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Containing Coronavirus Prison Outbreaks; Police in Crisis?; Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Anti-Abortion Law. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 29, 2020 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: When rulings earlier this month did not go his way, President Trump questioned whether the Supreme Court liked him.


TAPPER: Do you see today's ruling have any -- having any impact at all on the election this November?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I do -- I do think it's a reminder of how Supreme Court justices are a president's most important legacy.

And the president promised during reelect -- when he ran in 2016 that he was going to appoint justices that will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And he did get the votes of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the anti-abortion side.

So I do think the president can make a good argument that: I need more justice to get on the -- to a point so that we can eventually overturn Roe v. Wade.

By the same token, Joe Biden can argue that this issue is still unsettled. And with the age of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, their continued tenure on the court and their possible replacements should be something voters are thinking about when they go to the polls.

TAPPER: All right, Mary Ziegler, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks to both of. Really appreciate it.

Alleged Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the White House says the president was not briefed about this intelligence. Does Speaker Nancy Pelosi believe that?

I will ask her next.



TAPPER: Politics now. Today, Republicans and Democrats are demanding more information from the White House, after reports that, according to U.S. intelligence, Russian officials offered bounties to Taliban terrorists if they killed U.S. or U.K. service members in Afghanistan.

"The Washington Post" is reporting that, per intel assessments, the Russian bounties did lead to U.S. service members being killed. CNN has not confirmed that "Washington Post" report.

Joining me now to discuss this more, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.

Speaker Pelosi, thanks for joining us.

So, sources tell CNN that eight Republican members of Congress were briefed today on this intelligence by the White House, and that Chief of Staff Meadows has offered to brief a group of Democrats tomorrow.

Have you spoken with anybody at the White House about being briefed on this shocking intelligence?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, the shocking intelligence, it is.

And it would be my hope that it isn't true. But it seems clear that the intelligence is real. The question is whether the president was briefed. If he was not briefed, why would he not be briefed? Were they afraid to approach him on the subject of Russia?

And were they concerned that, if they did tell him, that he would tell Putin? So, there's a lot that remains out there.

In terms of briefing Congress, I wrote to the DNI, the director of national intelligence, and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, to the two of them, asking for a full briefing to all the members of the House of Representatives. That is what members need and deserve.

The fact that they might invite some folks over is fine. I always encourage people to accept an invitation for briefing from the White House. But it is no substitute for what they owe the Congress of the United States.

As an intelligence person myself for a generation in the Congress, I know that force protection is the first responsibility of intelligence, to make sure that, when hostilities are initiated, we have the best possible protection for our troops...

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PELOSI: ... and, when they are engaged in a military action, that they are protected.

So, for the intelligence community to say that the Russians may have initiated a bounty on our troops, I just hope it isn't true. But whatever -- the question remains, was the president briefed? And, if he were briefed, then who briefed him? We'd like to see those notes as well.

TAPPER: So, the White House says that the president was not briefed.

The White House also said, Kayleigh McEnany, the press secretary, she seemed to suggest that the reason he was not briefed is because this was not a consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, that there were dissenting opinions.

Sources tell CNN that U.S. intelligence leaders briefed top intelligence officials from the United Kingdom about this intelligence last week.

It sounds like you're not sure whether or not President Trump was actually briefed, and you think that it's possible that he's lying about that.

PELOSI: Well, I don't know.

I mean, the point is, is that, if they had this intelligence -- and, by the way, the high confidence, forget that. I mean, in other words, if you have something of that threat to our troops, you pursue it. You pursue it.

And, as an intelligence person, again, the Intelligence Committee is frequently briefed on matters that are in the works, shall we say, that we will learn more about as the -- as more intelligence is available.

So, if they had this -- if they had this intelligence, they should have briefed the president. Why didn't they? Because they know it makes him very unhappy. And all roads, for him, as you know, lead to Putin. And would he tell Putin what they knew?

And now it's in the public domain, and so Putin knows anyway.

But for them to have -- for the -- our allies who are with us together in Afghanistan to be briefed on this, and not the Congress of the United States, or, as he says, the president of the United States, it's a -- it's highly questionable.


My first reaction when I heard it is, my goodness, I hope this isn't true that our troops are in further danger because of Putin. It's dangerous enough in Afghanistan, I can tell you that, without Putin injecting his bounty into it.

But, if he did, the American people should know about it. And if he did, and the intelligence community had an -- intelligence about it, they should have been informed the president in a way that he would understand and that he would keep highly confidential.

Maybe they feared he would not. But that's why we have to see, if he were briefed, what the notes are of the briefer to the president, so they can't say, well, he told me this, and they didn't tell me that part of it.

This is as serious as it gets. Our men and women in uniform, what -- they are willing to do so much for our country. But we cannot put them at a disadvantage, and when we know what that disadvantage may be, for three months, do nothing about it.


PELOSI: And did they consider sanctions? Did they consider a diplomatic response to Putin? That's part of this conversation as well.

Let's just find out the facts. Let's find out the truth. And let's have our suspicions, because, as I have said over and over, when it comes to President Trump, all roads lead to his friend Vladimir Putin.

TAPPER: Right.

So, I want to ask you. Also, the Trump administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn completely Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.

PELOSI: Yes. Uh-huh.

TAPPER: If the Supreme Court does that, what will Democrats do? What will you do?

PELOSI: Well, the -- my understanding on the timing of it is -- first of all, we're in the middle of a pandemic.

You would think that, in the middle of the pandemic, the president of United States would uphold the law, instead going to court to overturn the law which provides affordable care to so many millions of people in our country, and, at the same time, misrepresent -- as is their wont, misrepresent what they know.

They're saying that they -- oh, yes, they support the benefit of a preexisting condition being not an obstacle to coverage, but, in fact, they are going to court to overturn that condition and every other condition -- advantage in the -- benefit in the bill for America's working families.

It is unfathomably cruel, as I have said, what they're doing on this score.

The timing, though, that I understand is, they did their briefs end of last week. We will counter with our briefs shortly. But, probably, the court will not take up the oral arguments until the fall. So, by then, 100 and, what, 27, 26 days from now, we will have a Democratic Congress.

But I would hope that the court would uphold stare decisis, as it did this morning in the Louisiana case, that they would uphold the Affordable Care Act, the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act.

And, as a matter of fact, as we speak here, on the floor of the House today, we took up the Patient Protection Affordable Care Enhancement Act, which will again lower the cost of prescription drugs, as we promised in the campaign. We passed it, HR-3, last year. It's now part of the legislation today.


PELOSI: So, as we are enhancing the Affordable Care Act, the president is overturning it, at a time when we have over 125,000 Americans who have died from the pandemic.

TAPPER: Yes. Yes.

PELOSI: And the president is overturning one of their lifelines.

TAPPER: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up: glass bottles thrown at the NYPD and police said to be at their breaking point, as cities across the nation report a surge in crime and wonder what the future of policing will look like.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead today: As protests continue across the country, police officers are becoming targets of their own.

And, as CNN's Brynn Gingras reports, the head of the New York police union says officers have hit their breaking point, leading to nearly 300 retirement since May, amid a spike in crime across the nation.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some cities across America are seeing rates of violent crime go up and in some cases by numbers they haven't seen in years.

DAVID BROWN, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: The guns and the cowards, these evil bastards behind those guns.

GINGRAS: Anger from Chicago's top cop, after more than 60 people were shot this weekend, among them, a 10-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy killed.

BROWN: As a dad standing alongside other parents up here on this podium, I struggle to make sense of the reckless gun violence that continues to take the lives of our young people throughout the city.

GINGRAS: In Philadelphia, gun violence is up 57 percent from a year ago, according to local media. Homicides in Milwaukee are up 47 percent this year, and the Los Angeles Police Department says the city saw a 250 percent spike in homicides in the first week of June.

CHRIS HERRMANN, PROFESSION OF POLICE SCIENCE: Chicago and Houston and Charlotte, the numbers certainly don't add up in those cities.

GINGRAS: Chris Herrmann analyzes crime data across the country, and, as a former NYPD analyst, he focuses on crime trends in New York City. Here, shootings are on an alarming upswing, with police reporting 503 shootings this year, compared to 350 at this time a year ago.


The escalating crime in some major cities comes as calls to defund police departments gains traction. The NYPD stands to lose a billion dollars in one of the city's latest budget proposals.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, NY: We're dealing with a specific reality with the NYPD, unquestionably. And that is because it's important to show that we are going to make changes in this city.

GINGRAS: All this comes amid new police reforms, communities dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic, and morale in many police departments said to be at an all-time low following the murder last month of George Floyd.

In Harlem this weekend, when police responded to calls of a shooting, officers were met with bottles thrown at their cruisers; 272 NYPD officers filed for retirement just within the last month. And after the charging of two police officers involved in the death of Rayshard Brooks, more than 100 Atlanta officers didn't show up to work in what was dubbed the blue flu.


GINGRAS: And, of course, we're coming up on the July 4 holiday weekend, which is traditionally a very busy time for law enforcement.

Now, separate from this, later this week, there are many cities, Jake, across this country that are going to begin their new fiscal year. And we have heard those rally cries to defund the police.

Well, there's a lot of budget proposal cuts to police departments, and that could mean we're seeing the scaling back of officers actually on the streets -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras, thank you so much.

Coming up next: A CNN team goes behind bars to see how one of the country's largest jails is trying to stop coronavirus from spreading following a huge outbreak.

Stay with us.


[16:56:25] TAPPER: The state of Illinois is now allowing its residents to dine indoors and work out in gyms, despite seeing more than 600 new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

One of the state's early outbreaks was inside Chicago's Cook County Jail.

CNN's Omar Jimenez went behind bars to see how they're now keeping inmates and staff safe.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside Chicago's Cook County Jail, there's a delicate balance at play now, more than ever, weighing the usual demands of being one of the biggest jails in the country against the potent reality of the coronavirus pandemic.

(on camera): We're walking into a particular pod here at Cook County Jail where, like all of them, they had to cut down their population about 50 percent as a precaution for the coronavirus here, because there are just some things you can't control in a jail.

But what you can do is try and spread people.

(voice-over): Sheriff Tom Dart says, if they see a spike in detainees in the summertime, as they typically do, that delicate balance quickly gets thrown off.

THOMAS DART, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, SHERIFF: These are all these interlinking parts here, where there's not unlimited beds, there's not unlimited space and unlimited correctional staff to watch them.

JIMENEZ: Which means, Dart says, they may have to go back to putting two in a cell, specifically those who have recovered from coronavirus, like Robert Cook.

ROBERT COOK, DETAINEE: I couldn't taste anything, and it just -- my head was hurting real bad.

JIMENEZ: He's being housed within a quarantine camp created by the jail for the pandemic to separate out those who are symptomatic, confirmed sick, or recovered.

MICHAEL ALLEN, CORONAVIRUS VICTIM: They are making sure we keep everything clean. I would just like to say that I hope it comes to an end real soon.

JIMENEZ: The camp became crucial as the numbers began to explode.

DR. CONNIE MENNELLA, CERMAK HEALTH SERVICES: We knew it wasn't going to be if coronavirus was going to come to the jail. If coronavirus is in the city of Chicago, it's going to come into the jail.

JIMENEZ (on camera): You expected it to hit, but you couldn't anticipate how hard it hit.

MENNELLA: When I look back, it feels like the fog of war. We were in war.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The number of confirmed cases at the jail went from 38 detainees in late March to over 250 just a week-and-a-half later.

In total, since their first confirmed cases in mid-March, more than 500 detainees ended up testing positive. Seven of them died, along with over 400 employees testing positive, with three of them dying.

At one point, the jail was labeled by one newspaper as the largest known source for coronavirus infections in the country, a label Dart says was unfair.

DART: No one else was testing. And we're all sitting there saying to ourselves, what do we do wrong? We literally did everything based on science and logic. And the only thing we did wrong is that we were transparent.

JIMENEZ: Now the numbers have changed dramatically, going from what once was a more than 90 percent positivity rate down to less than 1.

Even in-person visitations have resumed for the first time in nearly three months, a lot of it stemming from here.

(on camera): Did this test make you feel any better at all?

HERMAN ALEXANDER, DETAINEE: The fact that I know I'm going to get some results is going to make me feel better.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Testing is now among the biggest weapons the jail is armed with.

VICTORIA FURLOW, SCREENER: A lot of them say: I don't have it. I'm not sick.

You may not be sick, but you may have COVID-19.

MENNELLA: You don't have to be symptomatic. You don't have to have a risk factor. We're going to test you for COVID.


JIMENEZ: Now, in regards to the rest of that balance at the jail, the sheriff told me they are about 500 detainees away from their current precautions not being able to hold up.

And on a month-to-month basis, we are already seeing a rise in the number of detainees they're getting -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.