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Florida And California Lead The U.S. In Coronavirus Cases; More Closures Of Restaurants In L.A. Due To COVID-19; Top Administration Official States Testing Results Taking Too Long; Trump Played Golf And Greets Supporters Over The Weekend; Recent Polling Showing Trump Losing To Biden In Battleground States; Federal Reserve To Reveal Latest Policies; U.S. Professional Sports Resumes; Federal Agents And Protesters Continue To Clash; Attorney General William Barr To Testify Before Congress. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 26, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: We begin with the unrelenting coronavirus crisis. Now, more than 16 million cases globally and more than a quarter of them are in one country, the United States.
The state of Florida has reported more than 9,000 cases in a single day, something it has done for 23 days this month. And even with those numbers, the state's top business regulators says he plans to meet with bar owners to discuss how they can reopen.
Meantime, in the state that was once the epicenter, New York, much more promising news. The governor reporting that hospitalizations continue to reach new lows and the positivity rate remains at 1 percent.
And while coronavirus rates differ across the country, one thing millions of Americans have in common are economic fears. The extra $600 unemployment benefit runs out this week. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says more relief is two or three weeks away "hopefully."
The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she's been anxious to negotiate for more than two months and that Congress can't go home until a stimulus deal is reached.
So let's begin this hour in California, which currently leads the nation for the most confirm coronavirus cases. More than 448,000 and counting. These surging case numbers having a huge impact on some businesses like restaurants, especially in the Los Angeles area, where CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now. Paul, how hard are these restaurants being hit?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Extremely hard hit, Bianna. In fact, Yelp yesterday released a national poll that said they believe that 60 percent of restaurants that have closed will never come back. And here in Los Angeles, a bombshell behind me. Trois Mec, the Michelin restaurant, it's in this unassuming strip mall. It is a favorite of the foodies and of the critics. This is a chance
to come in here and sample, and the Lefebvre family sending an e-mail to me saying the restaurant industry is in a true crisis. And without help from the federal government, many restaurants will be just a fond memory.
We talked to another restaurateur, Dustin Lancaster. He owns 13 restaurants in the Los Angeles area and bars. Three have already closed. He has laid off 250 employees, only 30 percent of those up to have come back. And this is something that absolutely haunts Lancaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUSTIN LANCASTER, LOS ANGELES RESTAURANT OWNER: If you were to drive down Sunset Boulevard or at Melrose and you thought four out of five of those might not be there, right? That collateral damage is almost incomprehensible. And for a person who operates so many, to lose something that you worked so hard for, to know that that won't be there.
Like, even though we're open now to the community and we're employing some people, it's not sustainable. And if I think about losing something like that and losing those employees, it's almost too overwhelming for me to actually, you know, lay in bed at night process without breaking down due to the sheer weight of it all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And Lancaster wants everybody to keep an eye on a bill moving through Congress, a bipartisan bill, a $120 billion relief package for independent restaurants to keep those restaurants open, keep those employees going to their jobs. He says track that and support your local restaurant. Back to you now, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: And that bill can't be passed soon enough for restaurateurs like Dustin. Paul, thank you so much.
Well, the Trump administration official overseeing critical coronavirus testing is admitting that turnaround times for tests are still too long in the United States. CNN's Kristen Holmes joins me. She's in New Jersey near the president's Bedminster estate.
Kristen, they're saying the average turnaround time is four days. What is the administration doing to improve these lone wait times?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Bianna, Admiral Giroir was on with our Jake Tapper and he did say the average was just over four days, but as you and I know from talking to people on the ground, talking to people getting tested, we are still seeing waits in part of the country that are anywhere from 7 to 14 days, and that include some of our own colleagues who have tried to get a test and had to be quarantined at home for that length of time.
It does look as though they are making a concerted effort to turn it around though. This afternoon, Health and Human Services announced a new contract with the Department of Defense and a private company to produce more of the chemicals to help process the tests. That means more tests across the country will be able to be processed than currently are.
The other announcement that was made today was by LabCorp, which is one of the country's biggest private labs and they are one of the big labs that takes in so many of these samples. They said they now have increased their capability so they can bring down their average turnaround time to two to three days, which obviously still not ideal.
Two days is ideal. Three is a little bit longer. You're pulling people out of the workforce, but much better in two weeks, which again, is what we are seeing here.
The other thing I want to mention is keeping the eye on tomorrow's reveal the Stimulus Bill. Senate Republicans had wanted to include $25 billion in ramped-up funding for testing. It will be interesting to see whether or not through the negotiations with the White House, they actually got those there.
But all weekend long we have heard from task force members, we have heard from Mark Meadows, from Steve Mnuchin, all of them hyper-focused on coronavirus, whether it be testing or whether it be that stimulus funding, trying to put together that proposal to finally be able to give out those details to Americans who are expecting money, who are hoping to have help financially as the unemployment numbers continue to maintain very high.
So, a lot of administration officials on the ground working. I do want to point out what President Trump did this weekend while we were here with him Bedminster. He played golf with NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre. And then I want to show you this video from today. This is the only public-ish activity that we saw him do.
He went outside of his country club in Bedminster to a small group of supporters and threw "Make America" and "Keep America Great" hats at them. Clearly you can see him there without a mask on. No one in his entourage also appears to be wearing a mask in this video.
That is how President Trump spent his weekend. Now, he also announced today that he was no longer going to be able to throw out the ceremonial pitch at the Yankees because that day he was going to be so focused to the future on coronavirus, and he's going to have meetings on vaccines.
That's just another Saturday in the future in August. And again, to know that when he spent this weekend, the way he spent it was playing golf and of course, spending time with some of his supporters, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, two images over the weekends. Two images without him wearing a mask just days after he said wearing a mask would be patriotic. It seems like we are dragging our feet here on this issue. Kristen Holmes, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Well, I want to get Dr. Jonathan Reiner in on this conversation now. He's a professor of medicine in George Washington University and a former White House medical adviser. Dr. Reiner, when you see the president posing for pictures without wearing masks, when you hear him saying that testing is overrated even as cases are spiking like they are in this country, what comes to mind for you?
JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: He's unteachable. Probably the original sin of this response of the United States. Maybe the two original sins have to do with our pathetically slow ramp-up for testing, and the second, our failure to mask up quickly.
By the end of June, only about 59 percent of Americans said they went out every day wearing a mask. Contrast that with about 83 percent of people who live in Hong Kong who said that. You know, Hong Kong, which is a city about the same size as New York, has had 18 deaths -- 18 deaths.
So, much of what we're seeing now was entirely predictable. And the fact that the president won't come out, you know, for that photo op today with a mask on -- you know, to use his golf lingo, it's a tap- in. He comes out with a mask on. He can have a MAGA mask on, throws some hats around, maybe throw some masks out. How great would that be? He just fails to get it. This is a historic failing.
GOLODRYGA: When you hear like Jake Tapper ask Admiral Giroir this morning, are you afraid of telling the president some of the information that medical officials are telling you and that's playing out on the ground, when you see what's transpiring between the president and Dr. Fauci, when there's oppo research being given out from his own administration. He's not there and know that the doctors are with him at this press briefings.
What does that tell you about the direction that this country is taking in combating the coronavirus as we approach the fall and winter months when obviously, you know, there's a lot of concern about this pandemic only spreading more and then you got flu season as well?
REINER: Right. I mean, there appear to be very few people, at least very few public-facing people in this administration who are willing to tell the president what he doesn't want to hear. Tony Fauci is one of them, which is why he's been banished.
If you remember a month or two ago, Dr. Redfield came out and warned about the potential dual punch of having a robust flus season. And he was made to come back the next day and sort of walk that back. This morning, when we heard Admiral Giroir talk about testing.
He really parrots a party line that basically everything is great, we're doing a ton of testing, when we know that we're not doing nearly enough, and the testing that we are doing is taking way too long to come back. The Rockefeller Foundation has recommended that this country do about 30 million tests per week -- 30 million tests per week.
You know, right now, we're doing about 5 to 6 million tests per week. So we need to increase that by five to six fold. We need testing that comes back same day. What happened to the Google app that was heralded months ago that was going to tell you exactly where to go to get a quick test?
GOLODRYGA: Forgot about that.
REINER: Right? How about the Big Box stores where you could just drive in and get the tests. We need this, but what happened is early on, the administration outsourced testing to the states. We need a national plan to test. We need national coordination and it's shocking that we still don't have that.
GOLODRYGA: I think it's not helpful when you have someone like Admiral Giroir basically refutes some of the things that people like Dr. Asish Sha were saying about the need for 3.5 million to 5 million tests per day saying that he doesn't think that that's accurate. It causes a lot of confusion among Americans and they really don't know who to believe.
REINER: Right, which is, again, you and I spoke about this yesterday. It's time for just nonpolitical or bipartisan group of people to come out and just tell the public the way it is. You know, Admiral Giroir this morning spoke about the rapid test that the president uses to protect himself and his family.
That's really not widely available. In any city, it's very difficult to find a walk-in test where you can get it back in 15 minutes. And for Admiral Giroir this morning to talk about the fact that 25 percent of the tests are done with the rapid assay, those tests are really being done in hospitals. They're being done to protect hospital staffs and they're actually being done in conjunction with other tests because the reliability of the rapid test has not been great.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, we got to get the testing and results back much sooner than four days or even seven to 10 as we're hearing anecdotally. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, it's a pleasure having you on. Thank you.
REINER: My pleasure. Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, the presidential election is exactly 100 days from today. There are new polls showing Donald Trump trailing some of the states that he won in 2016, but a lot can happen as we know in 100 days. We'll break down the numbers with CNN political experts.
Plus, sports in the time of coronavirus. How does playing without real fans in the stands affect the athletes?
GOLODRYGA: Well, today marks 100 days until the election. And brand- new polls from states Trump won in 2016 show that he's in deep trouble as the Americans give him failing grades when it comes to the pandemic. CNN's John King breaks it down from the magic wall.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One hundred days to the election and brand new CNN polling shows the president in trouble in three states that were absolutely critical to his big 2016 victory. Let's take a look at the numbers.
In Arizona, normally reliably read in presidential politics, Democrat Joe Biden with a small, but still the lead, 49 to 45 over the incumbent president, Donald Trump. Move on to Florida, always the battleground of all battlegrounds, right, and always close, 51 percent for Biden, 46 percent for President Trump.
Again, close enough, but still the president, the incumbent on his heels. Michigan, a blowout at the moment, 12 points, 52 percent for Biden, 40 percent for Donald Trump. This, remember, one of those blue collar states the president surprised us, flip from blue to red in 2016.
Three important states, Joe Biden on top in all three and the coronavirus is why without a doubt. How is the president handle the coronavirus? In Arizona, six in ten disapprove. Only 35 percent approve. Very similar, Florida, only 57 percent approve of how the president has handled the pandemic, hitting the state very hard right now -- 39 percent approve.
Michigan, 59 percent disapprove, 36 percent approve. Underwater on the biggest issue facing the country right now. Also underwater on another big issue facing the country right now, race relations, policing, law and order.
Well, if you look at the president, how has he handled racial inequality? Underwater again, only 35 percent in Arizona approve, nearly six in 10 disapprove. Pretty similar, Florida, 37 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove.
Michigan, a third approve, six in 10 disapprove. Coronavirus, race, the president underwater, that's why he's losing to Joe Biden right now in these important states. So what does that mean when you look at these poll and then you look at the 2016 map?
The president got 306 electoral votes back them. Where are we now? Well, if you take Michigan away, Florida away, and Arizona away, that's just today, that's our polling today, but the president is in trouble in those states.
We also know from recent polling, Wisconsin is a trouble spot, Pennsylvania is a trouble spot. North Carolina is a trouble spot. Just those six -- just those six, imagine this, right? If you took those off the map and you went here, this is how we rate 2020 at the moment.
You take those states away from the president, we make some toss ups here. You could lean some of them blue, just make them toss ups. The president is at 205. There are also political strategist.
Both Democrats and Republican who say the president has to be careful about Georgia and about Texas, two states we at CNN still lean red because of their history, but where there is polling that tells you they could be in play.
So if you look at this map and if you look at these brand new CNN polls 100 days out, don't rule anything out, but the incumbent Republican president of the United States is in trouble.
GOLODRYGA: Team Trump has a lot of work to do. We're going to break down those number straight ahead with Paul Begala and David Gergen. We'll be right back.
GOLODRYGA: And there you're looking at a live image of Air Force One returning and taxiing Joint Base Andrews as the president returns to Washington from his weekend spent at Bedminster in New Jersey. As you heard before the break from John King, polls are showing that President Trump is in trouble in key battleground states of Arizona, Florida and Michigan.
So, what can he do with just 100 days to turn the ship around before the election? Joining me now, CNN political commentator Paul Begala and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, a former advisor to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.
David, let's begin with you. We showed those images of the president over the weekend golfing with Brett Favre, throwing out hats to his supporters. He wasn't wearing a mask in either one of those. This is -- coronavirus cases are going up across the country as our death rates, and the president said wearing a mask would be patriotic, but he's clearly not listening to his own advice.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That sure appears to be the case. I thought you nailed it earlier in your program. If he wants to turn this around, the coronavirus, he has to start wearing those masks, stop playing so much golf, stop throwing out the hats, you know, look like a real president.
He's not done that. One hundred days left. He has to stabilize and end this surge in the coronavirus cases. If he does not do that, the economy won't really pick up. You know, Larry Kudlow from the White House is still predicting a V-shaped recovery.
It looks more and more like a W or a U, which is not good news on that front. So, he's got, you know, everybody believes he can still win, but it's getting harder and harder and harder as Paul Begala I'm sure will say, even more so.
GOLODRYGA: Paul, do you agree?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do, I do, but like David, I'm old enough, Bianna, to remember when Mike Dukakis led Vice President George H.W. Bush by 17 points on this day, 100 days before the election. Dukakis was winning by seven. So there's four things, quickly, that I'm watching.
Will the progressive left cast a protest vote like many did when Hillary was running? I think not. Right now the progressive left has been terrific about getting behind a moderate, Joe Biden. So hats off to the progressive left.
Will the Democrats become complacent? Very little signs of that. They seem as committed as I've ever seen them in my life. Third, will the press fall for Russian interference again? Bianna, you've covered this as well better than anybody, you know. We fell into this in 2016.
They released a bunch of e-mails through WikiLeaks. It was Russian interference and we let it dominate the campaign. I'm worried about Russian interference again, and then fourth, though, voters.
Voters themselves, a lot of voter suppression in the last election. Voters can go right now, they can go to vote.org and check their status. Every voter should do that, republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, vegetarian. Go to vote.org and check to make sure you're registered. And if you're not, get registered.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, especially at a time when so many in this country are concerned about coronavirus and whether or not they will get sick going to actually vote at the voting polls and booths. Many of these voters are going to be turning to mail-in ballots, and the president has made his stance on that very, very clear.
David, let me move on, though, to another major issue, and that is not only just the coronavirus, but racial inequality because the latest CNN poll showed Trump's disapproval now standing around 60 percent, and that's across Florida, Arizona, and Michigan. Key states there. Will Trump be able to get out of his own way on these issues in time to really make a difference? These are huge issues.
GERGEN: Well, he certainly has none (ph). There is no indication that he will on the coronavirus. On race, this is -- I think one of the few greatest things that's going on in America today where white people are trying out -- these wall of moms in Portland made up of white women mostly.
And now vets out there, you know, doing the same thing, a wall for vets. We can see this is actually the 70s, and the civil rights movement, the blacks had to carry most of the load themselves. You know, whites were tentative about getting involved.
But here in this case and what I think the bad news for Trump is, this is a country that is actually unifying among some of our diverse groups and that is very, very good news. Whatever you think about politics is good news for the country.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. There should be one area where you can put politics aside, right, and that doesn't seem to be coming from at least this administration. Paul, I want to get your reaction to a "Washington Post" opinion piece from this week. It's titled, "Don't Let the Poll Numbers Fool You. Trump Could Still Win Reelection." This is something that is still giving Democrats nightmares. Don't become complacent, right? Well, Kathleen Parker writes about the failings of the 2016 polls, saying that the same problems could plague them again. Why should we believe 2020 is going to turn out differently?
BEGALA: Well, because we can affect it. That's the thing. We can't -- Democrats ought not to be complacent. I don't think anybody should put too much stock into polls, even 100 days out. That's an awful, awful long way.
As I say, Mike Dukakis blew a 17-point lead. Joe doesn't have anything near a 17-point lead, but people can affect this. And I am really moved by what David just said. I'm from Texas, so are you, David is from North Carolina. The hunger for racial reconciliation in this country is so powerful.
And at a time when we're paying tribute John Lewis, and I'm humble and proud to say was a friend of mine. Mr. Lewis, his whole life talked about the beloved community, about coming together.
And what a heartbreak that as we are honoring him and preparing to lay him to rest, his cardinal achievements, voting rights, is under assault in his beloved Georgia, across the country.
And so voters need to really act here. And I think it's wonderful that they're coming together in the streets, but they really have to come together at the ballot box because that's where the real fight is going to be.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we're going to have to leave it there.
I should note though, as our viewers have been watching images of the president depart Air Force One, neither he nor anyone in his security detail -- there's Ivanka and Jared Trump. I don't believe anybody is wearing a mask as well.
You know, these images are seen by Americans, you know, throughout each state that's now being hit hard by the coronavirus. And when the president's not wearing a mask, when those around him aren't, you know, it goes back to actions speaking louder than words. David Gergen, Paul Begala, it's great to see you. It's such a treat to see you on a Sunday night. Thank you.
GERGEN: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: And now, here is Christine Romans with your "Before the Bell Report."
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Bianna. The economy, a major focus this week. The Federal Reserve issues its latest policy statement on Wednesday. Investors want to know if more fed stimulus is planned even as Congress tries to negotiate the next COVID relief bill. Ramping up the pressure on lawmakers, families face a fiscal cliff
this week. On Friday, the extra $600 a week unemployment benefit runs out. It expires a day after we learn just how horrible the second quarter was, a historic drop in second quarter GDP will be revealed on Thursday.
One predicts the economy have crashed by as much as 35 percent. The big question is what happens next. Many economists expect the economy will turn sharply positive in the current quarter, but there's mounting evidence America's fragile economic recovery is stalling as these coronavirus infections spike. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.
GOLODRYGA: Professional sports are making a big and much-anticipated comeback amid the ongoing pandemic. Major League Baseball has officially returned with actual games, but without fans in the stadium. NFL are right around the corner.The NFL announcing this week face coverings will be mandatory for fans attending the football games this season.
As for the NBA, basketball games are set to resume Thursday inside the league's bubble zone in Orlando. Joining me now, former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic, host of the "Golic and Wingo Show" on ESPN Radio.
Mike, great to have you on tonight. Basketball and baseball are back, no fans, but you know, we'll take it. We got the games. You played NFL football for -- we'll take what we can get, right?
MIKE GOLIC, ESPN HOST, GOLIC AND WINGO: Absolutely.
GOLODRYGA: You played for years. How much of a difference does it make? You know, we keep talking about these athletes being professionals, but nobody is prepared for playing through a pandemic. How different is this environment for players?
GOLIC: Well, I think the biggest difference, Bianna, is going to be how they act really away from the game. Once you get on the field and start playing like they started playing in baseball, they do in basketball, football coming up pretty soon.
Once an athlete starts doing what they do as an athlete between the lines, that just going to come back as natural. Even without fans, they'll get used to that, just like NASCAR has and the PGA has.
But what the biggest difference here is going to be is the responsibility of the players away from the court. Now, the NBA they're in a bubble down in Orlando so, they have guidelines they have to follow within that bubble
But for baseball, for the NFL, and hopefully college football, these are going to be players who will be in the pro site living with their families so, what do you do away from the facility? That's going to be the important thing. You can test all you want at the facility, have your guidelines at the facility, but the players have to go home. They're going to be out in their community. How responsible are they going to be to make sure they don't bring anything back to the facility?
GOLODRYGA: Well, you make a good point. How realistic is that? You know, so much attention is focused on this NBA bubble, which is a bit odd, but at least they're enclosed in one facility and people can keep an eye on their comings and goings, right.
But when it comes to football and these players, if they're going to have to report every time they sneeze or have a fever or, I mean, not a fever, but a runny nose, a sore throat, and you know, a lot of players, a lot of people have been asymptomatic.
GOLIC: Without question, this is going to be very difficult because again, while the NBA is testing every day, as far as football, they're going to test every day for two weeks and if the positive rate is under five percent, they're going to go to every other day, which to me is going to be a tough call because again, players are going home.
Kids, if they have kids, they're going to start to be going to school. What happens when the kids go to school and come home? If their spouse goes out, if they go out, how careful is everybody going to be to follow the guidelines?
So, if they are tested every other day, there isn't that positive test because it can spread like wildfire through a team and that's the one thing that could shut it all down.
GOLODRYGA: And not to make them all a one monolith, but when you talk about how athletes feel about playing right now through a pandemic, we all know that they want to do what they're trained to do, what they love doing.
But do you get a sense that the majority of them want to be out there playing despite the risk or do you sense some trepidation from some athletes too?
GOLIC: I think while there'll be some trepidation, I think the majority want to play. The majority want to get to the season and let's be honest, this is also about money as well. They want to get paid for the sport that they play.
GOLODRYGA: Oh, there's that too, right.
GOLIC: And speaking of -- well, there is, you know. And I mean, listen, it's one of the reasons sports is coming back, is that there is a revenue stream there. While it won't be as much as it's been normally, there is still going to be some there.
And as far as my sport in football, the average lifespan of a football player in the league is a little over three years. So, if you take one of those years away, especially if you're a middling the backend of the roster guy, who knows if you're going to get that chance to get on the field again. So, guys are going to be willing to take the chance. They'll be nervous. Don't get me wrong.
They'll be nervous, but I think the high majority are going to go in headstrong and say I'm going to play.
GOLODRYGA: And let's be honest, the fans are craving it and desperate for it as well. I want to ask you since you're here. Over the weekend, America lost a TV icon when we learned about the passing of talk show host Regis Philbin.
You played for his beloved Notre Dame and we learned today that Philbin will be buried in the cemetery on the campus there. Do you have any memories of Regis as a fellow Notre Dame grad that you'd like to share?
GOLIC: I mean, absolutely. Regis and I crossed paths more than a few times at Notre Dame games so, we've gotten to know each other pretty well over the years. And listen, his entertainment resume doesn't need to be, you know, talked about. Everybody knows how great he was at that. Incredible entertainer.
But you know what, he was a nice guy. He was just a nice man. You know, you'd see him on campus. He'd sit around. He'd talk to you. People outside of the industry, you know, when he wasn't -- when he didn't have to be on, if he was at a (inaudible) pep rally or something, just when he goes walk in through the campus and people wanted to talk to him, he just shot the breeze under him.
He was just a very, very nice man who always respected and was a great Notre Dame man, and certainly his, as I said, his resume in the entertainment world is about second to none for the longevity and how successful he was.
GOLODRYGA: Well, you can't replicate the magic that he brought when he was on television and he touched so many millions of Americans and he loved sports, as we all do. So, I'm happy and I speak for millions of Americans to say that this isn't a normal time to bring sports back, but we'll take what we can get. And you will be covering it all. Mike Golic, thank you. We love having you on tonight. Thanks.
GOLIC: Thanks, Bianna. Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: And coming up, growing clashes between protesters and agents deployed by the Trump administration. Why my next guest, John Dean of WaterGate fame, believes it's just another example of the president's authoritarian rule.
And tonight, join Fredricka Whitfield for a look at the surprising ways unconscious bias impacts our lives. The CNN Special, Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism, live tonight at 8:00.
[17:45:00] GOLODRYGA: Tensions escalated again between protesters and law enforcement Saturday night in Portland, Oregon. This was part of the scene in Portland early this morning.
GOLODRYGA: As you can see there, federal officers detained a protester and you can hear him screaming after a witness said they removed his gas mask. Protesters removed barriers at the federal courthouse and tear gas was deployed.
There has been growing outrage within the city and across the country over the presence of federal law enforcement officers in Portland. Both Oregon's governor and Portland's mayor have demanded that the agents leave. With me now to discuss this is former Nixon White House counsel and CNN contributor John Dean, who is also the author of the book, "Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers."
John, welcome to the program. You have been very critical of the president's federal officers in Portland. How do you view what we are seeing there because as I've said earlier, you look at these scenes and at times it doesn't look like its taking place in an American city street?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I view them, Brianna, as frightening scenes. They are very unprecedented that we'd have federal law enforcement literally provoking demonstrators. They're baiting them. They're using excessive force against them in trying to theoretically protect federal facilities, but they're crossing the boundary and really going into local police powers.
GOLODRYGA: When you're seeing mothers, fathers, and now veterans lining up in protest too, obviously there are some who are posing as menaces, but for the most part these are peaceful protests. What does that tell you about how much this has brought together an entire city from different backgrounds?
DEAN: Well, as David Gergen mentioned in an earlier segment, back in the '70s when Nixon was in power and running for office, the nation didn't feel the same way about this type of demonstration, and then there were anti-war demonstrations.
Now, we have a racial justice movement that has really caught on and mothers and veterans are out there expressing their peaceful opinions about these to try to start a dialogue on a very delicate and important subject.
So, what I see is the president reading something entirely wrong. He's trying to use these provoked scene as some sort of campaign fodder to assure suburban women that he's got everything under control. Well, these suburban women aren't stupid.
They're going to get to the bottom of what's going on here. And this has provoked violence. So, I think he's made a mistake on this and it's a very typical authoritarian type play. While a few people will like it, the overwhelming majority will not. GOLODRYGA: Well, he clearly has the backing of Attorney General
William Barr and we know that he is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this week on Tuesday. How do you think William Barr should address what we're seeing in Portland and Trump saying that he's going to actually send more law enforcement officers into other cities?
DEAN: Brianna, I think he first -- Barr ought to first address it by showing up and testifying. I'm not sure if that will happen, but let's hope it does because he's got a lot of questions to answer. He is most surprising in his backing this kind of behavior.
He happens to believe a president should be all-powerful. He believes in something called the unitary executive theory that give presidents unlimited power. We're not there, but he's trying in essence create precedence for that kind of presidential power.
I don't think he's going to have a very pleasant reception certainly by the Democrats. And I would think a few Republicans would be troubled by his behavior, but we'll see.
GOLODRYGA: Let's switch gears a little bit while still talking about Bill Barr because he's sure to be asked about Michael Cohen. As you know earlier, last week a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department had retaliated against Trump's former fixer and attorney for writing a book about Trump and then in turn sending him back to prison.
Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason. I don't have to tell you that. Are we seeing the Justice Department really becoming an arm of the president's political and at times personal vendettas?
DEAN: Sadly, we are. I'm an alum of the Department of Justice, and it's really kind of sad what we're seeing happen. The use of some sort of conditional release with Michael Cohen to not let him talk to the media, not let him work on a book was really outrageous and the judge did the right thing.
I hope he'll actually bring a lawsuit to see if he was illegally imprisoned. He might have a cause of action and that would result in some discovery, would take this thing to see how far and how high it rose. During Watergate, Brianna, a lot of the people in prison were writing books. I wasn't amongst them, but I know for example Chuck Colson wrote his Watergate memoir while in prison. So, this is not unusual.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And the federal judge seem to agree with you saying in his decades working, he'd never seen an incident quite like that. John Dean, thank you so much. We appreciate your insights and we should also note that you are author of the book "Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and his Followers." Thanks for joining us.
DEAN: Thank you. GOLODRYGA: Well, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a massive toll on people, but it has also led to trouble for some animals. Stay with us. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom."
GOLODRYGA: Months into this pandemic, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. And in Mexico, that includes zoos. But it's not just the staff hurt by the loss of tourists. It's also the animals. CNN's Rafael Romo has more.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): The black bear was found in dusty cage. A Bengal tiger was held in a small enclosure at a small circus in Oaxaca. These are some of the more than 600 wild animals that were rescued in the first eight weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico, according to country's largest association of zoos and aquariums now in charge of the rescued animals.
Some were abused, but most were just hungry and not properly cared for. The general director at the Africam Safari Park in the central Mexican state of Puebla says the coronavirus pandemic has been a double whammy for the industry.
Closed private zoos have stop generating revenue from visitors although public ones still receive some funding. They have also had to stretch resources to care for abandoned or neglected animals across the country that would have died or been killed otherwise.
He also says they have suspended all their conservation and research projects in Mexico and around the world to make sure they had the resources to feed and care for about 200,000 animals in 110 zoos and aquariums throughout the country. International rescue missions have also stopped.
Joaquin Leon, a veterinarian of the park who says some of their elephants were rescued in Namibia as calves after poachers looking for ivory killed their parents in 2012. The elephants eat about a ton of hay per day. With no visitors and little revenue for the last four months since the park closed, feeding the animals is getting increasingly difficult.
We have devoted our lives to this mission, the park's director says. A pandemic is not going to stop us now.
(on camera): Some parks are trying to get loans to survive the pandemic. Others are doing fund raisers and accepting donations in exchange for private visits where the risk of infection is low. According to the largest association of zoos and aquariums in Mexico, the pandemic also means about 300,000 park workers around the country can't feed their families. Rafael Romo, CNN.
GOLODRYGA: And our thanks to Rrafael. And thank you -- thank you so much for joining me in the CNN NEWSROOM this weekend. I'm Bianna Golodryga.
Wolf Blitzer picks up our coverage with a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM right now.