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Fox News Host Attacks Senator, A War Vet, Calling Her 'Coward, Moron;' Harvard, MIT Sue Trump For Deportations Over Virtual Learning; Virus-Hit Firefighters Say, Avoid Calling 911 With Mild Symptoms; Revolt, Players Union Wants Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) Out Of WNBA. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 8, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BRANDON FRIEDMAN, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN WAR VET, WORKED WITH DUCKWORTH AT V.A.: Tam is great. So, as a person, she is kind, she has a great sense of humor, she is a mom. She is collaborative. She takes feedback from all of her employees. She's absolutely great to work with.

And when you couple that with her unique one-of-a-kind resume, she's just -- she's a really great person, she did a lot of dynamic stuff when I work with her at the Department of Veteran Affairs, and we accomplished a lot and most of that was due to her leadership.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I want to go back to something that you said about the criticism of Tammy Duckworth, because one of the points that Tucker Carlson and made was he said you're not supposed to criticize Tammy Duckworth in any way because she once served in the military.

And, look, he's kind of setting up this false argument there because he's saying that you're not supposed to criticize Tammy Duckworth in any way. Someone who's a member of a military family, I find myself sometimes explaining to civilians, you can criticize veterans. You can take issue with what this person believes if they're in the military or they served in the military. But when it comes to their service, you really can't.

I mean criticism, they're not inoculated against criticism. It's just sort of this general understanding as Americans that we have of what their service. You -- I haven't served, you have. Can you speak to me a little bit about what it means for you to put your life on the line in the service of your country, what that has meant for Senator Duckworth as well?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. Tammy didn't -- yes, she didn't ask for the Iraq War. She went when her country called her. And she has answered the call every step of her adult life. And that's just what you do when you're a type of person like that, that Tammy is. Military families know that, something that we all did. And it's something that apparently Tucker Carlson just doesn't quite understand.

KEILAR: Yes. Look, what military families do know that. I'm a relatively new military spouse, so I'll tell you, I thought I knew, I didn't know. I had no idea until I saw it up close what it means to answer that call. It's an incredible thing.

And Brandon Friedman, thank you so much for coming on. Yes, go on.

FRIEDMAN: No, you can question her on policy, you can question her decisions all you want, but I think the question Tammy Duckworth's love of country and her patriotism is quite beyond the pale.

KEILAR: Yes. Brandon, thank you so much for coming. Thank you for your service as well.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: And next, the Trump administration says international college students should be deported if their schools move to all online classes. I'll be speaking to one of those students who is currently on edge.


PRIYANKAA KRISHNAN, INTERNATIONAL PHD STUDENT, IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY: It is unbelievable. I feel so vulnerable right now. I've been in this country for six years. I've never felt so vulnerable as I am feeling today. And I don't know what to do.




KEILAR: New today, Harvard and MIT are suing the Trump administration over its guidance that bans international students living in the U.S. from taking online-only courses this fall semester. It effectively leaves those students in a very vulnerable situation, vulnerable to deportation.

These requirements for international students have always been strict. And now coming to or remaining in the U.S. to take in an online only course load has been prohibited. Priyankaa Krishnan is with us. She is getting her PhD at Iowa State University, and this is how she initially reacted when she heard the news.


KRISHNAN: You know how much it takes to get into an international program, and travel all the way across to the country and missing all your family for months and months and not being able to see them or travel in case of an emergency during this pandemic. The only thing that was constant in my life was my education. And now you're not -- you're just taking that away from me. What is going on?


KEILAR: Priyankaa, joining us now. And thank you so much for being with us. I also understand that your brother is a student at Iowa State as well. Tell us what you're hearing from the university about their plans.

KRISHNAN: Well, yes, my brother goes to Iowa State as well. And we have been receiving emails from our president, as well as the International Scholars Office saying that they're trying everything to make sure that international students are -- make sure to take one in- person class at least to stay in the country. And I'm not sure about the logistics. They have to be politically correct. So, they usually just copy and paste the regulations as they receive from ICE.

But I received a lot of emails from faculty and mentors saying they're all here to support us. So, yes, that's what's going on. But nothing is certain.

KEILAR: Okay. So, you're feeling better because it sounds like they're looking for some kind of workaround, even if it's just to be checking a box, shall we say? That's what it sounds like in your view, right?

KRISHNAN: Yes. That's kind of what they're telling us at the moment. But definitely everything is uncertain. It's not the fact that if somebody say you just have to leave or say you have to stay, that's different. But there's this whole like air full of uncertainty. So it's a little weird at the moment. But, yes.

KEILAR: Okay, so, you don't know. You don't know what's going to happen. You said -- you're in an interesting situation because you were raised in Dubai. Your family is in Dubai. But that's not where you would go back to if you have to leave.

KRISHNAN: No. So, I did hear that the (INAUDIBLE) visas have been suspended in UAE. I'm not sure if that's still the situation. But -- so if I have to live, then I have to go to India, where I haven't lived for more than ten days and every year.


You know, I go for vacation but I don't live there. I don't -- my family is in UAE. So, I'm, again, separated from my family. It's not that I'm going anywhere closer to them. So, yes.

KEILAR: Okay, so -- and one of the things you took particular issue with, and I know there's lot of international students who are in the same situation as you with this, is this idea that, oh, if your school is going to online only, then you should just transfer to another school. Tell us why that was something that really kind of bothered you.

KRISHNAN: That absolutely bothers me, because as a PhD student, and even as just an international student, I know the process I have to take in order to get into a university, forget about transferring, right? So there's a whole visa process. They have to process I-20 during the pandemic.

There is -- everything gets delayed. If I email a person at my university, they're probably working from home in the midst of taking care of their kids than going to -- like doing their meetings. I don't get a response from them for almost a week, right? And in the middle of all that, I have to transfer to another university. Not saying I, but any international students having to transfer from one university to another within a span of less than one month seems impossible to me. And especially as a PhD student, finding the right faculty, the right program, the right assistantship, the right research, it's not -- I chose to come to Iowa State. And if I have to move because of this one small problem, according to me, is not right.

KEILAR: Priyankaa, just tell us what kind of message does it send to you when the U.S. government says, you know what, you have to go home if your university has determined that for your health and for the public health of students, everything has to be online?

KRISHNAN: I mean, I agree. I honestly agree that everything should be online. There's no -- there's nothing to say people should go back to classes because cases are increasing. And we just have to be cautious on our side. But saying that you have to leave the country, I don't get the point because there's going to be a lot of traveling, ticket cost. I've rented this apartment and my lease does not up until August 2021.

So there are a lot of financial expenses, emotional distress and there is also the whole fact that I was not prepared to leave. And now, I don't know if it's an option. I don't get an option to stay.

When the school went off in spring semester, I remember as international students were living in the dorms were asked to leave the dorms. But I don't live in the dorm. I live in an apartment. I don't understand when I'm like independent from the university, why am I am being asked to leave or why any international student is being asked to leave.

KEILAR: Priyankaa, thank you for being with us. There are over a million students in your position, potentially, in the United States. So, thank you for giving us a glimpse into what you're dealing with.

We'll have some more in the breaking news now. The White House task force on the coronavirus pushing schools to reopen as cases in the U.S. surpass 3 million.

Also, the surge in cases in Phoenix has been so severe, the fire department there is now asking people to limit their calls to 911. Their spokesman will join us live to explain.



KEILAR: As Arizona as cases continue to surge, the Phoenix Fire Department is now dealing with the fast moving outbreak among their firefighters. The spike in cases is so alarming, and Arizona Firefighters Association is pleading with the community to limit 911 calls to just emergencies because crews are contracting the virus at such a frightening rate. Captain Rob McDade is joining me now. He is the Phoenix Fire Department's Public Information Officer. And, you know, first, sir, can you just give us an update here about how bad this is for the firefighters, how many have been affected here and how they're doing.

CAPT. ROB MCDADE, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, PHOENIX FIRE DEPARTMENT: Yes. Well, first of all, thank you. They're doing well right now. We've got 77 members that have been infected with COVID. And we've got about another 50 that are quarantined because they were with members that tested positive. It's that merry-go-round. If you're testing positive, we need to take you out of the field. If you're around somebody, we need to get you tested and then we need to quarantine you.

Remember, we've got 60 fire stations. So, we deliver that service. So we're shuffling the deck, the chairs on the deck to make sure we've got our folks to be able to completely deliver that service delivery model that we do every day.

KEILAR: So, what has that meant for operations? Have you had to extend shifts? What is going on there to kind of cover those gaps?

MCDADE: I would say the best way to put it is all hands on deck right now. We're in emergency staffing. Our folks are great, they've been stepping up. They've been working around the clock. We've got some of our firefighters working 24, 48, 72 hours, making sure they're fit for duty. But we're going to make sure that does not impact our service delivery.

We understand. We know the numbers. We know that our communities affected by COVID right now. We're running a lot of the COVID calls. We can do everything we can to protect our members. We wear the masks, the glasses. We regularly clean our stations. But, unfortunately, we can't work in a bubble. So our folks are going to be exposed to it, we know that they're going to be there. We know that we're going to have those numbers.

So we've played that every scenario all the way into a dooms day, right, to make sure that we keeps staffing. These trucks having a station shutdown is just not in the cards for us. We're going to keep delivering that and we've worked very well with our labor, the union, which you talked about.

Again, we knew in March that we are going to live in an area where members of firefighters, we live together, we work in a house for 24 hours, which means it's almost impossible to make sure that we don't cross contaminate. So we've played everything out, and so far we have been able to staff our trucks and keep running the calls when the light comes on.

KEILAR: Captain McDade, thank you so much. I think there's a lot of departments who are dealing with what you are dealing with. So, thanks for coming on.

MCDADE: Absolutely. KEILAR: And a sitting senator and co-owner of Atlanta's WNBA team is now facing calls from the players for her to step down after she objected to the league's support of the Black Lives Matter movement. A member of the players union will join me live next.



KEILAR: The WNBA Players Union is calling for Senator Kelly Loeffler to be removed as co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. They tweeted this, enough, out. That tweet a company by a picture of Senator Kelly Loeffler. And this comes after Loeffler voiced for objection to the league's plan to honor the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a letter to the commissioner of the WNBA, Loeffler wrote in part, players, coaches and yes, team owners share differing opinions on many issues but to subscribe to a particular political agenda undermines the potential of the sport and sends a message of exclusion.

Those comments after -- those are comments after the WNBA announced that it is planning to display Black Lives Matter prominently on basketball courts.

Former Atlanta Dream player, Layshia Clarendon is joining us now, to talk about this. Layshia, thank you so much for being with us.

Tell us, when you saw what Loeffler had written, saying that this is about exclusion, tell us how you reacted to this.

LAYSHIA CLARENDON, FIRST VICE PRESIDENT, WOMANT'S NATIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER ASSOCIATION: Man, I was super hurt, honestly. I mean, her opinions have been public for the last couple of years now, how she's felt running for Senate seats and all of that.

But to kind of see her double down in this moment where we literally have videos of black people being murdered, you know, and particularly when we were using Breonna Taylor on the back of our jerseys to honor her in this moment for this season, you know, it's really hurtful to hear that. Having played for her, having shared space with her and having had dinner at her house and her to do that as a woman, was like, wow, like really shocking and surprising.

KEILAR: Tell us about how you are honoring the movement and how you are honoring -- for instance, you talked about Breonna Taylor. Tell us what all you're doing.

CLARENDON: So, we came up with the Social Justice Council for this season to adjust social justice initiatives that we wanted to honor throughout the entire season and so that's some league members, some players members, people, activists and organizers.

And so a big part of what we're doing most recently is making sure we put Breonna Taylor on the back of our jerseys to honor her life. She was an amazing EMT, woman who was murdered in her own home. They were going to have other things, like podcasts, you know, roundtable talks, breakout events and some initiatives. We want to make sure we educate people. We have calls to action. And so we could just use this platform as women for social change.

And we really wanted it to be a uniting. So it was particularly hurtful and weird to hear Kelly say that, we're using this as a divisive issue because we know sports actually unites people.

KEILAR: What do you want the senator to do?

CLARENDON: That's a good question. I think we are surprised that she would want to be a part of this league given her feelings so we would love for her to, you know, not represent us anymore because what she stands for is not a part of our league.

KEILAR: And just real quick before I let you go, Layshia, you tweeted, happy to own us as long as we stay quiet and perform. Tell us about that.

CLARENDON: I think people have been asking the question of like, why would she own a WNBA team if she believes black lives don't matter when we're an 80 percent black league. But I'm alluding to the long history in this country of white people owning black bodies.

And so it's not surprising that someone who particularly has views that doesn't believe black lives is matter would want to own black players, because we're so often comfortable with black people in this country as long as their entertaining us in sports, in music and culture, and so it's not surprising that she would want to own a team if she does truly have those views.

KEILAR: Layshia, thank you so much, Layshia Clarendon, for joining us. We really appreciate your perspective on this.

CLARENDON: Thank you.

KEILAR: Our special coverage continues now with Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, we'll take it, thank you so much.

Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me.

We begin today with just this pair of grim milestones in the U.S. as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral.


The nation now has 3 million confirmed cases. It's about a quarter of all cases worldwide.