This is a rush transcript from “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” September 9, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All right, thank you, Bill, very much.
The president wrapping that all up just seconds ago. And lost in the sauce was these, what, 20 nominees he would consider for the Supreme Court. He was pelted more with questions on what he knew and when he knew it about the deadly coronavirus.
Of course, this at a time when a Bob Woodward book is coming out in a matter of days, but all the key details are out right now.
The difference with this Bob Woodward book is that his 18 supposed conversations with the president were all recorded. You have been hearing some of those recordings. Now the fallout on all of that right now.
Welcome, everybody. Glad to be back with you. I’m Neil Cavuto, and this is YOUR WORLD.
The president was maybe trying to shift attention to the Supreme Court possibilities if he were reelected. But, immediately, the questions came down to what’s in that Bob Woodward book and whether he was downplaying the severity of COVID-19 as early as February 7, when he was saying, “This is deadly stuff.”
He was also saying: “You just breathe the air, and that’s how it is passed. So, this is a very tricky one. This is a very delicate one.” It is also more strenuous, the president said, more deadly than even your strenuous flu.
He went on to say a little bit more than about a month later, on March 9, after saying on Twitter that the virus was not going to be that bad, but that, in a March 19 interview with Mr. Woodward, he was apparently saying, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create panic.”
At least three times in remarks before the American people in announcing these Supreme Court possibilities if he were reelected, he emphasized that again, no fewer than four times, that this was not about creating a panic. This was to try be calm in the face of all of this.
So, the fallout from all of this is predictably going each party’s way, with Republicans saying there’s really no there, there, that the president really didn’t misstate anything or lie about anything.
But, then again, there’s Joe Biden Democrats, who are saying this is proof that he was keeping stuff from the American people and didn’t act as early as he could have on this virus.
Let the jump all begin, first with the Biden folks responding to all of this earlier today, including the former vice president himself.
Jacqui Heinrich with more on that — Jacqui.
JACQUI HEINRICH, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Neil.
Former Vice President Joe Biden ripped President Trump over those revelations in Bob Woodward’s book that the president knew about coronavirus back in February, knew how deadly it was, and said he wanted to downplay it.
Biden says, in various tapes, the president acknowledged that COVID-19 is airborne, highly contagious, more deadly than the flu, and says he always wanted to play it down, so as not to create a panic.
Biden called that a dereliction of duty, a disgrace and a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president of the United States has admitted on tape in February he knew about COVID-19, that it passed through the air. He knew how deadly it was. It was much more deadly than the flu.
He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEINRICH: Biden then cited experts who claimed, if the president acted just one week sooner, 36,000 lives would have been spared and, two weeks sooner. 54,000.
Biden called it a failure, not just costing the American people their lives, but also their livelihoods, with the economy now in tatters — Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, Jacqui, thank you very, very much.
So, again, this could be in the eye of the beholder here, but far more interesting in the book itself are what another — a number of former Cabinet members, putting themselves in name, on the record, had to say about the president himself.
That, of course, is getting attention as well, but the focus today seems to be on the president and what he was knowing and doing about the coronavirus way back in January and February, when all of this was really first bubbling up.
Let’s go to Lee Carter on the fallout from this.
You know, this is just the latest book that is out there that disparages the president. Lee, he has survived many other attack lines from former Cabinet officials, many of whom are quoted in this book. And he has survived far worse.
Who could forget four years ago, a few weeks before the election, that famous “Access Hollywood” tape.
LEE CARTER, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: That’s right.
CAVUTO: How do you compare these revelations, in other words? They’re very, very different.
But the one consistent thing is, everyone says he’s finished when these things come out.
CARTER: Yes, they are very, very different. I think the difference between this one and many of the more recent ones is that he’s on tape saying this.
So, I was really interested to see how he was going to respond in his own words. What we just heard him talking about was, he continued to say, listen, I was trying to make sure that we didn’t have a panic. I wanted people to feel like they were protected, they were safe. I think the worst thing that could have happened is a panic. We wanted to keep the economy going. We wanted to keep the economy safe. And we wanted to keep the people safe without having them panic.
So I think he’s doing a good job of responding to this. But it is a really, really tough one, because the number one issue that Americans have, when you look at polling that’s all broken up into a number of different things, is, who is going to make you feel the most safe at the end of the day?
And so I don’t think though, when you listen to what just happened, I don’t think what we just heard is going to change anyone’s mind. If you were likely to support Trump before, you’re likely to believe him when he said he was trying to keep a panic from happening.
If you really hated Donald Trump, and were likely to vote for Joe Biden, you’re going to say, you know what, this is just one more reason that I hate Donald Trump.
And I think that the people in between aren’t going to be moved by this alone. I think what the people in between, the independent voters, the undecided voters are looking to say, who is going to make America safer in the long run? Who’s going to be better for the economy? Who’s going to be ready for our cities?
Who’s going to be better to keep us physically safe with all of the unrest that’s happening? And I think that’s going to be the bottom line. It’s going to come down to that. It’s not about either one of these men as much as it’s about the future of the country.
CAVUTO: Yes, there’s a good deal of truth in that. I mean, anything you say, there’s a good deal truth.
But I just mean to say, if we get a timeline, Lee, on what he knew and when he knew what. He was briefed by top officials, one warning him that this pandemic had the look of a plague of 1918 to it, and that they should be very, very aware of that.
The president apparently shot up, got his attention when he heard that, thought it was a bit extreme. He had been tweeting around early March that this was bad, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the common flu. He said, last year, this is going back to early March, 37,000 Americans died from the common flu, 27,000 to 70,000 per year.
I never checked the exact numbers on that. He said, nothing is shut down. Life, the economy go on here.
And this was very early in this coronavirus’ arrival here in the country a little bit more than, you know, 500-some deaths here. But even then, according to Woodward, he knew this was getting to be much more serious than he was letting on.
So, I’m wondering whether — would people come back and hear that, juxtapose it with his public comments where he minimizes it, that that comes back to bite him, that people will say, wait a minute, wait, wait, wait, you just said this wasn’t a big issue, the flu was a lot worse, when, in fact, you clearly knew this was a lot worse than that?
CARTER: Yes, I mean, look, there’s no question it looks bad. There’s no question it is bad.
The president was recorded on tape saying that he things that he then went on to just — to say something different just a month later. I think it’s really, really bad.
I think the bottom line, though, and what I’m saying is that many people are able to forgive the president, the man, because of the policies that he puts out there, because they believe in lower taxes, they believe in the things that he’s promising out there, they believe in the promise of make America great again, they believe all that he’s going to do better for the economy.
And many people are write — willing to write off his character flaws because they think that he’s going to do better on the issues that matter to them. There’s going to be many people out there that are going to say, I just can’t do it. This is really — I cannot take the means to the end, and that I will walk away from him.
The question is, is this going to be the thing that does it? And I don’t think this is going to be the thing that’s going to make most people walk away from the president when they’re thinking about supporting him.
I think we have a long time between now and November, and there’s going to be more to come. I don’t think that this is the end of the tapes. I don’t think it’s the end of what we’re going to hear. But I don’t think that this is going to be the one thing that’s going to change people’s minds quite yet.
CAVUTO: And, to your point, Lee, I think there was even division among his top medical expert Cabinet officials on how far you go.
A shutdown to the entire economy, locking it down was something people were hardly united on advocating and recommending to him. And there were fears about something like that doing more harm than would be allowed. That would be something, the first we have seen a bit in the better part of a century.
So, obviously, there was confusion in those early days. We will see how it sorts out.
But, Lee, very, very good having you on all of this.
We’re going to be following this, of course, and the impact of the book and some of the other people quoted.
But it is important to point out right now in real time that this is about dealing with the virus right now.
I should let you know that AstraZeneca making some news today, halting what had been a late-stage trial to review some safety data. One man apparently suffered a serious, serious illness as a result of this in his spinal cord. And it caused a very life-compromising myelitis that now raise concerns as to whether this is a possible issue with this particular panacea that that’s been highly touted and whose prospect seemed very much set for an October or November release.
Jonathan Serrie on the fallout from that — Jonathan.
JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you could look at this as a setback. But Dr. Anthony Fauci says this temporary pause is actually a good sign that science and safety are in play when it comes to developing a vaccine.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: The American public could feel comfort that, when there is an adverse event, it becomes very transparent, and it becomes investigated, and the trial is halted, until we can clarify that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERRIE: AstraZeneca’s temporary pause on clinical trials is expected to last a matter of days, while an independent committee investigates whether an unspecified, but serious illness in one of the volunteers is a side effect of the shot this volunteer received or merely a coincidence.
A company spokesperson explains: “In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance, but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully.”
Now, Neil, the temporary pause does not affect two other very promising vaccine candidates that are also in late-phase clinical trials — Neil.
CAVUTO: Jonathan Serrie, thank you very, very much.
I want to go to Dr. Bob Lahita, St. Joseph University Hospital chair of medicine, New York Medical College professor of medicine, rheumatologist, you name it. So, we brought in the big gun for this.
CAVUTO: So, Doctor, once again, I need your help on the significance of the AstraZeneca news.
And if you will indulge me…
DR. BOB LAHITA, ST. JOSEPH UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Yes.
CAVUTO: … delay does not mean denied, does it?
LAHITA: No, delay does not mean denied.
And Fauci is correct. This is a sure test of the whole purpose of a phase three efficacy trial. And that is to try it in different populations, children, elderly, et cetera. And you find that people have illnesses on their own.
This is not necessarily linked to the vaccine. Transverse myelitis is unusual. We see it all the time in the autoimmune diseases. It’s generally thought to be caused by a virus, or you can have it from an autoimmune disease, which is — of course, the cause of autoimmune diseases are unknown.
But this is not a surprise, and it is a good thing, because it indicates that they’re looking very carefully at everybody who’s getting the vaccine.
CAVUTO: So, Doctor, if not AstraZeneca, someone else.
The only issue is, how soon? People get excited about hearing, oh, October, November. But there does seem to be anticipation that something within the next few months could be out there. Do you agree with that, whether it’s a 2020 development, a 2021 development? What do you think?
LAHITA: I agree with that.
Yesterday, I was saying to my colleagues that it would be mid-December, perhaps early January when we will have a vaccine.
Now, AstraZeneca-Oxford is way ahead of the game with their viral vector. That’s what their vaccine is. And they’re being very careful, because a lot of these mechanisms of development are new. They’re based on molecular biology, which we didn’t have 40 years ago, or even 60 years ago, when the polio virus and other things were coming along.
So, we have got to be very, very careful going forward. But it is very exciting, these means, and quite safe, the kinds of vaccines that we have coming forward, for the most part, Neil.
CAVUTO: Doctor, while I have you here, I know timing is everything, and people do a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking, based on what they hear from the president talking to Bob Woodward in this latest book.
But, as early as February 7, speaking of its apparent severity, early on, long before publicly we knew otherwise, when he said: “This is a delicate one. It is more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
That was at a time when many were thinking just the opposite, the standard flu is a hell of a lot worse. And he, in fact, doubled down on that thinking via Twitter in March, almost a month later, when he was saying the common flu obviously creates far more deaths.
Do you think that, had he acted on the stuff he was telling Bob Woodward back in early February, that we could have gotten a jump on this, keeping in mind that some of the things being recommended to him were unprecedented, shutting down the economy, something we haven’t seen in the better part of a century? And, even then, it was limited, that it’s easy to look at this through — and get 20/20 vision.
But knowing what, and knowing that he sensed the severity of this in early February, could he, should he have done something much more sweeping — I’m not saying a shutdown — back then, when he was saying this to Bob Woodward?
LAHITA: I think this is — Neil, this is 20/20 hindsight.
I don’t fault the president for saying that this was something coming down the pike no one had ever seen before. I have a memo from January the 6th which I posted for our doctors saying there was a virus in China that was unusual, and the forms of pneumonia were very unusual, and that there was nothing to worry about, because it was not in the Western Hemisphere yet.
I have saved that memo because it’s a collector’s item, I’m sure. However, I don’t fault the president. He’s not a doctor. He’s not trained in public health or epidemiology. And this is a big decision that he was going to have to make.
So, in February and in March, early March, no one, no one, including the scientists, knew what we were dealing with. So, to that point, you don’t want to yell fire in a movie theater. And this was what he was up against. This was a tough one. It was a tough one, historical.
CAVUTO: So, he was privately acknowledging something that might be more severe than he was publicly letting on…
CAVUTO: … hoping maybe that what he is privately hearing and seeing and sensing would pass.
LAHITA: I believe that to be the case.
Anybody with a rational way of thinking would say the same thing. Why go out and create hysteria, which we all avoid, if we can, when it may not have been necessary? But, in fact, it was a very severe infection, but unprecedented in history.
So, I look at it that way. I’m not surprised.
CAVUTO: All right, Dr. Lahita, I’m not surprised you answered all these questions your usual able way. And so I appreciate that. And I like the fact that you’re saving that memo from January 6.
Dr. Bob Lahita, always good having you on.
Again, it’s going to be in the perspective of those who think and know so much more now than we did back then as to what the president knew and how he should have acted. Woulda, shoulda, coulda. Where are we now on this virus? That will be the big issue.
Investigations and all this other stuff will probably ensue.
Now, if any of this was a big worry for the markets after a three-day drubbing, they certainly had a funny way of showing it. The Nasdaq has dashed right back out of correction territory, when it had fallen 10 percent from its highs, the Dow, Nasdaq, S&P 500 all up.
They haven’t recouped all of those losses, but they certainly recouped enough of them.
They were buoyed by another development that has nothing to do with the virus, nothing to do with the Bob Woodward book, but everything to do with eating, because, in New York City, indoor dining will be back this week. The governor ruling it’s allowed, but there are some limitations.
But food for thought: Why did it take so long?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We’re now announcing today that we can go to 25 percent of indoor dining, with certain restrictions. That will be enacted on September 30.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: All right, so, New York, but you’re going to have to wait a little bit.
All of this indoor dining stuff at limited capacity takes effect in three weeks, on the 30th of this month. So, what is that? Three weeks from today, I believe.
What we do know about is, it is at 25 percent of capacity. We do know that there were a number in the restaurant industry who are already suing the city and the state for pushing this back and back and back.
But late is better than never.
Robert Hanley, the Bocelli restaurant’s general manager, he was among those suing over these restrictions.
Robert, how do you feel about this today? ROBERT HANLEY, GENERAL MANAGER, BOCELLI RESTAURANT: Well, it’s great to get it an overnight result that we did. And we’re certainly pleased with some progress.
But we’re really looking to get back ramped up at least 50 percent or more, like many of the other businesses and industries have. But a fantastic job by the coalition. It’s great to have had that platform and have a voice.
And Mark Fonte and Lou Gelormino led the charge, as did several of my colleagues and entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry. So we are great to have some quick progress, absolutely.
CAVUTO: So, do you think this was in response to that now $2 billion class-action lawsuit on the part of you and so many other restaurant owners?
HANLEY: Oh, I don’t think there’s any other way to think about it.
You’re within 36 hours of the actions that we took, and they come back with an act of their own, where there had not been one for several months. We’re closed since March 15. COVID numbers in New York are down under 1 percent for the last 34 days and counting.
So we’re thinking, what are we waiting for? Let’s go.
CAVUTO: Robert, what I found interesting here, the announcement was made by Governor Andrew Cuomo, when it was only a couple of days ago that Mayor Bill de Blasio was forcefully making his point, we might have to wait until a vaccine is available, which could easily carry us into next year in that event.
Do you think that the governor essentially overruled him?
HANLEY: That was actually a topic with my team for lunch this afternoon. Did the governor overrule the mayor?
Not the first topic that they have disagreed upon over the last several months. Regardless, whoever arrived at the decision, we’re happy to have that. And we look forward complying and welcoming back our guests indoors. And we’re just happy that a decision has been made positively for us so far.
CAVUTO: I don’t know what they’re and how they’re going to go about watching this and policing this.
In New Jersey, they have people who are I think — the glorified term is snitches. They will sneak in, pop in, let’s say, a restaurant like yours. If they see that people aren’t spread out, or they’re not honoring the 25 percent capacity thing, they give the city, the state a phone call.
So, how do you — how do you behave?
HANLEY: First of all, if you’re complying, you have nothing to worry about.
We have had three separate visits now. We have been visited by Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Department of Agriculture. And if you are obeying the protocols and following through, not a thing to worry about.
We have — our table spacing is in full effect. Social distancing is being practiced religiously. Signage and sanitizers, temperature charts, temporary permits, everything is at the ready here to be inspected upon.
So, we’re happy. We’re happy to welcome them. We have not had any difficulties with them, because we are complying.
CAVUTO: All right, Robert Hanley, best of luck to you.
I know it’s going to be a big day three weeks from now. So, good for you and all your colleagues, who had to wait a long time for this moment to come.
But, again, just to alert all of you, if you’re coming from sections of the country where this is just common practice, indoor dining has already been allowed, and most states, in fact, have returned to that. And most of New York state, I should point out, has returned to that, just not in New York City in the greater metropolitan area, in the five boroughs, including Queens and Brooklyn and Bronx, all the way, that comprise the greater New York City area.
They will finally get their chance for this in three weeks. So, we will be monitoring that.
Also monitoring White House reaction to this Bob Woodward book. We will have Kristin Fisher with the latest on that, and something Dr. Fauci said that does conflict a little bit, in fact, more than a little bit, with some of the premises outlined in that book — after this.
CAVUTO: So many protests, so little time, this unusual one, though, featuring flight attendants and other air industry workers.
They’re desperate for some COVID-19 relief. And they’re telling Congress, either we get it now, or we’re afraid we’re all out of jobs soon — after this.
CAVUTO: All right, Michigan is the latest battleground state getting the attention today of Joe Biden, tomorrow Donald Trump. Polls there are tightening.
Peter Doocy was with the former vice president earlier today. He joins us out of Dearborn. ‘
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Neil, this afternoon, Joe Biden’s backdrop was six American-made cars fresh off the assembly line. He was there to pitch a jobs plan.
But just like pretty much everything else in the last couple months, his sharpest words were about COVID-19 and the way that President Trump’s response has affected, he says, swing state voters.
BIDEN: How many families are missing loved ones at their dinner table tonight because of his failures? It’s beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: Biden’s event was in Warren, about 20 minutes from downtown Detroit.
He reminded union workers in the socially distanced crowd that, when he was V.P. and Detroit went bankrupt, he was here working with locals to try and keep the lights on. He also said, someday, he wants to drive an electric Corvette that’s in development right now, reportedly able to go 200 miles per hour.
He was trying to put a personal touch on his pitch ahead of President Trump’s visit to the state tomorrow, a state that he is hoping to hold this cycle after winning it by just about 10,000 votes last time — Neil.
All right, thank you, Peter, very much, Peter Doocy.
With us now is Rick Snyder, the former Republican Michigan governor, who is backing Joe Biden, not Donald Trump.
Why is that, Governor?
FMR. GOV. RICK SNYDER (R-MI): Well, it’s relatively straightforward, Neil.
I mean, if you look at what the president has done and not done over the last four years, it’s time for a change.
I mean, I had several items I pointed out in an op-ed piece. First of all, I don’t believe he’s worked hard to represent everyone in this country. The people who support him, that have supported them are the ones he’s been working for.
If you’re a leader, you need to support all your constituents, whether they voted for you or not.
Then you look at the fact that he’s a bully. And then you just go into the question of his moral compass and truth.
I mean, you saw that on your show today. Truth is not a subjective thing or a thing you just vary.
And then, finally, I actually don’t think his policies have been that great. He’s had some successes, but a lot of things that have been characterized as success really haven’t been that good.
And then you look at Joe Biden. Here, you have got a person that I believe will heal our country, that cares, that’s going to listen. I know I have disagreements with him, but I know he will listen.
And when you ultimately look at this, it shouldn’t be about partisanship. I’m an American first before I’m a proud Republican. And, in this case, I think we need Joe Biden to be our next president.
CAVUTO: It sounds like a lot of your problems with Donald Trump are more personal and his style, even down to maybe his ethics.
But many other Republicans have held their nose, Governor, supporting the president, even allowing for that, because they think his policies have indeed worked, that, prior to the virus, the jobs boom we were enjoying, the jobs boom we’re getting now since the virus, about 10 million jobs created in the last few months, that they can deal with some of the issues you are looking at, because the guy you’re supporting is going to undo all of that.
He’s going to raise taxes. He’s going to do the kind of stuff that they worry will — as nice as a guy as he might, will have very, very bad reactions in the economy. What do you say?
SNYDER: Yes, well, if you go back four years, I believed — four years ago, I believed a lot of people gave him the benefit of the doubt.
But if you look at it today, he’s got a track record that’s only putting us a difficult place, a terrible place, in my view, about civility, and the lack of people getting along.
We can’t be a great country if we’re this divisive. So, it’s not a personality thing. He’s a divisive person. He’s driven us, so we — how many Americans are now showing how they just dislike someone else, or will argue or swear at someone else because of their political beliefs?
That’s not right. That’s not being a good American.
CAVUTO: No, I understand. I understand your personal views and all.
SNYDER: Thank you.
CAVUTO: And — but I emphasize, do know that, in supporting — and you say you’re a loyal Republican, a good Republican — that those are views, raising taxes, doing some of the things he wants to do, that is, Joe Biden, that are an anathema to all of that, whatever you say about the president and his personal foibles and the tweeting and other stuff?
SNYDER: I don’t think so.
Again, that’s where I have mentioned, I don’t believe, on the policy side, he’s gotten it either.
I mean, in terms of the jobs thing, I think he’s gotten a lot of credit for things that were already in the pipeline. And I would use Michigan as an illustration.
CAVUTO: All right.
SNYDER: I’m proud of what we did in our state.
And when he would come back and speak about the state of Michigan, he didn’t even understand how our economy worked. He would talk about the Michigan of the ’60s and ’70s, the old production line stuff, not the high- tech jobs that are there today.
And he’s focused in on trying to bring us back to the ’60s and 70s. That’s not the reality of our future. We need to do much more.
And I had the opportunity to work with the vice president on work force issues. So I don’t think the vice president is going to have totally bad policies. I think he’s focused in on putting people to work, and we need to get people working, in this environment in particular.
And then, as you mentioned it, the whole COVID situation, the president has been a failure at dealing with this COVID crisis, in my view.
CAVUTO: All right, real quickly, Democrats gave us the original NAFTA and some of these other treaties that did have problems and did lead to a lot of jobs going south of the border.
This president hopes, by making a stronger trade agreement, that will stop it. It had stopped prior to COVID coming on. Do you not acknowledge that, at least on the trade front, the president’s policies have been more beneficial to your former constituents, your colleagues in Michigan than then were Biden’s?
SNYDER: No, I think some things — I would agree on — the North American trade deal was a positive for us. So those are good things.
But, again, if you step back and look at the China situation, he got a trade deal there, but it’s not being followed. And he hasn’t followed up on it. I think he’s somewhat ignoring where it sits today because it’s not a good answer for him.
They haven’t caught up with the purchases that need to be made. And we need to do better there. Think about all the sacrifices our agricultural people made during those time periods with the tariffs.
CAVUTO: All right.
SNYDER: They haven’t seen a bounce-back, the way you would have expected by now.
CAVUTO: All right, Governor Snyder, thank you very, very much.
And to the governor’s point here, the Chinese have not made good on all their commitments, back and forth on this, hence the ongoing negotiations to make sure phase one of that deal is honored.
So, it’s not there yet. The argument out of the White House is, eventually, all those promises will be fulfilled, the phase one deal will prove that this was a good deal. The jury’s still out on that, to put it mildly.
All right, in the meantime, the jury is not out on how a lot of airline industry workers feel about their future. They say, unless they get help from the White House, unless they get help from Congress, their high-flying jobs could just fly away, all of them, and the industry could go kaput.
Overkill? We report after this. You decide.
CAVUTO: All right, there has been actually some criticism of Bob Woodward, that he’s been sitting on these tapes he had in conversations with the president more than a dozen-and-a-half times, some months’ old, and that maybe they could have been revelations or led to some revelations or maybe quicker action had he released them earlier.
The White House, for its part, is responding to a lot of the charges in the book.
And Kristin Fisher will take us on that side of the story — Kristin.
KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Neil.
Well, President Trump is not denying that he intentionally downplayed the virus. Instead, moments ago, he justified it by saying that he didn’t want to incite panic. That was how the president responded to one of the biggest revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book.
The other big headline was that President Trump told Bob Woodward back in February that he believed COVID-19 was much more deadly than the seasonal flu, even though, around the same time, he was telling the American public that he believed COVID-19 was very similar to the flu.
Here’s the clip.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: It’s also more deadly than your — your — even your strenuous flus. People don’t realize, we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here.
This is more deadly. This is 5 per — this is 5 percent vs. 1 percent and less than 1 percent. So this is deadly stuff.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
FISHER: Now, that interview was taped on February 7, very early on in the pandemic.
Earlier today, FOX mistakenly aired a graphic saying that it was taped on March 19. And to be very clear here, there was another recording on March 19, which is where I believe the person who made that graphic got that date from.
But, to be very clear, it was back on February 7 that President Trump said that he believed that COVID-19 was much more deadly than the flu.
With all of that said, earlier today, Dr. Anthony Fauci actually came to the president’s defense on one of these things. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We would be speaking to the president, and we would talk about the cold facts. He would get them.
Often, he would want to make sure that the country doesn’t get down and out about things. But I don’t recall anything that was any gross distortion in things that I spoke to him about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: Yes, so those are two of the big headlines to come from this book, Neil.
But Bob Woodward says that he grant — that President Trump granted him 18 on-the-record interviews. And we now know that many of them, if not all of them were taped. Pretty remarkable, Neil.
CAVUTO: Do you know whether Bob Woodward now intends to obviously follow up and release still other tapes, if he’s being disputed, as he was today on this matter?
FISHER: I don’t know, Neil.
CAVUTO: Yes, OK. Thank you, Kristin, very, very much.
FISHER: Yes, still a lot to learn from this.
Yes, you bet.
CAVUTO: No, you’re absolutely right.
The book isn’t even formally out. I believe, on the 15th, it’s formally out, but it is out there. People have read it, quoted it, started picking out passages and everything else.
The difference with this one is that there are those taped conversations here, so I suspect this one might have a little bit more legs, as they say, than other books that come out on the president, but not at one has been damning enough to either halt his advance in this race, nor stop him from winning the race in the first place four years ago.
We shall see.
All right, in the meantime, we are following this protest movement building on Capitol Hill right now. It’s not one of these protests you might think of Black Lives Matter and all. This is more like, well, airlines matter.
It features flight attendants and features pilots, those who are attached to the industry, recognizing right now that, if they don’t get some aid from Washington, they will be grounded, the industry will be stopped.
They say they’re not exaggerating — after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Relief now! Relief now! Relief now!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: Protests on Capitol Hill, but this time coming from the airline industry, flight attendants, aviation workers concerned about how their industry is doing right now.
Not well, running out of money fast. And if they don’t get some federal help or rescue soon, many could be out of business.
Already, the major airlines themselves have telegraphed additional layoffs could come if they don’t get that help.
Right now, Sara Nelson is the Association of Flight Attendants president.
Sara, very good to have you.
You certainly got a big crowd there. Your concern is what, that if this aid doesn’t soon, a lot of jobs are gone, right?
SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Time is running out.
The federal aid expires on September 30. And we will see close to 100,000 furloughs. We will also see service stopping to many of our small and rural airports, where those airports would close, and those jobs would be lost, and the jobs around those communities will be harmed as well, in addition to that service not…
NELSON: So, we’re talking about a…
CAVUTO: Sara, I should just explain — I should just explain — and I know you know this very well, but to explain to a lot of people, the aid the airline industry originally received back in the spring, when this was just all building, was contingent on the industry not laying off people at least through September 30.
That deadline is coming, and you need help. That’s what you meant, right? Those layoffs, 100,000-strong, by your estimates, are going to happen if they don’t get it, right?
NELSON: Neil, what a lot of people don’t know is what we created in March, what you’re referencing right now, which is a very different kind of relief package than we have seen in other industries or other aid.
And that was, all the money that went to the airlines was required to go to paying the workers, paying benefits, and to keep everyone on the job.
NELSON: It also required that that service continue, that essential service that our country needs in order to keep things moving.
So, if these workers are laid off on October 1 — and that’s really the deadline we’re facing right now — that is going to start to erode the airline industry, and it will make it much harder to come back.
If you look at 1918, with the Spanish Flu, what happened right after that? The Roaring ’20s. Everybody wanted to get out, wanted to spend, wanted to get back to be spending into the economy. And if we don’t have an airline industry to be able to support that, we’re not going to meet the demand, we’re going to have a much slower recovery and return.
So this is about the long-term view about how our entire economy returns as well.
CAVUTO: All right, back then, of course, we were coming out of a World War, so that might had something to do with it as well.
CAVUTO: But your point is well-taken.
Now, I’m wondering too, if a lot of the aid is not forthcoming, the airline industry has essentially outlined furloughs for every major group, including flight attendants.
Could you, in that event, if you’re limping into October with layoffs of that magnitude, even operate planes, serve customers, passengers?
NELSON: It makes it very difficult.
So, the route structure begins to be eroded. And, like I said, many of these small communities will lose service and all the connectivity they have with that.
But these are real people who were out there today really fighting for their lives. There’s a husband-and-wife couple who are both going to be furloughed, lose their paycheck and their health care. They have a special- needs son who needs regular medical attention.
These are the stories and these are the real people who are going to be harmed here. And we know there’s harm across the country.
CAVUTO: All right.
NELSON: But we don’t want to add to those unemployment lines or the economic troubles for the nation.
CAVUTO: Got it. I’m rudely jumping on you, Sara, because we have a hard break here.
But I want to thank you very much. Best of luck with this. We’re watching it. No one cares more or is passionate about helping her industry right now than that woman. She’s been all over country on this subject.
All right, the fallout politically from all of this — after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We don’t want to have to show panic. We’re not going to show panic. And that’s exactly what I did.
And I was very open, whether it’s to Woodward or anybody else. It’s just another political hit job. But whether it was Woodward or anybody else, you cannot show a sense of panic.
BIDEN: He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and- death betrayal of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: All right, today, the topic du jour, the Bob Woodward book.
Will it last? There have been other books. There have been other issues that were supposed to bring down the president. But they never quite achieved much more than about a week of discussion, if that, back and forth.
Maybe my next guest will put this in some perspective here, Siraj Hashmi of The Washington Examiner.
Siraj, very good to have you back.
What do you make of the fallout of this? The only reason why I think it might have a little bit more staying power to it is that the conversations with the president were apparently taped. So, there’s a record there, but your thoughts?
SIRAJ HASHMI, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Right.
So, the president did speak to Bob Woodward on the record. In some of the excerpts that you saw in The Washington Post, you can actually hear President Trump saying that he always tried to downplay it.
However, there is some value to be had and when downplaying, say, a certain level of crises, because, as President Trump said, you don’t want to grip the nation in fear and panic.
But in terms of this book coming out in September, and this conversation being had in early February, I believe it was February 7, this is sort of tainted by being in the political season. We’re less than two months away from the presidential election.
And it’s looking a lot like this is done for political reasons, rather than serving the public interest. And, as Bob Woodward claims in his book, his summary is that President Trump is not the right man for the job. I think he says in quotes that he’s the wrong man for the job.
CAVUTO: Yes, right at the end, right.
On this, Siraj, very quickly, though, I do want to note, there’s a lot of stuff that Joe Biden goofed, what he knew about the severity of this, if you’re going to go back and criticize the president. I know he doesn’t have access to the same information. And a lot of Democrats have argued that point.
But it is safe to say both them, early on, at least in some of their early public pronouncements, seemed to minimize this. It’s obviously hurting the president more, but is it an issue that the president is likely to pound against Joe Biden as well, like, we’re both in this together, so to speak?
What do you think?
HASHMI: Yes, there is some — President Trump doesn’t really have much to go on in terms of hitting Joe Biden based on the comments he made to Bob Woodward in a book.
HASHMI: With respect to say the travel ban that President Trump implemented against China in late January, and Biden criticizing him for that, it’s — there have obviously been studies in April, I believe, that showed that most of the coronavirus cases in New York came from Europe.
And President Trump didn’t implement a shutdown of travel from Europe until early — I believe in early March, around — just before the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.
HASHMI: So, there doesn’t seem to be enough focus on that, and the fact that President Trump, if he wanted to be a little bit more serious about it, he would have shut down travel from Europe…
CAVUTO: Just keep at it. Just keep at it.
All right, Siraj, thank you. Jumping on you rudely here, but, Siraj, you raise a good point. This isn’t over, not yet.
Here comes “THE FIVE.”
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