Return to Transcripts main page


Russian Bounty Intel in Trump's Daily Brief; China Passes Controversial Law; Trump Pandemic Response under Scrutiny. Aired 6:30- 7a ET

Aired June 30, 2020 - 06:30   ET



REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): There is this document. There's also the process of briefing. There's been lots of reports about how inclined towards his briefing the president is or isn't. But, at the end of the day, he's the president of the United States, and there are soldiers and marines overseas who are risking their lives and potentially have a bounty on their head, put there by the -- by the Russian government. And the -- the fact that he didn't take the time to read the document is not an excuse for the fact that what comes next? What's -- that's my question, what comes next? He maybe didn't know it. He maybe didn't read the brief. But now he knows it. Now everyone knows it. What are we going to do about it?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I have to say, I've had the opportunity to speak with you a few times before. I don't remember hearing you sounding so dismayed or frustrated.

SPANBERGER: I -- that's probably a very true statement. I -- I am -- I am beyond words at times over this. The -- the role of the commander in chief of our entire intelligence community is to keep our nation, our service members, our infrastructure, our people, our citizens safe. And I -- I represent hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and I represent service members. I represent people whose family members are deployed. And the idea that they now have the added worry, not just that their family member is in the war zone, but they're in the war zone with a bounty on their head and we're not doing anything about it, the United States, and, in fact, we're inviting President Putin to try and pull him in closer with the G-7? It's -- it's just shameful. And it's so highly disappointing.

BERMAN: I want to read you some reporting from Carl Bernstein, legendary reporter, who overnight put out information that he has gathered over four months from top security officials and their concerns over the president's conversations with world leaders, particularly Vladimir Putin, which is relevant to this discussion. And Carl writes -- and let me put my glasses on to read this -- he says, in numerous calls with Putin that were described to CNN, Trump left top national security aides and his chiefs of staff flabbergasted, less because of specific concessions he made than because of his manner. Inordinately solicit of Putin's admiration and seemingly seeking his approval. So, take Carl's reporting in conjunction with what's going on right now regarding this intelligence, and what questions does that raise for you about the president's attitude towards Vladimir Putin?

SPANBERGER: I mean we've seen it time and time again. We saw it on the stage in Helsinki. We saw the most powerful man in the world, the president of the United States, take Russia's word over the word of our intelligence community. This -- this isn't the first time that we've seen something like this. But, at -- at this point, the notion that on phone calls he wouldn't be aggressively pushing this issue or that -- and reporting is that there's been multiple iterations of what steps should be taken, what possible repercussions could the United States impose on Russia, and -- and we haven't taken those steps. We haven't seen any forward movement. You know, it's deeply, deeply worrying. Deeply worrying.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, we appreciate you waking up and talking to us this morning. Thank you so much for your time.

SPANBERGER: Thank you for having me on.

BERMAN: All right, breaking news, we have a tense situation happening right now in New York City. Police clashing with protesters outside city hall. These pictures from just moments ago. We'll get a new report from the ground, coming up.



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news in New York City. Police in riot gear clashing with protesters outside New York City Hall. Now, this comes ahead of a vote today on the mayor's proposal to cut $1 billion from the NYPD's budget. Protesters have been sleeping outside city hall for about a week, calling for the city to defund the police, as you see. That's what's written on the ground there.

It's not clear what prompted the standoff this morning, nor if anyone was arrested, but we are continuing to follow this. We'll monitor it for you throughout the morning.

BERMAN: All right, developing in this hour, Chinese state media reporting that President Xi Jinping signed into law this controversial national security legislation for Hong Kong after the country's top lawmakers passed it behind closed doors. The law would empower authorities to crack down on opposition to Beijing.

CNN's Ivan Watson live in Hong Kong with the breaking details.

And, Ivan, this is just such an important moment for Hong Kong.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure is because, according to international treaties, Hong Kong is supposed to remain somewhat autonomous from the rest of mainland China until the year 2047. And so critics, governments around the world are criticizing this as a power move by the Chinese central government, writing in this law secretly for the city of 7.5 million people. And what's truly bizarre about it is nobody here really knows what the law specifically says, even though it has been signed into action by the leader, Xi Jinping, according to Chinese state media.

Now, Chinese officials say it's aimed at criminalizing things like subversion, sedition, terrorism, colluding with foreign powers, which is -- is kind of normal in many countries. What's truly strange about it is that the Chinese central government bypassed the city government here in Hong Kong to draft this legislation. So I interviewed top officials here who really don't know what specifically is going to go into this law.

Now, it's had a very chilling effect already. You've had a number of opposition, pro-democracy political parties who have already, today, disbanded with their leaders, quitting those parties, clearly worried about the impact this could have. We have reported here in Hong Kong -- CNN has -- on a surge in requests, people looking into the possibility of emigrating from Hong Kong to other countries -- Japan, Taiwan, the U.S.


The group of seven countries have all criticized China's move here, though the government has argued, the Chinese central government, and its surrogates here in Hong Kong in the city government, have argued that this is necessary after months of increasingly violent protests rocked this city for much of last year.


BERMAN: A real inflection point in Hong Kong that bears watching minute by minute.

Ivan Watson, we're lucky to have you there. Thank you very much.

So, with coronavirus reaching new peaks, where is the federal response? Where's the plan from the Trump administration? That's next.


BERMAN: This morning, two of the nation's leading health officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield will testify at a Senate hearing. This as new cases of coronavirus climb around the country, more than 40,000 cases yesterday alone. You can see the curve there rising and rising fast.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst Astead Herndon and CNN political commentator Karen Finney.


Friends, I want to put up the map. Sixteen states over the last 24 hours have announced they are pausing, or halting, or, you know, putting the brakes on reopening plans. And as we keep this map up, I want to draw your attention to Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida. What do these states have in common? These are states with Republican governors that are increasingly in play in the presidential election right now.

So, you have Republican governors now addressing this pandemic in a way that may or may not coincide with the White House agenda right now.

Astead, as you look at this, what do you see playing out?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I see the interesting difference between politics and governing. These are all states, as you said, with Republican governors who are a little more conservative than we know the electorate is, and these are all Republican governors who have sought to appease the president and kind of listen to the loudest voices coming from the White House that have encouraged them to reopen and have encouraged them to kind of downplay the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

That became a political relationship that has become untenable as these new cases have risen. And so you see Governor Kemp, Abbott, Ducey and DeSantis having to go backwards now on what they were touting in terms of reopening because the situation has been so serious. They are going to face increased pressure to prioritize the public health experts over the politics. That also will be political pressure because they know that their states are ones that are -- that are -- that are kind of signposts for the general election. And if Trump's coronavirus response continues to get panned, as we see in poll after poll, they're not going to want that to spill into them.

HILL: That response, as you point out, Astead, continues to get panned, but there -- there really isn't much of a cohesive federal response, Karen. So it is up to the states as they need to move forward. And the president said from the beginning, listen, he wants the states to handle it. The issue, though, of course, is now we're seeing how that's playing out and how one state bleeds into another.

KAREN FINNEY , CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, absolutely. And because it was left to the governors of the states, there -- as Astead pointed out, a different political relationship to this issue between the Democratic governors and the Republican governors who were trying to focus on appeasing the president, who were ignoring the facts on the ground. We have some Republican governors in states -- I'm thinking in the Midwest -- where we've seen outbreaks at meat packing plants and those numbers are not being reported fully.

The challenge here for elected officials is, when the rubber meets the road and the cases are going up and behaviors are not matching what the science is telling us, like social distancing and wearing masks, and the president is polarizing those issues, which is resulting in less people wearing masks and more people getting sick, these governors are accountable in a more direct way than the president, and they've got to take action. Whether or not this ends up being a smart political strategy, I think, for the president, for the fall, I think what we're seeing is it's not. I think he miscalculated on this one.

BERMAN: I do want to make clear, look, California, Oregon, there are states that have Democratic governors that are pausing that are seeing spikes in cases. This virus doesn't care about politics. But there is a political trend that is happening with these Republican

governors making decisions, and the Republican senate leader. Mitch McConnell going out of his way -- Mitch McConnell says nothing casually or by accident. It is all calculated. So, he said this yesterday.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We must have no stigma -- none -- about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people. Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter.


BERMAN: Every day that passes, Astead, it seems that the president's on a smaller and smaller political island here when it comes to the pandemic response. And I don't think it's a coincidence that today our MJ Lee, who's done terrific reporting on the campaign in general, just as you have, Astead, MJ Lee is reporting that Joe Biden is going to lean into this in a speech in Wilmington today.

HERNDON: Yes, this is something the Biden campaign sees as a kind of layup for November. And this speaks directly to the voters who they are trying to peel back from the president, not that very conservative base, but the -- but the folks who are particularly in swing districts and in electoral college-important states, who might have been -- who might have taken a chance on President Trump in 2016, but are uncomfortable with the kind of baseline governing.

And so things like mask-wearing, like social distancing, he has taken on as a kind of pseudo political opponent in the way that is increasingly baffling. You know, I was in Tulsa at that rally, and you would ask people, what did they do with the mask that the -- that the stadium was giving them as they came through the door?


And this guy told me proudly, you know, I threw it out the second I got in.

The why there is because they see that their relationship with the kind of basic public health standards is one that they see as tied up with the president. That to be a real supporter, to be someone who is having his back fully, you need to reject those things. That's something Mitch McConnell was trying to step away from, Republicans in battleground states are trying to step away from, but the president has already married himself to in a way that has not been politically helpful.

HILL: You --

FINNEY: Well --

HILL: Go ahead, Karen.

FINNEY: Well, actually, I just wanted to point out that we saw Kayleigh McEnany sort of shifting the quote/unquote official language out of the White House. I noted that she said that the president has said it's a personal choice. Now, that is very much this conservative, independent sort of language, which is a bit of a shift, actually, from what we (INAUDIBLE) pointed out. I mean the president has really (INAUDIBLE) this issue regarding masks. And, again, as the rubber meets the road, Republican elected officials are recognizing, we can't -- as you -- as you say, John, that we can't be on that island with him. We've got to follow the science because increasingly there are reports indicating that we know these things are working, wearing masks and social distancing, in terms of keeping us safe.

So I think it's interesting that, you know, the president had one calculation at the beginning, thinking that he was going to make this -- polarize this into an issue, and now we're seeing that that is actually going to backfire because we need everyone to be following these policies.

HILL: We have this excellent reporting from Carl Bernstein over months speaking with people about the president's calls with world leaders, both allies and, you know, and -- and with Vladimir Putin, with Erdogan of Turkey. And -- and what's fascinating to me is, Carl ends his piece by talking about the president's approach to these calls, right? And I just want to share a part of that. There was no sense of team America in the conversations or of the United States as an historic force with certain democratic principles and leadership of the free world, said the official. The opposite. It was like the United States had disappeared. It was always just me.

And this is the picture that is painted, that for this president, it continuously goes back to his own grievances. Everything is about him, not about the country.

And I think it's said (ph), what's fascinating is, this reporting was about calls, right, about diplomatic calls, and yet I think it speaks, too, to the response that we've seen from the president on the coronavirus.

HERNDON: Yes. This president has consistently made every issue a referendum on him personally. And so that is a real, frankly, misunderstanding of the role of the presidency, where it's supposed to be reflecting the American public, not that relationship going backwards. And so you have the reporting from the calls, his response to the virus, his response to the national protests around race and police brutality has been one that has also kind of put the White House in the center, they've not listened to the protesters' concerns or affirmed their right to protest. Those were kind of core principles that you have seen Republican and Democratic presidents lean into.

But this is what Trump does. This is the -- this is the consistent through line through him as a person and through him as a president. And I think that that's not one we should expect to change in the lead-up to November. He sees this election as a referendum on him. But the point here is that Joe Biden wants to make that so. He thinks that's one he can win.

BERMAN: Karen?

FINNEY: Well, this is the way President Trump has governed from the beginning. It has always been, you know, and I think even some of his supporters have said, he's very transactional. So while it's, obviously, disappointing, and it -- and, frankly, it has weakened the role of the United States in the world -- that's another argument that Vice President Biden has been making and no doubt will continue to make. And so it's very surprising -- it's very disappointing to hear this, but it's not surprising that President Trump has stuck with what he believes is a winning strategy, make it about him, keep his base, you know, bound to him, we're in this together against everybody else. That's the strategy. That's why we're so -- he has been so polarizing. And that's also why he's in danger with swing voters right now.

BERMAN: Karen Finney, Astead Herndon, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate the discussion.

HERNDON: Thank you.

BERMAN: So can the coronavirus pandemic be contained at this point without reinstituting some kind of shutdown again? We'll discuss the latest medical headlines with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, next.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now hearing states pausing or tweaking their reopening plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So many people who were testing positive for Covid- 19, they were contracting it in bar-type settings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to see if they can do this surgically. What's the evidence that that will work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House is confronting reports that Russian intelligence officers tried to bribe Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Neither the president, nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's mystifying why the president hasn't asked more about this. This involves the death of U.S. troops on the front lines.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the

world. This is NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill back with me again this morning.

Great to have you here.

HILL: Good morning.

BERMAN: So, the coronavirus spreading so quickly across the country that a top CDC official is now warning it might be too late to bring it under control.


DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CDC: I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, hey, summer, everything's going to be fine, we're over this, and we are not even beginning to be over this.

We have way too much virus across the country.



BERMAN: Sixteen states now pausing or changing their reopening plans with more than 41,000 new cases reported yesterday.