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Interview with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC); Interview with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; Interview with Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 27, 2020 - 10:30   ET



REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): And of course it was a very emotional scene. But -- so I kept it ever since. And this morning, when I started here to Washington, I just picked one of them up and copied it --


CLYBURN: -- and brought it along.

BASH: Yes, it was in your wallet.

I want to ask about Congress. But real quick, in this new documentary, "Good Trouble," you talk about the fact that when John Lewis was part of the Freedom Ride, arrived in Rock Hill, South Carolina. And he was beaten bloody by the KKK.


BASH: You were going to go and meet those buses, and you decided not to do it.

CLYBURN: Well, I didn't decide. Once again, my wife --


BASH: Your wife decided. But you said that you couldn't -- you weren't sure that you would be able to stay nonviolent in that kind of situation, but he could?

CLYBURN: No, most of us couldn't. We never could do what John did, and that's what made John such an effective leader of that movement. And that's why today, people all over the world are mourning his loss. Because John, as I said, internalized nonviolence. We adopted nonviolence, it was a tactic for us. But I don't know if all of us could absorb what he did.

BASH: You want to rename the voting rights legislation that the House passed -- and that has been sitting in the Senate for many, many months -- after John Lewis. How important is that? Not just the symbolic naming, but also getting it actually passed to fix the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court changed it?


CLYBURN: I think it's very, very important. And I've mentioned, time and time again, that I think that we ought to dedicate this election year to John Lewis. Nineteen sixty-five, March 8th, I believe it was, was Bloody Sunday. That took place at a time only two percent of black folks in Alabama were registered to vote.

And as a result of that march, Lyndon Johnson took to the floor of the joint session and called on Congress to pass what became the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And that's what led to my being here, that's what led to John getting here. And so many of us across the South. It's what led to our parents getting the right to vote.

But the Supreme Court took a look at that, seven years ago, and decided that it ought to be updated. That the formula that precipitated the application of Section 5 -- which is resting (ph) Section 4 -- needed to be updated. We had not updated that formula in a bipartisan way. Jim Sensenbrenner joined with John Lewis in working to update the formula.

And we have now passed it in the House and sent it to the Senate. So we have done exactly what the Supreme Court said should be done in order for it to be constitutional. So why won't the Senate pass it?

But I want to send this little addendum over, naming it "the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020." And then hopefully they'll pass it and the president will sign it.


BASH: So, Jim and Poppy, what Jim Clyburn said there, what so many of John Lewis' Democratic colleagues are saying is, as beautiful and as important and as celebratory as today will be about John Lewis' life and legacy, they are continuing to emphasize how important it would have been to him -- and it was to him -- to fix the Voting Rights Act that has been gutted by the Supreme Court, Congress is trying to fix but is still not there.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And there are genuine efforts at voter suppression this election cycle, it's an important issue. Dana Bash, thanks very much.

BASH: Thank you.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, California has more coronavirus cases than any other state. How do you slow the spread there? Joining us next, the mayor of San Diego.


HARLOW: Welcome back. Right now, California has the highest number of COVID infections in the country. San Diego County is one of 36 just placed on the governor's watch list. That could lead to more shutdowns or maybe even a stay-at-home order. Cases also rising in the city of San Diego. The mayor, Kevin Faulconer, joins me now.

Mayor, thank you very much for being here. And let's begin on what you've done -- and that is your executive order allowing gyms and churches and things like barber shops and salons --


HARLOW: -- to open up outside, right? And you guys certainly have weather that cooperates with that most of the time.

But for viewers wondering why in this moment -- take a look at this chart, this is the Johns Hopkins chart that tracks the daily numbers. And what it shows is a precipitous increase and rise in cases in just the last two weeks. In San Diego County, you guys have seen 7,300 new cases, 111 deaths from COVID.

So why is the time -- even though it's outside -- to take that step?

FAULCONER: Yes, no, it's always about trying to keep people going but safely reopen, Poppy. And I'll tell you, as we've seen, you know, some relatively good news over the last week with cases beginning to flatten in San Diego, it's all about how can we keep our economy going but do it safely? And to try to be innovative and creative.


And so as we have allowed restaurants to move out into the sidewalk, into the streets, parking lots, the same thing with gyms, other businesses. It's about a lifeline, it's about a lifeline that can keep folks employed, to keep businesses operating safely and to try to do everything we can to obviously work through this pandemic and, as I said, keep everybody safe.

HARLOW: If -- if that number keeps going up -- and I hope it doesn't for you guys, and I'm glad you're seeing a plateau -- but if it does keep going up, Mr. Mayor, will you reverse course and say I'm sorry to these businesses? I mean, your own wife is a small business --


HARLOW: -- owner, I know -- and to say we can't even do this outside?

FAULCONER: You know, I'll tell you, Poppy, our whole mantra from the very beginning -- to your point -- is working closely with our public health experts. Let's make sure that everything that we're doing is being data-driven, is being kept with safety in mind. Because at the beginning and the end of the day, that's really all that matters.

And so as we work with not only our county public health officials but all of our local cities across San Diego, it's done (ph) to have clear rules of the road, to show exactly what we should and should not be doing --


FAULCONER: -- and to send every clear messages about how we can get through this safely.

HARLOW: Do you have enough tests right now? Because Admiral Brett Giroir -- who of course leads the testing effort for the White House -- told Jake Tapper yesterday in an extensive, really important interview, quote, "We have enough tests right now, if we use them in the right way, to achieve the goals we need to achieve."

He said that, you know, testing response time isn't where it needs to be. But do you have all the tests you need right now in San Diego?

FAULCONER: Well, we always need more, I think is the answer.


FAULCONER: And in fact, to your point on response times, more tests, more contact tracers, we've had a really concerted effort particularly here in San Diego County over the last month, hire additional folks. That seems to be having the desired effect.

And you know, it's something that we preach constantly out here, which is, you know, we're all in this together. We never forget the basics, Poppy, in terms of wear those masks, keep that social distancing, all of the things that are going to keep us safe both indoors and outdoors.

HARLOW: OK. So not enough tests, you need more, that's clear. You talk about small businesses, and that's why you issued this executive order. Your wife runs a, you know, event-planning business -- obviously, that has all been decimated in that space.

Given that those $600 a week extra unemployment aid, given that that ends on Friday and Congress is debating it right now, and the Republican plan -- your Republican -- has nowhere near that level in it, what do you think? I mean, what would that mean if the people of San Diego who are unemployed don't -- just all of a sudden, on Friday, lose that additional cash assistance?

FAULCONER: Yes, no, look, I think it's incredibly important on the federal level that -- that package, we have a package that is going to help people, because we're obviously not through this pandemic.

And, you know, back to one of the things that I've been doing here in San Diego -- again, with everything that we're doing to try to keep people employed -- and, look, this is not a time for bickering back and forth at the federal level, right? This is a time to come together as Americans --

HARLOW: So you support --

FAULCONER: -- time to help people out.

HARLOW: -- you support extending, do you support extending that $600 a week additional aid?

FAULCONER: Yes, I think the balance that the folks are trying to strike in Washington, D.C. right now is how do we keep that lifeline going, how do we ensure that we provide that opportunity for people to get back to work, to provide those incentives for people to get back to work.

And at the meantime, at the local level here I think it's incredibly important as mayors that we're providing that opportunity for business, as I said, to be innovative, to be creative, to do things that they maybe normally hadn't done outdoors. And I think in a combination of the two, that's how we're going to keep people employed and get through his.

HARLOW: Yes. Quick yes or no -- because I'm out of time -- yes, you heard, probably yesterday, California Congresswoman Karen Bass said on CNN that in hindsight, California opened too quickly. Is she right?

FAULCONER: I think one of the things that we've been fighting for, Poppy, is to make sure that we look at it from a local level. We're a big state, and one of the things that we've been advocate -- and always advocated -- is follow what's happening on the local level with our local county public health officials, that's what we're doing in San Diego.

I think that's the key to success, to make sure that as you reopen, you reopen safely but you do it based upon the facts on the ground locally.

HARLOW: We wish you guys a whole lot of luck there. Thank you, Mayor.

FAULCONER: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

All right -- Jim.


SCIUTTO: Well, critics says that clashes between federal agents and protestors are actually fueling unrest in Portland, Oregon. The president has just responded. What he said, and reaction from the nation's first Homeland Security secretary, who served in the George W. Bush administration. That's coming, right after this.


SCIUTTO: This morning, real tension on the streets in Portland, outrage growing after another violent weekend, violent clashes between federal agents and protestors there. Critics say the use of these agents -- the weapons, the tactics -- are actually inflaming the unrest, not calming it down. Looks like soldiers, on the streets there, of an American city.

TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Homeland Security or Federal Forces are little involved in Seattle, other than we have a large standby team in case of emergency. The media is calling that one wrong also. In Portland, we are protecting federal property, including the courthouse, which wouldn't last a day! SCIUTTO: Just moments ago, the president has defended his actions in a tweet, suggesting that if these forces in Portland had not been deployed, federal property -- including a courthouse -- in his words, "wouldn't last a day."

With me now is the first secretary of Homeland Security for this country, Tom Ridge. He is also the former governor, Republican governor of Pennsylvania. Governor, secretary, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

TOM RIDGE, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I'm sorry I have to have this conversation under such extreme circumstances, but it's certainly good to be with you, Jim. Thanks for the invitation.


SCIUTTO: Well, it is remarkable to see those scenes on the streets. You are someone who has an enormous amount of experience in handling genuine national security threats in this country. You recently said it would be a cold day in hell before you would agree to the uninvited -- we should note -- intervention of federal agents in Portland, opposed by local officials. Why do you oppose this deployment?

RIDGE: Well, first of all, it is not consistent with the mission of the Department of Homeland Security. It's not in their mission statement, they weren't (ph) necessarily (ph) trained for it. And forget all the efforts to try to turn them into a quasi-military force with the uniforms and the like. There are other federal agencies that have historically worked closely with state and local officials.

But, you know, the time for me to even be critical -- and I was critical of that deployment -- that's over. I mean, and now we've got this political sniping going back and forth, and it's about time -- and I say this not as secretary of Homeland Security, but as a governor -- that the federal government and the state government and the local governments work together to defuse the situation --


RIDGE: -- it's too hot, the (ph) temperature's (ph) going too hot, and they'd better do something quickly. And I think -- and I would just -- this recommendation, and I'm sure the president's going to call (ph) for mine (ph) -- you've got a governor sitting next to you, he's a loyal vice president. He understands the importance of integrating the federal, the state and local teams to help to defuse the situation, separate the protestors, the First Amendment protestors from the violent protestors. There's a distinction here, and the only way you're going to deal with it is to work together to defuse it, period.

SCIUTTO: You -- I may want to remind folks watching, if they don't remember -- but in your position, when you were DHS secretary, you dealt with very real threats of genuine terrorists, striking or attempting to strike America here.

I wonder, when you look at the use of military-style forces -- yes, they're DHS agents, but they look to anybody else like soldiers on the streets -- does that impression, do those weapons, do those tactics, do they help defuse or might they help inflame the tensions?

RIDGE: In my judgment, when they appear to be quasi-military rather than law enforcement, I think it's like pouring a little bit of gasoline on the fire. Remember, Jim -- you have no reason to remember, but -- we established a very short vision statement for Homeland Security, and the first words in that 10-word sentence were, "preserving our freedoms." And preserving the right to dissent is something very important.

And so no one -- no one, I certainly don't -- you can't justify the violence associated with that. But when you send in quasi-military individuals, dressed in uniforms -- by the way, could send in the National Guard but that wasn't an option, the president had to sign the executive order.

So the only thing I could hope -- and maybe even prayerfully encourage -- the parties --


RIDGE: -- Republicans and Democrats, the president -- call on your vice president, he's been in this position before -- to help defuse the situation before it gets absolutely out of control. And it's at -- it's close to that right now.


Another issue close to your heart, and very important as November approaches -- which is voting, particularly mail-in voting. You're part of a bipartisan effort to secure the vote in November.

The president claims that mail-in voting is, by its nature, going to lead to a rigged election. And I want to play some sound from "ABC Sunday" because when George Stephanopoulos asked Mark Meadows -- the president's chief of staff -- about your comments, saying, in fact, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud with mail-in voting, here's how Meadows responded, and I want to get your reaction.


MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: To my knowledge, Tom hadn't been involved in any voter integrity project since perhaps he left over a decade ago, and so I don't know that that's an informed decision as much as it is an opinion.


SCIUTTO: You're very active in protecting the vote, what's your response to that? Is your opinion -- which is a fact, that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud with mail-in voting -- is that based on old information?

RIDGE: Well, I think they (ph) ought to take a look at -- there are several reports out there, including one from the Heritage Foundation. But the bottom line is, I would say, (inaudible Mark Meadows and to the administration, if you're worried about fraud, then instead of trying to -- undermining the legitimacy of the election on November 3rd, you ought to be working -- again back to our earlier conversation about Portland -- you work in collaboration with the state and locals to ensure that there is no fraud, or you keep it down to a minimum.

And one of the things that states should do without any assistance from the federal government, is change their laws and regulations, Jim, so they can begin to sort and to process and to validate the signatures long before Election Night. I mean, we need to start thinking about voting -- November 3rd, it'll be at least Election Week perhaps, if neither one side --



RIDGE: -- or the other wins overwhelmingly. So there are certain things that can be done.

But, again, whether you're combating the protestors in Portland or trying to preserve the legitimacy of an election, it is a federal system. We are at best -- we're at our very best -- when we work together toward a common goal. it's up to the president to take the leadership in that, and to begin to end this endless sniping back and forth and undermining legitimacy of the November 3rd election.

Sometimes I wonder --


RIDGE: -- if he's more worried about losing than he is about fraud.

SCIUTTO: That's a question. Yes or no, do you think the president is laying the groundwork to contest the results of the election if he were to lose?

RIDGE: Well, we certainly what the lawyers did in Palm Beach. I mean, it's no -- if it's a hanging chad, is a -- creates a litigation environment, certainly you could anticipate, unless they take real immediate action to reduce that possibility, you're setting up the predicate for it. There's no question about it. And --

SCIUTTO: Yes. Tom Ridge --

RIDGE: -- it's not a presidential (ph) thing to do.

SCIUTTO: Understood.

RIDGE: His job is to ensure the legitimacy of the elections, don't undermine it three months in advance.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Sadly, we're seeing it play out. Tom Ridge, we do appreciate your coming on. Thanks so much.

RIDGE: Thanks, Jim. SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.