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Lies & Racism: Trump's Divisive Campaign Strategy Crystallizes; Interview With Former Senior Advisor To President Obama, Valerie Jarrett; Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) Discusses Fury Over Trump Pulling Federal Funds For Some Testing Sites, Trump Wanting To Reduce Testing To Decrease Case Numbers. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 24, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The president once again holding a campaign event indoors with hundreds of people close together, almost no one wearing a mask. They are not social distancing. They're all talking loudly. Some screaming and yelling, which is proven to spray coronavirus into the air, if someone is sick.

This right here is what doctors are calling a perfect storm of a super spreading event.

And then let's talk about what the president said here. Lies upon lies, and racist rhetoric. Time for a fact-check.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We passed V.A. Choice. A big deal. And V.A. accountability, a big deal. They've been trying for 50 years, almost 50 years on votes.


KEILAR: That's a lie. Congress passed the Veterans Access Choice and Accountability Act in 2014 before President Trump came into office.

It's been controversial. It was signed by then-President Obama.


TRUMP: Americans patriots don't bow down to foreign powers. We don't back down from left-wing bullies. And the only authority we worship is our god.


KEILAR: Well, the president publicly took Vladimir Putin's word over that of his intelligence agencies when it came to Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

And then just this week he, admitted that he looked the other way as China puts Muslims in concentration camps, ignoring sanctions to get a better trade deal.

Also his former national security adviser alleges that Trump wanted to intervene in criminal cases to curry favors from dictators.


Trump also said this.


TRUMP: War heroes are not a source of shame. They are an example and something that you can all look up to. A true example of greatness, a point of pride.


KEILAR: Those heroes he mentions, he's talking about Confederate generals who fought to destroy the United States.

Trump went on to say this.


TRUMP: Check out California sometime.


TRUMP: Check out -- no. Check out the -- the deal that they signed with Judicial Watch. It was -- I think, Judicial Watch was, like, one million or 1.5 million people. They settled, they agreed that that many people either voted illegally, shouldn't have been voting, a lot of things.


KEILAR: If you did take a look at it, you'd know what the president said there was a lie. The settlement was over inactive voters on registration rolls. Nothing about actual voting.

Then this.


TRUMP: We sparked a revolution in domestic energy production and the United States is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere on planet earth.


TRUMP: America, as of a couple of years ago, is no longer energy dependent.


KEILAR: All right. More than a couple years ago. Because while production increased under President Trump, the U.S. took that number- one producer title during the Obama presidency around the time that President Trump, then just Donald Trump, was pushing the racist Birther conspiracy.

This is what he had that say about voting.


TRUMP: The Democrats are also trying to rig the election by sending out tens of millions of mail-in ballots --


TRUMP: -- using the China virus as the excuse for allowing people not to go to the polls.


KEILAR: He said this many times, we fact-checked it many times, but I'm going to do it again. There's zero evidence of widespread fraud involving mail-in voting or any kind of voting. Even conservative think tanks looked into this. Studies show mail-in voting does not actually help one party over another.

I should note, the president, the vice president, their family members and many, many Trump advisers have voted by mail many times.


TRUMP: COVID, COVID-19, COVID. I say, what's the 19? COVID-19. Some people can't explain it.


KEILAR: All right. COVID-19 refers to 2019, the year the virus came into being.

Speaking of the virus --


TRUMP: I could give you 19 or 20 names for that. Right? It's got all different names. Wuhan. Kung flu.


TRUMP: Kung flu.


KEILAR: And that is just racist.


TRUMP: We embrace the noble vision of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and believe that people should not be judged based on the color of their skin, but the content of their character. (CHEERING)

KEILAR: The president said that as he invoked racist rhetoric, as you heard, in the very same speech inside of a church.

The president is building his re-election campaign on division and racism. All you have to do look at what he says in public to see that.

President Trump is also accusing former President Obama of a crime.

Watch this from President Trump's interview with CVN News (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: On Obama and the spying and situation, this idea that they were spying on your campaign, you've been asked before about what crime he would have potentially committed. But I remember you talking --


TRUMP: Treason. Treason.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: What I was going to ask --


TRUMP: It's treason.


KEILAR: Joining me now, Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser for President Obama.

Valerie, you hear Trump saying that the -- that President Obama committed treason. What is your reaction to that?

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Brianna, unfortunately, it is just a pattern of consistently preposterous, unfounded, made-up stuff that he uses to try to delegitimize people he thinks are his opponents or to try to distract from one debacle after another on his watch.

It's also dangerous. Now he has a Justice Department eliciting that he treats as his personal lawyer as opposed to the peoples' lawyer.

And I will tell you, I don't know whether or not, in my lifetime certainly, we've seen this kind of behavior from the president of the United States.

So a campaign strategy to be divisive, to try to pull us apart, I think is flawed. The numbers don't add up. The vast majority of the American people are not going to fall for this.

[13:40:04] In his effort to get these sugar highs from these demonstrations, from these rallies he's having, which he shouldn't be having because of the health risk to supporters and their families and his staff that have come down with COVID-19, he's talking in a way that pulls people away from him.

His base is shrinking. His poll numbers are dropping. It's a flawed strategy, not to mention it's just a despicable way for a president to lead our country.

KEILAR: You said the American people won't fall for this. Do you think there's a possibility that maybe this strategy, though, using racist rhetoric and division, could actually work?

JARRETT: I don't. I don't. I'll tell you, part of my hopefulness comes from the demonstrations we've seen around the country. People of all ages, all races, backgrounds, coming together saying we have to heal the racial wounds. Not just between our police and communities of color, but our society.

And the polling I've seen show the vast majority, even people in his own party, completely understand that.

So I think his approach is one that is designed to excite the very few. But if we can get turnout up, then I do believe that he will not win the election.

I don't take that for granted in any way, shape or form, but a do not think that his tone, his rhetoric, his desire to polarize us, and incite, in many cases, anger and hostility towards one another, it's not a winning strategy.

More importantly, I don't think it's a way that the president of the United States should govern our country. We're a big, diverse country, people from all back grounds, and we have always been welcoming. And we are an embarrassment on the world stage.

KEILAR: You mentioned the polls and said you're not necessarily taking it to the bank, but almost seems like every morning, if Democrats wake up and are looking at new poll numbers, when it comes to Joe Biden, they're feeling better. Certainly than they would if going in the other direction.

Of course, we all saw what happened in 2016. Right? Do you think that Democrats could be overconfident?

JARRETT: I think 2016 was wake-up call. And there were 100 million who didn't vote in that election.

And judging from what we saw the day of the inauguration, with the women's march and the march against gun violence and the climate march and the activism we're seeing in the streets right now, Brianna, that bodes well. But we cannot take anything for granted.

The other thing that troubles me that he's doing now, as he sees numbers dropping, he's trying to delegitimize the election, calling into question voting by mail, which we should all be doing at a time of a pandemic.

Look, the military have been voting by mail forever. States like Washington State have only vote by mail. As you pointed out, there's no evidence that vote by mail leads to vote fraud.

Why on earth is he doing that? He's afraid he might lose. And if he does, he wants to question integrity of our elections. Not something we should do in our country. Not something anyone should do in a democracy.

And the irony of this is, if any other country had a leader behaving the way he is behaving, any past president of the United States in our lifetime, Brianna, would have called them out on it, saying it wasn't consistent with the core values of a democracy.

So I do --


JARRETT: I hope people will turn out vote in record numbers and send a message about what is unacceptable coming from the president of the United States.

KEILAR: I want to ask you, you were President Obama's point person when it came to criminal justice. When you're looking at this defund the police rallying cry. Do you agree with that?

JARRETT: I think, is there's legitimate frustration and anger that, for way too long, we expected law enforcement to solve our societal problems. Look at the budgets of many agencies around the country, we are spending a lot of money on law enforcement.

Why weren't we investing in our schools, creating opportunities for economic development and growth? Why aren't we retraining our work force for the jobs of tomorrow? Why don't we have a better health care system?

COVID-19 is right there showing many of the health disparities in our country and parts of America still don't have the access they need to health care.

There are a range of issues that we should be spending money on. And the question is, do our budgets reflect our values. We should take a step back and we should say, what is the --


KEILAR: Do you want --


JARRETT: Pardon me.

KEILAR: Do you think that that money should be pull from law enforcement and moved over to those other areas that you described? JARRETT: I think it's a more complicated issue than simply remove. I think, for example, we're not putting enough resources to make sure our law enforcement are screened, recruited and trained, and given strategies to de-escalate, and looking at inclusive bias between our systemic society.

We shouldn't be spending money on military style equipment we ended when Obama was in office. And we should have officers here walking the streets.


I think we should look at, what is the social contract. What do we expect of law enforcement? And we do that with the community and have an agreement what sha should be. And then resources should be allocated accordingly.

Maybe some resources go to providing social services or creating economic development. Maybe other resources we need to add to the police department so they're better equipped to do the job that we expect of them.

There are too many times that people call for local law enforcement, really they made need a social worker. Maybe they need an earlier intervention. We should keep our children in school rather than expelling them and putting them out on the streets. So it's more complicated than defund or not.

But there are some law enforcement agencies in our country that on track and trying to implement the strategies that will have good outcomes. And there are others that we know have a pattern and practice of systemic discrimination.

It is not one size fits all, Brianna. We need a smart approach to this, that includes the community. And we need our leaders to do what many have already started to do, which is to take action to prohibit chokeholds, for example. Get rid of no-knock warrants. Invest in the training we know will lead to success.

And I think reimagining how we use local law enforcement is a healthy exercise that should be going on across the country.

KEILAR: Valerie Jarrett, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

JARRETT: You're welcome.

KEILAR: Disney workers demanding parks delay their reopening, as cases surge. The petition is growing.

Plus, lawmakers are furious at the Trump administration for pulling federal funds to coronavirus testing sites.

Fireworks erupt at a city council meeting in Florida to mandate masks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: The Board of County Commissioners will be recessed for 10 minutes. And we will reconvene at 1:02. Thank you, everyone.




KEILAR: The Trump administration is just days away from ending federal support for COVID testing sites as more than half of the country is experiencing surges in cases.

State and local officials, who are witnessing the spikes, are saying now is not the time to pull federal resources.

There are several sites in Texas that are set to lose federal funding, as the state experiences a frightening increase in cases just over the last week.

Now the Texas governor is urging but not requiring residents to stay home.

And I'm joined by Texas Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia.

Thank you so much for being with us, Congresswoman.

REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: And you represent millions of Texans in the Houston area. There are seven sites closing, including two of your largest testing sites set to lose their federal funding. What happens in your district, in your state if these testing capabilities are reduced?

GARCIA: First of all, it's outrages the governor won't act. These are seven testing sites in Texas. Four are in the Houston region. Four in the city of Houston and four in the county. And they're sites that started from the beginning so people know that people use them.

They're testing about 500 to 2,000 people a day at each site. So, that's a lot of people. And if we lose those sites, they'll put pressure on some of the other clinics and operations.

The Houston region is huge. It's one of the largest in the country. And we need the testing sites because we have seen an increase in ICU beds. They're full at 97 percent. And one out of four of the patients are COVID-19. So, that is very alarming.

So, we need action from the governor to help us make sure that FEMA continues the sites.

I know I joined with members of the Harris County delegation, urging FEMA and HHS to delay until August because we're just seeing an increase in positive testing and in hospitalizations. KEILAR: As you're aware, Congresswoman, President Trump has said he

wants to slow down testing in order to reduce the coronavirus numbers in the United States. When you look at this, is that what you see happening here?

GARCIA: This president has said some really crazy things and this has got to be one of the craziest too, even to suggest a slowdown testing. We cannot do that.

It's always been about testing, testing, testing. Now it's about tracing and it's about treatment.

We never should have opened up the economy in Texas until we had robust testing to make sure that we could have people be tested before they went to work, tested at work, testing to make sure that everyone was safe.

And this governor, I think, in my judgment, opened too soon and opened before we had robust testing.

And now, what I'm urging him to do is issue a state-wide mask order. We've got to do everything we can to put a stop to the spread. And everyone agrees that if you wear your mask, that really does decrease the chance of spreading.


Next thing you need to do is wash your hands. And the third, of course, is to sanitize when you can.

It's incredible to me that he's not letting our local officials on the ground, who see this increase, who see we're heading in the wrong direction, giving them the opportunity and the right to issue mask orders.

If he won't let the locales do it, then he should do it from the top, coming from Austin.

KEILAR: Congresswoman, thank you so much. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, joining us from Capitol Hill.

GARCIA: Thank you.

KEILAR: Florida is setting a new record for the highest number of new cases in a single day.

And the surge has prompted employees at Disney World to urge their bosses not to reopen as planned.



KEILAR: I'm Brianna Keilar. I want to welcome viewers in the United States and around the world.

We're beginning with a dramatic new effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.