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INSIDE POLITICS

U.S. Setting Records As Coronavirus Cases Soar; Trump Appeals To His Base In Speech At Mount Rushmore; Trump Tries To Shift Conversation From Coronavirus To Economy; Interview With Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI); Trump Doubles Down On Racial Division, Culture War; Interview With Mondaire Jones (D), New York Congressional Candidate. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 5, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:14]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST (voice-over): Celebrating the Fourth of July, as COVID-19 cases surge to record numbers.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.

MATTINGLY: And less than four months until Election Day, President Trump tries to shift the focus from coronavirus to culture wars.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.

MATTINGLY: Plus, growing questions over an alleged Russian plot to target American service members.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If he was briefed and nothing was done about this, that's a dereliction of duty.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Phil Mattingly. John King is off today.

And as the nation celebrated the Fourth of July, public health officials pleaded with Americans, to stay safe. In Washington, D.C., a spectacular display last night, 10,000 fireworks launched over 35 minutes, and a much smaller crowd than usual turned out to watch them in person.

Before the festivity, Donald Trump doubled down from the divisive message the night before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: And at an event that showed little signs of following his own administration's social distancing guidelines, Trump took the opportunity to boast about his response to a pandemic that is now hitting record numbers in the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We've made a lot of progress. Our strategy is moving along well. It goes out in one area, and rears back its ugly face in another area. But we have learned a lot. We learned how to put out the flame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: So, with that in mind, those words in mind, let's look at the actual numbers. We're going to start with the top line obviously.

Coronavirus cases in the United States, new confirmed cases and over the course of the last several weeks a clear trend line up, including several days last week, topping 50,000 cases. So what does that mean going forward?

Well, take a look at the map. Now, 34 states in the country seeing new cases up 10 percent or more, 12 of those states, look at the dark red, up more than 50 percent. Obviously a harrowing number when you look at the top line numbers.

But one of the big questions is death rate, right now, still lagging behind, not ticking up. Look at what the states are doing. This should give you a sense of the concern that is out there, reopenings across the country, states are pausing or in some cases five states look at the dark red are rolling back some of their reopenings.

The concern right now is real. And in particular, the concern is on three states -- Florida, Texas and Arizona. You see the case counts as they continue to rise throughout those three states, significant concerns for public health officials in those key states. Some governors in those states taking actions.

The big question now, though, what it's all mean -- what it all means, and what needs to be done going forward?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: When you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they're doing well, they are vulnerable. We can't just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk. We are now having 40,000- plus new cases a day I would not. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Ominous words from Dr. Anthony Fauci.

And joining us right, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency room physician for Brown University.

And, Dr. Jha, I know you're on vacation, I think one of the first ones you had since this all began in months.

But I want to kind of get your top line view based on some of the numbers. And I just pointed out, how do you assess the trajectory of the virus in the United States at this moment in time?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: So good morning, thank you for having me on.

Yeah, unfortunately I was gone for -- I took a few days off, but the pandemic didn't.

What I see this morning as we look across the country is not just the number of cases going up substantially. They're going up in large parts of the country, so it isn't just localized to a few places. It's clearly not about testing. I know the president has been arguing that this is all about testing.

And then what we're seeing to me the most concerning part of this bill is that we're starting to see substantial increases in hospitalizations.

[08:05:01]

Texas has about four times as many people hospitalized with this virus as it did a month ago. So these are very large increases across many states, and unfortunately we know that what follows is an increase in deaths. So I'm pretty concerned about where we are, and we really do have to get our act together and try to turn this around.

MATTINGLY: Dr. Ranney, I want to hit on the point that Dr. Jha just made. You heard the president said repeatedly, this is about testing. This is because we're testing more than anywhere else in the world. However, the man in charge of testing for the administration, Admiral Brett Giroir, said this. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADM. BRETT GIROIR: There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover. We do believe this is a real increase in cases because of the percent positivities are going up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: The percent positivities being the key. Look, you're in the emergency room last night, you've seen this firsthand throughout the course of the last several months.

I ask for your impression too. You look at the case numbers, see the percentage of positivity going up, what is that telling you?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, there's two things that are concerning here. So, one, the percent positivity tells you of the group of people you're testing, a larger percent of them are positive, which means we're probably missing a lot of people out there, which makes this case a concern. It means there is a higher overall number of cases in the community. It is not just that we're testing more people. It is that there are more people out there, period.

In addition, the other thing Dr. Jha mentioned is the hospitalization rate. My ER colleagues in Houston, Arizona and Florida are telling me their ERs are being overwhelmed with COVID patients, which means we're not just having people testing positive and staying out in the community. President Trump likes to talk about how 99 percent of people don't get sick, that's not true. And we in the ERs are seeing that.

We're seeing this disease has very real consequences, even for young people. And that our ERs, hospitals and intensive care units are getting full.

MATTINGLY: So, Dr. Jha, you talk to administration officials, people who question the top line numbers, they point to death rates. You look at the trend line of death rates, while it is a number that lagged throughout the course of this pandemic, it has gone down. What does that tell you right now about why there seems to be a difference between positivity and death rate?

JHA: Yeah, so, there are a few things that explain death rates as we're seeing them. First, it is a lagging indicator. We know that typically even with somebody sick enough to be hospitalized, it takes a couple of weeks before they end up dying because we did a lot to try to keep people alive.

Second, we are getting better at treatments, there are people spending two weeks, three weeks in the ICU and surviving. Those people come out pretty sick with potentially very long term consequences. And the third is that we do think there is a younger population that is getting infected. I would expect the mortality rate to be lower up front. What I worry about, of course, is those people still get sick and have long-term consequences. And second they can go on to infect other people, older people over time.

So I don't take a lot of comfort, but it is always good to see fewer people dying. That's a helpful thing.

MATTINGLY: Yes.

Can I ask, Dr. Ranney, in terms of the kind of -- how the American population is handling this, I want to pull up two graphics here. One is a chart from Gallup, showing the fear out there now. And you can see the trajectory, the trajectory is going up right now. It was at 48 percent a couple of weeks, one week ago, now at 65 percent.

However, you look at the U.S. mobility index, which if you look at the red lines, that shows you when people were really staying home, a few months ago to now and we're almost back to baseline here, baseline of almost normalcy in terms of how people act. How do you square those two?

RANNEY: Honestly, Phil, I think people are tired. I think people are exhausted of being away from their family and friends. They think that they look around their community, they don't know anyone personally who has been infected.

They think it is probably safe to go out and it becomes tough as a human being to square what you know is the safe thing to do with what you're just so aching to go see and go to a barbecue or see some friends. I hope people can continue to find ways to have that social connection in a way that keeps them safe.

MATTINGLY: So, Dr. Ranney, on that point, you tweeted out something that I think is hopeful in terms of people looking to have that social connection and that is essentially a risk rating system. That can tell you low risk to high risk activities you can and should be doing.

What kind of stuck out to you about -- I found it very valuable walking through it. What stuck out to you as you look through it?

RANNEY: Thank you. So there are a couple of things about that graph.

So, first, it is a good overall guideline, but it's not a perfect one. So there are some things on there we might quibble about.

The second thing is that where you go on that graph depends on who you are. If you are high risk, have multiple chronic conditions, elderly, or if you're in a state with a high prevalence of COVID if you're in Florida, Texas, Arizona, you're going to want to move down on the level of risk you tolerate.

[08:10:01]

But the things that stuck out to me, outdoor activities are generally safer and that those big indoor activities, bars, parties, that you mentioned churches, a chart from Texas, but also political realities, anything where you're inside with people yelling, screaming, talking loudly are the most unsafe.

And then, within that, if you wear a mask, if you maintain a little more distance, you're likely to be safer.

MATTINGLY: And, Dr. Jha, real quick, before we go. You've been mentioning hospitals, particularly with the positivity rates go up. We had months to prepare the hospitals for a next wave. This is still a first wave.

What's your sense now of the preparation, how ready are hospitals for what is happening now?

JHA: Yeah, so this is an area where Dr. Ranney has been leading the national charge. I will say I think hospitals are better prepared for this wave than -- this part of the wave than where we were a few months ago. But many hospitals are already starting to feel shortages again. We didn't use the last couple of months as effectively as we could have to ramp up our supplies. So, I'm worried that we're going to get into shortages once again in the next upcoming weeks.

MATTINGLY: Yes, let's hope.

Dr. Ashish Jha, Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you very much for your time, guys.

Up next, a mayor from the coronavirus' new epicenter, the state of Florida

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:45]

MELBER: Florida is leading the nation in new coronavirus cases. The state's department of health reported 11,445 new cases on Saturday, the highest number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day by the state of Florida. These totals are in line with some of the numbers that New York experienced during their April peak.

The front page of "The South Florida Sun Sentinel" this weekend shows rows of people waiting in their cars for COVID-19 tests. Now, the governors of the hardest hit states have been rolling back reopenings, mandating face masks, except for Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's executive order will pause the operation of bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks, and tubing.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Everybody has the capability of making sure they do not get COVID-19. They can stay at home, which is a very safe place, or they can go out and when they go out, wear a mask.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We're not -- we're not going back closing things. I don't think that really is what is driving it. I mean, people going to business is not what's driving it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Joining me now, the mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber.

And, Mayor Gelber, earlier this week, you said people are not listening perhaps because of what they have seen in Washington, perhaps of what they've seen in Tallahassee.

As you look across Miami Beach over the Fourth of July, were people starting to listen?

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, you know, it's interesting. Our residents tend to listen more than most. But remember, we're a hospital area. So, those businesses the governor is talking about, it is not like they don't have workers there and people coming there. So we're spreading it because of this incredible activity. And people

are not -- too many people obviously are not taking seriously all the admonishments to socially distance, to wear masks, all those things, some are following, but clearly not enough. That is, I think, the most concerning because I think we could probably do the right thing and solve a lot of this if we all just followed the instructions.

MATTINGLY: So what gets to that? You are in a unique area because of hospitality, because of visitors. What gets that message across to nonresidents that populate your city?

GELBER: Well, the residents and nonresidents, it is a uniformity of message from government. You know, look, I had every single hurricane over the last 60 years come -- we prepare for it, we're ready for it.

Every time it is facing us, you hear from federal officials, you hear from state, you hear from county and local officials the exact same thing, and everybody understands how important it is to help themselves, help their family, help a stranger. It all happens very nicely, it is really sort of a special thing to see everybody pitching in for their neighbor.

Now, you know, how do you tell somebody they have to wear a mask and be socially distanced when the president doesn't and hosts a rally where they're almost celebrating the lack of those simple countermeasures? So really we're not on the same page. There is not unity in the -- in our community or any community right now. And I really feel like that's the greatest challenge if people listened and did what made sense and what was healthy, we would get through this much better.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you? What's your sense right now of your hospital capacity? I know it's been a growing concern from some mayors across the country right now. What are you seeing?

GELBER: Well, our hospital capacity is reducing and it is sort of a while (ph). We see a positive increase and then you go to your hospitalization and we have doubled our hospitalization, our census has now doubled in last 14 days, and then you go to your intensive care and that also doubled. And even, we have 158 people on ventilators now, and I think two weeks ago 64.

So, you know, all these things they talk about lagging are catching up and, of course, the problem is you can't wait until that problem is in front of you because this thing bakes into the community two weeks before you see it. And so, you can't just sit back and wait for it to happen. You got to prepare knowing it is going to be coming and we know it is coming.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you? The balance between public health and economics has been one that I don't think anybody has found the perfect solution to at this point. You mentioned the hospitality. I want to bring up this graphic from "The Wall Street Journal" that shows the difference.

[08:20:01] Obviously, last week, we had a great unemployment number, all things considered, I guess you could say. But if you look at hospitality, it has just been crushed, first one in to get hit, last one out to recover from it. What is your sense of the impact of the rise in cases now, on the industry that is so crucial to your city?

GELBER: Enormous. Enormous. You know, we see it so many hospitality workers are not working right now. You see planes and boats and ships that typically bring tourists in are not filled, not even running when it comes to the ships and the cruise line. So, all of that is amazing.

But, remember something, when you're navigating lives and livelihood, there is going to be a tension. Obviously, the spike happened when we opened up our economy, which is why following these countermeasures are so important, the only way to open up the economy is if people have some, you know, real enthusiasm about doing all these things like wearing masks and being socially distance.

We can do this. We just -- we have to do it together.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it is one thing I don't think anybody has been able to figure out how do across the country in a unified manner up to this point.

GELBER: Well, by the way, the president just told -- if his speech over the July 4th, was it is American to help your neighbor and your family member and stranger, let's just do this as a group, rather than have these countermeasures -- counternarratives going around that inspire people to write really bad emails to their mayors and to not listen and to show up, you know, to make a statement about not wearing a mask and not being socially distanced.

That's absurd right now. And it's actually happening, I think, because of what they're hearing and seeing from Washington.

MATTINGLY: Yes, no shortage of difficulties on the local level.

Mayor, thank you very much for your time. Keep us posted with what you're seeing down there. It's extremely important.

Up next, with the re-election in doubt, President Trump turns to his 2016 playbook, and Joe Biden pushes back against questions over his fitness for office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: All I got to do is watch me and I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I'm running against. Thank you so much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:1] MATTINGLY: America's 244th birthday was unlike any in history. Coronavirus cases on the rise. Millions out of work, Americans faced with a level of anxiety unseen in decades, maybe longer.

Against that backdrop, President Trump rang in Independence Day at Mount Rushmore where a speech may have touched on unity and growth as a country, but veered sharply and at length toward this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values.

There is a new far left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.

Make no mistake: this left wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: It was an often dark speech, a clear base-driven speech from a president whose re-election effort is increasingly in jeopardy and sees a divisive culture war as a key to turning it around.

The contrast to his opponent, well, it's not really lost on anyone at this point, but it played out vividly in their contrasting remarks on the same issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: American history is no fairy tale. It's been a constant push and pull between two parts of our character. The idea that all men and women, all people are created equal, and the racism that has torn us apart.

We have a chance now to give the marginalized, the demonized, the isolated, the oppressed a full share of the American dream.

We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Here to share their reporting and their insights, Lisa Lerer of "The New York Times", and Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post".

And, Toluse, I want to start with you.

Look, it's not subtle. It's no secret. We saw elements of it in 2016, it seems to have advanced on steroids at this point in time. But walk me through what you're hearing from the White House about why -- and the campaign, why they think this message is the message to win.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, this is a president who as you mentioned has been stoking the cultural wars for the better part of the last five years and if you go back beyond that, several decades. But he is -- this is a natural position for him, he now has a new issue to seize upon the idea that, you know, people are taking down statues, they are defaming and defacing some of the statues.

They have seen polling about this idea of the cancel culture and believe this is something that can work for them by attacking and showing President Trump as strong, defending American values, defending free speech against sort of the woke left mob, the president described in his speech. There is a lot of other polling that shows that Americans do not list that as the number one issue or anywhere close to the number one issue on their plates.

They're worried about bread and butter issues, this pandemic, jobs and the fact the president is focusing on statues and confederate generals at a time we have gone through so many crises, there is a large chance this could back fire on the president and that he could find himself more and more isolated, even within his party, as people are moving on beyond these confederate statues and the president continues to seize upon them and continues to seize on division even during July 4th when we're supposed to be talking about unity and the country coming together.

MATTINGLY: Yes, look, it is a hell of a bet when you have an economic crisis and once in a century pandemic. And, Lisa, all three of us worked for "Bloomberg" at one point, so you know we're going to talk about the economy to some degree. But, obviously, the White House seizing on the June jobs report.

The president saying this, this week. Take a listen.

[08:29:44]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crisis is being handled. It is all coming back. It is coming back faster, bigger and better than we ever thought possible.

These are the numbers. These are not numbers made up by me. These are numbers, it will be a third quarter the likes of which nobody has ever seen before in my opinion.

And the good thing is the numbers will be coming out just prior to the election. So people will be able to see those numbers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Lisa, I'm struck. It is an interesting thing. If you look at the numbers, the Americans still trust the President on the economy more than Joe Biden, I think not by as wide a margin as they used to right now.

What is the split between the message that we saw at Mount Rushmore and we saw last night in terms of the (INAUDIBLE) on cancel culture and focusing on the economy and the hopes that the economy is fully coming back somehow by October? LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well

look, this is the thing we heard, the debate we heard from the President, his advisers and frustrations from Republicans almost the entire time he's been in office, which is that Republicans would like him to talk more about the economy. For years they wanted that. And the President has a really hard time focusing and driving that message.

The message he is driving is a highly divisive one, very similar to how he ran in 2016. But the country is a totally different place than in 2016. Not only do we see that the numbers have moved substantially on issues around race and other topics about, you know, systemic racism. We also have the virus. And many people's lives are unrecognizable to where they were four years ago.

So it's a little -- I think a lot of Republicans are nervous that the President is still running the same kind of 2016 message among a remarkably different landscape, one that has so far does not seem to favor them.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Toluse -- I want to get into that a little bit. You know, it is not a unified front, at least behind the scenes at the White House in terms of the path to take right now. You have advisers that want him to focus more on the pandemic, given what you're seeing now. And you have advisers that say look, we got to live with this. This is the reality of the next four months, if you will.

What is your sense right now inside the White House of who is winning that argument?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, the President is winning the argument because he is really driving the train. It seems like he's listening less and less to his advisers. There was a time during the White House WHERE he would get multiple different viewpoints and they would hash it out and the President would go with one of those viewpoints.

But it seems now he's much more comfortable in his role as commander in chief and he's deciding to go it alone especially on these issues like statues and confederate generals. This is not an issue that a lot of Republicans within the White House think should be the winning issue or think should be the top issue that the President is focusing on.

But because it is part of his -- something he thinks his base is interested in as part of his own personal relationship with race and his willingness to kind of go there when it comes to racism and racial offensiveness. This is why he's leading this charge on his own and not listening to a lot of his advisers who are saying focus on the economy, focus on the pandemic.

A large number of Republicans want him to focus on the pandemic because they also have races that they're worried about and they know that if this pandemic continues to rage with record numbers of cases that they won't be able to move on to other issues as well. MATTINGLY: Yes. And Lisa, we've got about a minute left. I want to

talk about a number that really stuck out to me this week. I think you guys have written about it in the last couple of weeks as well.

And that is when you look at the message coming out of the White House, coming out of the President and you look at the numbers for older voters now right now. Look, we're going to pull up the Monmouth poll. You look at 2016, Trump was plus 7 with all the rest, 65 plus registered voters.

In June, Biden had a little bit of a lead. In July, it is enormous, it's 21 points. I can't fathom President Trump being re-elected if these numbers stick. What does the Biden campaign think about where they stand with this extremely important group of Americans?

LERER: I mean look, the Biden campaign feels really good about where they stand not only with older voters, but also with a number of parts of the President's base, the people who made up his coalition in 2016.

You're seeing drops in his numbers among white working class voters. You're seeing drops among white working class women, a group that the President needed in 2016. You're even seeing some drops among rural voters, even among evangelical voters. So his base is eroding away in some ways.

And look, you know, we talk a lot about the President pursuing a base strategy. But the thing with the base strategy is that you build on your base. Your base is not the beginning and the end of your campaign.

And I think when the Biden campaign looks at Trump's campaign, what they see is that he's not building on his base. He's not expanding. And they look at the numbers in some of these key battleground states and right now they see that, you know, he doesn't really have a winning path.

Of course, this all could change and we remain pretty far away from Election Day, but I think right now they're feeling pretty good.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Four months is like 40 years in today's news cycle at this point in time -- a lot of time left. We'll see what sticks and what doesn't.

All right. Guys, thanks so much as always.

Up next, growing calls for an investigation into an alleged Russian bounty scheme targeting U.S. service members in Afghanistan. The top Democrat from the Senate Armed Services Committee joins me next.

[08:34:48]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTINGLY: The White House is facing growing bipartisan calls for answers on reports that Russian intelligence paid bounties to the Taliban for killing American troops. Administration officials have downplayed the reports and insist President Trump was never even briefed. But sources tell CNN the White House first received this intel early last year and that was included in the President's written daily briefing sometime this spring.

Faced with increasing pressure from Capitol Hill, President Trump is turning to a tried and true tactic when it comes to Russia, dismiss the intelligence and attack the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: From what I hear and I hear it pretty good, the intelligence people didn't even -- many of them didn't believe it happened at all. I think it is a hoax. I think it is a hoax by the newspapers and the Democrats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island. He is the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He's been briefed on these allegations.

And I guess just to start, Senator, do you believe what you've seen up to this point, which I know you can't talk about at length, but do you believe it was a hoax?

SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): I believe that the intelligence community was concerned that the Russians were plotting or involved somewhat with Afghan elements to go after our forces. Whether they reached high confidence, that's something else.

But this was real enough to be discussed at the National Security Council. It's real enough to alert our allies to protect their own forces. And anytime there is a threat to U.S. Forces, the President of the United States should be made aware of it.

[08:39:56]

REED: That's why I find this very, very difficult to believe that he was never told, no one bothered to tell him. And in addition, there is some suggestion that it was included in the Presidential daily briefing. That it was written down there.

One of the problems I think with the President is that he doesn't always read the Presidential daily briefing. That it's sort of hit and miss with his intelligence. So when it comes to intelligence with respect to the welfare and safety of security of our American fighting men and women, that's something the President should demand to know about immediately and I would -- if I was the President, I would be upset with my staff in not informing me.

MATTINGLY: Senator, you have a kind of a granular knowledge of U.S. force posture around the world. This is something you would think the administration would take steps to protect U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Obviously they warned U.S. allies. Have you seen anything that shows that on the ground U.S. commanders were given this information and told to prepare to keep U.S. troops protected based on what the intelligence community knew?

REED: Secretary Esper has indicated that he directed that all reasonable precautions be taken with respect to the potential of this incident happen of GRU/Russian intelligence agents paying Afghanis to attack U.S. forces.

We have heard incidents in the past. In 2018, there were reports from Afghanistan that Russians were providing weapons and money to Taliban elements. So this has been a very confused and complicated situation.

My hope, and I think it has some credibility, is that local commanders certainly, when they heard this information took steps because they have an intimate and direct responsibility for the protection of their forces.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask, how does this slot into the broader administration policy on Afghanistan? Obviously there is peace talks, there is cease-fires, there is Russia is in and around all of these things. It is very complicated but what is your sense of how this kind of fits in with the broader U.S./Afghanistan situation at the moment?

REED: Well, unfortunately I think the President is trying to find a way out quickly and prior perhaps even to the election. And doing so without making sure that we have a credible counterterrorism force in place. That would be a mistake.

I think the other problem we have here is any relationship with Russia is always complicated. You know, ironically he said this was just a hoax. Guess what the Russian spokesperson said, it is a hoax.

The President has been very, very amenable to the Russians. He wants them to come into the G-7. He had this information apparently, at least it was in his presidential daily brief and yet he had five conversations with President Putin and I don't think at any one time did he either raise this issue or potential or even a suggestion that we have to be much more appropriate in our relationships in Afghanistan.

And finally, it's unrelated to Afghanistan, but withdrawing forces from Germany is again another, I think, great gift to Putin. And that's something the President is doing despite our allies in NATO, despite the NATO alliance.

So all these things suggest that when it comes to not just Afghanistan, but when it comes to Russia, the President deals in a very unique way. And it is very, very amenable to the Russians. He seems to not be able to do enough for Vladimir Putin.

MATTINGLY: Yes. I want to get to domestic economic issue in a second. But I do have to ask, since you're the co-author of the National Defense Authorization Act must pass bill, every year it gets done. It's always bipartisan. The President has threatened to veto it because of a three-year commission study into changing the names of confederate bases named after confederate generals.

Some Republicans have told me look, Democrats won't negotiate on this, it is a must pass. Do you plan to negotiate based on the provision you have in your bill right now?

REED: We have a bipartisan position. And it passed the Senate Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan basis. It came to the floor. It is part of our bill. I assume it will be part of the house bill. And I think we will go ahead and pass the legislation.

Again, I can't emphasize enough, it was bipartisan. It came out because I think people do recognize that we had an important moment in which to put history right, if you will.

We have a situation now where we have military posts and that our name for individuals would actually wage warfare against the United States. I think we've finally come to recognize that's not the best image to have.

[08:44:53]

REED: And we provided the free process by which local communities, the military itself, military historians can weigh in and select an appropriate name.

Today when you go to a military base, it is composed of Americans from all races, men and women, all striving together, and to have those bases named very deliberately after someone who fought against the United States to the expansion and for the preservation of slavery is I think inappropriate and we're going to change that.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It certainly seems that way.

Senator Reed, we are out of time. I have unemployment insurance questions and state and local questions, but I'm going to get those to you in the hallways next time I see you.

REED: Thanks, man.

MATTINGLY: Enjoy your fourth of July weekend. Thank you very much for your time.

All right. Up next, an insurgent wave sweeps New York. We'll talk to first time congressional candidate Mondaire Jones.

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MATTINGLY: This past week, President Trump branded the Black Lives Matter Movement a symbol of hate, threatened to veto a defense bill because of an amendment that removes the names of confederate generals from military bases and called out a federal housing law aimed at combating segregation.

And this was his message taking racial divisions from Mount Rushmore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The American people are strong and proud. And they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:50:01]

MATTINGLY: American politics is never not fascinating because it is all that was happening.

Three black progressive candidates are making history in the state of New York.

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MONDAIRE JONES (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: They said that a kid who degree up poor, black and gay in the village of Spring Valley could never run for Congress. They said that we were inexperienced, that we had never held elected office, that we had nothing useful to add to the conversation. They said a lot of things, and we proved every last one of them wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: And that Democratic congressional candidate Mondaire Jones joins me right now from south Nyack, New York. Thank you very much for your time.

I want to start -- I'm really interested in the make up of your district and this moment, right. You come -- it's a blue district where the expectations are you'll win in November but it is a district that's over 60 percent white. It's a wealthy district. It doesn't necessarily -- I think what raises the question to me is when you look at the movement that's going on around the country now, you see a lot of white people, you see a lot of black people, you see a lot of brown people. Do you think that your win in this primary reflects this moment that we're in in society right now?

JONES: I think it does, you know. This is a district that as you noted is an affluent district, right. It's the 19th most affluent congressional district in the United States of America. but it is also, as I have said repeatedly, on the stump a tale of two cities, right.

So the average household income in my district is approximately $100,000. But as "The New York Times" said in its endorsement of my campaign a few weeks ago there are pockets of deep poverty like where I grew up in the village of Spring Valley in Rockland county. We're no stranger to ICE raids off around our district. And we are familiar with the devastating impact of climate change, especially in our river towns which flood whenever it rains.

And so we've got a lot of problems here and I think it is really the latest step for progress in the pressive movement for me to now be running to represent Bill and Hillary Clinton and also Andrew Cuomo in my district, you know, we can do well in the suburbs, even as we compete successfully in places like New York City.

MATTINGLY: I've been interested in watching and reading some of your speeches over the course of the campaign, kind of the politics is personal, the lived experiences bringing that to Capitol Hill. I've covered congress for the last decade, decade plus, and you see the members that have those often contribute more or maybe more viscerally to some of the debates that they have. Because they lived it.

Is that kind of how you view your perspective if and when you get to Capitol Hill?

JONES: Absolutely. You know, I don't think it is any coincidence that I was the only candidate in a crowded eight-way Democratic primary talking about criminal justice and policing reform before the murder of George Floyd.

And I also don't think it is any coincidence that the only reason we're talking about a green new deal is because voters in New York's 14th congressional district elevated a 28-year-old bartender who has a stake in the future of the planet to the halls of power in Congress.

And so I do think that our policymaking is informed by lived experiences and that we get better policy outcomes when we have more people in office for whom policy is personal.

MATTINGLY: So this is what I'm interested. You mentioned a certain bartender who you may be part of her delegation here in a couple of months. Progressives have a voice and I think clearly have more of a voice in the Democratic caucus and the house than they've ever had before. But they are still, I don't think a majority. They haven't won every single debate. Do you feel like you can change that if you win your election and get to Capitol Hill in January 2021?

JONES: You know, progress is often incremental. And one thing that I'm really pleased by is that public opinion shows that any number of progressive policy proposals are largely popular with the American people.

Today, in the midst of a global pandemic, Medicare for all enjoys support from a majority of the American people. And so I think you're going to see increasingly members of the House Democratic caucus who had been holding out on any number of issues move to the left.

I think you'll see and have already seen Vice President Biden move to the left. And I'm excited about the progress that we're going to achieve together on behalf of the American people because there are things that really are not Democratic or Republican issues.

I mean these should be issues that are American niches -- a quality, affordable house, health care for everyone in the richest nation in the history of the world, relief from crippling student debt so we that can liberate an entire generation of young people to meaningfully participate in this economy and, of course, perhaps most of all, saving the planet from climate catastrophe.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it is going to be very interesting to have you in the hallways, assuming you win in November. As I told you during the commercial, when I come up to you and ask you questions, you can't run away from me, ok because I'm going to have a recorder, I'm going to have a camera. I'm going to try and corner you in the hallway, I'm going to ask you the tough ones. All right, sir?

JONES: I believe in transparency in government. I'll be right there.

[08:55:00]

MATTINGLY: Sounds great. Mondaire Jones, thank you very for your time, for joining us on this holiday weekend.

And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you sharing your Sunday with us.

We leave you on the Fourth of July weekend with some thoughts on from a member of the House Democratic leadership, a civil rights icon, Jim Clyburn and a journalist who won a Pulitzer for the creation of the "1619 Project", Nicole Hannah Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE HANNAH JONES, JOURNALIST: When I think about the Fourth of July, I think about when on July 4th, 1776 this country declared its independence with those majestic words of the Declaration, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by the creator with inalienable rights", that one fifth of the population was living in bondage and with no one -- none of those rights.

I think about how a century later Frederick Douglass would ask what to the negro is the Fourth of July. And I think about how today we are still trying to live up to those majestic ideals we failed to in 1776 and we're struggling to in 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): July 4th, 2020 is shaping up to be unlike any I have ever experienced before. I often think about growing up in the little town of Sumpter, South Carolina, starting my school day every day reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to that flag you see flying in the background.

That pledge ends with a tremendous vision of liberty and justice for all. I've thought time and time again over the last six or seven decades I would never live to see a serious pursuit of that vision.

I'm beginning to believe with all that's happening around us today that this country is coming to grips with the fact that it should make its greatness accessible and affordable for all of its citizens.

July 4th, 2020 -- I think we are beginning to start.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:57:01]

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