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Trump Speaks Ahead of His Trip to COVID Hotspot Texas; Mnuchin Says, Democrats, GOP Very Far Apart on COVID Stimulus Deal. Aired 10- 10:30a ET
Aired July 29, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I know nothing about.
I just saw her once making a statement with very respected doctors. She was not alone. She was making statement about hydroxychloroquine with other doctors that square by it. They think it's great, but she was not alone.
Basically, CNN made it like, oh, I said this, I said that. She was with a whole group of people. And you ought to tell your network the reason the ratings are so bad is because the coverage is so bad. If CNN would be honest, that goes for MSDNC also, but your network is so dishonest with this coverage or just about everything and there's the example.
I was very impressed by her. I know nothing about her. I have never seen her before. But, certainly, you can put her up and let her have a voice. So what they did is they took down their voice. Now, they seem to never take down the other side. They only take down conservative voices. It's a shame.
And with hydroxy, all I want to do is save lives. I don't care if it's hydroxy or anything else. All I want to do is save lives. If we can save lives, that's great.
Now, one thing, we're doing very well on vaccines and very well on therapeutics. So that's very important. But I happen to be a believer in hydroxy. I used it. I had no problems. I happen to be a believer. Many, many people agree with me. A great test just came out from the clinic and it is very respected. We'll see how it is.
TRUMP: Well, I'm thinking about it, but we're thinking of a location very soon and we'll let you know (INAUDIBLE) something I was thinking about.
REPORTER: All right. Back to Germany, are they (INAUDIBLE) Europe against Russia?
TRUMP: You're right, they are there to protect Europe. They are there to protect Germany, right? And Germany is supposed to pay for it. Germany is not paying for it. So why should we leave them -- we don't want to be disrupters anymore.
The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years both on trade and on the military. We are protecting Germany. So we are reducing the force because they're not paying their bill. It's very simple. They're delinquent, very simple.
And there are other NATO countries also. Right now, you have 8 out of 28 countries that have paid up. I got them to pay $130 billion a year more going up to 400. Most of them will be up-to-date. It wasn't easy, but most of them will be up-to-date.
The one that won't be up-to-date is Germany as we spend a lot of money on Germany. They take advantage of us on trade and they take advantage of the military. So we're reducing the force (ph). Now, if they start paying their bills, I would think about it.
REPORTER: Did you talk about Russia about a coronavirus vaccine?
TRUMP: We talked to Putin about a lot of different things, mostly arms control. We're working on a vaccine. I think we'll have one. Oxford is doing very well. Pfizer is doing very well. We have a lot of good options.
REPORTER: Do you think Russia or China is stealing information about a vaccine research? Did you talk to him about that?
TRUMP: You're going to have to talk loud. I can hear everybody butyou.
REPORTER: Can you come me right here?
TRUMP: I can hear everybody but you. I can hear everybody but you.
REPORTER: Can you come right here?
REPORTER: Arms control (INAUDIBLE) a negotiation?
TRUMP: Yes, they're already are. We're in formal negotiations with Russia on arms control, on nuclear arms control.
REPORTER: What about (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: We'll talk about that later. We're going to work this first.
China right now is much lesser nuclear power. You understand that. Right now, we are the great nuclear power. We've upgraded our nuclear tremendously. We have the most power. Russia is second and China is third. China is third (INAUDIBLE). Again, we would want to talk with China.
REPORTER: Why not in front of (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: Te thought that we would do it first. I don't know if it's going to work out. But we will do it first and then we will go to China together, okay, because I think it works out probably -- REPORTER: Did you talk to Robert O'Brien?
TRUMP: I did. I wished him well. I haven't seen him in a while but he went on vacation. He came back. He wasn't well. He tested positive. He's doing very, very well. He said he's doing very well. I spoke to him yesterday.
REPORTER: Mr. President, are you concerned about reports that Americans wouldn't check your vaccine (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: No, I'm not going to tell you (ph). Well, I'm a therapeutic person too, to be honest. I love the idea of therapeutics, where you go in, you give somebody or a transfusion or a shot and they get better. I am a big therapeutics person (ph). But we're doing very well on vaccines and therapeutics, okay?
And as far as Portland is concerned, we've taken a very strong stance.
They are anarchists. They're radical, crazy people, and they're either going to straighten it out for themselves, Portland, the police, and maybe if the state gets involved, that means the governor and the mayor, that they're very weak people. They're very weak people. These radical, these anarchists are controlling the governor and the mayor.
The mayor went into a rally. It wasn't accurately recorded by CNN, by NBC. They mayor went into a rally. He thought he'd be their buddy. They excoriated him. What they did to him was incredible. Lucky, he had five bodyguard, but they excoriated him.
NBC -- I didn't see it on CNN because I don't watch CNN. NBC absolutely covered it like he was their big buddy. He was in great danger of dying. He would have been dead if he didn't have his bodyguards.
These are bad people. These are anarchists. They're agitators. And either they do something or we're going to do it.
In the meantime, our purpose there is only to protect our federal building, which we're doing with no problem. I mean, they're nasty and they're vicious people. But our people are very powerful people, very powerful.
And they're going to clean up Portland too when the federal government going up and we're going to do it for them. So either they clean out Portland, the governor and the mayor, who are weak, either they clean up Portland or we're going in to do it for them.
Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: The president speaking there moments ago on his departure from the White House for Texas. It's always necessary to fact-check the president after moments like this. Just a few and we'll have to take some time to do it. One, he says that Colin Powell said that the intelligence regarding Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan wasn't true. That's not, in fact, what Colin Powell said. He said he did not think it was as serious as portrayed by some in the media. He didn't say that the intelligence wasn't true. We should note that the U.S. military did act on it by increasing force protection in Afghanistan.
Other points here, Poppy, notable that he doubles down on his support for the doctor who he re-tweeted regarding disinformation about masks and so on. This, of course, the doctor who had other positions involving alien, et cetera. The president's words, he is very impressed with her.
And also I think, Poppy, notable there to see deep disagreements not just within the party on additional stimulus, not just with the other party, Democrats on additional stimulus, but within the Republican Party. Those divisions still seem to stand.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Absolutely. Important fact checks and a lot more that we need to do. Let's bring in our team of experts to help us do that. We've got John Harwood, Lauren Fox, Dr. Seema Yasmin, Josh Campbell and also Jonathan Swan, National Political Reporter for Axios. Can everyone hear me?
JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: I can hear you.
HARLOW: All right. Just looking for you guys on the screen.
Jonathan Swan, if I could begin with you because we just heard the president. You're the one who did the interview with the president and he finally said in eight phone calls with Vladimir Putin, eight of them since this intel was in his daily briefing. Never once did he bring up the fact that intelligence showing Russian bounties paid to the Taliban could have cost the lives of at least three American service members.
He said do you -- unequivocally, he never talked to them, and he's doubling down on it. What did you make of his response just now, again, really questioning the intel itself?
SWAN: Well, he doubled down. To me, there are two important things to point out, and they're distinct but they fit under the same umbrella. The first is, it's not just that he's skeptical of this intelligence, because there is reasonable -- it is reasonable to be skeptical of any form of intelligence. And, certainly, we know that there's not consensus on this, which is not unusual. It's serious intelligence. It was taken seriously inside the Pentagon, as you pointed out. It was shared with allies.
But what's really remarkable is he shows no interest in getting to the bottom of this intelligence. He has dismissed it on its face. He is incurious about it, and instantly jumped to the conclusion that it was, quote, unquote, fake news. This is an intelligence product.
The second thing that's notable is I pressed him on a larger question. I said, okay, fine, you don't believe this particular piece of intelligence, but what about the fact that you know Russia is arming the Taliban and your own head of forces and former head of forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said this on the record while he worked for you?
And President Trump said, I haven't heard this. You say they're arming them. And I said, yes, they're giving them weapons and (INAUDIBLE) reached my desk.
That's a stunning comment from a commander in chief, a truly stunning comment.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, the other part of that stunning comment, Jonathan, was for him to equate the U.S. to Russia and his answer saying, well, we, the U.S., armed fighters in Afghanistan during Russia's occupation in the 1980s, which by the way, is a Russian talking point often repeated by the Russian president himself.
John Harwood, the president, again, in terms of fact-checking here, he repeats a phrase that he and his allies often do, which is no one has been tougher on Russia than Trump, easily disputed. Happens on the same day that he has withdrawn some 12,000 forces from Germany, which he says is purely a financial issue, but from a security standpoint, it's something celebrated by Russia. And as Jonathan, as we saw in his interview with Jonathan, refusing twice to even warn the Russian president away from targeting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Why does the president continue to repeat that phrase, no one has been tougher on Russia than Trump, when it has been so easily disproven?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, the president is actively advancing the interest of Russia.
Let's step back for a minute. Long before he was president, Russia and Russians were Donald Trump's financial benefactors. They assisted, as Robert Mueller told us, his campaign in 2016, helped him get elected. He welcomed that assistance. As president, he has consistently acted in ways that advanced Russia's objective of dividing and weakening NATO and the western alliance.
The withdrawal of troops from Germany is of a piece with that. He is indifference to the fate of American soldiers and this intelligence about potential bounties on the heads of American soldiers is also of appease with that. Jonathan did a very skillful job of pressing him in that interview.
But I think if you step back from this, what we've seen from the president in the last 24 hours and in the briefing room yesterday, in his comments today, in his interview with Jonathan, he is affirming the judgment that we've gotten from Jim Mattis, John Bolton, his senior most former aides, from Mary Trump, his niece. President Trump is not emotionally, psychologically or intellectually capable of doing the job of president right now, you saw it.
Other misinformation, him asserting in that talk with reporters just now that Germany has not paid its NATO fees. There is no such thing as NATO fees. He said, we've protected Germany. The U.S. troops in Europe are there to protect the United States as well as the free countries of Europe. The president does not understand his job and it is not clear that he is particularly interested in doing his job in protecting the American people either with the pandemic or with respect to national security.
HARLOW: Dr. Yasmin, to you, and very important points, John Harwood, thank you for that. Dr. Yasmin, to you, I'd like to bring up a name that many Americans might not know but it's really important because it appears to be a doctor that the president is listening to. Her name is Dr. Immanuel, Dr. Stella Immanuel. And I bring this up because she is in one of the videos that the president re-tweeted touting hydroxychloroquine and unproven things this week.
Now, the president was asked about her and he said she's, quote, very impressive, that is after multiple reporting outlets put out more about her history, including the fact that she has proposed that sex dreams involving demons cause illness. I'm not making this up. And that alien DNA is used in medication, according to The Daily Beast.
The fact that he didn't listen to or bring up what Dr. Fauci said, for example, this week about hydroxychloroquine and he's still apparently supportive of this doctor who he says is very impressive, what are the health and medical implications of that right now for the American people?
DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: This is extremely dangerous, Poppy, that the height of this first wave in America that we can't seem to get out of, where we're seeing hundreds of Americans die every day. The president continues to push out false information about this virus, about potential treatments for this virus.
It is so important that people watching right now understand that this hydroxychloroquine medicine that has been a long time treating malaria, lupus, arthritis, it has been studied against COVID-19 and we know enough now to know that it doesn't work and, in fact, it can damage the hearts of people with COVID-19, it can elevate their liver enzymes.
So it's not just a placebo. This is a medicine that has very real side effects. We don't want people at home thinking, I can just take that.
And also this video that's been shared millions of time, the president re-tweeted it as well, it went viral on Monday, they are making claims that are completely false but also telling people not to wear a mask.
And, of course, the president's son ended up with his Twitter account being limited because he had uploaded this video and shared it, but, again, we want people wearing masks. In fact, we need a national mask mandate at this point to really control the spread of the virus.
The last thing we need amid so much suffering and death is the president and other high-ranking officials putting forward the work of quacks and not working on the advice of Dr. Fauci.
SCIUTTO: Listen to the science. It's what we're going to focus on.
Listen, all of you stay there because there's a lot more to break down here. There were a lot of outrageous claims made by the president, and we want to continue fact-checking. Stay with us. We'll be back after a short break.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. We continue to fact-check the president as he just made comments leaving the White House for Texas.
Josh Campbell, I want to go to you, because he devoted a large portion of his comments to ongoing protests in Portland and elsewhere, describing all the protesters as violent anarchists. I know that not to be true because I've spoken to mothers who participated in this so- called wall of moms in peaceful portions of the protests.
But you've been on the ground there because we also know there have been violent interactions between demonstrators and police. Tell us what the true scene on the ground is there, from your perspective.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we just heard from the president, Jim, is part of this ongoing campaign to mislead the public, I think, and describing what is going on there on the ground. The president and his allies are trying to build Portland as a city that's completely under siege.
We've heard it from him numerous times. We've heard it from officials at the top of the DHS, Department of Homeland Security. We also heard yesterday from Attorney General William Barr the same vein, talking about the anarchists and the violence that's going on there.
Now, to be sure, there is violence that happens nearly every night outside this courthouse, which has served as the epicenter of so many of these protest, but the larger movement is overwhelmingly peaceful. And it's important to note that distinction because you do have peaceful protesters, you do have violent protesters.
And you need to look no further to yesterday, House Republicans playing this very misleading video showing a mash-up of reporters talking about the peaceful movement leaving out what we have described about the violence.
And what we hear from in talking with protesters and people on the ground in Portland is that the idea is the president can paint the city as under siege. We know that he's attacked the Democratic leadership of the city, then that then boosts his law and order message that trying to provide that dichotomy between him and others on the ground.
One thing I will note finally is that this was so interesting, I was talking to a federal law enforcement source who actually pointed out that the group of people that actually lose in this situation that are harmed the most are the federal agents inside that courthouse protecting it every night.
Now, some of their actions are under investigation, but in the main, you look at those agents, this one source telling me that, as the president describes this as under siege, that is actually fueling a lot of the outrage, fueling a lot of the anger from these protesters, from the violent demonstrators who come there night after night.
So this is an endless campaign. It is worth noting that yesterday, last night, the Portland mayor said that there have been discussions going on behind the scenes between his office and federal officials. He didn't provide details. He says that he expects an announcement soon. Nevertheless, you continue to see the president getting very personal on attacking the mayor and trying to broad brush the city as in a state of bedlam.
HARLOW: Well -- and just, Josh, to your important point, you can't have it both ways. The president can't have it both ways. You can't say I'm a law and order president, re-elect me, I will bring law and order to the streets, when on your watch, that is not what is happening right now for 60 straight nights in Portland.
But let me -- I just want to get to Lauren Fox who's on the Hill on stimulus. Not encouraging that there's going to be a deal here in the near-term, Lauren. Secretary Mnuchin saying, we are very far apart and then the president making this claim. And I just wonder if you could fact-check it for us, quote, the Democrats aren't taking care of people. The payments aren't enough. They're not making it high enough. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's the Democrats who want more in terms of weekly cash stimulus to people, not less, correct?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, it's very unclear what program the president is talking about. When we talk about the stimulus bill, we are talking about multiple different provisions. And one of the key sticking points has been this issue of federal unemployment benefits. Essentially, they run out at the end of the week.
Some people got their last checks last week and Democrats have been fighting to keep the amount of money that individuals receive from the federal government at $600. Republicans in their proposal cut that down to $200 with eventually moving to 70 percent of what someone made while they were working. Obviously, that reveals that the Democrats are more supportive of a more robust payment than the Republicans are.
So it was unclear whether the president was talking about that unemployment benefit in his comments, but that has been a key sticking point up here.
And you heard the president sort of floating this short-term idea. He basically was arguing we can get to other sticking points later. Let's deal with that unemployment insurance piece by the end of the week. Except the problem is Democrats and Republicans, as I just explained, are very far apart on that issue. It might be one of their top sticking points. So to pretend that you can gloss over this in just a matter of days, Poppy, it really doesn't speak to the issues and negotiations that are happening every day behind closed doors.
SCIUTTO: Jonathan, and yet another day with just a tsunami of news by the minute, I think, just to draw attention back to your interview, and the remarkable fact that the U.S. commander in chief admits that he has repeatedly refused to even warn Russia away either in 2020 or going back to 2018 from killing U.S. forces in Afghanistan or threatening to do so.
I wonder, a consistent message from John Bolton, Jim Mattis, others who have serve this president, I've spoken to senior advisers of the president who detail how he does not, will not stand up to Russia and often accepts Putin's view of the world, positions on things. Is there anyone who remains in the administration -- because all of those people are gone. Is there anyone who remains in the administration who presses this president to stand up to Russia, to challenge Putin or are they all gone?
SWAN: Well, you have a fairly hawkish secretary of state in Mike Pompeo, but I don't see a huge amount of evidence of influence on this matter. In fact, I don't really see any. Obviously, the president has imposed sanctions on Russia, but he did so very reluctantly. He actually put out a statement complaining about it in 2017 when Congress forced his hand.
Every time it has been Congress pushing him to take these actions and he hasn't wanted to do it. And with Afghanistan, he just wants to get out. It's that simple. He wants to get out. He's incredibly frustrated right now, I am told by my sources, because what he now is sort of grappling with is he doesn't want to say this publicly, but it's true.
He roughly has the same number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan than he did when Obama took over and Trump hates that idea going into a re- election. Because Trump actually increased the numbers to 14,000, they're back down to 8,500. So I think you're going to see some pretty rapid and potentially really stunning withdrawal from Afghanistan between now and November, which will have political overtones.
SCIUTTO: Remarkable. That's a remarkable warning there on the way out, Jonathan Swan. We will be watching for that closely.
Everyone, thanks to all of you. It's been a lot to go over here. You've all been very patient. We appreciate you joining us and sharing your wisdom this morning.
Lawmakers do not, as we said, appear to be close to making a deal on the next coronavirus stimulus package though those unemployment payments just days away from expiring. How the breakdown could be devastating for some of our nation's most vulnerable frontline workers, that's next.