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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Trump Still Pushing His Debunked Coronavirus Miracle Cure; Trump Focuses On Dr. Fauci Besting Him In Approval Ratings Amid COVID- 19 Crisis, Denies Smearing Fauci On Twitter; Trump Again Touts Unproven Drug Hydroxychloroquine As COVID-19 Treatment Despite FDA's Caution Against Its Use; A.G. Barr Says Attacks On Federal Buildings Will Spread If Federal Agents Leave Portland. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It's important piece we've done for the top of the show since COVID started. So, I was a little too into it. I apologize. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity. Great to see you as always. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Please take a moment and listen to this because we need to answer a question here. And this is not a rhetorical device. It's not a joke. This matter. It is probably the central concern that is stopping us from getting where we need to be with this pandemic.

The reason we aren't where we need to be is not because of the science. It's not because of the government effort. It is because the President doesn't want to own this situation. You have to know that. It's not about politics. Just hold on for a second before you go there. This is about what he thinks is good for him and he told you that today.

We have argued consistently here that the President refuses to take control of this pandemic because he cares more about how it looks for him than he cares about you. Now that's harsh, I know, I don't want to say it, I have to say it. And tonight, he told you this in his own way. He gave us the best proof that we are right about him. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know it's interesting, he's got a very good approval rating. And I like that. It's good because remember he's working for this administration. He's working with us, John. We could have gotten other people. We could have gotten somebody else.

It didn't have to be Dr. Fauci. He's working with our administration and for the most part, we've done pretty much what he and others, Dr. Birx and others who are terrific recommended. And he's got this high approval rating, so why don't I have a high approval rating with respect and the administration, with respect to the virus.

So, it sorts of his curious. A man works for us, with us very closely Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, also highly thought of and yet they're highly thought of, but nobody likes me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: But nobody likes me. Now you have to understand something. I'm no psychologist. I am a little bit of a Trumpologist. I've been around this man a long time. And the idea that - well just cut him out. When you cut the President out, you get exactly where you are right now. Nowhere. Nothing will happen if he doesn't want it to happen. It can't.

Yes, Congress should do more. Yes, it's wrong for the Senate to sleep on the aid package. Yes, frankly it's wrong for Pelosi and Schumer and the other Democrats not to be jumping up and down in outrage over the inaction. They say things, but not enough. That's all fair criticism. Nothing will change without him. And you now know why we are where we are.

If he is not liked, if he doesn't think something is good for him, he will do nothing on that subject. What he will do is try to destroy what seems to be better than he is. Now, no one around him is going to answer the question he just asked. But I will because that's the job.

The reason people don't like you the way they like Tony Fauci has nothing to do with like and everything to do with trust, Mr. President. Fauci has been straight. Birx has played more to covering for you, but admittedly both have said when they did things wrong. They both have showed proof, facts for why people should and should not do certain things.

With Tony Fauci, we know the motivation is to help, to keep us safe. I know that personally. I also know personally that it is not true with you. You are motivated only to help yourself and somebody or some group help you believe that ducking the pandemic is a better move for you than owning the reality.

And frankly, you should fire those people, because by lying about the virus, by denying states help, by defying the science and pushing bogus notions, you have made the pandemic worse. It has taken over the economy as the main issue and you are now making your chances of winning again worse.

You see it in the polls, and it is all because of this. The reason you are not where Birx and certainly Fauci are, you revealed in what you did last night. This retweet, when you decided to retweet nonsense, attacking them, because you don't like the pandemic and you don't like that he is liked.

If you aren't liked, then you must destroy who is liked.

[21:05:00]

You've always been this way, you're doing it now, but it's hurting you most of all. You retweet junk that our nation's top infectious disease expert, the person you just said is your main guy. And last night, you put out stuff that he misled us on a widely debunked miracle cure. Here it is. You trashed a man that we know cares about us and then you showed the difference between you and him, when confronted with what you obviously put out there about him, you lied about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that Dr. Fauci misled the country about hydroxychloroquine. How so?

TRUMP: No, not at all. I don't even know what his stances on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Vaughn put the tweet back up, it was last night and we're all too sophisticated for this. Well, he didn't tweet, he retweeted it. It's the same thing and we all know it. So, he's asked, and he says, oh, no, never, not at all. I don't even know his stance. Then why did you put this out? This is why you're not where Fauci is. You go on a Twitter bender retweeting videos and the reason that we are being pancaked by the pandemic is that instead of acting, you would rather trash the man who is trying to act, the man you call your top scientist.

And in favor of who and what. You're going to trash Fauci, you better have good reasons for trashing Fauci, right? You know we care about what he says, right? You know he's proven himself to us, right? So, what do you do it with?

In favor of someone making unproven claims about hydroxychloroquine. A doctor who argued against the value of masks that you just said were patriotic to wear, but you're going to support someone who says you don't need them.

A doctor who has published videos talking about alien DNA. That's who you're going to promote over Tony Fauci. Someone who has insisted that sex with spirits is responsible for a range of medical problems that over Tony Fauci. That's the doctor that the President wants to use to amplify his own message. Now, do you get why you are not as popular? Let it sink in. Listen to Tony Fauci in how he addresses this nonsense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Does he say anything about you? No and never. Does he grandstand? No and never. Simple and true, and we believe him because we know it from what he has shown us, he has not misled us. Has he been wrong? Yes. Has he been slow? Yes. And he's told us that.

But you, sir. Over and over from behind the presidential seal. Just a bunch of bunk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Many doctors think it is extremely successful, the

hydroxychloroquine and some people don't, some people, I think it's become very political, it's safe. It doesn't cause problems. I had no problem. Politically, it doesn't seem to be too popular. You know why? Because I recommend it, when I recommend something they like to say, don't use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That one statement right there is why you will never be respected the way any scientist is, let alone Tony Fauci or even Dr. Birx. Let me ask you this. If you believe that hydroxychloroquine is so good and so safe that you recommend it, why aren't you asking for it to be studied?

Why aren't you throwing a ton of money at it? Why aren't you jumping up and down, insisting that the government test as many people as fast as they could to find out if this is the pill that we need that can change all this. Why not?

If it's so damn good, if you're so damn sure, why, sir, have you not jumped on it? Why is it enough for you to remark about it, to say it as an aside, people are dying, we're desperate. Why won't you do something?

If you think the hydroxychloroquine is so good, why don't you prove it? Why don't you commission it? Why don't you force it? You can do those things. But you don't. And that's the answer. You don't, maybe you took it for yourself, maybe you didn't.

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I don't know. And we can't trust you, so we don't know. But I do know this. It doesn't matter enough to you to try to do it for anybody else, does it? Because you're all about you. Now, some may say all politicians are. Yes, but not in this kind of grotesque fashion.

Of course, politicians are about themselves. Self-interest is the motivation being elected. Politicians in general are more apt when it comes to acting out of fear of consequence than it is exercising good conscience, we know this. That's why so many people are so outside the system, so sick of it. Frankly, it's a big reason you got in.

But I don't know that people knew they were voting for a worse form of what they rejected, somebody who would say that he knows a drug can change things, can save them, but then doesn't do anything to get it for everybody else and prove that he's right and make it a national plan and put out a plan to help people by giving them, this drug, if that's what you think it is.

If that's what you think it is, you did it for yourself. The people around you had to wear masks, the people around you got tested all the time, they got turned around like that. They got contact traced every way possible, as quickly as possible for you. But not for the rest of us. No plan to help turn around test times, you've been hearing how long it's taking days, over a week. That kind of feedback is useless. We can't open schools with that. You know it, no plan.

Wow, that's the answer to your question, sir. You no Tony Fauci. And this isn't cheap, got you, we're way past that, we are sick and dying, and it doesn't look like it's going to get better any time soon. You were right about that. But it took you less than a week to go bad on that message because you think it's bad for you and your instinct is making us sick. It is a destructive emotion and it's destructive for all of us. And it's keeping you from keeping us safe. That's the answer to why Fauci's approval rating is better than yours. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're seeing improvements across the major metro areas and most hot spots, you can look at large portions of our country, it's Corona- free.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Less and less of this country is Corona-free. And you know what, I'm all for putting a positive spin on things. Frankly, at your job, you are not there to echo the worst of reality all the time. You are there to inspire hope, sir. Yes, you are.

You said the carnage would be over, you have created more carnage than we have ever imagined in this country during my lifetime, I've never seen anything like this, neither of you. And you're making it worse, most of the country is Corona-free, for how long? What are you doing to keep it that way? Not a damn thing.

California, Arizona, Texas, the biggest, baddest example, Florida, that governor down there thought he was playing by your rules and it was going to go great. He couldn't wait for his pat on the head. First, pat on the back.

Today, it broke another daily death record, 22 states have risen cases. You have done nothing. If you want to know how to be popular like Tony Fauci, if you want this to be good for you, be good to us. Have the people who know make a plan to help states, get tests, more smart, more quick, processed better and faster, you can do that. Do it.

Tell the people who know how do we target the money that these Congress members are working on to help schools stay open if they open and when. You can do it. You have refused to do it, and that is why you are not popular, sir.

Be good to us and people will be good to you. And if you stay like this, this is how you will be weighed and measured. And as of today, you have been found lacking. We're going to take a break. When we come back, we have a former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Mark McClellan, and Dana Bash, to help us process the science and the political science of where we are right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He's got this high approval rating, so why don't I have a high approval rating with respect and the administration, they're highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that's all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: In part, it's your personality. It's the part of your personality, Mr. President, that drives you to inaction and that drives you to try to destroy those who are like, better than you. That's the truth. What are you going to do about it? That's what we'll see.

Former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan joins us right now. And Dana Bash, I'll excuse you from the political part of this, doctor. I don't want to sell you with it, but for Dana, for the blessed few like you and me when he said that today.

Your eyes pop open and you say, yes, this is what we have been dealing with, this is how simple and scary it is, he wants to be liked and if something doesn't make him liked, he will reject it. And if someone is liked and not him, he will attack them. And he laid it all out there for people to hear in his own words.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, and that is including and in many cases, especially people around him, when people fly too high, when aids or even officials who are confirmed by the United States Senate get too popular.

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That is seen as an affront to the President of the United States. This President of the United States. And it's what it's all about. I mean, Chris, you know this, talk to anybody who spends any time with the President, they will tell you that he has one goal, and that is he wants people to like him.

Now, the way he tries to attain that goal, many times I would even venture to say these days oftentimes backfires. And it has the opposite effect. But that is what he tries. That is what he yearns for is adoration and adulation, and that sometimes it's the people and the institutions he attacks the most are the ones that he has the desire to have the most respect from.

CUOMO: Right. And which would all be fine if he were still on TV and developing cheesy hotels. But as President of the United States in the middle of a pandemic, it's a bad look. Now, Doctor, that's where you come in. The idea of pushing hydroxychloroquine. Hey, if you think it works, if you think the science is there, then the thing for the President to do is to gin up all the testing, turn around to people like you. The FDA Commissioner would have to listen, if he had said to you, Dr.

McClellan, I believe in this hydroxychloroquine. Here's who told me about it. But don't you worry about that. I want the testing. I want it right now. And I want it ramped up and I want it available.

Let me know why I'm wrong. Get back to me as soon as - and you would do it. But he's not doing that. What is your read on the effect of him putting out unproven sources? Let's be generous, unproven sources to say hydroxychloroquine is the cure. What's the net effect?

DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's a reminder, Chris, that for people who are in public health, like Dr. Fauci, we really need them to keep doing what they're doing and communicating with the public about it. We do have evidence now that, unfortunately, hydroxychloroquine has not shown effectiveness and good well-designed studies where people randomized to get treatment or not.

We are finding other treatments that do work, Remdesivir maybe some of the monoclonal antibody treatments, other antibody treatments that are coming in. Of course, vaccines are in process. And thanks to Dr. Fauci and a whole lot of other health professionals and experts in NIH and FDA and CDC and other parts of government, we're going to keep making progress on that.

CUOMO: One quick follow-up, and then, Dana, I want to get your head on what this means for where we are politically. But the quick follow is this. It is definitely true that there is no plan on the federal level that's been delivered to states about here's how you ramp up testing and get approvals faster.

Here's how you test smarter and do pocket tests and all these different things about groups, all these different strategies. We know there is no plan. Is it true that the reason there is no plan is because the President hasn't pushed for one?

MCCLELLAN: I don't know if that's the reason, but you're right that we need more of a national plan, the Rockefeller Foundation recently released a report that I was privileged to be a part of outlining some steps for. There have been some important steps to make more tests available in nursing homes. But Congress needs to do more. And I hope we get some national leadership from the combination of the executive branch and Congress in the very near future, Chris.

CUOMO: But why else wouldn't there be a plan, Mark, if you know, I'm not talking about what the solutions are, but I'm just saying in terms of dealing with processing, one aspect, can't get test turnaround, five, seven, 10, 10-plus days. I'm sure all three of us have heard tons of stories like that from friends and colleagues. That's something this government could be working on. They're not. What is the explanation, if not that the President hasn't looked at somebody like you and said, make it happen?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I think there's an opportunity to do better, and I hope we get there soon. It's a matter of prioritizing the right tests, using more screening tests for people who don't have symptoms. So, they take some of the pressure off and really ramping up the development of innovative new tests as well. We've got capacity that we're not using. It does need a national plan, Chris.

CUOMO: No question about it. So, Dana, the question then becomes, what do you hear that he is being told about what the fix is here for him? Because we know that people are starting to get sideways on this, ignore the pandemic strategy. It's not working for him anymore. That's why he changed. What are you hearing about how ambitious they think the President can be in taking on the pandemic in order to salvage his campaign?

BASH: Well, there are two different issues. One is what he actually will do, and that is the policy question from within the White House, which is very much unanswered, as Dr. McClellan just laid out. And then there's the question of what he says and how he acts, and that is where the campaign comes in and where they have pushed him very hard to act differently. That lasted a week. And if you include the beginning of the press conference today.

[21:25:00]

At least the beginning, until he got to the very real questions about the way that he behaves and the information or misinformation that he pushes when he's not in the briefing room, read it from a very carefully crafted statement that he has been doing for the past week, like the hydroxychloroquine question, like the Anthony Fauci question.

And it is when he is asked those very important questions from reporters that he decides to end the press conference, which is what happened with Kaitlan Collins, that is not a win politically for this President, according to people I talked to, which is probably stating the obvious.

And more importantly, it is not a win for this President policy wise and real leadership wise when it comes to trying to find a way to get this country out of the mess that even privately people who really like the President admit is happening because he completely ignored and tried to wish away and will away this virus, as opposed to galvanizing the federal government to have a strategy that people like Dr. McClellan, who work for a Republican President knows is possible.

CUOMO: The irony is we know that the people around him were trying to make this campaign about something else that would be bigger than just a personality analysis, a thumbs up and down on Trump.

The irony is they did, and it's the pandemic. And he's in a bad position on this, as bad as he could find, worse than I thought his gut would ever tell him. I've never seen a misread a situation like this in all the time I've known him.

Dr. Mark McClellan, thank you very much for keeping us straight on the policy side. And Dana, nobody has got better eyes on the situation than you. Thank you for the insight as always.

BASH: Thanks, Chris. CUOMO: All right. Another big issue today that happened in our

democracy. Attorney General Bill No Holds Barr. Why do I call him that? Because he does anything, he can to promote this President's agenda. Yes, attorney generals do that. But again, not in as grotesque and obvious fashion as he did today. I will show you how far he has this President's back beyond the scope of his job. That's the problem, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The Attorney General spent hours facing Congress today, there was one moment that laid bare the truth about the man who serves you supposedly as Attorney General.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Mr. Barr, during a radio interview this spring with Hugh Hewitt, you praised President Trump's Coronavirus response as superb, correct?

BILL BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Who did?

JEFFRIES: You did.

BARR: OK.

JEFFRIES: In February, President Trump falsely claimed that the number of Coronavirus cases would go from 15 to zero in a few days. Was that superb, yes, or no?

BARR: I'd have to see the context in which it was said.

JEFFRIES: President Trump said, I take no responsibility at all for the failure in testing. Was that superb, yes, or no?

BARR: It was accurate.

JEFFRIES: In April, President Trump irresponsibly suggested that the American people inject themselves with bleach. Was that superb? Yes or no.

BARR: That's not what I heard.

JEFFRIES: That's exactly what he said. In July, President Trump falsely claimed that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are totally harmless. Was that superb, yes, or no?

BARR: I think essentially what he was saying is that the fatality rate relatively is very low, very low.

JEFFRIES: The answer is 150,000 Americans are dead. It has been a failure of epic proportions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, that man is someone who, in a lot of circles, you'd say, well, there's your boy and that's who he is, he is Trump's boy. Those positions have nothing to do with the Department of Justice. He's supposed to give that annoying answer.

What does that have to do with what I do? Why are you asking me that? I am the Attorney General. I don't get involved in politics. What I said in an interview, I said, that's not why I'm here today. That's what you're supposed to say, but not him.

Barr's instinctive political fealty to this President was on full display and yes, attorney general are always in the pocket of who puts them there, but not like this. It's a fealty that echoes in everything that he does and that has impact on us.

All right, so that was Barr, and that's what we have to remember about him. We have to keep a check on our democracy. Let's take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk to the Mayor of Portland about what is happening there and whether or not that city is a tinderbox that is going to take us all down, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The Attorney General warned Congress today that if federal forces don't contain the protests in Portland, violence could spread all over the country. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: We are concerned about this problem metastasizing around the country, and so we feel that we have to be in a place like Portland where even where we don't have the support of the state or local government, we have to take a stand and defend this federal property.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Metastasizing, that's how we talk about cancer. Is that what Portland is? Is it a cancer that's going to spread all over the country? The Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, is here. Mr. Mayor, thank you. And please answer the question, what is happening in Portland out of control and going to spread all over the country if the federal forces don't go in there and quiet it?

MAYOR TED WHEELER (D), PORTLAND, OREGON: Well, the Attorney General may be talking about something completely different. I do think it is a threat if the Attorney General continues to send federal officers to city across the country. And frankly, during his grilling today, I wish somebody had asked him point blank, Attorney General Barr, do you believe that your strategy has been successful? Frankly, it's stunning to me that the Attorney General can't draw a

clear line between the increased federal presence, the violent and indiscriminate tactics that they've been using in this surge in violence and vandalism and frankly, push back from ordinary people here in the city of Portland. All of us agree here in the city of Portland that their presence here has made things much worse and that escalation is merely leading to more escalation.

CUOMO: So, let's talk about what was right and what was wrong. You have this huge federal complex there. Right? And certainly, the Feds have the legal right and frankly, the responsibility, frankly, to defend it. Right? Then defending the courthouse and those officers. That wasn't wrong. What was wrong?

WHEELER: Well, what was wrong was the tactics they used, they were abhorrent, they were overbearing in terms of proportionality, in terms of what people were doing, and quite frankly, they're unconstitutional to come into a city and.

[21:40:00]

Predictably every single night start indiscriminately and broadly teargassing people to come out and start taking people off the streets, shoving them (ph) to unmarked vehicles, failing to identify themselves. This is not how things are done in America.

This is more like a police state in terms of the tactics. They weren't wanted here. We didn't invite them here. And this is a time for cooler heads to prevail. And that starts with the federal government withdrawing its officers. We need to deescalate the situation, not what they've done, which is escalate it.

CUOMO: What a terrible position to put those men and probably women, the federal forces that are there in the position of having to carry out this kind of mandate. Do you think that it was wrong to keep the DHS and now it's the Department of Justice, since the AG, but then it was the Department of Homeland Security Secretary?

You had said earlier, I don't want to meet with him. He knows what I want. Do you think you should have met; do you think you should meet now? And do you think should you try to negotiate something because you're not going to get them to leave just by talking to us?

WHEELER: No, there's no question about that. And I want your viewers to know that there are conversations ongoing. Frankly, they've been fruitful. I can't tell you the details.

CUOMO: That's fine.

WHEELER: But I can tell you this. I expect that there will be an announcement shortly. Portlanders don't want to continue to stand there at that fence and fight federal officers each and every night.

CUOMO: You think after what the AG said today, Mr. Mayor, that they're going to leave? WHEELER: I sure hope they do, because they've got to acknowledge that what they're doing isn't working. There is very little disagreement here on the ground in Portland that what they are doing is escalating both the violence, the vandalism, and the kind of response that the public has had since they've gotten here. We've seen thousands more people come out onto the streets than prior to their arrival. It's not working. And they need to start by acknowledging that.

CUOMO: Well, I will take you at your word. I hope you are having conversations because obviously something needs to change. But after the Attorney General laid down Trump's law today because that's what his job was, his job was to say the President wants this to happen. It'll be interesting to see if they leave. Mayor Ted Wheeler, please keep us in the loop and stay safe.

WHEELER: We'll do. Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you. And be well. All right. Let's take this conversation wider, OK? This is scary stuff, having federal forces inserted into communities that aren't asking for them. OK, think about that for a second.

Senator Cory Booker is going to join the conversation. He told Bill Barr, the Attorney General, to his face that he was normalizing dangerous behavior by Trump and he said that more than a year ago. What does he think about where we are today and where we need to go next? The senator from New Jersey.

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[21:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: According to the U.S. Attorney General, there's no such thing as peaceful resistance to the police.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Have you now called for law enforcement to stop using these chemical irritants on protesters? Yes or no?

BARR: Pepper spray?

DEAN: Yes.

BARR: No.

DEAN: No?

BARR: I think it's a very important non-lethal option.

DEAN: For protesters.

BARR: No, for rioters.

DEAN: That was my question. For protesters.

BARR: No, for rioters.

DEAN: Yes, sir. America was founded on the principles of free speech.

BARR: When people resist law enforcement, they're not peaceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Did the top law enforcement official in this country just take the side of people like Bull Connor over those who stood with the late John Lewis, let's bring in New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. Senator, welcome back to PRIME TIME. A couple of very heavy moments today, one with the President that tells us why we are where we are with a pandemic and then the Attorney General.

John Lewis talks about making good trouble, and we both would recognize that you break buildings, you attack police, that's bad trouble. But what did you hear in the Attorney General today?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Well, he was pressed on everything from the attack in front of the White House where they turned on peaceful protesters all the way to just other Trump lies, Senator Richmond talking to him about mail in ballots and him just parroting the President's line as opposed to being an independent Chief Law Enforcement officer. He's proving himself again and again to be President Trump's political operative.

CUOMO: So, Senator, just speak to it this way. Many people watching will say, come on, that's what they all do. Holder was there for Obama. Everybody's there. Even Janet Reno was there for Clinton until the whole Monica Lewinsky thing blew up. But that's what they're supposed to do. This is no different. Your response?

BOOKER: Look, I want to tell you right now that this Attorney General does not respect any lines, he engaged in that hearing in a way that was stunning to me. He didn't back up what he was saying with facts or law. He was parroting the President. And what you have been talking about on this show, this is not an innocuous level of politics, as we've seen.

This is a deep erosion of our fundamental institutions. Remember, there were Republicans that spoke - that were outraged about them turning the force of law on peaceful protesters in front of the White House. There have been Republicans that have called into question this idea of the Justice Department adjusting the sentencing of Trump cronies who were found guilty of serious crimes.

And so, there's time and time again with this cross a line.

[21:50:00]

That deeply undermines the legitimacy of that office and casts himself as Trump's personal lawyer and not an independent Chief Law Enforcement officer for our country at a time. Frankly, this nation needs that kind of security as we move forward. I mean, he couldn't even answer in that hearing in a direct fashion

about whether the President has the power or not to change an election date, which is clear reading of a statute. So, he is trying to do everything he can to take his direction from Trump's tweets and Trump's suggestions, which are attacking the very institutions that are fundamental to the preservation of our democracy.

CUOMO: That's why it's so interesting to me to have the mayor of Portland on, if the federal troops pull out of there after Barr just said why they're there, echoing the President, that would be a real act of defiance by the DHS Secretary. So, we'll be watching that.

Joe Biden, while I have you here, he put out an economic plan that is focused on racial equality. In a campaign environment where you have the President putting us versus them first and black versus white is a big part of that for this President. Is their concern that white voters will say so if Biden gets in there, he is only going to take care of the blacks? That's what racial equality means. It's going to be bad for me. What's your read on that?

BOOKER: Well, this is why I'd tell you Biden is a phenomenal messenger for this. If you just look at his plans dealing with blacks getting equal access to capital, if African Americans had equal access to capital, the white Americans would remember they get turned down by loans at are much more dramatic fashion.

They get such a dramatically less amount of the VC dollars that are out there. They've even done studies now where you send somebody black and somebody white into a bank with the same resume, same qualifications, African Americans are going to get much worse treatment.

So, just that fact alone would add one to $1.5 trillion more to our economy, which would help all Americans creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. So, Joe was actually the person to help us to understand that this is not about charity towards one group over another.

This is about our country fulfilling its full potential, because in this globally competitive environment, we need to everybody on the field having equal opportunity to contribute to this great nation's economic systems.

And so his plan is brilliant, frankly, it involves everything from using CRA, using procurement Community Reinvestment Act, procurement policies and more to help create a level playing field offering for black businesses and better standing up capital institutions that should be doing more loans to small businesses and minority businesses. So, it's actually a progressive policy that's really about making our capitalist system work better for everyone.

CUOMO: It reminds me of when my father used to say, imagine America when all its diversity is at full impact and everybody in this place is working at full capacity. Imagine how great will be then. That is a dream. But we got to work towards it every day. That is promoting a more perfect union. So, in that vein, Senator, here's the hard part for you. This President doesn't want to put out a plan to get our testing

smarter and turned around faster. He doesn't think the pandemic is good for him. He said today, I don't know Fauci is popular and I'm not. Now, his answer is to attack Fauci, not to do more of what Fauci is doing. That's the way Trump works. We both know it.

What can you do in the Senate? I know you don't have the numbers, but he's not coming out with a plan. What should you guys be doing to express outrage and force a plan from the federal government?

BOOKER: Look, Chris, the fact that we're having a conversation about the behavior of the highest office in our land, speaking jealously about someone from his own administration's team having better approval ratings than him and being more popular than him.

This is -- we have to sometimes just reality check that we're actually having a conversation about a behavior that we would expect more from a juvenile than someone who at a time that we need moral leadership, we need someone to rise up and show what the best of our virtues and values are.

And so look, the Democrats are in a position right now where the Republicans put up a stunning bill that had very little money for to expand the testing that we need to do to create the kind of economic help we need for unemployed workers. Very little funding for just simple things like to expand PPE and more.

But we have a lot of leverage, the Republicans are very divided right now. Many of them don't want to spend more money at a time that everybody from the federal - head of the Federal Reserve to other Republicans in their caucus are saying, we've got to invest in our state and local governments, we've got to invest in education. So, we're going to stand strong and united as a caucus saying, just like we did on the first.

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COVID packages, you've got to do more to create a national system with a World War II like mobilizations.

CUOMO: Yes.

BOOKER: Or test contact tracing and more. And if we fail to do that, at least we were not silent. At least we stood up and fought. If the President is failing and the Republican leadership that should have done this bill weeks and weeks ago, if they fail to do for the American people, then they will suffer the consequence. And I'm not talking about elections. I am talking about grievous amounts of death and destruction are going on to our economy and to our brothers and sisters and fellow patriots.

CUOMO: Senator Cory Booker, thank you for being on the show and making the case. You're always welcome.

BOOKER: Thank you. Thank you very much, Chris. Appreciate it.

CUOMO: Be well. We'll be right back.

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