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Biden Tops Trump with Fundraising Haul in June; Trump Changes Tone on Masks; Russian bounty Scheme. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 2, 2020 - 06:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As cases and deaths rise in Arizona. People, as you can see, are still working out and the gym is remaining open despite an order from the governor that gyms, movie theaters and other gathering places shut down as the state tries to deal with a resurgent pandemic.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Even the video of the people in that enclosed space without wearing masks makes you shake your head.

So, you've seen the polls, but there was a big, new indicator overnight about where this election might be headed. We'll tell you what it is, next.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump and Biden campaigns are stocking up for the election battle ahead and the presumptive Democratic nominee has now topped the president in fundraising for a second straight month.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is live in Washington this morning with the numbers.

Arlette, good morning.


Well, June was a record-setting month for both Joe Biden and President Trump's campaigns, but it was Biden who came out on top in that money race.

Let's take a look at the numbers. The Trump campaign and the RNC announced their fundraising figure for June. First, $131 million, an impressive figure.


But, hours later, the Biden campaign and the DNC announced they raised a whopping $141 million. That's the second straight month that Biden has out-raised President Trump when it comes to that fundraising campaign.

Now, if you take a look at the second quarter, Biden also overall came out with more money over President Trump. And President Trump, right now, has a $295 million war chest heading into that general election. We still don't know what the Biden campaign's cash on hand numbers are, but Trump's campaign manager has argued that there is this enthusiasm gap right now in the campaign, with voters more excited for President Trump. But Biden's campaign manager says that those fundraising numbers they released last night show that there is real grassroots energy for Joe Biden. Sixty-eight percent of their donors last month were brand-new.

And this all comes as the coronavirus pandemic really has transformed the way fundraising has gone on during this campaign. President Trump has only held a few in-person fundraising events. Biden is not doing any fundraising events in person at this point. In fact, he's relied on some high-profile, big-money events in June with teaming up with President Obama for the first event, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris also bringing in big money for Joe Biden in the last month.

And, at the same time, yesterday, we also learned that Biden earned this pair of endorsements across the political -- really opposite ends of the political spectrum. Move On, a progressive organization announced that they are backing the former vice president, showing that he's bringing some of those progressive voters into the fold. And then there was also a group of George W. Bush alumni who announced they are forming an outside group to support the former vice president. And that just shows that broad support that they are looking to draw on heading into the general election.

And this all comes as Biden is also leading President Trump right now in many national polls as we are four months out from November.

HILL: Arlette Saenz with the latest for us.

Arlette, thank you.

BERMAN: All right, want to bring in CNN political commentator Errol Louis to talk about this.

Errol, look, the president's not going to run out of money. And it's probably unlikely that the president will have less money than Joe Biden. But to have Joe Biden outraise you for two straight months, Biden, who, by the way, is an historically poor fundraiser, it does tell you something about where this race is and why the president may be forced to change some behavior.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right. And it's important to keep in mind, John, that when the Biden campaign is raising lots of small donations, the money matters less than the fact that you've now got somebody whose locked in, somebody whose made a commitment to the campaign, somebody whose of cell phone number you probably have and you can sort of hound them for more money every one of the 123 days between now and election day. So it really becomes a turnout operation as well. It's a really interesting and efficient way to do it. It's been turbo charged by the fact that we have this lockdown because of the coronavirus, but it's always been a sound strategy.

The Trump campaign, on the other hand, was expecting to have a lot of firepower and to use traditional media, television commercials and so forth, to try and define Joe Biden. It's just really hard to do that when Joe Biden has been in public life really longer than Donald Trump has, for -- for decades now. So it becomes very hard to sort of create new impressions. So you are exactly right, the Trump campaign is going to have to find a new strategy. If they were expecting to just outgun Joe Biden and spend him into defeat, that's not necessarily going to happen.

HILL: Not clear whether this is part of the new strategy, but we are seeing a slight shift from the president himself, specifically when it comes to masks.

Take a listen.


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.

I mean people have seen me wearing one.

I sort of liked the way I looked, OK, I thought it was OK. It was a dark black mask and I thought I looked OK. I looked like the Lone Ranger.


HILL: I think the Lone Ranger wears his mask up here, but that aside, it is interesting, though, to hear that shift, especially after we've heard so many Republicans come out in the last couple of days imploring Americans to wear masks. The question, of course, is whether there will be any action on the part of the president, Errol.

LOUIS: Yes, I think that you -- you are starting to see the beginnings of an evolution. And some of that may be poll driven. I just recently saw a poll, about 3,500 likely voters, these are people who are pretty sure they're going to go to the polls in November. And they're -- when asked to -- to rank the causes of the spread of the coronavirus, they gave Trump first position, even above people who aren't using their masks, you know? So people are making the connection between the actions coming out of the White House and what's happening as far as hospitalizations and sickness and death.

That is an association that the president, as a candidate, simply cannot afford to let stand. He's going to have to do something about this.


And I think we're now seeing him create the rationales publicly for what will certainly be -- almost certainly be a positional change sometime in the next few days or weeks where he'll actually turn around and probably say he was the first one to start wearing masks at some point.

BERMAN: Right. I mean, of course, there are three lost months when he was telling people not to or saying that he -- he didn't tell people not to. He questioned the efficacy and he himself didn't wear it. And we'll have to see if he's going to put one on so we can see it. I hope he wears it over his nose and mouth instead of his eyes, like the Lone Ranger did.

Errol, the president continues to claim success on coronavirus. And not really focus on it, by the way. We're not hearing him. There's new CNN reporting overnight that there's this internal split in the White House. Should he focus on the economy or should he publicly focus on the pandemic?

I can't believe it's a discussion. It seems shocking to me that there shouldn't be public focus or it's not just assumed there'll be public focus on 50,000 new cases a day and 128,000 deaths in America. But the fact there's the split is interesting.

LOUIS: Yes. Well, look, he's made a couple of bets and they've gone -- they've really gone sour. It's hard to believe, as you say, that they're going to make one more bet in the same direction. But, look, he gambled early on that it was going to simply fade away. That turned out not to work. He has gambled that people would be more interested in having the economy recover than they would be in taking a lot of public health measures that would slow things down. He was wrong on that, too.

He's now gambling that he can sort of make yet another bid for something that is his strength, which is talking about the economy, as opposed to actually dealing with the problem. And this virus has really been relentless. It -- the numbers aren't going in his direction. The public sentiment is not going in his direction. The deaths and the hospitalizations and the concern are only going in one direction, and that's up. And so he's going to have to, at some point, really sort of abandon the economy as his prime strategy and actually do his job. Actually deal with the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime.

HILL: You know, Errol, he's also, in many ways, been gambling on leaning into hate, right? We've seen the executive order when it comes to preserving the confederate monuments. And then there's also this pushback on the Black Lives Matter plan -- plan to paint Black Lives Matter in New York City, of course, on Fifth Avenue, calling this -- saying that it would be a symbol of hate.

Kayleigh McEnany said, well, really what he was talking about there was the organization. But in her words, she does -- he does believe that all black lives matter.

That being said, I'm not sure that the president's track record really jives with Kayleigh McEnany's words. And yet he's continuing to lean into this, Errol.

LOUIS: Yes. Well, look, he's looking for cultural issues. The economy is not working for him. The coronavirus has been a complete disaster. He's going to now look for cultural issues. And playing racial divisions has been part of his repertoire from the -- from day one, from the time that he jumped into politics as a birther.

On the other hand, this is not necessarily the right one. I mean it -- it is designed to goad him into action, painting Black Lives Matter in front of his big, gorgeous building on Fifth Avenue. And it seems to be succeeding. The problem, though, for the president is that this is not one of those obnoxious kind of protests. Things like these occupied zones, where there's a lot of disorder, there's, in some cases, some violence, graffiti, a kind of rowdiness that a lot of people really could react to, that gives president -- the president something to work with.

In this case, it's just like, you know, the perfect nice-looking lettering down Fifth Avenue expressing a sentiment that most Americans agree with if you believe the polls. So he's -- he's kind of lashing out at some folks who I think have baited him into an unwise attack on the portion of this movement that almost nobody objects to.

BERMAN: Errol Louis, have a great, safe holiday weekend. Thank you very much for being with us this morning.

LOUIS: You do the same. Thank you.

BERMAN: New details overnight about the Russian bounty plot in Afghanistan. We'll speak with a former top CIA official about what this means and why the president should have known about this months ago.



BERMAN: Developing overnight, "The New York Times" reporting that an Afghan businessman was the middleman in the alleged Russian scheme to pay about to $100,000 bounties to kill U.S. and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. President Trump maintains the entire story is a hoax.

Joining me now is David Priess. He's a former CIA officer who provided daily briefings to former President George W. Bush. His book on the subject is called "The President's Book of Secrets."

David, it's great to have you with us.

Look, the way I see it, there are three separate but connected issues here. Number one, what happened? Number two, what did the president know about it and when was he told? And, number three, what is he going to do about it? They're all interconnected in a way.

The new story in "The New York Times" gets to what actually happened. Your area of expertise falls into the category of what did the president know about it and when was he told? You know as much or more than anyone on earth about these presidential daily briefings. This information that keeps on coming up, the Afghan middleman and "The New York Times," the facts that we've seen before, shouldn't the president have been told, in your experience? DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA OFFICER: It certainly seems so because the

facts are showing that it does not appear to be a hoax, as the president has said, but there appears to be a real story here.

And, listen, this is not a casual story. This is a story with grave consequences. Life and death for U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan and the lives of our coalition partners there. This is exactly the kind of thing that would go into the president's daily brief to ensure that the commander in chief has the best assessment of the intelligence community about this development, what is known, what is not known, so that he can have conversations with his senior advisers about what to do in response to this.

BERMAN: There's an enormous amount of deflection going on right now in terms of responsibility for who knew what, when, and what they're doing about it.


This was the national security adviser just yesterday. Listen.


ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And the person who decided early on whether the president should be briefed on this in the Oval -- in the Oval intelligence briefing was a career -- senior career civil servant CIA officer. And she made that decision because she didn't have confidence in the intelligence that came up.

She made that call. And, you know what, I think she made the right call.


BERMAN: What do you hear when you listen to the national security adviser say that?

PRIESS: Yes, he does not have credibility with that statement, to be -- to be quite blunt, because if she, the briefer he's mentioning, did not have confidence in that, and thus chose not to bring it up in the oral briefing of the president, it would not have appeared in the president's daily brief in the first place. The intelligence community is not in the business of putting things into this very special document every day for the president and the small circle of advisers around him that they have no confidence in. So that can't be true.

The national security adviser intern has some questions, because the briefer only gets to see the president once or twice a week, irregularly. And if the national security adviser knows or suspects that the president is not reading the daily document, and that the briefer is only seeing him occasionally, that's part of the national security adviser's job is to make sure that the president gets the information that he needs. And if the briefer is not going to do that, then it's incumbent upon the national security adviser to make sure that every bit of information commuted to the president in the president's daily brief is actually communicated to him. And then the national security adviser should have brought that to the president's attention. It's not his job to decide if it's credible or not and simply not mention it and then blame the briefer whom he doesn't get in to see the president often enough. It's, frankly, embarrassing for the national security adviser.

BERMAN: Our Jim Sciutto has some reporting which might point to a motivation about why they were hesitant to give the president this information. Jim reports that there's a reluctance to tell the president anything about Russia, because he doesn't want to hear it. He doesn't want to hear that Russia is doing things wrong. So sometimes people who talk to him, who provide intelligence, they bury it. What does that tell you?

PRIESS: The job of intelligence is to tell the president what he needs to know, not what he wants to hear. And sometimes those are hard truths. All the presidents I interviewed for "The President's Book of Secrets" told me they got messages they didn't want to hear, things they would prefer not to know, because it complicated their policy or it challenged their pre-existing notions. But they said they all valued it because they would rather know the truth on the ground, as can be assessed best as possible in uncertain times by intelligence officers.

If this president has said directly or if his advisers have interpreted that he does not want to get certain types of information and so they have stopped giving it to him, that is bad news for all of us because national security threats won't be identified and acted upon as cleanly. It's a dangerous situation if the president does not talk advantage of the intelligence being brought to him.

BERMAN: Now, you and I, we haven't seen the underlying intelligence. We haven't been briefed on what the intelligence community thinks is happening or thought was happening in Afghanistan.

Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman from Illinois, has. He says flat-out, this is not a hoax, but he also does say that there are conflicting streams of information here. What does that mean, a conflicting stream of information?

PRIESS: That -- to me that it's in the realm of intelligence. Conflicting streams of information is par for the course. Often, especially on issues of high threat or issues of high secrecy or duplicity of a foreign government, there often are conflicting streams of information. Verifying intelligence is very, very hard. And I've heard that term thrown around in the last few days. I never heard that term when I worked in intelligence. The term we used was corroboration. Do you have some other source that can independently confirm part of the story to give you more confidence in the overall assessment? That appears to be happening simply because of some of the reporting that's being done on the ground, much less intelligence reporting, which presumably would have known some of this earlier. Is there going to be some conflict? Almost always in these situations are there things that don't quite add up. That's the business of analysis. That's the business of creating an assessment of what the analysts think is going on and presenting that to the president. BERMAN: David Priess, I have to say, this has been an education. I

really appreciate getting to hear from you about what goes on behind closed doors and why we should question some of the things we're being said out loud by the administration trying to explain this.


Great to have you on. Thanks, David.

PRIESS: Happy to help. Thanks.

BERMAN: All right, still ahead, we're going to take you inside a Texas hospital at this moment overrun with coronavirus patients. See what doctors there are doing to save lives.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new single-day record in this country. More than 50,000 new infections on Wednesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very sad day. And it means that there are more record-setting days coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to shut down the states where the virus is raging. We need to expand testing. And we need to get everyone to wear a mask.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm all for masks. I think masks are good. People have seen me wearing one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This president's inability to lead has literally led to Americans dying. This is an American tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must be disciplined about our own personal behavior, especially around the July 4th holiday and especially among the young adults.



ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers.