Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump In A Speech Says 99 Percent Of COVID Cases Are Harmless; Despite Warnings, Reports Of Large Crowds Gathering In U.S. States; Jobs Created Last Month While Unemployment Dropped; "New York Times" Reports Some Gaps In A Memo From The Administration On Russian Bounties; Trump's Divisive Speech. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 5, 2020 - 17:00   ET






ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: But you wouldn't know there was an urgent health emergency in the United States today by listening to the president this weekend. This is how President Trump shrugs off the alarming number of new infections being reported around the country.


TRUMP: Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.


CABRERA: He says 99 percent of the cases totally harmless. Facts first, nearly 3 million Americans are now either sick or have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 129,000 people in this country have died. That's a lot of families who would disagree with the words "totally harmless."

And if you're looking for the truth, the facts, from health officials in this administration, the head of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration was on CNN earlier today. We asked him for some clarity regarding the president's comments. We'll bring you his answer in just a few minutes.

One things for sure, the mayors of some of the America's big, vibrant city say the message from the White House right now is dangerous and it making it more difficult for them to keep their residents safe.


KATE GALLEGO (D), MAYOR OF PHOENIX: President Trump was in my community chose not to wear a mask and he's having large events while I am trying to push people you need to stay at home, and that events with more than 10 people are dangerous per the Centers for Disease Control.

DAN GELBER (D), MAYOR OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: How do you tell somebody they have to wear a mask and be social distanced when the president doesn't and hosts a rally where they're almost celebrating the lack of those simple counter measures. So, really we're not on the same page.

STEVE ADLER (D), MAYOR OF AUSTIN, TEXAS: We need everybody wearing masks and when they start hearing that kind of ambiguous message coming out of Washington, there are more and more people that won't wear masks, that won't social distance, that won't do what it takes to keep a community safe and that's wrong and it's dangerous.


CABRERA: Today, we have reporters on scene in some of the hardest hit areas from coast to coast and we'll take you to all of them. For the very latest, Boris Sanchez is in Miami, Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Phoenix and Polo Sandoval in New York, and that's where it began.

And Polo, health experts are clearly concerned that large gatherings over this Fourth of July could lead to even higher spikes. What are you learning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, the concern about large gatherings in some of those states and are perhaps on the right path then, definitely those that are not. When you look at the map, it certainly indicates that there are many of those states.

I want to give you a picture of some of those incidents or at least some of those celebrations and gatherings, certainly at least raising some questions here. I would like to start at least the first one in Missouri, social video that was showing people gathering in at least two restaurants in the Lake of the Ozarks there.

We should point out that in Missouri there are no statewide masks that are required there. And then I also want to show you some images out of Wisconsin. It's really important to point out that it seems like this might be an example of one business at least trying to make sure that social distancing happen.

It's this video out of Noah's Ark Water Park in Dells, Wisconsin. It shows people gathering there on the Fourth of July. CNN reached out to management.

They do confirm that they actually took multi-precautions, not only temperature checks for guest, but also for staff there, requiring masks and face coverings in some of the non-water common areas there.

And then finally, they were limiting the capacity there to at least a third of the park, but of course, eventually there were some people there may potentially not adhere to that.

And then finally, there is another incident that certainly racing some concerns specifically in southwest Michigan there, in Diamond Lake there where you are actually able to see people gathering, clustering together, party goers here. We did reach out to some of the organizers there and did learn that this is actually a party that was put together by residents for residents of that lake.

We also spoke to one health official who did confirm that they were aware of this event. It's something that happens on a yearly basis already for that at least the last 30 years or so. However, it's very difficult to actually enforce some of those requirements in public areas.

I want to read some of the reporting that we have here from those medical -- some health officials who said they reached out to the organizer of that party, but said county officials don't have any jurisdiction over gathering in public areas and cannot enforce social distancing mandates like they can in formal establishments like bars for example with fine.

So ultimately all they could do is educate organizers, educate the people who participate in that, but it's ultimately up to those people whether they want to remain socially distant and wear those face coverings and that's what we're seeing also here, for example, in New York.


They do have the social distancing signs and many people are adhering to not just on the beach, but here on the Coney Island boardwalk as well, Ana.

CABRERA: The party in that last video was really eye popping. Okay, Polo, thank you.

Now to Boris Sanchez in Miami Beach. The state of Florida is reporting nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases today following a record setting day yesterday. Boris, what are officials saying about what could have caused this surge?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials are being blunt about the fact that they've seen a lot of people ignoring the social distancing guidelines. You're absolutely right, a record setting weekend for the state of Florida. Nearly 10,000 case in the last 24 hours.

That means for the last four days, the first four days of July the state has seen more than 40,000 new COVID-19 cases. They had about 100,000 for the entire month of June for comparison.

One of those officials talking about people ignoring social distancing is the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez. He was on a Sunday morning talk show, putting out the word, asking folks to be more careful. Listen to this.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: At the end of March, Miami had a remain-at-home order in place which lasted through May 20th. A week later, restaurants were then allowed to reopen and dine-in customers at 50 percent capacity. Is that what contributed to this?

FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI: There is no doubt that the fact that we opened -- the city of Miami was the last city in the entire state of Florida to open. I was criticized for waiting so long, but there is no doubt that the fact that when we reopened, people started socializing as if the virus didn't exist.


SANCHEZ: Yes, and Ana, just to underscore what the mayor said, the county of Miami was one of the last ones to reopen following a nearly statewide closure. Miami-Dade accounts for nearly a quarter of all the coronavirus cases in the state of Florida.

Now, I want to show you what's going on behind me or what was going on behind me earlier at this testing site at the Miami Beach Convention Center. They administered some 1,200 tests today, both walk-up and drive-up testing. I actually was able to get a test myself. It only took about 30 minutes.

With a government-issued I.D. you get that uncomfortable moment of a swab in your nose, but then you get the results back in two to three business days. People have kept pulling up here because they're actually supposed to close at 5:00 so they closed a bit early.

One of the service people that was here actually told the folks that pulled up late that they should come back tomorrow. It typically opens at 9:00. He told him he's been getting here at 6:30 in the morning and there's already a line that stretches down the block. So he advised them to try to show up a few hours in advance.

Obviously, the demand for testing is really high and the numbers, they just speak for themselves, Ana.

CABRERA: So, can anybody get a coronavirus test now in Florida?

SANCHEZ: As far as we know, at this testing location, all you need is a government I.D. They essentially lined us up. There were six feet of social distance between everyone. It was really a smooth process. They took down my information.

I'm from this area, but I have a Washington, D.C. I.D. since I moved up there. So, they accepted mine. They actually had people with passports from other countries. So, it doesn't take a ton of requirements. It didn't take any health insurance information.

Something as simple as a government issued I.D. and a phone number and an e-mail and they're able to administer the test and get you the results in a relatively short amount of time, Ana.

CABRERA: Good information, Boris Sanchez, thank you. Evan McMorris- Santoro is in Phoenix. Heading into the weekend, Evan, 91 percent of Arizona's ICU beds were being used. What is being done to prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Ana. Here in the Phoenix area, the pressure on testing in hospitals is very acute. I'm actually at Saguaro Lake, which is a recreation area near Phoenix. You can see there are people out on the water today.

This is the marina where private boats have been available to people throughout the pandemic. But other parts of this lake complex that is now available, open to the public, were closed earlier in the pandemic, but they're now open again.

That's not true about everything all over Phoenix and all over Arizona. The governor has reclosed some things like gyms and movie theaters and gatherings of more than 50 people.

But the real challenge in Phoenix, as this caseload rises, Arizona now on a seven-day basis, the highest per capita of new case load in the country is testing, and the mayor of Phoenix talked about testing this morning on TV.


GALLEGO: We opened way too early in Arizona. We were one of the last states to go to stay-at-home and one of the first to re-emerge. And we re-emerged at 0 to 60. We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks, are 20 to 44 year-olds which is my own demographic, really led the explosion and we've seen such growth in that area.


We're seeing a lot of people go to large family gatherings and in fact their family members --


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Now, of course, that was the mayor talking about these gatherings and not testing, but testing has been an issue as well. The gathering thing, we've been all around the Phoenix area and all over parts of Arizona over the past few days.

And here at Saguaro Lake, which again, if you're out on the lake, you know, with your family, you're distant from everybody else, you're totally fine. But here on the sort of public access areas, there hadn't been many masks being worn.

And in fact, earlier when I was walking around when I'm off-camera I wear a mask, and when I was walking around somebody made fun of me for wearing it. So, there's a challenge in Arizona to get people to accept some of the social distancing stuff and that is what public health officials are urging people to pay attention to this state becomes one of those new epicenters of the pandemic here in the U.S., Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Evan, Polo, Boris, thank you all.

I want to bring in Dr. William Schaffner, professor in the division of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University and Medical Center.

Doctor, when you hear that 91 percent of Arizona's ICU beds are full and local officials in Texas are warnings some cities could be days away from an ICU shortage, how concerned are you?

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I'm very concerned, Ana. God bless the people who are observing social distancing and wearing masks, and I'm so sad the others are not. You know, we have a whirlwind of exposures here. We're going to harvest the product of that whirlwind in two weeks to a month.

There will be many more people going to hospitals and being admitted to intensive care units. This virus is no less real this summer than it has been in the past. And I'm very concerned that a lot of people are just blowing it off. They just want to get out and have a good time. I'm very concerned about that and I'm an optimistic fellow.

CABRERA: You know, there's obviously a lot of fatigue. A lot of people are so tired of the restrictions of being cooped up and it is summertime. They want to have fun. They want to be with people, with friends, with family members.

We are seeing the scenes this weekend similar to what we saw on Memorial Day, those large crowds at a water park, at a pool party. This is live Myrtle Beach right now, where a lot of people are there. You can see crowding close to the shoreline there. Do you think Memorial Day festivities contributed to the spikes we are seeing now and then what might happen here after Fourth of July weekend?

SCHAFFNER: Sure, Memorial Day certainty did, and of course all the opening up. You know, we have a mask restriction now here in Nashville that was put in last Sunday just about this time, but last night downtown, the bar scene was full of unmasked people.

I don't know how that can happen. People really need to realize that they are doing things that put other people at risk. It's not just them. And you can have fun with a mask.

CABRERA: Right. Evan was just telling us the people were making fun of him for wearing a mask, which obviously tells you the mindset of some folks right now who haven't taken it completely seriously. They should be applauding him for wearing a mask saying thank you. You're protecting me, my loved ones.

"The New York Times" is reporting that 239 scientists from 32 countries have written an open letter to the World Health Organization calling on the agency to revise its recommendations, and they argue this virus doesn't just transmit in droplets that fall to the ground in a six-foot area, but that it lingers in the air infecting people nearby.

It's something we know officials are looking into as they're considering sending kids back to school in the fall or reopening gyms. Doctor, is there risk of spreading the virus in air conditioning systems that recirculate air, for example? What is the answer?

SCHAFFNER: I think the answer is it's a theoretical risk, but we haven't seen evidence of it in real life. So most of us think, yes, there's a theory there. We need to keep an eye on that, but so far we have not seen explosive outbreaks related to air conditioning.

There is one little report from China. It happened in one restaurant, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen around the world. So, so far, I think let's focus on the real problem, close in contact without masks in an enclosed space, that's the highest risk.

CABRERA: Dr. Schaffner, don't go anywhere. We are going to ask you more questions. I want to really want to lean in to your expertise. Coming up, you see the number there on the side of the screen, almost 130,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus.

Well, the president claimed yesterday that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are "totally harmless." Health officials in his administration are responding to that claim, next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."



CABRERA: Dangerous messaging coming out of the White House on the severity of the coronavirus. As cases surge across the U.S., President Trump used his Fourth of July celebration at the White House to downplay the pandemic. Listen.


TRUMP: Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.


CABRERA: That is not true. According to Johns Hopkins University, nearly 130,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus. Infections in this country are at more than 2.8 million. And that puts the death rate at 4.6 percent based on known infections.


CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond is joining us now. Jeremy, 99 percent is just a stunning claim by the president, but not the only falsehood he pushed this weekend. While the president continues to downplay the severity of this pandemic, how are his health officials handling this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said Ana that claim by the president, the 99 percent of coronavirus cases are totally harmless just defies reality. And in fact, it goes against the message that public health experts have been trying to put out in urging Americans to takes this virus more seriously as we're seeing this dangerous surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

Look, the World Health Organization has said that globally the mortality rate of this virus is just under 1 percent, but it also says that about 20 percent of people diagnosed with coronavirus requires oxygenation or hospitalization. So, certainly, those would not be harmless cases. But here's what the FDA commissioner, Stephen Hahn, who is a member of the Coronavirus Task Force said when pressed with the president's claim.


STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: So I'm not going to get into who is right and who is wrong. What I'm going to say, Dana, is what I've said before, which is that it's a serious problem that we have. We've seen the surging cases. We must do something to stem the tide and we have this in our power to do it by following the guidance from the White House task force and the CDC.


DIAMOND: So as you can see there, Ana, Dr. Stephen Hahn there trying to avoid contradicting the president while also making clear that this is indeed a serious situation and that has been the message from most public health experts including the president's own public health experts.

The president also falsely claimed once again, Ana, that the surge in coronavirus cases is due to increased testing, which we know is flat- out false, particularly in several states where you are seeing testing either staying the same or going down, and the percentage of positive cases rising.

Ana, the president was downplaying the coronavirus in his speech yesterday, but it was not his main focus. Instead, the president was focusing on ramping up those cultural wars, which he has certainly put at the center of his re-election strategy.

The president spending time during his speech that most presidents usually try and use as a unifying opportunity to try and divide Americans along racial and cultural lines.

The president tried to brand his opponents as a new left-wing fascism, and he even compared the protesters that we are seeing out into the street to the fight against Nazis, saying in one breath that the United States has fought Nazism, Communism, terrorists across the world,.

And then in the next breath saying that we are still in the process of defeating this new left-wing fascism, warning that a left-wing cultural revolution is trying to literally end America as we know it. Some really inflammatory and false language and divisive language from the president. Ana?

CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thank you. Dr. William Schaffner is back with us now. Doctor, when you hear of commissioner of the FDA repeatedly refuse to say the truth that no, 99 percent of cases aren't totally harmless, are you concerned?

SCHAFFNER: Well, Dr. Hahn is trying to emphasize the public health message just as I do and Dr. Fauci does and Dr. Birx do. What we're trying to get people convinced of is that this is a continuing serious problem and we have to wear those masks and we have to do social distancing and we have to avoid large groups. He's on message, I'm on message, but I'm an optimistic fellow, and I'm

getting concerned that this message is not reaching and certainly not convincing a very substantial proportion of the population out there. The hospitals across this country are going to be stressed, Ana.

CABRERA: You know, if you listen closely though to Dr. Hahn's message, what I think was striking was that he didn't just answer sort of yes or no, whether 99 percent are totally harmless. We know that 99 percent of coronavirus cases aren't harmless.

And if our government's health experts are too afraid to correct a Trump lie, that puts Americans at risk today. There becomes a trust issue, right? How can we trust them to protect us tomorrow if a COVID vaccine turns out not to be safe or effective, but Trump says it is?

SCHAFFNER: I'm with you 100 percent. The messaging from Washington has been very, very confusing, and it has led to a crazy quilt of programs out there with many people still unconvinced that this is a large problem and that they really need for a prolonged period of time, in the foreseeable future, to act in a very careful way.

The messaging ought to be clear and consistent. The nations that have been successful in controlling coronavirus spread have had clear, national consistent programs, national programs.


CABRERA: How are you going to decide for yourself whether a vaccine if found is safe especially with the pressure to have a vaccine so quickly.

SCHAFFNER: I think the FDA, Dr. Hahn's group, have just issued a series of criteria last week that actually comforted many of us who were watching this very carefully. Certain criteria have to be met, both for effectiveness and safety before an emergency use authorization will be issued. We will be watching very carefully whether that's sustained as we go on.

CABRERA: And we will be relying on you to tell us whether we should feel confident in whatever the outcome is. Dr. William Schaffner, I always appreciate our conversations. Thank you for taking the time especially on a holiday weekend.

SCHAFFNER: My pleasure, Ana.

CABRERA: The extra $600 a week Americans have been receiving in unemployment ends at the end of this month. But the U.S. labor secretary says, there is no need to extend it. So, just how many Americans have actually returned to work since states reopened? We'll take a closer look at that next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom." Stay right there.


[17:30:00] CABRERA: Amid rising cases in 34 states, these are just some of the alarming headlines we are seeing related to COVID-19 this weekend. In North Georgia, an overnight camp has closed after campers and staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

YMCA Camp High Harbour says they learned a counselor had tested positive for the virus on June 24th. A statement from the camp today says they have since learned of additional positive test results of campers and staff.

Also in Georgia, more than 750 faculty at Georgia Tech in Atlanta have signed a letter to the university system of Georgia's board of regents saying that the school's plan to reopen campus without face mask requirements is dangerous and not based on science.

And in Seattle, 121 University of Washington students have tested positive for coronavirus according to a news release, 112 of those students are fraternity housed-residents.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy created 4.8 million jobs last month and the unemployment rate dropped to 11.1 percent, but even as the president takes a victory lap, it's not all good news. 1.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. And for low-income Americans, immigrants, they are struggling even more now than before. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course you got milk.


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

RAZVI: That's good. That's good. Put it right under. Put it right under.

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

RAZVI: This is exactly (inaudible).

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.

We got the shopping carts.

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

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The struggle is greatest in low-income communities where minorities are unemployed it higher numbers. 84- year-old Esme Roberts is getting her weekly delivery from COPO. She won'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 light bills and the gas bills and TV. That's why I have to take 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 of who are out of a job have no access to government assistance. That has a ripple effect on the entire U.S. economy.

HEIDI SHIERHOIZ, SENIOR ECONOMIST, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: You have those folks not being able to spend, and the money 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.

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.


CABRERA: Another weekend, another former White House official firing a proverbial flare gun, warning the country about the path we are on. Who is speaking out this time and what they are saying, next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."



CABRERA: I want you to take a look at this headline from "The New York Times." "New Administration Memo Seeks to Foster Doubts About Suspected Russian Bounties." The memo was produced in recent days by the office of President Trump's top intelligence official.

This brings us to your weekend presidential brief, a segment we bring to you every Sunday to discuss the most pressing national security issues the president is facing. And here with is CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd. She helped to prepare the presidential daily brief under President Obama.

Sam, a new memo highlights gaps in intelligence collection on Russia offering bounties. What should happen now?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, this sounds more like crisis comes than intelligence. This memo allegedly highlights intelligence gaps and a lack of consensus in the community. Administration officials have cited just the same factors when trying to defend their own inaction on the stark (ph) reporting.

Alarmingly, this memo also doesn't provide any new information. Ana, I've worked with intelligence. That's just abnormal. (Inaudible) reporting is routinely updated as new intelligence is collected. And in this particular case, undoubtedly there is fresh collection as foreign targets discuss the veracity of stories about this threat stream.

And while it's alarming that there is not an updated threat assessment, it's not altogether surprising.


President Trump has given his own very public assessment on this intelligence. He called it phony and he called it a hoax. We all know he doesn't like being contradicted. We also know that intel chiefs have shown a reluctance to upset him.

Remember they cancelled their annual threat briefings to avoid getting cross wise with him on separate intelligence assessments. So for this reason, I don't have high confidence that we will ever hear about an unbiased updated threat assessment if it doesn't jibe with the president's personal talking points.

CABRERA: While there are calls for accountability on this threat stream, what is actually happening on the ground with our troops in Afghanistan?

VINOGRAD: Well, notably, Russia has provided material support to the Taliban for a long time. They want us out of the Afghanistan and Putin may be getting his wish. Back in February, we signed a supposed peace deal with the Taliban.

We agreed to draw down our troops to about 8,600 personnel in exchange for the Taliban making certain concessions like a prisoner exchange and reduction in violence. We met that troop benchmark last month in mid-June, despite the fact that the Taliban hasn't lived up to their end of the deal.

They haven't altogether reduced violence and they haven't engaged in intra-Afghan negotiations. Despite these realities, the administration is reportedly considering drawing down even further to about 4,000 troops in the run-up to the presidential election.

Now, we know that Trump has campaigned on bringing all U.S. personnel home from Afghanistan. So, it is entirely possible that the election clock is driving his military decision and not actual conditions on the ground.

CABRERA: It sounds like Kim Jong-un is tracking Trump's election clock as well. How much credibility, Sam, do you put in North Korea's recent claim that they won't negotiate with the U.S. before the election.

VINOGRAD: Well, this is extortion Kim Jong-un style. It is no secret that Kim Jong-un has been a foreign policy surrogate for Trump in the years since they've first summited.

Trump has inaccurately pointed to progress with North Korea as a foreign policy success, despite the fact that Kim Jong-un continues to engage in illegal, multi-theater activities, whether that's weapons test, cyber-attacks and more.

Kim Jong-un wants one thing from President Trump, sanctions relief. And then the run up to the election, he is deeply aware that he has the ability to blow up literally and figuratively President Trump's narrative on North Korea by saying that he's not going to meet with President Trump, by ramping up missile test and by potentially even testing a nuclear weapon.

He can show Trump who is boss so to speak. So what I'm watching out for is if President Trump chooses to give North Korea concessions to really keep Kim Jong-un quiet in the run-up to the November presidential election.

CABRERA: Sam Vinograd, as always, thank you and good to have you with us. Thanks as always on a holiday weekend in particular.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

CABRERA: Ahead, words matter and what the president had to say yesterday could give us a hint about his campaign strategy. Next, I'll talk to Carl Bernstein about what he said, why it matters, and his bombshell report about the president. Just ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: For anyone wondering what President Trump's reelection campaign would look like, this weekend may have been the clearest sign yet of his pitch to the American people. Over 24 hours, he gave two speeches, one at Mount Rushmore, the other at the White House yesterday at a Fourth of July celebration. Both were short on patriotic applause lines, but long on dark warnings about what Liberals and Democrats want to do to America.


TRUMP: We will never allow an angry mob to tear down or statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms. We will safeguard our values, traditions, customs and beliefs.


CABRERA: CNN political analyst and legendary journalist Carl Bernstein joins us now. Carl, what was your reaction when you heard those speeches? CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No surprise. It's a

fundamentally racist appeal that the president sees as his one path toward victory and his reelection effort. It is probably the most provocative and hateful set of speeches by an incumbent president in the post war era.

It's intended to exploit the cold civil war that we've been in this country for some 30 years and to bring that cold civil war to the point of ignition and perhaps violence. I have talked to people around the president who actually believe that he would welcome violence, that it would serve his re-election effort if there was violence between black lives matter protesters and angry white citizens.

So, this is a dangerous piece of work and it's also intended to make disappear, in the press as well as in the political campaign, all of the outrages of this president and this presidency particularly in this year since the coronavirus hit America.

CABRERA: We cannot turn a blind eye to the words we heard this weekend from the president. Your former paper, "The Washington Post" had this headline, "In Trump's new version of American carnage, the threat isn't immigrants or foreign nations. It's other Americans."


And, Carl, he went so far as to compare his fight to defeat the "radical left" to America's fight against the Nazis in this speech last night. How do you think other foreign leaders are viewing these comments?

BENRSTEIN: Look, foreign leaders, particularly our western allies into Europe have looked at Trump's comments for three years now with abhorrence, with disdain, with fear.

He has managed to disintegrate the greatest coalition, the greatest alliance in the history of the 20th century and the 21st century with our western allies who now look at (inaudible) at us and our president as a danger to the western alliance rather than as an asset to unity and constructive dialogue.

I think what's important here though is that we in the press take a look at this and not get too mesmerized and play his game by amplifying the speech and rather go back and look at what we need to be reporting on. We need to be reporting on the pandemic. We need to be reporting on his lies.

We need to be reporting particularly on the two stories including my own in the last week about the fact that his telephone calls with foreign leaders led his closest national security aide to conclude that he is not fit to be the president of the United States.

The same stories that we saw in the "New York Times" in the last week about bounties being paid by the Russians to kill American soldiers and perhaps and probably this was in his briefing papers and that somehow he ignored those around and can't recall him being briefed on it. We need to be focused on Zalinsky on what happened in Ukraine. All of

the things, that go to what Donald Trump has done in his presidency that are on the basis of nothing we've ever seen before in terms of demagoguery, authoritarianism, law breaking, regardless of what the impeachment inquiry found. This is a rogue president and we need to keep focused on him and not the bright, shiny objects he does in his speeches and his tweets.

CABRERA: Because there are tangible consequences, there is new evidence that these cracks with America's allies are deepening, the E.U., for example, won't allow t American travelers in this summer over COVID-19. There is evidence they're going it alone when it comes to finance and security.

You have done incredible in-depth reporting on the president's dealings with America's allies and adversaries. How serious is the potential damage he's doing?

BERNSTEIN: Well, the damage is there to be seen that we now see that Vladimir Putin, whom in these phone calls that I wrote about and said on the air this week.

In these phone calls between Putin and President Trump, you can hear, according to those who heard the calls, the president buttering up Putin, playing up his own business acumen and saying what a great president he is and how his predecessors Obama and Bush were full of bull, and that now Putin can depend on him to deal with.

That he is cozying up to Putin who has destabilized the West during the Trump presidency, partly because this president has been unwilling to confront him on his outrages, on Putin's outrages.

And what you hear in all of these calls with Erdogan of Turkey. You can hear that Putin and Erdogan's bidding gets done. We withdraw our troops from Syria in these phone calls.

You hear the president willingly going along to the withdrawal of our troops to satisfy Erdogan, the authoritarian strongman leader of Turkey, from Syria so that the Kurds, our allies, could be set up for slaughter by Erdogan.

And doing both the bidding of Putin and Erdogan. And then in the calls with the allied leaders, calling Angela Merkel in a call with her and he called her stupid. He said she was a pawn of the Russians.

With Theresa May, the British prime minister, said that she had no backbone, and lacked courage. That she was doing all the wrong things with Brexit, with immigration, that she had no courage whatsoever and berated her in a way and a misogynistic way that those who have 0heard the calls described the calls with Theresa May and Angela Merkel as near sadistic.

This is a president of the United States who is doing nothing and the reason that his closest advisers, his former national security advisers, former Secretary of State, former heads of the National Security Council concluded that the president of the United States himself in his phone calls, is clear and presently a danger to the national security of the United States.


We've never had a president who was an ongoing danger to the national security of the United States. And the people on Capitol Hill, the Republicans, need to start looking at this as we get into this election year.

CABRERA: I did take note today, his former White House national security adviser, Tom Bossert tweeted out "We are in trouble." Carl Bernstein, thank you very much for taking the time this weekend especially on a holiday weekend. It's always good to have you with us.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

CABRERA: Thirty-four states are seeing rising coronavirus cases even as health officials urge caution. We are getting videos of crowded parties. The potential impact, when we come back. Stay right there.