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St. Louis Mayor: Mask Mandate In Place So COVID-19 Doesn't Spiral; Infrastructure On The Brink: Hurdles Remain For Bipartisan Deal; Right Now: Trump Ally Tom Barrack Being Arraigned. Aired 12:30- 1p ET

Aired July 26, 2021 - 12:30   ET




ERIC SCHMITT (R-MO), ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- not an issue is ridiculous.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on the ground as this plays out today in St. Louis. Suzanne, what's the latest?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I had an opportunity to talk to one of the councilmen, Tim Fitch, who's really of like mind with the Attorney General. He says three to one, his constituents are against mask mandates. And tomorrow he's going to take it to the County Council to try to rescind this order. But make no mistake, the Mayor of St. Louis and the County Executive of St. Louis County, they are not worried about these detractors.

They are focused on the numbers here, the dire situation in St. Louis when it comes to COVID. And that is why earlier today, they laid out this mask mandate, they said everyone is going to have to be masked up indoors, in public spaces, as well as public transportation. If you're five years old and older, if you're vaccinated or unvaccinated, the only exception would be if you're eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant, but then you'd have to put your mask back on or if you have a disability where you can't put a mask on or take it off.

And they say this is about saving lives that this is important. So we heard from the mayor earlier today, and she outright dismissed the Attorney General and the other detractors today for their comments as simply drawing it up and saying dismissing it as pure politics. Take a listen, John.


MAYOR TISHAURA JONES (D), ST. LOUIS: Our Attorney General who is running for Senate and has a history of filing failed lawsuits, wants to file another frivolous lawsuit. It's easy to grandstand with your biggest concern is filming your next campaign commercial and chasing clout. Dr. Page and I are taking action now so this crisis does not escalate or spiral even further.


MALVEAUX: And the reason they're so serious about this, the statistics, John, are startling 75 percent of the new cases recent cases of COVID are African American residents of St. Louis and the vaccination rate for that population is just 23 percent. So they realize they've got a long way to go. Masking is part of it and vaccinations, number one. John?

KING: Vaccinations number one. Suzanne Malveaux, grateful you there on the ground as this plays out in St. Louis, will be updated in the days ahead.

A staggering statistic for you as well, one state, one state accounted for nearly a quarter of all coronavirus cases in the United States last week, that one state is Florida. The Sunshine State, look at that, averaging more than 10,000 new cases daily, more than six times higher than a month ago. All 67 counties are red on a CDC map, meaning high levels of community transmission.

With us now Alix Zacharski, she's a COVID-ICU nurse manager at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Alix, first let me start by just thanking you and everyone, your staff for what you're doing. You're back in what you describe to our staff as a nightmare. Take us inside the emergency room. What are you seeing and hearing from the patients?

ALIX ZACHARSKI, NURSE MANAGER, COVID-ICU JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Thank you for having me. Yes, we're having a lot of patients coming in. And we are -- I'm mean, I'm the ICU nurse manager so I'm taking, we're getting patients from the emergency room, pretty sick. And they usually come in with a lot of symptoms. And they're coming pretty symptomatic. When they come to the ICU is when they can't really breathe and they're gasping for air. And that's when we come in, in the ICU. And at that point there, just really, in really bad shape.

KING: And I can show the statewide trend lines of hospitalizations in Florida heading in the wrong direction. You're obviously in a large community in Miami. I assume your numbers are trending the wrong way as well. And I understand some of these patients come in and they have COVID, they're in the emergency room, in the ICU. And then and only then some of them are asking for vaccines?

ZACHARSKI: Well, unfortunately, yes. When they come in and they are asking for a vaccine, it's too late. At that point in this, we have to let the virus run its course. And it is not advisable for them to get vaccinated at that point. And then, you know, in -- if you have mild symptoms, great, let it run. And if it gets worse, obviously, we do any therapies early on.

As the vaccine, as the virus goes in, in runs, it all depends. So bodies react better so we have we have for and as they get pretty sick, again, they go off to the on the ICU where I am. And unfortunately, we're having people they're very young, with no preconditions and they're getting pretty sick and sometimes on don't make it out of the ICU. KING: You describe the staff is exhausted trying to help everybody through, again, what you call a nightmare. We've been through several spikes sadly in COVID. Put this into context. Are you in better shape than you were when we went through this in the winter? Is it about the same?


ZACHARSKI: We are in better shape in the sense that haven't gotten the peak yet. This is like our CEO have mentioned it earlier that, Mr. Migoya, mentioned this is the pandemia of the unvaccinated unfortunately. And that puts us in a bad position because now we have patients that are coming in. It could have been prevented this and even if they had gotten COVID by they've been vaccinated. They could have minimized some of the terrible symptoms and terrible hit that they put in the hospital and they put it in a critical ICU. So having them to get this sick and this ill in so this tragically getting to a point where they can't get well at all and they die. That is when all the resources are come in. And sometimes it's not enough.

KING: And in terms of protective equipment and the like ventilators, are we in the horrors that we had a year or so ago? Or at least is that from a supply standpoint, are you more prepared to care for people?

ZACHARSKI: Yes, more prepared, we are prepared. And we have plenty of that. So for sure we have no -- we're not near to any of that like last year. No, we have plenty of PPE, plenty of ventilators, so we have no shortage at all.

KING: Alix Zacharski, grateful for your time today. More importantly for the work that you do every day and your staff does every day to try to keep people safe and well, thank you.

ZACHARSKI: Thank you very much.

KING: Up next for us, the President wants a deal and he wants it today. But Republicans just rejected a brand new democratic infrastructure offer.



KING: Today, if you remember watching our big CNN Town Hall last week is when President Biden suggested there would be a final deal on a big bipartisan infrastructure plan. But the early word today is not encouraging. Republicans a short time ago said no to a new Democratic offer. Still asked last hour if he's confident that we'll be in agreement, the President said quote, you know me, I'm always optimistic. That's the President at a White House event earlier today.

Meantime, talks do continue. And it is not your fault. At this latest installment of infrastructure week feels a bit like Groundhog Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): We're down to the last couple of items. And I think you're going to see a bill Monday afternoon.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): I'm here this weekend working on legislative language with colleagues and with staff and I feel good about getting that done this week.

GINA RAIMONDO, COMMERCE SECRETARY: We're in the final strokes. We're in the final days. We're optimistic. We are all engaging daily, multiple times a day with members of the Senate. And we're feeling really good about it.


KING: Panelists -- panel is back with us. This is the longest eighth inning in history. In the sense that, look, I don't make me to make fun of it, because it's important, but I do mean to make some fun of it in that they just keep saying we're going to keep talking, we're going to keep talking at some point, they have to make a decision.


KING: And we can put up on the screen. There are some details that they're going back and forth about funding for highways and bridges, money for water system, transit funding, broadband. I'm not minimizing the specifics and the issues here. However, the big question is, will, is it not that if the Republicans get clearance from their leader, cut the deal? And the Democrats say we're willing to cut this deal then they could do this, couldn't they?

RAJU: There's so much that they agree to right now, they were to say that Rob Portman said yesterday, they agreed on 90 percent of the items here. So they dropped the 10 percent. Could they agree on the 90 percent and actually move forward? That's, you know, maybe in some world. But we live in the reality of Congress. And getting a deal at this stage looks incredibly dire, the finger pointing is intensifying. That does not happen when they're getting close to a deal.

Both sides are accusing the other of moving the goalposts. And the Democrats have a realization here because there is this other larger $3.5 trillion package that they plan to move forward, they need to keep their entire party in line to get that out of the Senate. So there's talk about presumably rolling some of those provisions that are part of this bipartisan deal into that larger package.

But it's complicated too, because Democrats are not on the same page, on that larger package. So this has been a very complex negotiation, but expect nobody wants to be the one blamed for pulling the plug. But I think that that decision will have to be made in next couple of days here.

KING: Next couple of days here.

RAJU: Yes.

KING: So let's go back and listen to the President last week, because last hour, he said I'm still optimistic. Last week, he said we'll get there.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From Monday, look, no, I'm not being facetious. I'm not being facetious. You had up to 20 Republicans signed a letter saying we think we need this deal. What's going to happen is I believe, because I take my Republican colleagues at my -- at their word when you shake, I come from a tradition in the Senate. You shake your hand. That's it. You keep your word.


KING: There are a lot of people in Washington who think, Mr. President, all due respect that tradition doesn't exist anymore. And that there's, you hear his, you know, pessimism or skepticism, this can be done. What is the president doing? If he's done with the Rose Garden event, is he on the phone today? Is he calling Republicans down? Is he twisting arms?

JOSHUA JAMERSON, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, he needs to be. It's just step back and look at where we are in the Biden administration what he came in and said he was going to do, get COVID under control, get the economy back, and have a massive spending spree, Delta variant threatening the pandemic recovery, inflation threatening the economic recovery. If this is -- doesn't happen, then there's going to be a lot of pressure on him to do something else. You've got progressive who were wanting him to cancel student loan debt and then you start to hear about another set of conversations.

ASMA KHALID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: I think the challenge, I'm sorry, as he said, I think the challenge for Democrats is that there is this progressive base of the party that they need to keep energized ahead of the 2022 midterms. And I'm going to say, a month, a month and a half back, I did some reporting on how frustrated they been with the President and his quest for bipartisanship.


You know, they say, did you not learn from looking at what happened under the Obama administration that these Republicans in their words are not negotiating in good faith? And so they're very frustrated, the President seems to be eternally optimistic about bipartisanship, when they don't necessarily think that's possible. The question is like, how long do you keep pulling along and hoping for a bipartisan deal without the possibility of losing folks within the base of your own party.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And yet, the emphasis which the President has put on this particular piece of legislation in this deal, maybe part of the problem. This is something that he wants as a big win. And as Josh pointed out, it's something that's really important for him as a big win, not only because he needs to have some achievements, when he goes into the midterms, but also because let's not forget, he ran as someone who could bring back this bipartisan sense of comedy that he remembers from his like nearly half century in the Senate.

This is his best chance to get anything by partisan but it's also part of the reason that it makes it harder for Republicans to support him, because the Republican Party, of course, former President Trump, who still holds outsized force over that party, the leaders in Congress, they don't want to give the President this kind of a win. So the political dynamics are really complicated, and really given our polarized moment working against a bipartisan deal and not at all the dynamics that he talks about. He recalls with that handshake.

KING: At this week is a giant test of his first year agenda, because not only this bipartisan plan, but as you mentioned, it dominoes into the bigger Democratic spending plan. During his presidency, Donald Trump blew up many deals that were almost to the finish line with his words or his, you know, his actions. Today, he's trying to blow this one up. The former president of United States putting out a statement attacking Republicans essentially, this is just part of it.

Don't do the infrastructure deal, wait until after we get proper election results in 2022 or otherwise, we won't debate. What he means by otherwise. Republicans, don't let the radical left play for weak fools and losers. He attacks Mitch McConnell again.

RAJU: Yes.

KING: Does he matter in this debate?

RAJU: I'm not sure in the Senate. You know, you have five Republican senators who are in central to the negotiating here who don't really listen to Donald Trump people like Mitt Romney, Rob Portman, he's out, he's retiring, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bill Cassidy, he voted to convict Donald Trump.

But the large Republican Party, you may need some votes, some other Republicans in the Senate. He might listen to him. But I'm not convinced they even get to that point because they first got to get a deal and they're just not there yet.

KING: Just not there yet. All right, important couple days ahead of us, we shall see.

Up next for us, right now a longtime ally of President Trump is in a Brooklyn federal courtroom facing a judge. He's there because he shelled out millions in bail.



KING: Right now the billionaire and longtime ally of Donald Trump, Tom Barrack, is in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Barrack is being arraigned today on charges he acted as an unregistered foreign agent of the United Arab Emirates and that he obstructed justice when asked about that work. Barrack was released from custody in California Friday on a $250 million bond with a $5 million cash security. CNN's Paula Reid is live outside the courthouse in Brooklyn right now with the latest. Paula, what do we know?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: The hearing is still underway, John. But Mr. Barrack was expected to enter a plea of not guilty to these charges, including acting as a foreign agent on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. Now prosecutors have accused him of using his significant influence in the Trump campaign and then the Trump White House to lobby on behalf of the UAE without properly disclosing that. Then he was also charged with lying to investigators and trying to obstruct this investigation.

Now it's notable that he's attending this hearing in person because he was only released from federal custody late Friday after his lawyers reached a quarter billion dollar bail agreement with prosecutors. The prosecutors had argued Tuesday when he was arrested that he posed a significant flight risk. But they have allowed him to go free ahead of his expected trial. They say he's not guilty and he's going to fight these charges.

KING: Fascinating to hear when they come out of that courthouse. We'll see how that one goes. Paula Reid, grateful for the live reporting.


Up next for us, the lead Republican negotiator and police reform says he is hopeful, hopeful of reaching a compromise.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, President Biden making the 31st marking the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. At the White House just a short time ago, the President praising that landmark law, which he cosponsored while in the United States Senate. The President also promised more health now for Americans suffering from lingering health problems related to COVID.


BIDEN: I'm proud to announce a new effort, the first of its kind to help Americans grappling with long term effects of COVID-19 that doctors call long COVID. Many Americans who seemingly recover from the virus still face lingering challenges, like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain, and fatigue. These conditions can sometimes, can sometimes rise to the level of a disability.


KING: We've reached what you might call a full circle moment in the big lie perpetrated by the ex-President Donald Trump. Saturday, Trump went to Arizona to hold a rally to tout the results of that sham election audit. That audit of course based on the president, former president's completely discredited claims the 2020 election was stolen. Trump nonetheless praising the Arizona state senators who organized the nonscientific partisan audit, and he gave a preview of how he could use it in a new presidential bid. Yes, he did. The Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, called Trump quote, a sore loser. Republican Senator Tim Scott says there is hope. Those are his words of reaching an agreement on police reform, Scott of course the top Republican negotiator working on that reform proposal. One of the sticking points is qualified immunity, which gives police officers some protection for being sued. Senator Scott says ending qualified immunity is bad policy, and he won't support it but those talks continue.


Appreciate your time today on Inside Politics. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.