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Food Pantries' Lines Continue to Grow; One Hong Kong Representative to Vote on New Security Law; President Trump's Briefers May Have Skipped Russia Issues. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 2, 2020 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And of course, as the beach (ph) is -- well, you can see, Jim, people already gambling here this morning.

If we come back here, you could see, every slot machine is available. So these are out of service, making sure there is distance for players.

And then there isn't someone around right now, but there's an entire cleaning team that comes (ph), like right here, an entire cleaning team that comes around after every slot machine is used, after every table is used, and they clean the machines, they clean the bathrooms, they clean the railings. I mean, we have seen so much cleaning happening in these casinos. So they are certainly prepared for all the people that they are going to welcome for the July 4th weekend. Again, only allowed to have 25 percent capacity, but they're happy to have it.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

GINGRAS: And the workers, who were devastated by this area, we saw many of them in, you know, food lines, they're happy to be back to work as well -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And the cleaning's good, but it's not about the surfaces, it's about airborne, and that's the real issue. Brynn Gingras, thanks very much.

The U.S. economy created 4.8 million jobs last month, the unemployment rate dropping to 11.1 percent. Good news, but even as the president takes a victory lap, don't let the numbers fool you because there are exceptions here. 1.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, that's new, newly unemployed. And in particular, for low-income Americans and for immigrants, they are struggling even more now than before.

CNN business and politics correspondent Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now. How do we see that in the numbers here?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Jim. Well, we know that Americans are heading back to work, we can see some right behind me in the coffee shop. But for the reality, for many millions of Americans, they are out of a job and there's a growing concern for our nation's most vulnerable: immigrants, undocumented workers and minorities who were struggling before and are now struggling more than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMMAD RAZVI, CEO, COUNCIL OF PEOPLES ORGANIZATION: Well, of course, you've got milk. This is beautiful.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): It's not even 8:00 a.m., and Mohammad Razvi is in a frenzy.

RAZVI: That's good, that's good. Right under, put it right under.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): He's coordinating 400,000 pounds of food this week alone --

RAZVI: This is exactly what we're doing, right?

YURKEVICH (voice-over): -- for hungry New Yorkers.

RAZVI: We were previously servicing about 200 people a week. At the moment, we're servicing almost 15,000 people.

Look at the shopping carts.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Razvi estimates the majority of people in this line for food in Brooklyn are unemployed. Americans out of work are turning to food pantries in record numbers. In response, his group, Council of the Peoples Organization, turned its daycare centers and senior center into warehouses for food.

YURKEVICH: The need is growing?

RAZVI: It's growing. What's happening is many people did not receive their unemployment checks, many people are not eligible. So they're the ones who are actually really struggling.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The struggle is greatest in low-income communities, where minorities are unemployed in higher numbers. Eighty-four-year-old Esme Roberts is getting her weekly delivery from COPO. She wouldn't be able to afford food otherwise. That's because her son was laid off, but he's undocumented and ineligible for unemployment.

ESME ROBERTS, RELIES ON MEAL DELIVERY: He used to pay all the lighting (ph) bills, and the gas bill and TV. That's why I have to take off the cable and all of that, he was paying for all of that.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The estimated 7.6 million undocumented workers in the U.S., many who are out of a job, have no access to government assistance. That has a ripple effect on the entire U.S. economy.

HEIDI SHIERHOLZ, SENIOR ECONOMIST, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: You have those folks not being able to spend. And the money that they are no longer spending because they don't have it in terms of income, means other people lose their jobs and we have that vicious cycle.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Razvi sees that cycle playing out firsthand. The lines of the unemployed waiting for food here are only getting longer.

YURKEVICH: Do you think that number is going to go down or up?

RAZVI: I'm hoping it goes down, but it doesn't look like it at the moment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YURKEVICH: Another growing concern is the extra $600 every week that Americans are getting in unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of this month. We know that there was a bill passed in the House that would extend that extra $600 for Americans, Jim, but it stalled in the Senate. So the big question is whether there is the will to get this money into the hands of Americans because we know and we see that this need is clearly there -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Listen, so many people suffering. Those are moving stories. Vanessa Yurkevich, thanks very much.

[10:34:52]

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: China's newly newly enacted national security law for Hong Kong is broad and far-reaching. It has the potential for massive ramifications for the city's political freedoms.

Now, countries all over the world, they are expressing their outrage. Will that make a difference? CNN international correspondent Will Ripley joins me now from Hong Kong.

Will, you spoke exclusively with the only Hong Kong citizen who will have a vote on this in Beijing. What did this representative tell you about this law?

[10:40:00]

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, 170 people on the National People's Congress Standing Committee in Beijing, and only one person from Hong Kong, deciding 7 million people's fates when it comes to this national security law, and yet that is frankly the reality.

Because even though Hong Kong people were promised that they would be ruling their own city under One Country, Two Systems, Beijing, making it very clear who is in charge with this new law.

And what it means is that anybody who has posted anything on social media ever, that the Communist Party in China might find offensive, needs to be very careful now.

Because if they are arrested, whether they be a protester or a professor or an activist or anybody, if they are arrested, police can take the phone, they can go through the electronic, you know, foot print, they can look at social media posts and they can build a case that you are a national security threat to China simply for being in possession of something like a banner that says Hong Kong Independence.

That's exactly what happened to a 15-year-old girl, one of the first arrests under the national security law. And I asked the delegate about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAM YIU CHANG, HONG KONG DELEGATE, NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS STANDING COMMITTEE (via translator): It might be because some people intentionally challenged the law. Also, it might be because they did not understand the contents of the law.

RIPLEY: How is a 15-year-old girl in possession of a Hong Kong Independence banner -- or anyone for that matter --a threat to the national security of China, simply for possessing such a banner?

CHANG (via translator): We feel very sad that some youths and teenagers have violated the law. We really don't want to see such cases, but unfortunately in the last year, many youths and teenagers violated the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: Supporters of this law say it could bring back order to Hong Kong. I mean, admittedly, the protests yesterday were dramatically smaller than they were one year ago, a handover anniversary, when protestors broke into the Legislative Council building and vandalized it.

But there is a certain chilling effect, and then there is reality. And China is -- China's basically saying that these protests are the result of foreign influence by the United States and Taiwan. They don't believe that it's an uprising from within.

And yet there are a lot of young people who say very differently, they say they're angry and that angry won't go away just because there's a law. Some people might be radicalized, Jim, that's the concern, that people -- now that they know they could face terrorism charges anyway, what if they take this fight to a whole new level, albeit smaller numbers?

SCIUTTO: Well, there's also no evidence it's plotted from the outside. I mean, this has brought on millions of people to the streets in Hong Kong over years now, it's an repressive law and it's sad to see it happen to Hong Kong. Will Ripley, thanks very much.

Later this morning, the so-called Gang of Eight on Capitol Hill will be briefed on intelligence surrounding Russian bounties paid to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. And with that, why President Trump says he was not briefed on the matter.

We are learning more about why that may be. His intelligence briefers, wary of even raising the issue of malign activities by Russia with the president, fearing his reaction. Let's bring in CNN national security correspondent Kylie Atwood.

Kylie, I mean, it's remarkable here to hear that the commander in chief, as multiple people who briefed him have told me, does not want to hear negative things, negative intelligence about Russia.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jim. Your reporting is extremely relevant in the conversation that we are having now. I mean, you're reported, according to multiple senior officials in the administration, that when the president was briefed and it had to do with Russia's malign activity, he would often blow up at the intelligence officers who were briefing him, and ask them why they were so focused on Russia, and even questioned the intelligence that they were providing to him.

So what that led them to do was to not include Russia as much in the oral briefings. And they included it, of course, in the written briefings that are provided to the president in the president's daily brief every day, as needed. So it was still there, but they weren't discussing it with him.

And that is really key because, as we know, the president doesn't traditionally read the presidential daily brief, even though that is kind of seen as a bible for former presidents, who read it every morning religiously.

So this is really important in the context of this conversation we're discussing, where the president said that he was never briefed on the fact that Russia had offered bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

And I think that this is one of the things that will be discussed today on the Hill, because Nancy Pelosi said, earlier this week, that she will be asking, during this briefing, if the briefers didn't provide this intelligence in an oral briefing to the president because they were worried that he would tell Putin?

So this is something that we are going to be learning more about. You know, why wasn't he briefed?

[10:45:00]

SCIUTTO: The president has spoken to Vladimir Putin six times since this intelligence appeared in his written president's daily brief, as it's known, daily compendium of the most severe national security threats to the country.

To your -- in your reporting, has anybody raised this threat to U.S. troops on the ground with their Russian counterparts, to say the U.S. will not stand for this?

ATWOOD: No, we don't know any instance of a U.S. official bringing up this specific Russian bounty to their Russian counterparts. Now, just yesterday at the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo really pushed back on talking about any specific intelligence. And he did come out saying that the U.S. does talk to Russia and is very forceful in bringing up any threats that they see posed by Russia to the U.S.

But he really wouldn't get into the details of this specific instance, which of course is extremely important because it has to do with U.S. troops on the ground for the United States in Afghanistan.

And I think the other important thing, Jim, is that we have seen a lot of criticism for the president, seeming to give more of a positive relationship, a positive propensity to that relationship than he should.

Former national security advisor Susan Rice wrote about that in a very powerful op-ed in "The New York Times" this week, saying that if she had found out about this intelligence, she would have told the president immediately. That is not what happened in this situation -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: And there's no evidence the president himself has confronted Russia on this, and that of course, key as well. Kylie Atwood at the State Department, thanks very much.

As ICUs fill to capacity in Texas, the call for a statewide mask mandate is growing. How one official is right now enforcing masks at a local level, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:51:25]

SCIUTTO: Welcome back. This morning, growing calls for a statewide mask mandate in Texas, the state continuing to shatter its own daily records of new infections. Hospitalizations -- and this is key -- also spiking as ICUs there, near capacity.

With me now is Vinny Taneja, he's public health director of Tarrant County, Texas -- that around Fort Worth, Arlington. Vinny, good to have you on this morning. Interesting strategy from your point of view, because you've issued a face mask requirement on June 26. There's no statewide mandate. Is the governor allowing you the freedom to do that, and how do you enforce it?

VINNY TANEJA, PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR, TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS: Yes. So the governor did allow local county officials to make that requirement, especially if you are in an area where you're seeing cases that are surging.

And the way that it's been allowed is that the local county and city officials can require businesses, you know, to wear face masks. You know, their business owners and employees. And our businesses have done the right thing, and they've gone ahead and mandated that for their patrons that are visiting these businesses. So it's a ripple effect and we're benefiting from that. SCIUTTO: And, listen, we can repeat the science a thousand times --

as we have on this show or the science shows -- masks work, both in protecting yourself and protecting others. How do you explain state leaders' reluctance to order what is a simple step, a cheap, simple step to control the spread of this virus, that's been proven to control the spread?

TANEJA: You know, I don't envy the position our (ph) elected officials are in. There's many sides to the story. Of course, you know, there's the scientific evidence that masks do cut down transmission, but there's also the side of personal freedom, which is obviously very seriously taken in the United States, and especially in Texas. And there's others who don't believe in that science.

So it's trying to balance all sides instead of forcing something on somebody. They've been very strongly encouraging people to do the right thing. And slowly, slowly, we're starting to see that, you know, we're having to come back a little more forceful. OK, if you're not going to do the right thing, we're going to have to come back and tell you to do the right thing.

So it's a very, you know, thoughtful approach in my mind to, you know, gently ease people into understanding that this is something that we really need to do, and everybody needs to do it.

SCIUTTO: I mean, you have had some state officials -- let's be fair, lieutenant governor -- question the science outright. I wonder about your focus on July Fourth weekend?

Because health experts have told us that some of the increase in cases we've seen in this country can be attributed to folks going out on Memorial Day weekend, right? Feeling kind of liberated from the stay- at-home orders. Here, we have another big holiday coming up. What are you doing to prevent that kind of thing from happening again, what are you recommending to people?

TANEJA: Absolutely. Public health recommendation has been the same: avoid large gatherings, right? Whether it's Memorial Day celebrations, graduation parties, cookouts at your house where you invite neighbors and friends, don't do that. You know, let's celebrate it with our individual family units and, you know, stay healthy.

And that's what we've been recommending to the public for Memorial Day, and now, going forward, for Fourth of July. So that messaging has been the same, and it's completely supported by our leadership at the county level, at the state level. They all are saying the same thing, avoid large gatherings.

[10:55:00]

SCIUTTO: Simple rules. And, again, it's in the science. Vinny Taneja, we wish you and your community the best of luck in these coming days and weeks. It's important stuff.

TANEJA: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And please stay with us, we're going to be right back after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:00]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining us for the next two hours.