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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on August 16, 2020

8/16: Kushner, Lightfoot, Reeves
8/16: Kushner, Lightfoot, Reeves 47:07

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Jared Kushner, White House Senior Adviser
  • Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago
  • Governor Tate Reeves, (R) Mississippi
  • Dmitri Alperovitch, Former CrowdStrike CTO, co-founder
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan. This week on FACE THE NATION, the pandemic continues to rage as the presidential race ships into high gear and President Trump ramps up his campaign to discredit mail-in voting.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS: The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joe Biden named Senator Kamala Harris his running mate and takes aim at President Trump's management of the pandemic.

JOE BIDEN: We just need a president or a vice president willing to lead and take responsibility. Not as this President says, "It's not my fault."

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Biden's approach is regressive. It's anti-scientific and it's very defeatist.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The attacks heat up as the President rails against mail-in voting and the Postal Service alerts forty-six states that absentee ballots may not arrive by Election Day.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They want to send in millions and millions of ballots and you see what's happening. They're being lost. They're being discarded. They're finding them in piles. It's going to be a catastrophe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This morning White House senior adviser Jared Kushner weighs in. We'll also ask him about the breakthrough in the Middle East he helped broker.

ROBERT REDFIELD (WebMD): This could be the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC projects two hundred thousand Americans could die from the coronavirus by Labor Day, while schools juggle reopening and increasing cases. Our guests Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, where students are returning to the classroom. And Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, where all classes will be remote in September. We'll talk with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb about the rising death toll and we'll be joined by Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity company that investigated Russian hackers in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Plus, on the heels of an historic VP pick, our new Battleground Tracker looks at the impact of Kamala Harris in the race. And we remember one hundred years of women's suffrage.

That's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Our new normal in the U.S. has become persistent coronavirus infections and deaths. Each day this week there were over fifty thousand new cases and more than a thousand deaths. That's where we seem to be stuck as we head into what the CDC director said this week could be the worst fault we've ever had. We begin this morning with CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann in Decatur, Georgia.

(Begin VT)

MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): As schools reopen, (INDISTINCT) taking America's temperature for COVID, worry surges with the virus. One sick child can empty a classroom. Ask this Florida elementary school:

WOMAN #1: There's no playbook on this.

MARK STRASSMANN: Not in Mississippi, schools in thirty-eight counties report COVID patients. Not in Georgia, Cherokee County already has quarantined twelve hundred students and staff.

MAN #1: I hope people who can't wear a mask or staying home because, you know, we have that option here, you-- you don't have to come into school.

MARK STRASSMANN: On college campuses, it's moving day for the virus.

WOMAN #2: Everyone's kind of freaking out.

MARK STRASSMANN: Two dorms in a fraternity at the University of North Carolina report COVID outbreaks. In one week, Notre Dame reported forty-four positive cases.

MAN #2: It didn't seem terribly safe, so we're kind of sticking to ourselves for the time being and seeing how it plays out.

MARK STRASSMANN: Ten states have rising COVID cases and COVID deaths are up in nine states. Across America, four of the top five areas for COVID deaths are in South Texas, despite the state closing bars and mandating masks.

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT (R-Texas): And it's easy to get a sense of fatigue. It's easy to want to stop having to comply with those standards.

MARK STRASSMANN: Florida's governor, a strong-arming Hillsborough County, the Tampa area. Either reopen schools or he'll bankrupt the school system by withholding up to two hundred million dollars in state aid.

GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R-Florida): It would be really bad policy to deny those many other parents the opportunity to resume in-person instruction for their kids.

MARK STRASSMANN: But criticisms about bad COVID policy have also dogged DeSantis. Florida remains a global epicenter for the virus. The state now nears ten thousand COVID deaths.

(End VT)

MARK STRASSMANN: Here in Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has adamantly opposed mandating masks, but after a leaked White House report criticize Georgia's COVID response, Kemp has backed off. His new executive order will allow cities and communities to require mask going forward. It's one more sign that six months into America's epidemic, there still really is no COVID playbook. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann, thank you.

We now go to Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Trump's adviser and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, join us. Good morning to you. And first of, I just want to extend our condolences to your family. I know the President's brother died yesterday.

JARED KUSHNER (White House Senior Adviser): Thank you very much. You know the President loved his brother very much, and he was able to see him the day before yesterday and his brother was very proud of him. And, obviously, a very tough moment for the President. But he is looking forward to continuing to do great things and make his brother proud.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm sure. Thank you. I do want to get to some business here. Jared, you-- you have a wide portfolio on the issue of coronavirus. On Wednesday, we had over fifteen hundred deaths in this country in a single day. That brings us back to the kind of rate we were at in the month of May. You heard the CDC director there projecting two hundred thousand deaths by Labor Day. Do you believe the administration has control of the virus? And what do you think you've done wrong?

JARED KUSHNER: Right. So back in May I believe the rate was about twenty-five hundred deaths a day, so we're still below that peak. We have seen over the last two weeks that hospitalizations have come down. The President's taken a very aggressive approach, not just in the hot spots, but also in what we call the ember cities to-- to push all the different measures that we can take, like wearing a mask, social distancing, using best practice. But most importantly, the President's really advanced the use of a lot of therapeutics, which is bringing the case fatality rate down better, which has been a good thing and, obviously, accelerating a vaccine. The fastest vaccine ever to a phase three trial was thirteen months. And President Trump did it here in four months. And we have six different candidates that are entering phase three trials. We're simultaneously mass producing it. So, at some point, we will get to the other end of this pandemic. And, in the meantime, you know, all different countries, all different states are trying different things. As the federal government, we've been trying to share best practices. We've been speaking with a lot of governors and we've been making sure that all the different states have all the resources they need in order to take a tailored strategy, given the data that they see on the ground.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to know, though, what is the actual conviction of the task force at this point? Is it to contain the spread of the virus or is it to, as Doctor Atlas, the new adviser to the task force, says, really just isolate and protect vulnerable, high-risk individuals?

JARED KUSHNER: Well, look, we know a lot more than we did five months ago when we-- when we did fifteen days to slow the spread. It wasn't fifteen days to get rid of the-- the virus. It was a global pandemic. It was infecting all over the country. It was to slow the spread and make sure we had the resources we need. Now, we have a lot more knowledge about who the virus impacts, in-- in which ways. And we've created a lot of ways to prevent it from spreading in certain places. And we've created a lot of ways to help people who do get it have-- have a much more benign experience with it. So we're entering a much more strategic approach, which we're going to be taking until we do have a fully approved and safe vaccine that we can widely distribute. Well, we're trying to use all the resources we can to optimize for the best results possible. But, again, even Doctor Fauci this week said that lockdowns are not the answer--


JARED KUSHNER: --and we need to find a way through this unprecedented time to use the resources we need in order to live as normal life as possible while taking the restrictions that will help us save as many people as possible and to keep our economy as healthy as possible so that when this is over, we haven't destroyed our country in order to-- in order to get through it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But what is the strategy in terms of-- is-- are you looking at containing? Because if you listen to Doctor Atlas, this new adviser, he has talked about really just protecting the vulnerable. But according to the CDC, forty-five percent of adults, that's nearly half of Americans, have comorbidities. That's diabetes, that's asthma. That's just being overweight. A huge portion of the United States is vulnerable here. Do you think you have control of the virus?

JARED KUSHNER: Yeah. But if you look at the people who, unfortunately, have succumbed to the virus, most of them are over seventy and most of them have been in nursing homes. So we've been doubling and tripling down on getting the point of care tests to the nursing homes, getting the right PPE to the nursing homes. But, Margaret, look, I came on today to talk about the historic breakthrough that the President achieved for peace in the Middle East. It's the first peace agreement in twenty-six years. And I will say that this has been a strategy we've been working on for the last three and a half years--


JARED KUSHNER: And every step along the way--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --I do want to talk to you about that, Jared.

JARED KUSHNER: --I have faced criticism for these actions. The President faced criticism for these actions.


JARED KUSHNER: And so the President takes a common sense approach. He's based on science. He's based on data, not based on conventional thinking. And again, I think that you're seeing the President continue to work with the governors and everyone to bring forward the best policies in order to-- to get the best outcome possible with the virus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, before we move on, though, you're a parent. There are a lot of nervous parents out there, as you just heard. Are you sending your children back to in-person education in a classroom?

JARED KUSHNER: Absolutely, the-- the-- the-- the rate, again, based on the data and the science that I've been given--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're not concerned about exposure?

JARED KUSHNER: No, because again, you know, children have a-- a six times higher chance to die from the flu than from the coronavirus. So based on the data I have seen, I don't believe that that's a risk. Again, this virus impacts different people in different ways. We know a lot more now than we did. And assuming-- our school is not opening up five days a week, I wish they were, but we absolutely will be sending our kids back to school and I have no fear in doing so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to quickly ask you about the election before we go to the Middle East, because you do play a key role as an adviser. The Postal Service sent letters, as you note, to about forty-six states saying that mail-in ballots may not arrive in time by Election Day. You were deeply involved in 2016. Back in that-- back then, President Trump performed better than his Democratic rival with voters sixty-five and over. These are people who would count as-- as vulnerable and might be nervous about in-person voting. Are you worried you're going to disenfranchise some of your own voters in the next election by not giving emergency aid to the Postal Service now?

JARED KUSHNER: Okay, again, I hope we'll get to talk about Middle East peace in a minute, but I'll-- I'll give you a quick answer on that. Number one, Doctor Fauci said this week that there should be no fear for people to go out and vote in person. Number two, I have a friend in New Jersey who just got married. That person got sent two ballots, one in her old name and one in her new name. I think what President Trump wants is a fair election. If you have a tried and true system where they've been doing it like absentee ballots, where there's some security mechanisms built in, that's totally acceptable. That's a great thing to do. But you can't have a new system being tried where there's not the right time to do it and expect them to get it right and then expect that Americans will have confidence in the elections. The last election, you know, people went crazy for a couple of years based on the Russian spending a hundred thousand dollars on Facebook, saying that the elections were--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're not afraid this could backfire on your own campaign?

JARED KUSHNER: --undermined. Imagine what people can do-- look, we have a great operation. We're very confident. We're in much better shape now than we were in 2016. We have over a million and a half volunteers in the field, fifteen hundred paid staff on board in all the different states. We're playing in states that we didn't win last time. We think we have a great opportunity. And, again, you know, just like President Trump achieved a historic Middle East deal, which I hope we'll get to talk about, he continues to defy odds and accomplish things.


JARED KUSHNER: And the American people are tired of politicians who come to Washington, don't get anything done. They want people who, like President Trump, who may not, you know, do things in a conventional way--


JARED KUSHNER: --but he delivers results. And that's what the people want from their leaders.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and-- and many of those voters would like to vote safely by mail if they're not comfortable going to a polling facility. On the Middle East there were hostilities overnight in Gaza. There were Israeli airstrikes. Palestinian militants fired off rockets. Doesn't this underscore that the core conflict in the region remains unaddressed with what you just negotiated? And what is your response? I mean, do you have outreach right now to the Palestinian authority and to the region?

JARED KUSHNER: Okay, well-- well that's a very negative framing. Let me take one minute before we go to that question to basically say, look, in the last twenty-six years, this is the first peace agreement that we've had between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, between an Arab country and the Jewish country, coming together, putting old conflicts behind. There's still a lot of people in the region who (a) want to be stuck--

MARGARET BRENNAN: A hundred percent, that is a significant breakthrough. I am speaking not about--

JARED KUSHNER: Thank you. I said there a lot of people who want to be--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the UAE and Israel but about the escalation overnight that just happened.

JARED KUSHNER: Yeah, I'll get to that. So-- so-- so to address that, number one is you have a lot of people in the region who (a) want to be stuck in the past. They want to cause instability. They want the region to be stuck in old conflicts. President Trump has refused to allow those people to dictate the agenda. Instead, he's tried to pull people together around shared interests. People in the region want security, and they want the ability to have economic prosperity. And that's what President Trump has realigned the region around. Look, these are people, you know, Hamas and people in Gaza, they've had the same business plan for the last ten years. And the international community has been stupid enough to allow them to get away with it. You know, they shoot bombs into--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So there's no outreach right now to stop this?

JARED KUSHNER: Look, I think that we're dealing with Israel, and they'll, you know, deal with it accordingly. This flares up every now and then. But what we've done is we've outreached to the Palestinians. We've put a big plan on the table. The people of Gaza, you know, are held captive now by their leaders in Hamas, who are basically a terror organization. But we have a plan on the table if they're willing to commit to peace and they're willing to have a real security environment that's verifiable and actually long lasting, not some of the BS things that have been done in the past then we have an economic plan that can go in. It can reduce the poverty rate there by fifty percent, create over a million jobs, double their GDP. It's got a lot of geographical advantages and can be quite thriving. But, unfortunately, the Palestinian people are hostages to very poor leadership, but we can't allow that to hold the whole region back. And what President Trump's done is he hasn't focused his strategy on failed--


JARED KUSHNER: --conventional thinking of the past. He has tried to realign it around future thinking. And again--


JARED KUSHNER: --this goes to all the things we were talking about. President Trump is a business guy. He's a leader. He's a dealmaker. What he does is he looks at things rationally with common sense--


JARED KUSHNER: --and pushes them forward in a way that makes sense. And that's how he delivers results like we did on this historic agreement.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Jared Kushner joining us from New Jersey this morning. Thank you.

We will be back in one minute with Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Chicago, where protests turned violent late yesterday. At least seventeen officers were injured and twenty-four people were arrested. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is there. Mayor, thank you for joining us this morning. Can you address for us why this happened? I know you had messaged ahead of it that you had hoped protests would remain peaceful and that you wouldn't see a repeat of what happened last Sunday. You called that-- last Sunday, a planned attack. Is that what happened this time?

LORI LIGHTFOOT (Mayor of Chicago/@chicagosmayor): No, look, unfortunately, what we've seen in cities all across the country, not just Chicago, is a continuing wave of protests. The vast majority of these have been peaceful. But what we've also seen is people who have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests and come for a fight. So what happened yesterday was really over very fairly quickly because our police department is resolved to make sure that we protect peaceful protests. But we are absolutely not going to tolerate people who come to these protests looking for a fight and are intending to injure our police officers and injure innocent people who just come to be able to express their First Amendment rights.


LORI LIGHTFOOT: That is a very different thing that happened yesterday, that, unfortunately, what happened in the looting last Sunday night, which absolutely was a planned attack. It's not spontaneous when you bring U-Haul trucks, cargo vans, and high-end robbery tools. So we are working with our--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who planned it?

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, that's what we're working with our federal partners to identify exactly who the ringleaders are. We, obviously, made a hundred plus arrests that night. We're actively pursuing cases against others but we are determined to make sure that we get to the bottom of this and bring those responsible for this organized crime effort to justice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House has warned that Chicago may be emerging as a hot spot due to high transmit-- transmission rates and inadequate social distancing. Are you concerned that what's happening, these mass gatherings, will accelerate that further?

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, interestingly, we didn't see that rise when we saw a lot of mass gatherings in late May, early June, but, yes, of course, we're concerned. If you look across the country, virtually every state has been blowing up with new COVID cases. And while a number of those states we're seeing a slight decline in the cases, they're still at such a high level that, that's a problem. And as people travel from one jurisdiction to the next then that presents challenges for other jurisdictions. Chicago has seen a steady increase in cases. That's being driven by our eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-old cohort. We've just got to break through to young people that they are not immune to this virus.


LORI LIGHTFOOT: And we're continuing to see an increase in the Latinx community, which we are actively engaged with our partners on the ground there to do more work, more intervention to bring those case rates down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you've-- the public schools in Chicago have already said they're going to go online for the fall.


MARGARET BRENNAN: How are you going to determine as a city when it is safe to go back, given, you know, your concern about community spread right now? But at what point do you say it's okay to put kids back in the classroom?

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, look, there's a-- going-- thinking about the schools is a complex problem. One, it's not just the students themselves, it's the entire ecosystem of a school. So you've got teachers, you've got principals and you've got staff. Looking at Chicago, we have a number of teachers and support staff who are over sixty. We know that those are still vulnerable population. We have a number of people that work in the school system who have underlying medical conditions. Comorbidity is still--


LORI LIGHTFOOT: --a real issue. So thinking about the schools is a very complicated endeavor. And we want to make sure that we provide the safest environment for our young people to learn. Now, we have decided we're going all remote. We have offered a program to connect a hundred thousand houses for free with Wi-Fi and broadband because we know that that's critically important to enhance the learning environment for our young people when we're doing remote learning.


LORI LIGHTFOOT: And we also need to make sure that we are-- go ahead. I'm sorry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry. Are you getting everything you need from the federal government? You heard Mister Kushner saying there's so much being provided. Is that true?

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Look, we're never going to get everything that we need from the federal government. If we waited for them, we'd be in dire straits. It would be great if there was not the chaos that we've seen at the federal government, the White House fighting the CDC, the HHS hijacking the reporting process. And still, we don't have a consistent testing regime. We still don't have a federal mask policy. The chaos at the federal level has not been helpful to anyone--


LORI LIGHTFOOT: --not Chicago, not Illinois, not states across the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are a surrogate for the Biden campaign. During Senator Harris's own presidential bid, progressives challenged her past record as a prosecutor. Do you think that is still a liability going into the fall?

LORI LIGHTFOOT: I do not at all. I mean, look at-- the proof is in the pudding, the level of enthusiasm that has come this week from the announcement that she would be the vice president. She really is, I think, inspiring a number of different constituencies, of course, women, of course, the Indian and South Asian community and, of course, black women in particular. The enthusiasm for this ticket is-- is so high and people are excited in the midst of all of what's going on, the concerns, the anxiety, the fear, the anger, people need something to hold on to. They need hope. And that's what the Biden-Harris ticket really provides, steady leadership, leadership that is--


LORI LIGHTFOOT: --going to speak truth to power. And it's going to lead us through this difficult time. The contrast between Biden-Harris and Trump-Pence could not be more great.


LORI LIGHTFOOT: I think you're going to see that in full display this week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Mayor Lightfoot, thank you for joining us.

We'll be right back.

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Thank you very much.


MARGARET BRENNAN: This morning we have new polling and estimates from our CBS News Battleground Tracker. Our Electoral College model shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading in electoral votes and in many of the battleground states. That adds up to two hundred and seventy-nine electoral votes currently leaning in Biden's direction and one hundred and sixty-three leaning in President Trump's direction. Ninety-six are toss-ups. A candidate needs two hundred and seventy electoral votes to win the presidency. Former Vice President Biden also leads in our national poll of likely voters. He is up by ten points, some fifty-two to President Trump's forty-two. Our poll was conducted just after Biden had announced Senator Kamala Harris would be his running mate. We asked CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto if that choice energized Democrats.

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Well, it certainly seems to have given Democrats what they were looking for, Margaret. You look at, first of all, Democrats say they are overwhelmingly at least satisfied with the pick and most say that they are enthusiastic about it. Then, importantly, look at the groups inside the party. You talk to liberals and the very liberal, voters who were with Joe Biden but not all in the early primaries, they are glad that she was picked. Look at the African-American votes, so central to Democrats' chances, they are enthusiastic about the pick. And then maybe, most of all, Democrats say they feel having Harris on the ticket helps its chances in November, more than hurts it. And that's been such an important calculus for Democrats all year. You'll recall it's a big reason that Democrats voted for Joe Biden in the primaries because they liked his odds this November. If the test of a VP pick is whether it gives the party what they're looking for, Democrats are telling us that, yes, Biden has passed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And as Biden and Harris go into the Democratic National Convention this week, Democratic voters are largely looking for the focus on them as a ticket. Eighty-six percent want to hear good things about Biden and Harris as opposed to fourteen percent looking for criticisms of President Trump and Vice President Pence.

CBS will have coverage of the Democratic National Convention tomorrow night at 10:00 PM Eastern. Tune in.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb.

Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We now go to the state of Mississippi. Joining us is the Governor Tate Reeves, who is in Jackson this morning. Good morning to you, Governor. According to Johns--

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES (R-Mississippi/@tatereeves): Good morning, Margaret, thanks for having me on today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're glad to have you. According to Johns Hopkins, your state has a positivity rate of twenty-three percent, which is the highest in the nation when it comes to COVID infections. Where are you headed going into a fall that the CDC warns could be the worst ever?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: Well, I haven't seen that particular data, but what I can tell you is in our state, we peaked with a seven-day average of one thousand three hundred and ninety-one cases on-- on July the 29th. As of yesterday, we had brought that number down considerably to seven hundred and twenty-eight cases per the state of Mississippi for a seven-day trailing average. And so we've actually almost cut the total number of cases on a daily basis in half just over the last two and a half weeks. And what that shows us is that-- that our mitigation measures are working. I will tell you what we've learned in these six months, which is critically important to the American people, is that if you will maintain social distancing and if you will wear a mask, you can really curb the amount of transmission in the community and you can actually maintain a relatively normal life.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But your state, I mean, I'm looking at a statement from your state health officer, it says that you have eleven hospitals with zero ICU beds currently available. That seems dangerous. Don't you need to take more stringent measures? I mean, you seem to be characterizing this as under control, but this looks like your medical system could be overwhelmed.

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: Well, Margaret, I think you may be looking at data that's two or three weeks old, but the reality is in our state--

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, this is from a briefing this week with your state health officer.

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: Well, the reality is in our state that we've actually cut the total number of cases on a daily basis in half over the last two and a half weeks. We peaked at thirteen hundred ninety-one as I mentioned earlier. We're down around seven hundred right now. Do we have hospital capacity issues? We do. But the reality is, Margaret, in our state and virtually every other rural state across America, we have ICU bed issues and-- and hospital capacity issues even when there's not COVID-19.


GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: And so we're certainly working through those. We have a hundred and fifty ICU beds available throughout the state of Mississippi. We have over four hundred and fifty ventilators available throughout the state of Mississippi. And so while we've got challenges, we're certainly dealing with it. The other thing I'll tell you is we also know very clearly that hospitalizations and fatalities are a lagging indicator--


GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: --with the COVID-19. And so what we're seeing in hospitals is really what the transmission was three and four weeks ago.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You-- with your schools, you have decided to send children, the majority of children in your state back to in-person learning. About three hundred thousand kids are back in the classroom. You've had about a hundred and nine cases of COVID. You've quarantined roughly five hundred students due to some cases. Why not shut down the schools? And what is your thinking in deciding that? Like, at what point does it get to an infection spread that makes you not just quarantine, but shut down the school?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: Well, that's-- that's a great question, and-- and the reason is very simple, and it's really what Doctor Redfield with the CDC has said. When you're talking about opening schools, you're talking about mitigating risk and making a decision between public health with respect to the COVID-19 and public health with respect to kids having not been in school in this country for six months, almost, almost--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but-- but what I'm asking you is--

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: --throughout the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --once a school is already open, as you have done it, and there is an infection in it, which you have, why don't you shut it down?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: Well, we-- we have very objective measures in place to shut down schools if and when that becomes necessary, but keep-- keep this in perspective. You said yourself that we have three hundred thousand kids in classrooms. We've had approximately a hundred cases that have been confirmed positive. And what I'll tell you is we've yet to find one that actually the transmission occurred inside the school. In virtually every single one of those cases, it is these kids have gotten the virus outside in the community and brought it back into the-- into the schools.


GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: So the point is, no kid, whether they're in school or not, is completely immune from getting the virus. And so we've got to take measures to make sure that those kids have the opportunity to learn.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. You could shut down bars, for instance, to stop that community spread as the White House has asked some states to do. I do want to move on, though, because--

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: We-- we have significantly limited bars in Mississippi.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, they close at 11: 00 PM. In Mississippi you can request a ballot up to one day before an election. And your state was identified by the Postal Service as one where mail-in voting could be delayed. Are you confident that all mail-in ballots in the state of Mississippi will be counted in November?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: I am confident that the-- the ballots that are legally cast in the state of Mississippi will be counted and I'm also very confident that Donald J. Trump--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean legally cast?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: --is going to win Mississippi and he's going to win it big. Every-- every vote that is legally cast in the state of Mississippi will be counted in the November election, and I'm confident that once all of those votes are counted that Donald J. Trump is going to win Mississippi--


GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: --and many other states overwhelmingly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, I asked you what legally cast meant but-- so your state doesn't currently allow for absentee ballots, for fear of getting COVID. Like if someone doesn't want it-- doesn't feel safe going to a polling booth and wants to vote by mail, you don't allow for that right now. Why not?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: We-- we do not allow mail-in voting in the state of Mississippi. We think that-- that our elections process, which has been in place for many, many years, is a-- ensures that we have a fair process in which we have the opportunity to limit fraud. We still have fraudulent claims every single election. We've actually got many--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have a positivity rate of twenty-three percent.

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: --folks in our state that have had-- Democrats that have had--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Aren't you worried about the health of your constituents?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: --Democrats that have gone to jail because of election fraud and it is just reality.

MARGARET BRENNAN: First of all, that's-- that's is not substantiated, but--

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: The reality is that-- that every legal ballot cast is going to get counted.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have a positivity rate of twenty-three percent in the state of Mississippi. Can you tell people that they can go to the voting booths and not get COVID? Why don't you offer the option for someone who's afraid of their health, someone with asthma, someone with diabetes, someone who's overweight to send in their ballot by mail?

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: Well, we're not going to allow them to send in the ballot by mail unless they legally qualify for an absentee ballot--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, which is what I'm asking--

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: --which is certainly allowable under Mississippi state statute. If a--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --what I'm asking is why not allow them to qualify based on those comorbidities or those concerns, the fear of getting COVID.

GOVERNOR TATE REEVES: That is not what Mississippi state statute allows for. We are going to have an election. We're going to have a huge turnout in November. In fact, Margaret, I'll tell you, we've already had multiple elections in the last three months. We've had special elections throughout the state of Mississippi. We've had very good turnout in every single one of those elections. We've had fair elections, and we've had a winner and we've had a loser. We're going to do the same thing in November.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. No intention to change that. All right. Thank you, Governor.

We will be right back with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. He's in Westport, Connecticut, this morning. Good morning to you, Doctor. Good to have you back.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start where we always do, which is where we stand right now. Fifteen hundred deaths on Wednesday. That rate back to where we were in the spring. You heard Jared Kushner say basically not as bad as the spring, but what does it say about where we are right now that we're at these levels and where are we headed?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, it's been fairly persistent. We thought we'd be coming down by now, we'd see deaths peak and start to come down as the epidemics in the southern states started to peak and decline. But there's been a fairly persistent level of infection, hospitalizations, and deaths over the last couple of weeks. We've had over a thousand deaths a day for at least two weeks now, over fifty thousand infections a day on average. We hit fifty-five thousand in the last day. Hospitalizations have come down a little bit, but they haven't really started to decline very rapidly. What's happening is as the cases start to decline in the southern states, Arizona, Texas, Florida, we're starting to see infections pick up in other parts of the country. California is still increasing. Really, the only state that seems to have come down quite a bit of the epidemic Sun Belt states is Arizona. And we now have fourteen states with positivity rates above ten percent. Mississippi at twenty-one percent, Nevada seventeen percent, Florida at eighteen percent. So there's still a lot of states with pretty high positivity rates.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In talking with Mister Kushner, he said most people dying are over seventy. And he also talked about his confidence sending his kids back to in-person classroom education, saying children have six times higher chance of dying from the flu than COVID. Do you know where those numbers come from? Does that sound right to you?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I don't know where the six times comes from. We need to be careful I think about making comparisons to flu. This infection hasn't been as prevalent in children as flu is each year, there's been about three hundred and thirty thousand diagnosed infections. If you believe we're diagnosing one in five to one in ten infections in children, maybe there have been about three million kids who've been infected with this. Flu is estimated to cause symptomatic illness in upwards of eleven million kids every season. This was a 2018-2019 season. And it causes a fair degree of asymptomatic infection in kids as well. So the prevalence is much higher. With flu, we see upwards of about four hundred tragic deaths a year. We've already seen ninety deaths about-- from COVID in children. And it just hasn't-- probably, hasn't been as prevalent in kids. And we also see concerning indications of post-viral syndromes, this multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which has affected--


SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --five hundred and seventy children, that's been recorded so far. So there's a lot we don't understand about COVID in kids. I think we need to be careful about making comparisons to flu and the death and disease we see in flu relative to COVID.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC said this week that people who've recovered from COVID are, essentially, immune for at least three months. What do we know about immunity?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: That's right. And so this was the first study where they could say with certainty that for at least three months you have immunity that would guard against reinfection. They actually said people who have been exposed to COVID who've had infection in the last three months, don't need to self-quarantine because the immunity is that absolute. That doesn't mean you're not going to have immunity for a longer period of time. The study just looked at three months. COVID hasn't been around long enough for us to really study long-term immunity in a practical way in people in the community. But it's probably the case that you're going to have a period of immunity that lasts anywhere from six to twelve months. It's going to be highly variable. Some people will have less immunity, some people will have slightly more. But it's good news that they're able to document that people have really sterile immunity. They're not going to get reinfected for at least three months and probably longer than that after infection.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But this concept of herd immunity, is it-- and, I mean, how close are we to that? What do you think of it?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Pro-- probably a long way from herd immunity. If you look at the seroprevalence studies overall, maybe eight percent of the population as a whole has been exposed to this. In outbreak states like Arizona it might be higher, closer to twenty-five percent based on some modeling, maybe as high as twenty percent in Florida based on certain modeling and fifteen percent in Texas. We know the seroprevalence in New York City is twenty percent. So, that's getting closer to a level of immunity where the rate of transmission will start to decline. It's not quite herd immunity, but you're going to see declines in the rate of transmission because of that-- that level of infection. There's also speculation around T-cell immunity, whether or not people who have prior infection with coronavirus have some residual T-cell memory that confers immunity. We don't know if the T-cells confer immunity, but we do know now that people who had prior infection with coronaviruses, other coronaviruses have what we call cross-reactive T-cells. So, they have T-cells that cross react with this particular coronavirus. Now, whether that confers a level of immunity--


SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --has to be demonstrated and we're not sure. Probably, if it does, what it's doing is it's-- it's helping prevent you from getting COVID the disease, but you're still going to get coronavirus the infection and maybe even be able to transmit it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President on Friday announced that McKesson Corporation will be a central distributor of a COVID vaccine and supplies. But he also said the military is ready to distribute doses. Do you think it should be the private sector or the government distributing any vaccine?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think what the government ought to do is leverage the private sector, the-- the companies, the distributors, the manufacturers know how to distribute vaccines through the existing supply chain. I think if the government tries to take physical possession of these vaccines and then distribute it through channels they set up, that could ultimately lead to hiccups and delays in getting vaccines to the consumers. What they should be doing is directing the existing supply chain on where to allocate those vaccines based on where they perceive the need and what the allocation system is going to be, based on who the vaccines are ultimately approved for, whether they're approved for front-line health care workers initially or--


SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --authorized for people who are at higher risk. But I wouldn't try to recreate the wheel here. I would use the existing supply chain that's worked quite well to distribute a lot of different vaccines very quickly. We were able to distribute the flu vaccine very efficiently through the existing supply chain.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, if and when we get there. And thank you very much, Doctor Gottlieb.

We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to turn now to the question of election security. We go to Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder and former chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, a cyber-technology company. Good morning to you, Dmitri. I know you have your own shop now. I want to ask you, since you watch this closely, what is the area of concern for you in election 2020?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH (Co-founder and Former Chief Technology Officer of CrowdStrike/@DAlperovitch): Well, my biggest concern as a cyber-security expert is, of course, the hackability of our election systems, both from the influence side as well as from the voting perspective. And I can tell you from my experience that voting is the hardest thing to secure when it comes to cybersecurity. It is, literally, the hardest problem out there. And the only way we know how to do it well and safely is by using paper, whether it be mail-in ballots or whether it be voting in person with a paper record that can be produced by the machine or the paper record of a paper ballot that you can mark up. Those are the safest ways. And the other way, of course, is to drop it off. Something that's not getting much attention right now with all the focus on mail-in ballots is that all precincts should have drop-off boxes by the curbside, that people can drive by, walk by and drop off their ballot without using the mail.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It might-- it might surprise people that a cybersecurity expert says that that is the best option is to go old school, go paper. But it is that paper route that the President has raised this week saying that it greatly concerns him. He said the biggest risk we have is mail-in ballots, universal-- universal mail-in ballots. And he claimed foreign entities could interfere. He rattled off Russia, China, Iran, North Korea with mail-in ballots. What do you make of that statement?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Well, paper cannot be hacked, however, there is legitimate concerns about logistics. I'm not so much concerned about foreign entities interfering in the paper process, but we do need to make sure that states are prepared to take in the huge number of mail-in ballots that will come in. They'll be able to do the signature verification that is necessary to make sure that there is no fraud. It can be done. Five states have been doing it for years now, like Oregon, Colorado and others, but others have not. And we need to make sure they're ready and they're preparing now versus the day before the election.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You talk to people in the government now. Why wasn't there a strategy to do what you just laid out?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Well, I think we haven't been preparing for this and a lot of people were assuming that the disease would go away in a few months. Of course, it's still here and now a lot of people are concerned about voting in person and we need to make sure that they have an opportunity to do so safely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But there wasn't a federal strategy to have the states do what you just said they should have been doing for the past four years.

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Well, this is hard to do because, of course, the federal government is not in charge of elections. The individual states--


DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: --or even municipalities are in charge of them. So, it's really up to the states to do this well. New Jersey just declared that they will go all mail-in voting in November, and that's a good thing. But other states need to ramp up their capabilities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you said that you were concerned about election infrastructure, the U.S. intelligence community has warned that adversaries are try to access-- trying to access candidates' private communications and election infrastructure at the state and the federal level. The national security adviser to the President was on this program last Sunday and he said Russia and China are doing this, going fishing, essentially, on websites and the like. He's been criticized for mixing apples and oranges. I'm wondering what evidence you have seen as to what Russia and China are actually doing?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Well, Margaret, this is very important. There are different ways to interfere in our elections and what we have seen in the past is, of course, the Russians in 2016 hack into campaigns, hack into political organizations, and then leaking that information out to the public through WikiLeaks and other channels. We have not seen that, obviously, this year. And that's a good sign but, of course, we still have a few months to go. But then there is the influence operations that they're conducting and a number of countries are doing that now, China, Iran, as well as Russia, and not just around elections, it's really continuous on social media through official media channels and-- and even government statements. But the third thing that concerns me personally is really attacks on the infrastructure itself, voter databases, voting tallying systems, vote reporting systems. Those are very, very vulnerable to hacking. And we need to be doing more to protect them. I know CISA, the federal Cybersecurity Agency, is doing a lot to scan those systems right now, but more needs to be done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, is there anything people at home can do to make sure their vote gets counted?

DMITRI ALPEROVITCH: Absolutely, two things. One, everyone can participate not just as a voter, but also volunteer. Election workers are often volunteers so reach out to county election officials, ask if you can help. They're going to need a lot of help this year because of the challenging situations we have. But, most importantly, be patient. This may be the first modern election we have where we may not know who the President is the night of the election or the day after. It may take days for us to actually count all the votes and understand who has won. So buckle up. It may be a long ride.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Indeed. And we are preparing the coffee already here in the news business. Thank you very much, Dmitri, for your perspective.

We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: This week marks the one hundredth anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote. As we commemorate the moment, we remember they weren't given the right, they fought for it.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Adding a single sentence to the constitution, "the vote shall not be denied on account of sex," took decades. Amid a pandemic and devastating world war, suffrages like Alice Paul picketed the White House, endured jail and a hunger strike. A scandalized Massachusetts congressman implored Washington to ignore the, quote, "…nagging of iron-jawed angels…," dismissing suffrages as "…bewildered deluded creatures with short skirts and short hair." But they persisted. So did Carrie Chapman Catt, a savvy-political strategist, who went state to state, swaying local legislatures to ratify the 19th Amendment. They reached the critical thirty-six states on August 18th, 1920. Days later, the amendment, named after suffrage's Susan B. Anthony, was adopted, and suddenly more than twenty million women were able to vote in the presidential election that was eleven weeks away. We often think of enfranchisement as a natural democratic evolution. But it wasn't easy to convince men to share power. It was a bare-knuckled fight, swirling with sexism, racism, classism. Those were the forces that former slave-turned activist Sojourner Truth took on decades prior. Suffrages also faced opposition from fellow women, some of whom believed it was unnatural to be involved in politics at all. I wish I knew how my great grandmothers felt. I do know that by the time Mary McNamee Brennan walked into a Hell's Kitchen voting booth in 1924 for the first time, she'd already taught her husband to read and write, and buried two of their six children in the pandemic. Life was not easy, and for women of color, the 19th Amendment was just a start. The Jim Crow barriers that kept blacks from fully exercising their rights were not dismantled until 1965. This week, for the first time, a woman of color joined a major party presidential ticket.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS: Joe, I'm so proud to stand with you, and I do so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me. Whose sacrifice, determination, and resilience makes my presence here today even possible.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Kamala Harris joins a handful of women who have sought the highest office in the land. There are now a record one hundred and twenty-seven women legislators on Capitol Hill, that's progress but not parity. The Equal Rights Amendment first drafted back in the 1920s still hasn't become law. And the fight for a more perfect union continues.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for all of us today. Thank you for watching. CBS News will have continuing coverage of the Democratic National Convention this week. The Republican one, next week. And next Sunday, we'll see you right back here. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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