Return to Transcripts main page


Republicans Divided over Stimulus Plan; Lawmakers to Grill Tech CEOs; Trump Takes Reporter's Questions. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired July 29, 2020 - 09:30   ET



DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Do the work now, waiting for that vaccine, we're just going to see a lot of pain and suffering while we wait for it.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And lost lives perhaps.

Dr. Rob Davidson, thanks so much.

DAVIDSON: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, Republicans are now voicing frustrations over the party's own leadership, it's stimulus proposal. They say it includes things that are not related at all to the virus. Things like, well, rebuilding the FBI headquarters. The leader of the nation's largest federation of unions, he's going to join us next to discuss this and other issues.


SCIUTTO: We're down to the wire on stimulus and Republican senators are divided among themselves over key pieces of their leadership's stimulus proposal.


One piece some GOP lawmakers are blasting is the inclusion of $1.75 billion in new funding for a new FBI building. Something that no one in the Republican caucus seems to have asked for, came from the White House. The bill also calls for a $400 cut to the weekly enhanced unemployment benefits, which ends just on Friday.

I'm joined now by Richard Trumka. He's the president of the AFL-CIO. He represents some 12.5 million American workers.

Mr. Trumka, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Jim, thanks for having me on.

SCIUTTO: Let's start with stimulus. You've called for Congress to pass the HEROES Act, this is the Democrats' proposal, $3 trillion in additional funding, including extending that $600 enhanced unemployment benefit. Senate Republicans, but even Steny Hoyer of the Democrats yesterday had said that benefit could be a disincentive to work for some people.

And I wonder, you represent 12.5 million working Americans. Have you see any evidence from your membership that that enhanced benefit is keeping people from going back to taking paying jobs?

TRUMKA: Not a bit. Look, Jim, there are 14.5 million people, well less jobs than there are people out of work. So if people want to get back to work, they couldn't find jobs anyway. That $600 is actually keeping the economy going right now.

Our economy is 72 percent driven by consumer spending. And when this expires, 35 million people are going to have $600 a week less to spend. Can you imagine the shock that is going to go through our economy?

The Republican bill totally fails to recognize the magnitude of the crisis and it directs money to people who don't need it and takes money away from people who do need it. That $600 a week is what's keeping the economy going right now.

SCIUTTO: Let's talk about another issue, and that is the health standard for returning to work in the midst of a pandemic. You say the fact that there is still no national standard of care is shameful. And I wonder, is it your view that some businesses, but the president in effect by pushing to reopen the economy now, that he's pressuring workers to return to jobs -- the job in unsafe conditions?

TRUMKA: Oh, there's no question about it. Look what the president did in meat packing, he ordered them back to work knowing that there was -- they were going to get infected with no health and safety plan required. No PPE required.

Look, what he did -- and what the Republicans do in this bill is they don't give a standard. That means essential workers are going to continue to get infected and continue to die. Nurses, doctors, hospital, police officers, firefighters, grocery workers, transit workers are going to continue to die.

And then, on the other hand, Jim, they have a portion of that bill that would isolate a corporation or any of the employers from being sued. So it disincents them from doing what's right and protecting workers, knowing that even if they don't, there's nothing that can happen to them. So it's the absolute wrong thing to do in a pandemic.

SCIUTTO: Do your -- you know there's great impatience with this country -- in this country to get back to normal or as close to normal as possible, and I imagine to get back to work, right? I'm sure a lot of your members don't like sitting at home, even when they're getting some support.

Do you hear members say to you, listen, it's time, we know the risks, but it's time to get back to work?

TRUMKA: Look, every one of our workers want to get back to work. Every teacher out there wants to get back to the school. But our members want to do it safely, because, Jim, it does no good to send them back to work only to have them get infected and close back down. It would be worse the second time around.

That's why a standard, a health standard, a pandemic health standard is so important here. And this administration refuses to do it. OSHA, the agency that's charged with protecting the workers out there, has been AWOL throughout this whole pandemic.

Listen to this one statistic. There have been 6,000 complaints about the pandemic, 6,000 complaints to OSHA, and they've issued two.

SCIUTTO: Wow. Yes.

TRUMKA: Two violations since February.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I want to ask you, because I don't have to tell you, we're three months away -- three months and a couple of days away from the election. In 2017 you noted that President Trump got just three percentage point more from your membership than Mitt Romney, but 10 -- but Clinton got 10 percent fewer AFL-CIO members than Barack Obama did.

And you identified this, that there was not a clear economic message from the Democratic candidate in 2016. I wonder, in 2020, is there an articulated economic message from Vice President Biden and do you believe it will be different this time from union membership?


TRUMKA: Absolutely there's a clear message. The platform that is about to come out will be the most progressive worker oriented platform any political party's ever put forward. I happen to be on the drafting committee. It takes care of workers. It takes care of the health and safety standards. It takes care of pensions. And it says that workers are the key to recovery.

In any kind of recession, there has to be consumer spending. When workers get a raise, the economy does better. Everybody does better along the way. This -- the economy and the program that Vice President Biden and the Democratic platform are the most progressive that we have seen to date.

And so we're hopeful about that. We want to make sure it gets implemented afterwards. And we don't need a bill like the one that was just presented by the Republicans that is too small and directs people -- money away from us, for instance on nutrition, Jim. There's no money for nutrition for kids that need nutrition.


TRUMKA: But they give a tax deduction or a $2,500 or a $3,000 lunch a CEO can deduct that entire lunch.

SCIUTTO: Yes. TRUMKA: This whole bill is just misdirected. It's stood on its head. What we need to do is get it directed at working people so that we can actually grow our way back out of this problem.

SCIUTTO: Richard Trumka, we appreciate you taking the time this morning and joining the broadcast.

TRUMKA: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for having me on.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Happening very soon, the biggest tech (INAUDIBLE) CEOs of Apple, Amazon, FaceBook and Google set to face critical questions from lawmakers today about the power that their companies wield.

Let's bring in CNN tech reporter Brian Fung.

You've got a lot of important reporting on this, including their opening statements. It's very clear that they're going to make an America first argument, right, Mark Zuckerberg, et cetera, here's how we benefit, very small companies across the country, similar from all of them.

I want to focus, though, on Jeff Bezos first. This is his first time ever in 25 years of running Amazon that he will face lawmakers for congressional questioning.

What should we expect?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Well, it's a great question, Poppy. Bezos, obviously, has made himself something of a Washington player in recent years, buying "The Washington Post," buying a home here in Washington, you know, setting up a new headquarters for Amazon just a stone's throw from Reagan National Airport.

But as you said, he hasn't testified before Congress and a lot of people are going to be wondering how he'll perform under pressure. Obviously lawmakers have a lot of questions for him about the way Amazon competes against third party sellers on his platform.

Of course, Amazon's not the only company that's facing a lot of scrutiny here. FaceBook, Google and Apple also are facing a lot of questions here.

HARLOW: I -- I think one of the --

FUNG: And the key --

HARLOW: I was just going to say, one of the interesting parts of your reporting on that is your reporting on Mark Zuckerberg and what internal documents show he's going to say about being America first, but also warning about the threat from China. I think the hope is there to say like if we wield all this power, but it's fair and if we don't, China will take up that space.

FUNG: That's right. Zuckerberg is trying to draw a contrast between his quintessentially American story. He'll say that FaceBook started with nothing and that it grew to success the American way. And he's going to try and draw a contrast with what he says is, you know, China's very different vision of the Internet and that -- that, you know, FaceBook must be allowed to continue to grow or risk the potential for competition from China to outpace the United States.

Now, of course, you can't talk about China without talking about TikTok, which is a major competitor to FaceBook. And this morning TikTok's CEO published a blog post going after FaceBook, accusing it of essentially raising Chinese fears or fears about China as a way to push TikTok out and, you know, raise doubts about TikTok in the public sphere. I think that's going to be a really interesting angle and we'll see whether lawmakers bring that up themselves in the hearing today.

HARLOW: Yes, that will be interesting, especially as the administration grapples with how it is going to -- to deal with -- with TikTok.

Brian Fung, thank you for the reporting.

Again, the hearing is at noon today. You'll see it live here on CNN.

We'll be right back.



HARLOW: The president taking questions from reporters as he heads to Texas.

Let's listen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'll hear all sorts of reports about us leaving. We're not leaving until they've secured their city. We told the governor, we told the mayor, secure your city. If they don't secure their city soon, we have no choice, we're going to have to go in and clean it out. We'll do it very easily.

We're all prepared to do it. So in Portland they either clean out their city and do the job and get rid of the anarchists and agitators, which is what, they're not protesters, they are anarchists and agitators. We have many in jail. Many of them have been put in jail and it's going to be a long sentence. They either clean out their city and do it right or we're going to have to do it for them.


TRUMP: On CARES, I think maybe -- Steve, would you like to say something on that? STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: As of now, we're very far apart

because of that, the president, as we have discussed, a short-term extension (INAUDIBLE) and we (INAUDIBLE) so that we have some areas to negotiate before this runs out. (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: We want to work on the evictions so that people don't get evicted. We will work for the payment for the people and the rest of it (INAUDIBLE) so far apart we don't care. We really don't care. We want to take care of the people. The Democrats aren't taking care of the people. The payments aren't enough. The payments aren't enough. You understand that. They're not making the payments. They're not making them high enough. The Democrats are not taking care of the people.

Nancy Pelosi takes care of herself, but she doesn't take care of anyone else. You look at what's going on with Schumer. So when Schumer and Pelosi can get together and take care of the people, we'll do something. In the meantime, we ought to stop evictions because that expires very soon. But we want to stop the evictions.

QUESTION: How do you rate Kamala Harris as a VP? There's a rumor it's going to be her.

TRUMP: I think she'd be a fine choice, Kamala Harris. She'd be a fine choice.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) a short term bill, a short term bill? Are you saying you want to pass a short term bill?

TRUMP: I don't hear a word you're saying.

QUESTION: Are you saying you want to pass a short term bill?

MNUCHIN: Well, we're looking at a deadline obviously of this Friday. The president is very focused on evictions and unemployment. And if we can't reach an agreement by then, the president wants to look at giving us more time for negotiations.

TRUMP: We're focused on those two things. We want to take care of them now. The rest we can discuss later.

They want big bailout money for Democrats that ran cities terribly. Their cities are going down the tubes. You look at Portland. You look at what's going on in Seattle. Democrat run cities, whether you like it or not, they're terribly run and they're always overtaxed. So they've taxed them too much and they've run them poorly and we don't like that.

And what the Democrats want are bailout funds. And what we want is we want to take care of people. And we can reward the -- most of this country that's well run. You know, most of the country is very well run. You're watching a Portland and you're watching Seattle, you're watching New York where they had a 400 percent increase in crime, 400 percent, my city that I love, that I left to do this job, has had a 400 percent increase and it's unacceptable. But most of the country is very well run. And Republican cities are very well run. And it's a shame to reward badly run, radical left Democrats with all of this money that they're looking for in cities to throw it away on cities that are poorly run.


QUESTION: Mr. President, are you confident that Russia did not place bounties on U.S. troops?

TRUMP: I don't -- I told you, I certainly read about and since then I've talked about it. Colin Powell said it's not true. Colin Powell is not exactly somebody that I'm a big fan of. Colin Powell says it's not true. Other people say it's not true.

If it were true, I'd be very angry about it. But if you look at Russia, Russia became Russia from the Soviet Union because of Afghanistan. They lost a fortune and a lot of people, a lot of people. So I don't know why they'd be doing it. But if you tell me they're doing it, I will certainly take that under consideration.


QUESTION: How would you respond if Russia did turn out to have some (INAUDIBLE)? How would you respond (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: I would respond appropriately. Nobody has been tougher on Russia. Nobody has been tougher on China. Nobody has been tougher on Iran than me. And it's not even close. And everybody knows it. Nobody's been tougher on Russia, China or anybody else than me, including our allies, NATO, who I got to pay $140 billion more money, $140 billion. You what that is?

QUESTION: A lot of money.

TRUMP: And you know why? That's to hold Russia in check, all right. I did Russia no favor. Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have.

QUESTION: On NATO, you gave the order to remove U.S. troops from Germany (ph). How exactly (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: Well, Germany's delinquent. They haven't paid their fee. They haven't paid their NATO fees. And they're way off. And they've been off for years and they have no intension of paying it. And the United States has been taken advantage of on trade and on military and on everything else for many years and I'm here and I've been straightening it out.

But Germany owes billions and billions of dollars to NATO. And why would we keep all of those troops there. And now Germany's saying it's bad for their economy. Well, it's good for our economy.

Germany is delinquent. They're at 1 percent. They should be at 2 percent. And, actually, everybody should be at 4 (ph) percent, not 2 percent, because 2 percent is to low. But they're at 1 percent. And they've taken advantage of us for many years. And you think that's bad? They take worse advantage on trade. And I was all set to fix that and then we got hit with the China plague. But we'll be fixing it. A guy like Biden, this country wouldn't have a chance. With Biden, our country wouldn't have a chance.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: But to stick with China, they closed our consulate in Chengdu. Are you planning a response for that move by China?

TRUMP: No, we'll see what happens. Thank you very much. We'll see what happens.

QUESTION: Are you -- are you dropping this demand for FBI money for the FBI building?

TRUMP: No, the FBI building, they've been trying to build a new building for many years.


TRUMP: Many, many years. They were thinking about going very far away, but you have to be near the Justice Department. You don't want to be too far away. You'd have to drive for an hour, hour and a half because they had a site way out in Virginia, way out in Maryland, and I said, the best place is right where it is. It's the best piece of property in Washington. I'm very good at real estate.

So I said, we'll build a new FBI building. Let's build a new FBI building. Either a renovation of the existing or, even better, would be a new building. So we have that in the bill. It should stay. People have wanted a new FBI building now for 15 or 20 years.

QUESTION: But Republicans don't want it in the bill.

TRUMP: Then Republicans should go back to school and learn. You need a new building. It's a bad building. It's a dangerous building. You have lamps (ph) falling off. It's not a good building from the inside. It's a very expensive building. They need a new building and we can do it very easily.

To me it would be very -- I (INAUDIBLE) -- I would (INAUDIBLE) built a great building at a fraction of the cost and they could have it done quickly. So the FBI building is not new. This is something they've been talking about for many, many years, for decades.


QUESTION: About TikTok, how close are you to making a decision about banning TikTok?

TRUMP: We're looking at TikTok. We're thinking about making a decision. We're going to be watching the hearings today very closely. Because there's no question that what the big tech companies are doing is very bad.

MNUCHIN: And let me also add on that, (INAUDIBLE) TikTok is under (INAUDIBLE) review and we'll be making a recommendation to the president on it this week. So we have lots of alternatives.

QUESTION: Sir, do you regret tweeting about that doctor, Mr. President? Do you regret tweeting about that doctor yesterday?

TRUMP: Regret what?

QUESTION: Stella Emanuel, the doctor, do you wish you had not retweeted that?

TRUMP: I was very impressed with her and other doctors that stood with her. I think she made sense, but I know nothing about her.


I just saw her on, you know, making a statement with very respected doctors. She was not alone. She was making a statement about Hydroxychloroquine.