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Interview with Hogan Gidley, Trump 2020 Campaign National Press Secretary; CVS & Target Join Other Major Retailers Mandating Masks; Roy Austin, Attorney for St. Louis Prosecutor, Kim Gardner, Discusses Prosecutor Getting Death Threats as Trump Defends Armed Couple. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: How do you turn this around because the president's really struggling, Hogan.

HOGAN GIDLEY, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: I wouldn't say he's struggling. The polls people are pointing to are hewed heavily to Democrats, under-sampling Republicans.

Those are designed to tear apart the Trump voter, the Trump base. It's never going to happen. And let's be clear. No one in middle America cares about titles. It's only the Beltway and --


KEILAR: Hogan, you know --


KEILAR: Hogan, I've got to interrupt you there. Because you know pollsters are trying to compensate for the problems they had in 2016. They have increased the representation of whites without college degrees that they lost.

They're still seeing, even with the adjustments to favor President Trump, they're still seeing a big drop in women who would make up for a big part of this group undercounted.

You may be downplaying polls because of what happened in 2016. But pollsters are correcting mistakes that they made. This must be alarming to you to you. What you're seeing.


KEILAR: He's down in the nationals. He's down in the battleground significantly?

GIDLEY: Again, I reject the premise they're correcting things. If they are, it's by a small fraction. It's still under-sampling of Republicans based on the 2016 exit polls.

But middle American doesn't care about that. What they care about is, is your life better today than yesterday And the overwhelming response for those people is absolutely yes.


KEILAR: So, let's talk about issues. Who is best to handle a crisis? And 57 to 38 in the new poll say Biden. Best to handle coronavirus response. And 59 to 35 Biden. That is a 24-point spread on the biggest issue that this president is handling right now.

GIDLEY: I understand. This election is probably going to come down to several issues. A few of those would probably be coronavirus, the culture --


KEILAR: I want to be clear. A 14-point spread there.

GIDLEY: Right, and Donald Trump wins on all three of these things.

You don't have to guess what a Joe Biden presidency would like.

KEILAR: What do you mean --


GIDLEY: We saw it --

KEILAR: What do you mean he wins on all three?

GIDLEY: -- for eight years.

KEILAR: He wins on all three of what?

GIDLEY: I'm about to tell you.

Because the fact is elections are about choices, binary choices between Donald Trump, who served admirably and made the country a better placed, both feared, respected and loved across the globe like never before, and Joe Biden, who's still complaining about the same things today as 50 years ago when he first took office.

When you dial down on the two choices, what these two candidates actually bring, you have one with real results, positive results for the American people in the last three years, and someone like Joe Biden with nothing to show.

And I just want to say --


KEILAR: Hogan, we can't even go to Canada.


KEILAR: Hogan, Canada won't let us in. Look at this coronavirus number, when you look at who in this poll says is best to handle the coronavirus response. (CROSSTALK)

GIDLEY: I get it. I'm not sure why you would want to go to Canada when we live on the greatest place on the planet. That's Donald Trump's mentality on --


KEILAR: If you want to get away from coronavirus you might.

GIDLEY: -- in this country.

But, but regardless of that, let's be clear. You don't have to guess what the economy would look like under Joe Biden. We saw depressed wages for eight years, hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs leaving our shores, 3.5 million to China alone because of this horrible decision making.

You don't have to guess what our culture would look like, our city streets. When you saw the looting and rioting across the country, people beaten within an inch of their own lives, just for protecting their own businesses. Joe Biden didn't say much at all.

And when he came out from his hidey hole and his bunker, he said we should think about defunding police. Some are actually enemies to this country.

That's a big difference between what Donald Trump wants, with an uplifting patriotic message about the country and its greatness. We can be greater. Donald Trump talks about that all the time.

Joe Biden -- and you pointed out coronavirus response. Let's talk about that for a minute. It was Joe Biden's White House that said during H1N1 that they were going to cancel all testing because, hey, "why waste resources on that," quote/unquote.

They are woefully --


KEILAR: Hogan, they left you a plan --


GIDLEY: Can you imagine if Donald Trump came on today and said --


GIDLEY: -- we're going to cancel testing?

KEILAR: No. They left you a plan. It's been like four years. You know that? They left you a plan. And 53 percent of registered voters --


GIDLEY: Barack Obama ran against George Bush for eight years. What are you talking about?


GIDLEY: By the way, it has been four year --


GIDLEY: Brianna, it has been 3.5 years.


GIDLEY: But Joe Biden has been in office for 50.


GIDLEY: What are you talking about?

KEILAR: -- the economy. Trump on the economy, 53 percent of registered voters disproving of how he's doing on the economy.

And we have to be clear that when it comes to Joe Biden, he has not said what you said about defunding the police. He has not --


GIDLEY: When he was asked about defunding the police, he said, yes, comma, absolutely. That's the way it was written and that's what he said.


GIDLEY: So, look, I understand the desire of CNN and others to try and make up for Joe Biden's mistakes and horrible position. That's fine. That's completely fair on your part. If you want to do that, be my guest.


But the fact is, when this campaign continues on forward and strong in full blast, we're going to make those differences.

We're going to point out what the mainstream media refuses to tell them. That Joe Biden has been horrible for this country. He's crushed the middle class. He kicked the American worker in the teeth for the better part of 50 years. And we're going to show it.

KEILAR: He hasn't been the president for the past three years. We'll see where the economy is right now.

Look, Biden does not support defunding police. Though, he reiterated the police should not be --


GIDLEY: And by the way, if we're talking about --


KEILAR: Hogan, he reiterated police should not be funded. This is what he said. Quote, he "doesn't support defunding police departments."

He said, "I think we should be holding police departments" -- he said, "I think we should be holding police departments responsible. The vast majority of police officers are ethical, brave and decent. The vast majority of them."

He said, "We need police. We need police departments. But we need basic fundamental rules. Moment has come for a wake-up call, a call to action to confront and end racial injustice. And that's prevalent in this country for as long as we've all been around."

That is his record, Hogan.

GIDLEY: That is -- that is an amazing campaign ad for Joe Biden. I appreciate that. I hope you guys end up playing the ones we put out as well.

But the fact remains, this president --


KEILAR: That's his quote, Hogan.


KEILAR: That's his position.

GIDLEY: Right. And you cherry pick ours and use his in totality. Again, that's fine. That's your prerogative.

But the fact is this president has helped this country get out of an anemic economic growth, taking us to highs no one thought possible. Seven million jobs in just a short amount of time. A half a million manufacturing jobs.

That's because of Donald Trump making new trade deals. Not the NAFTA trade deal that Joe Biden supported, sending 700,000 jobs away from the country.

And let's be clear, Hillary Clinton ran on a plan to raise taxes on Americans by $1.5 trillion. Joe Biden took a look at that number and said, hold my beer, I'm doing $4 trillion. I'm going to raise taxes even more.

So, we've seen record economic growth with jobs added in the last two months. Now Joe Biden says I'm going to do a complete 180 and take it back to the policies of the past that would not allow the American spirit to flourish and not allow the American worker to have a job?

I think the voters are going to reject that every time.

KEILAR: They're not now. And 53 percent of registered voters disprove of how the president is doing on the economy. And that's a change negatively for him of 8 percent from June.

He's trending in the wrong direction. Hogan, you know that. You're watching this. You're trying to work on this. But it's an uphill battle right now.

GIDLEY: Look -- look, look, everything's an uphill battle when 97 percent of the news coverage is against you. That's just the lot in life of all Republicans.

The fact is results speak louder than bogus polls. The president's performance speaks louder than the chattering class and the Beltway.

The American people feel the real results that this president has put in place in their lives. They can afford more things. They're buying more, spending more, saving more because of the president's economy.

And we were hit by an unprecedented, unforeseen pandemic from China, who lied about it, and the WHO was complicit in that.

This president took bold, aggressive, solid action for the economy. He's going to rebuild this economy because he's done it once. You don't have to guess. He's rebuilt the economy once. He'll do it again.

KEILAR: Hit by a pandemic that Americans do not think he's handling well. And 59 percent say Biden is best to handle coronavirus response. And --

GIDLEY: Again, it's about differences.


GIDLEY: It's about differences.


KEILAR: No, what's he doing to turn it around? You can say he's doing a great job but Americans aren't buying it. So, you have to do something different. How is he turning it around?

GIDLEY: Again, campaigns are about choices. You have to compare and contrast what this president has done and what Joe Biden has done. Let's not forget --


KEILAR: Hogan, you're looking at the polls. Americans are making their choice clear. How are you changing it?

GIDLEY: I'm getting to that, Brianna. The point is, when you take a look at coronavirus, for example, this president took bold decisive action and said we're not going to allow people from China and Europe to come into this country. Joe Biden said, no --


KEILAR: A new study out today shows it was -- (CROSSTALK)

GIDLEY: -- from China -


KEILAR: -- from your CDC --


GIDLEY: Bill De Blasio was in the gym working on curls for the girls. Governor Cuomo was even --


KEILAR: It was too late, Hogan.


KEILAR: It was too late. What do say --


GIDLEY: -- way later than that.

KEILAR: It was too -- it was too late. The shutting down was even too late. That's what the study showed from the Trump administration.

GIDLEY: Brianna, let's talk about too late for a minute. Governor Cuomo is to blame for too late. And 65 percent of the cases in this country can be traced back to seeding in New York City. Because Governor Cuomo refused to listen --


KEILAR: Because of the shutdown happening --


KEILAR: -- March 13th and --


GIDLEY: -- medical experts --


KEILAR: -- there was already spread in Europe.

KEILAR: He refused to clean all the subways. And when he finally did shut them down, he shut down a few, so they would all be funneled into a tighter place, making it even easier to seed this virus and spread across the country.


So let's talk about the truth. Let's talk about accuracy.

And when this campaign gets ramped up, people are going to see the difference between real leadership and an empty vessel like Joe Biden, who is now being filled by the radical-left agenda. He's now parroting Socialist propaganda from Bernie Sanders.

I think the American people deserve to know that. And as this campaign moves along, we're going to tell them.

KEILAR: I will say this finally. I know you have to go. But the Trump administration itself put out data that showed that shutdown of European travel came too late, came too late for New York City. It was already there.

I hear you pointing fingers but the problem was already hugely about to blow up in New York.

And, Hogan, thank you so much for coming on.

Hogan Gidley from the Trump campaign.

I really appreciate it.

GIDLEY: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Still ahead, we have some more major American retailers requiring that customers wear masks. We're going to show you the list. It's growing.



KEILAR: We have more breaking news. While governors are playing politics with masks, big businesses are weighing in. A short time ago, CVS and Target announcing they're joining other major retailers in mandating masks in stores. CVS says the mandate will be in place on Monday. And Target's starts August 1st.

This comes just a day after Walmart, Kroger and Kohl's said they will require customers to wear masks.

CNN's Cristina Alesci is joining me now.

What do we know about this particular announcement when it comes to CVS and Target, Cristina?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: They're both saying the rise in coronavirus cases across the country has forced their hand.

And that has been the case with all these announcements. It's the rise in the uptick of coronavirus cases, combined with lack of leadership at the federal level and at certain states that have not mandated masks in the face of the rise in coronavirus cases. Now, the reason retailers were reluctant to do this in the first place

because masks have been so controversial, unnecessarily so. They were reluctant to wade into that politicized debate.

On top of the fact that it's complicated to enforce it. It puts employees in the position of having to tell customers to put on the mask. And in some cases, that's results in violence from customers.

Now, CVS actually acknowledged this problem in its statement saying, "To be clear, we're not asking store employees to play the role of enforcers. What we're asking is that customers help protect those around them and heed the call to wear face covering."

Target, who announced the change today, said it's going to try to ease the burden on consumers by making free masks available before consumers walk in, adding signage, and making sure the overhead systems in stores remind people to keep their masks on.

This is not something corporate America wanted to do. In fact, they wrote to a National Governor's Association essentially asking for the governors to take leadership because it would make it much easier on them to go ahead and make these policies across the board mandatory -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. And just as we've been talking, let's add Publix to the list, the grocery store chain, as well. A lot of retailers and big-box stores joining them.

Cristina, thanks for that report.

Still ahead, a St. Louis circuit attorney says she's receiving more death threats after the president throws his support behind a couple being investigated for pointing their guns at a group of protesters. I'm going to speak with her attorney, next.



KEILAR: The St. Louis prosecutor investigating a couple who pointed guns at protesters marching through they're their gated neighborhood says she's getting death threats now.

The attorney for St. Louis circuit prosecutor, Kim Gardner, showed CNN several emails laced with vile racial and gender slurs and threats of violence.

The couple who is under criminal investigation, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, say they feared for their lives last month as crowds were protesting St. Louis' mayor's -- protesting the mayor, passed by their home. Authorities confiscated their McCloskey's guns. They have not been charged.

Now the prosecutor is accusing President Trump of getting involved. And Missouri governor and U.S. Senator are also speaking out. Republican Senator Josh Hawley has asked for a federal civil rights investigation.

Roy Austin, the attorney for St. Louis circuit attorney, Kim Gardner, joins me now.

You're joining us instead of Prosecutor Gardner because of the threats against her.

Tell us what's happened since she opened an investigation into the McCloskeys.


Brianna, quite simply, she did what any elected prosecutor would do. She opened an investigation to look at two people pointing guns at others. And since that time, she's received numerous threats to her life, some vile racist, sexist commentary.

And it's a real problem that is being exacerbated by the president of the United States.

KEILAR: Tell us how you see that, that he's involving himself in his case?

AUSTIN: Well, he recently tweeted something about her and her investigation. Which is insane, given that this is a state and local matter that should stay a state and local matter.

But we see people trying to elevate this for no reason other than to try to intimidate Ms. Gardner.

KEILAR: After he tweeted or amplified that, what was the effect when it came to the threats? Anything you saw?

AUSTIN: She was receiving threats just at the beginning of the investigation. And since the president's tweet, she has received even more threats and even more, really, horrific emails, posts on social media.

People are reaching out to her with this vile language through every way they can try to find her.

KEILAR: What's your reaction to GOP Senator Josh Hawley, accusing Gardner of targeting the McCloskeys, as he's now calling for a federal civil rights investigation?


AUSTIN: Honestly, it's hypocritical. It's gaslighting. His letter is really a joke. To think that an elected prosecutor conducting an investigation and using her discretion rises to the level of a civil rights matter is insane.

And he, as the former A.G., notes that what he's doing makes absolutely no sense. But he is doing it purely in an effort to rile up people to intimidate Ms. Gardner. KEILAR: Roy Austin, thank you for being with us.

AUSTIN: Thank you very much for the time.

KEILAR: It is the drug that the president took and he touted, despite medical warnings against it. And the results of the first significant clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine of in, confirming much of what we already knew. We'll have that next.