Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Administrations Asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Obamacare Amid Pandemic; Trump on Mail-In Ballots: "It's the Biggest Risk We Have"; California Smashes Previous Record of New Cases in Single Day; Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Discusses Challenges in Reopening Schools; Updates on the Coronavirus Response Around the World; Verizon Pulls Ads from Facebook over Inaction on Hate Speech; Facebook Puts Graphic Warning Label on GOP Video Shared By Trump. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 11:30   ET




JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By guaranteeing that no American ever has to spend 8.5 percent of their income on health insurance. And that number will be lower for lower-income people.

We're also going to further reduce costs by making it less expensive for Americans to choose plans with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: I guess you could applaud the president for sticking to his principles here. He said all along he wanted to abolish Obamacare in the first two years when he had an all-Republican Washington. They failed, flatly failed to repeal and replace.

But this seems to be a gift to Joe Biden at a time when the president is already struggling.

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And timing is everything, right, John. This week, the government said that close to half a million Americans who lost their health care coverage in the midst of the coronavirus economic downturn went for coverage on

And not only that, there's a lot of talk about what would happen with people with pre-existing conditions. We're in the middle of a pandemic.

And technically -- and Joe Biden was arguing this just yesterday -- people with coronavirus would be considered people with pre-existing people.

And so should the Supreme Court hear this case in the fall and decide to overturn Obamacare, then people with coronavirus would likely lose their health care or potentially could lose their health care. Again, timing is everything. Obamacare has come under a lot of

scrutiny. Obviously, health care was a major issue of debate among Democrats in the primaries. They say it's not perfect and needs to be worked out.

But right now, Joe Biden is talking about keeping Americans insured at a time of great uncertainty and at a time when so many people are vulnerable to the pandemic.

KING: So another big issue that -- I want to get you weighed in on this. Because of the pandemic, more and more states will have mail-in balloting. It's just inevitable more and more states are doing this. Democratic states and Republicans are doing it. The president doesn't like it.

But listen to Attorney General Bill Barr in an interview with NPR. He said, personally no. I mean, we just mailed out checks under this problem, meaning the stimulus program, and what it is, I heard like 20 percent or something were misdirected. He was he was asked: Do you think the same thing can happen with millions of mail-in ballots? He said, "I know things like can happen."

Vivian, to you first on this one.

It was the Trump administration that mailed out stimulus checks to dead people, Team Trump. The attorney general is part of that team.

The states administer elections in each state. And in blue states and red states, where they have mail-in balloting, the secretary of states and the Republicans and Democrats who get elected say, you know what, fraud is miniscule.

SALAMA: They didn't just mail out stimulus checks to dead people. They mailed out stimulus checks to 1.1 million dead people, according to the Government Accountability Office.

And obviously, that's not perfect. No one is saying that the process is perfect either. There's are a lot of pickups obviously. And this is something that's new.

And doing it in the middle of a global pandemic is obviously going to cause a lot of problems. But the administration has obviously taken issue with it.

And President Trump keeps on changing his reasons why. He said, at first, that he thinks that they could be stolen, although, there's actually very little evidence that of fraud in the last 20 years with regard to mail-in ballots.

He also said that -- that Democrats would disproportionately benefit more than Republicans. But actually, most of the results in the past have shown the opposite.

He's even said that Obama was elected with the help of dead people regard to mail-in ballots. So he's obviously changes his reasons. But they are going after this and going after this a way that they are feeling -- now they are zeroing in on mail-in voting because of the fact that the economy is crumbling. And you have a lot of other issues that are -- that the president is facing and his poll numbers are not doing great and focusing on the process now. That's the strategy.

KING: Washington State, Utah, many others, it works. It, works. More people vote.

Vivian and Julie, thanks for coming in today. Very much appreciate it.


Up next for us, 6.2 million students and a spiking coronavirus case count. California's school superintendent on the challenge of getting back to class.



KING: California is suddenly in coronavirus crisis mode. It's case count this week included daily records, including one -- you see it there -- with over 7,000 new infections reported and hospitalizations up more than 30 percent.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles for us.

Stephanie, at the beginning, California was a model. At the moment, it's a crisis.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. When you look at these numbers, it's not the way you want them to go. The numbers did drop, the number of new cases from the 7,000 number, dropping to 5,349. However, that is still the second highest number that we've seen here.

There are also other couple of numbers that we need to keep our eyes on as well, and that's the ICU beds. The number that is filled -- that are filled right now, that's 32 percent. I'm sorry, 34 percent. And that is a record high over the last 14 days. So some 1,300 patients in the hospital in ICU beds right now.

Now, of the overall capacity for beds, they are saying that they are still just at 8 percent. The governor pointing this out. But this is clearly something to be concerned about.

A couple of things that the governor has said here. He said one thing, keeping borders open, not going to close them down to other Americans to different states. Also saying that, if necessary, they can toggle back and bring back some of those restrictions, if necessary.


Overall, here in Los Angeles County, which really has been the epicenter of the outbreak in California, they stopped short of saying that this had to do with the protests. But pointed more to the fact that these cities, the county and the state are just open more altogether.

So pointing back to people out working more, people are socializing more. And we've had Father's Day, Memorial Day, people getting together for graduations to celebrate them even though they didn't actually have ceremonies. They are seeing an uptick in this.

And you can even see it down to the fact that the jails and the numbers that they are seeing there. Just got new numbers from San Quentin. They are saying 542 inmates there have tested positive for COVID. Of that number, 514 were in the last 14 days, John.

So that gives you an idea that there's a problem in the state.

KING: There's a problem. We shall see what adjustments are made.

Stephanie Elam, really appreciate the live reporting from there.

And the nation's most populous state already had a huge challenge getting schools reopened. There are 6.2 million-plus students in 10,000 across 1,000 districts and add in 360,000 teachers. Will this case spike change the plan to reopen in the fall?

Tony Thurmond, the California's state superintendent.

Tony, it's good to see you again. I appreciate you're being with us as we go through this.


I want to hold up today's "San Francisco Chronicle." At the top of the page, it's about the case surge in the state. You can see down at the bottom, "Reopening the classrooms, a major lap experiment."

You're leading that experiment, sir. We've talked about it in the past.

When you've seen the daily case counts this week, including a record of over 7,000, does it give you pause, or do you still believe you can reopen most of your classrooms in the fall?

THURMOND: Well, John, we've always believed, first and foremost, our schools will only open if it's safe to do so. So clearly, we're tracking this data. We're seeing the spikes are significant.

Many states have had similar spikes. And this is something we've had to monitor.

The reality is schools, in most cases, won't reopen until late August and, in some cases, early September. So we'll continue to monitor. So we'll be ready for either scenario, in-person or staying in distant learning.

With help from our governor, we've almost sent the personal protective equipment to all of our 10,000 stools to be ready to be open. We're talking about 14 million cloth masks, you know, 2.4 million face covering shields for our teachers, And so we're working to be prepared to open in either scenario.

But right now, it's time for everyone to continue to do the things that flatten the curve. Wash your hands and wear face coverings and keep physical distancing.

KING: Some your classrooms, classroom layouts that keep kids six feet apart. That's a challenge. Good luck in that, especially in inner cities. Face masks required on school grounds, lunch eaten in the classrooms, rotations, limited number of children on buses.

We've seen in the past, it's a gargantuan task, given the scope of your system. Are you still doing that or are you redoing your building blocks, assuming the health situation, the safety situation, gives you a green light?

THURMOND: You're right. It's a huge task. You know that schools have always been impacted for space. So we're literally working with our school districts, measuring out the distances in schools.

Some of our districts have already said what we need is to have a local library or community center where we can help expand the footprint of the campus.

Many of our childcare centers stayed open during the distance learning of COVID, and what they found is they have been able to use, you know, outdoor portions of the campus for instruction. They have used the gymnasium and other facilities to broaden the footprint of the campus. So we're going through those efforts right now.

What we think is most important is to remember the three pillars that our students have to have. First and foremost is safety.

Second is we take care of the emotional needs of our students. And I have a coalition council focusing on filling in the gaps.

And third, providing quality education for our students whether that's in distance learning or in-class instruction.

KING: Superintendent Thurmond, grateful to you. Come back again and we'll circle back through this. We certainly hope that is happening in California certainly gets better as we go through the next several weeks.

Thank you, sir.

THURMOND: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Best of luck.


Up next, the global coronavirus fight. The European Union is looking to reopen but not to everyone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Today, European Union officials are meeting to discuss how to safely reopen borders. We're also hearing they are considering bans on places are experiencing a surge, like right here in the United States.

CNN's Nic Robertson leads our look at the big global developments.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Here in the U.K., there's growing concern that COVID-19 regulations and guidelines are being flouted and, therefore, there could be a second spike.

People have been gathering on beaches in high numbers and having what are being described as parties and gatherings in parks in central London and other parts of the country.

That's a concern just as the WHO is warning that, in 30 European countries, they are seeing a rise in COVID infections, and they are saying in 11 of those countries, they have extreme concern that this is significant enough, if those countries don't get a handle on, it that it could overwhelm their health services.

And this is at a time when the European Union is evaluating whether or not to allow U.S. citizens into the E.U.

The criteria are reciprocity -- the U.S. fails on that. And the level of infection is the other criteria. Right now, the E.U. way lower in terms of infection rates than the United States, where it's spiking.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Brazil, the health ministry has reported more than 120,000 new cases of COVID- 19 in the past three days alone. The death toll is close to 55,000. No signs of peaking.

On Thursday, just the state of Sao Paolo surpassed Italy in total coronavirus cases, nearly 249,000.

Yet, several cities in Sao Paolo and Brazil relaxed restrictions, reopening stores and shopping malls and heading back to offices.

Done by President Jair Bolsonaro, who repeatedly insisted that unemployment and hunger could end up killing more people than the virus itself.

Although, he did strike a rare pensive note Thursday night during a live speech on Facebook, recognizing and paying tribute to the thousands of people who have died during the pandemic.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paolo.

ARWA DARWIN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in the Middle East, a number of countries are exhibiting a trend. Iran was once the region's hotspot. It managed to get COVID-19 under control. But now might be what some fear, the beginning of the second wave. The government there imploring citizens not to be complacent.

Saudi Arabia is saying that, this year, the only pilgrims that will be allowed to go to Mecca for the holy pilgrimage are those that are already inside the country.

Egypt, the region's most populous, dense nation, is talking about potentially beginning to try to open up even further. But an upward trend being exhibited there, as well.

And then if we turn to Iraq, not necessarily in the region's top five at the moment. But again, numbers are going up.

And there, especially concerning is numbers among hospital staff are on the rise, as well. Remember, the medical infrastructure there's already decimated. Something that that nation can ill afford.

Across the board, though, governments are imploring their citizens to remember to keep social distancing and keep wearing masks.

Arwa Damon, CNN.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in South Africa, public health officials say they are reaching the surge of the COVID- 19 pandemic in the country. It just crossed the 100,000 confirmed cases. And the last 24 hours have seen the last largest increase yet in cases.

Now despite this, here in the country, as well as across the continent, health officials say that they haven't seen a large increase in deaths associated with an increase in cases. Now they said this could be because of underlying factors like a young population.

But they are also saying -- and especially in South Africa -- doctors I'm speaking to are saying that the lessons learned from countries hit earlier by the pandemic are being used, like using oxygen rather than ventilators for serious cases. And also administering steroids to those who are hospitalized.

Now, whether those have a long-term impact in the death rate remains to be seen, and the test will be coming in the coming weeks as that surge peaks.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


KING: Coming up, another big company joins the Facebook advertising boycott.



KING: Another big financial blow to Facebook. Verizon says it is pulling all of its ads from the social media site, effective immediately.

The telecom giant is the latest and perhaps the biggest brand to join the stop-hate-for-profit boycott. That movement, started by the Anti- Defamation League, seeks to stop the spread of hate and misinformation. The ADL says it's going unchecked on Facebook.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins me now.

Verizon, that's a big customer, Donie.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, John. Yes, Verizon joining other big names, like North Face, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry's, saying that Facebook isn't doing enough to tackle hate and misinformation on its platform.

And the Anti-Defamation League released some screen shots of what they're really talking about here. There's a racist ad about -- a racist post about Representative Omar, a Verizon ad showing up next to a Q-Anon conspiracy post. And all these companies are really now saying that Facebook is not doing enough.

And you know, this is a big deal. I mean, you know, Facebook makes all its money from advertising. It's an advertising business.

Although, these are big companies, whether or not we'll actually see the critical mass, this proper snowball effect of other companies joining this and really calling out Facebook and, ultimately, if it will have a real impact on the company's bottom line, we won't know that for, you know, a few months until we start seeing its earnings.

It is a snowball at the moment -- John?

KING: And, Donie, quickly, I understand Facebook also having to tag another piece of content from the president.

O'SULLIVAN: That's right. Almost happening every few days now. An ad that the Republican Party put out yesterday attacking what they call left-wing anarchists. That ad included footage of a police sergeant here in New York being knocked down earlier this month while responding to looting here in New York.


The -- Facebook labelling that as a graphic video. The president reposted it. So there's a label on that ad.