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President Trump Holding Campaign Rally in North Carolina with Few in Crowd Wearing Masks; Interview with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D- MI); Interview with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 8, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Yes, I mean and perhaps something good, you know can come out of this.

I really appreciate your taking the time and telling your story, Joseph, and congratulations on the baby. A moment of joy that you are out taking a brief break from when this happened. Thank you so much.

GRIFFIN: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening, I hope you had a good holiday.

Even in the best of times, the Tuesday after Labor Day is supposed to be when we all get a bit more serious. Summer unofficially ends. We're back in school. Presidential campaigns ramp up. We remember 9/11 and the sacrifices that Americans volunteered to make to keep us all safe.

This Tuesday, in what certainly are not the best of times, those themes have taken on that much more weight and to a large extent are converging tonight.

The President is campaigning in North Carolina, a state that has already started mail-in voting and is expecting possibly hundreds of thousands to take advantage of it precisely because of the coronavirus.

But looking at the President's rally tonight, you wouldn't know that. It is as you can see a potential virus super spreader event. He's also back to belittling people for wearing masks.

In addition, the President who sidelined Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts is reportedly now enamored with a new Taskforce member, someone with no training in the field who advocates reportedly protecting only the most vulnerable people all the while otherwise letting the virus spread, and spread it has.

Nearly 190,000 Americans have now died with the projection that more than 400,000 lives will be lost by the end of the year according to one widely cited forecast. And though new cases have declined from their peak, they are still averaging just shy of 40,000 new cases a day. That is twice as high as after the last big dip.

As of tonight, more than 6.3 million Americans have tested positive for COVID, and just for perspective, this weekend marked exactly six months since Kellyanne Conway, no doctor herself, but the President's departure senior adviser expressed contempt for a reporter who asked what the administration was doing to keep the virus contained.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: It is being contained. And do not think it is being contained in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not a doctor.


COOPER: When she said that, there were just 215 cases in the country. Again, as of tonight, it is more than 6.3 million. The number of pediatric cases has increased 16 percent over two weeks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital Association.

Universities and colleges, as you know, have been getting hit especially hard. And again, as he has tonight in Winston-Salem, the President has been holding largely unprotected mass gatherings several times a week. He has also been saying the quiet part, the openly political and self-interested part out about having a vaccine by Election Day.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to maybe even before a very special date, you know what date I'm talking about.


COOPER: Yes, he is openly signaling that he is more interested in a vaccine to keep himself in office than anything else, which may have something to do with the pledge signed today by nine leading biopharmaceutical companies, suggesting they'll not seek approval or emergencies authorization for any new vaccine until after their safety and efficacy is proven in Phase 3 trials.

We just learned this evening AstraZeneca, suspended one of those trials because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers, which only underscores how far from normal the President's remarks had been, as was his advocacy of course of hydroxychloroquine, as was pushing the F.D.A. Commissioner to hyper treatment convalescent plasma in a way that the F.D.A. Commissioner would later have to apologize for because he was so inaccurate.

As was praising the likes of that demon sperm doctor or meeting in the Oval Office with the My Pillow guy that the F.D.A., by the way, has now rejected.

So yes, by those standards, dangling a potentially lifesaving vaccine in front of Americans, while all but admitting he is trying to get their votes with it is pretty much par for the course. So is ignoring the member of his Taskforce with four decades of experience in the field, who told PBS's Judy Woodruff this today about having a vaccine by Election Day.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think that's unlikely. I mean, the only way you can see that scenario come true, is if that there are so many infections in the clinical trial sites that you get an efficacy answer sooner than you would have projected.

Like I said, it's not impossible, Judy, but it's unlikely that we'll have a definitive answer at that time, more likely, by the end of the year,


COOPER: Which again, the President is openly suggesting it's too late for him personally, politically, and keeping them honest, doesn't the fact that he is saying this cynical part out loud also speak to how he views the people that he has sworn to serve? How he views all of us?

It is as though he is confessing to seeing them as suckers, which also is not normal, but also not surprising.

Suckers and losers is how the President reportedly referred to American service members buried here at a cemetery in France he declined to visit two years ago. Suckers is what he reportedly called American men and women, many poor and minorities who served in Vietnam. Losers is what he reportedly called a captured and the killed.


COOPER: Jeffrey Goldberg in "The Atlantic" published the first account of this citing four sources with direct knowledge what the President said. Since then, numerous other outlets including CNN, the Associated Press, "The Washington Post," and yes, FOX News, have confirmed many pieces of Goldberg's reporting.

Why some would doubt the President said these things is frankly astonishing. He proudly stated while running for President that John McCain was a loser and not a war hero, also saying he liked people who aren't captured and held as prisoners.

There's been total silence from any current or former military commanders who reported to Trump. No denials that Trump never said these things. Not from General Kelly, not from General Mattis. Fired National Security Adviser, John Bolton has said that he never heard the President saying those things, but quote, "I'm not saying he didn't say them later in the day or another time." As for the troops, while there are plenty in North Carolina, Fort

Bragg is there, so is Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point and Pope Air Force Base among others. Some of those troops or their families are likely at the President's event tonight. Some may have lost loved ones to COVID or in combat or to suicide.

Whether or not they're willing to believe that the man at the podium has disparaged our troops, disparaged those who served and sacrificed, disparage men and women who are just like them who may determine the outcome of the election in North Carolina, and perhaps it may determine the outcome of the election nationwide.

First, tonight, the President's mass gathering, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So Sanjay, I mean, given all we know about the virus, how it spreads, is there any way to justify holding a campaign event like this? I mean, putting -- isn't it putting people's lives potentially at risk?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, you know, we are dealing with a highly contagious virus. The one thing that we're told is that this virus likes to jump, you know, host to host and when you look at these images of the rallies, I mean, this is this the sort of adventure you're trying to avoid.

You know, we've gotten a hold of the Taskforce recommendations for the various states, including North Carolina, and if you look at the numbers overall, North Carolina would be considered in the red zone and that's based on the number of people per hundred thousand who have contracted the virus.

There is a mask mandate in place, if you're -- if you can't stay six feet away from somebody, obviously, not a lot of people wearing masks there and you're not supposed to have any kind of event that's larger than 50 people in North Carolina right now.

And that comes from the data sort of trying to say, look, here's the viral spread. Here is what we think is the level of concern and that's how they arrived at these numbers.

So you know, you look at events like this, frankly, anytime you're aggregating people together, that's the risk. The virus likes to jump from host to host. That's what you know, could potentially happen in situations like this.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, in terms of the consequences, there is the very real possibility that every time the President does this, it could be a super spreader event that impacts -- it has ripple effects not only in that community, but from far and wide where people go back to their homes. Even -- it could affect people who did not go to this event.

GUPTA: Absolutely. You know, people think of super spreaders as being individuals, but there they are what you said, Anderson, the super spreader is the event. It's the sort of the entire event and all the various ingredients that make a super spreader event. So potentially people in an area where the virus is known to spread.

You go into an area like this, if you're in a group of more than 50 people, there is a much higher likelihood you are going to come in contact with somebody who is carrying the virus.

Again, that's where those numbers come from. You could then become infected as we know, it is not likely you're going to have any symptoms for some time, a couple of weeks even, and during that time, you could potentially spread the virus.

People come to these events from all over the place, and then they go back to their homes, to their communities, wherever and that's the problem here.

You know, there was a wedding, CNN reported on this wedding that took place in Maine. There were 65 people at this reception. Subsequent because of that reception, there were 147 people, I believe, who became infected, and three people died and they were in various places around the state, even some outside the state. So that the real concern.

And I should point out, Anderson, because every time we talk about this, people say, well, what about the protests and things like that? Yes. Anytime you aggregate people together, especially if they're not wearing masks, that you run the risk of having these super spreader type events.

We are in the middle of a pandemic. We still are. And this is a very contagious virus that we're still dealing with. That hasn't changed.

COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, appreciate it. We're going to talk to Sanjay in just a bit about the breaking vaccine news because there's a lot of that tonight.

I want to get more perspective now in the President's rally and where he is also going this week and that is Michigan, the state's Governor Gretchen Whitmer joins me now. Governor, thanks for being with us.

So President Trump, we see the event, you know, he is holding tonight. He is holding a campaign event in your state this Thursday. As you see the pictures say from Florida and also North Carolina with no social distancing, many not wearing masks. How does -- how do you avoid this happening in Michigan? Can you?


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Well, it's distressing to say the least. You know, we have been following the science here in Michigan. We have a mask mandate. We've got gathering rules to ensure that we don't have super spreader events, and yet we anticipate that he will be descending on this state and perhaps encouraging people to come mask-less and come together and the ways that we've seen them happening across the country, and I think this is very distressing.

We've pushed our curve down. We've saved thousands of lives. We've gotten people back to work, and events like this threaten all that sacrifice that we've made in and I would love to see the leader of our country embrace masks and encourage people to do the right thing.

This is an economic crisis. This is a public health crisis. And we've got to get serious about it and focus on getting this right.

COOPER: Are you -- I mean, I don't know -- how does it work in, you know, in your state? Do you communicate with the Trump campaign or anyone in the White House about a visit like this? I know you said you have a mask mandate.

I know in Michigan if you're outdoors, and it's not possible to stay six feet away, you have the mask mandate. Is there anything to enforce a mask mandate to mandate at these campaign events?

WHITMER: Well, the fact of the matter is, we've been educating our public. People understand the science. They get it. The vast majority of people in the state are doing the right thing.

I don't doubt that there will be people who want to show up at that event, and we'll take the lead from the man himself and drop their guard and could subject themselves to COVID-19. But the fact of the matter is, we've got Joe Biden coming into town tomorrow. I know that they are scrupulously following the science. They want to keep their supporters and the general public's faith and whether you're going to one event on Wednesday or the other on Thursday, I'm going to do everything I can to keep the people of the state safe whether they're supportive of all the measures we've taken or not, my job is to protect the people the state.

COOPER: What happens the next time President Trump wants to come to Michigan to hold an event, he is the President. You know, there's no nothing to stop somebody -- can other people hold huge events like this?

WHITMER: Well, let me just give you a quick example. There's a state legislator here in Michigan, who apparently according to reports, attended an anti-mask event mask-less and got COVID-19 himself. It meant that the State Senate couldn't even meet until a certain amount of time had passed.

And so this is still very real. It is still very present in my state. It is still very present across the country. We still six months in don't have a national strategy around testing or PPE or mask wearing and that's why it's on the nation's governors, like my friend, Mike Dewine, just to the south of me in Ohio, and me and all the rest of us to lead the way here and that's why we've got to keep following the science and doing what we need to do to protect our people until we have a President who is going to come up with a national strategy.

COOPER: How do you see the race in in Michigan?

WHITMER: Well, I've always said the race to the -- the road to the White House goes right through the State of Michigan. I believe this race is tightening up. We've seen polling to that effect and I'm not surprised by it.

I think that's precisely why you see both of the candidates here in the state this week, and I would anticipate seeing them many more times between now and Election Day.

Michigan is a state of voters who are hurting. We need to have leadership who is focused on getting us back to work and keeping us safe in the process, and so I think the big question people are going to ask is, are you better off today than you were four years ago? And for the working class in this state and across the country? The answer is unequivocally no, and I think that's why this is a year where we're going to make a big change.

But no one should take Michigan for granted. I know how hard we're working and how hard Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are working.

COOPER: Governor Whitmer, appreciate your time. Thank you.

WHITMER: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead. Sanjay Gupta is back along with researcher William Haseltine to talk about the President's vaccine claims, the facts and the breaking news that one big vaccine trial is now on hold.

Next, decorated and badly wounded Iraq War veteran, Senator Tammy Duckworth joins me to talk about the many reports now on the President's showing contempt for the troops.



COOPER: The President spoke tonight about the growing number of reports starting with Jeffrey Goldberg's account in "The Atlantic" of his alleged contempt for the troops.


TRUMP: They make this stuff up. They make it up. They make stuff. It's called disinformation. They give a phony deal out. They did it two days ago with the military. There's nobody who loves the military more than me.


COOPER: New reporting just to add tonight on how rattled the President is by "The Atlantic" piece. First though, we're joined by Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois who lost both legs in combat in Iraq when her Blackhawk helicopter was hit by RPG fire.

She signed onto an open letter along with dozens of other current and former members of the military, including lawmakers like herself who calls for a presidential apology while noting that none would suffice.

Senator Duckworth, so you signed this open letter and it says in part, the very notion of the President doing something for someone he will never meet, committing to a cause that outlives him is beyond his comprehension.

I'm astonished that people would doubt the quotes attributed to the President in "The Atlantic" article and by CNN and The Associated Press and "Washington Post" and even FOX News now. I mean, he labels people losers and suckers all the time.

He has disparaged McCain, his Generals constantly.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Right. So even if you didn't address the issues with what was said in "The Atlantic" article, he has said many other things that have really undermined the morale of our military men and women, and not to mention things that he has done personally to include not showing up at that World War II, Belleau Woods ceremony himself when other members of his own administration were there, not to mention the fact that he has pardoned special operators who committed war crimes.

So even if you set aside "The Atlantic" article, which of course nobody disbelieves because this is very consistent with who Donald Trump is. He has done a number of other things that are very consistent that shows that he is not fit to be Commander-in-Chief.

COOPER: Right and by the way, those special operators charged with war crimes, the people testifying against them were this many of the service members serving under them or with them. It wasn't as if this was some politically correct group of, you know, attorneys just suing a special operator. This was people in the person's own unit often.


COOPER: I want to read part of Jeffrey Goldberg's article in "The Atlantic" that says, "In a 2018 White House planning meeting for such an event, Trump asked his staff not to include wounded veterans on grounds that spectators would feel uncomfortable in the presence of amputees, 'Nobody wants to see that,' he said." End quote.

Again, I mean, the President denied reporting of the article. Do you think he can even remotely comprehend what you and other wounded veterans have been through? I mean, somebody who obviously has gone to great lengths not to serve and, you know, the very idea of service of that sort is -- I mean, it's like speaking a foreign language to him.

DUCKWORTH: It is like a foreign language to him, as Sully said, Captain Sullenberger, the man does not recognize courage because he is a coward. He has never done anything that was a service in something greater than himself.

He is a transactional, narcissistic, egotistical human being who thinks only about himself first and foremost, and what is in it for him. So he can never understand the sacrifices of the men and women and their families who served in the nation's military and why they're willing to serve a cause greater than themselves because he has never done that and he never will.

COOPER: Right. And I'm always stunned by -- you know, on the one hand, he says, no one has been better for the military and cares more about the military. But by the same token, I mean, again, he has publicly constantly said, you know, that his Generals just want to go to war. You know, he loved his Generals until he actually met those Generals and they started advising him and he then came to not like any of them.

And now, he has disparaged General Mattis, disparages Kelly and McMaster. You know, the President again, just took a swipe at the late Senator John McCain yesterday and referred to himself as, you know, saying he would probably be a better warrior than anybody if he went to war.

I mean, this is, you know, maybe, you know, he wore a uniform at a Military Academy that was a high school that he went to because he was a problem student. I mean, the idea that, you know, he used bone spurs to avoid active duty in Vietnam.

DUCKWORTH: That's why I call him Cadet Bone Spurs. The highest rank he ever reached in the military was Cadet, and he used bone spurs, a lie about bone spurs in order to draft dodge. And frankly, he is not fit to be Commander-in-Chief of our nation's military for yet for another minute, and why he disparages those Generals is because for the first time he had people who would actually stand up to him, and he loves them until they stand up to him and say, "No, sir."

I mean, that's what you're supposed to do as a military leader. You put the welfare and the wellbeing of your troops ahead of everything, including your own self. You watch out for them, you put them first because someday, you may have to ask the unthinkable, which is to ask them to go and cross a line of departure and engage our nation's enemies.

And in order to be able to do that, you must value them above all else and care for them above all else. This is something this President has never done.

And by the way, what he said about he has been better for the troops, to veterans than any other President, is yet another in his series of great long lies he has made, he has said as President of the United States.

He has not been better for the troops than any other President. In fact, many of the things that he is taking credit for were passed by Congress, and actually were championed by Senators McCain and Akaka, two real veterans, two real war heroes.

COOPER: The President said over the weekend that soldiers quote "in love with him," and that quote, "The top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars, so that all those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else, stay happy," end quote.

I mean, the idea that it is soldiers who want to fight all the wars and you know, the people who are serving in endless wars, the people who are taking multiple tour after tour after tour. They are not the ones making the decisions. It is the President making the decisions.

It's ironic that, you know, he is considering -- you know, he likes to boast about beefing up military hardware and selling arms overseas. And yet, it is suddenly now it's the military industrial complex. DUCKWORTH: Right. And remember, this is the President who, who picked

at lobbyists for a defense company, Raytheon to be his Secretary of Defense.

COOPER: Yes, Secretary Esper is a lobbyist.

DUCKWORTH: Right. Raytheon makes many great things that keep our troops safe. But bottom line, he is the one who appointed a Defense industry lobbyist to be his Secretary of Defense, at the same time, by the way, "Military Times" just had a poll just last week that showed that for the first time, the majority of the troops if they are asked today to vote would not vote For Donald Trump.

COOPER: Senator Duckworth, appreciate your time. Thank you.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, former presidential candidate, Howard Dean. This story is personal for him as well. He lost a brother in Vietnam. We will be right back.



COOPER: We are going to go to CNN's, Jim Acosta at the White House. We have got some breaking news in the fallout from this "Atlantic" article that quoted multiple sources saying President Trump has disparaged Americans who died in wars, calling them losers and suckers.

Jim, what are you learning tonight about what Trump advisers are saying tonight about "The Atlantic" story?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, you know what these advisers are saying and I talked to three different Trump campaign advisers this evening, they are saying that unless some of these sources that are mentioned in "The Atlantic" story, you know the story that was very damaging to the president initially describing him as using crude terms to talk about American War debt over in France, in 2018.


That unless these sources come forward, that there's not going to be much impact that the story is going to lose some of its punch. I talked to one advisor earlier this evening, who said, you know, if these horses were going to come forward, they would have done so by now. And another advisor said, you know, if you had somebody like, retired General John Kelly, retired General James Mattis, not saying that they're the sources in the story, but if somebody like that a marquee name like that were to come out and speak out against the President, then it would have some impact. But at this point, they believe the President is going to be able to weather the storm, unless of course there's some other shoe to drop. I will say, Anderson, there is a recognition inside Trump world that this was damaging to the President. One advisor likened this Atlantic story to the Access Hollywood video that came out in 2016.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. And earlier say there was also reporting that the President itself has rattled by what came out in The Atlantic.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And that's what we're hearing from our sources that, you know, the President was definitely stressed out about this and saw this as potentially damaging among veterans and military voters. That is a key voting bloc for the President. We see the president talking to those kinds of voters all the time. And when I was at the press conference, the Labor Day press conference with the President yesterday, I mean, you could see the disgust written all over his face. He obviously was in a mood to lash out over the story. Now, that is where the President gets into trouble. As we saw yesterday, he kind of overstepped in his disgust, you know, being registered about that Atlantic story and went on to trashes generals over at the Pentagon saying they're only interested in starting wars so they can sell -- so defense contractors can sell bombs and planes and so on.

But at this point when you talk to people inside Trump world Yes, they can see that initially this story was damaging. They feel as though that these generals, if they're the sources, if they're indeed the sources behind the story that they essentially need to put up or shut up, or else they don't see very much lasting damage from this Atlantic story, Anderson.

COOPER: We'll see. Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Joining me now is former DNC Chairman, former Democratic presidential candidate, former Vermont governor Howard Dean. Also, CNN political correspondent Abby Philip.

Governor Dean, I want to read something that that you tweeted after The Atlantic piece was published, you wrote, my brother was captured in Laos in September of 1974 and executed by the North Vietnamese on December 14, 1974. FU Donald Trump.

For those who don't know your brother, Charlie was an American civilian captured and killed in Laos as a POW during the war. It's obviously very personal for you. Were you surprised, though, by the reports of what this President is alleged to have said, given all the public comments he has made on record?

HOWARD DEAN, FMR DNC CHAIRMAN: I wasn't surprised. Let me just say I almost never used bad language. On Twitter, but like I came to appreciate what was going on over there because I went to Laos in around 2000 and spent a week with a joint task force full of counting, sifting of sides of mountains for teeth and dog tags and people who American soldiers and crashed into the mountains and were obliterated. So this wasn't just about my brother. It was also about all the American soldiers of every color and race and so forth and so on. We're over there trying to find to find the remains of these people and for Trump, this pit all over them, just made me furious. It just disgusted me. And I'm pretty disgusted at Trump anyway, this was the best as low as you can possibly go. Those people sacrifice for America. Trump does nothing but collect taxpayers money for his own benefit.

COOPER: Abby, you know, Jim Acosta was just saying that, you know, people, some people, Trump advisors, people in Trump world, you know are trying to push the idea that this story will loot -- will lose impact unless some of the sources go public. I actually think, you know, you could look at General Kelly silence and General Mattis' silence, as, you know, honorable people caught between not wanting to, you know, publicly divulge things that the President, you know, said to them one on one. And yet not wanting to publicly deny something he did say.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, their silence actually speaks volumes. And it probably explains a lot of why President Trump is so angry about this story is that he knows that there are a lot of people out there who are not coming to his defense. So, that really is getting under his skin. But, you know, while the President's advisors might think that people coming on the record is the only thing that may will make the story stick. I'm not sure that's the case. I think the reason they believe this isn't going to stick is because in the past, President Trump has said things just like this on the record, he said it about John McCain. And then he was elected President of the United States. He got through Charlottesville the Access Hollywood tape that Jim just mentioned. He was elected President of the United States.


So the lesson that he takes away and that his advisors take away is that nothing will penetrate that. But the fact that the President is so rattled by this, it really does tell you that there is a fear somewhere in there, that this could hurt him enough that he might actually lose and there's really nothing, Anderson that he fears more than losing.

COOPER: Governor Dean, do you believe it? It really endangers the president? I mean, to Abby's point, you know, I went back just today looking at when Trump made those comments during the campaign about John McCain for the first time saying he's not a war hero. I like people that don't get captured. You know, people were writing, oh, he's just lost it. He's, you know, this is devastating for him. It had didn't seem to have any impact on it.

DEAN: This is worse and the reason it's worse is that there are literally millions of people who have been in the position of some of the people he was talking about. And the call soldiers were giving their lives to the United States of America losers. Think how many veterans that are in this country and think what they went through and what they sacrificed.

COOPER: But has a weakened trust in -- I mean, all the reporting institutions all the you know, I mean, hasn't he been effective in basically inoculating himself just by saying, oh, well, you know, this is all just fake. This is misinformation. This is what they do.

DEAN: I don't think so. And I'll tell you my theory that all this. The reason Joe, I thought Bernie Sanders is going to be the nominee, after his very strong start. The reason I think the Democratic voters voted for Joe Biden is they're tired of the circus. And they just want somebody to not be polarizing. They want somebody to just to be a normal human being again, and they're sick of Trump's ridiculous self, self being -- in love with himself. It's just -- they just can't stand it anymore. And when you take that out on the group of people there's probably sacrifice more from the United States of America than any other group of people. You're a loser. And that is what Trump is. Trump is a loser and he's going to lose.

The only way Trump wins is to cheat, which is busy trying to do by wrecking the Post Office and all that kind of stuff. I don't think it's going to work. You know, I do a lot of work in Eastern Europe, European democracies. And what we tell people is, the only way you can be cheating, which goes on a fair amount in former Soviet republics is just to try to have a huge turnout. That's what we're going to do is have a huge turnout. And I don't think Trump's cheating is going to overcome that.

COOPER: Abby, is also remarkable that the President is suddenly now discussing the military industrial complex, and saying that, you know, his generals just, you know, they want to wage wars in order to boost profits and defense manufacturing companies. You know, his secretary of defense is a lobbyist, former lobbyist for Raytheon. The idea that this is something that President Trump is concerned about. I mean, he talks about weapons sealed to Saudi Arabia, and they do backflips in order to sell weapons to a whole variety of places.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, sometimes when things don't seem to make sense, it's because they really don't make any sense. The -- his comments about the military wanting to buy bombs and weapons because they want to go to foreign wars all the time that he's trying to stop. Don't jive with his own comments even today. Just tonight at his rally in North Carolina, he was bragging in a military state about building up the military, about securing billions of dollars in funding for those very same planes and bombs. The President was lashing out in a moment of frustration and anger, but the way that he did it, to try to almost draw a wedge between military brass and rank and file is counterproductive to him. It only reinforces the narrative that the President is at war with the very government of the United States itself. That can't be helpful to him. I think his advisors know that.

And that's why you saw, you know, the Chief of Staff Mark Meadows trying to walk this back somehow trying to claim that somehow the President is concerned about the military industrial complex that by all accounts, he's been pretty supportive for the last four years.

COOPER: And Governor Dean, the President is in North Carolina tonight was reported this year, you know, considered a swing state, possibly. There are a lot of states reportedly in play that the President won in 2016. Do you think he can keep them states like North Carolina and Georgia, Florida? DEAN: It's too early to tell, I'm pretty optimistic. You know, I saw a shocking number the other day, which showed that he was ahead by one point -- Biden was ahead by one point in Texas. We now find today 43 to 43 for the United States Senate in Alaska. So the Republicans are in a lot of trouble. And I think the reason they're in trouble is because they have put loyalty to Trump over loyalty to their country. Just as trumped I mean criticize the veterans until it said they were losers. I can't imagine somebody saying something like that. There will be hard -- hardliners I got a whole bunch of them on Twitter saying, oh, you don't really believe those stories. I've been fact checked by The Atlantic. They'd call my grandmother if they had any doubts. She's been dead for about 35 years. I mean, these guys do not fill around with fact checking.


So yes, those stories are absolutely true. And I think there's a percentage of Trump followers who are going to say enough is enough. I can't do it anymore.

COOPER: Governor Howard Dean, appreciate it. Abby Philip as well. Thank you so much.

Joe Biden sits down with CNN's Jake Tapper for an exclusive interview later this week. Don't miss "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER." That's Thursday 4:00 p.m. Eastern for the Biden interview.

Up next, we have breaking news as the U.S. Coronavirus. Death toll approaches 190,000. A major drug manufacturers put a hold on its vaccine trials. The reason when we continue.


COOPER: It's more breaking news. As we reported the top of the program the drug maker AstraZeneca has temporarily halted its coronavirus vaccine trials because when unexpected illness in one volunteer. Its standard precaution and other sick volunteer lives in Britain. All the company these trials worldwide are on hold. This is the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 approaches 190,000.


This for when a vaccine might be available in the U.S. I want to again play a portion of that interview Dr. Fauci gave to PBS' Judy Woodruff.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: I think that's unlikely. I mean, the only way you can see that scenario come true, is it that there are so many infections in the clinical trial sites that you get a efficacy answer sooner than you would have projected? Like I said, it's not impossible, Judy, but it's unlikely that we'll have a definitive answer at that time. More likely, by the end of the year.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with us. I want to welcome William Haseltine, the former professor at Harvard School of Public Health, author of COVID Back To School Guide.

Sanjay, do you agree with Dr. Fauci I mean is the end of the year more realistic than Election Day for vaccine because frankly, even end of the year is incredibly accelerated schedule.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean that's the thing is even all things considered that would be an accelerated schedule. I think the point that Dr. Fauci was making here was that ultimately, you know, you're going to have two groups of people, you're going to have people who receive the vaccine, you're going to have people who receive the placebo. And you've got to show that there's a significant difference between the two groups. So, let's just say there's 10,000 people in each group. And if the rate of infection is one per 10,000, roughly, which is what it is in this country per day, within a few days, maybe you'd have three infections in the placebo group and none in the vaccinated group. Would that be enough to say this thing definitively works? I mean, that that's the sort of numbers they're going to sort of have to be dealing with.

If what Fauci was saying when -- Dr. Fauci, he said, this to me before is that if suddenly you had a significant number of infections in the placebo group, and none in the vaccinated group, then maybe that would be enough of a signal. But he doesn't anticipate that happening and that's just one of the reasons why it could take a lot longer to actually get this vaccine authorized.

COOPER: And Sanjay a source in the White House specifically mentioned you by name, according to Washington Post saying that they would share data with you about the vaccine ahead of time. Do you think that's a good idea?

GUPTA: Well, I mean --

COOPER: I know you're not going to turn down --


GUPTA: Good idea. I mean, you know, I probably call Bill Haseltine and ask him what he thought, you know, for sure. But I think that the idea that they're wanting to have more transparency with this. And if they're saying, hey, look, journalists, you know, it come in people on the outside come in, New England Journal of Medicine editor come in, and look at this. I mean, I think it does, you know, give me some more confidence that, you know, that transparency would be there. So I would certainly take that opportunity and report on it.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: And, you know, I think it's a pandemic everybody in the world needs to know about this data.

COOPER: Professor Haseltine, nine vaccine makers now have issued a joint pledge today vowing not to cut safety corners in order to get a vaccine out faster. Is that reassuring to you? Because the other night you said you'd absolutely not get a vaccine if it was ready in November, does it? Does this pledge influence your decision on receiving a vaccine when it's ready, even if it's this fall?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR & PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Let me say a couple of things. First, the news if there was a serious adverse reaction that halted the trial of one of the most promising vaccines, when we've heard a lot about is exactly why you have to take things carefully with vaccines, they're not toys. If you have one out of 1,000 adverse reactions, you give the vaccine to a billion people, you have a million people with those reactions. This isn't the only vaccine that's had serious adverse reactions. One of them there were four out of 30 that had severe adverse reactions. That's one step worse than one that started stop this whole trial. A rush to a vaccine without due caution is a very dangerous thing.

What about the pledge? I read that pledge carefully. And I see a major hedge in that. It's what they didn't say. You didn't see the CEO of these major pharmaceutical companies saying, we will assure the public that the vaccine that we deliver you is as safe as any vaccine we have ever made. They didn't say that. They didn't use their own credibility. They said, we will assure you that we will follow what the FDA or some similar organization tells us. That's a big, big difference. They're not guaranteeing their quality assurance. They're telling you to trust the FDA. Well, we've seen that there certain cases in which you may doubt with the FDA is doing. So that was a major hedge. So the short answer to your question is no, it doesn't change my mind.

COOPER: But Sanjay, I mean, what about the Professor Heseltine's point. And also, I mean, the fact is, you know, the FDA has been trying to us figure out the best way to describe it. But at the very least, you know the good work that they have done in the past, suddenly now gets called into question or, you know, their word moving forward gets called into question same with the CDC because of what's happened just over the last couple of months.


And things like the CDC, the -- you know, kowtowing to President Trump on guidelines and the FDA. You know, the head of the FDA had to come out and apologize and reverse himself on something he claimed, under pressure from Trump.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, that's really -- it's very worrisome. I mean, there's no question about it. And I can't even believe I have to say that because, you know, these are some, you know, institutions that for a long time, we've had a lot of respect for the CDC and the FDA. And to be fair, there's a lot of people within these institutions who are doing incredible work still. And I talked to them on a regular basis, and they're incredibly frustrated as well. But I think to your point, you can't take these things in a bubble. The FDA creating a emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine was a mistake. I mean, they rescinded it. But they did do it in the first place. And that obviously gives a lot of people pause. They exaggerated as you pointed out the data around convalescent serum and, you know, had to be called out on that. So that was a concern as well. And then the CDC most recently coming out and saying, no need to test asymptomatic people. We -- I think what we do right now, independent sort of review of this material is more important than ever, for that very reason Anderson.

COOPER: Professor Haseltine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half a million kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 16% increase now in cases reporting the last two weeks. What do you expect the numbers to be two weeks from now?

HASELTINE: They'll be higher and they'll be still higher, many weeks from now as well as kids go back to school. That's really an unfortunate situation. But it's something is going to happen.

COOPER: Sanjay, Professor Haseltine as always, appreciate your time.

The wildfires in California have burned through more than 2 million acres. That is a new record shows no sign of letting up. Report for the front lines ahead.



COOPER: Troubling news from California tonight, since mid-August wildfires of torture record breaking was 2.3 million acres across the state. It is not yet a high fire season. Dan Simon is on the front lines tonight.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all looks the same after a while. A burned out house, charred trees. But each pile of destruction represents another person, another family whose lives are being upended by California's historic wildfires. The new devastation hitting the Sierra National Forest in Central California, part of the growing Creek Fire. Dozens of campers and hikers were trapped in the forest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's fire on all sides, around us, all the roads.

SIMON (voice-over): The only roads out were blocked by the intense flames. Military helicopters were eventually able to rescue them. Twenty-five major wildfires are currently burning across the state, including three of the top four largest in California history. A record 2.2 million acres have burned this year with fears that the worst is still to come. Wildfire season usually peaks in October.



SIMON (voice-over): The fires this year have been mainly fueled by lightning strikes. In previous years downed power lines. In this newest round you can add at least one out of the two the mixed. A pyrotechnic device from a so-called gender reveal party. The unfortunate stunt east of Los Angeles forcing evacuations ensuring more than 10,000 acres.

BENNET MILLOY, CALIFORNIA FIRE: After the fire began the fan family attempted suppression on their own they tried to use water bottles which in forefoot high grass you're not -- you're never going to capture a grass fire with that.


COOPER: And Dan you're in Central California where's the Creek Fire. Authority say I mean it's causing unprecedented disaster for that area. It just looks -- I mean it's incredible how far this thing has spread.

SIMON: Anderson this fire is just devastating these small mountain towns here in Central California names like Big Creek and Huntington Lake and Shaver Lake where I am. You can see The damage behind me this was 116-year-old general store called Crossman's. I've been here since 1904 gone last night. And we were here yesterday afternoon this whole area was pristine and just take a look at it now. It's just a smoky mess. And this wildfire is now destined to be one of the largest wildfires in state history. Keep in mind it's only just a few days old at this point. We're talking about 145,000 acres chart. It is 0% contained.

I will say that today the temperatures were cooler. It actually feels pretty nice out here, but this area is under a Red Flag warning, more wind expected tonight which of course could fuel more fires. Anderson.

COOPER: And those firefighters are heroic and they got to be exhausted and still along long days and weeks ahead. Dan, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Reminder don't miss our full -- don't miss Full Circle. It's our digital news show that gives the chance to dig in some important topics, have in-depth conversations. You can watch the streaming live this week, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 p.m. eastern at Or watch it there and on CNN app at anytime On Demand.


News continues right now. I want to hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Anderson, good to see you and thank you. I am Chris Cuomo.