize that he feels like the government should look like the rest of the country. He also said that ultimately it was not a difficult decision because he felt like his values very much line up with Kamala Harris' values.

COOPER: The -- traditionally, you know, there's usually -- candidates get a bounce in the polls after conventions. Obviously, there's nothing traditional about these conventions. Have the vice president or Senator Harris gotten any kind of a bounce?

LEE: Well, you know, Anderson, we have been talking about the last few days, how people in the Biden world are feeling very good about how this convention went down last week, but they feel like they were able to pull off this unprecedented, almost entirely virtual convention. And now they do have another good piece of news to feel good about. It shows that Joe Biden's net favorability is higher now than before the convention, eight points higher among all voters and five points higher among registered voters.

This of course is always good news for a candidate because it could indicate that enthusiasm among voters could go up for you. This is an important indicator for whether or not voters will actually do the hard work of going out to vote and cast their ballot for you. And the other thing, though, that I think is an important distinction

to make is that post-convention polls do not indicate that he has necessarily widened his gap over Trump. If you look at the CBS News poll that came out today, it shows that the Biden-Trump gap right now is 52 percent to 42 percent. That is just very much exactly where the Biden-Trump gap was before the convention.

So when it comes to the actual horse race, we are not seeing a significant difference. So that is an important distinction to make. And I will finally say, you know, we all have this countdown that's going on until Election Day. There are some 70-miss days left. And a lot of talk about how much things can change in that period of time, which is, of course, true. However, it is worth keeping in mind that so many people this year are going to be voting early.

They're going to be voting using mail-in ballots because of the ongoing pandemic. And you think about these people and how they are going to be voting, they're probably going to be voting based on whether they think the economy is working well for them now, where they think things are with the pandemic. So it isn't necessarily all about how people feel on November 3rd -- Anderson.

COOPER: M.J. Lee, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Here to talk about all this, former Republican senator and CNN senior political commentator Rick Santorum, CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger, former special adviser to President Obama and CNN political commentator Van Jones, and former senior adviser to President Obama and a CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod.

Senator Santorum, what message does the president and the Republican Party you think need to convey or going to convey during this convention?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I always say the campaigns are about to the future, not about the past. I mean, obviously the president is going to tout his record on the economy, but I think he needs to -- they need to focus more on what they're going to do in the future. And I think he has an opportunity here, just like he did four years ago, to connect with working men and women.

Not just white working men and women, but all working men and women. Many of whom have definitely been hurt by this pandemic. But they're going to look at who's the person that's going to turn this country around and get it going again, you know, when the pandemic begins to subside? And he's got to make the case that he's got a plan and that he is the guy that can execute on that plan.

He can point to the past, but I think, you know, the Democrats, most of the campaign was about, you know, Joe Biden's a good guy and Donald Trump's a bad guy. They didn't focus very much on -- other than the sort of the hard left, Bernie and those folks talking about an agenda. The rest of the campaign really didn't do that.

Trump's got to do that. Trump's got to deliver the mail as to how he's going to make life better for people.

COOPER: David, how much of this convention do you expect to be focused on painting the Biden-Harris ticket as far left?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think quite a bit if you look at the list of speakers. Many of the conservative firebrands from Congress, his allies, are the main speakers, along with his staff and family. And I expect you'll hear some of that. But I think Rick's right. That's what he has to do. He's nine points down. He's trailing in all the battleground states or at best even.

The country, a majority of people think we're on the wrong track, a majority of people think the economy is in a bad shape. And he needs a boost here. But the problem is there's this overhang, Anderson, and that's the COVID-19 pandemic. And that's what's been driving this race for the last six months. People don't feel he's handled it well. And if he tries to spin it in the convention as he has elsewhere, that he has handled it well, or if he tries to ignore it, he may cheer his supporters, but he's certainly not going to grow them, and that's not going to be enough to win.


COOPER: Gloria, President Trump wants, we understand, an emphasis on live programming, not a lot of pre-recorded things. He's expected to make an appearance every night. There's a former "Apprentice" producer helping put the convention together. I'm wondering what your expectations are.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we're going to get some surprises here. I mean, you just heard Jim Acosta say that some folks are worried about it because if Donald Trump is on every day, just as he's been on a lot of days lately during his so-called press conferences, that it takes all the element of surprise and kind of the buildup for this convention. But I think you're going to -- Donald Trump has to be on TV every day. That's what he wants.

The question is, how big a role will he have when he is on TV every day? Is he going to be talking to ordinary Americans in the way we saw Joe Biden doing? I mean, we don't see Donald Trump doing that an awful lot. Is he going to be standing there, say, with supporters from police officers around the country? That's more like what we see from Donald Trump.

It's just kind of hard to say. But all you know is that Donald Trump has to be the star of every single show, of every single night. And I think there's no way to fight him on it.

COOPER: Van, I mean, Democrats, you know, presented high-profile speakers. There are pretty cohesive themes kind of weaved throughout. How do think -- do you think the Republicans are going to kind of do something similar?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's just hard to know. I'll say a couple of things. First of all, Donald Trump is a showman's showman. So I think people are going to expect him to put on a show. I don't think anybody expected much from Biden or the Democrats. We were happy -- we thought it might be some, you know, Zoom birthday party on steroids. It turned out to be very, very good.

So now can these guys put on that kind of a show that matches Donald Trump's, you know, kind of showmanship? I don't know. I will say this, if you're a Democrat, if you're a progressive, if you're a liberal, you might think to yourself, I don't even want to watch this. I'm going to tell you, get your Pepto-Bismol, get your aspirin, get your stress toy, but watch this convention. Because you're going to see them lay out exactly how they plan to attack Biden and how they plan to attack Kamala, and it's going to be a roadmap. You will understand what you're going to see the next 72 days by watching the next four.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, do you believe that? I mean, that it will be kind of a course in what they're going to do in terms of attacking them?

SANTORUM: Well, I think it will be a course on both the positive and negative. And, you know, David mentioned, you know, the coronavirus. And yes, I think you're going to see a lot of comparisons about Joe Biden and Barack Obama handling the h1n1 virus. And, you know, that 60 some million people were infected. And thankfully, thankfully the mortality rate was dramatically lower than COVID.

But if you look at how President Obama and Joe Biden responded to h1n1, and had they've been in charge -- if that had been coronavirus instead of h1n1, we're talking a couple million people dying. So I think there's a lot of room for the president to -- on legitimate issues, to go after Joe Biden. And again, again on the coronavirus, in Joe Biden's speech, his acceptance speech, he basically parroted everything the president is already doing except mandating masks being worn, which the president can't do.

So I think he's got some real good ground to sort of explain, you know, what he did -- look, I think the president rhetorically has handled the COVID crisis horribly, but as far as his actions are concerned, I think he's done a lot better than what the media is giving credit and certainly better than Biden or Obama.

COOPER: Do you think COVID -- do you think the pandemic is a liability for the president?

SANTORUM: Right now it is.



COOPER: Gloria, obviously, I mean --

BORGER: His approval rating is 38 percent.


COOPER: Gloria, obviously what --

SANTORUM: Yes, he's going to turn that around.

COOPER: Right. Gloria, obviously what the president often focuses on is, and I assume we'll hear a lot about this coming next week, is, you know, what's called "Operation Warp Speed," getting a vaccine out there. You know, he announced today the emergency authorization for the plasma treatment. It seems like there'll be a lot of focus on that. Obviously not the death toll and the numbers and the -- you know, some of his rhetorical statements, as Senator Santorum talked about.

BORGER: Absolutely. Because his approval rating on the pandemic is -- his handling of the pandemic, I think is under 40 percent. And so he may get a lot of approval from his base on that. But if this president is trying to bring other people into the tent, and that remains to be seen, because I believe in order to win he has to do that, then he's going to focus on what he thinks is going really well for him, not where he was back in March and April, telling everyone to go to church, et cetera, paying no attention to the virus.


But where he is now on therapeutics, and I think there's also a lot of controversy about the therapeutics. But if I were Donald Trump, that is what I would talk about, not how I had botched it for the last months. And so I think we're going to hear a lot about that.


BORGER: And the question is whether the people who watch are going to believe it and are going to say, OK, you're getting us out of it, without thinking about what has happened in this country since March.

COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean --

AXELROD: Anderson, what --

COOPER: Yes, go ahead, David.

AXELROD: Go ahead. No, no --


AXELROD: Go ahead.

COOPER: I was going to say that, I mean, it would seem that the other thing we're going to hear a lot about is, just as we did in the president's acceptance address when he took office, is a portrait of America, of American cities as being in flames and lawless and this very dystopian view.

AXELROD: There's no doubt about it. I mean, he's signaled even over the weekend with a tweet. You know, he spoke directly to suburban women saying, how can they vote for Democrats when they're, you know, opening the door to anarchy. I think you're going to hear those themes because one of the major problems he has has been this mass exodus of suburban voters, particularly suburban women. And he wants to get them back.

You know, one thing that's interesting to me, Anderson, about when I looked at the speakers lineup, is not just who is speaking, but who isn't speaking. And if you look at the roster, virtually none, other than Joni Ernst of Iowa, virtually none of the candidates who are running for re-election, who are in competitive races, are going to speak at the convention including Tom Tillis, who represents the state of North Carolina where the convention is nominally centered.

So that tells you a little bit about where these candidates think the president is at this moment. And that's behind.

COOPER: Yes. Van Jones, David Axelrod, Rick Santorum, Gloria Borger, thank you. We'll see you in just a few minutes.

Still to come tonight, and what Gloria just touched on, what President Trump today called, quote, "historic," a day ahead of the convention, a possible treatment for COVID-19. We'll take a look at what it is.

Also, later, President Trump's sister, a former federal judge, recorded airing her deeply critical opinions of her brother, her own words, when the special edition of 360 continues.



COOPER: Just a day ahead of the Republican convention, President Trump called a news conference to tout a newly announced emergency use authorization of a treatment for the coronavirus. It's called convalescent plasma. And this is how the president described the importance of the development.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today I'm pleased to make a truly historic announcement in our battle against the China virus that will save countless lives. This is a powerful therapy that transfuses very, very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling a current infection. It's had an incredible rate of success. Today's action will dramatically expand access to this treatment.


COOPER: President Trump also cited political reasons he felt why the emergency use authorization had not occurred until now. Quoting the president, "I think there might have been a holdup, but we broke the logjam over the last week."

Joining me now to discuss the veracity of what the president said, William Haseltine, chair and president of ACCESS Health International, a former president of Harvard Medical School. He's also the author of "A COVID Back-to-School Guide." Also with us our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So, Sanjay, it was just last week that the FDA reportedly slowed down

efforts to give convalescent plasma emergency use authorization. Dr. Fauci was among the government experts who were skeptical. I know you have sources close -- I'm wondering what you're hearing.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think this was surprising to a lot of people. I mean, just a couple, three days ago, on the FDA's Web site itself, it said there was not enough evidence to support emergency use authorization. That was just, you know, a couple of days ago.

It's not clear at all that there was any more data presented. I've gone through their memorandum of decision memorandum, and I don't see any new data being presented. So I know the coronavirus task force members did not get any new data. So it's really unclear to me what exactly happened here. Just a couple of days ago there wasn't enough data, now all of a sudden on a Sunday night, there's enough data to proceed with this emergency use authorization.

What is clear is the data that's been out there is not the sort of evidence that people typically want. Actually comparing this particular treatment to a placebo. What they were talking about was actually comparing this particular treatment to itself. Did you take it early or did you take it late? What they found was that if you took it early, you had benefit versus taking it late. But again, how did it compare to people who didn't take it at all? That's what people really want to know, and there's not good data on that.

COOPER: Professor Haseltine, I just want to get your reaction to something the president said today about the convalescent plasma. Let's watch.


D. TRUMP: Well, I think that there might have been a holdup, but we broke the logjam over the last week, to be honest. I think that there are people in the FDA, and actually in your larger department, that can see things being held up and wouldn't mind so much, it's my opinion, a very strong opinion. And that's for political reasons. This has nothing to do with politics, this has to do with life or death.


COOPER: So, I mean, essentially what he seems to be saying is that there are, you know, deep state actors or people who don't like him who wanted to hold this up in the FDA, I guess, or HHS, to damage the president somehow.


WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Well, thank you, Anderson. The first thing to say is, the data does not support the approval of this drug. That's clear. I've seen the data. And secondly, this is not a breakthrough. This is a very modest improvement for people who take it very early, if it's an improvement at all. So the FDA was correct. The NIH is correct. Back to your second question. This seems to me to be a clear

administration thumb on the scale for political purpose. And that's what I've been afraid all along, both for diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. And what's the implication of that? To the average person, it means, is the medication safe? And will it really do the job? If you don't let the professionals do it, if you use political influence, we're moving back into the era of snake oil and patent medicine.

We're opening the doors wide open to corruption, where politicians for electoral or personal gain can approve or disapprove a medication. This is an extraordinarily dangerous situation in a pandemic where we rely on our regulatory agencies to let us know what's safe and what's not. Is this a precursor for what's going to happen with vaccines?

I worked for 10 years or more with a company to develop a purified form of convalescent serum for a childhood disease respiratory sensational virus. The FDA worked hand in glove with us, stopped us at certain points when they found things were dangerous, helped us along the way. And after 10 years, we got it approved. But I can tell you these are not benign treatments.

If somebody has HIV, if somebody has hepatitis, if somebody has a negative reaction, you don't know unless you go through a really careful regulatory process, which is being shortcut, warped, and it seems overridden, in this case.

COOPER: Sanjay, I remember talking to some doctor last week when the FDA, you know, took it off the emergency use authorization thing. And they were saying that essentially this seems to be a promising potential treatment, it's just we don't really know how to study it or we don't have the capabilities to property study it at this point, or we're not studying it properly? Is that correct? I mean, did I misunderstand that?

GUPTA: Well, no, I think what had happened here -- you're absolutely right, there's been a lot of enthusiasm for this type of treatment. I mean, basically you're taking the plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus, from COVID, and you're taking those antibodies and you're trying to use those in someone who is now dealing with the disease or, you know, at some point in their disease course.

So that's been the enthusiasm. And it's been used in other types of infections, as Dr. Haseltine was just mentioning. The issue seemed to be that there was this expanded access network that was created so, hey, look, we're excited about this. Let's expand the access to it. And tens of thousands of people have received this therapy under that expanded access network.

The problem is that there weren't these randomized trials to actually show, is this the treatment that's actually working? Or is it not? People were just sort of giving it, and in a situation like that, it makes it increasingly hard to study.

There have been a couple of randomized control trials, both of them, I will point, were stopped early. So we really don't have that level one evidence. And some of the sources I've been talking to today saying, now under this emergency use authorization, doing these types of trials that are necessary may be even harder. Right? If you're in the hospital and you're sick, you say, I want that, I've heard about that, I don't want the placebo group, I want that under EUA now.

It makes it harder to get the data that is needed ultimately to get approval and to understand, as Dr. Haseltine was mentioning, does it actually work? You know, we still can't say that convincingly.

COOPER: And, Professor, I mean, what you're -- the thing you're saying which is so ominous is the idea of, well, if they're putting their thumb on the scale for this, what might happen with all the pressure to have a vaccine quickly?

HASELTINE: That's exactly right. And let's just remember hydroxychloroquine. That was given emergency use authorization, probably under the same kinds of pressure from the administration. And it turns out not only to be not useful, it turns out, when combined with azithromycin, to be deadly. People died. So this is really dangerous.

Once you take away from the FDA its independent authority to determine what's safe and what's not, you are in uncharted territory in terms of safety and accuracy.


COOPER: Professor Haseltine, Sanjay, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

As the Republican National Convention draws near, there's new polling on what Republicans, Democrats, and independents think is acceptable when it comes to American deaths from the coronavirus. The numbers on that, next.


COOPER: As the national coronavirus death toll climbs toward 177,000, how much do those figures will play in the Republican National Convention is unknown at this point. What is known are the results of a new CBS News-YouGov poll among voters in the nation's battleground states. That poll shows 57 percent of Republican voters think the country's death toll thus far is, quote, "acceptable," while 43 percent do not. As for Democratic voters, 90 percent think that toll is not acceptable.


I want to welcome back Senator Santorum, who we should note has some business interests with a blood plasma company currently involved with therapeutics right now. Also back, Gloria Borger, and joining us a CNN senior political commentator and former Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm.

Senator Santorum, so according to that poll, 57 percent of Republicans say the death toll is acceptable. Does that surprise you? That there is such a difference between the Republicans and Democrats on how they see this?

SANTORUM: Look, I think the coverage, depending on what newsfeed you watch, is fundamentally different. I mean, I think you have more conservative-leaning organizations that are, you know, giving a very different perspective on how the president's handling this. And I think you have other places that are being rather harsh on him. So I'm not surprised that I think the media's driving a lot of the division on this. And I think it's reflected in the attitudes of the people who consume that media.

Look, I mean, the president's in a position where he has to focus on -- stop focusing on the past and focus on what he's going to do. And I think today was a good announcement. There are lots of things that are going on right now. An incredible number of trials that are under way. Not just vaccines but other therapeutics.

I mean, there's a pipeline. Whether that pipeline gets here between now and November, I don't know. But there's certainly the private sector has responded, the government has certainly put a lot of money out there to encourage people to come up with these therapeutics and vaccines. And it will play out politically, candidly, whether a lot of those things happen to pop before the election or not.

COOPER: That number, though, I mean, is it acceptable to you?

SANTORUM: Well, I would like to see -- certainly I think the president would like to see better than 57 percent. Look, it's hard. I mean, this was a horrible virus. I think the president can talk about death rates, he can talk about, you know, the situation could have been a lot worse.

But the buck stops here, and when people are dying, you know, you've got to take responsibility for it. And as I think he is doing now and has been doing a better job of this, focusing on how he can stem that tide. And I think, you know, today's announcement, hopefully more like it, will be a good sign for him.

COOPER: We had Professor Haseltine, formerly of Harvard Medical School, who was saying just in the last segment that this -- he believes it's the administration putting the thumb on the scale over the FDA or HHS to get this emergency use authorization, which just last week the FDA had said that there wasn't the evidence for that.

Do you believe that there are political reasons in the FDA, or deep state in the FDA, that would hold up plasma authorization because of dislike of the president?

SANTORUM: Well, I can tell you, because in the company that you mentioned that I work with, you know, we do a lot of work with CBER, which is the blood products division of the FDA. And I've never met finer people in government than the people who run CBER. So I can tell you that I have absolutely zero belief that CBER was doing anything to block that. Look, having said that, you know, there are legitimate reasons for

this to be approved. And, you know, with all due respect to the professor, in throwing out, you know, the potential of people getting aids from these convalescent plasma transfusions is completely irresponsible, by the way.

The reality is people should be donating their convalescent plasma, that we do know that these antibodies do have a beneficial effect, and that we also know that this is safe. I mean, plasma is given to millions and millions of people in America, and has been for decades. So the idea that this is somehow unsafe and that the president is putting the thumb and threatening the health of the public, I think is just irrational hyperbole, candidly.

What -- he has a legitimate point which is how effective is it? And that really comes down to the fact that you're getting one person's plasma, and frankly, you don't know whether that person's antibodies in the plasma are particularly efficacious in fighting your particular, you know, disease. And that's why other therapeutics that pooled plasma, and you get a broad spectrum of antibodies, is a better approach.

But those products aren't on the market right now. So this is really the best way. It's not the optimal way to get antibodies and to get IGG in your system to combat this disease, but it is the only one that's available right now. And I think it is safe. Whether it's effective, again, I think it's hit and miss. And I think that's why people have said, you know, it's not proven. But it's safe, and it can help, and I think as a result, when you don't have a whole lot of other options, it should be approved.


COOPER: Governor Granholm, a lot of Republicans have been downplaying the coronavirus. And we're seeing just in this poll, again, this real difference in just even the idea of 177,000 or 150,000 deaths being acceptable, more so said among Republicans than Democrats.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Yes, I mean, I just -- let me say a word about this disconnect, addressing the topic of COVID at the convention. So each night's themes are really positive, right? And President Trump has said he wants the convention to be optimistic. I totally get it. I understand optimism, positivity. But you have to balance it against what people are experiencing on the ground.

And so too much happy talk, when 176,000 people are dead and millions are infected and tens of millions are unemployed and on the verge of eviction, could seem to be disconnected from reality. And that disconnect between what the Republicans are saying and what everybody else -- the independents, the Democrats, and moderate Republicans -- are seeing and feeling is reflected in that poll that you just referenced.

Seventy-three percent of Republicans say the U.S. response to dealing with COVID is going well. But 62 percent of all voters, all voters, say it's going poorly. It's going badly. 67 percent, by the way, of Republicans say the economy is good and 61 percent of all voters say it's bad. So there is this massive disconnect. And it's a huge moment for the president not to just talk happy talk, but in fact, to show some empathy rather than just bragging. And the question is whether he'll take it.

COOPER: Well, Gloria, we know that one of the president's appearances at the convention will be, we're told, with a group of doctors and nurses and EMTs who treated coronavirus patients. It's obviously an opportunity to honor their heroism and highlight other frontline workers, responding to the pandemic.

BORGER: Sure, and I'm sure he'll say we got everybody the ventilators they needed. And I'm sure that a lot of people are going to remember that there wasn't a lot of PPE for people when they needed it. In terms of the skepticism we're hearing from Dr. Haseltine and others, it seems to me that since the president tweeted yesterday I believe it was about the deep state over at the FDA, and Rick Santorum, I think you just said you wouldn't buy into that.

The president tweets about the deep state over at the FDA, and then today he announces that with a push from him, they're going to be able to do what he wants them to do on convalescent plasma. So there is a skepticism because the president made it so, because the president said, oh, those guys over there, you know, they're just deep state, they're not going to do what I want them to do. And lo and behold then they do it the next day. So why shouldn't people question that and say, wait a minute, is this science?


BORGER: Or is this politics?

COOPER: We got --

SANTORUM: That's another reason --


COOPER: Oh, I'm sorry.

SANTORUM: No, I was just saying, another reason why the president steps on his message all the time, and it's a classic example.

BORGER: Totally.

SANTORUM: I mean, as I said, I think this is the right thing to do, but he set it up that it looks like it wasn't.


BORGER: Right. Maybe.

COOPER: Just before the start of the Republican convention, secret recordings of the president's sister are released. The respected former federal judge attacks her brother, warns, quote, "You can't trust him." What else she said and who made the recordings, next.



COOPER: On the eve of the Republican convention, another Trump is making headlines, Maryanne Trump Barry, one of the president's sisters, a retired federal judge. She was secretly recorded by their niece, Mary Trump. You may recall Mary Trump recently released that scathing book about the Trump family.

More now from our Randi Kaye.


MARYANNE TRUMP BARRY, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SISTER: My role is to speak to you about the trial of the criminal case.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Donald Trump's older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, back in 1992. Despite her four- decade career as a prosecutor and federal judge, we haven't heard much from her until now. In a secretly recorded audiotape just made public, she's heard criticizing her brother, the president, and how he operates in the White House.

BARRY: The goddamn tweet and the lying, oh, my god, I'm talking too freely. But you know, the change of stories, the lack of preparation, the lying, the -- holy shit.

KAYE: The "Washington Post" first reported on the audio recorded in 2018 and 2019 by Trump's niece, Mary Trump, who has called her uncle unfit for office. She told the "Post" she recorded 15 hours of audio with Maryanne Trump Barry who slams her brother repeatedly.

BARRY: You can't trust him.

KAYE: In another audio clip, the president's sister appeared to confirm her niece Mary Trump's previous allegations that Donald Trump had a friend take his SATs to get into college.

BARRY: I mean, I didn't get him in, but I know he didn't get into college. And he -- and he went to Fordham for one year, and then he got into University of Pennsylvania. I guess he had somebody take his -- take the exams.


BARRY: And he --

M. TRUMP: He had somebody take his entrance exams?

BARRY: SATs or whatever.

M. TRUMP: Yes. Oh, Jesus.

BARRY: That's what I believe. I even remember the name. M. TRUMP: Oh, man.

KAYE: The White House has denied Donald Trump did that. Meantime, in another audio clip, Maryanne Trump Barry suggests her brother is not the man who portrays to be to his base.

BARRY: All he wants to do is appeal to his base. He has no principles, none. None. And his base, I mean, my God. If you are a religious person, you want to help people, not do this.

KAYE: Maryanne Trump Barry also suggests Trump has taken credit for her career.

BARRY: Donald's out for Donald, period. When he said -- he started to say something to me, boy, look at what I've done for you. And I said, you have done nothing. Deliberately. I have never asked him for a favor since 1981 when I was highly considered to go on the federal court on my own merits.

KAYE: It's a stunning turn of events, given that in 2015 the president spoke glowingly about his sister, suggesting she could be on the Supreme Court.

D. TRUMP: I think she would be phenomenal. I think she would be one of the best. But, frankly, I think she is -- we'll have to rule that out now. But I do have a sister who's very smart and a very good person.


KAYE: In response to it all, the White House provided a statement from the president that reads in part, "Every day it's something else. Who cares? Our country will soon be stronger than ever before."

For years Maryanne Trump Barry, who has not responded to CNN's request for comment, served as senior judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan and again by President Bill Clinton. She retired last year, but now, thanks to this very public sibling rivalry, is in the spotlight more than ever.

Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


COOPER: We'll have much more ahead on this special edition of 360. Up next, how the Trump White House is trying to convince voters his first term in office has been a success. A look at his claims and the facts on the eve of the Republican convention.