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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
New York Congressional Primary Race; Coronavirus Surging; Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired June 22, 2020 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: They're also watching closely how this case is being handled, Natasha.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jake.
The people who lined up here this afternoon told us that they really are here to support the family and obviously pay their respects to Rayshard Brooks, but they are also highly concerned about police reform.
And they lined up outside just a couple hours after the hearse came through here and arrived at the church -- we have video of that to show you -- closely followed by Rayshard Brooks' family.
Now, on the hearse itself, there was a sign with Rayshard Brooks' photo and the words "Killed in Atlanta 2020." And this part may be hard to see, but in the background of that sign was a faint image of a police badge.
You can just feel the palpable tension between this community and law enforcement.
And you mentioned Representative Doug Collins calling for a special prosecutor, because he said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has not even completed its report, and the DA here has already filed his charges. Of course, the DA, Paul Howard, has responded, saying his office is independent and can make independent decisions from whatever the GBI produces -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Natasha Chen, thank you so much.
It's a crisis situation for one major city, the staggering hospitalization numbers, as coronavirus surges in multiple states across the country.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Staggering new numbers in our health lead. Look at this graph of hospitalizations in Arizona. That number looked as if it had stabilized in late May, but it has doubled just this week. And Texas has once again broken its record for new hospitalizations.
Both states' governors, Doug Ducey and Greg Abbott respectively, have been criticized for not doing enough to contain the spread of the virus and perhaps being too quick to reopen businesses, as CNN 's Athena Jones reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are not practicing social, physical distancing.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With coronavirus cases on the rise in 23 states compared to a week ago and more states moving to the next phase of reopening, experts are sounding the alarm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not wearing their masks. They're not paying attention. And they're not believing that there's a problem.
JONES: New confirmed cases nationwide topped 30,000 for two consecutive days, Friday and Saturday, with 10 states reporting their highest seven-day average of new infections, including Florida, Texas, and California, where hospitalizations recently reached their highest level since the pandemic began.
Hospitals also under pressure in states like Washington, Florida, and Arizona.
KATE GALLEGO (D), MAYOR OF PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Our hospital beds have about 17 percent left in capacity. We are in a crisis situation.
JONES: Florida today passing 100,000 cases, joining six other states to reach that grim milestone, leading some localities to pump the brakes.
FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: We're not opening large venues, where you could have any sort of a large congregation of people, whether it's a sporting event, whether it's a rally.
JONES: Many of those testing positive are in their 20s and 30s.
And while the White House suggests the jump in cases is due to more testing, experts say the high percentage of positive tests in Florida, where their rate is rate 10 percent, and, in Arizona, where it is around 20 percent, show the increase is real.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, agrees.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Even with testing increasing or being flat, the number of people testing positive is accelerating faster than that. And so that's evidence that there's transmission within those communities. JONES: NFL players are now being advised to stop training together,
and Major League Baseball is shutting down some training facilities in Florida and Arizona.
In the face of rising cases, the CDC is expected to issue updated recommendations on masks. Moving ahead with reopenings today, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Georgia, where the Six Flags amusement park opens to all guests, while New York, once the epicenter of the crisis in America, is taking the next step in what has been a slow, cautious approach.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We had less than 1 percent transmission rate yesterday. We went from the highest transmission rate in the United States to the lowest transmission rate. If we see any tick in those numbers, we will respond.
JONES: Now, phase two here in New York City means that offices can operate at 50 percent capacity, and you can get a haircut or visit a playground.
Outdoor dining is allowed at bars and restaurants, which risk losing their license if they don't enforce proper distancing protocols. Here, masks are mandatory in public when social distancing isn't possible -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Athena Jones in New York, thank you so much.
Coming up: Will he testify? A renewed effort by some Democrats to get former National Security Adviser John Bolton under oath, after he blasted President Trump in his new book.
I'm going to talk to Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think he's a conservative Republican. I'm not going to vote for him in November.
I hope that it will remember him as a one-term president who didn't plunge the country irretrievably into a downward spiral we can't recall from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: President Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton unleashing a torrent of criticism against his former boss, making clear he believes that the current commander in chief is unfit for office. In his new book, Bolton paints a dramatic picture of a chaotic
president entirely driven by what benefited him personally. Bolton also defends his refusal to testify in the House impeachment inquiry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: I didn't think the Democrats had the wit or the political understanding or the reach to change what for them was an exercise in arousing their own base, so that they could say, we impeached Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now is Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who led the impeachment inquiry.
Mr. Chairman, I want to give you an opportunity to respond. Bolton said, the president puts his self-interests above all; he even tried to get Chinese President Xi to help him get reelected.
The Democratic chair of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, told me yesterday he's not interested in hearing from Bolton at this point. You have suggested there's a possibility you might call him before your committee. Are you planning to do so?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think there's actually a lot of interest in Congress in hearing what Mr. Bolton has to say, as incredibly belated as it is. And I hope, when we come back into session later this week, we will have an opportunity to make a decision on that.
But look, he's made some very serious allegations against the president, some of which were known. Indeed, the president was impeached over conduct that Bolton now fully corroborates the House's case.
But we proved that during the trial. And yet there are other parts of this pattern of putting the president's interests, personal interests, above the country that are exposed for the first time, that he was reaching out to China.
In addition to the very public invitation that he -- that Trump made of China to investigate Biden, we now know, privately, he was urging President Xi to help him with the purchase of agriculture from key swing states.
So, look, I mean, these issues -- the issue involving the Turkish bank, the president undermining his own sanctions on Iran to placate autocrats, the American people ought to know the full story about this president's misconduct.
TAPPER: Well, and that's the -- that's the point that Bolton makes, is that, if the Democrats in the House had taken more time, gone through the legal processes, et cetera, to compel testimony from people such as him, that you could have built a bigger case, not just about the president allegedly leaning on Ukraine for election help, but also doing so with China and all the other allegations he makes.
He says that you committed political malpractice.
SCHIFF: Well, Jake, this is his very weak effort to rationalize why he put his own profit and greed ahead of the interests of the country.
And he's having a very difficult time, I think, making that rationalization, because what he's effectively saying is: The House should have investigated things I was unwilling to tell them about.
Now, I don't know what that means, other than, well, the House should rely on people who had more courage than John Bolton.
And we did, Fiona Hill, for example and Tim Morrison, and Colonel Vindman. But he's basically saying: The House should have done more to find out what I was concealing.
And I think that's just completely insupportable. Indeed, in every way that John Bolton condemns and indicts the president of the United States, he condemns and indicts himself for concealing this from the American people, when they really had a need to know.
The fact that John Bolton says the president put his personal interests above the country's, indeed, that's exactly what John Bolton did when he decided that he wouldn't testify during the investigation, that he would save it instead for this profit-making book.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about some of the substance in this book.
According to the original pre-redacted version of the book obtained by "Vanity Fair," President Trump allegedly told Chinese President Xi during a dinner at the G20 conference in Osaka, Japan, last summer -- quote -- "Make sure I win. I will probably win anyway, so don't hurt my farms. Buy a lot of soybeans and wheat. And make sure we win" -- unquote.
Now, one could argue that the president is saying, hey, a good trade deal would be good for me and good for the United States, and it would help my reelection. And there isn't necessarily something nefarious about that. But I'm sure that's not how you see it.
SCHIFF: No, and I don't think that's how John Bolton sees it.
And that's certainly not the pattern that we have seen with this president. What he was doing at the same time vis-a-vis Ukraine, in withholding military aid from Ukraine, there was no way, shape or form you could argue that was in the United States' national security interests. Of course, it wasn't.
But it was in Donald Trump's personal political interests. And I think this was what was driving him to urge President Xi to help his reelection. And I think you have to look at the president's conduct now through that lens. This is a president who was willing to give away important security
concerns vis-a-vis Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei, where we have concerns that the Chinese may use that technology to spy on Americans. He was willing to give more favorable trade treatment to China.
And you also have to wonder whether the president's compliments Xi, even during a pandemic in which, at the time he was making his compliments, the president knew that Xi was concealing information about the spread of the pandemic, you have to wonder whether that, too, was motivated by the president's desire not to alienate President Xi because he needed Xi's helped in his reelection.
TAPPER: According to the original pre-redaction book obtained by "Vanity Fair," the president also told Xi -- and this is also in the book, but the language is a little different -- about the concentration camps that the Chinese have built to imprison the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group in China.
And Trump says, "Go ahead," to President Xi. "You're doing exactly the right thing" about concentration camps.
SCHIFF: Well, and that's the thing, Jake.
With that, it's a perfect illustration you cannot plausibly in any way make the argument that he's advancing U.S. interests or U.S. values by saying such things to President Xi.
Indeed, he would go and sign a bill to criticize China over imprisoning the Uyghurs. So, why is he saying something completely different and contrary to U.S. policy in private?
And the -- and the answer is to curry favor with this man who he believes can help his reelection.
We said during the trial, and John Bolton just underscored this in his book, you can't count on Donald Trump to do what's right for the country, only what's right for Donald Trump. That's exactly the premise of this book, which is that not a single decision he made of any substance departed from what he thought was in his personal interests, even when that was deeply at odds with our national interests.
TAPPER: All right, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, thanks.
And I'm told it's your 60th birthday today. Happy birthday.
SCHIFF: It's a big one. Don't know how that happened.
TAPPER: All right, thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Coming up: another day of elections tomorrow, and one fight is exposing a rift in the Democratic Party, with big-name endorsements split between two candidates.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our 2020 lead today: It could be a sign of things to come, and it's a huge test of progressive energy, when New York holds its primary tomorrow.
Not only his freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting primaried, albeit from the right. So is longtime Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee. He's being challenged by someone backed by a Ocasio-Cortez on his left.
And, as CNN's M.J. Lee reports, polls show that that newcomer, Jamaal Bowman, could be positioned for an upset.
JAMAAL BOWMAN (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Hello, hello. How you all doing? How you doing?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY): When I go back to Washington, I'm going to fight for justice.
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel in danger of losing his seat to Jamaal Bowman, an insurgent challenger from the left.
The New York primary race exposing a larger rift dividing the Democratic Party, with establishment heavyweights like Hillary Clinton, Jim Clyburn and Nancy Pelosi publicly taking sides against big-name progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The matchup reminding some New Yorkers of a 2018 primary race next door, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a stunning defeat to longtime Congressman Joe Crowley. Bowman, a first-time political candidate trying to sway voters in New York's 16th Congressional District, which spans parts of the Bronx and Westchester County.
BOWMAN: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got my vote?
BOWMAN: I got your vote?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. Time for a change.
BOWMAN: Time for a change, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-one years. He got to go.
BOWMAN: Thirty-one. He got to go.
LEE: The middle school principal accusing Congressman Engel of being out of touch with his home district.
BOWMAN: While Congressman Engel has been absent, I have been here fighting for our communities for the last 20 years.
LEE: Engel, first elected to the House in 1988 and currently the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying his decades- long record speaks for itself.
ENGEL: The voters aren't stupid. They vote for me every two years because they know I care about them. I work hard for them. I produce for them. And I vote the way they would like me to vote.
LEE: But the congressman facing questions about why he was hunkered down in his D.C. area Maryland home, instead of being in his New York district during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Engel saying he was simply following doctor's orders.
ENGEL: They're trying to make a phony issue out of nothing. I was quarantining myself, because the place in near Washington is bigger. And my wife and I in our apartment in New York could not both quarantine at the same time.
LEE: The congressman also under fire for this hot mic moment at a press conference addressing protests following the death of George Floyd.
ENGEL: If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care.
BOWMAN: When the people see you, and they feel your presence, and they know you have been here for decades doing the work, you don't have to scramble for the microphone.
LEE: Now, we asked Congressman Engel about that hot mic moment, and he said he feels very, very strongly that black lives matter. Bowman said that this issue, as a black man, is personally very important to him.
He has been dealing with police brutality his whole life, he said. And his first encounter with the police, he said, happened when he was just 11 years old -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, M.J. Lee in New York, thank you so much for that.
President Trump's next campaign stop is in Phoenix tomorrow. He will be meeting with young Trump supporters.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Arizona in preparation for that trip. And, Ryan, this is a state that sees a big spike in coronavirus cases
right now. How is the campaign handling that, particularly now that eight staffers of the Trump campaign have tested positive after his Tulsa rally?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake.
And even though this isn't an event that's run by the campaign, run by an independent group, not the campaign or the White House, the fact that the president will be here tomorrow night means that both the campaign and the White House have -- bear a bit of responsibility in keeping the president and those that attend this event safe.
And, frankly, there aren't any additional precautions that are expected to take place at this event tomorrow night than there were in Tulsa.
Now, the city of Phoenix has instructed that anyone that goes inside of a building and are within less than six feet of someone must wear a mask. So, the event organizers are discussing plans to hand out masks. It's not clear yet where they're going to enforce those.
The other question, Jake, of course, is social distancing. Right now, it's a big venue, 3,000 people. Event organizers say social distancing right now is not something they're planning for -- Jake.
TAPPER: Ryan Nobles, thanks so much.
Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.