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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler; Interview With Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS); Interview With Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D- MA); Interview With Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC); Interview With Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 19, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:29]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Freefall. Record-high cases and the country's COVID crisis growing worse.

ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: We have never had as many people infected or infectious.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): The virus is real. It is deadly.

TAPPER: Are our leaders doing enough to stop it? I will speak exclusively to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves next.

And crackdown. Camouflaged federal agents detain Portland protesters in unmarked vehicles.

TED WHEELER (D), MAYOR OF PORTLAND, OREGON: This is an attack on our democracy.

TAPPER: President Trump may use the same approach in other cities. Is it legal? Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler joins me to discuss next.

Plus: good trouble. Civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis has died.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): We are one people. We are one family. We are one house.

TAPPER: We will reflect on his impact with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Lewis' close friend Congressman Jim Clyburn.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is in mourning for the late civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis. And we will have more on him and his legacy later in the show.

The state of our union is also this morning terrified, because there are more than 3.7 million coronavirus cases in the United States and more than 140,000 Americans dead. And there is no friendly way to say this. This crisis is spiraling out of control, with no indication that President Trump is going to try to do anything different to try to stop it.

In the last month, the U.S. beat its own daily record for new cases at least nine times. And hospitals and states across the country are reaching capacity.

Nothing would make me happier than to report to you this morning that President Trump and his administration are devoting every resource possible to defeating this pandemic, but not only is that not the case; on Saturday, CNN learned that the White House is objecting to a Senate Republican push for more money for testing and contact tracing for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The White House arguing that there is still sufficient funding from the March stimulus package. Senate Republicans strongly disagree. And many do not even remotely comprehend where the White House is coming from on this.

A brand-new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll out this morning suggests that the president's reelection prospects may be directly tied to his ability or inability to handle this crisis. President Trump trails presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 15 points among registered voters.

And on the issue specifically of coronavirus, the president is behind by 20 points.

We invited the president, the vice president, and health care experts on the president's Coronavirus Task Force to join us today to talk about what they're going to do to defeat this pandemic. They declined.

Among the hardest-hit states right now are Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and California. Now, this spring, tight restrictions had California looking as though it might be a success story, but the virus has resurged there.

And now Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is rolling back many of those efforts to reopen.

Joining us now, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti.

Mr. Garcetti, Mayor Garcetti, thanks for joining us.

So, this week, Los Angeles County saw both its highest number of daily new cases and new hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Now, when L.A. shut down back in March, there were 231 confirmed cases in the county. Now there are more than 150,000.

What happened? What went wrong?

GARCETTI: Well, Jake, I think a lot of things went wrong.

But, here, where we have had fewer deaths than many of the big cities, and our rate of increase hasn't accelerated as much as others -- we're kind of in the middle of the pack -- we have seen no national leadership.

We have had to stand up testing centers on our own. We have had to do so much that is outside of our lane because of the lack of national leadership.

But, also, I think that there are people who are just exhausted. They were sold a bill of goods. They said this was under control. They said this would be over soon.

And I think, when leaders say that, people react and they do the wrong things. They stop distancing themselves. They stop washing their hands. They stop wearing masks.

We were the first big city to mandate masks in America, when nobody else was doing it. And it took another month-and-a-half to see that at the national level, more than two months for our president to don a mask.

So, this was politicized, when it should have been unified. We were left on our own, when we should have had help. And we know this will be a marathon. Stop telling people this will be over soon. Let people know that this is a marathon, that we have to kind of push through every single mile.

[09:05:08]

And if we don't come together as a nation with national leadership, we will see more people die.

TAPPER: "The L.A. Times" editorial board wrote this week that, in retrospect, reopening when you did -- quote -- "wasn't a good idea, especially because it suggested to a public desperate for release that the coronavirus was in retreat. It wasn't. And our collective complacency paved the way for a resurgence of COVID-19" -- unquote.

How much worse does it have to get in Los Angeles before you feel compelled to issue another stay-at-home order?

GARCETTI: Sure.

Well, I think we're on the brink of that. But, as I have told people over the last week, the discipline -- and I think a lot of people don't understand, mayors often have no control over what opens up and doesn't. That's either at a state or county level.

And I do agree that those things happened too quickly. But we are smarter, Jake, about this. It's not just what's open and closed. It's also about what we do individually. It's about the people who are getting together outside of their households with people they might know. It might be their extended family. It might be friends.

They might think, because they got a test two weeks ago, that it's OK. But it's not. This virus preys on our division. It preys when we get exhausted. It preys on us in those moments when we don't have a unified national front or we as individuals think, oh, this ain't going to be a big deal. We have to be as vigilant right now as we were the first day, bring

100 percent of our strength, the way we did the first or second month. I kind of feel like people are 20 or 30 percent of their strength these days.

But we are seeing some hopeful signs. And then you have to be patient. You have to be patient when you close things down again, as we have done, wait two or three weeks to see the effect. And you have to be patient when you reopen things, and don't have this domino effect of, hey, last week, it was the restaurants. Next week, it can be the bars. Week after that, everything's open.

That is a failed way to go forward. Listen to the science. Track the data, and be smart.

TAPPER: You said you could be on the brink of reissuing stay-at-home orders.

You're at 150,000 confirmed cases in L.A. County right now. At what point will you no longer be on the brink; you will actually be enacting again stay-at-home orders?

GARCETTI: Sure.

Well, we have very strong ventilators. We still have a lot of room in our hospitals. Remember, we're 10 million people, so we're bigger than almost every state in this union. So, when you see those numbers, we're a very large entity here in Los Angeles.

But, as I mentioned, our positivity rate is a little bit under 10 percent, where we're seeing 38, 25 percent in other cities. We haven't had the level of deaths. So, we're following those very carefully.

Deaths have been pretty steady. Cases have gone up, but we also have the most aggressive testing. We were the first city to offer testing to people without symptoms. And 30 percent of what we're catching, thankfully, is those folks.

So, I want to be more surgical. I want to go into those factories where we're seeing spread. I want to go into those communities, especially our lower-income communities. We have cut our racial gap completely here, so that African-Americans, outside of our skilled nursing facilities, are not dying in bigger numbers than their population.

But now this is becoming a much more Latino disease. And it's also for our low-income workers. And I think we have to be surgical, rather than a cleaver that would just shut everything down.

But where we need more agents, reagents, we're getting instead secret agents coming into cities like Portland that you're talking about. Or where we need help with rents, we're instead getting rants from the Rose Garden.

We need national leadership. And this is the last chance for this president to prove that he cares about the people of this country and to step up and do something.

TAPPER: The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest public school system in the country, behind only New York City, announced this week that it will forego in-person learning when classes resume next month.

Take a listen to what President Trump had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would tell parents and teachers that you should find yourself a new person, whoever's in charge of that decision, because it's a terrible decision.

Mothers can't go to work because all of a sudden they have to stay home and watch their child, and fathers. What's happening, you know, there's a tremendous strain on that whole side of the equation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Given the current health situation, what are you telling constituents about how long they should expect to live with remote learning?

GARCETTI: Well, we need 14 days off of our state watch list.

So, I think people need to be empowered. People need goals. People need to feel that they're in control of this again, because COVID-19 has taken control away from us. So, with 14 days off that watch list, we could be back at school.

But that relies on each one of us, our individual actions. And I think the president is right. We do need new leadership, but it's not for our school district. It's from this White House.

TAPPER: So, violent crime in L.A. is down overall compared to last year, but homicides have doubled in the last month.

President Trump is blaming Democratic city leaders such as yourself or the increase in violence. Take a listen.

[09:10:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The left-wing group of people that are running our cities are not doing the job that they're supposed to be doing. And it's not a very tough job to do. We're going to straighten things out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What is the reason behind this increase in violence?

GARCETTI: Well, let's put those numbers in context.

This is on track, even with this past month, being probably the third lowest number of homicides we have ever seen in our city's history, but one of the lowest homicide rates ever. And, as you said, violent crime is way down. One month can skew one way or the other.

Obviously, people have been pent up for a long time. But we feel very secure that this will be not only a safer year in Los Angeles, but the idea that this is some sort of easy job, the president should come here and be a mayor for a day.

He is somebody who has so fundamentally missed the moment. I have never seen leadership miss a moment, when his people are crying out for help, when a third of Americans couldn't make the mortgage or rent, when he's talking about not helping states and local governments, when he's saying there's plenty of money out there.

Say that to the American people sit down at the table where people are trying to figure out how they're going to get food on the table, when one out of five parents in America says their child is hungry today. This is a depression-era level crisis economically. This is the biggest health crisis in over 100 years.

And he's missing this racial justice moment too. And the Senate took a vacation in the midst of this. It is time for Washington leaders to step up, stop blaming, send us reagents, instead of federal agents. Send us some rent help, instead of rants, and do something for all of us.

And I know we will all be working very, very hard to make sure that he is not in the White House coming this fall.

TAPPER: Mayor Garcetti, thanks so much for your time this morning.

And our best wishes and prayers are with your constituents, the good people of Los Angeles. Thank you so much.

GARCETTI: Thank you. Sending you strength and love. Thank you.

TAPPER: My next guest is a Republican governor from the South who took on COVID-19 skeptics this week. Are supporters of the president listening?

Plus: Oregon officials say that shadowy government agents are arresting protesters without identifying themselves.

The mayor of Portland will join me coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:16:15]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

As President Trump continues to try to downplay the severity of the pandemic, Americans in deep red Trump country are suffering.

In Mississippi, for instance, there are more than 40,000 cases, and hospitals are running out of intensive care space. Joining us now to discuss this crisis, the Republican governor of

Mississippi, Tate Reeves.

Governor Reeves, thanks so much for joining us today.

So, Mississippi saw record high hospitalizations and daily new cases just this past week. Your top health adviser said on Friday that there were at least eight major medical centers with zero ICU beds available.

How close is Mississippi's hospital system to having to triage patients and even deny some of them medical care because you don't have capacity?

REEVES: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on, Jake.

I wouldn't suggest that our health care system is in a position in which we are going to have to triage patients. We certainly have more patients in ICU beds today than we have ever had with COVID-19. We have more patients on ventilators than we have ever had, our total hospitalization on COVID-19 patients.

But let's keep this in perspective. The number on June the 27th was approximately 490 patients in hospital beds. Today, that number is closer to 890. And so we haven't quite doubled over the last three weeks, but we are seeing significant increased hospitalization.

We are -- and that's the reason that we have worked with our hospitals and mandated the surge capacity for ICU beds. And we're making the decisions that need to be made to make sure that we achieve our goal.

And, Jake, our goal in Mississippi is that every single Mississippian that can get better with quality care, that they receive that quality care. And we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that becomes a reality.

TAPPER: OK, but I'm just going by what your own health director said, which he said that there are eight major medical centers with zero ICU beds available.

What happens if somebody walks into one of those major medical centers and needs an ICU bed?

REEVES: Well, we have contingency plans in place. And we have contingency plans to our contingency plans.

And so we're going to make sure that we work with our hospitals. We have the ability to surge ICU beds. Understand that, in our state, and quite frankly, Jake, in many states around the country, there are ICU bed capacity issues without COVID-19.

Most -- in many hospitals around Mississippi, we have to deal with trauma issues. And we -- and we have a trauma care system where we have level one facilities and level two facilities. And it is not unusual for our patients to be transferred from one hospital to the next. That's just the nature of the beast in a rural state. And so this is not something that is uncommon. Is it challenging?

Absolutely, it is. Does COVID-19 make more difficult and more challenging? Absolutely, it does. But we are prepared. And we will make the decisions to make sure that every patient gets quality care.

TAPPER: So, there's an unpublished report prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force which lists Mississippi as one of 18 states in the so-called red zone for cases and one of 11 states for test positivity.

This unpublished report recommends, among other actions, closing bars, closing gyms, restricting indoor dining.

Did the White House alert you about this report and Mississippi being on the list before you read about it in the media? And are you going to take any of those steps to try to control the spread?

REEVES: Well, what I would tell you is that we had a conversation with Dr. Birx in the middle of this week. In fact, she was in our state. Had a very good conversation.

And what we find is, when you look at their model, what they look at is, they're looking at two things. Number one, has any particular county had more than 100 cases in the last seven days, and is the test positivity rate greater than 10 percent?

[09:20:04]

The model that we're actually looking at is very similar, but we say, if you have, as a county, 200 cases in the last 14 days, or if you have over 500 per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days, then we're going to implement additional and more strict measures.

We have already done that. We don't have a statewide mask mandate in Mississippi, but we do have a mask mandate in 13 of our 82 counties.

The one thing that your previous guest, the mayor, mentioned that I will agree with, and perhaps the only thing that I will agree with, is the fact that we have to take a surgical approach.

Now, I don't understand how you can argue that we have to take a surgical approach to the coronavirus and then advocate for a top-down management approach from Washington, where they make all of the decisions.

But we do believe that you have got to take a surgical approach. In our state, there's no question that, in the county that our capital city is in, in Hinds County, we have got to take a different approach here. We have got to be more strict, take on additional measures here than we do, say, in Tishomingo County, where they have only had a small number of cases over the last four months.

And so we are -- we are doing that. We have implemented mask mandates. We're looking at bars. We have talked a lot about bars and the potential spread there over the last six or seven days. And we're taking stock of what's going on there. And we may implement additional measures in the near future.

TAPPER: Yes, the bars are still open in Mississippi.

So, you noted that there's a mask mandate in 13 out of 82 counties. The Mississippi State Medical Association this past week said that you should implement a statewide mask mandate.

They said -- quote -- "We strongly believe that, without a statewide mask mandate, our state's health care system cannot sustain the trajectory of this outbreak, which could ultimately result in the loss of the lives of many Mississippians."

Now, you have encouraged residents to wear masks, but, as you note, it's only 13 out of 82 counties that have the mask mandate. The medical association says it should be the whole county.

Isn't -- you call it surgical, but isn't the idea of having a mask mandate only in some places, and not the whole state, isn't that like having -- as I heard one health expert say once -- isn't that like having, like, part of the pool that it's OK to pee in?

I mean, people travel from county to county.

REEVES: Yes. No, it's not at all like that.

Actually, first of all, let me just say that I have nothing but great respect and admiration for our state medical association. Many of the docs are longtime friends of mine.

But think about what your previous guest said, Jake. Your previous guest was very clear that, in L.A., they were one of the first cities to implement a mask mandate. They have had a mask mandate for months and months and months, yet they have over 150,000 cases. They have four, six -- five to six times more cases than we have in our entire state.

And so what I would suggest to you is, it's not about the words you write on the page. It's not about these words like mandate. It's about, how do you get the vast -- the majority of your citizens to actually adhere to doing what's right?

The things that we believe right now are the right things to do is that people wear masks in public, that they maintain social distancing, that they stay at least six feet apart from other people, and that we not gather in large groups of thousands and thousands and thousands of people.

TAPPER: Right.

REEVES: And so my view is, the best way for me to get my constituents to adhere to those simple things, if we will do the little things, we can make a difference in slowing the spread of this virus.

The best way to do that is to highlight those counties where it's most needed.

TAPPER: Right.

REEVES: I will tell you that compliance in those 13 counties is exceptionally better today than it was a week ago.

And I will also tell you that compliance of wearing masks in the other 69 counties across my state is better today as well, because they under -- because we go to them every. Every single day, we have a press conference. We talk to them. We tell them the truth. We're transparent.

And they -- and they're doing better today.

TAPPER: Right.

REEVES: There's no question than, across America, the guard was let down in late May. There's no doubt about that. But the reality is, we have got to talk about the future and what can we do to get the most people to comply...

TAPPER: Right.

REEVES: ... with wearing a mask and with social distancing.

TAPPER: Right.

REEVES: And I believe this surgical approach is the best way to do that in Mississippi.

TAPPER: But you agree that wearing masks will slow the spread and save lives. And you agree that people in the 13 counties where they're told to wear masks are complying and it's helping.

I have heard from business owners who have said that politicians not imposing state mandates put them in a tough spot, and they wish that politicians would do the brave thing, as other governors -- I think it's 36 states across the country have statewide mandates, including Alabama. It's not just California -- Los Angeles or whatever. It's red -- deep red states as well.

If it saves lives, why not do it?

REEVES: Well, and that's the point, Jake.

In fact, there's -- there's a statewide mask mandate in Texas and Louisiana and Arkansas and in Alabama. They're all around me. If I believed that was the best way to save lives in my state, I would have done it a long time ago.

[09:25:07]

But, yes, I do believe that wearing masks and maintaining social distancing is a -- is a strategy that is worth implementing.

Now, I will remind you that, in early March and early April, there were organizations like the World Health Organization that said, you shouldn't wear a mask, that it would do you no good. It's those kind of mixed messages that are being sent from those

central planners that is the problem.

TAPPER: Right. But that was a while ago. That was a long time ago.

REEVES: Of course it was a while ago, but, you know, people were paying attention then.

There are a lot of people in my state who said, well, these central planners, these people who want to tell us what to do, they said six months ago that this is what we should do, and now they have completely changed their mind.

And so it's a complicated process. And to those business owners that suggest that things are difficult on them, well, things are difficult on everybody across America right now. We have got to come together and unite, recognizing that our enemy is the virus. Our enemy is not one another.

And we have got to work together to slow the spread of this virus in our state and across the country.

TAPPER: Right. Obviously, the science changed when scientists learned more. But I hear you.

Governor Reeves, thank you so much for your time today. And our thoughts and prayers and best wishes with the good citizens of Mississippi today.

Thank you so much, sir.

REEVES: Thanks, Jake, for having me on. And God bless.

TAPPER: My next guest says that she would not trust President Trump's education secretary to watch over a house plant, much less the nation's children.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, on the president's response to the crisis.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:31:04]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

With less than four months to go until the election, there are growing questions about the president's reelection strategy, which seems focused on dividing the American people, and whether suburban voters in 2020 will be as receptive to his message in November as they were in 2016.

Joining me now, a frequent target of the president, Democratic Congresswoman from Massachusetts Ayanna Pressley. Congresswoman Pressley, thanks so much for joining us.

I do want to take a moment to start with the death of Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis.

You broke barriers by becoming your commonwealth's first black congresswoman. What example, what leadership, what mentoring did Congressman Lewis offer to you?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Well, I consider myself inordinately blessed, while feeling simultaneously robbed. I know we had him for 80 years, but you just can't have enough of that goodness.

And, certainly, I consider myself to be a beneficiary of his activism. There would be no Ayanna Pressley and countless others were it not for John Lewis, the conscience and the compass of our Congress, but, I could argue, for our nation.

And it is especially painful to lose a justice seeker and a man with the moral clarity of John Lewis, against the backdrop at a new moment of racial reckoning in this country, when you see police states like what's happening in Portland, unrest all around us, voter intimidation and suppression tactics.

It is especially acute and painful to be losing him.

TAPPER: Indeed.

And amidst this racial reckoning, as you call it, this week, President Trump honed in on an Obama era fair housing law intended to combat segregation. The president is accusing Democrats of wanting to destroy American suburbs.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Your home will go down in value, and crime rates will rapidly rise.

Joe Biden and his bosses from the radical left want to significantly multiply what they're doing now. And what will be the end result is, you will totally destroy the beautiful suburbs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: You happen to represent Boston suburbs. What's your reaction to that?

PRESSLEY: More of the same from -- from Donald Trump and this administration, who sow the seeds of division. And I can't even accuse that, characterize that as a dog whistle. It's so far beyond that.

And so that's why I was hoping the president would not even tweet yesterday about John Lewis. At this point, we don't need anybody's sympathies or tweets. What we need is action. If you really want to honor the life of John Lewis, you don't do

things like gut the fair housing laws. You don't sow the seeds of division. And you don't delay bringing the Voting Rights Advancement Act, named after John Lewis, to the floor. And that should be brought to the floor immediately.

So, they're in complete contradiction of everything that John Lewis fought for, and they dishonor the blood that he shed on that bridge.

TAPPER: Do you consider that pitch that the president's making there, I think at the White House, not at a campaign rally, do you consider that campaign pitch to be racist?

PRESSLEY: John Lewis said Donald Trump is racist.

So, I don't -- I mean, again, at this point, this is so much bigger than his hateful rhetoric. I'm focused, and not -- and don't allow myself to get distracted. I'm focused on his hateful and hurtful policies.

I represent a district that has been hardest hit by those policies. When it comes to their policies, the cruelty is the point. And when it comes to their culture, the corruption is the point.

I represent a district that is 53 percent people of color, 40 percent foreign-born, where, in a three-mile radius, life expectancy drops by 30 years and median household income by $50,000.

[09:35:03]

So, my district is no anomaly, but it is -- certainly perfectly encapsulates the challenges that we're confronted by as a nation and how policy has created those. And, under this administration, these inequities, disparities and racial injustice is exacerbated.

TAPPER: Congresswoman, let's talk about the difficult decision about whether or not schools should reopen in the fall amidst this pandemic.

A recent poll found that almost a quarter of the families in your commonwealth earn less than $50,000, and they say they have too few devices to participate in online learning.

Additionally, according to Feeding America, food insecurity is expected to increase by 60 percent for those who live in Eastern Massachusetts as a result of the pandemic.

As you know, many low-income families rely on school-provided meals. At what point does the potential negative impact of remote learning on these families, not to mention all the people who can't work because they have to take care of their kids, does that outweigh the risk posed by returning to school?

PRESSLEY: Jake, I represent the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District, the hardest-hit district in our commonwealth, Chelsea, in particular, highest infection rates per capita, Randolph, neighborhoods like Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester in Boston.

I'm in daily conversation with superintendents, with educators, with parents, and with students. And the fear and the trauma is real.

We cannot move too quickly on this. The consequences are too great to consider. This is about the public health.

What needs to happen is, Congress needs to continue to act as the conscience of this nation and to lead, in the absence of this Trump administration, to provide reoccurring payments and to mitigate the financial hardship and the burdens that families are feeling, to continue to address food insecurity. But we should not rush to reopen schools.

And I do want to take a moment to just salute our educators. They have already proven themselves to be courageous and dedicated educators. We're now asking them to be case workers and, in some instances, martyrs. And that is unconscionable.

Again, we need to pass the HEROES Act, which is sitting on the desk of Mitch McConnell, which makes massive federal investments to support the reopening of our schools when it is safe and this virus is under control.

In the meantime, we just reported out an infrastructure bill which makes those investments in broadband and other resourcing, so that we are not contributing to learning loss or to an achievement gap.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PRESSLEY: But our greatest wealth as a nation is our public health. And that needs to be the number one priority.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, thanks for joining us today.

Our thoughts and best wishes are with the people of the commonwealth.

PRESSLEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: Thank you so much for being with us today.

Agents in camouflage detaining Portland protesters in unmarked cars and vans, is it legal? Is it backfiring?

The mayor of Portland will join me next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:41:22]

TAPPER: And welcome back to CNN's STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. The Department of Homeland Security is refusing requests from

officials in Oregon to leave their state, after videos have surfaced showing men wearing masks, camouflage, generic police patches detaining protesters, putting them into unmarked vans.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection later acknowledged taking part in these arrests and cited -- quote -- "a large and violent mob" nearby this protester you see here, who they say they suspected of committing crimes.

So, there is no evidence of any of that in the video.

Joining me now, Portland's Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler, who's also the city's police commissioner.

Mayor Wheeler, we have a lot to get to, but there was more unrest in your city last night. Portland police declared a riot, saying that protesters broke into the police association building, the union, and lit it on fire last night.

President Trump tweeted this morning in part -- quote -- "We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has for months lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action."

What's your response to the president? And how under control is your city right now?

WHEELER: Well, the president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect.

What's happening here is, we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And what they're doing is, they are sharply escalating the situation. Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. And it's not helping the situation at all.

They're not wanted here. We haven't asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.

TAPPER: The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Friday night, as did your state attorney general. She accused federal agents of a -- quote -- "escalation of fear and violence" in Portland, as you just said.

Do you think the Trump administration is breaking the law in your city?

WHEELER: I absolutely do.

The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent. As you indicated at the introduction, people are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. They are being denied probable cause and they're denied due process. They don't even know who's pulling them into the vans. The people

aren't identifying themselves. And, as far as I can see, this is completely unconstitutional.

TAPPER: Is there anything you or the governor can do to force these agents to leave your city?

WHEELER: Well, we can build awareness. And that's what we're doing.

From our federal congressional officers, to our governor, to our local elected officials, we're all telling the Trump administration, stop the rhetoric. Take these people out of our city. They are not helping us. They are hurting us. They're escalating an already dangerous situation.

And what I want to do is raise awareness nationally. This could happen in your city. And what we're seeing is a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government, by a Trump administration that's falling in the polls. And this is a direct threat to our democracy.

TAPPER: Trump administration officials, as you know, their argument is that their agents are acting and doing what they're doing because people like you are not.

Take a listen to what Ken Cuccinelli from DHS told NPR just a few days ago.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It's not made any easier when you have somebody like Mayor Wheeler, who holds back, to a certain extent, his own law enforcement.

For instance, they don't allow them to utilize certain nonlethal tactics and so forth. So, it makes everybody's job harder.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

[09:45:09]

TAPPER: We should note that the protests in many ways have been successful.

Your DA stepped down early. The police chief resigned, so her deputy, who's black, could take her place. The City Council reduced the police budget by millions of dollars. The state legislature passed criminal justice reforms.

What's your response to Ken Cuccinelli? His department released a list of more than 80 instances of vandalism or violence in your city over the last six weeks.

WHEELER: Before the federal troops got here, violence was way down. Vandalism was way down. Our local and state law enforcement officials had contained the situation. The energy was coming out of the demonstrations. We had hoped they would end within a matter of days. And what happened instead is, the federal troops came in. They used

their unconstitutional tactics. They injured nonviolent demonstrators, and the whole thing blew up again like a powder keg.

So, I completely disagree with them. The reason we want those federal troops out of our city is, they are making the situation much more dangerous.

I'm worried that one of our residents or one of our local or state law enforcement officers is going to get killed because of the tactics that they're currently engaged in.

TAPPER: All right, well, we certainly hope that does not happen.

Mayor Wheeler, thank you so much for your time today. And our best thoughts and prayers and wishes for the good people of Portland, Oregon, today. We appreciate it.

WHEELER: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: The world lost an extraordinary man this weekend.

We're going to take a moment to remember the life and legacy of the great Congressman John Lewis with his friend of almost 60 years Congressman Jim Clyburn.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:50:06]

TAPPER: We do want to take some time now to mourn the passing and honor the legacy of a towering figure in American history, Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who died Friday night.

The son of sharecroppers, Lewis became an original Freedom Rider. He was badly beaten several times for his many efforts to end segregation.

When I was at ABC News in 2011, I spoke with Lewis about being inspired to pursue his friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2011)

LEWIS: And I would ask my mother, my father, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, why segregation, why racial discrimination?

And they would say: "That's the way it is. Don't you get in the way. Don't you get in trouble."

TAPPER: Really? They were worried about you...

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: Oh, they were very -- yes. They were very troubled about what could happen.

And -- but Dr. King inspired me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Joining us now, a friend of the late congressman, the House majority whip, Democratic Congressman from South Carolina Jim Clyburn.

Mr. Clyburn, Congressman Clyburn, thank you so much for joining us.

I'm so sorry about the loss of this dear friend of yours. I know you have been friends with him since 1960.

When was the last time you spoke with him? Tell us about that conversation.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I spoke with John last Saturday. We talked on the phone.

We expressed love for each other. We talked about his illness some time ago. We knew that it would come to this. Didn't know which day.

So, last Saturday, when all kinds of rumors were floating around, I called him, and we talked. And it was a pleasant conversation. And I ended up telling him to just stop talking, because I would talk, and just conserve his energy. It was a pleasant conversation.

TAPPER: Lewis was obviously a towering, almost larger-than-life individual in terms of his dignity, his courage.

Your relationship with him, as I noted, stretches back to October 1960, when you were both organizing protests during the civil rights movement, such an important movement.

Tell us about those days and about how your friendship persevered for so long.

CLYBURN: Well, it had a lot to do with the common cause that we found in challenging the status quo.

John Lewis and I met not long after the sit-in up in Greensboro, North Carolina. That was February 1, 1960. And we were on the campus at (INAUDIBLE) University together in the spring of that year.

But I did not meet John then. The following October, on the campus of Morehouse College, we did meet. That night, if you recall, there were some challenges going on, some conflicts between students and SCLC, Martin Luther King Jr., because, up until that point, Martin Luther King Jr. had been advocating going to jail, but he had never been to jail.

And it was in that -- it was that weekend that that conversation took place. We went into a meeting around 10:00 in the evening, and we didn't come out of that room until 4:00 the next morning.

I was transformed in that five or six hours. I have never been the same since.

And John and I went on to meet our sponsors in the movement. He met Lillian. And they got married. I met Emily in jail. We got married. They were both librarians. And they became great friends.

And some of my fondest memories was listening to Emily, and at least her end of the conversation with Lillian, and when sometimes they expressed their disagreements with how we were conducting ourselves.

So, John and I got to be fast friends. And it was sealed because our wives became such good friends.

TAPPER: It's doubly a tragedy that his death happens at this time in our history, because, A, because of the pandemic, he is not going to get the kind of send-off that previous leaders of his stature have been able to be given, in terms of mass crowds, mass funeral attendance and such, but also because of who the president is and his reluctance to fully understand the greatness of Mr. Lewis.

[09:55:04]

After a delay, President Trump did send out a short tweet Saturday afternoon saying that he was -- quote -- saddened" to hear of John Lewis' death, calling him a civil rights hero.

Are you satisfied with that response? What would you like to see from President Trump? What's the best way President Trump could honor John Lewis?

CLYBURN: The best way he can honor John Lewis is to go to the media and say to the country that we have a road map given to us by the Supreme Court in a Roberts decision seven years ago in Shelby v. Holder.

The Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And it said in that decision that these are some things you can do to reauthorize this act. The House of Representatives has passed that.

I think that Trump and, in the Senate leadership, Mitch McConnell, by their deeds, if they so celebrate the heroism of this man, then let's go to work and pass that bill, because it's laid out the way the Supreme Court asked us to lay it out.

And if the president were to sign that, then I think that's what we would do to honor John. It should be the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. That's the way to do it.

Words may be powerful, but deeds are lasting.

TAPPER: It's a great loss for the nation, and I know a great loss for you personally.

Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, thank you so much for your time.

And, again, our deepest condolences on the loss of your friend. CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

TAPPER: "FAREED ZAKARIA" starts next.