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CNN NEWSROOM

Senate "Skinny" Stimulus Bill Fails to Advance on Largely Party Line Vote; Trump Boasts to Woodward about New Secret Weapons System; Whistleblower: Attempts Made to Alter Intel to Match Trump Rhetoric; NFL Season Kicks Off Tonight, 60-Plus Players Opting Out. Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 13:30   ET

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


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[13:32:18]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right. The Senate just voted on a procedural motion to advance the GOP skinny stimulus bill.

I want to get to Capitol Hill and CNN's Phil Mattingly.

This was a $500 billion measure, Phil, that needed 60 votes to advance so where is this?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's dead, essentially

KEILAR: All right.

MATTINGLY -- to put it bluntly, Brianna. No. I won't toss it back to you with just that. I'll give you a little context

Look, set the stage for what this was. This was a Senate Republican stimulus proposal.

This was put together by Republicans over the course of the last several weeks as a kind of effort to do things. One, to try to shake something up in negotiations that have been at a stalemate now for weeks.

But also to provide some political cover for their Republican members up in tough re-election races, didn't want to go home and say we haven't done anything on unemployment insurance.

And a slimmed down proposal and failed. All Democrats voting against moving forward.

One Republican, Rand Paul, objected to the spending generally and long has done that.

And the big question now is: Where does that actually leave things? The negotiations between Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin nonexistent now. Crucial items as that initial stimulus, initial $2.2 trillion is

sucked out of the economy. Republicans have made clear they won't go near that. They want something in the range between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion.

So I guess the bottom line here is for people who were expecting or for economists who said it was necessary for more money to be pumped into the economy, it is not coming any time soon from Capitol Hill.

And I think the reality is, when you talk to members on both sides of the aisle, there's a very, very legitimate sense that nothing is going to happen with the expectation that, as you know well, in election season, by the end, of September, lawmakers tend to leave until after that election.

And right now, which is a few weeks before that occurs, there's no plan, no off ramp, no negotiation scheduled, no gang of anybody set up to negotiate.

People are more or less throwing up their hands and assuming that perhaps there might not be a second stimulus to help with the pandemic -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Let's, Phil, go through the parties who are impacted by this. Unemployed Americans, what does this mean for them?

[13:35:01]

MATTINGLY: Obviously, if you are unemployed, you get the state base benefits if you're within the time. But the thing that the march stimulus provided is $600 federal enhancement. That was huge.

I have talked to a number of people. That federal plus-up was enormous to stabilize things waiting for the economy to open back up. And it expired at the end of July.

And we saw the president move forward on a $300 supplement to that and we've seen that tap out.

So if you wanted more of that federal unemployment enhancement it's not coming. The next round of stimulus checks, another round of checks, and that won't be there.

And small business funds, huge for the economy and closing the doors, right now that is not available. The PPP expired last month -- Brianna?

KEILAR: And states that are having problems, cities having problems, that aren't getting revenue.

MATTINGLY: Yes.

KEILAR: Just real quick, before I let you go, Phil, where are they in all of this?

MATTINGLY: They're in the same place. They're getting no more funding than they got from the initial stimulus. They got $150 billion in the initial stimulus. And there's problems unlocking that money for some states.

Republicans want to give more flexibility to unlock that money. Democrats want $900-plus billion for states. There's going to be a $500 billion, $600 billion shortfall in revenue. Right now, they'll be getting neither of those things.

KEILAR: It is sad, Phil, to hear you go through that. It is so important people hear know. They're hung out to dry by Congress and Congress will probably be going away.

Phil Mattingly, on Capitol Hill, thank you.

President Trump, in his own words, revealing the supposed existence of a secret nuclear weapons system? The president's former Homeland Security chief of staff will join me on that's next.

Plus, health and fitness expert, Jillian Michaels, has a warning about public gyms after she contracted the virus.

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[13:41:52]

KEILAR: President Trump revealing top secret information about a new nuclear weapons system. This, yet another jaw dropping moment from the president's interviews with Bob Woodward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I have built a nuclear -- I have built a weapons system that nobody's had in this country before.

We have stuff that you haven't seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi has never heard about before. There's nobody. What we have is incredible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Putin and Xi have now heard about it. And we now know that the president disclosed that secret information during his very first interview with Woodward.

I'm joined by CNN contributor, Miles Taylor, who was chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security during the Trump administration.

Miles, what is your reaction to this disclosure?

MILES TAYLOR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, thanks, Brianna.

I would say this. After having served two and a half years in this administration, I thought I'd seen and heard it all. But here we are with the president shocking even those of us who heard him say some of the most shocking things ever said in the Oval Office of the White House.

The concern here is very clear. The president of the United States has one primary obligation and that's to protect the American people. And part of that is to protect our national security secrets.

People joked when Donald Trump came in that can we trust this guy with the nuclear codes. Here's Donald Trump basically proving to us in real time that he can't be trusted with the nation's secrets.

This is the type of information that, if someone like me with a security clearance came out and validated, we'd go to prison. This would be prosecutable, a criminal release of classified information.

I won't confirm or deny whether what Donald Trump said was true.

But once again, if someone below the president had made these types of disclosures, it would be criminal in nature.

What's worrisome here is, by talking about sensitive programs, he is giving adversaries a road map to try to find more about the programs.

Right now, I'm sure the Chinese and Russians telling operatives to find out more about this and about a program that, if it exists, they otherwise wouldn't have known about.

This is damning. And it is damaging to our national security.

KEILAR: And former defense secretary, James Mattis, said Trump is dangerous, unfit and has no moral compass. Fauci says that Trump's attention span is a minus number.

I know you have your own firsthand experience working with the president. What have you seen?

TAYLOR: Look. I actually think those comments were generous.

And I'll tell you, without citing any of those individuals by name, those are some of the tamer comments that people at the senior levels of the administration made about the president.

The concerns were severe. I think Dr. Fauci's comment of the president having a minus number attention span is generous.

[13:44:57]

The president could not focus day-to-day on his actual job. You would go into meetings with the president on sobering, weighty issues, and he would be distracted by something else.

There was time we were in there to talk about school shootings and he was getting ready to meet with parents of children that died in the classrooms, and the president didn't want to talk about the meeting.

In fact, he wanted to talk about how beautiful the wall should be. And told us at the time, I want the wall to be a work of art. This is as parents and children waiting in the next room to talk about lost loved ones.

I would say that this sentiment you heard expressed in those quotes by Jim Mattis and Fauci were widely shared and are still shared by people in the administration.

And I urge them to put bad ideas back in the box when they emerge from the Oval Office. But others that found they can no longer do that, it's time to speak up and speak out.

KEILAR: I want to also just get your reaction to allegations from a whistleblower at DHS, where you were chief of staff, saying the top political appoints were instructed by career officials, Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, to alter intelligence reports to match what the president was saying publicly.

What is your reaction to this news?

TAYLOR: Yes. I would say that we need to withhold judgment at least initially and treat this one with kid gloves.

This is a whistleblower who reportedly removed from the I don't know for compiling dossiers of reporters, something that should not happen in an intelligence office.

So while these things are sorted out, we need to deal with those allegations with kid gloves.

That said, the allegations themselves are worrying. And one piece of the complaint released yesterday, I ended up being able to validate.

And that is the individual in question, the whistleblower, said that they were told to adjust assessments of Russian interference. And specifically that the president threatened to fire a top DHS intelligence official for telling the truth of interference. That's true, Brianna.

KEILAR: You

TAYLOR: I was on the phone that night with the White House when individuals were saying that the president wants the top DHS intelligence leader fired because that person testified on Capitol Hill that Russia did intervene in 2016 and expressed a preference for Trump to win the election.

That's information that the Intelligence Community has publicly validated and said is true. But the president wanted us to fire that person for making those statements.

KEILAR: Miles -- Miles --

TAYLOR: If that doesn't have a chilling effect on the Intelligence Community, I don't know what does.

KEILAR: Miles, you're named in the whistleblower complaint specifically. The whistleblower alleging that you were part of a pressure campaign to provide intel assessments on known or suspected terrorists that he felt did not line up with the facts.

So I hear you saying maybe wait a beat on what he's saying. But what do you say to this allegation?

TAYLOR: Yes. No, very important. I believe in the allegation.

The whistleblower says that the secretary of Homeland Security inflated the number of terrorists crossing the border to try to make it seem like a bigger threat.

The real story is the secretary never made such a public statement. No reporter can find that statement.

The real story is we were worried that the White House was misstating the number of terrorists crossing the southern border and had inaccurately used data that we'd given them.

So the secretary ordered that we immediately release a fact sheet to make clear very few terrorists crossed the southern border. In reality, the vast majority were coming into the United States by air.

We were concerned about the White House politicizing that information. And I'm grateful that the secretary urged that a fact sheet be issued right away to clarify that was not the case.

KEILAR: We know White House officials were overstating, misstating.

Miles, thank you so much. Miles Taylor.

This is just into CNN. We're hearing that President Trump will hold a news conference this afternoon amid the fallout from those Bob Woodward tapes. We have more on that ahead.

[13:48:58]

Plus, we'll take you to the unbelievable scene in Oregon where wildfires are burning out of control.

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[13:53:30]

KEILAR: Millions of Californians are living under surreal orange skies as historic as historic and deadly wildfires continue to scorch out west. Thick smoke, ash and haze nearly blotting out the sun in San Francisco and other parts of northwestern California.

At least three people have died and four others have died across Oregon and Washington State. And President Trump has yet to offer any public statement of support as the fires continue to spread.

Tonight, the NFL season kicks off with a much different look than you are used to -- no cheerleaders, no mascots, no handshakes at the end of the game. More than 60 players have opted out of playing to stay safe from coronavirus.

CNN's Andy Scholes is following this for us.

What else can we expect?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Brianna, the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans will play the first NFL game since the Super Bowl tonight.

And fans will be allowed in the stands. The Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars are the only two NFL teams to allow fans during NFL's opening week. About 17,000 will be allowed in Arrowhead Stadium tonight. It normally holds about 76 thousand.

Now, the fans that do enter will be required to wear a mask unless they are eating or drinking. And in order to keep a social distance, fans will be mostly seated in groups of four or six throughout the stadium.

KEILAR: All right, Andy, thank you.

[13:54:49]

We have more on the White House playing clean-up after the president is heard on tape saying he intentionally downplayed the coronavirus, including why some of his closest aides didn't know how much he revealed in interviews with Bob Woodward.

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KEILAR: Top of the hour now. I'm Brianna Keilar. Thank you so much for joining me.

We have learned that President Trump will hold a news conference next hour in the wake of explosive recordings of him talking with journalist, Bob Woodward.

In those tapes, the president admits that back in early February, he wanted to, quote, "play down" the dangers of the coronavirus. And then he ticked through the details of how contagious and deadly the virus is.

[14:00:08]

That is more than a month before the White House's first official call to stay at home on March 16th.