Return to Transcripts main page
Fauci Warns in U.S. Opens Too Soon; Putin Spokesman Hospitalized with Covid-19; Supreme Court Hears Trump Tax Return Case; Restaurants Face High Prices to Reopen; MLB Proposes Season. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired May 12, 2020 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AMB. RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Less expensive here so that that doesn't make sense. In terms of the trade one deal, it essentially got us back in some ways to where we were before the trade confrontation with China, but it didn't tackle any of the big issues, the theft of intellectual property, Chinese government involvement.
And indeed what's so ironic is we're now going in the direction we told China it couldn't go in.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
HAASS: Our government is going to play a larger role in our economy, just like China's has in it (ph).
SCIUTTO: The essential victory of the phase one trade deal, if -- in Trump's view, has been China's agreement to buy $200 billion in agricultural products. I mean there was no real kind of lever to guarantee that. But I wonder, in light of the economic slowdown, right, in both countries, the U.S. and China, does China keep that promise? And, if not, what does the U.S. do for its farmers?
HAASS: They may not keep it. It depends upon their economy. It also depends upon other things that go on in the relationship. But even if they do keep it, again, it doesn't deal with the big economic issues between the United States and China. It's basically a side show. And why it's so important, this is the most important relationship in the world. As goes this relationship, so will go a lot of history of this century. And if we can't find some limited ways to work together, say on climate, say on North Korea, say on trade, say on pandemics, even though we're competitive in some areas, or just flat out disagree in others, this is going to be a much worse period of history.
SCIUTTO: Yes, a pandemic by definition is global. And viruses don't know borders.
Ambassador Richard Haass, always good to have you on.
HAASS: Thank you. SCIUTTO: Well, listen, if you like the question of Trump's foreign policy, is it working, where is it working, where is it not working, there's another book coming out in August, not to inundate you, but I've got a book, it's called "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World." And this looks at whether Trump's intentional unpredictability is working against adversaries, but also with U.S. allies. "The Madman Theory" comes from President Nixon, who deliberately tried to let folks like Vietnam think that he was mad in some ways and therefore unpredictable. Anyway, got a couple of months, coming out in August, but hope you'll give it a chance.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's throw the -- let's throw the picture -- it's the first time I've seen the cover, Sciutto. Congratulations.
SCIUTTO: Thank you. It's new.
HARLOW: That's exciting. It's new.
SCIUTTO: It came together. It's -- I think it gets at Trump's taking on the world, right?
SCIUTTO: I mean he just says, listen, we're going to -- we're going to do this differently, we're going to be tough, whether you are long- time adversary or a long-time friend.
HARLOW: Yes. Congrats. I'm so happy for you.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
HARLOW: This is why we let you lock yourself in your office after the show and write furiously. I can't wait to -- to read it. Congrats.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
All right, a developing story out of Russia. The coronavirus that is spreading in Vladimir Putin's circle. His spokesman now hospitalized with Covid-19.
Matthew Chance joins us.
What do we know about obviously hoping the condition turns around for the spokesman, but also how close were they to Vladimir Putin?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey, Poppy.
Well, this -- this news just came to us really within the past couple of minutes. Dmitry Peskov is the name of the spokesperson for Vladimir Putin. He's been sort of the man -- the right-hand man, really, the man that's with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, you know, more than anyone else. He's not actually a minister, he's the spokesperson, of course, but he still sees Vladimir Putin, as I say, more than anyone else does in the country. And so the fact that he's tested positive for coronavirus does raise questions about, you know, what is the health of the Russian president?
Well, the department of Mr. Peskov, who's now been hospitalized, we're told, has issued a statement saying that he hasn't actually had direct physical contact with President Putin for the past month. And, of course, President Putin has been repeatedly tested. But he has been seen in various photographs, in various public appearances in quite close proximity to other senior officials.
CHANCE: But, again, it just shows how high and how comprehensive this virus is in a country like Russia.
HARLOW: Yes. Well, of course. And given the previous comments from Putin really brushing off the severity of all of this, you know, it says a lot. We wish Dmitry Peskov, of course, the best.
Matthew Chance, thanks a lot.
In moments, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in critical landmark cases that could determine if we ever get to see a president's tax returns or financial documents. We'll have Jeffrey Toobin here. He wrote a whole book about the Supreme Court. He'll talk to us about the stakes today.
HARLOW: So minutes from now history will be made. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases that could prove to be monumental. It will be monumental, for the presidency and for the government's separation of powers. And history will be made because they're going to take these cases, listen to the arguments over the phone. Two cases today put the president's financial records in focus. His lawyers are fighting to keep those records out of the hands of House investigators and state prosecutors in New York.
Here with me are chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who knows a thing or two, may have written a pretty great book on the Supreme Court.
It's good to have you. It's been too long.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Poppy.
HARLOW: Hi. Hi.
I know you finished in your -- in your time off the screen your other book coming out in August. We're looking forward to that.
But let's talk about the stakes today for the court, because what I find so interesting is the fact that the justices asked for briefs to make the case that they should even decide whether the president has to turn over these financial records or whether it should be punted and be a political decision. What is at stake today?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, Poppy, this case is interesting in so many different levels.
First of all, it may mean that the public sees the tax returns.
TOOBIN: I mean this has been, you know, one of the great mysteries of the Trump campaign and then presidency, what's in those tax returns? Why has the president fought so hard to keep them secret? This is the case that may well end that secrecy, even if it's involuntary for the president.
But just as a legal matter, you know, what it really raises is the question of congressional oversight and how much and whether the Congress can investigate the president's personal finances. Something that Congress argues is highly relevant to how he conducts his presidency. What are his financial motivations? Where is his money? Who is profiting from his decisions? Those are the issues that Congress wanted to investigate by looking for the tax returns and now the Supreme Court will decide whether they get to see them.
HARLOW: What's interesting is that the solicitor general, right, and the lawyer for the House both said, yes, court, we want you to decide this. We think you need to. You have the capacity, the ability to decide this. And if history is a lesson, they decided on similar things, not identical, but U.S. v Nixon and then Clinton v. Jones in unanimous decisions. I mean it's hard to see unanimity coming out of this court, but maybe Roberts will be the uniter?
TOOBIN: It could be. I mean this court has not been unanimous on many big issues, as everyone knows. It's highly polarized along liberal/conservative -- liberal/conservative lines.
You know, you mentioned earlier the political question.
TOOBIN: You know the court historically really doesn't like to get involved in disputes between the other branches. But here, and this is a fight largely between the legislative branch and the executive branch of government. And, you know, sometimes the court says, look, you know, if you want to impeach the president, and get him out of office, you can do that. That is within your power, Congress, but don't get the courts involved. Don't -- we are not going to take sides in that kind of dispute. And that's what the Supreme Court asked for briefing about, which is whether the Supreme Court should decide this question at all rather than allow, you know, refereeing a fight between the two other branches of government.
HARLOW: How remarkable is it that a case of this import and this magnitude is going to be heard over the phone? And then the DACA decision, whenever that comes down, over the phone as well?
TOOBIN: You know, it's so peculiar. I mean I'm someone who's obviously -- you know, since I'm a journalist, I've been supporting cameras in the Supreme Court for a long time. And there is certainly no argument, as far as I'm concerned, against audio. I mean I can understand why they're reluctant to have video in the courtroom. But to have audio, live audio of Supreme Court arguments, it seems like a total no brainer to me.
The problem with these arguments over the phone is that they don't interact with each other the way they normally do in Supreme Court arguments. In Supreme Court arguments in the courtroom, the justices just sort of jump in with questions when they feel like it, and they can sort of interact that way with each other and they, in a way, can speak to each other.
These phone arguments, Chief Justice Roberts calls on the justices, one at a time, to ask questions, and it doesn't have the same interactive energy that arguments in the courtroom do.
But the advantage for the public is we can all listen to it live in about a little more than 15 minutes.
HARLOW: Yes. And all of a sudden you have more questions coming from Justice Thomas, for example. So a huge --
TOOBIN: And, you know, --
HARLOW: It's fascinating.
TOOBIN: That is so (INAUDIBLE).
HARLOW: We have to go. We can geek out on that offline.
HARLOW: Jeffrey, thank you.
TOOBIN: Any time.
HARLOW: And congrats on the book.
TOOBIN: Nice to see you, Poppy Harlow.
SCIUTTO: Well, restaurants across the country are preparing to reopen their dining rooms, but eating out in the age of the coronavirus crisis may look a lot different than it did just a few months ago. I'm going to speak with the CEO of brands such as Burger King and Popeye's about safety and what the new normal might look like.
SCIUTTO: This morning, another big blow for one of the industries worst hit by the coronavirus. Restaurant owners are facing higher food prices, particularly for beef and pork, as they prepare to reopen their doors. In fact, wholesale beef prices are the highest ever recorded. And while experts continue to insist there is no meat shortage, these rising costs do pose another tough choice -- challenge for businesses.
Joining me now to discuss is Jose Cil. He's the CEO of Restaurant Brands International. You may not know that name, but you certainly know Burger King, Popeye's, Tim Hortons restaurants. Fifteen thousand of them across the country.
Jose, good to have you on the program again today.
JOSE CIL, CEO, RESTAURANT BRANDS INTERNATIONAL: Hey, Jim. Good to be here again. Thanks for having me.
SCIUTTO: So I want to talk first about the essential challenge that you and other businesses are facing right now. We have Dr. Anthony Fauci about to testify on The Hill. He's going to say, if the country opens too quickly, we face needless suffering. The president has said it's safe to reopen now. You've got 15,000 restaurants. You've got a lot of employees to worry about and a lot of customers. Is it safe to begin reopening now in your view?
CIL: Well, Jim, we've been open for business for the last nine, ten weeks here in North America as the country, in the U.S. and Canada, have started to shut down.
We remained open as an essential service. All of our franchisees, all of our team members have been working really hard for the last several weeks ensuring that we can deliver through the drive-through, through our delivery business as well, through our mobile app and curbside pickup. All the different service modes that are -- that are non -- are off premise, if you will. We've been doing that for ten weeks. And we've been doing it first and foremost focusing on the safety and wellbeing of our team members and our guests. So we -- we're well- positioned, we think, at not only Burger King, Popeye's and Tim Hortons, but I think the QSR (ph) industry, the restaurant industry that's been open already is well positioned to continue to open safely and responsibly as we move into dining rooms being open as well. And I think we've done a really good job on that front.
SCIUTTO: Right. That's my question really, it's about dining rooms, right, because it's one thing to hand the bag out the window, which is -- which a lot of folks are depending on. Trust me, I've been -- I've been doing it more than you can count.
SCIUTTO: So the way we think of a restaurant, where you come in and sit down, can you do that safely and what will it look like for people?
CIL: Well, we've enhanced our safety procedures. So we've added safety distancing in our restaurants. We're -- obviously, with social distancing being a priority, we're ensuring that tables are separate beyond the two meters or six feet requirement. We have all our employees with PPE, with masks, with gloves. We've also installed acrylic screens in the drive-thru, as well as in the front counter. And we put additional procedures in place for -- to heighten the hygiene and cleaning procedures to make sure high contact areas are cleaned more frequently than before. And we're using chemicals that disinfect on contact.
So we're -- we have the procedures. We've worked through these with local, state and federal health organizations. So we feel confident and we give comfort to our teams and our guests that we can do this well. But, obviously, we work closely with the local municipalities and governments to ensure that we're doing it responsibly and we're doing it consistent with the -- the regulations.
SCIUTTO: OK. Restaurant Brands did not take PPP funding, but franchisees did. And, of course, they're different -- they're a different category. They're smaller business owner to a large degree what this funding was intended for.
As you know, some of -- some other big operators did take PPP money. Ruth Chris among them. Shake Shack did and then it returned it.
I wonder, from your view, do you believe that those bigger companies, not the small businesses it was intended for, should not take that kind of taxpayer money?
CIL: Yes, it's hard for me to comment on somebody else. I know that our franchisees are small business owners. They -- they're kind of the definition of what Congress and Senate and the secretary of the Treasury were looking at addressing when PPP was -- and the CARES Act was created. So I think that those folks are managing it on a day-to- day basis and make the decisions for themselves. But we -- we think it was the right thing for government to make that accessible to small businesses to ensure that they can survive in this very difficult moment and manage liquidity in the right way. And, really, ultimately, keeping people employed during this moment of crisis.
SCIUTTO: And no question, if big companies take the money and the smaller businesses have been waiting in line, and many of them have taken weeks, months to get that kind of funding, is that right, in your view?
CIL: Look, all we -- we're doing is focusing on our teams, making sure that they're -- and our franchisees to make sure that they have the necessary resources. We've advanced cash as a company to many franchisees and owners here in North America to ensure that they manage the situation as best they can under the circumstances.
SCIUTTO: Let's talk about joblessness for a moment. The U.S. is heading towards unemployment. The president's own economic advisers estimate to be as high as 25 percent. I mean numbers this country has not seen since the Great Depression. The president and his advisers say those jobs will come back. It will be quick.
I wonder, from your view, and you've got a view across the country, 15,000 businesses, in effect here, are the vast majority of those jobs coming back and will they come back quickly or is it false hope to imagine that this is going to be over like that?
CIL: It's hard to say how long the recovery is going to take. I know that our franchisees across this country and throughout North America have been investing in their people. You know, the PPP helped. Some of the cash advance programs that we as a company put together also helped. And we're beginning to see the difference in the business from March to April was pretty significant. We shared this in our earnings call a couple weeks ago. We saw progressive and sequential improvement week over week throughout April. And we are confident in the long term we're going to be able to get back to where we were and continue to grow.
I think the brands and the companies that -- that have -- that focus on the things that guests care about, having great food, a great experience, convenience and brands that they can trust, those are the ones that are going to continue to do well over time. And I think we're well positioned with our great franchisees to be able to capture on that potential long term.
SCIUTTO: Well, we wish you, we wish your business owners and your employees the best of luck going forward.
Jose Cil, thanks very much.
CIL: Thanks, Jim. Appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.
HARLOW: Major League Baseball owners have a plan to kick off the season in July, but the big question, right, Jim, is, are the players game?
SCIUTTO: No question.
Omar Jimenez live at Wrigley Field.
So a shortened season, about 80 games, expanded playoffs. I mean have they gotten the safety issue right here and gotten the players on board, as Poppy was saying?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, Poppy, the MLB tells CNN the league is planning to put forward a proposal in front of the Major League Baseball Association today, which, according to multiple reports, includes the season potentially starting back up again as early as Fourth of July weekend.
Now, this would not look like a typical season.
For one, this would not be a 162-game season. It would be 82, which is more like a typical NBA season. There wouldn't be any fans, which would be the most --