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Coronavirus Cases Spiking In Nearly Two Dozen States; Supreme Court Rules Blocks Trump's Attempt To End DACA Program. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired June 18, 2020 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: -- how the infection moves through society, and that allows them to track more effectively.

[10:00:04]

But also it just hasn't been politicized, so everyone in the country has got behind the same strategy, and that's creative cohesion (ph), and the system has worked really effectively.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Yes. It's great to see and a great model to follow.

And, of course, Max Foster, you found a way to get into the blue lagoon. Very well done, my friend. Thank you.

It is the top of the hour. Significant news this morning. I'm Poppy Harlow. We'll bring you all the fast-breaking headlines.

First, as coronavirus cases spike in nearly two dozen states across the country, the president is in denial.

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DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you look, the numbers are very miniscule compared to what it was. It's dying out.

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HARLOW: The fact is the virus is not dying out. We'll give you the latest.

Also today, we're waiting for the two Atlanta police officers charged in the death of Rayshard Brooks to turn themselves in. They are facing a 6:00 P.M. Eastern deadline to surrender to police after 11 charges have been brought. We're live in Atlanta with that.

And the former national security adviser, John Bolton, is not backing down as the administration looks to block the release of his new book.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think he's fit for office. I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job.

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HARLOW: More on that in a moment.

Let's begin though with COVID-19, and my colleague, Rosa Flores, she joins us in Florida.

And, Rosa, there is a new key model out that is projecting that it's Florida that could be the next coronavirus epicenter.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, it's very alarming. This new model is from the University of Pennsylvania. And, in essence, it says that Florida has all the ingredients for a COVID-19 disaster, and all you really have to do is look at the numbers.

You now talked about this last week. We were talking about 1,000 cases a day. Well, now it's more than 2,000 cases a day, and the latest daily count was 2,600 in one day alone with a double-digit positive percentage. That's very alarming.

Now, we went to Governor Ron DeSantis to ask about this, and his office says that this is all due to aggressive testing because they are testing more in communities where there are outbreaks, like prisons, long-term care facilities and also agricultural facilities. But we went to the experts. An expert at FIU telling us that that is not the case, that there is an actual rise in cases in the State of Florida.

Now, I'm in the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the State of Florida, and that's in Miami-Dade County. The mayor here acknowledging yesterday that there is an uptick in cases and an uptick in hospitalizations as well. Poppy?

HARLOW: Rosa Flores, thank you.

We have significant breaking news out of the Supreme Court. A decision has been handed down on DREAMERS, on DACA. Let's go straight to our Jessica Schneider with more. Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, yes. A decision coming on DACA, all of those so-called DREAMERS anxiously waiting for this decision since November. When the opinion came down, we heard a cheer from some of the DREAMERS who have gathered here outside the Supreme Court steps.

Because of the coronavirus, the Supreme Court has actually shut down. So everything we're getting is via computer. I've had a little bit of trouble actually loading this opinion. We're going through the opinion right now to determine exactly what this opinion says. But, again, more than 700,000 DACA recipients, they are just waiting in limbo right now to find out if the DACA program will remain in place.

A little bit of background for you. This was a program that was set into effect by President Obama back in 2012. It protected those children who were brought here as children to the United States by their parents. It allowed them to get work permits. They were renewable every two years. And it really granted some temporary status to those people here who told me when I interviewed them back in November when they were listening to these arguments at the Supreme Court. They say that the United States is really the only home that they have ever known. They can't even imagine going back to their home country.

So they are waiting anxiously to find out if this program will be rolled back, as the Trump administration tried to do in 2017, or if, in fact, the program will remain in place. It was when President Trump took office in 2017 that he wanted to roll back this program, and there were issues with the way the administration did it. There were numerous memos, numerous policy decisions that came out specifying how they would roll back DACA. And the question was did the Trump administration actually roll this program back protecting the so- called DREAMERS in the right way? And that was the question before the court.

So, now, we're waiting to read through this opinion to determine exactly what the court has decided here, Poppy. I'm going to go back to my computer, look at this opinion, and we'll get back with you in just a moment as we wait to see.

[10:05:03]

Poppy?

HARLOW: Jessica, we really appreciate that. This is huge. It's huge, and we will bring the decision to everyone as soon as Jess has it.

Jeffrey Toobin, to you. Let's talk about here the plaintiffs in this case said, look, the way that the administration rescinded this, rescinded what the Obama administration had done was capricious and it was arbitrary, and it violated the equal protection clause because it was motivated by discriminatory animus. And that is the decision on the process of how this was done that the court has to or has decided on.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well almost, Poppy. What happened was the Supreme Court said that the administration, the Trump administration, not that they violated the Constitution, but they violated something called the Administrative Procedures Act. In other words, they did not follow the appropriate procedure for undoing DACA.

Now, what this does essentially is kick the can down the road. I mean, I should say actually much more importantly, for the time being, it leaves the 700,000 DREAMERS safe in the United States. That's the most important aspect of this ruling for the time being. However, what it does is it gives the Trump administration a roadmap for how to do this properly if they want to pursue it, and if, of course, the president is re-elected, because these sorts of things take time.

But for the moment, the DREAMERS are safe. They are not going to be exposed to deportation as a result of today's decision. However, this is not a resolution of the matter once and for all. This base basically says to the administration, this decision, if you want to end DACA, if you want to put these 700,000 people out of the country, you have to follow the procedures appropriately, which you did not do when you did this in the first place.

HARLOW: Jeffrey Toobin, as this case was being brought and being heard, you had the government, you had the Trump administration being joined with the support of nine states who essentially said, you know, we're continuing to incur financial harm by having to pay for health services, et cetera.

You had an amicus brief written by 143 different major U.S. corporations, including Apple, for example, Jeffrey, that said to the court in that brief here is why we believe DREAMERS will be protected.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it's important to remember who the DREAMERS are. I mean, there's been so much news that it's hard to keep track. But what it means -- what DACA is all about is about children who were brought to this country illegally at some point in their childhood, you know, many of them as babies.

HARLOW: Jeffrey, sorry to interrupt, hold the thought. We'll be right back to you. Let's go back to the high court. Jessica Schneider has read through this and has the decision. Jess?

SCHNEIDER: Poppy, the Supreme Court has blocked the Trump administration's efforts and their plan to roll back DACA. That means that DACA will remain in place for now. The Supreme Court, I'm going over this opinion now, it decided that the rescission of DACA must be erased. That was something that the Trump administration tried to do, rescind DACA. The Supreme Court saying the Trump administration cannot do that, saying that the Department of Homeland Security was arbitrary and capricious in its decision to roll back this program.

Now, this was argued over because the Department of Homeland Security initially issued a memo grounding this rescission on legal grounds rather than policy grounds. It was a later memo where then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said it was based on policy. But the Supreme Court saying here that the Department of Homeland Security did not roll this back in the right way, and, therefore, DACA must stand.

This is, no doubt, a huge relief for those 700,000-plus DACA recipients. We have some of them outside the Supreme Court now, a very small number as opposed to how many were here back in November when this was argued.

I spoke with some of the DACA recipients back in November, and they told me that this was crucial. Keeping DACA in place was crucial because they depended on it. One woman I spoke to had two young children who were born here in the United States, she was brought here when she was 14 years old. She lives and works on Long Island, she pays taxes, she has renewed her DACA status every two years, she feels like she is an American. And this was a program that was put in place by President Obama in 2012. So we're looking at eight years of DACA recipients relying on this program.

[10:10:01]

We're still looking into the exact vote count here. I still have to go through that. But we do know that at oral argument, Chief Justice John Roberts, he said that while the Trump administration may have been able to do this, perhaps it if it was done in the right way there, also needed to be some humanitarian concerns here. Because these people, these DACA recipients have relied on this program for the past eight years.

They have set up their life here. They work here. They pay taxes. They've had children here. So to all of a sudden roll this back really seems like an inhumane injustice. And that was something that it seemed at the time of oral arguments in November that Chief Justice Roberts was trying to balance to really look to that humanitarian response that we got, you know.

I spoke with some of those DREAMERS. They marched here to the steps of the Supreme Court from New York City. They marched for days in oftentimes bad weather. It was raining actually the morning of oral arguments here. They were committed to this. They were passionate about this. And today, the Supreme Court handing them a win, saying that the Trump administration, as it was done, cannot, in fact, roll back the DACA program established by President Obama. Poppy?

HARLOW: Jessica, thank you.

Jeffrey Toobin, back to you for reaction.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, this is another example -- I'm just looking at the vote split, and it is complicated. But in the core of this decision, Chief Justice Roberts is joined by the four Democratic appointees, Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

So this is another example as last week when we had the decision on whether you can fire people for being gay and transgender, that is where the chief justice is joining with the liberals. Now, the other four more conservative justices joined part of this opinion but not all of it.

But I think just, again, to sort of focus on the big picture here, this is a tremendous relief to the 700,000 people, most of home never knew any country except the United States. I mean, if you are brought to this country when you're a baby from Mexico or Honduras or some country, you know, some country where there are a lot of immigrants from and you've lived here ever since, the idea of being deported is a particular nightmare since you've never lived and don't know that country. So that's who the DREAMERS are.

As far as the substance of the decision, you know, this is, and I don't want to speak -- I mean, this is a delay. It is not a deliverance. This is yet another example of the stakes of the election in November because if -- with this roadmap, and if the president is re-elected, he now can do DACA -- he now can overturn DACA if he wants to, if he gets re-elected.

HARLOW: It's a very good point, Jeffrey. And as you point to the last part of the opinion here by the chief justice, quote, we do not decide whether DACA or to rescission our sound policies. The wisdom of those decisions is not our concern.

We have David Leopold, an immigration attorney, Laura Barron-Lopez, our Dana Bash on the politics of all of it.

If I could get to you, David, on Jeffrey's point about this is not full protection of DREAMERS indefinitely.

DAVID LEOPOLD, COUNSEL, DHS WATCH: Yes, Jeffrey is right on that point. Look, what we need here going forward is a legislative decision. That is what is going to protect the DREAMERS. And what's interesting here when we talk about legislative solutions, overwhelmingly, Americans, even Trump voters, by the way, support DREAMERS and support a legislative solution. So it's time for Congress to get to it. And hopefully in the next administration, hopefully, we'll have a situation where new legislation can be enacted and signed by a president.

But I will say, you know, what you need to know, taking back and stepping back from this case is that this was always -- this decision was always simple on the law. It was about choice. It was about what we call discretion. What was complicated here and what was nefarious was the ugly politics that surrounded it.

And I've got to tell you, I think Justice Roberts leading this opinion reminds me of what Justice Robert Jackson said years ago in 1947 about applying practical wisdom to the context of a decision. Clearly, here, the administration, as it's done in so many other cases and as we know, as we see from John Bolton's book yesterday, in so many policy decisions, has failed to follow the law.

[10:15:00]

And that's what the Supreme Court said today. You know what, Trump administration, you didn't follow the law when you tried to pull DACA, exposing nearly a million DREAMERS to deportation, and the Supreme Court stopped it.

And that's what this country is about. That's what the rule of law is about. And, unfortunately, we don't have a president or an administration that tends to respect the rule of law. Luckily, this court did the right thing today and protected DREAMERS and protected some amazing, amazing aspiring Americans.

HARLOW: To that point, David, Laura Barron-Lopez, let me bring you in on this, I would like to remind people who DREAMERS are because the president, you know, you'll remember before these arguments began in this case, talked about DREAMERS and said that many are, quote, far from angels. Some are very tough-hardened criminals. In fact, the rules prohibit that to even be the case. It prohibits anyone who has a felony or a significant misdemeanor offense from even entering into the DACA program.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, Poppy. So many DREAMERS are -- as mentioned earlier, are people whole were brought here as children. They've live in the United States the vast majority of their lives and they know no other home essentially. They are very much and feel American, as though they are Americans without the legal status. And also to remind our viewers is that, yes, there are 700,000 DREAMERS, and a lot of them are in the U.S. workforce. They pay taxes. And these DREAMERS, 22,000 (ph) of them that are now on the frontlines battling the coronavirus pandemic, they're healthcare workers.

So I think it's also important to remember that, electorally, they have a majority support amongst American voters, and that's not just Democrats or independents but a recent poll found that some 68 percent of Republicans think that DREAMERS should have protections.

So, moving forward, if Trump -- if President Trump repeats the promise he made in 2016, which was to pull back DACA, if he does that again heading towards November, it could potentially hurt him with Republicans as well.

HARLOW: I saw that poll this morning, Laura, and found it fascinating, the support for DACA recipients among Republicans right now. And when you talk about the economic impact, the Cato Institute said if you were deport all of these DREAMERS, the economic cost to America would be in excess of $6.3 billion to replace them in the workforce.

Dana Bash, let's step back, as you're so good at doing, and let's take a look at this moment. This is a big loss for the Trump administration, losing this on DACA that they pushed so hard for. This comes on the same day that we get the exclusive bombshells from John Bolton's book, his former national security adviser, saying he's not fit to lead the country. There is so much here at this point that the administration is fighting back against, not to mention the pandemic, the COVID pandemic getting worse.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This is just one other very, very important data point in everything that you just said. It's also interesting that this is coming almost five years to the day that the president, then-private citizen Donald Trump, rode down that escalator and put himself on the map by talking about immigration in a very vitriolic way.

And it made his fellow Republicans cringe. They didn't think he was ever going to get anywhere with it. And not only did he get the republican nomination, he became president of the United States, for lots of reasons, but that was a big one. But he was tapping into something that is unfortunate in this country, but it is very real, fear of the other.

DACA is -- at least has been in recent history set apart from the really intense debate about illegal immigration because you are talking about children who came here through no fault of their own. But it has been wrapped up in that, and it has been used as a bargaining chip because there is broad support for fixing this legislatively, used as a bargaining chip for the broader immigration reforms that both sides want to do, and that's why we are where we are.

And so just going back to what David Leopold said, that is really an important thing to think about right now. We're only where we are, where the administration in the Obama years did this by executive order. The Trump administration rolled it back the same way. We're only there because Congress hasn't been able to get its act together because it has been so divisive on this issue. And that is going to be front and center again in the presidential election, never mind the elections for the United States Senate and House.

HARLOW: Yes.

[10:20:00]

Joan Biskupic is with us. Joan, just to remind how this case came about, it was brought by the regions of the University of California, the president at that a time, Janet Napolitano, who was head of Homeland Security when DACA was initiated back in 2012.

You wrote a whole book on the chief justice. So I just want your download on reading this opinion from him and the significance of it coming from him and his state of mind.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It's so highly significant for the DACA beneficiaries and for the Supreme Court. Once again John Roberts, generally a conservative chief justice, has swung over to the side of the four liberals on a very important case testing essentially, you know, the court versus a presidency here. It was an Obama era program that Donald Trump had tried to roll back, a very politically charged case, and John Roberts decided that the administration did not do it the right way.

And, Poppy, it certainly recalls his vote in 2012 in Obamacare and his vote last year when he blocked the Trump administration from putting the census -- the citizenship question on the 2020 census. And at that time, he said that the reasons the administration gave were flawed and that's exactly what he said here for a very important ruling.

HARLOW: Joan, big picture. I just want to stick on the chief justice at the moment, because there is this and then there is his key role, obviously, in the decision on Obamacare. And then we have a major abortion case that is still to be decided that he will also play a very key role in given his history of votes on abortion issues. How significant?

BISKUPIC: What I think is -- you can pair this one with the Obamacare one and the census one. I do not think that this decision gives us any hint or guidance going forward on more social policy sort of decisions. When he flips over, it tends to be in these big politically-charged separation of powers, who is in charge here kind of questions, and that's where the pattern is. They tend to be more political and more having to do with the office of the presidency.

HARLOW: That's a very, very good point. Don't read any more into this.

If I could go back to you, Jeffrey Toobin, for your thoughts.

TOOBIN: You know, it is worth -- what struck me is not just the Obamacare decision but, remember, John Roberts voted with Neil Gorsuch and the liberals on the discrimination against gay people case last week. And, you know, I think John Roberts, who is definitely a conservative, is also a very good politician, and I mean that in a respectful sense because I think all great Supreme Court justices are good politicians.

I think at some level, John Roberts recognized that in the United States in 2020, you simply cannot fire people simply because they are gay. That is just something that is intolerable to the vast majority of Americans.

In the same sense, he recognized that deporting 700,000 young people who did nothing wrong, who had no -- by definition, are not criminals because you can't be in the DACA program if you've been convicted of a crime, to deport these people who have lived their entire lives with small exceptions as Americans is simply intolerable.

And I think, you know, Sandra Day O'Connor was another justice who had her finger on the pulse of what Americans will tolerate. And I think John Roberts, as he matures, it's now opinion is a years as chief justice of the United States, is recognizing that the Supreme Court can't be too far out of step with the vast majority of the American people.

HARLOW: Well, that's an interesting point, Jeffrey, you know, if you compare it, for example, Justice Kennedy when it came to gay marriage, right?

TOOBIN: That's right. And, you know, the supreme court was somewhat ahead of public opinion on marriage, but public opinion has come around on that issue. You know, the discrimination issue is, in many respects, an easier issue for the Supreme Court than marriage was because marriage is all tied up with religion and people's personal lives.

You know, employment is about, you know, how people make a living. And the idea that you could fire someone -- and this was true in more than half of the states until last week. You could fire people simply because they were gay or transgender. That was intolerable. It is intolerable, and now it's no longer true.

[10:25:00]

and I think Chief Justice Roberts recognized that that's where the United States is today, and I think today's decision, though it's phrased in the details of the administration, the Administrative Procedures Act, also reflects where the United States is today.

HARLOW: We're going to go to the White House in a moment for John Harwood to get reaction there. But, John, hold that thought for just one second before we do, because, Joan, I just had a follow-up for you on what Jeffrey just said, because so much has been made to the president and his additions to the Supreme Court, his two justices that he has gotten on the court. But two huge rules this week that Jeffrey went through. last week, of course, the ruling on transgender rights in this country and now DACA.

BISKUPIC: Yes, and I think you have to look at them individually. We've just made the distinction between the gay marriage ruling that John Roberts dissented from very vigorously, but on Monday, he signed on to what Neil Gorsuch had written. And Neil Gorsuch didn't sign this opinion today in terms of the broader ruling benefiting DACA recipients and neither did Brett Kavanaugh. I think what we're going to see, Poppy, is case by case, is Trump appointees will, at times, swing over to the left as Neil Gorsuch did on Monday for the gay and transgender case.

But, overall, they will be firmly on the right wing and ditto with John Roberts. Although John Roberts, of everyone in the five justice conservative majority is the one who is most likely to inch over to the left, first of all, because of his ideology, but also because of his role as chief justice trying to steady this court in a very polarized time in America.

HARLOW: Well, as you wrote so well in the book on him, Joan, this is someone who has been so focused, especially in recent years, on making sure that this court does not appear political. That keeps him up at night.

BISKUPIC: That's right. And he is so aware of the fact that he's now dealing with these two Trump appointees. He's dealing with an administration that has pushed some very, very hard line positions. This is a loss for the administration today. The Monday case was also a loss for the Trump administration.

And just think of what we have coming down over the next three weeks. The subpoena cases with Donald Trump, abortion, as you had mentioned earlier, Poppy. We have several rulings that John Roberts will be walking a fine line, and I expect that this term overall is going to have a lot of surprises, but they are not going to be predictable because we're going to just see a lot of movement among key conservatives, John Roberts included.

HARLOW: You're right. We still have many key decisions, the Louisiana abortion case, two cases having to do with the president's finances and tax returns. And can the American public, the House and New York prosecutors see them? That is still waiting to become public.

let me get to David Leopold for a point you have, David, on what has been decided here. Because the key line here is they write the dispute before the court is not whether the DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute instead is primarily about the procedure that they followed in doing so. David?

LEOPOLD: Right. And, Poppy, there's another quote for the reasons that follow. We conclude that the acting secretary did violate the APA and the rescission must be vacated. Remember, what happened here is when it was vacated, when this pulling of DACA went into effect in September of 2017, when then-Attorney General Jeff Session announced it, that stopped applications, the courts that stopped DACA applications. What the courts then did was put an injunction on most of that. But while the courts did rule -- one court at least did that new applicants for DACA could apply, that was stayed, that was stopped, and it's been stopped pending the Supreme Court. So, again, I'm going to say this with the caveat of I would like to be able to read this opinion thoroughly and carefully, but it seems to me, just from the first blush in this opinion, that new applicants for DACA may be able to now apply.

HARLOW: They may or they can? David, just to be clear, do we know? They may or they can?

LEOPOLD: I think looking at this opinion, they can. Because what they did was they vacated the rescission. They vacated the decision by the administration or the procedure that the administration used. They said that was unlawful. They have -- then they take the situation back to the day that DACA was rescinded, which tells me that new applicants should be able to apply for DACA now.

HARLOW: Okay. Jeffrey Toobin, I want your take in that in one second. I do want to get to John Harwood at the White House.

We know what the president has said about DACA recipients in the past. Has he said anything about this decision by the high court?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I've not seen it before stepping in front of the camera.

[10:30:01]

He had not tweeted on this subject up to a couple of minutes ago. But I do want to build on a point, Poppy, that Jeffrey Toobin made a moment ago, which --