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CNN NEWSROOM

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) Discusses Key Votes Expected On Police Reform, Allegations In Bolton Book, Mail-In Ballots; NASCAR Investigates Noose Found In Garage Of Bubba Wallace; Coronavirus Updates From Around The World; Mortgage Delinquencies Hit Highest Level Since 2011. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 22, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:32:08]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's a big week for the police reform debate up on Capitol Hill. Democrats in the House are advancing their plan and Republicans in the Senate will move to open debate on theirs.

There's some areas of overlap but some big differences, which include whether police officers should be protected from lawsuits and whether no-knock warrants should be banned.

The president making his thoughts clear on Twitter Sunday night writing, "The Democrat House wants to pass a bill this week that will destroy our police. Republican congressmen and congresswomen will hopefully fight hard to defeat it. We must protect and cherish our police. They keep us safe."

Joining us now is Wyoming Senator John Barrasso. He's chairman of the Republican conference, a key lawmaker up on Capitol Hill.

Senator, thank you for your time as we start this busy week.

The question in the Senate, first, will enough Democrats vote with you on Republicans to start the debate? But you've got to give to get.

Are you confident that there will be actual negotiating and compromise, or are we going to have Senate Republicans have a plan, House Democrats have a plan, and then a month from now we're saying nothing gets done?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Well, John, we have a real opportunity now to make significant progress. I think probably the best in 25 years in the areas of police reform.

The bill that I've -- that was an original co-sponsor with Tim Scott, the Justice Act, it is serious and sensible and significant, and will make a difference in the lives of Americans. We need to get a result.

Some people try to make a point. I want to make sure we can actually pass a law. You know, the House bill and what Tim Scott has introduced, the

Justice Act, there's about 70 percent overlap and agreement there. So that to me is good place to start.

We have a history already of doing bipartisan legislation with the CARES Act for coronavirus, with the Great American Outdoors Act just like week. So we can do this.

But you're right, we need to make sure that the Democrats don't filibuster and Chuck Schumer has been threatening that.

We have an opportunity to help communities, our country, and the police officers who need the resources to be able to do a better job than what we've seen in the past they have been doing.

KING: The House is obviously going to pass something that will be unacceptable to you. The Senators are saying we want to know that you're serious about having an open mind. Let's have some amendments.

Are you open at all, say, on the issue of qualified immunity? Are you going to move the Democrat way or is that a non-starter for Senate Republicans?

BARRASSO: That's a legal term and it has to do with how many police officers they can sue. And I want to find out how many people we can save in terms of saving their lives.

If you have something where you have 70 percent overlap and agreement, we ought to make sure we do that, with body cameras on officers, with doing the sorts of things to help eliminate bad police officers and help the good cops, having the resources that they need, having the accountability, the training, all of those sorts of things.

So that you have better results on the street and so what happened to George Floyd will never again happen to any American.

[11:35:05]

We can take and have measurable, meaningful progress, John, in that direction. But if the Democrats filibuster us in the Senate, then we're never going to get there.

Legislation is made by the Senate passing a bill, the House passing a bill, and then going to a conference committee and ironing out the differences.

So I think it's important that the Democrats in the Senate don't filibuster and block the whole thing because they want the issue rather than a result to help the American people.

KING: Legislation is also made, Senator -- and you're a sensible guy, I know you know this -- by trust. And you're right about the recent bipartisan agreements, especially after the wake of the coronavirus. But we can go back and rewind the tape. There's not a lot of trust between the parties. We're 19 weeks to an election. Are there quiet conversations under way that convince you can make

that progress, or do you start this as you try to advance the bill this week in the old way, polarized?

BARRASSO: Well, I will tell you we have a Senate Prayer Breakfast. We get together every week and there's trust and understanding and agreement that we need to get a solution on this.

It's only a group of about 20, but it is bipartisan. And we want to make sure that we solve these issues that have been plaguing America for far too long.

We need results, and we need to get a result. And we've introduced I believe a piece of legislation that will make a major difference for our country and help our communities and help move us forward.

KING: Let me ask you quickly a couple other issues. John Bolton alleges in his book that the president of the United States essentially gave President Xi a pass, said go ahead and build the concentration camps for the Uighur Muslims in China.

And the president told Axios in an interview that wasn't true. But he conceded he delayed sanctions because he was in the middle of the trade negotiations with China and didn't want to upset the apple cart, so he delayed standing up for the human rights of a population that's being persecuted in China.

The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called that appalling.

Should the president have done that? Is that a piece that you would consider transactional, the dignity of another human being?

BARRASSO: I don't know the specifics of that. I do know, in terms of human rights in Hong Kong, that the president has been very forceful in moving in that director. A I support what the president has done, specifically with regard to human rights.

It comes up every time we have hearings for a secretary of state in the Foreign Relations Committee, on which I serve. I tend to ask questions about making sure that human rights are protected. And that's a big part and an issue for me.

KING: Senator, this morning, the president again, on Twitter, raising the idea that mail-in voting is somehow an invitation of fraud.

And he upped the ante by saying, "Mail-in ballots, 2020 will be the most rigged election in our nation's history unless this stupidity is ended. We voted during World War I and World War II with no problems. And now they are using COVID in order to cheat by using mail-ins."

Does it not worry you, sir -- and I know you're a loyal Republican -- to have the president undermining the greatest institution saying if you go to states with mail-in voting for a long time, including Republican states, that it's just not true.

BARRASSO: Voting is a right and a responsibility and it's an opportunity we have as citizens. I take it very seriously. And it's a state's obligation to enforce those issues.

What we're doing in Wyoming --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: As a Republican leader, would you ask the president to just not do this, that it's not helpful?

BARRASSO: Well, I tend to not want to comment on the president's tweets because, otherwise I'd be commenting all of the time.

We know that in the past there has been fraud with mail-in ballots in some locations.

I think states that have been doing this for a long time and are working on it and know how to do it best are able to do those sorts of things. Other states that are just going to try to recreate it at this time I think it's a problem.

What I see Nancy Pelosi doing, however, with some of the legislation in the House -- and she had it as part of her $3 trillion visit to Fantasy Island as a CARES Act -- what she wanted was a federalization of all the elections. And I think the states ought to be able to make those decisions.

In Wyoming, we send out to every voter an application to apply for an absentee ballot. But that doesn't mean that everyone is going to do that. But we certainly shouldn't be sending is out ballots without at least making sure that the person there has requested it.

KING: I think what Wyoming is doing is what should be done. That's a great point there, Senator.

Senator, appreciate your time.

I agree with you. Most of the time I agree with you on the tweets. I don't bring them up that often. This one, on such a fundamental issue, is important. But we can agree to disagree on that.

I'm grateful for your time today, sir.

BARRASSO: Thanks, John.

KING: Thank you, sir.

[11:39:41]

Still ahead for us, NASCAR investigating a shocking incident. A noose found in the garage of driver, Bubba Wallace.

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KING: A shocking discovery Sunday in a NASCAR garage stall. A noose found hanging in the space used by NASCAR's only African-American driver, Bubba Wallace.

CNN's Andy Scholes was at the track on Sunday and joins us now with the reaction.

Andy, this is shocking. What is being done, and what do we know?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Right, John. NASCAR says they are outraged over what happened. And said they will find this person and eliminate them from the sport.

[11:44:59]

Bubba Wallace, of course, has been very outspoken on the Black Lives Matter movement. He led the campaign to get the Confederate flag banned from the races.

And NASCAR released a statement on what happened, saying, "We're angry and outraged and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act."

The noose was found in a very restricted area. Fans and media are not allowed near garages because of the coronavirus. The area is restricted to essential personnel, which includes race drivers, NASCAR officials, security and health and safety personnel, so that should make it easy for NASCAR to find out who did this.

Wallace responded to what happened on Twitter saying, in part, "Today's despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how perseverant we must be in the fight against racism. "This will not break me. I will not give in, nor back down. I'll continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."

This incident occurred as NASCAR fans were allowed back at the track for the first time that the Confederate flag was banned. And even though banned on track grounds it was everywhere. A plane was flying overhead with the Confederate flag and the words "Defund NASCAR."

In the streets, there were multiple gift shops selling Confederate flag items. I walked over there and spoke with the gift shop owners and some fans to ask what they thought about the Confederate flag being banned at NASCAR.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a heritage thing with the southern people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, until you bring it up, it's not a racist thing for them, most of those people, and it is taking something else away from them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't let it affect me. You know, I came here for the race and this and that. But I'm happy that they did do that. It's just progress and moving on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really didn't have a problem with the flag. It's just -- I feel like they are taking people's rights away. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And, John, the shop owners I spoke with said they have actually seen an increase in sales of Confederate flag items since NASCAR put that ban into place. And owners say they will continue to travel to the NASCAR events and sell Confederate flag items moving forward.

KING: That was the right decision by NASCAR. We'll watch it going forward.

Andy, come back to you when you find out more about the investigation into the noose. Very much appreciate the reporting.

Coming up for us, coronavirus cases surge across Latin America and the increase shows no signs of abating.

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[11:51:41]

KING: The big global coronavirus developments from the correspondents around the world.

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DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in China, health officials increased coronavirus screening capacity to nearly one million people a day.

This comes after the most recent cluster outbreak linked to a food market here in Beijing. Officials say it is under control. The number of new daily cases has dropped. In all, they've confirmed roughly 230 cases in the past week and a half or so.

Partial lockdowns within the city in place and schools closed. There's an increased focus on testing within certain industries, such as the service sector. Officials are testing all of the city's food and delivery people.

About 400 construction sites were also investigated. Two were shut down after three workers tested positive.

At least one multinational business is impacted. PepsiCo reporting eight cases in one factory making potato chips here in Beijing, forcing it to close.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is another difficult weekend here in Latin America and the Caribbean with the region's 33 countries now reporting more than two million confirmed cases of the coronavirus combined.

We know that more half of those cases from one country, Brazil. There, over the weekend, health officials announced that the death toll surpassed 50,000.

Here in Mexico City, health officials hoped to reopen with limited capacity certain businesses, like restaurants and shopping malls, as soon as this week but they were forced to scrap the plans as the number of cases in Mexico continues to dramatically rise.

As bad as the health situation is here, we know the economic situation for so many people is very dire. A new report from the United Nations is now predicting that additional 16 million people will be forced into extreme poverty throughout this part of the world as a result of this outbreak.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Christina Macfarlane, in London.

The world's number-one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, is waiting on the results of an emergency test and facing massive criticism after two top players tested positive at a tournament he had organization. The players were competing in Croatia arranged by Djokovic to help get players back into tennis after lockdown.

Since the start, both the players and organizers faced heavy criticism for, some saying, acting like they were immune to the virus. You see fans packing the stadium without observing social distancing. But players were seen high fiving each other on the court, playing in football and basketball matches in between games and even dancing together in a nightclub.

For now, the remaining tournament matches have been canceled and Djokovic has yet to announce the test results.

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KING: Our thanks to Christina MacFarlane and all of our global correspondents for that.

[11:54:40]

Still ahead for us, another area of coronavirus is impacting us. Americans stopped paying their mortgages.

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KING: Fresh evidence today of the devastating coronavirus economic impact. Mortgage delinquencies. People now more than 30 days late on their payments of mortgages at the highest level since 2011. But the rate at which people fall behind may be leveling off some.

Here's CNN's Christine Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, millions of Americans have stopped paying their mortgages, the most since 2011. New data from Black Knight shows mortgage delinquencies rose 20 percent in May. And 4.3 million homeowners are now either 30 days past day or in active foreclosure.

[12:00:03]

Serious delinquencies, homeowners who are 90 days or more past due, that serious delinquency number jumped 50 percent over the past two months.