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Senate Republicans to Unveil COVID-19 Bill Today; Major League Baseball Opens Today; FBI Announces China's San Francisco Consulate Harboring Scientist. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired July 23, 2020 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Senate Republicans, prepared to unveil their proposed stimulus package. Key senators and the White House reached a deal on Wednesday. But notably, a key request by the president, denied by his own party.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Our Manu Raju is on the Hill, he joins us with more. Explain this, because we thought at least a payroll tax cut would be in the first draft. What happened? And then I think most importantly, what's actually in the proposal?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven't seen the exact details yet. We're gleaning some -- we're learning about it from talking to senators about what's in it. But that -- you mentioned it, the payroll tax cut was not in this bill because Republican senators rejected what the president was asking for.
The president repeatedly contended that there must be a payroll tax cut, even threatening, at one point, that he might not sign any bill if it does not have a payroll tax cut.
TEXT: Senate GOP Coronavirus Aid Proposal: $105 billion in education funds; Direct payment checks for families and individuals; Tax incentives for hiring and retaining workers; Liability protections for businesses, schools, nonprofits, health care providers; New funds for testing, vaccine efforts and health care providers; Second round of PPP loans for hardest hit businesses
RAJU: But Republicans said that just simply was not good enough to stimulate the economy. Simply that cutting payroll taxes by, say, $30 or $50 every pay period would not do enough to stimulate the economy. Instead, they're moving forward to direct payments for families, individuals. They have more money in education funds, about $105 billion. Also money, an effort to try to protect businesses from lawsuits, that's a key part of this as well.
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about this earlier today, about why they don't have -- why they didn't get to this -- this payroll tax cut. He (ph) argued (ph) maybe it'll be in the next package. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The president's priority for the moment is to get money in to Americans quickly. And one of the problems with the payroll tax cut is, it takes time. So we are much more focused right now on the direct payments. We're going to come back again. You know, there may be a CARES 5.0. The president, again, is focused on money in American workers, in American pockets right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So that was not (ph) the message from the White House just days ago, but this negotiation that has happened between the Republicans and the White House, the White House didn't get a number of the things it asked for or tried to prevent, including additional money for testing. The administration contended there were about $9 billion left over that didn't need more money for testing and tracing for COVID-19, but there's going to be roughly $25 billion in this bill after Senate Republicans pushed back.
So this negotiation among the Republicans and the White House, they're about to get on the same page, they're about to unveil the proposal. But then that much harder negotiation is ahead: cutting a deal with Democrats, getting to the president's desk --
RAJU: -- what will happen as people wait for those jobless benefits to be extended -- guys.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and there's not much time. Manu Raju on the Hill.
Well, some good news. Today is finally opening day for Major League Baseball, just the small matter of 119 days late. And of course, still an ongoing outbreak, but they're trying.
HARLOW: Clearly, one of us is more excited than the other. If only your --
HARLOW: -- team were better, Jim, as you have said yourself. I'll be rooting for the Twins.
One team, though, is still scrambling to find a new ballpark to call home. Good morning, Coy Wire -- he joins with (ph) a "Bleacher Report."
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning. Good morning, Poppy and Jim. You know, at least they get to work. But not knowing where you're going to work for the majority of your games? That'd be tough, right? The Toronto Blue Jays, denied being able to play their games at home and -- well, the Canadian officials said over the weekend that teams crossing that U.S.-Canada border would just not be safe.
The team tried to make a deal with the Pirates to share Pittsburgh's PNC Park, but they were denied by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and state officials, who cited an increase in COVID-19 cases in that part of the state.
So for now, they are nomads. But Blue Jays' general manager, Ross Atkins, says he's very confident the team will find a home field, and he says that they have, quote, "well over five contingency plans," unquote. But the clock is ticking. Their home opener against the defending World Series champion Nationals, just six days away.
Speaking of the champs, they get things started against the Yankees tonight in D.C. without fans. The Nats are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Bronx Bombers did it 20 years ago.
There will be one Nats superfan in attendance: Dr. Anthony Fauci, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Two-time All-Star Ryan Zimmerman had to calm his nerves. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I'm quite nervous about it.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN, PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER: OK. Well, don't worry, but if you bounce it there's nobody there to boo you, so you'll be good to go. You're fine, you're -- so this is the perfect first pitch, you're good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Go, Doc, go.
All right, let's go to the NBA, where players are still confined in their bubble, but Clippers coach Doc Rivers says they're back in their natural habitat last night, between the lines, back in action, coaches bumping elbows, social distancing-friendly bench areas; four scrimmages, tipping off inside that Orlando bubble yesterday, for the league's first competition in more than four months. And you (ph) could tell the players were kind of easing back into live action, but at least it was action.
A much different look: plexiglass surrounding the scores table, there are huge LED boards surrounding the court, where we'd normally see fans in the stands. The regular season, set to restart with 22 teams, one week from today.
Finally, the WNBA season tips off on Saturday from its own bubble in Bradenton, Florida, starting with number-one overall pick Sabrina Ionescu, and the New York Liberty taking on the Seattle Storm. Las Vegas Aces start Angel McCoughtry tells CNN that it's going to take a special, special team to win this season's title, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY, LAS VEGAS ACES: This will be the hardest championship that anybody has won. Number one, you're in a bubble, you mentally can't go anywhere really. Number two, we're fighting pandemic after pandemic. The world is in disarray. This is the hardest championship anybody would ever win in year 2020.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: These women in the WNBA have been some of the boldest, bravest leaders we've seen during the past couple of months. Some, choosing not to play so they can focus on social justice initiatives. Others, some of them mothers, being away from families for months while they work in that Florida bubble.
So sports fans out there who want to support some great role models for the next generation, Jim and Poppy, you can start by watching those games on Saturday, watching people like Angel McCoughtry.
HARLOW: Amen to that. I'm so glad you said that, not to mention really dedicating this season and opening weekend to social justice, Coy, as they have done. Thanks, Coy.
On that note, CNN is exploring the past, the present and the future of women's rights here in the United States and around the world. For more on this, go to CNN.com/Represented.
SCIUTTO: And overseas, tensions escalating between the U.S. and China. This, as the FBI now says China is harboring a fugitive scientist inside its San Francisco consulate. We're going to have details on that, next.
HARLOW: So the FBI this morning says that China is currently harboring a fugitive scientist linked to the military at its consulate in San Francisco. This adds to the U.S.-China tension, the Trump administration's decision, obviously, earlier this week, Jim, to close the consulate immediately in Houston.
SCIUTTO: Yes, these tensions are boiling over on a number of levels: economic, national security, Hong Kong, South China Sea, you name it. CNN national security correspondent Kylie Atwood, she's at the State Department, she's been following this.
So tell us the details of this, who is this fugitive scientist and what happens now? KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So this is a Chinese scientist who was said to be focusing on biology. And she has said to have lied in her visa application to come here to the U.S. And so there were investigators that found photos of her in the Chinese military, the PLA uniform. And they approached her about that, the FBI interviewed her about that. And she essentially denied that there was any real legitimate connection that she had to the Chinese military.
That interview happened in June, and then prosecutors say that she fled to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. And when she did that, the FBI did further investigation. They found more evidence that she did indeed have connections to the Chinese military. But because she is hiding out in the consulate, they aren't able to get to her.
And investigators say that this is part of a larger Chinese program, this is just not a single incident here, where the Chinese military scientists are lying on visa applications to get here to the U.S.
And of course, as you guys noted, the backdrop of all of this is that the U.S. abruptly told China that it had to close its consulate this week in Houston, and senators are saying that was a hub for spying activity for the Chinese. The State Department said the move was made so that they could protect U.S. intellectual property.
We are expecting to hear from Secretary Pompeo later today in a speech on China, and we should expect to hear more on this.
But the closure of that consulate is also significant for what it represents -- Jim and Poppy -- it was the first Chinese consulate that was opened, here in the U.S., more than 40 years ago when U.S.-Chinese relations really started once again. And now, it's closing down.
HARLOW: Kylie, thank you very much. This is a really big escalation this week, we'll see what happens. Thank you.
Well, new clusters of coronavirus are breaking out in Hong Kong and also in Tokyo. We'll take you there for live reports, next.
SCIUTTO: Hong Kong, which had managed to get the outbreak under control, is now battling a third wave of coronavirus infections. Tokyo as well, hitting a record number of new cases. CNN international correspondent Will Ripley, he is in Hong Kong with the latest.
What do officials there blame these renewed outbreaks for?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's totally linked to the lifting of social distancing restrictions, Jim, and people getting comfortable and gathering in large groups, and then the numbers just started ticking up.
You know, Hong Kong thought they had the virus contained completely. And now, today, there was a record high hit here. The numbers are still low compared, obviously, to the United States and many other places.
But the problem is that Hong Kong is already running low on isolation beds for COVID patients, and it has a doctor shortage, a chronic doctor shortage. So if the numbers were to really explode here, the city is ill equipped to handle the influx, which is why Hong Kong is essentially shutting down, a lot of businesses are closed, people working from home. And they're not ruling out a lockdown in the near future.
In Japan, this would have been, you know, the first day of the Olympics, starting tomorrow. And instead, you know, they marked one year from, you know, a potentially postponed Olympics if the pandemic's under control, with a lot of, you know, kind of sadness because of what could have been, but what has all been taken away by the pandemic.
Also, of course, we're watching that outbreak at U.S. military bases, the majority of them in Okinawa. It just seems like this virus, just when you think you might have a handle on it, Jim, comes back again.
SCIUTTO: Does indeed. Will Ripley, thanks very much.
To Israel now, another country had gotten this under control, but now seeing days of angry protests over the government's handling of the crisis.
HARLOW: That's right. Our Oren Liebermann joins us in Jerusalem this morning. Good morning, Oren -- it's the afternoon, and there's a lot of activity behind you.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, another protest, scheduled for this evening. Another one for tomorrow, another one for the day after; and we already saw them last weekend and earlier this week.
You get a sense of the anger here. A lot of these are anti-corruption, anti-Bibi signs. But it just -- it's not just that, there are demonstrators here, protesting about fear for their financial future and economic frustration. We've seen restaurant owners protest, we've seen social workers protest. And all of this is putting pressure on Netanyahu.
He certainly has, at the other end here, a pro-Netanyahu protest, but recent polls have shown public trust in the government is collapsing as coronavirus cases are surging. A new record on Wednesday, for the first time, more than 2,000 cases here, 2,032 new cases within a day, to be exact.
It is at that level that the health minister has suggested Israel might have to return to a complete lockdown to get this once again under control.
What's fueling these numbers? Well, the former director of the -- public health director of the health ministry suggested that a lot of this is driven by the reopening of schools. She says it was done too quickly, and she says it was done without the necessary precautions -- that, in her resignation letter. Israel has finally appointed a coronavirus czar, four to five months
after the virus arrived here. A number of other candidates had refused the job, worrying they would get all the blame and none of the responsibility -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Maybe a lesson in there for U.S. schools, just to look at and compare and see what could happen. Oren, thank you.
Thanks to all of you for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.
SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with John King starts after a quick break.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.
Bad numbers today reinforce the everywhere-you-look challenge of a very bad coronavirus moment.