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More Than 150 Medical Experts Sign Letter Urging U.S. To Shut Down As COVID-19 Cases Top 4 Million; Trump Administration Sends Tactical Team To Seattle; Actor Chris Evans Launches Non-Partisan Website To Make Political Issues Easier To Understand. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 24, 2020 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: But then he came down with the virus that he was fighting so hard to contain in his County. David Prasifka was 58 years old. And our heart goes out to him and all those lost to this pandemic.

The news continues. So, we'll hand it over now to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, J.B., thank you very much. Have a good weekend, my brother.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.




CUOMO: One thing is clear, as we come to the end of the week, and here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What changed this week? Why did his tone change?


He hasn't changed his tone.


CUOMO: Now, she's trying to get you to think that the President has always said "Wear masks," the President has always said the pandemic was real and going to get worse. That part's not true.

But she is right about tone. The President's tone hasn't changed. He is still tone-deaf to this crisis.

A million cases in two weeks. Turnaround times on test results, I don't need to tell you, but it's true what you know yourself. The results are getting longer and longer, over a week, even longer in too many places.

This President offers no plan to increase our ability to test and trace. He says he wants schools to reopen in a week, in some places, and offers no plan to help them do it, and to help them keep schools open, right?

Opening them is easy. Keeping them open will be hard. How do we keep our kids safe? How do we keep the teachers safe? Nothing! That's tone- deaf.

His White House is right. Schools are like "Essential places of business." So why don't they treat them that way? Make a plan. #WhereIsThePlan?

States are asking for help all over the country. You hear them on this show. They're getting none. Why?

He has waited so long to act that now more than 150 prominent health experts are saying it's too late. They don't think we should be open in any way right now. A 150 of them say we need to shut down again, and start over, as the only way to get us back.

And yes, I will argue against that against one of the big minds who is signing onto it, a key cosigner that is about an open letter to America's decision-makers about what they need to do and why.

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former Obama White House Policy - Health Policy Adviser joins us on PRIME TIME.

Good to see you, my friend.


CUOMO: So first, Doc, present the case. Why do you and so many others believe that we need to take a step back? What does that mean and why?

EMANUEL: Well, we reached the peak in April. We were coming down. And then, we had this rush to open up. We plateaued, and now, we're up even higher than we were in April.

Conversely, Canada, Germany, lots of other countries, have been able to come down to zero, because they had a uniform national program. They executed. They waited till the numbers came down very, very low, before opening up and they opened up in stages.

That's what we need to do. We really need to have everyone doing it because if we separate out by states, some states open, some states close down, some states wear masks, other states don't, people travel, and they're going to carry the virus. And so, we need to have a uniform plan.

It'll be painful. We acknowledge that. But in six weeks or eight weeks, we'll have our numbers way down, and then we can open up and suppress, rather than have the situation now, where we have 70,000 cases a day, almost a 1,000 deaths a day. That is untenable.

CUOMO: All right, the response is "No way" on three different levels. Let's go through them.

First, no way, because too many states have done it kind of the right way, New York, states in New England, states on the Pacific Northwest. And they have cases in a place where they're able to do phased re- openings. Things are going well. They don't want to take a step back.

What do you say to states like that?

EMANUEL: I think Florida said that same thing. "We don't have any cases here" early on, in March and April. "We're not seeing the problems in the hospitals." And what was my response then? "Just wait."

And what will the response be to New York? "Yes, there are people in Florida who are going to come back to New York, or people in Texas, who are going to come back to New York and you're going to have an outbreak. We do need to be serious."

Now, I want to say something, Chris. We have learned something since March and April.

And that is, you can be in the house, you can go outside, you can walk, you've got a face mask on, you're going to stay six feet away. It's different than having dining inside restaurants, dining inside bars, gym, and other things, where the activity is inside crowds for prolonged period of time.


We do know that we can actually have people have a more balanced life while they're actually keeping separate, and we're not having all these businesses open.

CUOMO: OK. The second "No way" is "Welcome to America, Dr. Zeke."

These people don't want to do this. They're railing against masks. They're fighting in all these different places, I would argue, somewhat egged on by this President, until this week, and he certainly hasn't called out any of his followers for behaving that way. "So, America won't do it."

What do you say to that?

EMANUEL: We do have a problem. And the problem has been, as you point out, leadership and consistency in message and consistency in guidance to people about what they need to do.

And I do think if the President got behind this, and he did get all of the governors behind this, I think you would have a very different tone because people wouldn't get a blessing.

Remember, the President was the one who tweeted, "Liberate Michigan! Liberate Minnesota." And that caused a lot-- CUOMO: Yes, toxic.

EMANUEL: --that caused a lot of the problems.


EMANUEL: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Toxic, completely toxic.


CUOMO: Even until this week! And now, the third reason is, of course, Trump.

As you well know, with your contacts, the Task Force, the CDC, NIH, they want to do more, HHS, they want to offer guidelines. They want to have nationwide standards. They want to have more control. The President is against it, clearly.

And, on that score, how big a deal is it that he's saying open schools, but they offer no uniform guidelines on how to do it, money for resources, money for staff and PPE, etcetera. And same on nationwide testing that we have so much great testing, but the wait times are going up, and the accuracy.

How important is a nationwide strategy and set of guidelines?

EMANUEL: Oh, it's absolutely vital. And I think you're totally right, we've been lacking that.

If you read actually the CDC guidance on opening schools, it's 12 pages, two of which are footnotes. The first two-thirds of it are justifications for why we should open school.

And then the meat of it, basically four pages, is really more of a checklist. It doesn't consider opening schools, and details, and all the question, from transport to school, to classroom, to lunch, to physical, to gym, and recess, and athletics, it doesn't go through all of that, and how to protect people.

The main contribution is keep people in pods or groups.

CUOMO: Right.

EMANUEL: That's not--

CUOMO: I'm shocked.

EMANUEL: It's not guidance. It's not guidance.

CUOMO: I'm shocked by not having better ideas. Everybody says the same thing in schools. And I know they come to you for guidance, and you're hearing this as well. "We need square footage."

But nobody's talking about all the unused public spaces, the libraries, the churches, all the - the buildings that aren't being used right now where there's no work that could be rented and create commerce and opportunity for schools.

You know this, Zeke. But, for you watching the show, if you go back into America's history, we've dealt with schooling in pandemics before, in big areas of infection. They did it outside. We adjusted to this before. We're not adjusting to it now, and it's so sad.

Vaccines, here is my concern with vaccines, Zeke. I want your take.

Fauci says that we're going to have one sooner than later, that it's going well.

I don't think people are going to want to take it. I think that it's going to say "It's not safe. I don't like vaccines anyway. We don't know that it really works. I'm not going to take it."

How do you deal with that?

EMANUEL: Well, you have to deal that - with that like everything else. You need leadership and you need a consistent message.

The first thing that has to happen is the President has to take it himself. When we did - started polio, one of the things they did is they got Elvis to take it on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

That's the kind of thing you needed, you need to have happen here. You need celebrities and others to march up and be among the first to take it and to broadcast it widely. And I think that is going to be absolutely necessary.

Polling does suggest that 60 percent or 70 percent of Americans now are beginning to understand that they want the vaccine. But it is an uphill battle. Only 45 percent of Americans actually get the flu shot every year, if we could - of adults, not Americans, adults.

If we could get that up to 70 percent or 80 percent, it would make a dramatic difference, and that's what we've got to aim for.

CUOMO: Zeke?

EMANUEL: And by the--

CUOMO: Yes, Sir, last point to you.

EMANUEL: Yes. One of the other things is having a vaccine and actually being able to produce it, put it into sterile vials, get it out there, and get it in peoples' arms, that's a massive effort. And I have no assurance the President and his team are going to be able to do that.

CUOMO: Well, it won't be the President, luckily. It'll be the guys at BARDA and the pros and the experts and the A-Team on warp speed.


You know some of those people. I know some of those people. They are the best in the business. Hopefully, they'll get it done, and there's as little interface with the White House as possible.

Zeke, let me put you on the spot.

Doc, when we get closer to when schools start to open, I'd love to have you back on, in a week or so, and just so you can go through the "Here's what they're doing and not doing, and here's what this will likely mean in a number of weeks, or maybe a month or so from now."

It will really help our audience understand what we're getting our kids into.


CUOMO: All right, I appreciate it, Doc.


CUOMO: God bless and be well.

EMANUEL: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Oh, thank you. Always a plus.

EMANUEL: Take care.

CUOMO: Always a plus!

Oh, and by the way, Zeke's got a new book. It's called "Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care?" It's a question. He answers it for you in the book, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, on sale now.

All right, the crisis within the crisis is being felt all across this country right now. And you what I'm talking about, parents, what do we do if our kids don't go back to school?

What are the country - what are our consequences? How do we deal with it if they do go back to school and in this kind of fugazi way? It's weighing heavily on our minds, right?

We have a mom of two kids in elementary school, in Georgia tonight, one of the key states. Now, she is pushing for at least a partial reopening. She heard what Zeke said. Why? And she knows what's happening in her County. She knows cases are on the climb.

Her case, though, about her situation, next.









CUOMO: Georgia is in rough shape. They hit a new record for cases, of course, Coronavirus cases, close to 5,000 today. The State now has more than 160,000 victims in all, more than 3,000 deaths.

Yet, families in one of Georgia's hardest-hit counties are fighting their School District's decision not to offer in-person classes, starting next month. Take a look.




CUOMO: OK. "That's our future!" they're saying. You can see a group of students storming the district offices. Plenty of parents are protesting as well.

Gwinnett County school officials originally planned to partially reopen. They reversed the move days ago because of rising cases and teacher opposition.

Now, one of the parents involved is Kelly Willyard. She is one of the parents who actually organized the protest and she joins us now.

Thank you for joining.


CUOMO: Now, I want to make clear to people what this isn't about, and then we'll talk about what it is about. You are not a rabid Trumper, who is just supporting the President by fighting any decision to keep schools closed. Is that correct?

WILLYARD: Yes, this actually has nothing to do with being a Republican, a Democrat or even an Independent. This is an issue about our children getting back into school safely, and what we can do about that, and the choices that we have as parents out there right now.

CUOMO: And - or the lack of choices that you have as parents.

WILLYARD: Yes. Well very well said.

CUOMO: I just wanted to make it clear. I want people to have an open mind about how hard this is going to be for families. I feel you on this. Personally, I feel it.


CUOMO: And I just didn't want people to dismiss you out of hand by saying "Oh, she's just a Trump follower. She's against masks. She's against everything." It's not true, OK? That's not what this is.

So, your argument is we need options because if the kids aren't in school, it's bad for the kids, but also it's almost unmanageable for people, if they're able to get back to work.

Because unless you're working from home, you're not going to be at home, and if your kids aren't in high school, or even if they are, you're not going to have the money to have somebody watching them, while you're at work.

And you don't like it for them, and you don't like it for you, is that correct?

WILLYARD: That's exactly correct. And I will just state that this, again, has nothing to do with being a Trump supporter. I'm actually an Independent myself.

We have parents of, you know, representing the Democratic Party, Republican Party, Independent Party. At the end of the day, we're all just parents, and we all have a common goal of getting our kids back into school, and getting our kids back in safely. And we've had public education in this country for hundreds of years.

And now, all of a sudden, two weeks before school, the rug's getting pulled out from underneath us all and we're scrambling.

All of us parents are scrambling on how to get our kids back in school, how to manage the fact that if we don't have face-to-face learning, what are we going to do? Are we going to get child care? Do we get a teenager to come to our house while they're doing their digital schooling during the day?

Do we get pods? There's a lot of talk right now with parents that are trying to get these micro-pods in place. Some parents that are fortunate enough can have their kids in private school.

But, again, it's a complete scramble. We're two weeks out from school.

And Gwinnett County, really, I have to say, I don't envy them at all. I think they probably have one of the hardest decisions right now to make is to get kids back in school safely, and how they're going to do that, as well as all educators across America.

Gwinnett County did such a great job, offering parents a vote, back in June.

CUOMO: Right.

WILLYARD: And, again in July, which the majority wanted their kids back, in-person, and the additional parents wanted to have the digital option. When they made that choice, back in July, they also said that kids were going to go - have to go back with masks.

CUOMO: Right.

WILLYARD: So, we were fully onboard with the masks, and creating that safe environment for kids. CUOMO: That's the problem. Here's - this is why this is such a dilemma, OK? There's no good answer. That's why. This isn't about petty politics. This isn't about money. It's not about any of those things.

Your State is in trouble. Your County is in trouble. So, the Superintendent lays out what the problem is. I mean they want to be back in school also. The President's threatening to pull subsidy - federal subsidies from schools. It's not like they have money to lose.


"I think we all understand that face-to-face instruction is always a preferred model." Of course, that's what school is. "But that needs to be done at this time with a pretty good assurance that students and staff will be safe, and we did not feel like that was the case."

Now, here's the problem. You know we like to take on fights on this show. You don't have a great case against him when it comes to safety because he's got a lot of bad data staring him in the face, Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, because cases are on the rise.

Your Governor has been backwards, in terms how he was dealing with this from jump. Schools haven't been given a plan. So, there is a risk that you send your kids in there.

They're going to get sick, or some kid is going to make a teacher sick, and then what? How do you deal with that?

WILLYARD: Well, that is one of the things we're concerned about. We don't want anyone to think that that's not something that we're not concerned about. We're very concerned about kids getting COVID, and also, teachers getting COVID.

But we feel that, Gwinnett County, in particular, spent over $1 million in safety measures to get these kids back in a safe environment. They spent millions of dollars on face masks, on hand sanitizer, disposable safety wipes. They also took measures to do training for the janitors of the schools.

So, we feel like they really took all the necessary measures. I think when we look at this thing--

CUOMO: Yes, but they say no. They say that money wasn't enough. The cases are counting too far - you know what another big thing is that they can't control turnaround on testing time, so another big X- factor.

And look, it would be an X-factor for you and me either. God forbid we hear that our kid has a case in the pod, let's say they did do pods, or classes, or whatever we call them, going forward, now we got to get tested.

So, you go, and I got to get my ChaCha tested, or whoever, you know, your kids names are, you get them tested. One day, four days, seven days, nine days, we're waiting on results. And, in that time, what do we do with them? And in that time that we're waiting to hear about some other kid, what are we doing? That's the problem here. The million dollars doesn't get you around that problem.

WILLYARD: No, it doesn't. And I think your last guest on there, Zeke, kind of said it best. We don't have any leadership going on in this country of how to get these kids back in school.


WILLYARD: Yet you look at it, and you have Disneyland is open. Dollywood is open. The grocery stores are open. The airlines are open. Corporate America is opening up, gas stations, what have you.

And then, we, as parents, feel like we just got left in the dust and you all just figure it out.

My kids were watching the "Titanic" the other day. And you know the scene, at the end of the movie, where there - there's just a few life boats, where people are getting on, and you watch all the rest of the people on the ship, and they're going down with the ship? That's how we feel as parents.

We just feel like we got left in the dust. And this will be a huge socioeconomic gap for parents because the majority of parents in this country can't afford to have private tutors or--

CUOMO: It's true.

WILLYARD: --private--

CUOMO: Absolutely true.

WILLYARD: --schools. We can't - we can't afford that. So, what is anyone doing?

The government bailed out. They did trillions of dollars with the bail-outs on Wall Street, and they're doing nothing for us parents. And no one's really talking about it, and that's why I do appreciate the opportunity to be on your show--


WILLYARD: --just to really be a voice for these parents.

The other thing I do want to make really clear, Chris, is the parents that don't (ph) want their kids to have in-person learning, we are not in any way, shape or form trying to take away that option that the parents that want the digital option - we are fully supportive of those parents a 100 percent, while we're also very supportive 100 percent of our teachers.

We love our teachers. There are teachers that want to go back, and we recognize those teachers that don't want to go back. And we need to have options for those teachers whether or not they

are, you know, we repurpose them, whether or not they're solely digital teachers for the people that want to digital-learn, whether or not they're private tutors for families, whether or not we repurpose them somehow administratively throughout this system.

But nobody's helped us. It's just every man for himself. And there's nothing on a national level that's consistent. I mean I--

CUOMO: Well there's nothing at all for schools.

WILLYARD: --it's down to--

CUOMO: They just keep saying "Open," which only frustrates parents, like you, because yes, you want them open, too. The question is how, and how do we keep them open.

In truth, education is a state issue. It'd be nice to have Federal intervention.


CUOMO: The President is picking his spots, when to send people around the country. This would be a nice spot to pick.

Kemp has to answer to you for this. Your Governor has to answer to you for this. Where are his ideas?

WILLYARD: I agree.


CUOMO: Does he - is he offering up other public spaces, churches, libraries, places they can rent? What are his ideas? They owe you that. And I just wanted people to understand--

WILLYARD: Well they do.

CUOMO: --Kelly, what you're about and what you're not about. I don't want them to think that this was some ideological thing. It's about practicalities for you and your community.

And there are Kelly Willyards all over this country. And I appreciate you for coming onto make the case. Good luck to your family.

WILLYARD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Most importantly, good health to your family going forward.

WILLYARD: Yes, likewise. Thank you so much, Chris. We appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right, be well.

WILLYARD: You too.

CUOMO: Absolutely! The President tried to get payback on his former lawyer, did you hear about this, Michael Cohen. A controversial figure, this isn't about whether you like him or not, OK? It's about the law.

And Cohen had rights. Everybody in this country does. When he didn't do what the government wanted him to do, vis-a-vis Trump, he went back to jail when he wasn't supposed to. A Judge said that, not me.

A whole string of cases this week that blow open some of the most egregious Trump power-plays, so many that we came up with a new segment, "Fight The (Abuse of) Power."

"Fight The Power," "Fight The (Abuse of) Power," it's not the best title. I'll do better. Next.









CUOMO: Part of this job is to fight back against power for you, specifically abuses of power.

Now, here's what we see. Trump's polls - poll numbers are horrible. That's the only thing that's changed. The pandemic has been bad, and it has been getting worse, for weeks.

So, the reason he talked about the obvious with masks that you've been told for months, and that this pandemic may well get worse, which we've been told for weeks, the only reason he said it this week are those numbers.

Why? Because, for him, it's not about getting things better for you. It's about getting things better for him. He says he's all about protection of you. I say, you need protection from him, when it comes to the pandemic.

He is leveraging power for himself. Here's the proof. Time and again, this week, just this week alone, he's been caught leveraging the power of his Office for him, not unlike what he was impeached for, only months ago. Impeached! We have to call it out.

But you don't have to take my word for it, OK? This all came down in court. Example one, Michael Cohen, again, controversial, I'm not arguing to

like Michael Cohen. The President's long-time personal attorney is out of prison, rightfully. He was initially released to home confinement due to the pandemic, like a lot of prisoners. But then, he refused to sign a document. What did the document say?

That he would not work on a tell-all book. He didn't understand that. Why did he have to give up his First Amendment right in order to be furloughed?

What did the DOJ do? They tossed him back in the lock-up.

A Federal Judge said that's retaliation, and it violates his First Amendment right. It's a move unlike anything the Judge has seen in 21 years, as a Judge.

Again, it's not about Cohen. It's about the law. And it's about abuse of power.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security, they came clean about false claims that were made, to defend another political power-play by this President.

DHS admitted, in a court filing, it was not straight in defending why the Agency prevented New Yorkers from taking part in a program to get through airport security faster with options like Global Entry. Remember this?

The Trump Administration blocked New York, OK, over a State law meant to protect undocumented immigrants. It was retaliatory because they had the power to do it. But just because they had the right didn't make the way they used it right. It was wrong, and abusive, and the Court said so.

Just last night, a Federal Judge put restrictions on the President's forces in Portland. It took a restraining order to tell Federal officers that journalists and legal observers have a right to do their job. In America! Can you believe we're having this fight?

And I'm telling you this President is not done. Trump just sent forces to Seattle. Nobody asked. What is the Federal law that they're there for?

Remember, in Portland, they had to defend the Courthouse. From what? Graffiti, mostly. Really? That's why you had to teargas people? That's why you had to strong-arm people, and break a veteran's hand? For graffiti?

The Mayor doesn't want them there. She says it undermines public safety, same thing they said in Portland. Why? What's her proof? What's her concern? Next.



(END VIDEO CLIP) [21:35:00]





CUOMO: Federal forces are now on the ground in Seattle. The President talks about going full force into American cities. But, for now, we're told that these agents are only "On standby."

Either way, they were not asked to come. That's how it's supposed to work. The State leaders are supposed to ask for Federal help. That includes Mayor Jenny Durkan, of Seattle, who joins us now on PRIME TIME.

Mayor, good to see you again.

MAYOR JENNY DURKAN (D-WA), SEATTLE: Good to see you again, Chris.

CUOMO: So much for the Summer of Love, I mean, this just keeps getting worse and worse.

I want to make sure the reporting is right. Is it true that you spoke to the Acting DHS Secretary, Wolf, and that he said, "I will tell you before we do anything with troops," and then you found out that troops had in fact been sent?

DURKAN: Chris, I spoke - that's exactly right.

I spoke to him yesterday. I wanted to make clear that the City of Seattle did not need Federal help at this time, that we had been threatened by the President and others that they would send agents here over our objections.

He assured me that he did not have any intent to surge agents to Seattle, and that he would tell my Chief of Police, Carmen Best, who you know, and myself, if that changed.

And then, shortly after that, we learned that indeed agents had been sent here, supposedly just on standby. I mean--

CUOMO: So, was he being clever, or do you think he just flat-out lied to you?

DURKAN: I think it's a combination of things. I think, number one, he was - it was semantics. And, number two, I've since learned that he believes he did not have all the information when he spoke to me.

Whatever it is, we have seen that we have to make our judgments about what's going to happen, based on what the President threatens, because he makes good on his threats. And I-- CUOMO: So, he's a cover guy, Wolf. Well, look, it all depends. One thing you can - that's consistent about this President is inconsistency.

Now, when you went back to Wolf, and said, "Well, now that you kind of owe me, because you lied to me about the staff surge, the rules of engagement," what are you being told right now about what these Federal agents will do and not do?

DURKAN: What we're told right now is that these Federal agents are just on standby.


It's because the Federal Protection Service that normally provides protection for the Courthouse has been called to Portland, and they will only be called out for a specific threat.

But we have to assume that what is happening in Portland could happen here. And what's happening--

CUOMO: Which is what?

DURKAN: Which is you have seen the introduction of a significant number of Federal agents who, night after night after night, have escalated violence and have had a fight, a running fight on Portland that has created there a public safety risk, and has made the City - it's incapable for them to move on and get to the healing they need, and do what they need to do, to make the important systemic changes that people are demanding in the streets.

And, in Seattle, we want to make sure that that doesn't happen here. We've done a couple things. Number one, we're going to demand the insurances. But we're going to have another policy.

We are ready to go into Federal Court and have a Judge order them to have the same restrictions that a Federal Judge ordered in Portland, because we want to make sure that what's happening in Portland doesn't happen here, that we don't escalate the violence.

CUOMO: What is the response to this?

The President says "Cities like Seattle, lawless. That CHOPs area was out of control. She can't control it. The Chief can't. The Mayor can't. The Governor's a joke. If they just asked for my help, I'd come in there with a 1,000 guys - 1,000, and I'd help it. I'd clear it all up for them."

What's your response?

DURKAN: I trust my Chief of Police, Carmen Best, to know more about what we need for public safety in Seattle than I trust Donald Trump. She is a national leader. We talk regularly.

And the President has also said that he's targeting cities led by Democratic Mayors, and I think that's absolutely true. He is leveraging his power, just as you said before, for his own purposes.

Cities do need his help when we've needed his help. We needed his help for COVID. We needed him to leverage the power of the Federal government to get us testing, to get us the need we - what we needed in cities to fight this disease. But instead, we're going the wrong way in America.

Instead of giving us the help we need, he wants to send in Federal forces and Federal agents to escalate tensions. Not only do cities not need it, America doesn't need it. This is one of the most dangerous escalations.

I was a Federal Prosecutor. I know how important it is for Federal Law Enforcement to work with Local Law Enforcement. As the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer, as U.S. Attorney, I know that that's an important relationship.

I've never seen anything like this, in my career, where Federal agents are sent in, not even, not with the cooperation of Local Law Enforcement, but over their objection. It's unprecedented, and it's the wrong way to go.

The fabric of America is being shredded before our eyes, Chris, and it worries me greatly.

CUOMO: This is the stuff of autocrats, and we're going to have to see if the institutions of this society and the will of people in these jurisdictions is enough to fight it back. We'll see.

Mayor Durkan, thank you for coming on the show. Good luck going forward.

DURKAN: Thanks, Chris, thank you.

CUOMO: All right, time to take a big breath and remember that there are good people doing good things, Superheroes, in fact. Guess who we have tonight?

Captain America Actor, Chris Evans, wading into the world of politics, but with a small "P," "P" for People.

Not running for anything, he's running from a system that doesn't give us enough information. He wants to help arm voters, like you, with facts, and allow you access to power to make judgments for yourself and understand things.

Make way for the Captain. Damn, he's handsome! Next.









CUOMO: Now, I love everything about this. I'm going to introduce you to an idea that I wish I had thought of, it's exactly what we need right now, and somebody who you know very, very well.

You know Chris Evans. You know him as Captain America, and a great actor in a lot of other roles in a career that's getting stronger and stronger. But I want to remind you of what he did recently that I think is phenomenal.

Remember 6-year-old Bridger Walker, saved his 4-year-old sister from a dog attack this month, and how we just love what he was about, because of what he did, because it was natural in him, and it reminds us of what we can do for one another, right? Underwent surgery, 90 stitches to his face.

His aunt shared the story online, and noted, she tagged Avengers stars, and said he's a big fan. Now, that was a beautiful thing. But for Iron Man, The Hulk, Spiderman to all reach out, to me, that's what we are at our best.

Captain America sent this to this kid, and he looked at it like he was living a dream. Watch this.


CHRIS EVANS, ACTOR: You're a hero. What you did was so brave, so selfless. Your sister is so lucky to have you as a big brother. Your parents must be so proud of you.

I'm going to track down your address and I'm going to send you an authentic Captain America Shield because, pal, you deserve it. Keep being the man you are. We need people like you.


CUOMO: He will never forget that, and for all the right reasons, sitting there with his little Captain America getup on.

Now Evans, I am not objective on. No, it has nothing to do with Marvel. When I was sick, he took the time to send me a video, and I'll tell you what, it helped buoy my spirits. He didn't have to do it. He did it. And I appreciate him for it.

But I appreciate him even more for something else he did for you. He's Founder of a new non-partisan political website, and you have to hear about it. It's called "A Starting Point," OK? And you go online and you'll see it.

Thank you very much for what you did for me, brother, and thank you for what you did with all of us with "A Starting Point."

EVANS: Absolutely, man. It was an honor sending you a video. I'm a big fan.

CUOMO: No. It's really it meant a - it meant a lot to me. I was very low.

And what you did for that kid warmed my heart in a way that hasn't happened for a long time. What a beautiful use of your influence. Good for you!


EVANS: Well that's - I mean that's, you know, it's an honor to be able to shine a light on that little guy. What a hero!

CUOMO: What! Look, it's also at our best. A kid, innocent, doing what they're supposed to do, in the moment, if they're at their best, and then guys like you with influence, embracing that, heroizing it, that's the recipe for stronger fabric.

So, one of the things we deal with all the time that's a problem is how are people supposed to know what the hell is being thrown at them, the terms and the numbers and the phrases and then this and the sound bites.

So, you see this. You want to research something yourself one day. And you're like "There's too much information. How am I supposed to get through all this?"

EVANS: That's right.

CUOMO: You come up with "A Starting Point." It was launched on July 14th. How was this, the answer to what you encountered?

EVANS: Well I don't know if it's the answer. But it can certainly help.

I think the goal was to try and demystify some of the political landscape. I think a lot of people are curious about politics but are unsure where the way-in is. I think it's a daunting - it's a daunting environment and some people just turn off.

And I think we need participation. The only way a functioning democracy can operate is with engagement.

CUOMO: So, how does this work? How do I use it?

EVANS: Well there's three sections to it.

The first section is called "Starting Points," common questions with succinct answers from a spectrum of opinions.

Then there's "Daily Points," the second section, which is just 60- second videos on anything that a politician wants to discuss. And then the third section is "Counterpoints," which is kind of a

structured focused debate between two elected officials around any issue they choose.

CUOMO: And the way you set it up originally, you ask them the questions and we're hoping they would answer.

Early on, you have all these funny anecdotes about how they thought it was a spoof, because "What is - what is Chris Evans doing asking me these questions. It must be a thing--"


CUOMO: --and how do you get people to buy-in. But you started to get traction. What kind of population you have on there now, and what's it like in terms of bipartisanship?

EVANS: I think we got at least - at least 170 elected officials.

And our bipartisanship is pretty strong. I mean that was the challenge initially trying to get people who didn't know me, and didn't know the mechanism, didn't know what we were trying to do, to trust us. So, that was certainly an uphill battle.

But again, it had a snowball effect. Every time we went to D.C., and every time someone left an interview, and said, "Hey, that wasn't so bad," we say, "Please, tell everybody." And slowly, but surely, our list of contributors, every time we visited just grew and grew.

CUOMO: Now, are you going to keep doing the interviews or what is your hope for the platform?

EVANS: Yes, absolutely. I mean that's - one of our main goals, being a self-funded organization, is that we want to be involved in the process. We want to make sure - one of our main tendance is to be objective.

One of our main concerns is that a lot of people, as they read information online, question "What's the source? What's the bias? What's the agenda?" So, to stay true to this objectivity, to this transparency, I think we have to stay involved and kind of guide the ship.

CUOMO: I like that there's no likes, no dislikes, no comments.


CUOMO: That it makes it different already.


CUOMO: So, barriers to entry. First one is "A Starting Point," as an acronym, ASP, Asp, the word belies an Egyptian Viper, like a cobra.

EVANS: Yes. CUOMO: And certainly, politics can be like that. And people are like "I don't trust any of these people. They're just going to lie." What do you say to the people, who say, "I can't believe! I can't trust!"

EVANS: Well you may not be able to believe or trust. But that doesn't change the fact that they are in - they are in Office. They have power. They are voting on policy that affects your life.

So, to let distrust be the thing that creates disinterest will hurt you in the long run. So, I'm not going to say that government is everything you want it to be all the time. But it's your civic duty to be engaged.

And without that participation, the analogy I use is if you - if you have a remote control, and you only put one battery in, it doesn't work a little bit. It doesn't work at all.

So, a functioning democracy needs participation, in order for an effective government to run.

CUOMO: How do you check what the politicians put out there in the videos?

EVANS: Sure.

Well, the first section, "Starting Point" is the only one that we actually do fact-checking on. Second section, "Daily Points," and "Counterpoints" is incumbent upon them to be honest as they would in any of the social media platform.

The first section, "Starting Points" is what we consider a political dictionary ostensibly. And then that information, we outsource it to a company called Countable. They do our fact-checking for us.

CUOMO: The other one will be personally because it's you, they'll say, and forget the - the whole actor thing doesn't work for me. The "Oh, you're an actor. You stick to acting." I don't believe that about any profession.

You are as competent as you make yourself. You make the case. People will weigh it like anything else.

EVANS: Sure.

CUOMO: And look, as you put, in one of yours answers to this question, "Oh, can there be issues downstream?" Yes. You got to sell movies, you got to sell tickets, and that's a risk like everybody takes.

But in terms of how you want them to see your personal politics, and how they do or don't fit in on this platform, what do you want them to know?


EVANS: Well that my goal in this is objectivity. My goal in this is about trying to provide information. It's almost an effort to try and return politics to people.

I think people are bloodhounds now for being lied to by omission, being only shown one set of facts. And I think if you trust people, and say, "Listen, this is all the information. Here is a spectrum of opinion. Where do you lie?" I think we bend towards goodness.

And, I think, right now, we're just living in a time of really unprecedented conjecture. The internet is responsible for this proliferation of disinformation.

So, anything to try and combat that, by getting information, directly from the source, in a fair balanced way, where everyone gets their own bite at the apple, can only be a good thing, in my opinion.

CUOMO: Your problem is going to be "Too handsome." I see you grew the beard. You're trying to hide the face. It doesn't work.

EVANS: Well you know how that is. Come on, Chris!

CUOMO: You can't do my job looking like you. Listen, you're a beautiful guy. You did a very nice thing for me. You did a much more important thing for that kid.

EVANS: Thanks.

CUOMO: And what you put together with "A Starting Point" is the exact kind of tool of populism, letting people figure out things for themselves from the people in power. It is the perfect recipe.

I'm glad you did it. I'm glad you're using your influence to promote it. You always have a platform here to do exactly that.

EVANS: Thank you, buddy.

CUOMO: Thank you very much, Chris Evans. The new site is online at Be good, brother.

We'll be right back.

EVANS: Take care, pal.