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Oklahoma Teacher on Resuming School; Pentagon Pick Placed in New Role; NYC Sees More Shootings; Peter Navarro is Interviewed about TikTok. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired August 3, 2020 - 09:30   ET



NANCY SHIVELY, SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER: From the president down to Oklahoma's governor, down to school boards and till it gets to the two groups of people who can't pass the buck, and that's teachers and children.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Now, you teach special education. So I don't have to tell you the downsides, right, of distance learning, in effect.


SCIUTTO: It's hard with any child to get the same classroom experience via a computer, via Zoom class, et cetera. So how do you balance the loss, right, in terms of instruction by during this from afar in the midst of a pandemic?

SHIVELY: Right, it's -- it is not ideal, obviously, especially when you're talking about special needs students. But the assumption that -- going back to in-person classes, it's going to be the same, that's not true. It's going to fundamentally change the way teachers provide instruction in class.

It's going to impact that. So we're left with two really less than optimal options. Yes, there's problems with distance learning, but there's also going to be problems with in-person learning. And I feel that we're conducting this vast experiment at the cost of probably health and lives of teachers and children.


The president tweeted again this morning it's time for schools to reopen. He's -- his administration is even applying financial pressure, threatening to withhold funding from states and districts that do not reopen.

What's your response when the president puts pressure on teachers like yourself, school districts like the one you work in?

SHIVELY: I work in a Title I school, so funding is tight to begin with. Oklahoma has historically underfunded education. And so we're on shoestring budgets as it is. And so to put that kind of pressure on teachers and schools is -- this cruel, actually.

There was a piece in the -- I believe it was "The Washington Post" this weekend that a superintendent in Arizona saying, you know, these are -- this is where we are. These are our choices. And there's not any good ones. So holding money over the head of people that are already underpaid, in a system that's underfunded is wrong.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, Nancy Shively, we know you've got a lot to -- a lot to face in these coming weeks and months. We wish you, we wish your students the best.

SHIVELY: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Nancy Shively there.

President Trump's pick for a top Pentagon job now has a new role in the Defense Department, one barely different from the job that the Senate in fact rejected him from. What happened there? Does the system still work? We're going to discuss.



SCIUTTO: Remember this? A couple weeks ago President Trump imposed a deadline for a new comprehensive health care plan. He said it was going to be in two weeks. In an interview on Fox News, President Trump repeated what's become a familiar promise to replace the Affordable Care Act.



CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You've been in office three and a half years. You don't have a plan.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we haven't had -- excuse me, you heard me yesterday, we're signing a health care plan within two weeks.


SCIUTTO: Within two weeks. So that statement, that promise was two weeks and one day ago today. The president spent three years attempting to dismantle, we should note, the landmark law, which would, in turn, strip health care from tens of millions of American families. In June, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the law. No ruling is expected, however, before the November elections.

President Trump directed that his topic pick for a top Pentagon post be put in a role with pretty much the same duties. After retired General Anthony Tata's nomination hearing was canceled amid bipartisan opposition. Why? Because of a series of offensive and often bigoted comments that Tata made. That's what a source familiar with the discussion tells CNN. He has now formally withdrawn his nomination to be the undersecretary of defense for policy, but the Pentagon is putting him in a role that fulfills much the same duties.

CNN national security reporter Ryan Browne is live at the Pentagon.

Ryan, what is the difference between the job he was nominated for and rejected for, in effect, by the Senate and the one the Pentagon has now put him in? Is there any difference?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, there is some difference in terms of seniority. The position he had been nominated for was the top policy position, the number three post at the Pentagon according to some. Now, he will now be just under it. He's going to be the deputy head of Pentagon policy. So he's going to be working a lot of the same issues, things ranging from Afghanistan, to counterterrorism, to Russia. So he will be doing essentially the same work that he would have been doing had his nomination gone forward.

Of course, that nomination was -- ran into some serious headwinds and was withdrawn after bipartisan Senate opposition that emerged after CNN's own K-File team discovered a series of tweets and comments from Tata raging from the Islamophobic comments, to accusing President Barack Obama of being a terrorist leader, to even suggesting that the former CIA director was plotting to kill President Trump.

So, those comments Tata had apologized for them and he's actually been working here as a special adviser to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper since April. The exact nature of that role, the Pentagon has refused to offer any details on.


But, again, the Democrats very upset by this kind of maneuver. They accuse the Trump administration of skirting the Senate confirmation process by placing Tata into this high level role despite his apparent rejection by a Republican-led Senate committee.


Will there be anybody above him? You say that he's one notch down, but is someone going to be above him or is that role still empty?

BROWNE: There will be. John Anderson, he is the person who is currently filling that role. Actually, he's in the role that Tata will be enacting capacity and he will be kind of the top Pentagon person kind of in policy with Tata working ostensibly underneath him.


BROWNE: But, again, they'll be doing a lot of the same -- handling a lot of the same issues.


BROWNE: And, of course, you know, the top Democratic on the Senate Armed Services Committee called this move, putting Tata in there, offensive and an insult to U.S. troops and Pentagon personnel.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And you heard Ryan right there, he did accuse President Obama of being a terrorist leader, now a senior policy position in the Pentagon.

Ryan Browne, thanks very much.

It's only the beginning of August, but as of this moment, New York City has seen more shootings than it did in all of 2019. That spike -- that alarming spike on gun violence is putting increased pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio for a solution.

CNN's crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is live from New York.

Shimon, only August. I mean a huge spike, particularly in shootings. Other violent crime down. What do police attribute this to and is it pressure that they've been under recently and even officers, some of them, pulling back?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is a lot of pressure, certainly. And as you said, on the mayor, almost on a daily basis, he's having to deal this -- deal with this from the press corps and questions about the NYPD.

It's been a particularly very violent summer here in New York City. Something we have not seen in years. You know, New York City for years has been touting itself as the safest big city really in the country, and now to see such a spike in the number of shootings is certainly very troubling for the NYPD.

And as you know, the NYPD commissioner, who's been on your show several times, has been blaming the coronavirus, the fact that so many people were let out of jail. The court system has come to essentially a screeching halt.

So when you look at these numbers, Jim, we're at about 793 shootings compared to 450 at this time last year. So that's about 343 more. That is more than the entire number of shootings in 2019.

It's very troubling for the NYPD. They're trying new measures. They're trying to focus on people -- specific people who are committing these shootings, who are committing these crimes. They believe a lot of it is gang violence, people who either should be sitting in jail or perhaps are out now, and so they are retaliating against people who are out. All of this very concerning, obviously, for the NYPD.

The other thing what's really sad in all of this, obviously, Jim, is that innocent bystanders are being caught in these shootings. We had a one-year-old that was killed. We had a rising basketball star here that was caught in the shooting. So it's really sad because the violence is not only affecting gang members, there are innocent people that are being caught in these shootings.

SCIUTTO: No question. Shimon Prokupecz, thanks for staying on top of it. Well, the clock is ticking literally for TikTok. Microsoft says it is trying to buy the popular video app after President Trump said he might ban it. I'm going to speak to Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, about a possible deal coming up.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

This morning, Microsoft says it is still discussing a potential purchase of TikTok days after President Trump said he might ban the popular video app from operating here in the U.S. The company says its CEO has spoken with the president about a potential purchase. The app is owned by a Chinese startup.

Joining me to discuss this and other issues, top White House trade adviser and assistant to the president, Peter Navarro.

Peter, thanks for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So first let's begin on TikTok.

If TikTok has security ties to the Chinese Communist Party, as you and other members of the administration have said, is TikTok under Microsoft ownership any safer?

NAVARRO: Well, that is the question, Jim. Let me -- let me start and speak directly to the mothers of America here. First of all, it's about 10:00 a.m. The Chinese Communist Party may know where your children are. That's essentially the problem. You sign up for a Chinese app like TikTok, they get your user name and password, maybe if you use that across other applications, they've got that.


NAVARRO: And then it can -- they can use these kinds of apps to surveil, track and monitor you, which is why the Defense Department doesn't allow any military personnel to use TikTok.


NAVARRO: So we know that there's a huge national security and privacy problem.

Now, the question is, should this be sold or simply banned? Should TikTok be sold to some American entity?

SCIUTTO: Where do you stand?

NAVARRO: The issue with Microsoft is this. Microsoft is one of four or five American technology companies, Yahoo, Google, Sysco and others, who helped China originally build their great firewall of China, which is used to surveil, track, monitor, sensor and imprison the Chinese people.


NAVARRO: But, more importantly, the one -- one of the few surviving search engines from America in China is Bing, so you know -- and Microsoft owns that.


So you know that there's some fishy stuff going on there.

Plus, if you're in China --

SCIUTTO: It's --

NAVARRO: Hang on, one -- if you're in China and doing a Skype call, which is another Microsoft product, the CCP is listening in. So the question is, is Microsoft going to be compromised? Would it be --


NAVARRO: Would it be useful to have a rule if you sell it that you -- it would -- maybe Microsoft could divest its Chinese holdings and then we (INAUDIBLE) more comfortable?

SCIUTTO: Well, it sounds to me like you don't trust them. It sounds to me like you don't trust Microsoft to solve the problem.

NAVARRO: Well, let's think about this, Jim. You're a great foreign policy expert. You've done -- written great books. I mean, whose software does the People's Liberation Army in China run on?


NAVARRO: Microsoft. Who -- the Chinese Communist Party, whose software do they use to do their -- all the things they do?


NAVARRO: It's Microsoft. So this is not -- this is not a white hat company, right?


NAVARRO: It's an American company.


NAVARRO: It's clearly a multi-national company that's made billions in China, that -- that enables Chinese censorship through things like Bing and Skype.

SCIUTTO: Yes. NAVARRO: So, again, what -- yes, so you want to sell TikTok, maybe Microsoft would say, hey, you know -- here's the other thing, Jim. You know this. Simple military --

SCIUTTO: Just quickly then, do you --

NAVARRO: Simple military fusion doctrine.

SCIUTTO: Are you then advising the president --

NAVARRO: So, let me say this --

SCIUTTO: Are you advising the president not to let Microsoft buy it?

NAVARRO: I just want to get this point out, Jim, because it's important. The doctrine of civil military fusion put forth by the -- Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party --

SCIUTTO: The president, yes.

NAVARRO: That basically says that any company, foreign or domestic, on Chinese soil must hand over any information or data that the Chinese Communist Party demands.

SCIUTTO: Right. I'm aware of the law.

NAVARRO: And so Microsoft's in that.

So what happens in the Oval stays in the Oval. I never divulge conversations.


NAVARRO: But I will say this, in this particular case there's been a broad, inner agency analysis of this whole issue and everybody believes the president's strong, tough decision is absolutely the right one for American mothers and people.

SCIUTTO: OK. We'll -- we'll be watching.

NAVARRO: The question is now, what do you -- what do you -- who go -- who buys it if it's sold.

SCIUTTO: OK, I -- a lot I want to cover, so, if we can, let's move on.


SCIUTTO: First of all, the White House, one of the president's chief advisers on the coronavirus pandemic, Admiral Giroir, he said, given five studies now that have found the drug Hydroxychloroquine, that there's no proof that it helps with Covid-19 patients, I just wonder, given your past public support for it, is it time for the administration to focus on proven treatments for Covid rather than one that has not been proven?

NAVARRO: I take exception to Giroir's analysis. He hasn't looked at the data. Just within the last two weeks, Jim, there's been at least --

SCIUTTO: It's his job to look at the data.

NAVARRO: Hang on. Well, let's do this. Have Harvey Reich (ph), Dr. Harvey Reich from Yale come on your show. Have Dr. William O'Neil (ph), who ran the famous Detroit study, which showed a 50 percent reduction in the mortality rate. I think that's the way the question can be settled.

My -- my view of this now is that doctor's opinions are a dime a dozen and you've got some doctors who say it doesn't work. You've got some doctors who say it does. But -- but the --

SCIUTTO: It's -- but it's not -- it's not a both sides thing because the country has a way of approving treatments through broad studies that are blind and so on.

NAVARRO: No, it is a both sides. It is -- it is -- it is both sides.

SCIUTTO: You know, there's a process for approving drugs in this country. It's the reason the FDA hasn't approved it.


SCIUTTO: And this hasn't passed muster. So why all the focus on that drug?

NAVARRO: Well -- well --

SCIUTTO: Why not focus on things that work, like Remdesivir?

NAVARRO: I think -- I think -- actually, a study that came out just last week showed that Hydroxychloroquine works better than Remdesivir. You can check that out in "The Journal" which it appears.

So, Jim, this is -- I mean, look, my views on there are well-known. I think it's well-known that there's a difference of opinion on this. But here's the thing for the American people to understand. The science on this is pretty simple. If -- if you administer this drug in early treatment, under the advice of a physician, number one, it's unlikely to hurt you at all. It's a drug that's been used for over 60 years. And, two, it's likely to help you. So that's all. There's no -- there's no downside here.

SCIUTTO: Well --

NAVARRO: But let's not -- look, Jim, you and I shouldn't be having --

SCIUTTO: Let's move on because --

NAVARRO: Yes, let's move on. Let's move on.

SCIUTTO: I'll rely -- I'll rely on the broader studies.

NAVARRO: Let's move on.

SCIUTTO: Let's talk about stimulus because, as you know, millions of Americans still out of work.


SCIUTTO: And there are a lot more people out of work than there are jobs available. I mean just -- it just -- in -- it's in the data. Right now there's a big gap between where Republicans and the White House stand on the enhanced unemployment benefit. You have Republicans in the White House, $200 a week, Democrats, $600 a week. You know how many Americans are suffering here. Is there -- is there middle ground on this? Would the president, would you recommend he say, let's meet at $400 a week?


Let's find a way to move forward to get cash into people's pockets.

NAVARRO: Jim, the last thing I'm going to do is get in the way of these negotiations. We've got a great negotiating team. The M&M team, Mark Meadows and Steve Mnuchin, they've been working tirelessly on The Hill. I think what's important to understand are two things. President Donald J. Trump is a working class president. He cares deeply about the people of America, particularly who work with their hands, who are now on the unemployment lines. We could have had a deal --

SCIUTTO: A lot of them just lost a lot of their -- a lot of their insurance.

NAVARRO: We -- we could have -- we could have had -- we could have had -- we could have had a temporary deal to make sure that didn't happen. Our side was more than happy to do that with enhanced employment fix and eviction. We do not want anybody evicted.

But Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats refused to do a temporary, short deal while the negotiations took place, as a negotiating tactic. And who got hurt there? American workers and people who are at threat from eviction. That wasn't the fault of the White House. We were willing to pass that in a small bill, and we're willing to do that, I assume, today.

So I think the bigger issue here, Jim, is what should this package look like? And my view is, it should do a couple of things. First of all, it's got to deal with the suffering and pain of the American people.

SCIUTTO: OK. I get it.

NAVARRO: And, number two, it's got to deal with the structural adjustments we're going to have to make in terms of all these sectors that are getting hammered, the leisure, hospitality, casinos, gaming, transportation, the airlines.

SCIUTTO: Apologies, Peter.


SCIUTTO: Only because we're up -- we're up against a hard -- NAVARRO: Sure.

SCIUTTO: And it's the top of the hour.


SCIUTTO: You're always welcome back on this broadcast. Let's keep up the conversation.

NAVARRO: Thank you, Jim. You take care.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.