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Putin Outplaying Trump?; Children and Coronavirus; Masks and Politics; Interview With D.L. Hughley. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 1, 2020 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Comedian D.L. Hughley joins me now.

His book is titled "Surrender, White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace."


TAPPER: OK, I surrender, D.L. Thanks for joining us.


TAPPER: What do you make of the president's attacks on Black Lives Matter and protesters and his threats to protect monuments and statues of Confederate leaders? How do you see it all?

D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: Well, I see it as quintessentially American.

We have always had that kind of dichotomy. Like, even the people -- like, Donald Trump is saying basically Black Lives Matters is symbol of hate, while signing executive order a week that actually protected symbols of hate.

Like, who's responsible for more deaths, Black Lives Matter or Andrew Jackson? So, it's not even -- it's not even -- but that's what we're dealing with.

That same man talked about how he was appalled at what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis, but he fights for the monuments of men who did far worse to black people.

Like, what is our idea of what is important to us? We have built -- why did -- the only predicate for some of these men getting statues is how brutal they were to black people. Like, we haven't -- the only -- last statue we built to a guy that didn't brutalize black people was Rocky, and he beat the hell out Apollo Creed. So I guess he qualifies.

But we are obsessed with these kinds of things.

TAPPER: So, your book is hilarious, and suggests that white people sign a peace treaty with black Americans.

In one of your resolutions, you make the case for no more bronze statues of anyone. You write -- quote -- "Let's make statues out of something easy to get rid of. Statues should be temporary, like your emotions."

We should note that, just moments ago, in what was once the capital of the Confederacy, the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, is using emergency powers to order the removal of Confederate statues in his city.

Tell us about what you think this moment is for the American people in terms of reckoning with these Confederate leaders, because there really is a lot of change going on.

HUGHLEY: Absolutely.

I think that, obviously, we were all locked down together, the whole world was, and we were forced to see things that probably made us wince and be more introspective. And I really think that there is a moment -- I don't know how fragile it is, I don't know how substantive it is -- where people are at least willing to listen to the conversations about race.

We talk about who we are. There's a statue right now in New York to a man who is the father of modern gynecology. And what he did was, he performed surgery on enslaved black woman with no anesthesia, and -- because the belief was that black people didn't feel pain.

That idea still permeates the medical profession right now, when we're not treated medically properly, because they believe we actually can't feel pain. So that is not just a vestige of the past. It's a connection to what we're going through right now.

And the way that you rid -- we have to rid, American needs to rid itself of this idea that one group is supreme and the other group is inferior. And we built an entire structure around that. And it really needs to be disassembled, which you can do by buying that book and signing on the peace treaty at the end and meeting me at the Magic Johnson theater.

So, it will be great.


TAPPER: You -- I have to ask you. You only learned you had coronavirus after you fainted on that stage at a show in Nashville. How are you doing?

HUGHLEY: I'm doing wonderful, man.

But it also -- I didn't -- I had no idea that I had it. And had I not fainted, I wouldn't have known. And I was what was called asymptomatic.

And, subsequently, everybody in my radio broadcast arena, all of them have tested positive. My son has. So, I was a Typhoid Mary.

But the point is, I didn't know I had it. And I was doing harm without being aware of it. I was asymptomatic. And I think people are that way about race too. Just because they're

not actively doing anything doesn't mean harm isn't being done in their behest. Harm is actually being done. Just being benign is not enough to say you're not involved, because you can be benign and still, just like this disease, things can happen in terms racially too.

TAPPER: Look at you spinning a beautiful metaphor.


TAPPER: The book is "Surrender, White People!." The comedian is D.L. Hughley.

Thank you so much. It's always good to talk to you, my friend.

HUGHLEY: Thanks, man. Likewise, man. Take care. Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up: With this small gesture, Georgia's Republican governor just broke with President Trump, and he's not the only Republican doing so. That's next.



TAPPER: In our health lead: President Trump continues to refuse to wear a mask in public.

But, moments ago, he said he is not against masks. In fact, he said he likes the way he looks in them.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear -- if I were in a group of people, and I was close...

BLAKE BURMAN, FOX NEWS: You would wear one?

TRUMP: Oh, I would. I would. Oh, I have. I mean, people have seen me wearing one.

I sort of liked the way I looked.


TAPPER: The president has been in groups of people with no masks to be found, such as at his rally in Tulsa, where several Trump campaign staffers and Secret Service agents ended up testing positive for the novel coronavirus, or in literally any Rose Garden appearance he has made since the pandemic began, leaving other Republican officials to set an example.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins us now.

Dianne, Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp is on a wear a mask tour around Georgia, but he has not mandated them?


And, look, according to the governor just this morning, it doesn't look likely that he will. Governor Brian Kemp, before getting on that plane to go to six different cities in two days for the sole purpose of encouraging Georgia citizens to wear masks, says that, right now, it's something that maybe he would consider, but he hasn't been able or have the time to look at the legal issues that might come with that.


And, really, he thinks that, well, the people in Georgia and the businesses here don't just use your good judgment. They don't need to be mandated. He also complained about how masks have become political.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): The whole mask issue right now, in my opinion, is being overpoliticized. And that's not what we should be doing. We don't have time for politics right now.


GALLAGHER: Now, the state of Georgia set a record for coronavirus infections just last week, Jake.

Tomorrow, as he wraps up that tour of the different cities in Georgia, he's going to be joined by the surgeon general, Jerome Adams, who, of course, has also been a proponent of mask wearing.

TAPPER: Yes, we should point out, the people politicizing wearing masks are led by President Trump, although there are a number of Republicans, not just Governor Kemp, who are trying to fill the void and emphasize the importance of wearing masks.


And, Jake, look, it appears that the president's comments today, maybe he's falling in line with some of the Republicans. He's finally joining the mask party, because, look, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that there should be no stigma associated with wearing masks, recently saying that we should wear them to protect ourselves and others.

Minority leader Kevin McCarthy also saying to wear masks, Marco Rubio saying, just wear the damn mask. We have heard quite a bit from Republicans over the past week or so, something we weren't hearing beforehand or seeing beforehand from Republicans.

But much of this comes as red states are experiencing this growth in coronavirus infections, like we're seeing here in Georgia. And so, look, Brian Kemp has said that he wants people to wear masks. He's not going to mandate it. There are some cities, though, including Savannah, Georgia, one that he's not going to be visiting, that have passed regulations within their own city limits to go ahead and mandate mask wearing, something we're seeing in many states that haven't done it overall.

The cities are doing so instead.

TAPPER: All right, Dianne Gallagher in Atlanta, Georgia, thank you so much.

Children so far seem to be less severely affected, as a general assumption, by coronavirus than adults, but that does not mean children are not spreading the virus -- an alarming new study, that's next.



TAPPER: In our health lead: Children may be able to spread the deadly coronavirus just as easily as adults.

That's according to Swiss researchers, who looked at 23 children who tested positive for the virus ranging in age from 7 days to 16 years.

Joining us now, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Dr. Jha, good to have you on again.

Researchers found no reason to discount kids as COVID carriers, but this is a pretty small sample size. And they also say that children still do not seem to be a major driver of transmission. So, how much stock do you put into this particular study?


Those are exactly right. It's a small study. The good news is, kids generally don't get sick. And we don't have a ton of evidence about how much they spread.

But I think this study is one more piece of evidence that kids do spread the virus, and it just makes it that much more compelling that we really think hard about how to open up schools safely this fall.

TAPPER: But what does it mean? I mean, obviously, if kids can spread it, and in some rare, but still factual occurrences, get sick from it -- some have died from it -- what should we be doing, given the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Fauci and others are saying, we need to reopen schools in the fall?

How do we do that?

JHA: Yes, so the single biggest determinant of whether we're going to be able to open schools and keep schools open is how much virus there is in the community. So, when I look at large parts of the country right now, and think, if

that's the level of virus we have going into September, we're not going to be able to keep schools open.

So, we have got to get aggressive by bringing virus levels down and accept that kids will do a little bit of transmission and, hopefully, very few of them will actually end up getting sick themselves.

But the level of virus in this country is going to make it very difficult, unless we get aggressive by bringing it down.

TAPPER: And what would some of the risks associated with reopening schools be, beyond the spread of the virus? Children do appear to be less affected by the virus. So I guess, in some ways, it means just a bigger threat to the community, as well as to teachers and parents and grandparents.

JHA: Yes, exactly right.

So imagine that you have got -- imagine, right now, in Phoenix, schools were opening. What would happen is that kids would show up. They might be infected themselves with mild symptoms. They would spread it to others, maybe a little less efficiently than adults, but still spread it.

They'd spread it to their teachers and staff, and they go home and they'd spread it to their parents and grandparents. So they would just -- they would become another source. And given that all these kids are getting together indoors, I think we'd see large outbreaks in schools, and it would become very untenable to keep schools open.

That's why we have got to keep the virus in the community low, because, if we can do that, then we can open schools. And, of course, I, like everybody else, desperately want to open schools this fall. We just have to get aggressive about virus levels in the community.


TAPPER: But schools aren't open right now. And, in most places, I don't think camps are either. So we don't have these little super carriers running all over the country, running all over the community and then bringing it back home.

And yet we're seeing this huge spike in cases all over the country. Most states are having an increase. So, what do we need to do to get a handle on this, other than just pausing the reopening plans? What should governors be doing right now?

JHA: Yes, so, I think this is about the time when governors have to look themselves in the mirror and look at their senior leadership and say, how much do we care about opening schools this fall?

If the answer is, they care a lot, then I think the prescription is pretty straightforward. You can't have bars and gyms open. I'm not sure you can have restaurants open. You have got to have mandatory masks wearing, and you have got to push on surveillance, testing, tracing all the stuff we have been talking about.

If you do all of that throughout the summer, I think there's a pretty good chance most states can bring their outbreaks much, much lower levels, and then open up schools safely. And then you got to still do stuff like social distancing and tracing and surveillance in schools.

But those will be kind of the icing on the cake. The cake is just not having the size of outbreaks we have right now in these communities across America.

TAPPER: Is anyone doing it the way you think it should be done? I mean, I don't even know of any state or commonwealth that is able to do the contact tracing that you and I have been talking about for months.

JHA: Yes, the contact tracing is still moving slowly.

And I think there is more and more pressure. And I think states are starting to ramp up. But I have been talking to governors about pauses. I have been talking about whether they want to roll back.

And when they understand the choices in stark terms, schools this fall or bars now, those are your choices, I think more and more governors, even in places that aren't having large outbreaks, are realizing that maybe we can avoid bars in the summer and fall, if that gives us a better shot at getting schools open this fall.

TAPPER: Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you so much for your expertise, as always. We appreciate it.

A top Trump administration official shedding light on the relationship between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, saying Putin is a chess grand master, and Trump is just playing checkers.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world today: President Trump dismissing the Russian bounty intelligence story as a hoax meant to damage him and Republicans.

The president often touts his relationship with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, but new CNN reporting details how Putin, a former top Soviet spymaster, often gets the better of Trump -- quote -- "'Putin just outplays him,' said a high level administration official, comparing the Russian leader to a chess grand master and Trump to an occasional player of checkers" -- unquote.

As CNN's Matthew Chance reports for us now, Trump may also be helping Putin consolidate power for years to come.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Putin tightening his grip on the Kremlin, he could point to the U.S. president as one reason for his enduring appeal.

"I would elect him for another 10 years," says Antonina (ph), who is voting for constitutional changes that could keep Putin in power until 2036.

When Trump won in 2016, they celebrated in Russia, finally a U.S. leader critical of NATO and the E.U. who they believe saw the world their way, Putin's way. Still, few expected him to back the Russian president over his own intelligence agencies on allegations of U.S. election meddling.

Even Putin looked uncomfortable at the 2018 Helsinki summit, intervening to insist President Trump had disagreed with him on something.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): President Trump's stance on Crimea is well-known, and he sticks to it. We have a different point of view.

CHANCE: But apparent bows to Kremlin interests didn't end. In 2019, President Trump announced the sudden pullout of U.S. forces from Syria, abandoning Kurdish allies, allowing Russian forces to take over deserted U.S. bases, filling the vacuum and a longstanding Kremlin goal.

U.S. officials later clarified, some forces would stay to secure the oil. But, in other conflicts, like Ukraine, Trump also played well to the Russian audience. Threats to suspend vital media aid fueled bitter impeachment hearings in Washington.

It was music to the Kremlin's ears, as their forces backed rebels in the country. Now, as Russians look set to endorse Putin for potentially another 16 years, Trump's apparent soft spot for the Kremlin's strongman, with allegations of Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops, is being tested again.


CHANCE: Well, Jake, on that issue of Russian bounties, the Kremlin is sticking to the White House line, calling it a hoax and a lie.

They're also criticizing the American media for what they say is spreading propaganda about Russia, in other words, saying exactly what they always say when allegations of Russian wrongdoing are presented to them -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Matthew Chance with that important report from London, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. You can follow the show at @THELEADCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. [17:00:00]