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Trump, Biden Storm Campaign Trail With 52-Plus Million Votes Already Cast; Biden Campaigns In Battleground Pennsylvania; Trump Downplays Virus As Cases Surge Nationwide; Trump And Biden Blitz Must- Win States 10 Days Until Election; Trump Campaigns In Ohio; Interview With Former National Security Advisor John Bolton; Trump Claims U.S. Rounding Turn As Cases Spike; NIH Director Warns If Only 50 Percent Of Americans Get Vaccine, Virus Will Remain Problem For Years. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 24, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for staying with me. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
Ten days now until Election Day, 52 million, and counting, already cast, and two candidates are on a sprint across the country to gain the support of what very few undecided voters are left.
Now, last hour, Biden's star surrogate, former President Barack Obama, stumped in Florida, a state that has sided with the winner in all but one presidential election since 1964.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We're not going to have a president that goes out of his way to insult anybody who he doesn't think is nice enough to him. We won't have a president who threatens people with jail for just criticizing him.
That's not normal behavior, Florida. You wouldn't tolerate it from a coworker. You wouldn't tolerate it from a high school principal. You wouldn't tolerate it from a coach. You wouldn't tolerate it from a family member. Florida man wouldn't even do this stuff.
Why are we accepting it from the president of the United States? It's not -- it's not normal behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And President Obama is as far from alone on the Biden trail. Team Biden is holding events all across battleground America right now, including the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania, where the former vice president is holding a drive-in rally with Jon Bon Jovi. Let's listen in.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: -- and he is (ph) from the country. But here is what he did. Remember, when he decided he was going to convince Bob Woodward what a smart guy he was. So he went on -- yes, smart guy, stable genius. But folks, here is what he did. He went on record as saying that he knew how dangerous it was, knew seven times dangerous than the flu. But what did he do? Did he tell you? Did he tell us? Did he warn the American people? No, he didn't.
But I'll tell you what his administration did. They gave Wall Street heads-up, according to The New York Times. He didn't tell us, but they told his Wall Street friends, that's why they made so much money by, quote, selling short because he knew what was coming. He sold us short. That's what happened.
And then he tried to claim that he didn't want to panic the American people. The American people don't panic. Donald Trump panicked. Folks, he still had no plan. All he can do is double down on his Park Avenue way of looking at the world.
Before the pandemic, he handed out $1.5 trillion in tax giveaways to the super wealthy and large corporations. And now, even when 30 million Americans have lost their jobs or lost hours, he thinks the way to get the American economy back on track -- and you probably don't even know this -- is to give gigantic multimillion dollar tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy, and he wants to do it again.
Since the start of this pandemic, and this even startled me, according to Forbes, since the start of the pandemic, billionaires in America made another $600 billion. Actually, it's $700 billion. But Donald Trump can't get his own Republican Party to even deliver for hard working folks, folks he thinks $15 an hour minimum wage is too much for essential workers. He thinks unions don't matter. He stopped -- no. He stopped overtime pay, costing hourly workers $200 million last year. He says you can no longer deduct union dues.
And he talks about being for the working guy? Four years in, he still hasn't gotten legislation passed to protect pensions or working people. Ladies and gentlemen, this guy doesn't get it. He's proposed a plan that would set social security as the social security act where he said would bankrupt social security by 2023, if you re-elect him, he says. He's been weak and chaotic with China on trade.
All he's ended up doing is opening the doors to big banks and China for American banks to be able to do business in China. He contributed to the surge of bankruptcies and American farmers.
Look, I'll do what he's unable to do. I'll lead an effective strategy to mobilize true international pressure, isolate and punish China. Folks, we've lost more manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania and across the country than any time in recent history.
And if President Trump and Republicans don't have time to deliver an economic relief for working families and small businesses, then why in the middle of a crisis do they have time to confirm a Supreme Court justice so they can knock out Obamacare? I'll tell you why. He wants to wipe it off the books because his nominee has said that they're going to strike down the law before she was picked. Look, if they get their way, more than 20 million of you, 20 million Americans will lose their coverage, including nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians. 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, including 5.3 million in Pennsylvania, will no longer be covered. Complications from COVID will become the next pre-existing condition, allowing insurance companies to jack up your coverage. And women are going to be charged a hell of a lot more for their health care just because they're women.
Look, Donald Trump thinks healthcare is a privilege. I think it's a right. Look -- but nothing is more offensive than the way he's spoken about those who served our nation in uniform. He calls them losers and suckers. Well, how many of you have served? How many of your parents served? Luzerne and Lackawanna County have a proud, proud history of defending this nation.
Folks, my son, Beau, was a major, served in Iraq, won the bronze star and the distinguished service medal. He came home decorated. He wasn't a loser. He wasn't a sucker. He was a patriot, just like your sons and daughters, your parents and grandparents. I can't believe it. No wonder six generals who worked in his administration left him and said he doesn't deserve to be commander in chief of the United States. No president has ever had that happen.
Frankly, I've dealt with guys like Trump my whole life, so have you, guys that look down on you because they have a lot of money, guys who think they're better than you, guys who inherit everything in life and then squander it, guys who stiff electricians and plumbers and contractors, working on their hotels and casinos and golf courses, guys who avoid paying their own taxes they owe because they figure, as he said last time out, it's because he's smart. He's able to play the system, pay $750 in taxes, being a billionaire. Well, I'm sick and tired of smart guys. They need the rest of us to pick up the tab.
Now, we find Trump has secret bank accounts in China. I didn't make that up. That comes right out of The New York Times, secret bank accounts in China, where he paid 50 times more in taxes in Beijing than he did in the United States of America. Look at his hundreds of millions of dollars, $400 million in debt in the coming few years. Who does he owe it to? Why is it? I released 23 years of my tax returns. Why hasn't he released one of his? What in the hell is he hiding?
Look, you know, I got to admit, maybe it's the Scranton in me, I got a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I read about -- you know, I read that if I got elected president, I'd only be the second guy in this century, in the last century, that, in fact, didn't go to an Ivy League school.
Well, what the hell does that say about my state school I went to? Like it didn't mean I don't belong?
My guess is a lot of you felt the same way in your lives. I say it's about time a state school guy gets to go to the Oval Office. Because you know what, if I am sitting there, you'll be sitting there with me. You and I know who really built this country. It wasn't Wall Street. It wasn't CEOs. The working people, middle class people built it and unions built the middle class.
Look, we know we're so much better than this, so much better. And we can do anything in this country. Look, it starts with my plan to deal with this pandemic responsibly, bringing the country together around tracing, testing, masking, social distancing, not politicizing the race for a vaccine, but planning for a safe and equitable distribution, providing funding and protective gear for national centers and schools and businesses to open safely, bringing together Republicans and Democrats to deliver relief to working families and schools and businesses.
As I've said before, I'm not going to shut down the economy. I'm going to shut down the virus and build the economy. Folks, this is all within our power. We can build back better than before. We can build back better than before. That's who we are.
You know, an independent analysis on Wall Street, of all places, Moody's, a Wall Street firm, projected that my economic plan will create 18.6 million jobs in four years, 7 million more than his and a trillion dollars more in economic growth.
Look, it's pretty basic. I'm not going to raise taxes on anybody that makes less than $400,000 a year. But I tell you what, I'm going to start asking the wealthy and corporations to begin to pay their fair share. It's time working people and middle class people got tax relief to help them buy their first home, pay for the healthcare premiums, child care, carrying for their aged loved ones. We'll do more than just praise our essential workers. We will pay our essential workers.
We're going to make healthcare affordable for every American. We're going to build on the Affordable Care Act, keep your private insurance if you like it but make sure everybody, the 20 million people who got health insurance that they didn't have before because of it, are able to keep it.
We're going to increase the ability for you to be able to have much lower drug prices. We're going to lower drug prices by 60 percent. You know how you do that? Just allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. That will bring them down by 60 percent. We're going to make sure you keep your prescriptions and pre-existing conditions, I'll protect your social security and Medicare, and if I keep going, you're going to freeze your fingers off.
Well, look, we can create a million new -- a million new union jobs, union jobs, (INAUDIBLE) wage, rebuilding American manufacturing and enforcing buying America plan. Look, every single contract that will go out under my administration that we had put out will have to have products that are made in America, nothing else than that. It's estimated that will create 4 million new jobs.
Folks, it's time --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make college affordable.
BIDEN: We're getting there, man. Hang on. Hang on. Here is the deal. Look, we're going to move in a position that we can change a lot.
And by the way, let me get something straight here, in coal country. I will not ban fracking, period. I'll protect Pennsylvania jobs, period, no matter how many times Donald Trump says it. Unlike Donald Trump, I don't think big oil companies need a handout from the federal government. We're going to get rid of the $40 billion fossil fuel subsidies and we're going to invest in clean energy and carbon capture.
Look, going back to schools, if we just make the 91 corporations that didn't pay a single penny in taxes pay 15 percent, that raises $40 billion.
That allows us to send every single person qualified to community college free. It allows us to send every single person who can get into a four-year state university go free if they make less than $125,000.
Look, Donald Trump hasn't delivered on a damn thing he said he'd do. He hasn't delivered on infrastructure. He talked in 2017, '18, '19, '20, he's going to give us an infrastructure plan. He hasn't done a damn thing. Our roads, our bridges are crumbling, just as climate change is accelerating and more frequent extremes and weather events, not just wildfires in California and hurricanes along the coast. But here in Luzerne County, flooding along the Susquehanna, we can do something about it. But we've got to come together, which gets me to the last point of this election.
The stakes are high. Barack and I worked hard to earn and win your votes in 2008 and 2012. And I tell you what, it wasn't -- I thought it was great to see him again out on the trail for me, quite frankly. But understand why. Some people voted for Donald Trump. They believed they weren't being seen or respected or heard. Trump ran around saying he represents the forgotten man and woman in this country. I get it. But then he got elected and immediately forgot the forgotten man.
Remember what Donald Trump said when COVID hit, 200,000 deaths, he said, if you take out the blue states with Democratic governors and just look at the red states with Republican governors, we're doing quite well. First of all, that's not true. And, secondly, what in the hell would a president say, I'm not going to do anything for Pennsylvania or Michigan or Wisconsin, Democratic states, I'm only going to help red states. Where does this come guy from?
Look, folks, I don't see the presidents that way. I don't see America that way. This has to change. It will change with me. You know, you'll be seen and you're heard and respected by me. Our campaign is a broad coalition. It welcomes Democrats, Republicans, independents. If elected president, there will be no red states or blue states, only the United States.
I was reminded of that earlier this month when I went to the sacred ground at Gettysburg to speak. Abraham Lincoln told us a house divided can't stand. Well, folks, today, trust is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Instead of healing, we're being ripped apart. I refuse to let that happen. I'm running as a proud Democrat but I'll govern as an American president. I'll work as hard for those who don't support me as those who do. That's the president's job, a duty to care, a duty to heal.
And you too have a sacred duty. That's to vote. It matters. Pennsylvania matters. So, please vote. Get out the vote. Visit iwillvote.com/pa. Return your ballot as soon as possible. And make sure everyone you know does.
Folks, you know, I'm more optimistic about America's future than I've been since I've been involved in politics. We're the only country in the world that's come out of every crisis stronger than we went in. There's not a damn thing America can't do when we decide to do it together.
Folks, John Kennedy said, when he promised to send us to the moon, he said, answered the unasked question, why? He said, because we refuse to postpone. This is the United States of America. There is nothing, nothing, nothing beyond our capacity. There's no limit to our future. The only thing that can rip America apart is America itself.
Look, folks, I'll close by saying everybody knows who Donald Trump is. We got to show him who we are. We choose hope over fear, unity over division, science over fiction and truth over lies.
Folks, it's time to stand up and take our democracy back. May God bless you, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Go vote. Vote. Thank you.
CABRERA: Joe Biden speaking live in Pennsylvania, just a huge weekend for campaigning for both Joe Biden and President Trump today. President Trump also crisscrossing battleground states, starting his day in North Carolina, now in Ohio, and will end his day in Wisconsin.
So as we look at these live images of Joe Biden, I want to turn to our reporters out on the trail. Arlette Saenz is with the Biden campaign in Miami, where we brought you former President Obama's remarks a short time ago. Ryan Nobles is in Ohio with President Trump.
Let me check real quick in with Arlette in Florida first. Arlette, talk to us about the Biden camp and President Obama's message there today, and does the Biden camp think Florida is a must-win?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, Florida is not necessarily a must-win for Joe Biden but a win here would certainly make his path to the presidency a lot easier. President Obama stopped here in Miami Springs nearby, talking to supporters earlier today, and said that if they bring Florida home for Joe Biden, that this election is essentially over.
You heard President Obama here in North Miami making his case not just for his former vice president but also issuing another scathing rebuke of President Trump. This is the second time that President Obama has been out on the campaign trail on behalf of Joe Biden and has just torn into the president for everything from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic to his behavior, the president -- the former president calling President Trump's behavior not normal.
And you heard Obama also taking on Trump over a recent interview he did with 60 Minutes. Take a listen to a bit of President Obama's critique.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: He also sat down with 60 Minutes. He was asked, what's your priority in your second term? And let me say, I've run for president, Miami, so I just want you to know, it's a good idea to have an answer to this question. It's a good idea if you're running for re-election to say, here is what I want to accomplish. What did Trump say? He got mad and walked out of the interview. He thought the questions were too tough, too tough.
Miami, listen, if he can't answer a tough question like, what would you like to do in your second term, then it's our job to make sure he doesn't get a second term.
When 60 minutes and Lesley Stahl are too tough for you, you ain't all that tough. If you got to walk out of a 60 Minutes interview, then you're never going to stand up to a dictator. If you're spending all your time complaining about how mean reporters are to you, you're not going to stand up to Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: So, just another round of critiques from the former president for his successor. And you also heard the former president here in Florida, a state that has a very diverse population, including a diverse Hispanic population speaking to concerns of Hispanic voters, calling out the president's response to Hurricane Maria down in Puerto Rico.
Also, you know, really pushing back on this suggestion from the president and Republicans that Joe Biden is a socialist. President Obama called that garbage and said that Biden is not a secret socialist. So you heard these messages from the former president.
He was also here to encourage Floridians to get out there and to vote early. You know, more than 5 million people have voted early right now in the state with still ten days to go. He was advocating, telling them to make a plan to either go in person or to send in mail-in ballots.
But the Biden campaign is very clearly believes that Obama can be an encouraging surrogate out there, trying to get their supporters out, particularly black men and Latino voters and young voters in these closing days of the election.
CABRERA: Okay. Arlette Saenz in Miami, thank you.
Now to President Trump in Ohio, Ryan Nobles is there. President Trump won that state in 2016. Is there a path to 270 that doesn't include Ohio?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, you could probably find a path for President Trump without Ohio but it would be very difficult for him to win the race without it. Ohio is a very important state for President Trump. It is a state that he won in 2016. It's one that Republicans have had good success with since he was elected and it's one he would definitely like to have in the win column this time around.
And President Trump is spending a lot of time on the campaign trail. His campaign, promising that he could spend two, three, four, maybe even five events a day between now and Election Day. And today is an example of that. He started the day in Florida, made a trip to North Carolina, he's now here in Ohio and will go to Wisconsin later today.
And we're seeing a bit of a trend from the president in his speeches today. He seems to be somewhat annoyed with the fact that he still has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and he's also unhappy with the way his response to the coronavirus has been treated and responded to by members of the media and the public. Listen to what he said earlier today in North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's all I hear, turn on the television, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, a plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it. COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID.
By the way, on November 4th, you won't hear about it anymore. It's true. COVID, COVID, please don't go and vote, COVID.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: As he landed here in Ohio, the president spoke to reporters for a little while and again was complaining about the way that people have been responding to his -- the way he's handled the coronavirus pandemic and suggested that the country is testing too much. He suggested that during a speech in North Carolina as well.
And you can tell the president doesn't really want to talk about the coronavirus despite the fact that more than 200,000 Americans have died from it. Here in Ohio, his message to this crowd here isn't about the coronavirus, it's not about the pandemic. Obviously, we are in another rally with people shoulder to shoulder, very few masks in a state that is still dealing with this virus, still dealing with a lot of cases.
And, Ana, the president's focus has been about college football, bragging about the fact that the Big Ten football season is back up and running and Ohio State getting a win here today just outside of Columbus. There's a lot of football fans here. Of course, Ana, I'm sure that resonates with a lot of them. But there's also a lot of Americans and a lot of Ohioans who have dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and the president just doesn't seem to want that to be the focus in the closing days of this election. Ana?
CABRERA: Yes, Ohio just had three days in a row of the highest number yet in their daily case count. And the U.S., as a whole, just hit its highest case count in one day since the pandemic began just yesterday. Thank you both, Ryan Nobles and Arlette Saenz.
Joining us now is CNN Political Analyst Michael Shear. He is also the White House Correspondent for The New York Times. And also with us is A.B. Stoddard, the Associate Editor and Columnist for RealClearPolitics.
Michael, President Obama threw some punches at his successor, attacking well-known sore subjects like ratings. Do you think Obama is more effective in rattling Trump or is he better at drumming up Democrats to get to the polls?
MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, look, I think the Biden campaign is hoping that he'll do both and it seems like, you know, if you listen to President Trump in his speeches today, he has made mention of the fact that President Obama is out on the trail campaigning against him. He sort of brushes it aside and says that he thinks that it will actually help him more than hurt him.
But I think the truth is probably not that. The truth is probably that it does get under his skin. This is obviously, you know, a guy who won re-election himself and this is something that, you know, President Trump would -- wants to achieve as well.
And so I think that is part of the Biden strategy. I think they obviously want President Obama to appeal to the constituencies that he was most successful with himself and turn those constituencies out, young people, African-Americans, Hispanics, and so there's that hope as well, you know, among the Biden strategists. But I think it's both, really.
CABRERA: Of course, the former president is just one of many surrogates across the country right now.
A.B., we have the president and his team ping-ponging across the country as well. How critical is this weekend for both candidates?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, it's always critical when you're this close to the final day for everyone in both campaigns, but for President Trump, who is going to be making, you know, four states visits in one day, and trying to replicate that from now until November 3rd.
You know, he is -- he's running from behind, and he really needs to try to turn out his vote in these critical places. He has not governed or campaigned to voters that did not support him in 2016. He has a coalition that is eroding. It's quite narrow. And he has lost white non-college women and he's losing seniors most critically to Joe Biden, who he won nationally by seven points in 2016.
So, every voter at those rallies who is already going to support him, he needs to go out and excite other ones or he's not going to be able to overperform the polls and enjoy enough polling error to replicate what he did in 2016.
CABRERA: And the president, meantime, continues to downplay the pandemic.
In fact, at a rally today, Michael, he called increased testing for coronavirus foolish.
You caught COVID during the outbreak at the White House while you were covering this president.
First, how are you doing? And are you surprised the president hasn't changed his tune about the virus?
SHEAR: So, thank you for asking. I feel much, much better. I'm essentially recovered. I'm a little tired sometimes but that's to be expected.
And, look, I am not surprised at all that the president -- the president's experience himself of personally contracting COVID didn't change his outlook at all on his handling of this.
He has essentially shrugged off the threat from this virus from the very beginning. He and his administration have sought to, in his own words, turn the corner, turn around the corner for months now.
And I think that the -- they recognize, the president and his aides recognize that the pandemic, his response to it, and the public's kind of gut level understanding of how bad things are and why those -- the things are so bad is because of his handling of this.
I think they recognize that that's the biggest single threat to his chances of re-election.
And you know, he's desperate, I think, to change the subject. As A.B. said, he doesn't want to talk about that. He wants to talk about anything else. And that's what they're going to do for the next 10 days.
CABRERA: In fact, he's been trying to change the subject to Joe Biden and the oil industry and fracking.
A.B. Those comments that Biden made at the debate the other night, the president has pounced on.
We heard Biden just moments ago as we were playing his remarks live here on our show say, "I will not ban fracking," but that he wants the oil industry to transition into renewable energy and that he would get rid of the oil subsidies.
Do you think that lost Biden some votes in a state like Pennsylvania?
STODDARD: I think we'll find out later. I don't. Because he's made a real point of clarifying that over and over again since the morning after the debate. I think down-ballot it puts some pressure on some Democrats who are in
swing districts, districts Trump won in 2016 and who will be pressured by Trump, the Republican Party, their challengers, to try to explain away that.
But I think that Biden has a better platform to continue to pound home that he doesn't intend to actually ban fracking.
I think that people who have less of a microphone are feeling the pressure from those comments, and they appreciate the fact that he continues to clarify them.
At this point, there are so few undecideds, I think that the people who have yet to make their decision are unlikely to be people who have focused on the issues -- on a specific issue like fracking.
CABRERA: A.B. Stoddard and Michael Shear, really appreciate both of you. Thank you so much.
SHEAR: Thank you.
CABRERA: President Trump cast his ballot in Florida today in person.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a very secure vote. Much more secure than when you send in a ballot, I can tell you that. Everything was perfect. Very strict. Right by the rules. When you send in your ballot, could never be like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And that's just not true. Why is the president's message on mail-in voting identical to Russian disinformation?
Let's ask a man who was in the room when President Trump met with Vladimir Putin. Former national security advisor, John Bolton, joins us live next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: We want to take you back live now to Ohio where President Trump is addressing voters. Let's listen.
TRUMP: We paid $2.5 and you're talking about stuff like that. These are the kind of differences. We pay for all research and development.
So if Germany's at 10 or somebody and we're at much higher, we now pay 10. It's very simple.
TRUMP: It's called favored nations. We pay the lowest in the world.
Your prices could come down 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent. They'll come down a lot.
And I have never had more ads spent because they have unlimited money. So big pharma, they call it, right, number one power in Washington.
And I've just learned they're the number-one power. And I knew this was going to happen. I said, I don't care. I'm put here to do a job. I'm put here to do a job.
TRUMP: They have the middlemen. You know, they have the drug pricing is very complicated. It's very complicated stuff. They have it set so that it's almost impossible to disengage it.
And they have middlemen. You know the middlemen? Nobody ever heard -- they never say middle women. I want to be nice and say middle women. I've never heard the term having to do with drug prices.
But they have the middlemen gets more than the drug companies. At least the drug companies make the drugs, right? These people don't do anything. They're very rich. I probably know some of them.
I would not be surprised if Hunter Biden was also a middleman --
TRUMP: -- on top of everything else.
Takes in millions and millions and now we find out that Hunter Biden is a middleman.
But these are rich people. And they get all this money --
CABRERA: Again, President Obama -- excuse me, President Trump following President Obama's remarks earlier today in Florida. That's President Trump there in Ohio, addressing voters.
And some of what you just heard fits into what I'm going to talk about next. He's been attacking Joe Biden, using claims that officials think he may be -- may be part of Russian disinformation.
And it's not the first time White House messaging has been nearly identical to Russian misinformation.
The overlaps also seen just about every time the president makes a baseless claim about mail-in voting, something he did again this morning after casting his early vote in person in Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's a very secure vote. Much more secure than when you send in a ballot, I can tell you that. Everything was perfect. Very strict. Right by the rules. When you send in your ballot, could never be like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now, intelligence officials have already warned that Russia is trying to hurt the Biden campaign and sow distrust in our election process.
In fact, an intelligence bulletin issued by DHS just last month said this, and I quote:
"We assess that Russia is likely to continue amplifying criticisms of vote by mail and shifting voting processes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine public trust in the electoral process."
But is Trump making it easier for them?
I'm joined now by President Trump's former national security advisor, John Bolton. His book is "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir."
Ambassador, thank you so much for being with me.
President Trump, his attorney general, his allies, they have essentially amplified and legitimized Russian misinformation efforts to undermine the U.S. election.
Do you believe the president is intentionally trying to help Russia achieve its goal, or is it just that they share a common goal?
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: No. And I don't think there's any evidence of that.
I think Trump dislikes the idea of mail-in ballots for a legitimate reason. Obviously, you don't have any possibility of in-person verification.
I think there's more to be said for increased verification of voters at the polls themselves.
I can give you a personal example. A couple of elections ago, I voted in Maryland, I went in to my precinct and completely unconsciously took out my driver's license when I approached the clerk's desk to tell them who my name was to get the ballot and they said, no, don't show me your driver's license.
I think that's ridiculous. I think it's legitimate for a politician to say, we want to be sure that votes are cast by actual voters. And I think every voter should believe that.
CABRERA: Well, I think everybody believes that as well.
But as far as the facts go -- let me discuss the facts about mail-in voting are clear because I think it's really important and I want to make sure our votes know if they vote by mail, there's no reason to believe that there's widespread fraud or that their vote is any less safe.
I mean, the data just does not back that up. There's not any big evidence.
In fact, according to a comprehensive study of public records detailing voter fraud in all U.S. elections between 2000 and 2012, there were just 491 prosecutions for absentee ballot fraud.
BOLTON: Yes. Look, I can tell you from the Florida recount of 2000 that I participated in, that there were lots of challenges by the gore campaign to absentee ballots they felt were being cast in counties that would be pro-Bush.
So, let's be clear. There are a lot of claims on both sides.
I want to address the claim that somehow Trump has derived his fear of mail-in ballots from the Russians. There's no evidence of that. Whether it's right or wrong.
And so, when you make those claims, it could be said that that helps Russian disinformation efforts, too.
We've got to calm down in this country. Everybody needs to take a deep breath. This is not our first rodeo.
We are prepared to deal with Russian efforts to influence the election. The FBI, the Intelligence Community, and others are very active. Whatever Donald Trump says.
It is possible in this country for people from the left, who want to say there's confusion going on, and Donald Trump who wants to say there's confusion going on, each for very different reasons, to create exactly the kind of chaos and uncertainty that the Russians want, the Chinese want --
BOLTON: -- the Iranians want, the North Koreans want.
So for goodness sakes, before people make claims, try to find some evidence.
CABRERA: Right. I think we both are agreeing on that.
U.S. intel officials have reportedly questioned whether Rudy Giuliani was a target of a Russian intelligence influence operation.
According to "The Washington Post," Trump himself was warned that Giuliani was being used to funnel him Russian misinformation.
And yet this president has seized on that potential Russian misinformation provided by Rudy Giuliani and has tried to smear Biden with it.
How unprecedented is it that we're talking about the possibility that a foreign adversary's influence campaigns that breached the inner circle of the White House?
BOLTON: Well, it is possible. I think the Russians have an enormous operation going in Ukraine.
They have seen the president's fascination with Hillary Clinton and the servers from the 2016 election and the idea that somehow he can pin on Biden the bad judgment and poor choices of a son of his, who has obviously got severe difficulties.
And it may well be that they went after Giuliani and have compromised him. That's -- that wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Which is why it's important that we look at all of these Russian efforts.
You know, it's so much fun for some people to say the Russians want Trump re-elected. I think what the Russians want more than anything else is to sow fear and distrust among Americans of all stripes and our institutions.
And that's what people need to take a deep breath about.
CABRERA: But back to Giuliani. When you were in this administration, did you warn your staff about Giuliani?
BOLTON: Look, I thought Giuliani was operating in a completely different lane.
The president's entitled to have a political operation. Giuliani was part of it. And that's what he was doing.
That's not what the national Security Council staff does. And we did stay away from it.
CABRERA: Did you ever warn President Trump that Rudy Giuliani might be giving him bad information?
BOLTON: I told him on several occasions that I thought that this was something that should be handled through normal government channels, not through Rudy Giuliani. And I told the Ukrainians the same thing.
It is a mistake whenever you divert from these regular channels because it exposes you to exactly the kind of risk we see now.
That obviously didn't get through. And as is well known, I eventually resigned from the administration.
CABRERA: You told Wolf Blitzer last week that you did not vote for President Trump in this election but that you voted for a living conservative Republican instead.
If there's a risk of potential damage to this country, permanent damage to this country, why not vote for Biden? Isn't it just throwing away your vote?
BOLTON: Because I don't agree with Biden. Because I don't agree with Biden. I'm not going to vote for somebody that I disagree with.
I did -- and I think I explained this to Wolf Blitzer -- just what George Meanie (ph), the president of the AFL/CIO did in 1972. And for the first time in his adult life, he didn't vote for the Democratic nominee, George McGovern. He didn't vote for Nixon either.
I think it makes perfectly good sense.
CABRERA: Ambassador John Bolton, thank you so much for joining us.
BOLTON: Happy to do it.
CABRERA: In yet another claim untethered from reality, President Trump says our coronavirus numbers are, quote, "incredible," that the U.S. is rounding the turn.
Tell that to more than 83,000 Americans just diagnosed with the virus yesterday alone, the highest single-day total since the pandemic started.
A doctor who formerly advised the Bush White House reacts next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: President Trump today falsely claiming that the U.S. is rounding the turn in the coronavirus pandemic while speaking at a campaign rally in the battleground state of North Carolina. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But it's a choice between a Trump super boom and a Biden lockdown. Did you hear him the other night? It's going to be a cold dark, winter.
TRUMP: Very inspiring guy. Very. He's very inspiring.
TRUMP: Whoa. I even said, whoa.
TRUMP: Now, we've got to have spirit in our country. You know we're coming back. We're rounding the turn. We're doing great. Our numbers are incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Here's the corner we actually rounded. On Friday, the U.S. reported its highest number ever of daily coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. More than 83,000 new cases in a single day.
Joining us now CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University.
Doctor, we just heard President Trump say the U.S. is rounding the turn and the president was asked earlier this week what he would do differently if he got a do over with the coronavirus pandemic and he said not much.
But listen to what the top infectious disease expert in our country, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I feel confident if we had uniformly done the things I was talking about just a moment ago certainly a considerable amount of lives could have been saved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Lives could have been saved.
If people keep listening to the president instead of Dr. Fauci how bad could this get?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Really, really bad.
When the president says he can't really think of anything that he would have done differently, he's admitting he was just overmatched by the circumstances. That he really was over his head.
Look, to understand where we are now, it's helpful to look at where we were a month ago. If you really want to understand whether we're rounding the corner.
So as you said we had 83,000 new cases yesterday. A month ago, we were averaging 40,000 cases a day. Our positivity rate in this country is about 5.5 percent. It was about 4 percent a month ago.
We currently have 41,000 Americans hospitalized. A month ago, it was -- we were averaging about 29,000. We have almost 8,000 people in the ICU. It was a little over 6,000 a month ago.
And then, sadly, yesterday, we had 916 deaths. And almost about a month ago, only -- we were averaging about 700 deaths per month.
Still awful, but we're ticking up at an alarming rate now. So we're not rounding the corner.
CABRERA: And the president also pointed out today as he was I guess making fun of all the talk about COVID and the concerns about what is happening.
That while the cases are going up that it's not -- you know, we're not seeing the death count go way up. We all know that's a lagging factor. And I want to show you a graph comparing the E.U. and U.S. because we
can see the U.S. has largely seen higher highs in the case count and never got the curve as low as the European Union. But now we're starting to see cases in the E.U. take off.
And just look at that orange line there. It's almost going straight up at this point. The U.S., the red line there has been a few weeks behind Europe all along.
So with history as a guide or if we're to maybe be following what has taken place all along, what does this mean for the U.S. Our case count is starting to head back up but not as high as the E.U.?
REINER: Yes, I think our case count will start to approach 100,000 cases per day.
And, you know, the major difference between the United States and the European Union is that after their first spike their case levels dropped down to almost negligible levels and stayed there for months.
We never dropped below 20,000 and we had another big spike, and then we never dropped below 40,000 after that. And now we're seeing where the cases are going.
So we never had that sort of period of relatively calm which we needed to get ready for the winter.
So while the president is tired of hearing about COVID, COVID, COVID, in medicine now we're gearing up for our hospitals to be overrun.
CABRERA: The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, is now warning, if only 50 percent of Americans get the coronavirus vaccine, this virus could remain a problem for years.
What do you think is going to help drive up confidence in the vaccine which is, you know, getting closer and closer?
REINER: A lot more transparency.
I talk to my patients in clinic every week about the flu vaccine and, increasingly I talk to them about the COVID vaccine and ask them whether they'll take it when it's available.
I think we need to start to see the whole pandemic advisory board reconstituted for daily briefings.
Without politicians, maybe this will be easier for the president. Because if he wins the doesn't matter if they meet and talk to the public. And if he loses, it also doesn't matter.
But it'll be really helpful for in public to hear from people like Fauci and Birx and Redfield and have them talk about the safety of the vaccine. Let them talk about it.
CABRERA: Dr. Jonathan Reiner, as always, thank you.
REINER: Thank you.
CABRERA: A break. We'll be right back.