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Harris Says, Trump's Word Alone Not Enough On Vaccine Safety; Trump Denies Calling U.S. War Dead Losers And Suckers; Kentucky A.G. Vows To "Reach The Truth" In Breonna Taylor's Death; State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-CA) Discusses Taking Her Baby To Assembly Floor For Vote & Highlighting Difficulties Facing Parents Who Want To Work; Dr. Megan Ranney Discusses Difficulties For Parents Who Want To Work, Especially During The Pandemic. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 05, 2020 - 17:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome to a special edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Dana Bash in Washington.

We begin tonight with President Trump's credibility, first, the controversy ignited this week when The Atlantic published an article which alleged that the president simply does not respect the sacrifice of the men and women he leads as commander in chief.

The story accuses him of skipping a 2018 visit to a cemetery near Paris to honor U.S. troops killed in World War I. The reason, says the article, is because he was concerned rain would mess up his hair. The report also alleges the president disparaged America's fallen soldiers calling them suckers and losers.

Now, CNN has not independently verified The Atlantic's report and the president is, of course, not backing down. He says simply it is not true.

But some of the denials he gave were factually inaccurate in and of themselves, which leads to a bigger, much more important question as we watch the race for a much-needed coronavirus vaccine. Can Americans take the president at his word? If there is a vaccine before Election Day and the president says it is safe, will people trust it?

Well, I sat down with the Democratic nominee for vice president, Senator Kamala Harris, in an exclusive interview and asked her that question.


BASH: Do you trust that, in the situation where we're in now, that the public health experts and the scientists will get the last word on the efficacy of a vaccine?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If past is prologue, that they will not, they'll be muzzled. They'll be suppressed. They will be sidelined. Because he's looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days and he's grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he has been a leader on this issue, when he has not.

BASH: So, let's just say there's a vaccine that is approved and even distributed before the election, would you get it?

HARRIS: Well, I think that's going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump, and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he's talking about. I will not take his word for it.


BASH: For more on this, I'm joined by Dr. Megan Ranney. She is an Emergency Physician at Lifespan/Brown University. And also with me, CNN's Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger. Hello to you both.

Dr. Ranney, let me start with you. I just want to emphasize that you heard what Senator Harris told me about President Trump. She also underscored the fact that she does believe public health experts and the people who are behind the science of this.

Given all of that, what do you make when you hear Senator Harris say what she said as part of an understandable political campaign but also as somebody who might be echoing what many other people are saying across the country as they're looking towards the FDA and all of the Trump administration's parts to try to figure out how to get a vaccine that is safe?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Yes. Unfortunately, President Trump has not created a track record for himself of being trustworthy or scientifically responsible around COVID-19. Whether it's around hydroxychloroquine or bleach or his continued statements against masks, he keeps saying things that are not backed up by the science and that harm public health.

And I don't want this to be a political issue. Public health should never be political. It should be about protecting all Americans. But at this point, I can't trust President Trump's statements.

Now, the FDA, up until very recently, has been trustworthy. I hope that they can continue to be so, and that they don't release a vaccine without completion of that phase three trial.

BASH: I mean, but can we separate what you just said about not trusting Donald Trump's statements, which is obviously what Senator Harris was saying, separate that from the medical experts, the people at the FDA beyond what we have seen in the past week or so from the FDA as the FDA commissioner, as you were just alluding to?

RANNEY: Yes. So, traditionally, the FDA is completely apolitical. It is all about the science. It's about doing the right studies. It's about making sure the data is there to protect Americans. That is their job.

Now, in the last week with that emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma, that was the first time that we had seen some hints of to politicization of the FDA. But Dr. Peter Marks, who runs the approval of the vaccine is done publicly, on record, saying that he will not release a vaccine to the American public until it's proven safe and effective.

So, my hope is that the scientists and the public health professionals there will continue to do what's right but those of us in the medical community are very closely watching.


And, honestly, we're kind of disappointed that we have to be watching this closely because this should be a no brainer. This is not something that normally we would worry about.

BASH: Well, we are all grateful to every medical professional out there who is watching this closely because everybody, of course, agrees on the fact that we do need a vaccine that is trustworthy and safe.

So, Gloria, as I've been thinking about this, I've been thinking about the fact that when it comes to credibility, this is kind of backwards when it comes to the vaccine. And what I mean by that is that, you know, people who are in support of Donald Trump traditionally or at least in recent years we have seen them subscribe to his disruption of everything in Washington and, you know, hitting the norms and, you know, pushing the idea that you shouldn't trust the institutional Washington and everything around it.

But now, you have everything reversed in that you have the president saying, oh, no, you got to trust this particular institution, and he is saying that not just to the people who are his supporters but to those who maybe, you know, intuitively want to trust the institutions of government but don't because he's the one in charge.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and I think that's the issue. That's the key point. He's the one in charge. And the question is how much in charge is he, really, Dana?

So, you see in all our polling that about a third of the American public trusts him on the way he's handled coronavirus. That's not a lot. And they've watched him over these last six months talk about, well, it's going to disappear in two weeks, talk about hydroxychloroquine, talk about convalescent plasma before the jury is in, about the efficiency of that. And so they really are confused and don't know what to believe.

On the other hand, I think it's a little bit dangerous to feed into the sort of anti-vax sentiment that is out there, and you know, the question for Kamala Harris is, who are you going to trust? You've got to trust the scientists and maybe the producers of the vaccine who are all said, look, we're going to jump at once, we're going to go together on this, or you'll have more people saying, I don't want to get vaccinated, and we know that that can be a dangerous situation also.

So I think the responsible thing to do is to say, well, let's let the science lead the way, and then everything should follow from that.

BASH: Right. And she said -- in answer to that, she basically said, I do trust the public health experts. I'm just worried they're going to get muzzled. She used that term a couple of times.

Gloria, just staying with you, Anthony Fauci, who is probably, hands down, the most trusted public health official on these issues, said something on CNN recently, in the last couple of days, about the fact that he trusts the process. I think we have the sound bite. Let's listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I have faith in the system, that the FDA will do what they promise and they promise that they will make decisions on a regulatory basis purely on the basis of the science and the evidence, and I'm counting on them to do that.


BASH: So, I want reaction from both of you, starting with, from the point of view of politics and public trust, Gloria.

BORGER: Well, I think we all know that Tony Fauci is no cheerleader for Donald Trump or anyone else. And so, I think you can look to him for, as close as you're going to get to the truth on any of this to say, look, they're ready or they're not ready. And nobody knows more about this than Tony Fauci. So, I think he's going to be a good barometer out there for the American public.

BASH: And, Dr. Ranney, I mean, is he -- because, you know, yes, he has become a controversial figure, but the people who dislike him, they're disliking him because Donald Trump is effectively sending that signal, and people who support him are sending that signal. So if he, at the end of the day, says, okay, we have a vaccine, you can trust it, I'm going to take it, is that case closed as far as you're concerned from the public health and medical point of view?

RANNEY: Yes. So, I would trust Dr. Fauci to not say that the vaccine is trustworthy if it isn't. He and Dr. Collins, the head of the NIH, the folks at the FDA, they'll have access to this data that maybe the rest of us can't see at the time that it's approved.

The best possible scenario though is that before the vaccine is approved, that that data, the trial data, gets released to the public, and either a preprint or in a peer review journal that all of us as medical and public health professionals have the chance to look at it and assess it.

That said, I will trust Dr. Fauci. He won't say it's trustworthy if it's not.

BASH: Okay, well, that's a lot we can agree on. Thank you both for your insights. Gloria, we have you coming back in a little bit with some really fascinating exclusive reporting. You want to stick around for that.

And on State of the Union tomorrow morning, my exclusive interview with Democratic vice presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris.


We talk not just about COVID-19 and a vaccine but the criminal justice system, the nation's reckoning on race, Russian interference and much more. So, join me on State of the Union tomorrow morning at 9:00 A.M. Eastern.

And ahead, new fallout after claims that President Trump called troops who died in America's wars losers and suckers. Now, the president is pushing back and dragging in his former chief of staff, John Kelly. Stay with us.


BASH: While, President Trump spent part of this Saturday golfing, he and the White House are likely getting little rest as they try to contain the damage from that stunning new report in The Atlantic magazine. It quotes the American president calling troops killed in war losers and suckers.

Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us. And, Jeremy, you and our colleagues here at CNN have some new reporting as well. Fill us in.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana. A source familiar with the president's remarks has told CNN that the president has repeatedly questioned why Americans who served in the Vietnam War did so, suggesting that they were, you know, didn't know how to exploit the system to avoid being drafted in the Vietnam War, perhaps similarly to the way that the president did.

The president, of course, received several educational draft deferments and then ultimately received a medical draft deferment as well after he got a doctor's note claiming that he had bone spurs to avoid serving in Vietnam.

This source also said that the president has made comments about the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, questioning what did they get out of it? And this points to something in this Atlantic story which is this transactional nature of the president and the president's apparent lack of understanding of people who make non- transactional choices like deciding to put on the uniform and perhaps sacrifice, make the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

Of course, the most damning part of this Atlantic story, Dana, is this -- the comments that the president made about American soldiers who died in World War I, during this trip to France, when the president was supposed to visit two cemeteries, ultimately, only visited one.

Here is the comment as reported in The Atlantic. The Atlantic says, in a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, why should I go to that cemetery? It's filled with losers. In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as suckers for getting killed.

Now, the president and the White House, of course, have vehemently denied this story. Several of them have said on the record, including the former national security adviser, John Bolton, who was on that trip and is no fan of the president's, have said they did not hear the president make these comments.

Now, what's notable here, Dana, is that one person who is at the center of this trip and also of remarks that the president reportedly made at the grave of former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's son, is John Kelly, who has not spoken about this at all. The president was asked about the fact that John Kelly has not commented on this story. Here is what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know John Kelly. He was with me. He didn't do a good job, had no temperament and, ultimately, he was petered out. He got -- he was exhausted. This man was totally exhausted. He wasn't even able to function in the last number of months. He was not able to function.

He was sort of a tough guy. By the time he got eaten up in this world, it's a different world than he was used to.

But I don't know that it was him. I haven't seen that. I mean, I see anonymous but it could have been a guy like a John Kelly.


DIAMOND: Dana, remarkable, of course, that, you know, the president here is talking about a former four star Marine Corps general, former command of U.S. Southern Command and saying that he couldn't handle the pressure of the White House.

And, of course, we should note that General Kelly really has not come out and been all too critical of the president. He's been critical on some of the president's administration policies. He also stepped out to say that he agreed with former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis's criticism of how the president dispersed those protesters at Lafayette Park.

But, otherwise, we have not heard too much from General Kelly, even though we do know that some of General Kelly's colleagues and friends have suggested to him and have urged him to come out publicly with his feelings about the president.

BASH: Jeremy, thank you so much for that reporting. I appreciate it.

And coming up, Louisville, Kentucky, we are seeing protests over the death of Breonna Taylor. And Jason Carroll, a reporter, is live in Louisville. Stay with us.



BASH: Today is Kentucky Derby Day, rather. It was delayed several months this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And America's most famous horse race will certainly look and sound very different. These are pictures from last year's Kentucky Derby. Empty grandstands today and there is something more in Louisville, Kentucky, and that is protests.

Groups are squaring off and already clashing today on one side demanding justice for a woman shot and killed by police back in March in that city.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live in Louisville right now, not far from Churchill Downs. And, Jason, I see you there marching with the protesters. it's been pretty tense there. Describe the scene at this hour.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, what we have is nearly a thousand demonstrators who are marching their way from a park where we were toward Churchill Downs. Once there, they say they plan to hold a rally just as the -- just as the race is getting under way.

Along the way, they plan on conducting acts of civil disobedience, but they say, Dana, that this demonstration will be non-violent.

A little earlier this afternoon, across town, we saw members of a white militia group clash with members of Black Lives Matter that was a separate sort of altercation that was happening. Police ended up breaking up the two groups and both groups ended up going their own way.

The folks who are out here right now, Dana, say what they want to keep the focus on is on Breonna Taylor. They want to keep the focus on that investigation into her death.

And just a little earlier today, I spoke to one of the organizers about the significance of holding this demonstration on Derby Day.


TIMOTHY FINDLEY JR., FOUNDER, JUSTICE AND FREEDOM COALITION: Well, we know the eyes of the world are on our city during this weekend. Generally, the Kentucky Derby is the Super Bowl here in Louisville, Kentucky.


So we knew with this kind of platform, with this kind of megaphone, that we could really blast our message to the rest of the world.


CARROLL: So, again, you can see we have a number of the demonstrators who are heading towards Churchill Downs. It's about a mile long from where we are to Churchill Downs.

Again, they say that they want to make sure people know that this demonstration is going to be non-violent, but they also say look for acts of civil disobedience along the way, Dana.

BASH: All right. Jason Carroll, again, this is live footage, live report we just got from Jason.

And as we're looking at that, I just want to note that as far as we can see here, the protesters are, by and large, wearing masks, which is a very good thing, given the fact that they are protesting during a pandemic. Not all, but most of them. Thank you very much, Jason.

I want to get now to Joey Jackson. He is a criminal defense attorney and legal analyst here at CNN. Joey, I want you to look at what Kentucky's attorney general, Daniel Cameron, tweeted earlier. He tweeted, today, while we honor a Kentucky tradition with the running of the derby, we remain cognizant of the community's desire for answers in the investigation into the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor. We continue to move forward with our investigation, reviewing each fact to reach the truth. That was a quote from the attorney general in Kentucky.

So, Joey, as we're looking at these pictures, keeping that in mind, my question for you is about the notion of justice. That is what those people are marching for. The attorney general has that in his hands right now, right? One of the big reasons they're marching is because charges have not yet been filed against the police officers responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor, who was just in her apartment sleeping innocently and got caught up in a raid that was really not focused on her, and lots of questions about the raid.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Lots of questions about everything, Dana. I think people certainly are concerned is an understatement. They're mad as heck and they're not going to take it anymore, and it's nice, certainly, that the attorney general would tweet or what have you, but I think people are looking for results as to the investigation.

Now, when you see these crowds here, you mentioned the masks. That's important. We're in a pandemic. But what you also see is you see the diversity of the crowds. This is not just an issue which, of course, African-Americans are very concerned about. This is an issue which really you're seeing races aplenty, black, white, whatever, yellow, green, people are coming out because it is of concern that this is happening far too often.

And make no mistake about it, it's a big platform. Eyes are on from everywhere in the country here right now and Breonna Taylor, certainly, we can talk about the missteps as to the execution of the warrant, the shots that, you know, killed her, the fact that it was a no-knock warrant and those have since been banned there and other reforms where body cameras have to be worn.

But this is also a march, you know, I believe, that resonates in every city across this country. And you could change the location. You can change the name, Dana. You can change some of the facts, but the fact that African-Americans are being killed repeatedly by law enforcement is problematic. It has to stop, and that's what I think people are marching about.

BASH: Yes, and just to remind people, Breonna Taylor was killed in March. We are now in September, and these protests are going on. You know, her name came back up, and the spotlight was on it even more after what happened in Minnesota with George Floyd, and, unfortunately, others, you know, perhaps the attention wasn't paid to this the way it should have because it was right when the pandemic began in earnest.

But I want to go back, Joey, to the attorney general in Kentucky, because what -- just from a legal point of view, what are the next steps? He says they're doing an investigation. I mean, this did happen in March, so what is the hold-up?

JACKSON: So, it's nice to investigate, but even more is to be transparent with respect to the findings of the investigation, number one. And number two, the results of the investigation. What now are you going to do? Are you going to move forward and find accountability as to the officers? Are you going to, in finding that accountability, move forward with, perhaps, a prosecution? Not predicated, perhaps, on intent but maybe carelessness or recklessness, et cetera.

Make no mistake about it, officers are out here and they're giving their lives and they're protecting and preserving communities every day of the week. I get that. Many people get that. But when errors happen like this, when people die, African-Americans die and don't need to, people are very concerned about it.


And so the question in terms of what happens now is: What are you going to do, Mr. Attorney General?

Are you going, now, to take those steps to present the case before a grand jury, to get indictments, to have a jury trial, and to otherwise bring this community together by demonstrating that, no matter what uniform you wear, if there are missteps, you have to be held accountable. And so we'll see.

We should also note, Dana, briefly, that the federal government is investigating as it relates to civil rights violations. We'll see what comes of that.

But at the end of the day, people want the investigation to culminate into something of substance. And they just don't want to be placated. They want answers. They want results. They want action.

And we now wait and see what if any action will take place as people march and protest and express their grave concern about what's happening not only there but across this country.

BASH: Absolutely. The national reckoning that we've been talking so much about over the last couple of months out in full force in Louisville, Kentucky, taking advantage of the spotlight on that city with the delayed Kentucky derby today.

Joey Jackson, thank you so much for your insights. Appreciate it.

And he has been a city councilman, a Senator, and vice president, but now Joe Biden is seeking the one office that eluded him for many decades.

Next, a preview of the CNN special report looking at Biden's life, including an interview with a former critic who now supports him. You'll want to stay around for this.



BASH: On Monday night, CNN premiers a special report as Gloria Borger looks at Joe Biden's road to becoming the Democratic presidential nominee. A battle for support that now includes a surprising decision from one of his best-known critics.

Just last year, Anita Hill said she was ready to hold Biden accountable for his role in the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas.

But in an exclusive interview you're about to see for the very first time, Anita Hill reveals to Gloria Borger that she has made a choice in this presidential election.


JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT NOMINEE: Professor, do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god?


BIDEN: Thank you.

BORGER: Was it scary?

HILL: Oh, it was terrifying.

He would call me into his office.

BORGER (voice-over): It's been nearly 30 years since Anita Hill testified before a now infamous Senate Judiciary Hearing led by Joe Biden. She has come to a surprising conclusion.

(on camera): Who would you like to see elected in November?

HILL: I think Joe Biden is the person who should be elected in November.

BORGER (voice-over): And that's not all.

(on camera): Would you be willing to work with him? HILL: Yes. My commitment is to finding solutions, and I am more than

willing to work with him.

I was very uncomfortable with the idea --

BORGER (voice-over): Hill became a household name, testifying before the all-male committee during the Supreme Court confirmation of Clarence Thomas.

HILL: Judge Thomas began to use work situations to discuss sex.

BORGER: Hill claimed Thomas sexually harassed her when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas vehemently denied those accusations.

CLARENCE THOMAS, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: As a black American, as far as I'm concerned, it is a high-tech lynching.

BORGER: He was confirmed to the Supreme Court after Biden led the fight against him.

(on camera): Some say you let the Republicans kind of take over.

BIDEN: I don't think I did. But the point is, I wish I could have done it differently under the rules.

BORGER (voice-over): In early 2019, just weeks before Joe Biden launched his campaign for president, Hill got a phone call.

BIDEN: I have apologized to Anita Hill. I wish I could have done better for her. The truth is, I believed her. And I believed he should not be in the court.

BORGER (on camera): You called the phone call unsatisfying.

HILL: He didn't take responsibility. He didn't hold himself accountable in any way, except that he was sorry that I felt I wasn't treated fairly.

BORGER (voice-over): But Hill says she's been watching this election closely, and Biden seems to be taking more responsibility now. For her, that's enough.

HILL: This is not just about me. It's not just about Joe Biden. It's about millions of people in this country and around the world that we can be a model for.

And I would love to be a part of that. And if it means voting for Joe Biden, so be it.


BASH: Wow. Wow.

Incredible, Gloria.

And that is just part of Gloria's special report Monday night, again, called "The Fight for the White House: Joe Biden's Long Journey."

So, Gloria, how did she come to this decision? We certainly saw in that piece a little bit of it. But tell us more behind the scenes about how this came to happen.

BORGER: You know, I don't think that this has been really easy for her. I think she prefers Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

But as she said to me, her decision to talk about it, Dana, and to say, I'd be willing to work with him, is really not about either of these candidates. It's really about how she feels about gender violence and harassment against women and where at this point she feels she can do the most good.

She has devoted her entire career to teaching about this issue. So she's a lawyer, as you know, and now she teaches gender violence, talks about it a lot.

And she told me, at one point, you know, I used to think that after these hearings so long ago, I only wanted to be on the outside. And now maybe I think -- she thinks she can do some good on the inside.

And she believes Joe Biden has changed and that she would really want to work with him.

BASH: And I'm assuming that the Biden campaign is watching right now, saw your story online, is going to pick up the phone and say, yes, please, thank you. Please come and campaign with us. Because --

BORGER: Right.

BASH: -- they didn't know about this.


BORGER: No, they did not know about this.

And I think, look, Joe Biden, there's a difference between he and Anita Hill. He believes that he did apologize to her in that phone call. She says he didn't. Then she's been watching him and she thinks he's kind of getting it more now.

But I think that they'll welcome Anita Hill with open arms in this campaign.

And I think she's -- it's been a long journey for her over these past decades, Dana, to try and come to terms with this.

Because those hearings, when you look back on it, they're so iconic now, and they really changed her life. And so she has spent a lifetime thinking about this issue and thinking about the way Joe Biden treated her.

She did feel he left the Republicans control the hearings, that he lost control of the hearings, that other people should have testified who wanted to testify. People who worked for Joe Biden say they didn't handle it properly. But that's hindsight.

So, now she wants to move ahead. She wants to move on. And should he win, I think she'll be knocking at his door, if not vice versa.

BASH: Unbelievable.

It really -- again, as you say, for people who may be too young to have known the impact and the import of the Anita Hill hearings --

BORGER: Right.

BASH: -- you know, go back and look. Or more importantly, just watch Gloria Borger's amazing documentary.


BASH: I can tell you, as a good friend of Gloria's and a colleague, you want to watch this. It is --

BORGER: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: -- so good.

So make sure to tune in Friday night for the stories --

BORGER: Thank you.

BASH: -- of Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Also a documentary there, in "A Fight for the White House," see their triumphs, their tragedies, their dramatic journeys to a showdown we are going to see in November. Don't miss it. It's a back-to-back documentary event starting Monday, 8:00 p.m. only on CNN.

And coming up, a California lawmaker this week brought her newborn -- look at that video -- brought her newborn to the assembly floor. In the process, she highlighted the difficulties facing parents in general who want to work, but especially during the pandemic. She's going to join me live.

Stay tuned.



BASH: A California state lawmaker makes an appearance for a critical vote with her newborn daughter strapped to her chest. Watch this.



STATE ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUFFY WICKS (D-CA): So, colleagues, it's good to see you all.

I was actually in the middle of feeding my daughter when this bill came up, and I ran down on the floor today because I strongly belief strongly believe we need to pass this bill.

We are 3.5 million homes shy of where we need to be right now in this state. And Ellee (ph) agrees that we need to -- we absolutely need to pass this bill.

And I know it's difficult for some of you, these votes are difficult for some of you. But it's very, very important.

And I just come down here in strong support of this bill and urge my colleagues -- it's the simplest way we can have density that still adheres to neighborhood character.

So, please, please, please pass this bill.

And I'm going to go finish feeding my daughter.

Thank you.


BASH: Unbelievable.

That happened because her request to vote by proxy, meaning not go into the chamber, was denied by the speaker of the California assembly.

Assembly member, Buffy Wicks, says that the speaker was worried about the legality of proxy voting and that he really was trying to make it work.

Still, it is a stark example of the harsh reality for working parents, especially moms, in general, but especially amid this pandemic. How do you do your job and protect your family's health all at the same time?

WICKS: Well, California state assemblywoman, Buffy Wicks, joins me now.

I'm so honored to have you here.

You are the hero to -- for me and so many working moms to watch you do that.

I was telling you before the break, after I gave birth to my son, I don't think I left my house for six weeks, never mind went to the floor to actually cast a vote while breast-feeding.

So, I kind of, in the lead-in, talked a little bit about what happened. But give us an -- in a nutshell, why you had to go do this the way you did.

WICKS: Yes, you know, we had a lot of tough votes that day. We had expanded family leave bill, which only passed by one vote. So it was critical I was there for that.

Ironically, sort of serendipitously, we had an evictions bill that was close and we had the bill I spoke about, which was to produce more housing. So I felt really obligated that I should be there to vote on these bills to serve my constituents.

But I also was recovering from a C-section. My daughter was a little over four weeks old, trying to make the decision, do I stay home, not go vote, or do I go in? Do I take her with me?

She's feeding every couple of hours. So I decided to go in and take her with me.

And then when I spoke on that bill, it was about 11:30, 11:45 at night, the end of the session. And so, I just ran on to the floor to speak very quickly because I felt very strongly about that bill.

And I was literally breast-feeding her when the bill came up so I sort of detached her

BASH: So the speaker, Anthony Rendon, who may not know the pain of a C-section, as you and I do, he denied your request for remote voting.

He's a fellow Democrat. It doesn't seem as though this was party politics. This is just trying to get institutions that have been working in a man's world to the next level that women and women of child-bearing age are trying to do their jobs in very tough situations.


Is that -- do I have that right?

WICKS: Certainly, these institutions are changing. We have a lot more younger parents in the assembly now than we ever have before.

It's also in the time of COVID-19 and we're trying to keep folks safe.

I think the speaker really wanted to make it work for me. I think they were concerned about the legality of the vote.

He and I have spoken many times since this happened. And I think we're both committed to figuring out how to you make this work better for a situation like this or someone -- we have members caring for their elder parents or a sick spouse. How do you keep folks safe while still having continuity of government?

I'm committed to making sure we have that flexibility.

But I think the reason why this image resonated is that every mom has been in that situation. Maybe not on the floor of the assembly. And it's even harder hit for low income communities, who don't have the economic resources to have nannies and other sort of things. There's racial inequities.

And we talk about our paid leave policies, service workers who are disproportionately women of color, most of whom don't have maternity leave. They go back to work a week or two after they have a child.

So it's a broader conversation we need to have and my hope is this is what this will spawn.

BASH: You're absolutely right. I could talk to you for hours and hours. In fact, we have some mutual friends. I'll call you later. No, I'm kidding.

Thank you so much.

You're going to be very busy with your newborn, Ellee (ph). And we wish her well. And we wish you well. In addition to your 3-year-old, so you've got your hands full there.



BASH: Thank you for coming on. Thank you. And thank you for being an example for all of us. Appreciate it.

WICKS: Appreciate it.

BASH: And this kind of story isn't news to working moms, as we just heard. Buffy Wicks hopes that this is going to spark a larger or continue the conversation on the larger challenges that parents have, regardless of gender.

I want to bring in Dr. Megan Ranney again, who is a parent and an emergency room physician.

Who also -- you have these challenges before you. But I'm sure a lot of the patients that you do have them as well.

Again, it's that balance between, do I go back to work, can I go back to work, can I afford not to go back to work? And if I do, am I going to be safe and put the lives of my family members, including young children, at risk?

RANNEY: Absolutely, Dana. It is the challenge that is before all of us as working parents right now during this pandemic, especially as many of us are facing virtual schooling for the fall.

You know, within my physician community, as doctors, all of my friends who are young moms, like me -- I've got a 9-year-old and 11-year-old -- we're struggling what we're going to do with our kids during the daytime, how to keep them engaged, where they're going to go to be safe.

But we're in a privileged position. It's far tougher for the moms who are lower wage workers, for folks that don't have necessarily the means or the negotiating power to be able to say to their employers, I'm going to work all overnights or put a little extra income toward child care.

I was talking to one of my college roommates who's a principal at a school in inner city Boston.

She was saying how tough it is for her, because her school has gone entirely virtual, to watch the decisions that the parents of her kids are having to make about whether to keep their kids safe or whether to quit their jobs.

It's a really impossible situation for so many of them.

BASH: So these are really wrenching decisions that people have to make. And some people, as you alluded to, don't have the luxury of making decisions. They just have to do what they can do.

And this puts another really big burden on parents and on children, which is the mental and emotional strain. Even people like you and I, who -- I'll just speak for myself. I am blessed to have help, both with my family and my parents and others.

But, you know, even with that, it is such a difficult world for parents and, more importantly, I really think for children, because they're not dealing in a natural state right now being alone a lot.

RANNEY: Yes, that's absolutely right. There's been study after study showing that kids right now are facing or experiencing more anxiety and depressive symptoMs.

It's actually a big area of my research when I'm not covering COVID is around kids' exposure to violence and their mental health problems.

We're doing surveys right now of kids across the country and finding that they are experiencing increasing anxiety and depressive symptoMs.


And for parents as well. As you said, most of us are sleeping less. All the things we've put in place to help us be good parents to our kids, while we also balance work and other obligations, those have all disappeared.


RANNEY: You know, there are no extracurricular activities. Day cares are tough. It's a really, really tough time.

We can say, well, we should just send kids back. But in some states, that's not an option. And the teachers are facing the same challenges that we are.

BASH: Yes, they are. Most of them are parents, too.

Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

When we come back, new fallout after claims that President Trump called troops "losers" and "suckers." We're going to go live to the White House with more reporting on that next,.