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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Visits Coronavirus Hotspots As The U.S. Deaths Top 150,000; Interview With Mayor Anthony Williams Of Abilene, TX For Testing Positive For COVID-19; Interview With Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) On Her Stance With Federal Officers In Downtown Portland; Minneapolis Police Say They Linked Umbrella Man To White Supremacy Group; President Trump Admits He Never Discussed Alleged Russian Bounties On U.S. Troops With Vladimir Putin. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. The coronavirus death toll in this country is now surpassing 150,000 people. That's 150,000 Americans losing their lives in just months. The Association of the American Medical Colleges warning that we could see multiple hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. Multiple hundreds of thousands of deaths if the U.S. doesn't get its act together and soon.

So what is the president doing to deal with this crisis? He is focusing on his re-election campaign. Spending the day raising money and visiting an oil rig in Texas. A state that reported more than 9,000 coronavirus cases just today. And we're also learning that the Ohio board of pharmacy just issued a rule that strictly prohibits the selling and dispensing of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.

But the president and his administration continue to push the drug, even though multiple trials, including trials from the FDA and the NIH, show that it does not work. Here's Trump adviser Peter Navarro on CNN earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING TARIFFS: One more thing --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: You talk about hydroxychloroquine a lot.

NAVARRO: And I stand by it. I'm sitting on millions of doses of it. And you know what? How many Americans died yesterday, John?

BERMAN: 1,200 Peter.

NAVARRO: Yes. And you know what, if the ford study is right, half of those people would still be alive, OK?

BERMAN: The ford study --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was one study, one, compared to multiple studies showing the opposite. And as John Berman so rightly explains to Navarro, it had serious limitations. So why are they focusing on this unproven drug, 150,000 dead Americans? That's what they need to be focusing on? 150,000 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, children. 150,000 Americans. That is horrific and it is unacceptable.

John Harwood is our White House correspondent. He joins us as well as Dr. Jonathan Reiner, the Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Program at George Washington University Hospital. Gentlemen, good evening. Every night I can hardly believe that I'm reporting these numbers and reporting what the president is doing to either ignore them or to say something really whacky is the word about it.

John, 150,000 dead Americans, 50 times more Americans than died on 9/11. And the president was in a hot spot today without a mask, no social distancing. Why isn't this president doing everything in his power to stop this carnage?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, I think he's made a psychological turn away from the coronavirus and he cannot look back. He can't make himself do it. He would have to admit error. He would have to recalibrate. And that's not something I think his ego can handle. He was forced last week into recommending that people wear masks. That was positive when it happened, but he doesn't -- he's made plain he doesn't really mean it.

And when you see him advancing these crackpot theories about hydroxychloroquine and advancing cookie doctors who say you don't need to wear masks, it just shows he's not prepared to lead. I don't begrudge a president for raising money for his re-election campaign.

I don't even begrudge presidents, no matter who they are, from playing golf. Presidents need to get away from the stress of the job, if they are willing to lead. But President Trump on the coronavirus has shown over and over that he is not willing and not capable of leading.

LEMON: If you are out there and you still believe that this is some sort of hoax, that this was a plan by people who are opposed to this president, if you believe the testing numbers are the reason that we're seeing more cases, if you believe that, I hate to tell you, you are sadly, sadly mistaken.

[23:05:00]

So don't send me any messages about any of that anymore. Because you are sadly mistaken. There is something -- something's not right if you're still believing that. After all of these people have died. All of the people who are contracting COVID-19, including members of Congress, members of our government and you still believe that wearing a mask is not important and that is somehow because people are against this president. And you still touting hydroxychloroquine when most of the studies say

it does not work. And one flawed study. What is wrong with you? What is wrong with you people?

Dr. Reiner, there is a new report from John Hopkins that says that the U.S. needs to reset its response with policy action at the federal state and local level to get control of this pandemic. Is Hopkins stepping in where the CDC has failed? Shouldn't some -- some government organization should be taking some leadership.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, what Hopkins is saying and what many of us have been saying for a long time is that there is no national policy. The, you know, we are -- this country is being attacked. And we're not being attacked by an outside military force, but we're being attacked by something just as deadly. We're being attacked by a virus which has killed 150,000 Americans. And instead of marshalling all the power of the U.S. Government, the U.S. Government has outsourced it to the states.

So what Hopkins is saying is that without a national policy, a policy which basically dictates when states need to shut down, a policy which promotes massive increases in testing. A policy which promotes universal mask-wearing. Without those elements, we're going to see what we see now continue for an unbelievable amount of time.

So, yes, Hopkins is right. There is no national leadership. Some of the governors have really stepped up. Cuomo in New York. Raimondo in Rhode Island. Baker in Massachusetts. Hogan in my state. But we really need a national policy. And it has to happen now.

LEMON: Real quickly. I just want to ask you, doctor, about Congressman Louie Gohmert testing positive for coronavirus and then saying that wearing a mask, he believe that's how he contract it.

REINER: Wow, talk about adding insult to injury, right? That like blaming your seat belt for your car crash. You know, Representative Gohmert is aggressively ignorant, and the problem is that now when you blame the mask, people listen to him. You know, there are about 700,000 people in his district.

nd they will listen to what he said and they're going to say, look, you know, maybe he has something here. Maybe the mask is dangerous. It's really unconscionable. I wish him well. I hope he recovers quickly. Of course.

But his behavior is despicable. Absolutely despicable. And you'd like to hear people in power say, look, don't listen to -- to the Texas Congressman. You know, listen to the doctors. But, again, you don't hear that.

LEMON: Thank you, doctor. Thank you --

HARWOOD: And you know who could -- you know who we could hear that from, Don?

LEMON: The president. HARWOOD: We could hear that from the president of the United States.

REINER: Yes.

LEMON: Yes. John, thank you as well.

REINER: Good luck with that.

LEMON: Yes, you're right.

California and Florida reporting record single-day deaths and experts warning that hundreds of thousands more Americans could die of this virus if this country doesn't get its act together. CNN's Erica Hill has more now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Masks, social distancing, good hygiene, the tools are there, but the virus just keeps spreading.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like whack-a-mole with hot spots all over this country. It's just going to keep popping up if we don't do something nationally.

HILL: That lack of a national plan could result in hundreds of thousands of additional deaths, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Which released a road map today for a coordinated response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having common standards sort of sets expectations, provides some consistency so that we don't get these continuous waves of infection that have followed our premature reopening so far.

HILL: While the president is urging Governors to reopen, his own administration is warning the 21 states in red on this map they may need stronger restrictions. The yellow states also being watched closely. Dr. Deborah Birx noting young adults are fueling the spread in those areas.

DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Remember, the majority of those are asymptomatic. So if you expect to see hospitalizations -- by the time you see hospitalization, your community spread is so widespread that you've slipped into a red state incredibly quickly.

HILL: Indiana, one of those yellow states, closing beaches in Geary today for at least two weeks as cases continue to rise. Indoor gatherings also causing concern across the country.

[23:10:02]

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We simply cannot continue to have crowded house parties. They are not safe. Period.

HILL: Deaths are rising in 29 states. California and North Carolina posting new daily highs on Wednesday. Florida reporting record numbers for the second day in a row. The Governor focusing on the new school year.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I would absolutely have, you know, my kids in school because I do think that it's safe to do so. I believe that this is something that's very low risk for kids.

HILL: The Governor also noting his kids aren't yet old enough for school. Meantime, a new study finds statewide school closures last spring helped to reduce the number of infections and deaths as Dr. Anthony Fauci offers this blunt warning to teachers.

FAUCI: So in many respects, unfortunately, though this may sound a little scary and harsh, I don't mean it to be that way, is that you're going to be actually part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know.

HILL: Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Erica, thank you so much. 9,000 newly reported coronavirus cases in Texas just today. Joining me now is Mayor Anthony Williams of Abilene, Texas. He tested positive for coronavirus.

Mayor, thank you so much. First of all, how are you feeling and how is your family?

MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS, ABILENE, TX: I'm doing well. I'm blessed. I don't have any symptoms. My wife and my youngest child, my son lives with me and we're all doing well. Thanks for asking.

LEMON: OK, good. Listen, my high school English teacher would love it because you said I'm doing well. Because she hated it when people said I'm doing good. She said that's not grammatically correct. I'm doing well. I'm glad you are doing well and I'm glad your family is doing well and I'm glad that you're here this evening. So tell us how you were exposed to this virus. It was a pretty short encounter, right?

WILLIAMS: It was. I was invited to a local nonprofit for a tour of the facility. And so that was last Thursday, the 23rd. So I was there less than 30 minutes. I had my mask on. I took that off to speak. I spoke for around 15 minutes.

Put the mask back on. Took a tour of the facility and left. I felt good. The entire weekend. I received a phone call from the Director of the nonprofit on Monday evening saying that a volunteer that was there when I was there had tested positive and wanted me to know.

I made some phone calls and I was tested yesterday around midmorning. And yesterday evening found out I was COVID-19 positive. And so I made appropriate phone calls to those that I had been around and talked to health district. And then this morning, I wanted the community to know, so I went live on social media and communicated that as well as sending out a press release to the community.

LEMON: And your symptoms? Are you cool? Like, what's up?

WILLIAMS: I don't have any symptoms.

LEMON: Asymptomatic.

WILLIAMS: Yes. And so --

LEMON: Now. As of now. Let's hope that stays that way.

WILLIAMS: As of now.

LEMON: Yes. So let's discuss more. The cases of coronavirus are surging in Texas. More than 9,000 people reported just today. Are you worried that this is spiraling out of control?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, a few weeks ago we hit 20,000 one day. 9,000 is a large number. Like many local officials, and like many national officials, no one really knows. And so I'm concerned.

Of course school begins in our community in a few weeks. K-12 and we also have three universities. And so we are concerned. We're planning and hoping for the best, but our plans expecting the worst.

LEMON: And how do you feel about that, about sending kids back to school?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, all of my kiddos are past that age. So when I talk to parents, I think going to school is important for their psyche. I think it's important. I think our superintendents in this region are trying to be responsible and they're trying to put together a plan that's effective. But it's a challenge. I mean, there's not a handbook on this.

In fact, one of our superintendents used the metaphor that I've used often in regard to COVID-19 and the navigation of COVID-19. He talked about that it's like building the aircraft during flight. I mean, it's stressful and no one really knows. And so I'm hoping for the very best. I talk with the school leaders weekly. They engage the state twice a week. And hopefully we can put together a plan in this region and the state that's effective and responsible.

LEMON: Yes. I don't see it. I know some educators and they do not believe that kids will be going back in the fall, but we'll see. We'll see. Mayor, best of luck. And, please, be well. Get well soon. Take care of your family and everyone and yourself, especially. Thank you.

[23:15:11]

WILLIAMS: All right. Thank you.

LEMON: So, the Governor says that they're leaving. The president says they're going in. I'm going to talk to Oregon's Governor about what exactly is happening in the battle over federal troops on the streets of Portland. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Oregon Governor Kate Brown announcing an agreement with the Trump administration to withdraw federal officers in downtown Portland. But the Department of Homeland Security says it will maintain a presence in the city until it believes federal locations there are secure. Governor Kate Brown joins me now.

Governor, thank you so much. I know it's a very busy time for you. So the acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says that these officers aren't going anywhere just yet. You say that they are leaving. So what is happening?

[23:20:00]

GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): The plan is very, very clear. This is a phased withdrawal. It certainly will not happen overnight. It is a step by step process. The good news is, is that Trump's troops, including border patrol, Customs and ICE are leaving the streets of downtown Portland. It will certainly make Portland safer and quieter, and that's a good thing.

LEMON: Governor, I want you to listen to what the president said about the Portland just a few hours ago. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you have to do is look at Portland. Look at the agitators. Look at the anarchists in Portland. And our people have done a great job in protecting our courthouse. And I told my people a little while ago, if they don't solve that problem locally very soon, we're going to send in the National Guard and get it solved very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Why do you think he's still threatening to send in the National Guard, even though this agreement is in place?

BROWN: Well, there's certainly a lot of bluster coming out of Washington, D.C. This was clearly a political strategy. It was about -- it was about political theater and scoring points with their base. It had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with public safety or problem-solving. What is really, really clear is that this political strategy has backfired and that Trump's troops are leaving the city of Portland.

LEMON: Yes. But if you listen to them, to him and his apologists and conservative media, you would think that the entire city of Portland is on fire and is out of control. What do you say to that?

BROWN: Well, certainly there's absolutely no question that in the wee hours of the night there is violent action happening by a few outliers, including the burning of trash cans and rock throwing. And this violence must end. It is a distraction from the incredibly important work ahead of us to tackle the issues of racism in our policing and in our justice system.

However, the vast majority of protests are peaceful. Not only in Portland but across the entire state. And, frankly, across the entire country. You have citizens, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, lawyers and doctors, teachers and folks all urging that we take action to eradicate racism in our justice system, in our education system, in our health care system.

Action that is long overdue. This is the important work that we should be focused on. The Trump administration putting troops on the streets of Portland was a distraction from their failure to lead a national response to this global pandemic. And it was clearly a play to their base.

LEMON: This is the acting homeland security -- Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli. This is what he told Jake Tapper earlier today about the federal protective services officers that will be remaining at the courthouse. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DEPUTY HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: FPS will be a visible force outside of the courthouse, so will Oregon state police. That will be a collaborative effort there on the courthouse property. Outside of the courthouse property, the state police will maintain responsibility.

So we'll be relying on the Governor and her team to maintain those lines of communications. And the goal, of course, is to see not only violence move off the courthouse, but the goal we all have is that the violence dissipate entirely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Governor, are you confident the state police can protect federal property?

BROWN: I am. Oregon state police have a really great reputation. They're used to working with the community to ensure the safety of Oregonians, and I'm confident that their actions on the ground will be able to de-escalate the situation. There is absolutely no question that by having federal troops on the streets of Portland was a very huge challenge.

It escalated the violence and the chaos in the streets of Portland. And it is good to get them off the streets and headed home. I also have to say that, yes, Federal Protection Services will be in the building. Just like they are in every single federal building across the United States.

And my team of Oregon State police looks forward to ensuring that protesters -- urging a clarion call for justice can do so peacefully.

LEMON: Governor, thank you for your time.

BROWN: Thank you. Be safe out there.

LEMON: You too.

LEMON: A man in Minneapolis seen here smashing windows during the George Floyd protest revealed to be linked to white supremacist groups.

[23:25:07]

And he's being accused of trying to cause racial unrest. More on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Minneapolis police say that they have finally identified the suspect dubbed umbrella man from the May 27th viral video showing a man smashing the windows of an auto zone store. Authorities say they believe he helped initiate the riots and destruction in the city following the killing of George Floyd. CNN's national correspondent Sara Sidner has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (BEEP).

[23:30:00]

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, no one could figure out who the man dressed in black was, until now. A police investigator believes the man helped initiate the riots and destruction in Minneapolis during the George Floyd protest.

It turns out he is associated with a prison gang, police say, which the Anti-Defamation League identifies as white supremacists. The man was caught on a live stream smashing in the windows of the AutoZone. Brad Svenson shot the video.

BRAD SVENSON, LIVE STREAMED DURING MINNEAPOLIS PROTESTS: All I saw really was a hammer hitting glass.

SIDNER (voice-over): Police also blamed the man for spray painting graffiti on the building. The man in black, holding an umbrella, is confronted by a protester in a pink shirt and later by another protester.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

SVENSON: Immediately, they wanted him to stop. But afterwards, they wanted to know who he was and why he was doing what he was doing.

SIDNER (voice-over): His video and others went viral. Then, protesters and online sleuths began a furious search to identify the man they dubbed "umbrella man."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a (INAUDIBLE)?

SIDNER (voice-over): First, social media seized on that, misidentifying him as a St. Paul police officer. The police department responded, "It is said that people would post and share this untrue information, adding more confusion to an already painful time in our community." This week, a Minneapolis police arson investigator says she finally identified the man whose name we are not publishing because he has not been charged.

In a warrant filed, the officer says a tipster e-mailed police identifying the man and saying he wanted to sow discord and racial unrest. And using the video, the officer discovered he is a full- fledged member of the Hell's Angels and is a known associate of the Aryan Cowboys.

(On camera): Who are the Aryan Cowboys?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: So the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood was formed in the Minnesota prison system as a small white supremacist prison gang. The founder of the ACB now is part of the Hell's Angels as we understand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

SIDNER (voice-over): As mostly peaceful daytime protests turned into violent nighttime unrest, the mayor and governor blamed white supremacists in part for playing a role.

Now weeks later, this investigator's search warrant notes the work of a man fitting that description appears to have helped fuel the destruction, looting and fires.

She writes, "In a short time after the front windows are broken out in the AutoZone, looting started. Within a short time after the looting started, the AutoZone was set on fire. This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and lootings throughout the precinct and the rest of the city."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): A third precinct appears to be on fire at this time.

SIDNER (voice-over): In the end, the neighborhood suffered massive destruction at the hands of many. Community organizers who tried to calm the chaos say the revelations though and the search warrant come as no surprise.

SHANENE HERBERT, CORCORAN NEIGHBORHOOD COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: I think it is confirmation of what everybody knew already of the threat of white supremacists coming into our town to wreak havoc and kind of monopolize on the situation that was happening here at the time. So it was just confirmation.

ALICIA SMITH, CORCORAN NEIGHBORHOOD EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Certainly I think that it was an opportunity to take advantage of the rage, the hurt, right? The deep --

HERBERT (voice-over): The pain.

SMITH: We're talking about deep hurt and deep pain that we are all experiencing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Sara Sidner joins me now. Sara, good evening to you. You're back in that neighborhood where the protests raged for days. I just want your response to the story that you just reported and give us a sense of what's happening there now.

SIDNER: You know, Don, I mean, we all watched this blow up. And this -- we were just talking about the AutoZone that you saw, the so-called "umbrella man." This is what's left. There really is no remnant of the building except for -- there is a sign.

And if you look, you know, sort of through the fencing here, you will see the third precinct, which is not just boarded up in places but in the entrance, there are literal concrete blocks that have been stacked one another, on top of each other to keep people from being able to get anywhere in or near that damaged building.

And all around me, there was, you know, an Aldi store. That is still closed. There is a Target. That's still closed. There is the Cub Foods. That's still closed.

There is an effort here to open an area for people to find food because if you talk to the community organizers like those two young ladies there who are literally trying to make sure people have enough food, this was kind of a food desert beforehand and this is where people would come to try to get their groceries.

And now, as we've talked about before, you know, people were so angry, the violence overflowed. But now, they have to live with the consequence of that, which is hurting the community yet again. So, it is a very difficult time still here.

[23:34:59]

SIDNER: I can tell you, though, we went to the memorial that the people made -- the people's memorial as I like to call it -- and it is one of the most serene places in the city still. It has been kept up and beautified, if you will. But it is still blocked off. It is really still kept as a sacred space, Don.

LEMON: Sara Sidner. Sara is on the scene reporting. Sara, great job. Thank you so much.

That video and that story about that man who set fire -- you can bring Sara back up. I am not going -- but Sara -- is she still there? That video from the very beginning --

SIDNER: Yeah.

LEMON: -- people thought that something was off with that and that somehow they were -- this was encouraging --

SIDNER: Yeah.

LEMON: -- either a race war or something. They promoted this destruction in the beginning. SIDNER: Yeah. I mean, look, you have to look at it as a whole. Yes, there was influence by clearly, according to police, by white supremacists who were here hoping to create more violence, hoping to create rioting so that the narrative can be about black folks losing their minds and rioting so that the narrative could change to that instead of what happened with George Floyd.

But there were people who did take advantage of the situation and end up looting and burning things down. But there was certainly some influence there and, you know, the police are now proving that point --

LEMON: Yeah.

SIDNER: -- if they are correct who they think this man is. He also has a long rap sheet, as well. And so it will be interesting to see going forward. But for a lot of people, this sort of confirmed what they already knew, which is there was going to be influence that comes in, whether within the state or out of the state from other actors who are hoping to start a race war.

And we have seen that in -- I've actually had members of the KKK, members of neo-Nazi groups tell me that they are hoping to start a race war, not just in this incident but in general, and they are waiting on that. And that's the really disturbing thing when you look across the country at what's happening in race relations.

LEMON: Sara Sidner. Thank you, Sara. Appreciate it. We'll be right back.

SIDNER: Sure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president admitting he did not bring up U.S. Intel that alleges Russia offered bounties on U.S. troops during a recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Here's what he told Axios.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a call talking about nuclear proliferation, which is a very big subject where they would like to do something and so would I. We discussed numerous things. We did not discuss that, no.

JONATHAN SWAN, REPORTER, AXIOS: And you never discussed it with him?

D. TRUMP: I have never discussed it with him, no. We would. I have no problem with it.

SWAN: But you don't believe the intelligence. That's why.

D. TRUMP: Everything -- you know, it's interesting. Nobody ever brings up China. They always bring Russia, Russia, Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So let's discuss now. CNN national security analyst and former director of National Intelligence Director James Clapper is here. Thank you, director, for joining us.

Time and time again, President Trump has been soft on Russia, on everything from election interference to the war in Syria. So I don't have to tell you that the question that came to people's mind once again is, what explains President Trump's submission to Vladimir Putin?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, Don, you know, you and I have discussed this many times over the last three years, why the deference to Putin?

And, you know, all I can do is speculate that they've got something on him, there are financial complications, he admires Putin, or he's intimidated by him because he's, you know, Putin is clearly alpha dog in the relationship. So, that's one of the -- or some combination of the above.

So I don't know. But it certainly doesn't serve the interests of the United States.

LEMON: Meanwhile, the White House is moving ahead with the president's plan to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany. Senator Mitt Romney says it's a gift to Russia. Is he actively giving Putin one of his greatest priorities?

CLAPPER: Well, first of all, Senator Romney is absolutely right. It's a big win for Putin. Why he did this? I don't know. It is a pick (ph) because he doesn't like Angela Merkel whose popularity is on the ascendency even as her term as chancellor is ending, and by the way, president of the E.U.

And this is, unfortunately, his impulsiveness is one consistent trait, but this is reckless and irresponsible. And one of the factors here that I think is important that there hasn't been much discussion about is the infrastructure, the very mature base infrastructure we have in Germany that we don't have in places like Poland or the Baltics or even in Italy.

Germany serves as a logistics communications hub for the rest of Europe, and for that matter, the Mideast and Africa. So -- and the other point here which is to me is the overriding importance, this isn't about defending Germany or NATO only, it's about the defense of the United States.

So, despite the best efforts of the Department of Defense to, you know, put lipstick on this pig, it's still a pig.

LEMON: Mm-hmm. So, listen, in that interview, that Axios interview, President Trump was trying to claim that he wasn't aware that Russia was helping the Taliban. [23:45:00]

LEMON: Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SWAN: You surely heard that, right? I mean, it's well known in the Intelligence Community that they're arming the Taliban, Russia.

D. TRUMP: I don't know. When you say arming, is the Taliban paying or they giving?

SWAN: Russia is supplying weapons and money to the Taliban.

D. TRUMP: I have heard that but it's never -- again, it has never reached my desk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's the same excuse he gave about the bounty intelligence, which CNN has reported was included in his daily Intel briefings sometime in the spring. Does that pass the smell test to you?

CLAPPER: Well, I think the tap dancing in the obfuscation here is yet another manifestation of refusal to dime out the Russians. And there's no doubt in my mind there was intelligence on this. In one aspect of intelligence, there is always a degree of uncertainty about it. But certainly if this didn't reach his desk, it certainly should have.

LEMON: Right.

CLAPPER: And, of course, he didn't bring it up, apparently as he acknowledged in his telephone call with Putin. And to me, it was an opportunity given the (INAUDIBLE) to intelligence for him to say to Putin, hey, don't even think about paying bounties to the Taliban to kill Americans. But, of course, he didn't do that.

LEMON: Yeah. Director, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: With NBA set to resume their interrupted season tomorrow, the league is announcing none of the 344 players have tested positive for the coronavirus since July 20th. That as Major League Baseball struggles with an outbreak on the Miami Marlins that has so far infected 16 players and two coaches, according to ESPN and The Athletic. My next guest has already battled COVID-19 and is set to play in the NBA's restart. Let's discuss now. Here he is, Harrison Barnes from the Sacramento Kings. Harrison, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us.

HARRISON BARNES, NBA PLAYER, SACRAMENTO KINGS: I appreciate the time.

LEMON: It seems like the NBA's bubble in Orlando is holding for the time being. Is that encouraging to you, especially with what's happening in baseball?

BARNES: I think the NBA is, you know, going out of their way to make sure that, you know, we uphold the really high standard for the health protocols here to try to keep everyone safe, but try to play this game, and hopefully send everybody home healthy.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen. You've already dealt with COVID-19. You fought it off. I understand that your wife and your mother also dealt with it. Tell us what that was like and how your family is doing right now.

BARNES: You know, this is something that everyone has been on high alert for for a while. To get the news that we were positive was a little scary. And then, you know, my wife had severe symptoms, myself and my mom not as much. So, just seeing her go through that process was scary.

It definitely put things in perspective. And now, that we have kind of been through it, you know, I encourage everybody else to, you know, take COVID very seriously.

LEMON: Yeah. That's a problem with many in the country, not taking it seriously. Listen. You said that your -- your symptoms weren't as severe as your wife's. But we have heard of some longer term side effects from the virus. Have you experienced anything since you -- you started working out again?

BARNES: No. Since I've been working out, I feel great. You know, I wouldn't have come here if I still, you know, was feeling some residual effects from COVID. So, thankfully, I've been able to kind of put it behind me, and I haven't had any symptoms.

LEMON: So, you said that people should take it seriously, obviously. COVID-19 has been surging around country. What is your message to just everyday Americans who don't have the opportunity to live and work in a bubble like you do?

BARNES: I mean to adhere to all the guidelines that we're being given, wearing a mask, maintaining your distance. You know, everyone thinks that, you know, what happened -- it will happen to somebody else or, you know, if I get it, you know, hopefully, I'll be asymptomatic.

But, you know, we had three people in my house who all contracted it. Each of us had a different experience. So, you know, I would definitely encourage people just to be safe.

LEMON: NBA players have become so active in the fight against racial justice since the death of George Floyd. And with NBA games resuming tomorrow, many people are wondering if players will kneel during the national anthem. This is the commissioner, Commissioner Silver. This is what he told CNN earlier today.

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ADAM SILVER, COMMISSIONER, NBA: We had a rule in place for a long time that requires players to stand. It precedes my predecessor, David Stern. I will say, though, I do respect peaceful protest. And, you know, we'll -- we'll see what happens, if that's the case. But I understand this is a unique moment in our history.

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LEMON: So what do you think players are going to do?

BARNES: You know, there have been a lot of discussions about what we're going to do, as a unified body that are here. I think nobody would have come to Orlando if speaking out about these injustices in our society wasn't the main focus.

So I think, you know, everyone's going to be talking about it. Things will be done and said, like I said, as a unified body. And we're going to make, you know, our voice and platform known.

LEMON: So, as far as kneeling, could happen? You don't know, you won't say, what?

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BARNES: I mean, there is potential for that. But I think the biggest thing is, you know, like I said, it is us coming together and whatever we decide to do is going to be unified across all the teams.

LEMON: Understood. The league is also giving players the opportunity to wear social justice messages on the back of jerseys. You've chosen the phrase, "say their names." Why is that?

BARNES: You know, for me, I think it's important to, you know, talk about those victims. A lot of times we talk about in the current state, you know, the police officers who have committed these crimes.

But, you know, for me, I wanted to, you know, highlight the life of Breonna Taylor, highlight the life of Ahmaud Arbery, highlight the life of not only George Floyd and those who have recently become victims but those others who preceded them and the families that have been left to not only pick up the pieces but try to make change.

LEMON: Harrison Barnes, listen. I thank you for using your platform for good, coming on this show, and telling the people how you feel. Thank you so much. Best of luck to you in the season and beyond and your family and please be safe.

BARNES: Appreciate the time.

LEMON: Thank you. And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

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