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Sessions Touts His Support Of Trump As Trump Back His Opponent; Biden Camp Releases New Ad Targeting Texas; NFL Could Use New Face Shield To Protect Players. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It is run off day in Alabama. Jeff Sessions trying to reclaim his old Senate seat, he's running against the former Auburn University football coach, Tommy Tuberville. This is Sessions message this morning as he voted.


JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), SENATE CANDIDATE: I would suggest to you that the multiple comments and statements Tommy Tuberville has made about immigration, they are weak, they are not strong, they are not Trumpian, they are not Jeff Sessions.


KING: You heard him saying not Trumpian. Jeff session says he's Trumpian. Well, that feeling is not mutual. Listen to here as the President of the United States.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, we have the Jeff Sessions thing. We gave it a shot. I had no idea it could be as bad as it was.


KING: CNN white house correspondent, Kaitlan Collins is with us also national political reporter at New York Times, Elaina Plott. Elaina, I want to start with you. This is a fascinating race A, for Alabama to see if Jeff Sessions can get his old seat back running against Tommy Tuberville, very colorful figure.


But the Trump factor is what gives it national attention. Jeff Sessions was the first senator to endorse then candidate Trump. He was his attorney general, now to the President, he is a pariah. But this one's up to the Republican voters of Alabama.

ELAINA PLOTT, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You know, it's interesting, John. I think this race really does done to lay bare to the extent to which Trump's most ardent supporters are drawn to him as a function of ideology or more as something closer to a personal or a cult of personality, I should say.

And, you know, it's interesting, Jeff Sessions is in many ways the most Trumpian candidate in the race. He has been a true believer in the ideals of Trumpism. However loosely, you want to define those whether it relates to immigration or trade or China more broadly.

And of course, he is loathed by Donald Trump. Tommy Tuberville on the other hand, has been on record seven times saying things like Donald Trump's trade policies have put a noose around the neck of American farmers. And yet he is the one beloved in this race by Donald Trump.

So depending on who voters ultimately pick this evening, I do think it's a signal as to, you know, why the President's supporters are drawn to him in the first place.

KING: And Kaitlan Collins, that bring you into the conversation. I know you're jealous that Atlanta is there in Alabama on runoff day. Sorry, you have to be stuck here with me in Washington. I just want you to listen here a little bit, a little bit of the flavor here. These are two Republicans running in a runoff they don't like each other and their TV ad show it.


TOMMY TUBERVILLE, AMERICAN FOOTBALL COACH: You can't fake it. You're either strong or you're not. And Jeff Sessions, he's not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sessions has the courage to stand up to the mob. Don't bow to Washington. Stand up for Alabama and Sessions.


KING: We don't know the results, Kaitlan, but this is home for you and it's a state you pop all the politics closely. My biggest question is, if Jeff Sessions somehow becomes the Republican nominee, I assume the President knows he wants that seat back in Republican hands. But boy, how's he going to handle that?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think he obviously wants to seat back in Republican hands. But does he want Jeff Sessions in that seat? It's really a tossup if you talk to people close to the President, because it doesn't matter who Jeff Sessions is running against.

Most people figured the President was going to endorse his opponent because that is just how much he has never forgiven Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. And so it's just so notable, though, how you've seen Sessions try to navigate this because it is something that Alabama voters do bring up.

And if the President is successful with this endorsement of Tuberville, and Tuberville does beat Sessions tonight what it is going to show is the power of the President has to completely alter someone's reputation because Jeff Sessions of course, safely held this Senate seat for two decades. He had a very strong following in the state, a ton of support.

He was never even close to losing this seat before. And now he is in this fight for his political life. And people are questioning, you know, what would he do after this, after losing potentially? Where would he go and what would he do next? So that something that just isn't clear.

But for the President, it is personal here. It's not that he's personally close to Tommy Tuberville or anything like that. He certainly isn't. Even though he did say yesterday, during that call last night where he called Coach Nick Saban by the wrong name repeatedly, he said that Tommy Tuberville would have a direct line to the Oval Office if he does win.

KING: And Elaina, you tweeted about that moment that we talked about this a lot. The President maybe didn't read the brief or reread closely enough, he's relying on his old memory of Lou Saban. Lou Saban was the first coach of the Boston Patriots. Nick Saban is the current coach of the Crimson Tide. And he's a revered figure in Alabama.

The President you said tonight on a conference call with Tommy Tuberville. Trump repeatedly referred to Nick Saban as Lou Saban. He's great Lou Saban. What a great job he's done. Lou Saban was a great football coach. He passed away more than a decade ago. Nick Saban may be a distant cousin but the President a little mixed up there.

PLOTT: Well, you know, it's funny to, John, because my first instinct when reading the transcript from that call was, why is Donald Trump talking about Nick Saban in whatever garbled fashion in a conference call with a former Auburn University football coach?

And Kaitlan knows this too, but, you know, those two camps don't mesh well. So, even the context of trying to invoke Saban's name to begin with was a little odd to me. But I do think it implementizes (ph) in a way, just the fact that Donald Trump is not so much devoted to or particular element of the State of Alabama.

He really is just quite interested in defeating Jeff Sessions. And I've even been told by White House officials going back to the beginning of this primary that Donald Trump has said to associates, perhaps only half kidding, that if Jeff Sessions were to win the nomination, he would campaign for the Democratic Senator Doug Jones.


KING: Well, we will find out. We will count the votes tonight and see if this mail-in or whatever. We'll see where it goes. And I get your point about Auburn and Alabama, Elaina, trust me. I've gotten the death glare from Miss Collins for suggesting if there's any color other than red aloud in the State of Alabama. Kaitlan and Elaina, thanks so much. Thanks for joining us today.

Texas, another big state has Joe Biden's attention. President in recent poll showing that red state now in play and Biden campaign trying to take advantage of that, listen to this new ad targeting, yes, Texans. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm thinking all of you today across Texas. I know the rising case numbers is causing fear and apprehension. I will not abandon you. We're all in this together. We'll fight this together. And together, we'll have emerged in this stronger than we were before we began. I'm Joe Biden and I approve this message.


KING: CNN's Arlette Saenz in Wilmington, Delaware today. The former Vice President has a speech plan there. Arlette, to the speech in a moment but start with this Texas, a lot of Democrats say make the play Mr. Vice President, don't just run a couple ads, hire a field staff, invest seriously. Not only try to win the state yourself, but help Democrats running up and down the ballot there.

The question for the Biden campaign is do you look at the moment and say do it or do you look at the history and say maybe not worth it?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe Biden is clearly showing today that they have their eyes on Texas with that first general election T.V. ad that they are airing in the state. It focuses on the coronavirus pandemic at a time when coronavirus cases are spiking in the state.

And you'll notice in that ad, it makes no mention at all of President Trump. But Biden's advisors believe that the tone and message from that ad will present a stark contrast with how the President has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

But look, Texas is an incredibly typically red state. They haven't elected a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter back in 1976. But recent polling has shown that Biden is competitive with the President in that state at this time. So now we see them testing the waters a little bit with this new ad that they've released today.

But back here in Delaware in just a short while, Joe Biden is going to talk about the second plank of his economic recovery agenda what the campaign is called the build back better plan in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

And today's focus is on clean energy and sustainable infrastructure just to run through a few of the highlights of this plan. Biden is calling for $2 trillion of investment in clean energy projects over the next four years. He also is vowing to end carbon emissions from power plants by 2035. There is also an environmental justice component of the plan saying that about 40 percent of those clean energy investments will be directed to disadvantaged communities.

These proposals that the Biden campaign is putting forth today represent a significant shift from where he was during the primary. If you just look at that 2035 a standard when it comes to clean electricity, that is an aggressive and more ambitious approach than what Biden had previously proposed. We'll hear a little bit more about how he plans to use some stimulus spending to help reinvigorate the economy after coronavirus, John.

KING: Arlette Saenz for us in Wilmington. And we'll have the Vice President speech, former Vice President speech a bit later today. Arlette, thanks so much for that reporting.

It is the summer of COVID, also the summer protests, and our summertime surge in crime as well. So what happens in America when the police, the people both come under fire? CNN's Don Lemon hosting a special edition of CNN tonight with an in depth look at crime, policing, and, yes, your safety. That's 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight right here on CNN. Please don't miss it.


Up next for us, the NFL unveiling new face masks to help protect its players from COVID.


KING: A new wrinkle today as the NFL tries to deal with a very unique challenge protecting players in an incredibly high context heavy sport. The solution appears to be an add-on to the old helmet. Let's bring in CNN's sports Andy Scholes. Andy, the NFL trying to protect the players with some new headgear.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. That's what they're trying to do, John. You know, the NFL is not going to be in a bubble like the NBA. They're all going to be practicing in their home cities, going home after practice, then coming back to practice and just going to be, you know, all over each other the NFL Players Association's medical director, Dr. Thom Mayer said, you know, football is the perfect petri dish for transmitting this virus.

So what are you going to do? Well, the NFL and Players Association teaming up with Oakley, the doctors and engineers working for both sides and they came up with this new mouth shield. To show you some images of it. It's got airways and openings, but it does block direct transmission of droplets, which would definitely help in preventing the transmission of the virus.

Source tells CNN they're going to start giving this out to select teams to continue trials with it. Now, they're not mandating that all players use this right now. The doctors for the NFL though are certainly encouraging that players wear it. But that might be a tough task getting a lot of the players to sign on for this. Texans star J.J. Watt he told pro football talk, you know, he tried to wear a visor once it was just suffocating.

And so John, breathability, visibility, the big issues with these mouth shields, but the doctors and engineers for the NFL and Players Association said they hope they can keep innovating and get to a point where all the players are comfortable with something like this.


KING: Well, as we watch the safety debate play out, there's the bigger issue of how do you make the season work that's been a back and forth between the League and the Union. Where are we?

SCHOLES: Well, source tells us that the League and the Union are going to be holding more calls today, discussing certain things like testing, protocols, player, opt outs, and the preseason. Some of the things they're still trying to work out in order to get the season going.

You know, John, the players, they want to be tested every day, and they don't want any preseason games at all. The League, meanwhile, they want it -- according to "ESPN", they want testing like every other day, and the League still wants to hold two preseason games.

So those are just some of the details they still have to work out. They've come a long way. But we're still just two weeks away from training camp and don't have a concrete plan in place.

KING: So the clock is ticking there. It's complicated. We'll see if it works out. Andy Scholes will be back with us when he knows more. Andy, thanks so much for that update.

Coming up for us, if you've been noticing stocks surging lately despite the pandemic but be careful airlines, banks, other big companies reporting some big losses.



KING: Some important new perspective today on the coronavirus economic shock, corporations beginning to report their second quarter earnings today. And you're getting a much clearer picture from those reports of just how dire the situation is. CNN's Christine Romans breaks down the numbers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, the contrast between the pain on Main Street and the rally on Wall Street has been stark. I mean, take a look at how stocks have performed during the pandemic.

The longest bull market in history ended on March 23rd. And since then, John, stocks have rallied more than 40 percent. Now the stock market has been riding a wave of record stimulus from Congress and the Fed. And the big test now is earnings season. Profits are forecast down more than 40 percent, the biggest drop since the Great Recession.

It's even worse for banks. JPMorgan Chase just reported a 51 percent plunge in profit for the second quarter. Its CEO Jamie Dimon is cautious. He says we still face much uncertainty regarding the future path of the economy. JPMorgan built up an $8.9 billion reserve to brace for loans that could go bust in the months ahead.

Delta Airlines reported the worst quarter in more than a decade. It's been burning through $43 million a day. Its CEO warned it'll be more than two years before the industry recovers. Now airlines have access to secured loans under the CARES Act, something Delta has not yet decided whether to take. All that emergency federal spending by the way is leading to a record budget deficit brand new numbers from the Treasury Department show an $864 billion shortfall in June alone. As a share of the economy, the deficit is now the biggest since World War II, John?

KING: $864 billion. Christine Romans, thanks so much.

Today, Harvard University and MIT expecting to challenge President Trump in court, that hearing over a White House directive that threatens to remove International College students. The administration says foreign students who plan to take online classes this fall cannot stay in the United States. And it's a threat, many states universities, they call downright cruel, especially in the middle of this pandemic.

Let's get straight to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz for more. Shimon, what are we looking for in today's hearing?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so we're going to have obviously both sides there. You're going to have the government there and Harvard, MIT. And also joining in this lawsuit in briefs are attorney general's across the country, New York, Los Angeles, California, schools all across the country joining this because it affects so many schools, so many students who are here, on student visas.

We're talking about hundreds of thousands of students, like the ones here at Harvard University behind me, some 5,000 students are affected by this. And some of the arguments you're going to hear from this school and others is that in some ways, this is retribution against the schools because they are refusing to fully reopen, like the President wants.

Harvard here behind me said they're going to be in full online classroom offering only. And so therefore, some of the 5,000 students here could be affected and would have to essentially leave the country. The issue is obviously for a lot of these students, it's their dream to come here to the United States, to come to Harvard, to MIT, other schools, and that will be ripped away from them.

And the other issue is economics. The schools rely on the money that a lot of the foreign students bring. And also the cultural experience, really for the students that are from here and attending Harvard, and also the students that are coming here.

So this is a really wide sweeping rule here by the administration that they hope they can at least get some kind of injunction for temporarily.

KING: You mentioned the possibility they're trying to get an injunction to stop it. But as you know, too well, federal court cases can drag on for a long time. There's a calendar about the school year, any sense of when this would be ultimately decided?

PROKUPECZ: No, there's no sense of this. But think of this, John, as we know that this administration so much has wind up in court and we've seen this process unfold. If the federal court here rules against the administration, there's been an appeals process and we could wind up seeing this at some point before the Supreme Court as we have seen so many situations here with this administration, John.


KING: We'll keep an eye on it. Shimon Prokupecz on the ground for us in Cambridge, thanks so much.