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Question Raised Over Trump's Handling of Briefing; Officials Weigh Returning to School; Tulsa Officer Killed during Traffic Stop. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired July 1, 2020 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It may be entirely impossible to get to the bottom of it because someone decided to leak to hurt the president rather than uphold their obligations to the American people.
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JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm joined now by Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Shawn Turner, former director of communication for U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, also long time official in the intelligence community.
Thanks to both of you.
Shawn, if I can begin with you, because you were involved in developing briefings for presidents, multiple administrations. The national security adviser, and you've heard this from multiple White House officials, say this information was not briefed or relayed to the president, though it's CNN's reporting that it was included in his written briefing book, because it was not corroborated.
Is that a credible explanation? Is all the intelligence that reaches the president's level have to be agreed upon by everyone before it gets to his ears?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, no, Jim. Actually, it's the case that when -- you know, every president is different with regard to how they take briefs. And so for President Trump, you know, it may have been the case that for him that he took the brief orally and that there was some written material left over.
But with regard to this issue of corroboration, look, you know the intelligence brief contains a lot of different types of intelligence. Not all of that intelligence is going to be intelligence that has been looked at and corroborated by all of the 17 intelligence agencies and components. What we're talking about here is intelligence that was significant enough that intelligence briefers believed that it was -- that it was worthy to be in front of the president. And even if there may have been an agency that said that, you know, they'd look at the intelligence, they don't necessarily agree that this is exactly what another agency says, that doesn't mean that it wouldn't go to the president.
What's really important here is that that information was in there. And if the president had an opportunity to see that information, whether it was orally briefed or whether it was written, it's extremely significant information. What we call decision intelligence. And so there should have been some sort of feedback from the president, some sort of questions from the president about that information, even if it wasn't fully corroborated by all of the intelligence agencies.
SCIUTTO: So, Mike Rogers, let's say you're in your old position on Capitol Hill as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. You saw intelligence like this. First of all, would you want to know? Second of all, do you believe the president should know about a threat to U.S. troops? And, by the way, we should note, the U.S. did share that intelligence with partners, with troops deployed in Afghanistan, as well as with U.S. commanders on the ground.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Oh, absolutely. And, by the way, dissent is important in intelligence and intelligence pieces that are presented, both to policymakers and the president's daily brief. And, remember, the whole 17 agencies, Shawn alluded to this -- whose, by the way, at the great Michigan State University -- alluded to the fact that, listen, this is a great, cooperative efforts. And so with -- and the reason that the director of national intelligence was established, if you recall, was to try to get a handle and make sure you had all sources of intelligence included in the president's daily brief. So after all of that process, it made it into the president's daily brief.
Today, the national security adviser, and it was a head scratcher for me, said, well, a briefer decided not to do that, not to brief. Well, a single point of failure is never a good idea. I just -- I find that just absolutely not credible, honestly.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. And I was --
ROGERS: That one person made this decision and, yes, they need to know -- and I'll tell you why they need to know quickly. You have -- you're negotiating the release and putting pressure on a foreign government, the Afghani government, to release 2,000 Taliban fighters. You were suggesting that Putin should be freed from some of these sanctions and -- and be included in the G-7. And you're trying to negotiate a peace process that is always dangerous with the Taliban. I mean these are the same folks who are closing down girls' schools in the eastern provinces still today.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.
ROGERS: All of that's happening.
Yes, you need to know this. And, for the safety of our troops as well. And if it was important for the Brits, it certainly was important for our policymakers. SCIUTTO: I always remind people, we're talking about intelligence,
intelligence is not a verdict, right, it's evidence.
SCIUTTO: It's -- you're piecing together information from different sources.
SCIUTTO: Very rarely will someone say, I know this to be 1,000 percent true.
Shawn Turner, as is often the tactic of this administration, when criticized on issues of intelligence, they're not going after the intelligence officials involved, our national security briefers involved in saying they did this solely to damage the president.
I want to ask your -- given the years of service you had in the intelligence community, your reaction to that charge.
TURNER: Yes, you know, it completely discounts the substance of what we're talking about here. Look, you know, I can remember times when I was in the intelligence community when there would be a piece of information, some intelligence that would be put in a product to go to the president, to go -- and to go to lawmakers. And we -- we'd wait for the decision because we understood how significant that piece of intelligence was.
This is the kind of intelligence that we -- where people would have been waiting for the president to say one of two things. He would have either said, look, I've got questions about this, go back and get me more information, or he would have said to his national security team, I want you to put together three or four different courses of action so that we can -- so that I have some -- some way to address this.
And I want to go back to one other thing that, you know, Congressman Rogers made a very important point with regard to the presidency is, you know, it's called the president's daily briefing, but it is also the case that there are a lot of other people -- several other people in the president's inner circle --
TURNER: Who see the book, as we call it. So even if the president himself somehow missed this information, maybe it wasn't briefed or maybe that was a day when he didn't read the brief, there would have been other people on his national security team, other people in the circle who would have seen this intelligence and certainly someone on that national security team would have raised to this to the president's attention and said, Mr. President, you need to pay attention to this, this is important. We can't simply let this one go.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. And if they're not reading the brief, they're not doing their homework. Let's be clear.
Mike Rogers, before we go, what should the options be for the president now to respond to this threat in your view?
ROGERS: Well, first of all, they -- they need to continue digging. I would -- I'd like to see a little better consensus on -- on the evidence that they have.
And, by the way, the committees can help with this and we have, in the past, that used to happen. They can draw this information out and get people hiding behind their in boxes, if you will. And I think they ought to play that role.
Once that's done, and if they have that determination, then this is a time for public -- obviously it's in the public. And, by the way, I don't like leaks. Leaks is not how we should have come to this conclusion, by the way. And I think Shawn would agree with that as well. It is here now and we're going to have to deal with it.
ROGERS: So they should publicly push back on Russia. We should coordinate this with our allies. Any NATO -- and the reason they're doing this, by the way, is to discredit the United States and NATO as they're looking at these drawdowns.
ROGERS: And so they have -- that needs to be -- we need to push back on them for that. And then I would look at other intelligence options that we certainly won't talk about today that will have an impact on their ability to do their kinds of things in Afghanistan and maybe even other places. All of those should be options on the table.
ROGERS: And they should be aggressive. And we should have a public rebuke of them offering money to kill Americans in Afghanistan. We should all be outraged by this.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. You expect unanimity on something like that.
Mike Rogers, Shawn Turner, great to have the years of experience together on the show this morning.
TURNER: Thanks, Jim.
ROGERS: Thanks, Jim.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says the goal should be to get children back to school this fall. School officials all over now working on how to do that safely. Lots of different plans out there. Where does it all stand? And I know parents are listening to this with just weeks to go.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
As parents around the country, I'm sure some of you wonder when or even if their kids will be able to return to school in the fall. The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that schools reopening would depend on the dynamics of the outbreak in a particular area. In effect, no one size fits all.
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: The basic fundamental goal would be, as you possibly can to get the children back to school, and to use the public health efforts as a tool to help get children back to school.
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SCIUTTO: CNN's senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga joins us now.
Bianna, I know you, as a parent, have been watching this closely. I certainly have. Others. It sounds like a mix, right, of in person and at home learning is going to be the way forward here.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hybrid or staggered. That's right, Jim. But, of course, the goal, all experts say, is to get as many kids back into school as possible. It's really telling that despite all of the health consequences that experts still believe getting the children back into school is more beneficial than keeping them at home. Of course we've got schools opening in some parts of the country in just a few weeks and you've got a lot of parents, you've got a lot of teachers who are very concerned. But if we want to open this economy, keep in mind, you're not going to be able to do that until schools have children back in the classroom.
GOLODRYGA (voice over): In what could be described as a country's most ambitious mobilization effort in recent history, school districts across the country are issuing plans for how more than 50 million K-12 students will be returning to school. Some just weeks away.
Officials in Marietta, Georgia, and Nashville, Tennessee, have given families two options for when classes resume the first week in August, in person or distance learning.
The Denver Public School District announced a return to full in-person instruction August 17th, with health screenings provided for all students, teachers and staff prior to arrival.
TONY THURMOND, CALIFORNIA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: We'll continue to monitor. And so we'll be ready for either scenario, in person or staying in distance learning.
GOLODRYGA: California currently experiencing a spike in cases says its 10,000 schools will have a plan in place in time for late August and September reopenings. In the northeast, the governors of the states initially hit hardest by Covid-19, but now seeing a decline in cases, are hopeful that that trend will continue and classes can resume in the fall.
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We have every expectation that our kids will return to their schools come September.
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): Continued isolation poses very real risks to our kids' mental and physical health.
GOLODRYGA: Even states experiencing the brunt of the virus now, like Texas and Florida, are still planning for an August return to the classroom.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): There's not going to be a substitute for that in-person instruction.
GOLODRYGA: Experts agree.
JOSEPH ALLEN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We've seen massive public health consequences to these school closures, in terms of virtual drop-outs. We cannot afford, as a country, to keep our schools locked down for another year.
GOLODRYGA: Joseph Allen is the lead author of a new report on risk reduction strategies for reopening schools. Among them, distance, hygiene, mask wearing and proper ventilation.
ALLEN: We know these risk reduction strategies work. Even with a full load of kids in the class. Kids are at lower risk of getting this virus. They're at lower risk of serious, adverse consequences. Early evidence looks like they're at lower risk of transmitting to adults.
GOLODRYGA: That may not be enough to convince many parents and teachers that returning to the classroom will be safe.
ERIC MACKEY, ALABAMA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION: One jurisdiction it's under 5 percent and another jurisdiction hits about 80 percent or more of parents who say they intend to keep their children home. And so you can see how it's so difficult to do a statewide plan when even from community to community people have such varying ideas about how they want school to look.
ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: I think we're going to be in a hybrid situation where some children will be in school some of the time, all children will be learning virtually some of the time as well.
GOLODRYGA: With some states issuing guidelines for reopening, while others only recommendations. Much of the decision-making is left to local officials.
DAN DOMENECH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AASA, THE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION: I'm so glad I'm not in that seat right now. There's the pressure from the community and the staff for the plans to be released, again, but releasing plans at this point with so many unknowns is what makes it such a difficult process.
GOLODRYGA: And, Jim, the one area of consensus that I've heard from experts that I've spoken to is that it didn't have to be this way. We didn't have to wait just weeks until schools opened to give answers to parents about what they can expect and where their students will be, either at home or in the classroom. Experts said that the federal government on down should have been focusing on this as soon as the pandemic hit.
GOLODRYGA: We've seen this happen in other countries. And instead of focusing on reopening bars, the real focus should have been on reopening schools. And to do that, obviously, is to contain the coronavirus as much as you can and not reopen soon the way some of these states have.
SCIUTTO: No national plan. It's a consistent feature of this.
Bianna Golodryga, thanks so much for following this.
GOLODRYGA: Of course.
SCIUTTO: Tragedy in Tulsa. An Oklahoma officer killed, another critically hurt during a traffic stop. We're going to have more on this story, next.
SCIUTTO: A Tulsa police officer is dead after a traffic stop shooting earlier this week. Police say that Officers Craig Johnson and Aurash Zarkeshan were shot after they pulled a car over. Johnson was hit several times. He went through surgery, but he did not survive. The other officer still in critical condition. Now two suspects are in custody.
Let's bring in CNN national correspondent Brynn Gingras.
What do we know about how this happened and who's responsible?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, you know, Sergeant Craig Johnson, let's start there, he was a 15-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, a father of two boys and a husband. He was part of this routine traffic stop with the other officer, as you mentioned his name, Aurash Zarkeshan, in the early morning hours on Monday. And essentially what we're understanding from the Tulsa Police Department is some sort of scuffle ensued with this suspect who was driving the car and several shots were fired and those shots hit both Sergeant Johnson and the other officer. Both were hit in the head. And, as you mentioned, Johnson underwent surgery, but his prognosis wasn't good and he died yesterday.
The other officer, there is hope there. Apparently he is responding to doctors. So he is doing a little bit better.
But this really talks to the fact of the volatile climate that we are in right now with police. And it's really a devastating reminder of the risk that these officers are still taking and the Tulsa Police chief talked about that when speaking about Sergeant Johnson.
Take a listen.
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CHIEF WENDELL FRANKLIN, TULSA POLICE: Inside of this uniform is just a regular person. I'm just like you. And we're just like you. The only difference is, is, we do a different job than what you do. So, for us, we're just as much a part of the community as you are.
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GINGRAS: And that police chief awarded Sergeant Johnson the Purple Heart from the department. As far as the suspect, his name is David Ware, 32 years old. He was arrested by police after he fled the scene that morning. He has been charged with murder and other felony charges. And there is another alleged accomplice who also has been charged that the hour, Jim. But, again, devastating story there out of Tulsa. That city mourning this morning.
SCIUTTO: No question. Brynn Gingras, good to have you on the story.
To Seattle now where right now, as we speak, police are moving to clear the downtown area known as CHOP, or the Capital Hill Occupation Protest. The organized protest zone, it formed in the days just after George Floyd's killing. Right now, at least 13 people have been arrested following an order from the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan. An emergency order for people to vacate the area. That order put in place due to ongoing violence. Police say anyone who stays in the area will also be arrested.
Well, the New York City Council is cutting $1 billion from the budget for the New York Police Department. The council voted to approve those cuts yesterday, which is believed to be a first for the department. The cuts include reducing the force by nearly 1,200 officers. It also cuts the overtime budget by nearly $300 million. Under the new budget, crossing guards and school safety officers will no longer be under the NYPD purview.
Another story we're following today, cases surging across the country. Reopenings now paused as a result in a dozen states. And now new data on a particular vaccine. We will have that for you, all the news coming up next.
SCIUTTO: Good morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.
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