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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Donald Trump Visits Kenosha, Wisconsin; Politics of Fear; Convalescent Plasma Not Recommended To Treat COVID-19; New White House Adviser Pushing Controversial Pandemic Response. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 1, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But not for just a routine matter.
BROWN: All right. Dr. Reiner, thank you very much. The intrigue on that day, that visit continues.
REINER: My pleasure.
BROWN: Thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The President of the United States traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin today where a white police officer shot a black man, Jacob Blake seven times in the back.
Yet, listening to the President's remarks there, you would barely know that Mr. Blake even existed.
John Berman here in for Anderson.
It was a full hour and 15 minutes into his visit before he spoke of the incident at all and that was only when asked about it. This is what the President said about Mr. Blake's mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hear she's a very fine woman. I was going to speak to her. But then I heard there were a lot of lawyers on the phone. I said I have enough lawyers in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Enough lawyers in his life. There is Michael Cohen who helped him arrange the payoff to Stormy Daniels and Rudy Giuliani who helped him get impeached. But that seems quite different, and not being bothered to speak with a mother of a man who is now paralyzed from the waist down and whose shooting was followed by nights of sometimes violent demonstrations in the killing of two protesters, allegedly by a 17-year-old would-be vigilante. The only other time the President referred to Mr. Blake at all was at
a press conference a little more than an hour later, again, only when asked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What would you say to the Blake family? I know you didn't get a chance to talk to them, but what would you say to them in terms of the pain they're going through? And the questions they have about what happened?
TRUMP: Well, I feel terribly for anybody that goes through that. That's why I was so honored to meet the pastors. I feel terribly for anybody that goes through that, as you know, it's under investigation. It's a big thing happening right now. I guess it's under a local investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So never once, neither there nor during the rest of the visit did the President utter Jacob Blake's name, not once. I'm not sure he has ever said Blake's name. I'm not sure he knows it. What does that tell you about his views on the pain being felt by so many African- Americans?
And when asked about the larger issue of race and policing, specifically the question of systemic racism, here's how the President responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Frankly, I think the police do an incredible job and I think you do have some bad apples. I think you'd agree every once in a while you'll see something and, and you do have the other situation, too, where they're under this tremendous pressure and they don't handle it well. They call it choking and it happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Choking. It's an interesting choice of words. Horrifying when he compares it to missing a golf putt as he also did. And point of fact, choking is what was inflicted on Eric Garner during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes and on George Floyd by a police officer's knee on his neck.
It's the reason you hear protesters chanting, "I can't breathe," but safe to say that's not exactly front of mind for the President.
What is front of mind is highlighting and magnifying the violence in Kenosha and Portland, Oregon and inventing outrageous conspiracy theories about his opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Take a look at what's going on. And Biden -- well, Biden is -- I don't even like to mention Biden because he is not controlling anything.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, THE INGRAHAM ANGLE: Who do you think is pulling Biden's strings? Is it former Obama officials?
TRUMP: People that you've never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows, people that --
INGRAHAM: What does that mean? That sounds like a conspiracy theory? Dark shadow. What is that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The President last night on Fox News and that sound you hear is a cable news talking head who herself normally traffics in rightwing conspiracy theories, trying to talk the leader of the free world off the ledge that even she can see he is out on, but she can't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: People that you haven't heard of. They are people that are on the streets, they are people that are controlling the streets.
We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. They are on a plane.
INGRAHAM: Where is this?
TRUMP: I'll tell you some time, but it's under investigation right now. But they came from a certain city, and this person was coming to the Republican National Convention.
And there were like seven people on the plane, like this person, and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage. They were coming for a reason.
INGRAHAM: Planning for Washington.
TRUMP: Yes, this was all -- this is all happening.
INGRAHAM: But the money is coming from somewhere? When -- how can it be tracked?
TRUMP: Money is coming from some very stupid, rich people that have no idea that if their thing ever succeeded, which it won't, they will be thrown to the wolves like you've never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So he told the story again, today, only this time the flight wasn't going to Washington. It was in the President's words from Washington to wherever and as you might imagine, he offered no evidence to back it up because it almost goes without saying, that's not the point.
The point is to gin up as much fear as possible. This is merely the conspiratorial cherry on top.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others.
Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.
You had radical anarchists, you had horrible people, and you had agitators. They weren't protesters.
There is violence and danger in the streets of many Democrat-run cities throughout America.
TRUMP: Think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the blood stained sidewalks of Chicago, and imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So to Franklin Roosevelt's famous words, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. The President might answer the only thing we have to fear is everything, and you'll be forgiven if all this dark, ominous language sounds familiar. Remember the caravan?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And they got a lot of rough people in those caravans, they are not angels.
Very tough, criminals in some cases -- in many cases.
These are tough people.
Last week I called up the United States military. We are not playing games, folks. Because you look at what's marching up, that's an invasion.
You have some very tough criminal elements within the caravan.
These are some hardened criminals coming in.
QUESTION: Do you think somebody is funding the caravan?
TRUMP: I wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't be surprised. I don't know. But I wouldn't be surprised. A lot of people say yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And there's that shadowy presence again which the President never actually exposes because his only evidence just like this time is people say so or some guy told me. And no, that wasn't the first time either.
Here he is in 2011, talking about his allegations -- bogus allegations -- that President Obama was not born here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have people that actually have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they're finding.
QUESTION: You have people now in there searching --
QUESTION: I mean, in Hawaii.
TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they're finding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That was a lie. Nobody found anything because he didn't send any people. But it's instructive to hear it again because the closer you look, the clearer you see, he is just recycling the same material over and over.
You just insert a new name, a new Boogeyman or Bogeywoman for that matter. He was doing this as a private citizen. He did it as a candidate. He's doing it once again as President, and doing it again now. Only this time, he's doing it on top of a powder keg with the biggest boxes of matches he's ever had.
Joining us now is Jacob Blake's uncle, Justin Blake. Mr. Blake, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much for your time. First of all, can you tell us how Jacob is doing this evening?
JUSTIN BLAKE, UNCLE OF JUSTIN BLAKE: Thank you for having us on your program tonight. Jacob is doing better. He is slowly but surely able to talk a little better, able to stay up a little longer, hold the hand of his father, our brother Jake, Big Jake, and talk to his mother, Julie and communicate to her.
We told you the other night, she was looking beautiful. And we knew that Little Jake must be doing better because the weight was lifted off her shoulders. He is not -- his life isn't in any further danger, so that she looked good and we know our nephew had to be doing better because of the way she looked the other night.
BERMAN: Well, that's good news. How much is he aware of everything that's going on in Kenosha?
JUSTIN BLAKE: Not very much. He is sort of stuck at the spot where he got shot. He asked his father, our brother Big Jake the other night, why did they shoot me so many times? So he's still sort of stuck and that he is speaking and communicating more, but he sort of hasn't moved past that state, that little bump in the road thus far. BERMAN: So the President was in Kenosha today, as you well know. You
heard, I'm sure some of what he had to say. How satisfied were you with his message?
JUSTIN BLAKE: Not satisfied at all. He's been a lying president. He's been a racially discriminating President against minorities, and the racial things that he said has just invoked and empowered police officers all over the country to rain down hate upon African-Americans like our little brother, our little nephew, I'm sorry.
So at this point, we're taking the gloves off. We're still standing strong. We are still asking people to be peaceful, but let's put the facts on the table. Let's address them as they are.
It won't take Stevie Wonder to see the video to realize that policing was not done on behalf of the Kenosha people and that he went far outside of police duty, shooting my nephew seven times in the back in front of his children only three feet away with a gun with three children in a car.
So we need to be looking at our ethics, our morals and asking ourselves is this acceptable for anybody, especially a person that's a descendant of the people that built this country and made it the richest country in the world today? We deserve better in 2020.
BERMAN: So the President spoke about his support for police. He talked about the violence there. What he did not do is mention Jacob's name at all, I don't think I've ever heard him say Jacob's name. What does that matter to you?
JUSTIN BLAKE: It doesn't, because that would be our script. And I wouldn't give him the power that we refuse to give anybody we're keeping it --
BERMAN: Justin, can you still hear me?
JUSTIN BLAKE: ... getting an indictment, we need it soon. It doesn't take this long to look at -- viewing of the video that we have that the world has seen. Just to say that was far beyond any policing that should be done on behalf of any citizen anywhere. And we're going to correct that in 2020.
BERMAN: So as I did say, the President never mentioned Jacob Blake's name. He did when asked specific questions, say about your family, he feels terribly for anybody that is going through this. Is that enough for you?
JUSTIN BLAKE: No, it's not enough. We need people to stand up there in office and take responsibility of things that happened under your watch. It's like being a captain of a ship. If it goes down, you can't say you aren't responsible.
This has gone on under his role in being the President and we need -- justice. BERMAN: Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you. The connection is
going in and out, but we are hearing almost everything you're saying there. One thing the President did do today was promise more support and more funding for the police in Kenosha, what do you think of that approach?
JUSTIN BLAKE: Let me tell you where funding needs to go. Funding needs to go in the African-American community so we can have -- our children can have a time, a chance to be successful. Funding should go into education in communities like this. Funding should go into giving businesses and entrepreneur an opportunity to rebuild and be functional and be supportive in their own community.
It happens all over the United States. Moneys are given out to all types of organizations and people other than African-Americans. So we're here in 2020 to let you know the matrix are falling. We're not believing anything other than the truth. And the truth is, we helped build this country.
BERMAN: We lost you there for one more second, Justin, I think -- I think you can hear me again, Justin, we did lose you for one more second there.
One of the things you said to me a moment ago was that the gloves are going to come off now. What does that mean? Because your family consistently has said and continues to say that in no way do you want to see any violence on the streets in Kenosha?
JUSTIN BLAKE: Absolutely not. What that means is those that are running for office, those who consider themselves to be friends or family of the Blake's that are in powerful positions need to move on it.
It's no longer to say we're friends, and we're friends, but you're not doing something about it. So that means, legislative people to start writing bills, to start writing legislation so when the new people get in town in D.C., they've got something to move on right away.
We want legislation. And we say that to Vice President Biden and Sister Harris, we wish them well, but we're not going to allow anybody -- we're going to keep everybody's feet to the fire to make things better right away the African descendants that helped build this country and every city around this country and around the ledge.
BERMAN: What happens next in the legal case here, do you know?
JUSTIN BLAKE: Well, the Blake firm is pushing for an indictment of the officer that took liberties to shoot out nephew unarmed seven times in the back. That looks like justice to get an indictment, but not to us. We want him to be convicted. We want him to go to jail so his grandmother, his mother, his father, or brother can go forward and close this chapter in our lives.
BERMAN: Just to be clear, you continue to say unarmed, that Jacob wasn't carrying anything in his hand when the police shot him.
JUSTIN BLAKE: (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: I'm sorry I didn't hear your answer.
JUSTIN BLAKE: With no equivocation, his father stands by that statement, his mother's stands by that statement and our legal team stands by that statement.
BERMAN: All right, Justin Blake, we appreciate your time tonight. We appreciate you bearing with us through these technical difficulties. Our best to your family and our best to Jacob during his recovery.
Next, we'll ask the man in charge of the President's campaign messaging about the message he thinks his boss is sending.
And later, a top medical researcher on tonight's COVID breaking news on one of the treatments the President has been touting heavily.
BERMAN: We spoke in the last segment to the uncle of the man who was barely mentioned in passing by the President during his visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin today, Jacob Blake who was shot and is paralyzed from the waist down. He was shot by a Kenosha police officer.
Joining us now, the President's top campaign spokesperson, Trump 2020 Director of Communications, Tim Murtaugh. Tim, I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for joining us. I want to play for you something that President Trump said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that, and this person was coming to the Republican National Convention.
And they were like seven people on the plane, like this person, and then a lot of people are on the plane to do big damage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Tim, what specifically is he talking about there?
TIM MURTAUGH, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, TRUMP 2020: Well, I don't have all the information that the President has access to. But we know that the people who have gone to these violent riots --
BERMAN: I'm sorry, Tim. I'm sorry, Tim. I'm talking about a plane trip. I was talking about a plane trip that was coming to the Convention, which is a political event.
MURTAUGH: I just -- John --
BERMAN: Do you have any information about the people on this plane or the flight?
MURTAUGH: I just told you I don't have access to the same information that the President has. But John, let me ask you a question about this. The people that we saw harassing folks outside the White House in Washington on Thursday night, those people knew the names of regular Americans who were coming out of the White House.
The National Committee man from New Hampshire was harassed on the streets and the protester knew his name, John. How do you think that happened?
BERMAN: So Tim, I'm sorry. You're a spokesperson for the President --
MURTAUGH: How did these protesters --
BERMAN: I'm sorry. I'm sorry -- because I'm asking you a question about something the President has now said twice. The President essentially described an airborne assault or at least an air transport assault on a convention. And you as a senior spokesman for the campaign says you have no information on it. How can it be that you have no information on it?
MURTAUGH: Well, I don't work for one of the law enforcement agencies of the Federal government.
BERMAN: This was a political event.
MURTAUGH: But someone is organizing -- someone is organizing these trips. Someone is transporting these people from other states into these other cities.
BERMAN: Tim, can you --
MURTAUGH: In Kenosha, 102 people who were rescued out of 175 came from a different state, John.
BERMAN: Can you give me one piece of evidence tonight?
MURTAUGH: I can give you. I can give you statistics.
BERMAN: That there any flight -- that there was any flight carrying these people that the President is describing.
MURTAUGH: John, why don't you explain to me how the protesters on the street knew the name of the National Committee man from New Hampshire. Would you know him if you saw him? Would you be able to identify him by name on the street and chase him down the street? Would you know that person?
BERMAN: I want to play you -- I want to play you, Tim -- I want to play you --
MURTAUGH: How do these people know the identities of the people that they are assigned to harass, John? How does that happen? BERMAN: Tim, I want to play you something -- again, you're a
MURTAUGH: If no one is organizing these things --
BERMAN: You're a spokesperson for the President's reelection campaign --
MURTAUGH: If no one is organizing them, how do they know who they are?
BERMAN: I'm talking about a flight.
MURTAUGH: This is not John Legend coming out of the White House, John.
BERMAN: I am talking about a flight.
MURTAUGH: This is a regular American --
BERMAN: I am talking about a flight that the Commander-in-Chief has mentioned not once, but twice. Let me play this again for you. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. This person was coming to the Republican National Convention. And they were like seven people on the plane, like this person, and then a lot of people are on the plane to do big damage.
The entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters, people that obviously we're looking for trouble. This was a firsthand account of a plane going from Washington to wherever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So the first version of the story, he said the plane was going to Washington. The second version today. He said it was leaving D.C., which one is it, Tim?
MURTAUGH: John, again, I don't know who told the President that but it is undeniable that these people, these rioters are coming from other cities and other states.
The mayor of Minneapolis said that 80 percent of the people who were arrested in the Minneapolis riots came from other places. A hundred and two people who were arrested in Kenosha, Wisconsin, out of 175 were not from Kenosha.
Someone is organizing. Someone is sending to them in these cities.
BERMAN: The President wasn't talking about people coming from other state lines.
MURTAUGH: And let me tell you, John -- BERMAN: I am sorry, Tim. But the President of the United States twice
has told a very specific story albeit a contradictory story. I will state once again, he's the Commander-in-Chief. He controls the military. So when he says something about this, when he presents the idea of again this airborne assault, whether it be coming to Washington or leaving Washington, it's important.
And all I want to know is if it's in any way tethered to reality. Did it happen? And I think what you're telling me, you have no --
MURTAUGH: It's absolutely tethered to reality, John.
BERMAN: You have no -- you have no proof.
MURTAUGH: We know that all of these people are coming from other places.
BERMAN: Do you have proof that these flights happened?
MURTAUGH: How do you suppose they traveled? Who is putting them up in the hotels, John?
BERMAN: Tim, did he invest this story?
MURTAUGH: Who is paying all of their expenses?
BERMAN: Did he invent this story?
MURTAUGH: How do they know the identities of normal Americans that they are supposed to seek out and harass on the streets, John?
BERMAN: Did he invent the story -- did he invent the story about the plane, Tim?
MURTAUGH: How do they have all of this information? How can they have all of this information? We haven't --
BERMAN: You can't give me evidence -- you can't -- you can't give me information.
MURTAUGH: Listen, you know what we haven't heard?
BERMAN: You're talking about it -- but I am talking about --
MURTAUGH: And you're welcome to grill me, John. You're welcome to grill me. Have you ever asked Joe Biden why he hasn't denounced Antifa?
BERMAN: Joe Biden? You know, Joe Biden did not --
MURTAUGH: He hasn't singled out --
BERMAN: Joe Biden, in the last -- Tim, you're not answering the question.
MURTAUGH: These are leftwing violent protesters, John. BERMAN: Tim, you're not answering the question.
MURTAUGH: Why don't you ask the Democrats to condemn the Democrats? I have gone over this with you.
BERMAN: You're not answering the question.
MURTAUGH: Four or five times.
BERMAN: And I have to believe, Tim ...
MURTAUGH: We know absolutely that they've come from other places.
BERMAN: ... that you can't answer the question.
MURTAUGH: There are police arrest records for this, John.
BERMAN: Was there a flight, Tim?
MURTAUGH: You think they just used the Star Trek transporter and appeared in Washington, John?
BERMAN: Can you point me to the flight that the President talked about twice? Can you talk to me --
MURTAUGH: How do you suppose they all arrived in Washington, John, if not from an airplane?
MURTAUGH: How do you suppose 102 people arrested in Wisconsin not from the area.
BERMAN: Let me ask you this, Tim. Let me ask you this.
MURTAUGH: Eighty percent of the protesters arrested in Minneapolis are not from the area.
BERMAN: Okay, you can't -- you cannot --
MURTAUGH: Did they miracle themselves into those towns, John?
BERMAN: You cannot confirm to me, Tim.
MURTAUGH: Did they miracle themselves there?
BERMAN: You cannot confirm to me --
MURTAUGH: How do you posit that they showed up?
BERMAN: Tim, Tim. Stop. Stop. Let me ask a question here. All right. Now, as you have so far not confirmed any specific flight either coming to or leaving Washington that the President mentioned.
Let me point out to you that this mirrors this conspiracy theories that's been circulating online since June, a police department in Idaho even looked into it, this idea that people were being moved around the country in flights wearing all kinds of black t-shirts.
Is it possible the President read this and he is just regurgitating and getting some of the details wrong? Is that possible?
MURTAUGH: Look, Rand Paul has told a similar story and we have a Member of Congress who has called for congressional hearings to look in into who is funding these outrageous riots that by the way, Joe Biden has not identified as leftwing riots because that's what they are.
MURTAUGH: He's too weak to stand up to the leftwing of his party and denounce these riots for what they are because he is absolutely in the control of the anti-police wing of today's Democratic Party.
BERMAN: Okay, None of that --
MURTAUGH: We know without a question of doubt, John.
BERMAN: None of that addresses --
MURTAUGH: That these rioters are coming from outside of the areas where these riots occur.
BERMAN: None of these addresses -- Tim, you've got no proof.
MURTAUGH: We know it. Absolutely.
BERMAN: We just talked -- we just talked for minutes and you say you've got no proof.
MURTAUGH: And you know it. Your own network has reported.
BERMAN: You've got no proof.
MURTAUGH: Your own network has reported about there are arrests in Kenosha from outside the Kenosha area. Your own reporting shows that.
BERMAN: All right, Tim. Tim Murtaugh. Call us when you have information about these flights that the President has twice because as of now, we have got nothing.
MURTAUGH: Call me when you will admit that these are leftwing rioters, John coming from outside the region where the riots are occurring.
BERMAN: Tim Murtaugh, thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate it, Tim.
Perspective now from CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman. Also with, CNN senior political commentator and former Obama senior adviser, David Axelrod and CNN political commentator, Bakari Sellers, who is the author of "My Vanishing Country: A Memoir," a country that you could reach on any number of flights in and out of Washington. No doubt. Maggie Haberman, I wanted to press Tim on that, because it's one of
these things now that the President has mentioned twice. And, you know, he's done this for years. And people may toss it off as oh, it's just what the President does, it is just what the President does.
It seems as we sit here tonight that the President has invented out of thin air this story of this flight coming in and out, and we've got no details here. So what do you make of it all?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Look, John, officials of the White House say that the President has been briefed on concerns -- emphasis on concerns -- that there might be folks who are being paid to agitate and create unrest around the protest. That's not new.
We've heard Bill Barr, the Attorney General say some version of that publicly. What is new is this this elaborate story the President tells about a plane and people boarding it down to the number of people boarding it. And then suddenly everybody realized they weren't looters and rioters. It's changed directions.
The President has a history of making up stories, of manufacturing incidents and events that have happened. This may be one of them. It may not be one of them.
But it's incumbent upon the White House or the President to say what he is talking about when he is the President and when he is talking about a moment of deep strife in this country.
BERMAN: You know, again, it's this conspiracy he has created which depicts this airborne transport of demonstrators around the country. If he's going to say it, he should come forward with proof, and David, there are moments when the President of the United States again, the Commander-in-Chief talks like a spam e-mail or a Facebook post that you might see from some crazy aunt or uncle. We all have them.
I'm not speaking specifically of any of my relatives as far as you know, but some of these posts work. So do people hear this?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think a portion of the public hears it and receives it. His base hears it and receives it. But you know, the thing that was interesting to me about that conversation other than his inability to answer your question was his continuing reference to out-of-state people coming into these cities to be disruptive and there was no mention of the 17-year-old kid from Illinois, Kyle Rittenhouse, who drove or whose mother drove him apparently over to Kenosha where he, with his semiautomatic weapon, killed two people and is now indicted for murder.
The President of the United States more than having the responsibility to tell the truth really has the responsibility not to foment violence in a way that leads to loss of life. And you know, I think Joe Biden was pretty clear yesterday whether he mentioned Antifa or not that he was very, very strongly condemning violence.
And he told people, if you think you're bringing about change by doing this, you're wrong. But we haven't heard that from the President. We didn't hear it yesterday. He defended this young man and made a self- defense argument for this young man.
He didn't or rebuke, I should say, his supporters in Portland who drove in in a caravan and stirred things up the other night. He is not helping. He is stirring up conflict because he thinks it's in his political interest.
And I must say, and this is not a criticism of you because I think you have to follow the story. But he you know, we are 30 minutes in or something and we haven't yet gotten to the coronavirus and that's the story he doesn't want to talk about.
So he is revving up his base. He is diverting the story and I think he is getting what he wants out of it whether it leads him to where he wants to go, which is reelection is a different question.
But this is a deliberate strategy, and it is very much in keeping with what we've seen from him for the last five years.
BERMAN: I'll take that criticism. It's a fair criticism. It's something -- I was on TV on morning long and we consistently pointed it out that coronavirus cases are actually rising in the Midwest. The president was in the Midwest today, but that wasn't what he was therefore. So there's clear juxtaposition there. He doesn't want to address that or even be seen addressing it in anyway.
Bakari, we had Justin Blake, the uncle of Jacob Blake on, I think you had a chance to listen to that. You also saw what happened in Kenosha today. What is your big take away from today's vents?
BAKARI SELLERS CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well I know the president doesn't want to talk about coronavirus. He also doesn't want to talk about the problem we have with individuals like Jacob Blake, unarmed individual who come contact with law enforcement who do not deserve to be paralyzed or do not deserve to have lethal force used on them.
You know, that's first and foremost. I think people often times forget why we are here. I talk to people often and I'm like, you know, if you don't want protests, stop shooting people in the back people in the back seven times. I mean that's pretty much the way we can nix all of this. If you don't want protests, don't put a knee in the back of George Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. We can nix all of this.
But even more importantly, you know, if you want to come down on the side of law enforcement, which I do. I mean I'm speaking to the largest law enforcement agency in South Carolina tomorrow and happy to do it on how we heal our communities but I'm also going to point out which they agree with, that you have to condemn Kyle Rittenhouse. There is no way around that.
And so you have a young man and while he's talking about an airplane that brought in people in all black that nobody can point to, I mean the United States senators that are going along with this, you know, fantasy that people are talking about, you can condemn this man, this 17-year-old man. I'm not calling to call him a boy but you can condemn this man and his mother who drove him. You can start there.
And look, I want to be clear and I do know that my Twitter is going to blow up and everything else. I've never met anybody in Antifa, that's not something we have in South Carolina but hell, I condemn them, too. Like, it's not -- we -- violence does in an proportion does not do good for the movement, period. That's what Joe Biden said. That's what Democrats say. President can't say that.
BERMAN: So the Blake family just told us earlier in the show. Bakari Sellers, David Axelrod, Maggie Haberman, I do appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you.
A brief programming though, be sure to tune in for an exclusive interview with Attorney General Bill Barr with Wolf Blitzer tomorrow in the 5:00 p.m. hour of The Situation Room.
So straight ahead, we are talking about coronavirus. There is breaking news on that and the use of convalescent plasma. The National Institute of Health has just released guidance on the treatment. The treatment promoted by both the president and the head of the FDA. We'll tell you what they had to say when "360" continues.
BERMAN: Breaking news tonight in the use of convalescent plasma. The National Institute of Health now says it should now be considered as standard care for the treatment of COVID-19 until more study has been done.
A panel of more than three dozen experts say there's insufficient data to either recommend for against its use. Now you might remember that both the president and the head of the FDA vigorously the treatment as a medical and scientific breakthrough.
One doctor who was alarmed at those comments was Dr. Eric Topol who wrote an open letter to Dr. Stephen Hahn, the FDA commissioner, saying he should tell the truth or resign. Dr. Topol is the founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Dr. Topol joins me now.
Doctor, I really appreciate you being with us. What's your reaction to the NIH raising this red flag about convalescent plasma that was promoted by the president, the leader of the government and also the FDA, another branch of government.
DR. ERIC TOPOL, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SCRIPPS RESEARCH: Well, John, it's good to be you with. This is actually an extraordinary moment, I think, that just eight days ago there was this, as you said -- as they said very historic press conference breakthrough and they claimed including Commissioner Hahn there was a 35 percent reduction of mortality, which was complete completely unfounded, not based on any randomized trial, based on a subgroup of subgroup of subgroup analysis that was basically data torturing, data dredging.
So today, to also ratify that was off base. The NIH issued a statement that there are no data as you said, John, to support the use of convalescent plasma whether it's yes or no, we need randomized trials. There are none. There's no meaning for data yet to show that this work and there are many questions as to whether it will work and if does what magnitude.
So, the commissioner really went out of bound and that's why I wrote that open letter.
BERMAN: And to be clear, and this is the part that I think we need to stress in terms of the breaking news, the call is coming from inside the House as the NIH saying, I think, if I'm not misinterpreting that the FDA is wrong and the president is wrong.
TOPOL: Well, here you have different government agencies that are at odds. So, remember at the press conference, John, it also included Secretary Azar of HHS, it was the three of them, President Trump and Stephen Hahn.
So those are representing the White House, HHS, which oversees the CDC and FDA and NIH. And now you have the NIH coming out and saying that no, no. That was wrong. And in fact, by the way, they did -- Francis Collins the director and Tony Fauci did come out before that press conference a couple of days before to say that the data is insufficient.
So the point here is they went ahead with it, with absolute knowledge there was not consensus and that the data was from a preprint, hadn't even been peer reviewed. And as I said, it was just extraordinary strain of trying to use data from a study that does not warrant any remote definition of a break through.
BERMAN: And then the problem of math, bad math, inaccurate math, dishonest math. I want to play part of what Dr. Hahn said, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: What that means is and if the data continue to pan out, 100 people who are sick with COVID-19, 35 would have been saved because of the administration of plasma.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So you wrote after that. Every part of that statement was incorrect in a blatant misrepresentation of data. It was just bad math. And Dr. Hahn, I do apologize for it. But how shocked were you to hear that from the FDA commissioner and that he participated in that?
TOPOL: Right, well his apology was half ask. But that is -- all he did was say I mixed up absolute and relative. He didn't get to the point here that there was no 35 percent reduction and he said of sick people, sick with COVID. About 1 out of 100 people would die from COVID. You can't save 35 lives out of one and beyond that.
The point being, if you took that data from the Mayo Clinic study and extrapolate to a randomized perspective well conducted trial, the most would be three to four people's lives saved of those who otherwise would die. So, this is completely wrong. He's never made that correction. The other thing -- John, there is many other errors like this. This is not a singular event in his months of tenure as FDA commissioner.
BERMAN: Very quickly, what concerns do you have about the use, wide use of convalescent plasma?
TOPOL: Well, biologically, when we make antibodies, if you suffered an infection, our antibodies mostly don't d anything. They're not so called neutralizing. So when you pooled plasma, the chances you make a difference are very low because they don't contain neutralizing antibodies at high levels. So, we don't know if this is going to work. There are some risk inherent with this. And it's also a precursor to an even bigger decision, which is of course the issue of a vaccine and premature release of the vaccine.
BERMAN: And obviously, credibility is of paramount importance there. Now, in the closing of your letter that you just sent, you write, you have one last chance, Dr. Hahn, for saving any credibility and preserving trust in the FDA at this critical juncture amidst the pandemic. You need to organize a press conference and tell the truth. Do you have any reasonable expectation that will actually happen?
TOPOL: I don't think it will happen although I do think he could reclaim credibility and we could get on a plane of knowing that there is independence of the FDA, that he is not subservient and the agency is not beholding to the president for political motives.
So if he did come and say look, I made a monstrous error, I want to correct it fully, and now I'm independent, then we could perhaps move forward and have some trust. Right now we don't have the trust.
BERMAN: Doctor Topol, I have to say, appreciate your time tonight. I love reading what you write on Twitter. It is an education. Thank you for the work you're doing.
TOPOL: Thanks so much, john.
BERMAN: Still ahead, a look at the new white house scientific advisor who appears to have the president's ear and is reportedly pushing a controversial response to end the coronavirus pandemic by letting it spread. And later, a new book says Vice President Pence was told to prepare for the powers of the presidency after the president's surprise hospital visit last winter. The responses by the president and now the vice president have only fueled that speculation. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us for the stories when "360" continues.
BERMAN: According to the Washington Post, one of the president's new scientific adviser is promoting the concept of herd immunity, letting COVID-19 run pretty much unchecked so that most of the population would eventually acquire immunity under the concept. The death toll would clearly be much higher than even the most dire projections today.
Doctor Scott Atlas said he's quote, never advocated that strategy. This is what our Dr. Sanjay Gupta discovered otherwise. Here is his keeping them honest report.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We use the word herd, right? Once you get to a certain number it's going to go away. So, you know, it doesn't have to be. But yes, I mean, a lot of people are not going to want to do it.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That was President Trump on Monday talking about the concept of achieving herd immunity by allowing masses of people to become infected which if adopted could kill an estimated 1.5 to 2 million Americans according to experts. It could also overwhelm the hospital system and would take at least four years to achieve even if a million people became infected every week.
So why is the president saying this? Well, many point to Dr. Scott Atlas' influence. He's the president's latest medical advisor, a former neurologist, who also lately has had the president's ears but on Tuesday, Dr. Atlas strongly denied pushing this idea.
DR. SCOTT ATLAS, PRESIDENTIAL MEDICAL ADVISER: There's never been any advocacy of a herd immunity strategy coming from me to the president, to anyone in the administration, to the taskforce, to anyone I spoken to.
GUPTA: That sounds definitive except here is Dr. Atlas himself in March as part of a Hoover Institute event.
ATLAS: It's important for people to understand medical science to know that natural human immunity of populations that is sometimes called herd immunity, it's very important that that develops. That's how viruses are eradicated.
GUPTA: In April, he wrote an op-ed published in The Hill, it was titled, the data is in -- stop the panic and end the total isolation. Saying that infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing wide spread immunity. He then spoke with conservative media host, Steve Dees.
ATLAS: Those not at risk to be -- to die or have a serious hospital requiring illness, we should be fine with letting them get infected, generating immunity on their own and the more immunity in the community, the better we can eradicate the threat of the virus.
GUPTA: And again to another Hoover Institute briefing in May.
ATLAS: By doing total isolation, continuing it, we are preventing the development of population based immunity which is the immediately available way to get rid of this threat.
GUPTA: At least four instances of Dr. Atlas advocating herd immunity through mass infection, which makes it denials like this harder and harder to believe.
ATLAS: I mean the whole thing is an overt lie. But this is Washington.
BERMAN: I mean, in his own words, Sanjay, that's remarkable to hear him in his own words advocating for what he calls population immunity which is the same thing as herd immunity.
BERMAN: On top of all that --
BERMAN: -- there is this new information coming in that people may be getting infected a second time after getting infected once and then better. How would that effect the concept of herd immunity?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, this is a great point. I mean even the basic concept of herd immunity counts in this idea that once you get infected you're going to have protection for a while. As you know there's been recent reports, John, saying that maybe you get immunity for a few months after the infection, we still don't know. I mean we're learning as we go along given the newness of this disease.
But the point is, it doesn't seem to last certainly forever, maybe not even longer than a year or so. So, you wouldn't even have persistent herd immunity, if people became infected. I just want to say as well quickly. Herd immunity in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it should be achieved through the vaccine, not through mass infection, John.
BERMAN: Measles, I mean, measles, right, is exactly --
BERMAN: -- what herd immunity is, I get it.
GUPTA: That's right.
BERMAN: All right, Sanjay, stick around, we want to discuss a remarkable story with you. Responses now by both President Trump and Vice President Pence to a story a new book that have a new concerns about the president's health and put a spotlight an still unexplained visit to Walter Reed last November. The details when we return.
BERMAN: Responses by the president and vice president tonight, a new reporting about the state of President Trump's health, only fuel speculations about the reason for a still unexplained visit by Trump to Walter Reed Medical Center last November. According to a new book from the New York Times, Michael Schmidt, Vice President Pence was put on stand by to temporarily assume the powers potentially of the presidency, in case the president needed to be anestitized. Pence was asked about that several hours ago by Fox News, he deflected and then listen what he said when he was asked again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's nothing out of the ordinary about that moment or that day. I just refer any other questions to the White House physician.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But as far as being on stand by.
PENCE: I don't recall being on stand by. I was informed that the president had a doctor's appointment. And --
UNIDENTIFIED MALEL I just want to know --
PENCE: I got to tell you. Part of this job is you're always on stand by, is you're vice president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Just so we're clear, the vice president was asked about a story that says he was put on stand by to assume the powers of the presidency, in case the president needed anesthesia. His response quote was, I don't recall. It comes after this tweet by the president today, quote, it never ends. Now they're trying to say that your favorite president, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes. Never happened to this candidate. Fake news. Perhaps they are referring to another candidate from another party.
Now, curiously, the book which CNN has obtained is not mentioned mini- strokes or any other specific reason for the visit. The words aren't there.
With us again, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Now, Sanjay, I want to leave Vice President Pence's remarks out of it, because maybe we should be worried about his memory today. But you've been looking into the president's visit to Walter Reed for a while, what can you tell us about how unusual it was.
GUPTA: Well, you know, I've covered, you know, four different administrations. And done a lot of reporting on how they care for the president in the White House. There was subtle things that are unusual.
First of all, it was largely unannounced visit to Walter Reed. Typically the entire hospital staff knows. There's wards that are cleared, special entrances, it's the president, we don't know. Who new if anyone at Walter Reed presumably some people knew, but there was no hospital wide alert went out. A big issue when they got in the motorcade to go to the hospital, Dr. Conley got in to the vehicle with the president. That typically doesn't happen. I talked to several White House doctors about that, there's a real significant -- strategic protocol on this, where the doctor is in another vehicle in case something happens to the president, they're out of that zone, they can administer aid to the president.
And then, you know, the whole idea that was Saturday, you know, it wasn't something that we are alerted about, we had been alerted in the past about presidential visits to the hospital. There was no notification of the press either.
So this was all fairly unusual. They said it was a staged physical. They're going to do part of the physical now, just some routine labs. Well, the White House Medical Unit has quite a bit of capacity. They can do a fair amount of that. So, we still don't know what he had done at the hospital. The visit was around just over an hour but we don't know what was done there.
BERMAN: So the vice president specifically did not deny that he was put on stand by. He says he couldn't recall it. You would only be put on stand by if there was a concern the president was incapacitated, what medical procedures would the president have that would incapacitate him?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I mean if the president needs to be sedated, the president needs to be under any kind of anesthesia, that's what they're talking about. The idea of invoking the 25th Amendment has come up before when President Reagan was shot, George W. Bush invoked it twice when he was sedated for colon colonoscopies.
So those are type of things that come to mind, sedation for colonoscopy, sedation for a cardioversion if someone had an abnormal heart rhythm. There's certain kinds of other test that may require sedation. Obviously, any kind of invasive procedure would require that. But those are the types of things. I will say again, the visit was just over an hour, so typically not long enough to have had that, did something occur and resolve. John, we still don't know, it's still a big mystery.
BERMAN: We certainly don't, but I have to say, the way the president and vice president are addressing it, doesn't aswathe (ph) the concern. Sanjay, thank you very much.
The news continues. I hand it over to Chris Cuomo for CUOMO PRIME TIME.