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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Interview With White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 16, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Snail mail. The president rails against mail-in voting.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will end up being fraudulent. It's turned out to be fraudulent.
QUESTION: There's no widespread evidence of fraud.
TAPPER: Raising fears about a free and fair election. Is the U.S. Postal Service slowing its work down ahead of the votes? I will speak to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows next.
And losing ground? A Republican senator faults America's coronavirus response.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): It was really very, very disappointing .
TAPPER: As top health officials warn of a possible surge this fall. Is the country any better prepared, and will Congress take any action to help?
Plus: party power? Joe Biden and his new running mate set to accept the Democratic nomination.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're both ready to get to work rebuilding this nation.
TAPPER: As the party's superstars take center stage. But is the party united?
Former Democratic presidential candidates Senators Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker join me next.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our Union is fearful.
There have now been more than 5.3 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 169,000 deaths in the U.S. The CDC is now warning it could be "the worst fall, from a public health perspective, that we have ever had" -- unquote.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Democratic National Convention. And with fewer than 90 days until the presidential election, the president is now stoking an urgent crisis over voting by mail, spreading uncertainty and misinformation about mail-in voting, as states scramble to figure out ways for Americans to safely exercise their democratic right in November, this as the U.S. Postal Service is warning states that they may not be able to deliver ballots in time to be counted, based on current election rules.
A big part of the slowdown? Controversial changes enacted by the postmaster general, which are now under review by the Postal Service internal watchdog.
In an interview earlier in the week, President Trump linked the two issues, saying he opposes Democratic requests to fund the post office because of the push in several states for universal mail-in voting.
According to sources, Democrats are now seriously considering whether to bring the House back from recess as soon as next week to address this crisis.
Let's go straight to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Mr. Meadows, thanks so much for joining us today.
And, most importantly, please pass along to President Trump and the first lady our deepest condolences for the loss of his brother Robert yesterday, very sad news.
MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I will do that. I spoke to him this morning, and I will be glad to pass that along, Jake. Thanks so much.
TAPPER: It has been two months since President Trump installed a loyal supporter as postmaster general. This is somebody who's been pushing various measures that have caused serious mail delays in parts of the country.
Now the Postal Service is warning states about vote-by-mail delays in November. This all comes as the president is escalating attacks on voting by mail.
Why is President Trump trying to prevent Americans from exercising their right to vote, if they choose to vote this way, especially during a pandemic?
MEADOWS: Well, the president doesn't have a problem with anybody voting by mail, if you would look at it in terms of maybe a no-excuse absentee ballot.
What he opposes is universal mail-in ballots, where you send millions of ballots out to registered voters across the country, even those that don't request it.
You know, I have worked a number of times at a precinct, and I know how those rolls are not accurate. People move. People die. And yet, when we're going to send out ballots all across the country, that's not just the -- asking for a disaster. It really is knowing that what you're sending out is -- is inaccurate.
So, that's the problem he has with it. From a no-excuse absentee, being able to mail in your ballots, I think the president actually has already requested an absentee ballot for Florida, where he will be casting his ballot in that manner.
We want to make sure that every vote counts, but that only one vote counts. And so, when you look at that, this debate is really over a process. A number of states are now trying to figure out how they're going to go to universal mail-in ballots. That's a disaster, where we won't know the election results on November 3, and we might not know it for months.
And, for me, that's problematic, because the Constitution says that then...
MEADOWS: ... a Nancy Pelosi and the House would actually pick the president on January 20.
So, we need to make sure that we do it right.
TAPPER: So, there's a lot you said just there. And I want to get to universal vote-by-mail.
But just to make the point, the president is very directly tying how states decide -- and it's up to the states to decide how they cast their ballots -- with funding for the Postal Service.
I want you to listen to what the president said just this week that alarmed so many people, Democrats and Republicans alike.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: They want $25 billion, billion, for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.
But if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting, because they're not equipped to have it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, just to be clear, only nine states have universal mail- in voting. That's where the county or the state mails ballots to individuals who are on the voting rolls, nine states.
MEADOWS: That's correct.
TAPPER: Plenty of those states five -- five of those nine, were planning on doing this before the pandemic.
And four of the nine, the top elections officials in those states are Republicans, in Washington state, in Oregon, in Nevada, and in Utah.
Now, I don't understand why the president wants to block funding for the post office in order to prevent people from voting. That doesn't seem fair or right or leading -- it doesn't seem like it is going to instill a lot of confidence among voters that their ballots are going to be counted.
MEADOWS: Well, let me -- let me just stop you right there.
The funding in terms of stopping voting is not accurate. Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general sent out a notice to these states that said, listen, if you have got a tight time frame, you may want to look at adjusting that, because even the post office's guaranteed two-day mail is not guaranteed to get there in two days.
And that's one of the things -- that's not a problem under the Trump administration. That was a problem under the previous administration and under the previous postmaster general.
You know, when we look at all of this, every single month, Jake, 8.6 billion pieces of mail go through the postal workers' hands and through letter carriers, whether they're rural or in our cities, 8.6 billion.
Even if every single voter voted by mail, we're talking about a 1.5 percent difference that -- and I was in the room. I was in the room when the postmaster general said...
MEADOWS: ... he's willing to pay overtime to make sure that that happened.
But, listen, if my Democrat friends are all upset about this, come back to Washington, D.C., where the president and I am right now. Why don't they come back? Let's go ahead and get a stimulus check out to Americans. Let's make sure that small businesses are protected with an extended PPP program and put the postal funding in there.
We will pass it tomorrow. The president will sign it. And this will all go away, because what we're seeing is, Democrats are trying to use this...
MEADOWS: ... to their political advantage, Jake.
TAPPER: Well, let me ask you a question. Would the president support a stand-alone bill to fund the post office, to fund the Postal Service?
Because, if there are these considerations, if there are these concerns about whether or not it's going to work, then it would seem that more funding would help, as opposed to taking sorting machines offline, so that it will be more difficult to do mail?
MEADOWS: Well, there -- there's no sorting machines that are going offline between now and the election. That's -- that's something that my Democrat friends are trying to do to stoke fear out there. That's not happening.
I can tell you that the sorting machines -- listen, the volume of first-class mail that they have at the postal system right now, we haven't seen that volume since I was 17 years old. It's not a volume problem.
What this is, is a political narrative by my Democrat colleagues. And so, listen, we have got a lot of people that are hurting out there. And this voting issue is key. If the Democrats feel like this is a big issue -- and I talked to some of the more moderate Democrats and a few progressives as well -- if this is a big deal, let's put it with a stimulus check to go to Americans.
Let's -- let's put it with enhanced unemployment extension. Let's put it with small business reform in terms of the PPP and extending that. Let's get that.
Will the president sign that? Yes, he will sign that. And I'm certain...
MEADOWS: ... that whether it's $10 billion or $25 billion or something in between, we can do that.
TAPPER: But are you saying that sorting machines have not been taken offline and removed? Are you asserting that, that that did not happen?
MEADOWS: I'm saying -- I'm -- I'm saying that sorting machines between now and the election will not be taken offline.
Listen, I had postal under my committee, and I...
TAPPER: No, the ones that have been taken offline in the last couple months.
MEADOWS: I -- no -- no, but listen, here's what I'm saying is.
When you look at it, the normal process of doing all of this, Jake, I had the postal system under -- I had the only bipartisan bill to actually deal with the $146 billion loss that the Postal Service has been -- will see over the next 10 years.
And so, when you're looking at this, these postal machines and the drawdown, that was a 2006 bill that has been implemented that I don't necessarily agree with, but that's not this postmaster general that did that.
TAPPER: Right. MEADOWS: That was the previous postmaster general under -- under
TAPPER: But why do -- I get that.
TAPPER: Why were these sorting machines taken offline? Why were they taken offline? And why have these -- why has the postmaster general imposed these new rules?
MEADOWS: All right, Jake, you -- you keep saying that, so get your producer -- Jake -- Jake, you keep saying that.
Get your producer to share where exactly those sorting machines were taken offline. Let him whisper in your ear, because what I'm telling you is, you're picking up on a narrative that's not based on facts.
When you look at the way that we process mail, we closed down a number of centers back five years ago under the Obama administration.
MEADOWS: And some of those sorting machines come out.
TAPPER: Right. I understand that.
MEADOWS: The normal process of taking them out are really about re- gearing, because we're seeing an increase in parcels, a decrease in mail volume.
And what I'm saying is, a sorting machine to handle 100 million ballots...
MEADOWS: ... it's like an a gnat on an elephant's back. It's not going to matter, with 8.6 billion pieces of mail going through the Postal Service every year.
TAPPER: This -- this is not just a Democratic issue, though. You know this. You must be hearing from senators representing these large red rural states that depend on mail.
MEADOWS: I have. Sure. I have.
TAPPER: We are hearing -- we're hearing reports about veterans whose medications are coming in late, about individuals who rely on the mail to get their businesses out, if they are -- especially people, so many people doing business by mail during the pandemic...
TAPPER: ... people whose Social Security checks aren't coming in.
These are complaints coming into offices that are Democratic and Republican. Even removing the issue of voting, this is having a huge impact on the American people.
There is a bipartisan group of secretaries of state, Democrats and Republicans, who have requested a meeting to talk to the postmaster general. He has not responded to them.
Will you tell him right now, please respond to this bipartisan group of secretaries of state that are concerned about what's going on with the mail?
MEADOWS: Well, what I will tell him, and as he's already mentioned to Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi the other day, is -- is that he's willing to put the resources necessary to make sure the mail process -- is processed.
But here's the problem, Jake. This is not a postal problem. New York City, all the delays in the election with Carol Maloney and all the others, that wasn't a postal system. That was an election process.
We had six or seven weeks trying to count these votes. It wasn't because the ballots were necessarily in some letter carrier's pouch. That's -- that's -- the real problem here -- and the president is right in addressing this -- this is -- this is more about states trying to recreate how they get their ballots, and they do -- they're trying to do it on a compressed timeline that just won't work.
But let me -- let me come back to one. You have got a couple of Democrat senators that are going to come on. Ask them, are they willing to put forth a stimulus check in every -- every American citizen's hands? Are they willing to do that, couple that with the postal reform, making sure that we have small business?
If they're willing to lead on that, the president is willing to sign it. I can tell you, I talked to him this morning. He wants to make sure that we get it done. So, this is...
MEADOWS: We have just as much of a crisis with people that are hurting during this pandemic as we do as the post office.
I mean, we can get into the negotiations. And I want to in a second.
TAPPER: But I really do want to kind of like understand this Postal Service issue...
TAPPER: ... because the negotiations are, the Democrats wanted $600 per week in additional unemployment insurance. Republicans had a smaller number.
There's a question about how much money for children that are food- insecure. Republicans had a smaller number. We can talk about that.
MEADOWS: Sure. I will be glad to.
TAPPER: But I'm just saying, if this Postal Service issue is one that everybody can come together on, why not have a stand-alone bill? You seem to be suggesting you don't want to do that. You want it to be part of a bigger package.
But let me ask you just a broader picture about voting by mail.
MEADOWS: Well, and don't get me -- don't get me...
TAPPER: Your -- your own...
MEADOWS: Yes. OK. Don't get me wrong. Here's...
TAPPER: Your own folks...
MEADOWS: I'm all about piecemeal. If we can agree on postal, let's do it. If we can agree on stimulus checks, let's do it.
I have been the one that's advocating for that.
MEADOWS: Speaker Pelosi is the one who says that she won't do anything unless it's a big deal. We offered $10 billion for the Postal Service.
TAPPER: Well, I think she is...
MEADOWS: Now it's changed because her whole dynamic, political dynamic, has changed.
But when she's in the room, when you say, will you do a piecemeal, the answer has been consistently no. She's got an answer to that to the American people.
I don't understand it. You don't understand it. And, more importantly, what we have to do is make sure that we move it ahead.
Congress needs to come back and get their act together and work.
TAPPER: Well, it...
MEADOWS: I can tell you, the Republican senators, they're talking about exactly that.
TAPPER: It sounds like there's a common ground here. It sounds like there's some common ground here.
MEADOWS: There is. Yes, I think there is, Jake.
TAPPER: Because Pelosi has said she is willing to do a stand-alone bill, and she -- and she can bring the House back within 24 hours.
MEADOWS: Is she willing to do a stand-alone bill -- OK. All right.
Ask her -- ask her, is she willing to do a stand-alone bill for stimulus checks for American people that are hurting?
Ask her that.
TAPPER: Yes. She said, on Friday, she's willing to do it. So, hopefully, she is.
MEADOWS: Well, we will try that one out.
TAPPER: But let me ask you a broader question about voting by mail.
MEADOWS: Yes, sure.
TAPPER: Let's ask -- let me ask you a broader question about voting by mail.
TAPPER: Your own folks at the White House vote by mail. President Trump and the first lady, as you noted, requested mail-in ballots this week in Florida. Other White House officials, Vice President Pence, Kayleigh McEnany, Kellyanne Conway, a half-dozen Cabinet officials all vote by mail.
TAPPER: Can you tell me the difference between voting by mail in Florida and, say, voting by mail in Pennsylvania? What's the difference?
MEADOWS: So, here's the difference.
I can't tell you about Pennsylvania, because I don't know the difference there. All I do know is, the governor of Pennsylvania is talking like he doesn't have any money to pay for enhanced unemployment and some of these other things, when he's got $3.6 billion sitting in the bank. So that was -- was a misnomer.
But, as we look at that, here's what I can tell you, is absentee no- excuse, what I call no-excuse absentee, say, listen, I'm concerned because of the pandemic, will you send me an absentee ballot that comes directly to me, I certify that, I have a signature requirement that makes sure that it's me that's actually voting, and I send it back...
MEADOWS: ... I don't have a problem with that. The president doesn't have a problem with that.
What we do have a problem with and what I have a problem with, because I don't want my vote or anyone else's to be disenfranchised, is to send millions of ballots across the country to sometimes empty mailboxes.
TAPPER: But that's nine states.
MEADOWS: No, that's nine states right now, but what they're talking about...
TAPPER: It's not across the country. It's...
MEADOWS: No, no. Well, Jake -- Jake, you're talking about nine states that do it now.
What -- what I'm saying is, the -- the problem that we have here is, a lot of people are looking at and just sending out ballots, California sending out ballots, and where they just send out ballots. My home state of North Carolina...
TAPPER: California already did that for about -- California already did that about 75 percent of its population.
MEADOWS: A month ago. That's correct. I agree. I agree.
TAPPER: Now it's 100 percent.
MEADOWS: Yes, but most of these states...
TAPPER: Utah has done it for years. Oregon has done it for years. Washington has done it for years. A lot of these states have done it for years, Nevada.
Now there are four states that are adding to the sending out ballots to every registered voter. I understand that that's a concern that you're claiming.
MEADOWS: Well, isn't it a concern to you, Jake?
TAPPER: But when President Trump and the Trump campaign act as though...
MEADOWS: Wouldn't it be a concern to you?
Do you -- do you realize how inaccurate the voter rolls are with just people just moving around, not -- let alone the people that die off, but sending ballots out just -- just based on a voter roll, registration?
Any time you move, you will change your driver's license, but you don't call up and say, hey, by the way, I'm re-registering.
TAPPER: There's no evidence of widespread voter fraud, though. But there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
MEADOWS: There's no -- there's no -- there's no evidence that there's not either. That's the definition of fraud. Jake.
When we look at that, what we have seen are a number of mail ballots...
TAPPER: No, no, no.
MEADOWS: ... that get lost.
MEADOWS: Go ahead. I'm sorry.
TAPPER: If you talk to prosecutors, actually, they love electoral or voter fraud, because it's so easy to find and so easy to prosecute.
That's why they are able to find, for instance, all that voter fraud in your home state of North Carolina in the 2018 election, because you're able to find a corrupt Republican political consultant like the one that got in trouble down there in 2018, because it's easy to find.
MEADOWS: Well, but let's look at that.
TAPPER: Now, obviously, I don't think there should be any voter fraud or any political corruption.
MEADOWS: I -- I agree with you, Jake.
When you look at North Carolina and -- and ballot harvesting, like -- like happened there and that was fraudulent, you look at California, they -- they allow the same thing that happened in North Carolina. They say it's perfectly legal -- is that -- is that what we're going to have, is one standard for ballot harvesting in California?
TAPPER: No, but there's no evidence of that.
MEADOWS: Well, there is evidence that they ballot-harvest in California, because you don't have the election results until way after it, Jake.
TAPPER: But here's the point that I'm trying to make.
MEADOWS: Maybe -- and I'm sorry. Maybe I'm missing your point.
TAPPER: I understand that you don't like universal vote...
TAPPER: You don't like universal mail-in ballots, like you have in Utah, where they have never had any problems that I know of, like they have in Washington and Oregon, where there are Republican secretaries of state, et cetera. You don't like that.
TAPPER: You say that there's something wrong with that.
MEADOWS: Well, I think sending -- yes, yes.
TAPPER: But you're acting as though -- you and the president and the Trump campaign are acting as though all voting by mail is universal mail-in. And it's not.
MEADOWS: No, I -- that -- no, that's your -- Jake, that's your narrative.
TAPPER: The president -- the president -- no, no, the president...
MEADOWS: Jake -- Jake, hold on just a second. Jake -- Jake...
TAPPER: It's not my narrative. It's election law in Florida. It's election law in Florida.
MEADOWS: Jake -- Jake -- and he hasn't -- he doesn't say he has a problem with Florida mail-in and ballots.
Here's the interesting thing is, when we look at it...
TAPPER: But that's the point. That's the point.
MEADOWS: What's the point? What's the point? I don't -- I missed it.
The difference is, is, we want to know that every ballot...
TAPPER: More than 30 states -- no, more than 30 states -- go ahead, sir.
MEADOWS: Yes, we want to make sure that every ballot that goes to an individual voter actually has that chain of custody, where it goes to the individual voter, they actually can attest to the fact that they're voting, and that it comes back and it's counted for them.
MEADOWS: Anything that you do to disenfranchise a voter or to affect that, we're against.
If it -- if it doesn't affect that, then the president is supportive of it, I'm supportive of it. Most Americans are supportive of it.
And so what you're saying is, other than the nine states that are there, you're suggesting that we don't change the way that they do mail-in ballots. Is that correct? Is that -- is that what you're saying?
TAPPER: No, what I'm -- what I'm saying is, is that President Trump and the Trump campaign are acting as if all mail-in voting, except for Florida, which he finds OK because that's the mail-in voting he does, all mail-in voting is somehow inherently corrupt.
And the truth of the matter is, most states, more than 30 states, have what is the same -- what is going on in Florida, which is, you request a ballot, and it doesn't matter if it's called an absentee ballot or a vote-by-mail ballot. Florida actually makes no distinguishing -- distinguishing between the two at all.
MEADOWS: That's right. That's right.
TAPPER: It's just vote by mail. And, in fact, in Florida, you can actually vote early also, if you want.
There is no difference between Pennsylvania and Florida. That's my point. My point is, is that President Trump is trying to say, all voting by mail is corrupt. And it's not. It's all -- most of it is exactly like Florida.
MEADOWS: So, let me -- let me clear that up today, is -- is, if it's that no-excuse absentee, or the vote by mail where you request a ballot and it comes to you, and you fill it in, not only is the president supportive of that; the vast majority of Americans are supportive of that.
What he's against is changing the process to make it a universal. So, we will clear it up right now. Changing the process to say that, we're going to send ballots to everybody, so that you can have all this potential for fraudulent behavior, with ballots that are going to other people, that's what he's against.
And so, if you have got a normal process in your state, where you have -- where someone requests a mail-in ballot...
TAPPER: Yes. See, the...
MEADOWS: ... then -- then we want to make sure we process it, and we want to make sure that it's counted fairly.
TAPPER: And that's what happens -- that's what goes on in more than 30 states.
And there are nine states that have universal mail-in voting. I do not recall President Trump complaining about the universal mail-in voting that they have in Utah, which he won in 2016.
In terms of the fact-check that you asked me to look into...
MEADOWS: Yes, sure.
TAPPER: ... one of my great producers did in terms of the machines.
Chris Bentley, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 297, which covers Kansas and part of Missouri...
MEADOWS: Yes. Yes. Yes.
TAPPER: ... two good Trump states, told CNN that postal management has already taken out four machines in Kansas City, two machines in Springfield, Missouri, and one machine in Wichita, Kansas.
That is earlier this year, under this new postmaster general.
MEADOWS: No, no, no.
With all due respect, and -- and, if we look at it, I can talk to Kansas. I can talk to Tucson, Arizona. You're talking to someone who knows.
It's, when we take out those processing, they're part of a processing center that comes in. And as we start to move those out, if they were not part of an already scheduled reallocation, it's not happening. It's not a new initiative by this postmaster general.
And when we look at this, it's all about efficiency. But you have a normal system of changing it out. And so, with all due respect of your fact-checker, I will be glad to come in. We can spend an hour talking about this. We will bore people to death.
But I can tell you this. The post office has been losing money for over 10 years. You can go back, Google it, look at the fact that I have gone in with Megan Brennan, and said, I want to fix it to make sure that we fix it.
MEADOWS: This president is serious about fixing it. Louis DeJoy is serious about fixing it.
We will have the money allocated. And, as the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, said just the other day...
MEADOWS: ... if it's about processing ballots, he's willing to spend the overtime to make sure that it happens and make sure that we get -- get ballots back as quickly as possible.
TAPPER: That's great news. Just for people to understand, one of the reasons, one of the main
reasons why the post office is having funding problems is because that 2006 law that you alluded to that requires 75 years of funding for pensions and the like for postal workers, unions and others.
That's one of the big problems that they have. Of course, a lot of people are also losing money during a pandemic.
MEADOWS: Yes. Let's be clear about this.
TAPPER: But let me -- let me ask you a question, because I feel like we...
MEADOWS: Hold on. Let's be clear about this, because that 2006 law -- hold on.
MEADOWS: It was $2.5 billion in pre-funding, $2.5 billion.
And they're going to lose $146 billion over 10 years. So, even if you change that, which I'm willing to do, the president's willing to do, let's put it in a bill. Let's do it right now.
MEADOWS: I signed that with Elijah Cummings.
TAPPER: Twenty-five percent...
TAPPER: Twenty-five percent of the American people voted by mail in 2016. It's probably going to be about 50 percent.
And I think the American people would really like there to be some sort of guarantee from the president of the United States that there's not going to be an attempt to hurt their attempt to vote by mail, if they choose to exercise their right to vote the way that they are allowed to do so in their state.
And it's up to states how they want to do this.
MEADOWS: I agree. And I can tell you, I can give you that guarantee. I can give you that guarantee.
TAPPER: Will you guarantee that President Trump will do everything he can to help people vote?
MEADOWS: No, no, I'll give you that guarantee. I'll give you that guarantee right now.
The president of the United States is not going to interfere with anybody casting their vote in a legitimate way, whether it's the post office or anything else.
But you mentioned the secretaries of state. They're the ones that need to get their act together. We look in New York state. Look at what happened. It's a debacle. Can you imagine if we had a presidential election that went on for weeks and weeks and months and months, without -- without a decision, just because we have all this litigation and say, well, we have got to wait another week for ballots?
MEADOWS: It just is not what we -- we should do. And it's not what is prudent. And I don't want to give the power to...
TAPPER: Well, I lived through something like that in 2000.
MEADOWS: Yes, well, it was one state on hanging chad in a few counties. Can you imagine what we would have if we had it across all 50 states, Jake?
MEADOWS: It's a real problem.
TAPPER: I'm told that I'm -- I only get one more question. So, let me ask this one, sir. And I do appreciate your time today.
MEADOWS: Well, maybe I can give you one good answer. All right.
TAPPER: Presumptive -- presumptive democratic nominee Joe Biden named Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate this week.
Harris, as you know, was born in Oakland, California, in 1960, a fact that makes her eligible to be vice president.
But the Trump campaign has floated this discredited lie that she's not eligible because her presidents -- because her parents at the time were not American citizens.
I kind of can't believe I even have to ask you this, but just a simple yes or no...
TAPPER: ... do you accept the fact -- and it is a fact -- that Senator Kamala Harris is eligible to be vice president?
And I think the president spoke to this yesterday. This is not something that we're going to pursue. Actually, Jake, you and a number in the media, you all have spent more time on it than anybody in the White House has talking about this.
I'm more concerned with Kamala Harris' liberal ideas coming from San Francisco to the rest of America than I am whether she was -- where she was born or anything else.
It's the policies born out of California that would take root across the country that's problematic for me.
TAPPER: So, when you say sure, that means yes? Yes, you accept that she is eligible to be vice president?
MEADOWS: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I do, yes.
Mark Meadows, it's good to see you. Thank you so much. Really appreciate your time this morning.
And, again, please pass on our condolences to the president and his family.
MEADOWS: I will. Thanks, Jake. Take care.
TAPPER: Former Vice President Joe Biden is set to accept the Democratic presidential nomination this week, as the party's biggest names look to try to energize voters at the Democratic Convention.
Both the Obamas and the Clintons are set to speak, as well as my next guest, who just this winter was challenging Biden for top billing.
Joining me now, former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of the great state of Vermont.
Senator Sanders, thanks so much for joining us.
You heard Mark Meadows answering my questions about the U.S. Postal Service and vote by mail. Did he say anything to you -- that reassures you that the election will be free and fair and the way you want it to be conducted?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Before we get to the post office, I'm glad that he thinks that Kamala Harris is eligible to run for president.
And he dismisses it. He said, oh, sure, of course she is. Then why is the president of the United States engaging in a racist, xenophobic attack against her by suggesting she is not eligible? This is what this campaign is about.
Jake, what we are fighting for here is not just the post office that I want to talk about. It's not just whether Trump will succeed in throwing 32 million Americans off the health care they have. It's not just whether workers will continue to get the $600 supplementary checks they desperately need, when their unemployment -- or the $1,200 checks. It's not just climate change.
It is in fact whether we're going to have a pathological liar staying in the White House who lies every single day. I think there have been documented there have been some 20,000 lies that is told that have been documented already.
So, when Meadows says, oh, yes, Kamala Harris, she's eligible to run for president, then maybe you got to talk to the White House of why they tweet out stuff that is terrible and lying.
In terms of the post office, I don't have to tell you this...
SANDERS: ... because the president of the United States told you a few days ago.
He wants to sabotage the Postal Service because he does not want many millions of people to be able to vote through mail-in ballots. That's not me. That is exactly what he said. And what he is trying to do in many, many ways is defund and destroy the United States Postal Service.
Now, I happen to believe in the Postal Service, an issue I have been involved in for many, many years. But above and beyond the Postal Service, what is most important, whether you're a Democrat, whether a Republican, whether you're a progressive, whether you're a conservative, do you believe in American democracy?
Do you believe that, in the midst of a pandemic, when we have lost 170,000 people already, people have got to put their lives on the line to go into a voting station, or can they vote in through a mail-in ballot?
I would just say this. Tuesday here in my state of Vermont, we had the largest voter turnout for primaries that we have ever had. Most people voted by mail-in ballots. It was not a big deal. It worked very well. That is exactly what we have to do throughout this country if we're going to retain our democracy and the right of people to participate.
TAPPER: Do you think Speaker Pelosi should call the House of Representatives back to get a freestanding bill to fund the post office to the Senate and then to the president?
And do you think that the House of Representatives should be using their oversight role and investigating what exactly is going on in terms of the changes that the postmaster general is making?
SANDERS: The answer to both questions is yes.
Now, as you know, despite what Mr. Meadows may be saying, over three months ago, three months ago, Democrats in the House passed the HEROES bill. And among many other things, it provided $25 billion for the Postal Service. It made sure that workers in this country who are unemployed would continue to receive those $600 supplements, on top of their unemployment benefits that they desperately need.
It would make sure that workers continue to receive $1,200 per person, plus money for children as well.
SANDERS: It made sure that, in America today, when families are struggling with hunger, worried that they're not going to be able to feed their kids, worried that they're going to be evicted from their apartments and their homes, Democrats three months ago addressed that.
SANDERS: Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate, Republican, has not attended one of these negotiating sessions.
Trump could've gotten on the phone and brought everybody into the White House to work on an agreement. He disappeared.
Mr. Meadows, I'm glad he's back at work. He was on vacation last week. We have a crisis now. It's a crisis in democracy.
SANDERS: It's a crisis that so many of our (AUDIO GAP) are struggling. Congress has got to act.
And, of course, Pelosi and Mitch McConnell...
TAPPER: So, let me ask you, sir, because...
SANDERS: ... back to deal with those issues.
TAPPER: Let's turn to the 2020 race, because, obviously, you ran for president. Your policy disagreements with Joe Biden were front and center during the primary campaign.
You also disagreed with Senator Harris on a number of issues. She ultimately did not support essentially ending private health insurance. She did not back tuition-free college or wiping out student loans the way you have proposed. She did not want to abolish ICE.
You led a huge movement centered around these issues. Are you frustrated that these positions will not be represented on the Democratic ticket? And how do you tell your voters to support a ticket that, in their view, might be more moderate than progressive?
SANDERS: Well, Jake, two things.
Our movement, as I'm sure you know, is doing really quite phenomenally well. All across this country, in New York state and elsewhere, in Missouri, we have elected extremely progressive member -- people who will become members of Congress who are going to stand up and fight for working families and take on the 1 percent and the greed of the corporate elite.
We are electing district attorney candidates all over this country, people to the state legislature. So, our movement has real momentum. And we are doing just fine.
Now, in terms of disagreements with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, yes, of course we do. I ran against Biden.
SANDERS: And my message -- my message to our supporters is, we have got to do everything that we can...
SANDERS: ... to defeat Donald Trump (AUDIO GAP) view as the most dangerous president in American history.
And then what we have to do the day after we elect Joe Biden as president, we've got to rally our people to stand up and fight for an agenda that works for all, and not just a few. And that absolutely includes Medicare for all.
I think most working people understand today that health care...
TAPPER: But your former press secretary -- your former press...
SANDERS: ... must be a human right, not simply a job benefit...
SANDERS: ... because, if you lose your job, then you lose your health care. That's crazy. That's not what we want.
TAPPER: Your former press secretary, sir...
SANDERS: And we have got to take on the pharmaceutical industry...
SANDERS: ... so much higher prices than any other country on Earth, sometimes 10 times more for the medicine that we need.
So, we're going to do everything that we can, A, to elect Biden, and, B, after he's elected, move this country in as progressive a way as we possibly can.
TAPPER: Your former press secretary Briahna Joy Gray tweeted that...
TAPPER: I think you're getting a phone call.
Your former press secretary Briahna Joy Gray tweeted that nominating Biden and Harris shows -- quote -- "contempt for the base."
And I want to show you this "Wall Street Journal" headline after Kamala Harris was announced as Biden's pick. It says -- quote -- "As Kamala Harris joins Biden ticket..."
SANDERS: Jake, can you hear me?
TAPPER: Yes, I can hear you. I can hear you.
I think someone's calling you, though.
But, in any case, Senator, I wanted to ask you -- it says -- yes, you're getting a phone call.
TAPPER: But, in any case, this "Wall Street Journal" headline says, "As Kamala Harris joins Biden ticket, Wall Street sighs in relief."
And Bill Daley, former President Obama's chief of staff, now with Wells Fargo, told "The Wall Street Journal" -- quote -- "I think Harris is a reasonable, rational person who has worked in the system. Is she a progressive? Yes. Is she someone who wants to burn the building down? No. I think she wants to strengthen the building."
If Wall Street breathes a sigh of relief with Kamala Harris being named to the ticket, what does Bernie Sanders do?
SANDERS: Well, Bernie Sanders does everything that he can to defeat Donald Trump, who's undermining American democracy, Donald Trump, who has lied to the American people repeatedly on every issue, Donald Trump, who is not supportive of continuing and maintaining those $600 supplementary checks that workers desperately need, or the $1,200 checks that many working families need, Donald Trump, who wants to throw 32 million people off the health insurance that they have.
Donald Trump, who does not even recognize science in terms of the pandemic or in climate change.
So, what Bernie Sanders is going to do is do everything that I can to defeat Donald Trump, to elect Joe Biden. And after the Democrats have control of the Senate and the House, and Joe is the president, we're going to do all that we can to mobilize people for a progressive agenda.
But this is not a complicated issue. Donald Trump must be defeated. Biden must be elected. And after that election, we're going to do all that we can for a progressive -- to fight for a progressive agenda.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, I think you have an urgent phone call.
I hope everything is OK. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.
SANDERS: Thank you very much. TAPPER: It did not take long for racist lies and misogynist lies
against Senator Kamala Harris to surface.
Her fellow Senator Cory Booker will join me on that and the president's attacks on him this week.
That's next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Former Vice President Joe Biden chose a former rival to be his running mate this fall, California Senator Kamala Harris.
In response, President Trump, who had praised Harris after she announced her presidential candidacy last year, swiftly turned to his specialty, personal attacks.
Joining me now, Harris' close friend and New York -- I'm sorry -- New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker.
Senator Booker, thanks so much for joining us.
I know that you and Senator Harris are close friends. I know that you're overjoyed by her selection to be Joe Biden's running mate.
On a policy level, however, some advocates for criminal justice reform, which is a major focus for you, were very critical of Harris' record as district attorney and as California attorney general when she ran for president.
How do you now convince those people who care about criminal justice reform to support somebody who, frankly, I heard a lot of talk during the primaries that Kamala is a cop?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Well, again, there are always going to be critics, but let the work that she's done speak for her.
In the United States Senate, she and I partnered together on the Dignity Act for women in prison that was adopted in multiple states around the nation. The criminal justice reform bill, which got passed and liberated thousands of people, predominantly black and brown folks, from prison, she and I championed.
The Justice in Policing Act that we authored with House leaders and the CBC leaders, but, in the Senate, she and I were the authors of that.
So, as a guy that's been in the trenches with her on every major issue relating to everything from policing to reentry, she has been one of the great voices in the Senate helping us to gain ground and move ahead. So, at this point, you compare that record with Donald Trump's record
and what they have been doing, from the putting children in cages, all the way to really abject failures, frankly, in this pandemic, around releasing people from prison that did not have connections to the president himself.
They have done a great job getting the president's friends out of prison.
TAPPER: But President...
BOOKER: But this is...
TAPPER: President Trump signed into law a bill that you worked on, though.
BOOKER: ... between Biden and Harris.
TAPPER: But President Trump signed into law a criminal justice reform bill that you that you worked on.
BOOKER: And I'm proud...
TAPPER: I mean, so you can say what you just said, but you're ignoring this other thing that -- this other accomplishment of President Trump on the subject of criminal justice reform.
Meanwhile, during the Democratic primary, you were also critical of Joe Biden's record on criminal justice reform. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: Mr. Vice President has said that, since the 1970s, every major crime bill, every crime bill, major and minor, has had his name on it.
And, sir, those are your words, not mine.
We have a system right now that's broken. And if you want to compare records -- and frankly, I'm shocked that you do -- I am happy to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Since then, criminal justice reform has even become a bigger issue nationwide, especially amidst the national protests following the murder of George Floyd by police.
Do you stand by your previous criticism of Joe Biden?
BOOKER: Well, again, I want to say very clearly that this is a -- you talked about me working with the Trump administration to gain ground for the liberation of African-Americans from prison.
I'm very proud of that. But yet this is an administration that has gutted the Department of Justice, has stopped the consent decrees that were going on with police accountability, a number of other things that have been a poor record of this -- in fact, rolling us backwards on civil rights, on criminal justice reform, and on holding local police departments accountable.
As far as Joe Biden is concerned, I'm proud of the hard-fought primary that we had. He emerged from a wide field of people as our choice, as our champion. And I'm proud of that. And I'm proud of the dialogue that we had, rich, vibrant dialogue.
And now I am confident, looking at their criminal justice plans and partnering, especially now, as he's done, with Kamala Harris, one of the champions on criminal justice. I have no worry about the degrees at which Joe Biden will be tearing down the awful institutions of mass incarceration in America, that he will be a champion to help get the bill that Kamala and I wrote on the Senate side done that creates just -- excuse me -- police accountability.
So, as a United States senator, as an African-American, I am excited about what Biden and Harris will do for advancing criminal justice, rolling back mass incarceration, an really, frankly, having a broader view of what public safety is by investing in things like health care, environmental justice, education, and more.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you.
President Trump and his campaign have been floating this false, completely false notion that Senator Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, in 1964 and is an American, may not be eligible to be vice president.
Were you surprised when they started to do that?
BOOKER: This is something I think that many Americans know -- I know it from my family -- is, when you have African-American women who are rising up in positions that there have never been African-American women in before, that people are going to viciously attack them on gender and race.
The words, the gendered words that this president has been using about Kamala, attacking her in extraordinarily awful ways, just reflects the demeaning and degrading language he's used about blacks, about black and brown places, about congresspeople, telling them to go back where they have come from, when they were born in this country.
This is nothing new, nothing surprising.
TAPPER: Yes. BOOKER: What I don't think Trump understands is that Kamala Harris
has been fighting this fight her entire career, rising to positions where she was the first African-American woman in -- time and time again.
So, if there's anybody that's ready for this kind of mess, it's Kamala Harris. And so Donald Trump can pick a fight he -- if he wants. But he is the proverbial bully in the playground that is about to get knocked out when he steps up against this dynamic duo that will beat him in November.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you about Governor Murphy of your home state of New Jersey, has just made New Jersey a state that will send ballots, voting ballots, to every registered voter in the state.
It's called universal mail-in ballots. There are only nine states that are doing it. New Jersey is, I believe, the latest to do it. The third biggest city in your state, Paterson, New Jersey, held a vote-by-mail election in May.
And four men, including a city council member and a city council candidate, have since been charged with election fraud. Nearly 20 percent of the votes in that election have been disqualified, though, to be clear, most of them were disqualified due to mistakes in how the ballots were filled out.
But, in any case, it doesn't really exactly breed confidence about the process.
How can you be sure New Jersey is ready to do this statewide?
BOOKER: Well, look, voter fraud is incredibly rare.
And when it's done absentee ballots or in mail-in ballots, what -- the great -- the reason why it's so easy to find out is because you literally have a paper trail. That is why, as was mentioned earlier in your show, from North Carolina to New Jersey, it was easy to expose and to hold people accountable.
And we know it is incredibly rare, as we have seen multiple states in America be doing all vote-by-mail for some time.
So, what concerns me is not these spurious claims that somehow there's going to be mass voter fraud. We know that's not true from the experiences of everybody from Utah to the state of Oregon to even here in the state of New Jersey.
What concerns me is an all-out attack -- they're not even hiding it -- by the president of the United States to undermine the United States Postal Service, to underfund it, to allow a mega-donor leading it to overtly do things to slow down the mail...
BOOKER: ... put a choke hold on this institution and make it very difficult for states to do...
TAPPER: Thank you.
BOOKER: ... what they need to do to ensure that Americans will have the freedom to vote amidst the pandemic.
Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate it.
TAPPER: This week a bigot and full-blown conspiracy theorist named Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican Congressional nomination for a U.S. House seat in Georgia.
Greene has a long, ugly trail of videos and social media posts that indicate total detachment from facts and truth and basic notions of decency. She has railed against Muslim-Americans winning Congressional Seats, calling it a Muslim invasion. She's falsely accused a prominent Jewish-American of having once been a Nazi. She's questioned whether horrific acts of mass shooting in the United States were faked to bring about gun control. She believes, frankly, so many crazy theories we don't have time to go through them all.
Just to give you one example, here is Greene questioning whether 9/11 really happened, specifically focusing on American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon that horrible day. But this is how Greene sees it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR THE HOUSE, GEORGIA: The so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon. It's odd there's never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: There is, of course, plenty of evidence of American Airlines Flight 77 with 58 passengers and a crew of six crashing into the Pentagon on 9/11 killing 125 people working there. And it's hard to know how to even respond to such completely deranged conspiracy theories. And what an insult to those murdered by Al-Qaeda terrorists that day.
The 125 innocents at the Pentagon, including Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, an Army Deputy Chief of Staff, or those on board the flight, Bernard Brown, Asia SiVon Cottom, and Rodney Dickens, all 11 years old going to California for a big field trip. Not to mention Conservative author Barbara Olson also on that plane.
Now Greene did concede Thursday after she was called out on this that she now knows a missile did not hit the Pentagon. It was a plane. Now almost 19 years after the fact. There was a time when being a 9/11 truther to say nothing of all the
racism and bigotry that that might disqualify someone such as Greene from being supported or even seated by a major political party in Congress. But that time has clearly passed.
Greene was welcomed with open arms by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz, not to mention President Trump, who called her a star.
There are a few standing up for what's right. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger tweeted this week about the deranged QAnon conspiracy theory that Greene subscribes to, this deranged notion that the government is run by Democrats who have a Satan worshiping pedophilia ring where they drink the blood of their victims.
Insanity but it's insanity that the FBI has warned poses a credible risk of domestic terrorism. And in response to Kinzinger's tweet, he was attacked by the Trump campaign.
Of course it's almost hard to imagine today's Republicans in Congress condemning a Congressional candidate, such as Greene, when the leader of their party -- where President of the United States Donald Trump has been for decades, peddling his own conspiracy theories.
This is a president who first made hay politically with the deranged racist conspiracy theory that the first Black president, Barack Obama, was secretly born in Africa. And since then he has spewed nonsense about Ted Cruz's dad being part of the Kennedy assassination, about vaccines, about Joe Scarborough committing murder, and on and on.
Now the president's using his position of power to lend creditability to another false and racist conspiracy that Senator Kamala Harris, born in Oakland, California, is not eligible for the vice presidency, when, of course, she is.
On Friday President Trump was asked directly if he believes the deranged QAnon conspiracies promoted by Greene and the president refused to answer the question. That's not a hard question Mr. President. The correct answer is no.
What's going on in the Republican Party right now is no longer about the establishment versus the MAGA forces of disruption. It's about those who still care about facts and truth and decency and those who have no allegiance to them at all. And a message to those Republicans who care about facts and truth and decency, your side in this battle is losing.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news continues next.