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Trump Administration Moves to Eliminate Affordable Care Act; Interview with Tucson Mayor Regina Romero; Rising Coronavirus Cases in Florida Set to Impact Tourism. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 10:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: One person close to the president familiar with his thinking said to me that, on coronavirus, that it's one thing to, you know, follow people, it's one thing to get behind people, but you need to be in the right ballpark when you're a public official, an elected leader, and he's not right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What are Republican leaders and Republican members of Congress saying about the president's strategy on all of this right now? Because you even heard Senator -- Republican Senator Mike Braun on with Jim yesterday, saying, you know, I still think -- well, you know, the president had to go through impeachment and all this, and I still think he can get --


HARLOW: -- re-elected.

BASH: You're starting to see Republican members of Congress, particularly senators because the Senate is such a huge political battleground in November, Senate Republicans are very nervous that they are -- rightly so, that they are going to lose the majority in the Senate.

You're starting to see a little bit of a change, something that we have seen very rarely, and it has been one of the hallmarks of the Trump presidency, that Republicans in Congress have been really scared to speak out against him, even when privately they think that something he's saying or doing is ridiculous or reprehensible, even.

And the fact that there is a little bit of a shift is -- well, very likely reflective of what they are seeing and hearing in their home states, even among Republicans. I mean, one of the main reasons that Republicans have been reluctant to speak out against the president is because their base is the president's base, and they love the president and they don't want to get on the wrong side of him.

So we'll see -- that's going to be the most interesting thing to watch, some of those Republicans, particularly those who are on the ballot, to see if they want to stick with the president, and you know, to whatever end they need to, or if they're going to come out and continue to at least maybe gingerly criticize him. HARLOW: See how that works, he doesn't even like -- he doesn't like


BASH: He doesn't do ginger.

HARLOW: Yes --



HARLOW: -- he doesn't do ginger. Dana, thanks very much, have a nice weekend.

BASH: Thanks, guys. You too.

HARLOW: In the midst of this global pandemic, the Trump administration is now going again to the Supreme Court, and trying to completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

SCIUTTO: The filings come a day after House Democrats unveiled a bill to enhance the law, make it more affordable. And we've learned this, nearly half a million Americans have turned to the federal Obamacare exchanges after losing health insurance coverage this year, as they lose their jobs in the midst of this. CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue joins us now.

OK, so timing, when might the court take this up? Would it be before the election? And we always use you as a kind of -- you know, crystal ball here. Do you have any sense of where the court leans on this?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, look, in plain language, as you say, the Trump administration has now asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire law. This case is not going to be heard until next term, we don't know exactly when. But yesterday was the day that the first briefs were due. And we waited all day long, and they only came near -- about near midnight, suggesting that maybe they wanted to dodge the news cycle a little bit.

But, Jim, let me take you back to how we got here. Remember, in 2012, it was Chief Justice John Roberts, he sided with the liberals on the bench to save the law under the taxing power, right? And then in 2017, Congress moved to essentially eliminate that tax penalty.

And then Texas and other conservative states, they raced to the courts and they said, Look, you've gotten rid of that tax penalty, you just got rid of the underpinning of the law, so we think it's no longer constitutional. And the Trump administration agreed.

And the day after these briefs, we just heard from the White House on it. In a statement, the White House press secretary said, "A global pandemic does not change what Americans know: Obamacare has been an unlawful failure and further illustrates the need to focus on patient care."

That's the White House press secretary. And one thing to keep in mind is that, as I said, Texas is the lead plaintiff here, Jim and Poppy, and all day long, we've been talking about how COVID cases in Texas have really spiked.

HARLOW: It's just remarkable because the data also shows that more people are willing to go get tested for COVID and antibodies if they have insurance.

You talked about the chief justice, but I do think it's worth highlighting the fact that he is the one who saved Obamacare by calling it a tax in 2012. But now, he may be the one to have the vote to undo it?

DE VOGUE: Right, we've been talking a lot about the chief justice in recent weeks with the Supreme Court. Keep in mind that the five members of the court who voted to uphold this law back in 2012, they're still on the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts is still there. And here's what -- how he might see this case.

Because in 2017, when Congress moved -- right? -- to bring that tax penalty to zero, we all didn't wake up the next day to hear that the Affordable Care Act had fallen. Nobody in Congress was really talking about it. That argument only came in this legal case, in this lawsuit.


So Roberts might look at this and say, Wait, there's some congressmen who had been very surprised at how their vote actually went. So the challengers here, once again, could have an uphill climb.

And one other thing to keep in mind is, yesterday, we were waiting all day long for this filing. Well, Joe Biden was out on the campaign trail, and he was talking about this filing in anticipation, saying, Look, this is what they're going to argue. And that means the Supreme Court is, once again, inserted squarely into the middle of this presidential election -- Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: Exactly, where the chief justice doesn't want it to be.

Ariane --


HARLOW: -- thanks a lot.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coronavirus cases are surging in the state of Arizona as hospitals as well, near crisis-level capacity. That's a sign people are getting sick more too. We'll have an update from Tucson's mayor, next.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Arizona's governor says reopening plans in that state are now on pause as coronavirus cases spike there, 3,000 new cases yesterday alone. And now, a potential hospital crisis. The CDC reports more than 76 percent of ICU beds in the state are occupied.

With me now is the mayor of Tucson, Mayor Regina Romero. Mayor, thank you very much for being here.

So I mean, you have a major admission by the governor there, also saying that he expects that the numbers are going to be worse next week and the following week. We know masks do a lot to help. I wonder, now that you have the power to mandate mask-wearing in Tucson -- and you have -- how do you enforce it? Are you going to fine people if they don't wear masks?

MAYOR REGINA ROMERO (D), TUCSON, ARIZONA: Good morning, Poppy, thank you for having me with you. Arizona's in a state of crisis right now. One in five tests come back positive, it's 20 percent positive in tests taken in Arizona. Just yesterday, as you said, 3,000 COVID- positive cases.

Here in the city of Tucson, we sit on Pima County. The city of Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona. And for a city of 560,000 -- and in the area, Pima County, we have a million people, we only have 10 ICU beds available. It's very scary, and it is unfortunate that Governor Ducey really lifted his stay-at-home restrictions way too early.

And even though he says that he wants to take a pause, I don't know what he wants to pause on. He really went from lifting the stay-at- home -- really lifting it, and it went from zero to 60 in no time. And so unless he wants to start pushing back what the restrictions that he lifted, I don't see what else he needs to pause.

What I have been, as the mayor of the city of Tucson, thank God that Governor Ducey untied the hands of mayors throughout Arizona so that we can do our own mandatory mask ordinances. I did that --


ROMERO: -- last Thursday. And --


ROMERO: -- we are looking at a civil infraction if there's blatant disregard.

HARLOW: OK, all right. Let me ask you about those that really feel like they have no choice but to go back to work. You are, for people who don't know, you're not only the first Latina mayor of Tucson, you are the daughter of immigrant farm workers.

And in Florida, we heard the governor of Florida say that a lot of their clusters of cases in that state are among immigrant farm workers. And I wonder if you're seeing the same in Arizona, and also sort of how you reckon with the public health need to say, you know, we opened too fast, but also looking at the economic disparity and desperation in that community, and how do you reconcile the two? ROMERO: What we're hearing from public health experts here in Pima County and throughout the state, is that the ages of 22 to 44 are the ones that are being most affected by COVID-19. Those are the people that are actually out working.

And so opening back up the state has really affected those workers that have a need to go back to work. And those are, you know, bartenders, waitresses, the people that have to work at their places of business.

It's very unfortunate that it's an either-or mentality. As a matter of fact, I believe that the economy gets worse if COVID cases rise, and so we need to look at it in a different paradigm. We need to believe that the more COVID-19 cases in Arizona, the less consumer confidence we have. And so the longer it takes for us to flatten the curve, the worse our economy gets.

And so it was a big mistake by Governor Ducey to open up the state too soon because it's still affecting our economy, consumer confidence is down and it's very unfortunate for our economy, it's very unfortunate for the lives of Arizonans and the (INAUDIBLE). And so --


HARLOW: If I could, Mayor, also ask you about a different topic, but something very important. And that is, the death of a 27-year-old named Carlos Ingram Lopez at the hands of police. There is this newly released police body camera footage, we'll pull it on-screen, it now shows the moments leading up to his death.

Tucson police officers say they were calling -- they were called on the home on April 21st. When they arrived, they say that Mr. Ingram Lopez was drunk and yelling and running around naked -- those are their words -- and then he was eventually handcuffed, face-down, held down for 12 minutes. And during that time, he went into cardiac arrest, he died. And the internal investigation has found the three officers involved committed, quote, "multiple police violations."

What I find very interesting is that the police chief, Chief Magnus, has offered to resign, and you don't want him to? Tell us why.

ROMERO: As well as the family, the Ingram Lopez family communicated with our city manager and to the city of Tucson, that they did not want Chief Magnus to resign, that they want him to continue to help reform TPD and help me, help the mayor to find reform so that this never happens again.

And so I respect the family's wishes, I know that Chief Magnus has been one of the most progressive chiefs of police in the nation. They're -- I'm devastated that we lost a life here in the city of Tucson, needlessly. And so I am pushing for reforms.

One of the issues that I, my council colleagues and the community are very concerned about is that the community and mayor (ph) and council did not find this out until two months later. And so one of the quickest reforms that I put on the table for my colleagues is that any in-custody death is reported to mayor and council and the community within 24 hours, just like we do police officer shootings.

And so I communicated with the Ingram Lopez family, I have given them my condolences --


ROMERO: -- and I've committed to them that we are going to have major reforms on how we provide safety to our community.

HARLOW: Mayor Regina Romero, I appreciate your time on both topics. Thank you very much.

ROMERO: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, we'll be right back.



HARLOW: A surge in coronavirus cases has left key parts of Florida's economy on life support. Obviously, tourism, their biggest industry, pretty much crippled.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, the economic effects, devastating. For two consecutive days now, the state has reported more than 5,000 new cases of COVID. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now from Miami.

So, Vanessa, Florida's governor eagerly reopened, brought back some jobs, but health experts say that quick reopening has led to more spikes?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, Jim and Poppy. Behind me is just one of four cruise ships here in the port of Miami that are sitting idle without passengers. And that has had a devastating impact on tourism and other industries.

We spoke to several business owners who say they're worried this surge in new cases here in the state could be devastating for their businesses.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): It's a cruise ship parking lot at the Port of Miami, ships idling, waiting to take the seas, which leaves Ana Castillo waiting for customers.

ANA CASTILLO, OWNER, SAFE CRUISE PARKING: It's very, very weird to see how empty it is.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on Florida's biggest money-maker, tourism. It's crushed businesses like Castillo's (ph). She shut down Safe Cruise Parking in March, and plans to reopen in September when cruises start again. But a surge in coronavirus cases in the state has her worried. CASTILLO: I do think that people are going to look at Florida as,

like, the new epicenter and probably even be more scared to travel here. So it is -- yes, it is concerning.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): It's a concern for agriculture here to, the state's second-largest industry. In just two months, farmers lost nearly $900 million in revenue during peak harvest season. And as they're planning for the next season's crop, another shutdown would be devastating.

GENE MCAVOY, VEGETABLE SPECIALIST, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: So if we see a spike that, you know, starts closing things down in October and November, it's going to be bad.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Florida's construction industry, which took a hit, is also on edge.

FRANK D'ANGELO, COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE, FLORIDA CARPENTERS REGIONAL COUNCIL: The spike is here. How bad that spike's going to be, we don't know. The best we can do is try to keep our members working.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Construction jobs were hardest hit in Fort Lauderdale, dropping 10 percent in April from the year before.

D'ANGELO: They definitely want to get back to work. Unemployment in Florida, it's relatively low compared to the rest of the country. Even with the federal stimulus and $600 a week, it still doesn't make up the delta they need to provide for their families.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): Two-point-five million Floridians applied for unemployment since March, many still waiting for checks, including one of Castillo's employees. She had to lay off all 15.

CASTILLO: I can't give these people jobs. You know, these people have been unemployed since March, and I don't know how much longer it'll be.


YURKEVICH: And here in Florida, the unemployment rate is 14.5 percent, that's just above that national unemployment rate but that is such a jump from before COVID, when the unemployment rate here was a record low 2.5 percent.

And, Jim and Poppy, these cruise ships are not scheduled to take sail until September or October. And that is very uncertain for the state of the local economy here in Florida -- Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: Vanessa, important reporting, thank you for that.

The U.S. is now averaging more new coronavirus cases every day than at any point during the pandemic, if you can believe it. Stay with us for the breaking coverage.