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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Verbally Accosted by Fellow House Member; Republican Lawmakers Criticize Liz Cheney; U.S. ORders Chinese Consulate in Houston Closed Amidst Accusations of Spying; Shooting at Chicago Funeral; South Texas Faces Tsunami of Patients. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 06:30   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is a nice thing to say. She apparently did not hear him say that, but the reporter heard her -- heard him say those words. He later denied calling her that -- that swear word, but said that he referenced -- used a different word, but -- which is also something that we shouldn't repeat here at 6:00 a.m. here on the East. But, nevertheless, it was a very testy exchange.

Ted Yoho is a very conservative congressman. Someone who actually does not wear a mask around the Capitol. One of the few House Republicans who don't -- doesn't wear a mask in the Capitol. In fact, several weeks ago when I caught up with him and I asked him why he doesn't wear a mask, he said, there's just no need to. He told me that because of, quote, herd immunity, he says, the only way you're going to get it is to get exposed. But, of course, there is no herd immunity for the coronavirus at this -- in this moment.

But, nevertheless, a rather remarkable exchange between him and the progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


I know no one wants to use the words. He called her an f'ing b is what the reporter heard.

RAJU: Yes.

BERMAN: And I think it's important that people know that, that one congressman said that to another congresswoman. And it's appalling if it did happen.

Manu, behind closed doors in the Republican conference, House conference, serious infighting between Liz Cheney, who is the number three on the Republican House side, and members of the Freedom Caucus, who seem to be after her.

RAJU: Yes, and she is, of course, the most senior ranking woman in the Republican leadership on the House side and she was a victim of sort of a pile-on because of her essentially perceived disloyalty for the president because she has split with the president on some key issues. One of them involving the variety of things such as pulling back troops from Afghanistan and from Germany for -- as well as talking about masks. She tweeted an image several weeks ago of her father, the former vice president, Dick Cheney, wearing a mask saying, real men wear masks. And, of course, that was before the president yesterday embraced it the way he did.

And she also voiced has voiced her support for Dr. Fauci. All of those things came up through the course of this very contentious meeting on Capitol Hill in which Republicans called her out for that. They also called her out for supporting a primary challenge to another sitting congressman, Thomas Massie of Kentucky. And it was mostly members of the Conservative House Freedom Caucus, roughly seven of them or so, but even some prominent members, like Jim Jordan of Ohio, someone whose close to the president. Also close to the president, someone like Matt Gaetz, who criticized her and then later called on her to step aside from her leadership post.

Now what -- I caught up with Liz Cheney yesterday and I asked her about it. She claimed that, you know, that they're essentially event (ph) on the same page. They all want Joe Biden to lose. She said she and Thomas Massie, for instance, are in a, quote, good place.

But then after that, after I talked to her, Donald Trump Jr. decided to weigh in and he tweeted, we already have one Mitt Romney. We don't need another. We also don't need the endless wars she advocates for.

And then she was asked about that at a news conference later in the day and she said that Donald Trump Jr. is not a member of the House Republican conference and the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, offered his support for her.

But all of this points to the sign that loyalty to the president is essential in Republican politics these days, particularly in House Republican politics. And if you step out of line, some of the president's allies are going to come after you.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we are seeing that writ large.

Manu Raju, thank you very much for all of the reporting from Capitol Hill there.

RAJU: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, so China is vowing to retaliate after the U.S. ordered them to close this consulate in Houston. The State Department has just issued a blistering statement about what led to this moment. So we have a live report from Beijing for you, next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news right now, because moments ago the U.S. State Department is accusing China of a massive illegal spying operation and ordering Beijing to close this consulate that you see in Houston. China now threatening to retaliate.

CNN's David Culver is live in Beijing with this breaking news.

What have you learned, David?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we know tensions between the U.S. and China have been rising over the past months. I can tell you, this is now putting it a whole new level. This escalates things rapidly. In fact, Chinese foreign ministry is says that this will sabotage U.S./China relations.

Let me show you some of these images out of Houston right now. This is the Chinese consulate down there. And as you reported there, it's scheduled to be closed now by orders of the United States State Department. The Chinese are not happy with this, but the U.S. State Department is releasing a statement explaining why they're going about this.

I'm going to read you that statement here, or at least part of it. They say, the People's Republic of China has engaged for years in massive, illegal spying and influence operations throughout the United States against U.S. government officials and American citizens. These activities have increased markedly in scale and scope over the past few years.

Now, they go on to accuse China of interfering in domestic U.S. politics as well, a significant accusation there.

So, what is China doing in response? I'm going to play you a little bit from the foreign ministry and the spokesperson there who addressed it just a few hours ago.

Take a listen.


WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): On July 21st, the U.S. abruptly demanded that China's consulate general in Houston cease all operations and events. It is a political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S. side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the U.S. China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move, which will sabotage China/U.S. relations.


CULVER: All right, John, we have seen in recent months this back and forth between the U.S. and China. And the U.S. issuing sanctions against Chinese officials and in dealings with stripping Hong Kong, for example, of its special trade status because of the national security law that was imposed there, with xing jang (ph) in the far western region, an alleged human rights abuses going on there, rising tensions in the South China Sea.


All of these, though, may not even rise to the level of this most recent mover because the Chinese, while they respond with similar sanctions, they've usually just had rhetoric going against the U.S. This may now result in significant action on their part.

Already in state media we're seeing calls for China to respond by doing something similar, like closing a U.S. consulate. There are five U.S. consulates here in the mainland, one in Hong Kong. So it's possible -- and Reuters is suggesting it may be the one in Wuhan -- but it's possible that could be the next step from the Chinese side. But it is very likely that they will respond to this in some manner, John.

BERMAN: Yes, needless to say, we are watching that very closely over the course of the morning.

David Culver, we're lucky to have you there. Please keep us posted on this breaking news.

So new unrest on the streets of Portland, Oregon, overnight. Protesters squared off against federal agents. The uproar growing louder over the Trump administration using federal officers, perhaps beyond the scope of the law, for arrests and actions that are legally within the realm of local authorities, not to mention what some people see as heavy-handed tactics. The head of homeland security, the acting secretary, is defending the tactics, saying that they are proactively arresting demonstrators.

I had a chance to speak to Portland's mayor overnight, and he had this message for the protesters.


MAYOR TED WHEELER (D), PORTLAND, OREGON: My message is, you've been heard. Thank you for calling out the administration for what it's doing. It's unconstitutional. It's an affront to democracy. But let's stay safe and let's remember we're in the midst of a pandemic, it's time to end it.


BERMAN: Mayor Ted Wheeler there blames the Trump administration for what he says is exacerbating the situation.

CAMEROTA: Police in Chicago investigating a shooting outside of a funeral on Tuesday night. At least 14 people were injured after gunfire from a car. Chicago's mayor now says the city will cooperate with the Trump administration's deployment of federal agents to help fight violent crime, but that they will be vigilant about any abuses.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Chicago. So explain the mayor's about-face here.


Well, let's start with that shooting. Fourteen people were injured in what was essentially a shoot-out at a funeral home on Chicago's south side. A black car came speeding in, opened fire on the attendees there while people, some of them, fired back at that car until that car crashed and people ran off.

Now, it is the latest grim headline in what has been a summer and really a year of grim headlines when it comes to gun violence here in Chicago with both murder and shootings up close to 50 percent compared to this time last year. And it's tied to that rise in violence crime that the Trump administration is planning to send additional federal resources here to the city, which as we understand, is going to come in the form of FBI, DEA, and ATF.

Now, to use Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's words, these are resources that are going to fold into agencies they already work with to try and suppress violent crime in the city. So it says it's an effort she is going to cooperate with for now.

The "for now" comes from the -- an initial wariness of what exactly the role of these federal agents would be. She says now, based on the information she has as the moment, she does not expect a Portland- style unnamed vehicle-type of deployment and she says she's been given assurances that will not happen.

Now, this dynamic is not unique to Chicago. There are over a dozen mayors of cities across this country that have written a letter to the Trump administration expressing their concern and their disagreement with an effort to deploy federal resources to the streets of their cities. And these same mayors are also calling on congressional leadership to investigate what they are describing as a unilateral move by the Trump administration to impose their will on their cities.

John. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Omar, thank you very much for that report.

So, coming up, we're going to take you inside a south Texas hospital that is overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never had to sign this many death certificates that I have been signing the last couple of weeks.


CAMEROTA: The human toll of this pandemic, next.


[06:48:26] BERMAN: New this morning, Texas is reporting record hospitalizations from coronavirus. South Texas in particular has seen a dramatic increase in cases. One doctor describes the region as, quote, a hot spot in a hot spot in a hot spot.

CNN's Ed Lavandera live in Dallas with more.

Hidalgo County, among others in south Texas, Ed, having such problems this morning.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Within this hot spot of Texas, Hidalgo County is one of the areas of great concern. And, you know, this pandemic is taking its toll on so many people, on resources, and especially those human beings on the front lines who are living this pandemic nightmare.


LAVANDERA (voice over): This is the daily routine for Dr. Frederico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. When he gets dressed, it looks like he's getting ready to be launched into another world. That's exactly what it's like to work in the Covid-19 unit of a south Texas hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's overwhelming. It's a tsunami of what we're seeing right now.

LAVANDERA: Coronavirus patients have filled the hospital where Dr. Vallejo works. On most days, Dr. Vallejo says he's treating about 70 different patients, four to five times more than he usually sees in a single day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never had to sign this many death certificates that I have been signing the last couple of weeks. Talking to these families has been very, very difficult.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Can you describe the suffering that you've seen among these patients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a disease that affects the lungs. And they will have trouble with their breathing. And when it happens, it's heartbreaking.


It is so difficult to watch them maybe saying good-bye to their relatives by picking up the phone and saying, I'm having more trouble, I'm having more trouble, I don't know what's going to happen next. I see nurses crying all the time. I see doctors breaking down all the time. But then again, that is what we do.

LAVANDERA (voice over): South Texas is the Covid-19 hot spot inside the Texas hot spot. Health officials are warning that hospital bed and ICU space are running out. Nursing and doctor teams are stretched to the limit.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Do you feel when you walk into these Covid units that it's like a parallel universe?

DR. IVAN MELENDEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY: It's definitely a parallel universe. If they only knew what lurked behind those walls, if they could only have x-ray vision and see the pain and the suffering.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Dr. Ivan Melendez is the Hidalgo County health authority based in McAllen, Texas. He says the Covid units are filled with the sound of patients gasping for air, many needing ventilators and gut-wrenching conversations.

MELENDEZ: So you have people telling you, you know, doc, please don't put me on that, don't put me on that. And you struggle because that's what they need, and then finally they just give up and they say, go ahead, but, you know, you may be the last person that I ever talk to, so, please, tell my family, tell my parents, tell my kids that I love them and that I fought hard.

JESSICA ORTIZ, SISTER OF JUBAL ORTIZ: It's a necklace with his ashes.

LAVANDERA: Jessica Ortiz says her twin brother, Jubal Ortiz, fought the virus for almost two weeks. The 27-year-old worked as a security guard at a jewelry store.

ORTIZ: It hurts. (INAUDIBLE) for someone that was there for you. I'm sorry.

LAVANDERA: Jubal died on July 3rd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He fought long and hard. We honor you.

LAVANDERA: At the funeral, friends and family paid their respects through a plastic shield over the casket. There was a fear his body still might be contagious.

ORTIZ: He meant the world. I just wish it wasn't him. I wish I had him with me, because he didn't live his life yet.

LAVANDERA: Jessica is left with this last image of her brother, a screen recording of one of their last conversations. Jubal Ortiz, waving good-bye.


BERMAN: Ed, what these families are going through, what these doctors are going through, it's heartbreaking. It's just heartbreaking.

CAMEROTA: And, Ed, I mean, I've also --

LAVANDERA: And it is --

CAMEROTA: I'm sorry to interrupt, but I've never -- what you just showed us, I hadn't seen yet. I mean it's hard five months into every day report on this and see new things. The idea that -- of what funerals look like now, as well as him being aware that he was in his last moments and waving good-bye. LAVANDERA: Yes, I think that's the -- the part that is so hard for

most people to -- to handle is that they can't be there. You have nurses and doctors who are used to seeing, they telling us, were used to seeing people in these horrible situations, but many times they're the ones facilitating these last moments because family members can't be there.

And, you know, that shield over the casket, you know, medical experts have told us that there's no evidence to suggest that people are still contagious after they've passed away, but it really speaks to that fear, the anxiety, the uncertainty about everything that is going on with these poor families that are having to deal with this. And it all happens so suddenly. You know, you're talking to your loved ones one moment and within a couple of days they could very well be gone.

BERMAN: And Dr. Vallejo says he has never had to sign so many death certificates.

Ed Lavandera, in Texas, thank you very much for shining a light on this. It's important that people see what's going on.

Coming up in just minutes, I'm going to speak with the Hidalgo County Judge, Richard Cortez, about his stay-at-home order that the governor is trying to keep from being enforced.

Also, one convent outside of Detroit has lost 12 nuns to coronavirus in just one month. Their story, coming up.



CAMEROTA: Stifling heat is not the only challenge facing the northeast this morning. Severe storms also on the way.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

What does it look like, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, I think we could see severe weather into D.C., Philadelphia, all the way to New York City by later on today.

This weather is brought to you by the Shark VacMop, a complete all-in- one disposable pad.

So it's hot, it's humid, it's the summertime and this is when severe weather pops up, especially when there's a front around. It's a cold front that will affect all the way from upstate New York, right through the Poconos, all the way down to Roanoke and Richmond, Virginia.

This is what the radar should look like. This is a simulation of what the radar -- the computer model thinks the radar is going to look like. So 3:00 to 5:00, D.C., you are under the gun for severe weather. Lots of lightning and even some street flooding. By 10:00, getting closer to the big cities along I-95 to the north of there. And still lingering through the morning hours, but just not as severe as we'll have later on today.

It's hot, it's humid, it's sticky. Heat indexes are going to be somewhere around 105 in many of the areas here because the heat and humidity added together.

Now, at this time on Monday, we had 62 million people in warnings. Right now that number is much, much smaller and certainly not as many warnings today. But it heats back up all the way to 95 by Sunday in New York City. Wow, that's a hot time in the city.

Guys, back to you.

CAMEROTA: You don't scare me, Chad. You don't scare me. I can handle it.

Thank you very much for all of that.

MYERS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: And NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think it's going to get worse before it gets better. We are going to still see issues related to hospitalizations and deaths in the coming days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time in two weeks, the daily death toll in the United States has passed 1,000.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact.