Return to Transcripts main page


Trump's Statements Politicize Masks; Gun Sales Up at Florida Shop Without Masks; Supreme Court Upholds DACA. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 18, 2020 - 14:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

The American presidency is in crisis. In just two weeks, President Trump has suffered a series of losses and is struggling to handle two crises at once. He's inflamed racial tensions as unrest grows over excessive force being used against black men and women by police officers, and the systemic problems with criminal justice in the United States.

Pentagon leaders, who traditionally don't break publicly with the commander in chief, have rebuked his actions and have apologized for being associated with the president's political stunt outside the White House.

The list grows of his former top advisors, saying that he's incompetent and unfit for office. And now, his most recent former national security advisor is describing just how bad it was inside the room.

The Supreme Court has stopped Trump's original plan to end DACA, and guaranteed workplace protections for LGBTQ Americans over the last four days, and that includes with the help of one of President Trump's SCOTUS picks.

We'll get to all of those in a moment. But first, I want to begin with his denial that impacting the health and the lives of Americans. He's misleading the public on the severity of the coronavirus, directly putting American lives in danger. Just moments ago, he told "The Wall Street Journal" that COVID testing is overrated, and that some Americans may be wearing masks just to signal disapproval of him, not to avoid getting sick.

I want to bring in Erica Hill, who has been following all of the fast- moving developments on this virus today. Erica, the president's comments come as Florida just reported a record number of new cases in a single day. Tell us about this.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right, more than 3,200. And, Brianna, it's not just Florida today, reporting record high numbers for new cases. Arizona as well, more than 2,500 added in that state.

And while the president may see masks as some sort of a political gesture, the reality is the science tells us masks make an important and life-saving difference.


HILL (voice-over): Beaches and bars are open, lines for this weekend's campaign rally, growing. Masks, a renewed flashpoint as coronavirus cases soar.

PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: It's not only the number of cases. This is being paralleled in many cities, especially in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Phoenix, with sharp rises in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, so the point is this thing is real.

HILL (voice-over): Florida, adding more than 3,200 new cases on Thursday, another single-day high.

JEANNE MARAZZO, DOCTOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Florida has always made the stuff of nightmares, I think, for me --

HILL (voice-over): An older population, pre-existing conditions, and a large number of nursing homes, all raising concern.

MARAZZO: The potential for the virus to take off there is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences.

HILL (voice-over): New modeling predicts the Sunshine State could become the next epicenter. Florida is one of 10 states posting their highest seven-day averages of new cases. In Arizona, which also reported a record high number of new cases today -- more than 2,500 -- the National Guard is now on notice, it may need to help with contact tracing.

In all, 23 states, seeing an uptick in new cases over the past week; the president, dismissing the data.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look, the numbers are very miniscule compared to what it was. It's dying out --

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES (via telephone): One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti- science bias that people are, for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable, they just don't believe science and they don't believe authority. And that's unfortunate because, you know, science is truth.


HILL (voice-over): In Texas and Arizona, governors, refusing to mandate face coverings statewide as local officials push to add their own, citing the solid science. COLLEEN KRAFT, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, EMORY HOSPITAL: Wearing

a mask or not wearing a mask shouldn't be how you're going to vote in the upcoming election. It's really about protecting yourself from an infection.

HILL (voice-over): When it comes to infection, those with type A blood have a higher risk of catching the virus and developing severe symptoms. Type O has the lowest risk, according to new research just published in the "New England Journal of Medicine."

Football, likely sidelined this fall. Dr. Fauci, telling CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "Unless players are essentially in a bubble, insulated from the community and tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall."

The NCAA just approved plans for pre-season practice; college football, still slated for kickoff on August 29.


HILL: Now, the NFL's chief medical officer has released a statement in response to Dr. Fauci, saying basically they are working on rapid- result testing, as well as rigorous protocols, noting it's no easy task but they will be, quote, "flexible and adaptable" in this environment, to adjust to the virus as needed -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Erica Hill, thank you so much.

Florida just recorded 3,200 new cases of coronavirus in a single day, but one gun shop owner in West Palm Beach has a rule, a strict rule. No face masks allowed inside his shop. He argues this is a safety issue, and Alex Shkop is the owner of the Guns and Range Training Center, and he's joining us now to talk about it.

Alex, thanks for being here.


KEILAR: I'm doing well, thank you. And I know that you say your policy has been misunderstood. Tell us why.

SHKOP: Well, it's uncharted territory for all of us, so in the beginning, people need to be aware that this is a Florida statute, 876.12, saying that wearing a mask, hood or any other device concealing identity while concealing a firearm, is illegal. So that's what we kind of started with.

Then ultimately, we had an unpleasant occurrence -- we have a large store, it's not like one or two people working at a time, so we had a bunch of young people walked in, between eight and 10, all wearing masks and questionable motives. And it's really hard to -- we rely on video as a ways of working with law enforcement --


KEILAR: So, Alex, just to be clear, you're saying there were several people who were acting questionably?

SHKOP: They basically walked in to scope -- to check the store out, if it's an easy place to rob, just to put it in plain language.

KEILAR: OK, and can you describe these people, were they young, were they old, were they white, were they black?

SHKOP: It was a mixed group of young kids, so we couldn't identify the age. And now, the rule is 21 to actually shop or even to look at the guns. So we had a very interesting experience, we weren't sure what to do with it.

So we decided to take the mask rule that people are not wearing masks. It's not written in stone rule, we do make accommodations for people. All we ask them is to contact us first, so we can kind of expect them to come in and make provisions. But -- so it's not a written in stone rule, we just ask you for some sort of cooperation --

KEILAR: OK, so --

SHKOP: -- with us.

KEILAR: OK, so if someone wants to come into your store and wear a mask, they touch base with you, they can wear a mask.


KEILAR: Are your employees wearing masks?

SHKOP: No. I gave them an option, if anybody wants to wear one, they can. And pretty much everybody opted out, so we're not wearing masks.

KEILAR: But do you believe the masks --

SHKOP: But, again, that's not my rule --

KEILAR: -- protect against the spread --

SHKOP: -- I gave people a choice.

KEILAR: OK. But it's your store, so do you believe that masks protect against the spread of coronavirus?

SHKOP: I'm not a doctor, I don't know. We have not had a case since the beginning of the virus spread in my place, no one got sick.

KEILAR: But, Alex, doctors say it does, experts say it does. One study found that masks stopped the spread of approximately 450,000 cases in the U.S.

SHKOP: OK. We -- I mean, again, it's -- as of now, we didn't enforce the rule because we need to talk to people all day, and it's hard to talk through the mask. But it's not my -- I'm not against it. So we just -- right now, I'm not sure which way I'm going to be going.

County's supposed to vote (ph) on (ph) some (ph) kind (ph) of (ph) ordinance (ph).


KEILAR: Alex, have you tried to talk to someone through a mask? It's not that hard.

SHKOP: Yes, we talk for nine hours a day so it kind of -- and especially if you wear glasses, they fog up. So I do wear glasses.

So it's --



SHKOP: -- but again, if they're going to make it mandatory as a rule, we'll definitely comply. So that's where we're at.

KEILAR: OK, I guess what I'm curious about though, is you say you -- it's a safety issue for people coming into your store, you don't want them to conceal their identifies, you're worried about theft.

But when it comes to protecting your customers, you're not requiring your employees to wear masks and you're not even sure if it helps protect the spread of coronavirus. Am I right there?

SHKOP: We have a pretty wide (ph) counters, so my employees are pretty far away from a customer, almost, at all times. So we're not breaking (ph) --


KEILAR: But this isn't -- your store is not outside right?

SHKOP: Correct, yes, we're inside.

KEILAR: Are you screening your employees, are you testing them?

SHKOP: We -- no. But we -- I haven't had a chance -- not a chance, I'm sorry, we did not have an occurrence of anybody being sick. So as of now, we did not test anybody.

KEILAR: So health officials in your county are warning that new cases in your area are surging right now, and they're expecting deaths to follow. If this gets bad enough, Alex, would you maybe re-examine your policy?

SHKOP: Of course. I mean, we're not doing it as a stance against something, we just -- for now, it's a new venue for us, we're learning as we go. For us with safety of the store and not get the virus out on the street, was important in the beginning.

So as we learn more, we'll definitely adjust. I'm not saying we won't, I just --

KEILAR: And can I ask you, Alex, are gun sales up at your store? SHKOP: Yes. Yes, it's big (inaudible) throughout the whole country.

KEILAR: Big-time, or up a little amount, how much would you say?

SHKOP: We're probably three to four times our norm.

KEILAR: Oh, really? OK. All right, Alex, thank you so much for joining us. Alex Shkop, we appreciate it.

SHKOP: Thank you. Thanks, guys, thanks for having me.

KEILAR: The president says he made Juneteenth famous, that no one had ever heard of it. Don Lemon will join me live.

Plus, President Trump, tweeting out that we need new Supreme Court justices after he didn't get the ruling that he wanted on DACA. I'll get reaction from a DREAMer who works as a first responder in Texas.

And Facebook has just taken down some Trump campaign ads for violating its policy against organized hate. Why? Well, the symbol the campaign used was identical to a Nazi symbol. Stand by.



KEILAR: For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court -- and worth noting that two of the justices on the court are the president's nominees -- delivered another blow to the White House agenda. First, justices ruling that employers cannot fire their workers for being gay or transgender.

And then, today, with a five-to-four ruling, the court rejected the president's efforts to end the Obama administration's DREAMer program, which protects 700,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, protects them from being deported. Chief Justice John Roberts, siding with the liberals in that decision.

I want to bring in our CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck and Jesus Contreras. Jesus is a DACA recipient, he is also a paramedic who rescued victims during Hurricane Harvey.

Jesus, give us your reaction to this decision today.

JESUS CONTRERAS, DACA RECIPIENT: Hi. Yes, I'm pleasantly surprised to see the results at the Supreme Court today. Of course, we know we have some very conservative justices, and nevertheless, they sided with us because they understand that the right thing to do is to protect us, and to continue to give us this program that offers us the opportunity to be productive and good, hardworking Americans.

KEILAR: And Steve, I wonder what you think sort of the path forward is here. The president just tweeted, "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?" He clearly does not like this decision, and it's been a tough week for him with the Supreme Court. But do you think that he is going to try to rescind DACA again in a way that the Supreme Court might say is OK?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: He might. I mean, I think one of the critical things about the chief justice's opinion is that it very much leaves the door open for the Trump administration to rescind DACA, but to do it the right way.

And, Brianna, I think the key here is, there's a reason why, you know, two and a half years ago, the Trump administration didn't do it the right way. There's a reason why they tried to say their hands were tied, it's because they didn't want to own it, they didn't want to actually have to take responsibility for ending this program, for putting the lives of 700,000 individuals in such limbo.

You know, it's possible that things have changed since that time, but especially with an election four months away, I just -- I'm not sure how much of a hurry the administration's going to be in to pick that fight at this moment.

KEILAR: And, Jesus, tell us a little bit -- tell us about you. We want to know about you and what it has been like for you, not having protection, and then having the protection of DACA, then not having the protection of it, and now, here again, at least temporarily, having protection again.

CONTRERAS: Yes. So I've been enrolled in the DACA program since 2013. Prior to that, I was 100 percent completely undocumented, which meant I was eligible for deportation at any given moment, had I, you know, received a simple traffic ticket or did any sort of misdemeanor crime, I would have been deported at that time and there.

So that --


KEILAR: And how old were you when you came to the U.S.?

CONTRERAS: I was six years old, and I received DACA my first year in college. So up until that point, I was undocumented.

Now, with the Obama administration's DACA program, I had the privilege and the right to obtain a work permit and a lawful temporary deferment from deportation, which meant I could work in peace, I could obtain a driver's license.

I went on to maximize what I could do with my DACA program, and become a paramedic and give back to my community. In 2017, I did so with the hurricane and the efforts to help people affected by the hurricane. Now, in 2020, I've continued to help and give back by aiding in the efforts against COVID on the frontlines as a paramedic.

And so I am not the only one that's doing so. There's thousands and thousands of DACA recipients who are in the health care field, that are also doing the same thing I am. And thousands more doing other essential roles here in the States.

KEILAR: And, Steve, when you look at this and you look at the effect that this could have on people like Jesus, I wonder if -- I wonder what you think of John Roberts' moves and if these sort of real stories that we see factor into what the court does, or if it's just really about the letter of the law here?

VLADECK: Yes, and I think it's the right question, Brianna. I mean, John Roberts is obviously figuring huge in these decisions. He was, you know, one of the justices who switched sides on Monday to vote that, you know, lesbian, gay, transgender individuals are protected by Title VII.

I really do think, though, that this is not some sign that John Roberts is a closet progressive, or that he's had some change of heart. I think it's that the Trump administration's arguments and the moves it has made, and some of the policies it has adopted really are, you know, significantly different, to the right and in some ways more procedurally fraught than arguments that prior Republican administrations have made, even to conservative justices.

And so I think the real bottom line here is, if it's a bridge too far for a lifelong conservative like John Roberts, I think that says a lot more about the policies, Brianna, than it does about the court.

KEILAR: All right, thank you both for coming on. Steve, we appreciate your legal perspective.

Jesus Contreras, thank you so much for your service, there on the frontlines against the coronavirus. We really appreciate your perspective.

CONTRERAS: Thank you, Brianna.

VLADECK: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, you guys have a good day too.

President Trump admits there's probably some systemic racism in America, but then he says Americans didn't know about Juneteenth, signaling the end of slavery, until he made it famous. I'll speak to Don Lemon about all of that.


And, next, the president's former national security advisor, John Bolton, saying that Trump is unfit for office. We'll have details on some of the most explosive allegations in his new book -- and there are many.


KEILAR: Now, to some of what we're learning from "The Wall Street Journal" interview, the president's re-election campaign moving his Tulsa rally because the original date -- which is tomorrow -- would have fallen on Juneteenth, the national commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.

And moments ago, the president said, quote, "I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. It's actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."

With me now is Don Lemon, the host of "CNN TONIGHT" and also the host of a new podcast called "Silence is Not an Option."

And, Don, I just interviewed Michael Bender, the reporter who -- it's also so lovely to see you, my friend -- but I just interviewed the reporter who did this interview, and he said that the president was -- he hadn't heard of Juneteenth, right? And he was asking people around him if they knew about it, and so he was giving off the impression that he didn't have people around him who knew, and it was actually a black Secret Service agent who told him what it was.


I wonder what your reaction is to the president having no idea what this is, and surrounding himself with people who have no idea what this is, and scheduling his rally in the middle of racial unrest on this day.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT: Well, I laugh for two things. One, because it is funny. And two, because it is -- it's laughable, right? And it's serious. The president of the United States should know what Juneteenth is, but this president doesn't know. And pretending that he did and that he made Juneteenth famous, everyone knows that that is a farce and that it's what he does on a daily basis -- it is a lie.

This president has -- he doesn't know about history in general. So why would he know about something like Juneteenth, when it relates to African-Americans and the struggle that black people have had in this country? He doesn't know. He didn't know who Frederick Douglass was, he thought Frederick Douglass was still alive.

So it is sad that we have a leader that knows so much -- so little about so much in this country right now, especially when it comes to policing, when it comes to systemic racism -- that I understand, and I think you're probably going to talk about it -- that he's saying --



LEMON: -- well, there is some systemic -- you can't have some systemic racism, it's part of the system, which means there would be --