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Portland, Oregon Mayor Tear Gassed During Protest; Senate Republicans Set to Unveil Latest Stimulus Plan; Interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota; Debate over Who Receives Approved Vaccine First. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 09:30   ET





The mayor of Portland, Oregon has compared the scene in his city overnight to urban warfare. Mayor Ted Wheeler was among those who was tear gassed -- there he is there -- during a protest against racial injustice and inequality. Clashes between protesters and federal agents the President has deployed there have repeatedly become violent.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And earlier in the evening, the mayor spoke to demonstrators about the presence of those federal officers sent to his city by the Trump administration.

Let's go to our security correspondent, Josh Campbell. Josh, you have been on the ground now for days and nights, I should say reporting on this. You were also tear gassed so you know the pain that it inflicts.

Can you tell us what is playing out on the streets now for more than 55 straight nights?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Jim and Poppy. Another night of protests here in the city of Portland, Oregon. I apologize for my voice, we have been tear gassed, I think, more times than I can count overnight.

We saw protesters coming out most of them overwhelmingly peaceful. But as the sun went down, we did see some acts of destruction. There was a small group of rioters among this crowd that were setting fires outside the building, that were launching fireworks at the building -- that causing the federal agents to come out to launch tear gas.

The mayor, as you mentioned, was there. He was part of those who were tear gassed as well. And I actually caught up with him and I asked him about this whole idea that it's federal officials to blame. He has been saying that constantly, that he wants to see these federal officers out of his city. I asked him, you know, does the Portland police have any responsibility here? Listen here to what he said about federal officials.


MAYOR TED WHEELER (D), PORTLAND, OREGON: This is clearly a waste of federal resources and it's getting increasingly dangerous. We did not ask the feds to be here, we don't want them here.

They're not helping this situation. They're not appropriately trained and we're demanding that they leave. And their presence here is creating more problems rather than less problems. The tactics they have been using are abhorrent.


CAMPBELL: And that's the standoff that continues again. Federal officials say they're not going unless that building is free from any threats. The mayor and protesters say that they're not leaving as well, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: You know, Josh, you of course, spent a number of years in law enforcement. And to the mayor's point there, you know, part of the training is de-escalation, right. The presence both go to maintain the peace, but not raise, but lower the temperature.

And I just wonder based on what you have witnessed there and even some of these confrontations with the mothers who have come out, right, to sort of surround and protect the protesters, are those federal agents helping or hurting the problem from what you have seen?

CAMPBELL: Yes, you know, the federal officials tell us that they're there to protect federal property. And although these protests are overwhelmingly peaceful, you do have a small subset that come out at night that set fires. Again, they launch fireworks.

We have seen in the past federal officials be heavily criticized for their actions both on the ground at the federal building and also in and around the community. Now, officials there outside the build having come in conflict with, as you mentioned, protests like the wall of moms, launching tear gas, trying to move them back.

We also know that CBP, customs and Border Protection, they were heavily criticized for their actions in going out and arresting people. That continues to be a theme from these protesters. They want that to stop.

I will finally mention one thing that last night we saw a different shift from these federal agents. While in previous nights they have gone out and actually set up a line and actually pushed protesters back.


CAMPBELL: Last night, they didn't leave the building. They came out, they would push protesters back, they would tear gas us, but they weren't pushing them blocks and blocks away.

Whether that's a pattern we'll continue see, we'll have to wait. But again, that's part of that criticism that we've seen from federal officials, over excessive use of force. Perhaps last night, we have seen a new shift from them in just relegating their activity to that building, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Well, the similarity in tactics, we saw at Lafayette Square right outside the White House, which of course, met with all that criticism is notable.

Josh Campbell, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Well, Senate Republicans set to unveil their latest stimulus plan today. The question: do they have Senate Democrats on board? Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is with us next.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Well, this morning we learned another 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week and today Senate Republicans are expected to release their plan for another round of stimulus. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows says no final decision has been made though on whether or not it will extend the $600 per week additional federal unemployment aid that has been received. That ends, of course, next week.

I'm pleased now to be joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota. It's very good to have you.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you. Thanks, Poppy.


HARLOW: I'm looking at -- looking at the numbers in the state that both of us call home, it is devastating.


HARLOW: NPR is reporting that one in two black workers in Minnesota, one in two, have applied for and are relying on this unemployment assistance and 450,000 Minnesotans are relying on that $600 extra a week. What should they expect to happen?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I can tell you what we should do and that is pass the Heroes Act that has already passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives. And what that bill does is simply extend the unemployment.

I rarely quote the President of the United States, Poppy, but let's go for it. It was the President that said two days ago, it is going to get worse before it gets better. Well, we all know that's true and that's why you don't end unemployment benefits.

You have 30 percent of Americans having trouble making their housing payments this month. We know we are not yet through this. And that's why the Heroes Act and the proposal we want to pass in the Senate would actually include all the funding we need for testing.

There have been huge delays for testing. I know someone in Minnesota who sat in his basement for six days because it took that long to get the tests back. Something we haven't seen since the beginning of the year. And there he was, while his family is upstairs.


KLOBUCHAR: He can't help out and it turns out he doesn't have it. Those kinds of stories are happening all over America.

HARLOW: You know this personally. Luckily, your husband who contracted it in March is ok. But he was hospitalized, your 92-year-old father had it. You thought he might die, he's ok. We're so glad.

But in the state of Minnesota, we looked at the data this morning, Senator. Cases have risen 30 percent in the state of Minnesota in just the last three weeks. Finally the governor of Minnesota Tim Walz has yesterday mandated masks indoors. But did that come too late? Should it have come sooner?

KLOBUCHAR: You know, the governor actually has been, I think, doing a good job of balancing all of this. The economy slowly opening and our numbers, our health care system has over time gotten well-prepared for these cases.

But what we are seeing in Minnesota simply reflects the national trend. I think it was last week 31 states saw increases. And it is every reason why we need a president who can lead. Why this president miscalculated this from the very beginning, was more worried about his tweets that day and every day than saving lives. And as a result, there's been no long-term plan and certainly no compassion for what's happening in this country.

HARLOW: Well, there's been a lot of tweeting, as you know, about mail- in voting. Something you're very passionate about. Just this week on Tuesday, the President tweeted "The mail-in voting unless changed by the courts will lead to the most corrupt election in our nation's history."

Obviously, you have proposed the National Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020. It would expand -- expand early voting. It would also expand mail-in voting to all states. You have got 36 cosponsors but they're all Democrats. But the chairman of the committee, Roy Blount, I know he voted against it, but he has expressed an openness to you to work on this issue.



KLOBUCHAR: Yes and he and I --

HARLOW: So are Republicans telling you behind closed doors they're worried about hearing that from the President and are you going to get them on board to actually do something about it?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. First of all, Roy Blount has both to me privately and publicly talked about how he wants to work together to try to get some funding here. We originally got $400 million in the first bill and there's a lot more need now.

And you have Republican governors and Republican secretaries of state across the country asking for this funding. This is a change in our voting. So many more people, no matter what happens in Washington, are going to be voting by mail. They want to vote early. If they do want to go to the polls, and they want to do so safely.

We shouldn't have to choose in this country between putting ballots in the mailbox and putting people in the hospital. This just isn't right and we should be able to do this. And that's why we're trying to push for the election money in this bill.

HARLOW: Yes. Let me ask you about a proposal you -- legislation you put forward in March. It actually hasn't gotten a lot of -- a lot of attention. I'm not really sure why because it's fascinating. It was touted this week by Steve Case, AOL cofounder on the show.


HARLOW: And it would put taxpayer money behind start-ups instead of just propping up existing businesses, which matters a lot. Your argument here is do what Israel did effectively in the 90s. Prop up start-ups, particularly minority-owned and women-run in the middle of the country where a lot of the C money (ph) doesn't go -- and help build the economy.


HARLOW: I get it. My question to you is how do you prevent a bunch of Solyndras, right? Or the government picking winners and losers? How do you protect against that?


Well, you put better requirements in the law with the grants and you do everything. But my point here is this. it's that we have to start thinking not just about today, which we have to do every day with this president because he's not doing his job.

But we have to think about the day after tomorrow and that will be what are we going to do to rebuild our economy. In the words of Joe Biden to build back better.

And part of this means making sure that we have start-ups, new ideas, small companies and that not everything is about biggest companies. Now what I'm afraid is happening as you saw with the recent attempt of Uber and GrubHub to merge and that was somewhat rejected. That would have meant that 90 percent of the home delivery food market would be in the hands of two companies -- DoorDash and then that merged company.

So the point is that we're seeing more and more big and we need to be promoting what's made America great. Good ideas, new ideas, small company start-ups and that's what that bill is about.

HARLOW: We'll watch if that gets traction.

Let me just end of this because obviously there's a reckoning on race in this country as there needs to be. But when you talk about the city of Minneapolis where you are the chief prosecutor for a year, the Minnesota legislature this week passed a major police accountability and reform bill. And yesterday, we heard this from the Attorney General Bill Barr. Listen.



WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had that terrible event in Minneapolis, but then we had this extreme reaction that HAS demonized police and called for the defunding of police departments.


HARLOW: Well, the Minneapolis city council as you know voted unanimously to take the first step that could move toward abolishing the police in the city of Minneapolis. Do you support that?

KLOBUCHAR: I do not support defunding the police. I have made that very clear as has our governor in Minnesota and many others, including, by the way, Vice President Biden.

But what we need to do is make some very important changes that will save lives. What happened -- the murder of George Floyd -- was an outrage. We literally saw on video a man's life evaporate before our eyes.

So what do you need to do to stop that from happening? One is a prosecution of the case which I'm very glad Keith Ellison is undertaking.

Two is making sure that we ban chokeholds and the Minnesota law which was passed by the only legislature in the country where one houses Republicans and one houses Democrat does that to a limited extent. I think we need to do it in a bigger way nationally.

The third thing is better training and better exchange of information. There are -- when I listen to the attorney general, once again trying to be divisive instead of bringing the country together -- there are many good police officers out there. We all know that.

But when you have people like Derik Chauvin out there that do what we saw him do on video, you have to change the rules. You can't let that happen again. And that is why I was so disappointed that our Republican colleagues didn't join us in passing the bill that passed the House, that Senators Booker and Harris sponsored here in the Senate on police reform.

HARLOW: There's still time for everyone to compromise and make progress on that.

KLOBUCHAR: There is. That is exactly right.

HARLOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar --

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: -- thanks for your time.

We'll be right back.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.



HARLOW: The Trump administration is hopeful that we can have 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses ready by early next year.

SCIUTTO: That, of course, if it's proven to work, but they are still figuring out who will get those doses first.

CNN political correspondent Sara Murray explains.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: After bungling everything from testing to personal protective equipment, the Trump administration is aiming to prove it can roll out a coronavirus vaccine to millions of Americans as soon as one is ready.


MURRAY: The debate is already under way over who should get the first doses.

FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: I think that people are a little uneasy about the government calling the shots here.

MURRAY: To reassure a skeptical public, this decision will be apolitical, the NIH director called the National Academy of Medicine, an esteemed non-governmental organization and asked them to advise who should be first in line.

A second group of CDC advisers are also asking who counts as an essential worker? Should race and ethnicity factor in? And where do teachers fall on the priority list?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CDC: Clearly the vulnerable are going to be it if not the top priority, one of the top priorities.

MURRAY: The Trump administration is tapping top health officials and industry experts to lead vaccine plans rather than politicians, but the administration's vaccine effort, Operation Warp Speed, is shrouded in secrecy.

DR. MATT HEPBURN, OPERATION WARP SPEED: Certainly ask for both your latitude a little bit in terms of my lack of ability to provide a lot of specifics about what we're doing.

MURRAY: Vaccine developers already have contracts with the government to stockpile their products and the administration hopes to have 300 million doses available early next year, a timeline vaccine experts believe is overly optimistic.

VIJAY SAMANT, VACCINE EXPERT: This is a big task. Even if you have a vaccine, getting these people vaccinated is a humongous task, a humongous task because you need to convince people.

MURRAY: The distribution alone is a monumental challenge.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We're right at the beginning of Operation Warp Speed work to lock down fill finish capacity as well as syringes and needles and glassware. So we've secured that to be able to ensure that we'll be able to vaccinate the American people.


MURRAY: The federal government has shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars to companies like Corning (ph) for glass vials needed to transport a vaccine.

BRENDAN MOSHER, CORNING INCORPORATED: I think the U.S. has kind of set a bar. Glass won't be the critical bottleneck and there will be plenty to go around at the point a vaccine is -- is ready.

MURRAY: Hundreds of millions of syringes are in order too from companies like B.D. though contracts and industry experts suggest the government may come up short.

ELIZABETH WOODY, BECTON, DICKINSON AND COMPANY: It is I think the beginning of the process. The U.S. government is preparing for two shots of the vaccine and so, you know, assuming a population of approximately 350 million people, we're looking at, you know, a total of 750 million or, excuse me, 700 million syringes at least.

MURRAY: Once the vaccine is available it could take a year to inoculate enough Americans to slow the spread, and that's if Americans agree to get the vaccine at all.

Safety concerns, politics and fears among minority communities that they may be exploited or left out are all contributing to Americans' hesitation.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now I spoke to a senior official at Health and Human Services and they said, look, we know we have a transparency problem with Operation Warp Speed. We know we need to sell the American public on this vaccine. They are planning on rolling out a series PSAs and those ads will feature the doctors that we're used to seeing for a while in the briefing room, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield of the CDC and the Surgeon-General, coming soon.

Back to you, guys.

HARLOW: So important because a lot of people worry is this first vaccine going to be the best as you heard Dr. Fauci ask this week. Sara, great reporting. Thanks a lot.

SCIUTTO: Well, today the U.S. is set to pass four million confirmed cases of the coronavirus; again, the most in the world. And one of the nation's top experts suggest that this virus sadly will never go away.