Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
An Additional Two More Trump Staffers Test Positive For Coronavirus After Tulsa MAGA Rally; Protesters Attempt To Tear Down Andrew Johnson Statue Near White House; Florida Surpasses 100,000 Total In COVID-19 Cases. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 22, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When we asked Congressman Engel about that hot mic moment, he said he feels very, very strongly that Black Lives Matter, Bowman said that this is all deeply personal for him.
He told CNN that as a black man, he has been dealing with police brutality his entire life, and that his first run in with the police he said happened just when he was 11 years old -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, thank you very much, M.J., well, all eyes are going to be on that primary. And now Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: And good evening.
At the end of the day that saw American coronavirus fatalities surpass 120,000, the White House was busy defending the President's use of a racist name for the disease, and his claim that he ordered a slow down on testing which the people who get taxpayer salaries and speak for him are now saying was made in jest, none of which is doing anything to contain this disease.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he made that so-called joke, new cases of the virus are rising sharply as you see there, as they are in Phoenix where the President speaks tomorrow at a Mega Church.
If it's a joke, what he said, again, as his defenders call it, he made it on a trip in which eight of his own campaign staffers, eight of them have now tested positive for the disease. We learned of the latest two just today. So, that makes them the butt of the President's so-called joke as well.
And if it was a joke, it came at the expense of tens of thousands of people who need not have died and might not have died had more testing been available to contain outbreaks instead of letting them grow, or if a national plan for it were in place, which it was not, in which it still is not.
The plan put out by the White House is one that the White House and the President is now actively working to subvert.
If it's a joke, it landed on the first of many Father's Day weekends in which some children will not have their fathers around anymore. Here's what the President said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.
They test and they test. We've got tests that people who don't know what's going on. We've got tests. We've got another one over here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the White House may have claimed it was a joke, but the lack of testing that's existed is no joke. Calling it a joke is what people like Kayleigh McEnany and Sarah Sanders and others always do when the President says something that actually seriously reflects what he is really thinking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH, MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a comment that he made in jest. It's a comment that he made in passing, specifically with regard to the media coverage and pointing out the fact that the media never acknowledges that we have more cases because when you test more people, you find more cases.
QUESTION: Is it appropriate to joke about coronavirus when 120,000 people have died?
MCENANY: He was not joking about coronavirus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The way it always seems to go whenever the President's defenders claim he wasn't being serious about something, their work is usually undone completely by the President himself. Here he is today speaking to a reporter for the script's chain of local news outlets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're doing so much testing, 25 million tests. Nobody thought --
QUESTION: But did you ask to slow it down?
TRUMP: If it did slow down, frankly, I think we're way ahead of ourselves. If you want to know the truth. We've done too good a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It didn't sound like a joke to him, does it? But whether he explicitly ordered testing to slow down or not, he is certainly okay with it. He's been pretty clear from the early days of the pandemic that in fact very clear that he didn't like a lot of testing because it made him look bad.
He said it repeatedly over the past weeks and months, that he doesn't like testing if it makes his numbers look bad, as if other people's tragedies are merely his numbers, instead of his sworn responsibility.
And speaking of responsibility, it's hard to even know where to begin with this next one and the absurd way the White House today tried to defend it.
First, the offensive and racist remark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: By the way, it's a disease without question, it has more names than any disease in history. I can name Kung Flu. I can name 19 different versions of names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Lady in the hat in the backgrounds was like yoohoo, Kung Flu. Yes.
The President said that in Tulsa to a far less -- far less than full crowd, but with people in this country, dying even as he spoke, he instead chose to riff a bit. Maybe, he thought a little racism would give the light crowd a jolt.
And now here's Kayleigh McEnany trying to say that he didn't actually say what you just saw him say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Last July, President Trump declared himself the least racist person there is anywhere in the world. Why does he use racist phrases like the Kung Flu?
MCENANY: The President doesn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I don't know how much they pay Kayleigh McEnany. But it's probably not enough because when the reporter says the President called himself the least racist person of anyone in the world, Kayleigh McEnany is like, yes, yes, that's right. Yes, that's what he is.
Keeping them honest, let's just give the gaslight a moment and just play you again what Kayleigh McEnany said the President did not say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: By the way, it's a disease without question. It has more names than any disease in history. I can name Kung Flu. I can name 19 different versions of names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Woo. Yes. Clearly, the President didn't think twice about saying it. What's so predictable about this? And again, I mean, this is how many times have we seen this?
His senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, herself, called it wrong when asked back in March by reporters about allegations that White House staffers were using the exact same phrase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm not dealing with hypotheticals, of course it's wrong. But you can't just make an accusation and not tell us who it is. Who is it?
And that's highly offensive, so you should tell us all who it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So clever, highly offensive. Find out who it is. Kellyanne Conway was lying about that. Yes, it's highly offensive. What she might not have known at the time is that she'd be talking about her boss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I can name Kung Flu, I can name 19 different versions of names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So clearly the President did say it and clearly one of his closest advisers says it is offensive, so much so she wanted the names of whomever said it, presumably so she could discipline them.
Sure. She's walked right into the White House Oval Office right after the speech when he got back looking exhausted and unhappy, and said, I can't believe you used that phrase. Well, why stop halfway down the rabbit hole?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Kayleigh, Kung Flu is extremely offensive to many people in the Asian-American community. To be clear, are you saying the White House does not believe it is racist?
MCENANY: To be clear, I think the media is trying to play games with the terminology of this virus where the focus should be on the fact that China let this out of their country. The same phrase that the media roundly now condemns has been used by the media.
QUESTION: You don't even have to enter this. The media has never called it the Kung Flu. Calling it Chinese coronavirus and calling it the Kung Flu are very different things.
MCENANY: The media -- the media and your network specifically --
QUESTION: ... has called it the Kung Flu?
MCENANY: The media and your network specifically have repeatedly used the term China virus and Wuhan virus and then gone on to deride the President as somehow using a term that they themselves have never used. So, we can go through CNN's history.
QUESTION: It is not a medical term, Kayleigh.
MCENANY: I'd be more than happy to go through CNN's history. On February 9th, you guys talked about the Wuhan coronavirus. On January 23rd, you guys talked about the Wuhan coronavirus, on January 22nd, the Wuhan virus. I can write it all out for you and detail a few in an e-mail.
QUESTION: But how does calling it the Kung Flu though, Kayleigh, you've got to admit that.
MCENANY: Yes, Justin?
QUESTION: You've got to admit that. It is not the same thing as calling it the Kung Flu.
MCENANY: Yes, Justin?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Oh Kayleigh. Again, this is what the White House is talking about, instead of formulating a true national plan for testing, tracing, treating and containing a disease that has claimed and continues to claim more lives here than anywhere else on Earth, instead of continuing to follow the guidelines of their very own Coronavirus Taskforce which they no longer allow us to hear from directly in daily briefings because the President is so embarrassed himself when he entertained the notion of injecting human beings with disinfectant in order to potentially maybe cure them of the coronavirus and some, you know, lackey healthcare officials who said, oh, yes, we'll find those people. We will look for the right people to do those tests. This is what they're focusing on.
They're telling people not to wear masks, they're making wearing a mask seem like you're not macho -- you're not masculine if you wear a mask. Yes, I mean, it's -- this is where we're at. There's a virus pandemic going on in this country, and the White House is actually subverting their own guidelines that the Coronavirus Taskforce put out months ago.
And so mostly joking about the idea of testing while failing on the reality of it and disparaging it constantly by making up supposedly funny names and insult entire nationalities instead of doing some hard work for the nation by boasting and enraging about crowd size instead of lamenting the fact that so much of this simply did not have to happen and working hard to make sure it does not get worse, which it very well may.
That is where we are right now and where we are right now tonight.
Let's get reaction to the President's remarks shortly from Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. But first even as the President stepped out of Marine One, his tie
undone, a crumpled cap in one hand, not looking exactly happy at the low turnout in Tulsa, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman who is reporting from behind the scenes, the lead of her piece with "The Times" Annie Karni reads, "President Trump and several staff members stood backstage and gazed at the empty Bank of Oklahoma Center in horror."
Maggie Haberman joins us now along with CNN Senior political commentator, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod. So Maggie, President Trump in the rally on Saturday right on, you know, racial divisiveness but not only the use of Kung Flu, also calling protesters thugs
COOPER: Which he has obviously done many times before talking about how Confederate statues coming down are assault on our heritage.
The President had hoped to run on a strong economy, I mean, in the absence of that now, is this what the President sees as the strategy for winning in November because this was supposedly the kickoff to his reelection campaign?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, I think the difficulty with that sentence is the word strategy. There isn't a strategy.
The President is winging it. He is trying to latch on to whatever he thinks can help him right now at any given moment, but in that moment, what he was stunned by what he saw out at the BOK Center in Oklahoma, which was these rows row after row of empty seats, particularly on the upper level, but not only on the upper level of the arena, and he was trying to recover from that.
The leaning into white grievance politics, leaning in to talking about our heritage. He is a man Queens, the Confederate heritage is not his heritage. But that has been something he has talked about repeatedly. That is something he thinks appeals to some of his supporters, if not all, and he is burrowing into this political base of his that he has always over the course of the last three and a half years, been afraid would leave him.
To your point, though it's supposed to be the reset for a campaign that officially launched a year ago this month. This was not the reset that they were hoping for. And it really brought into stark relief, the fact that two things are real that the President has been saying are fake.
One is that his standing in the polls has changed and his political fortunes have change over the course of the last four months and the other is that the general public, the majority of people are still afraid of coronavirus. They're so afraid of catching it, even as reopening are taking place, even as the President has tried to build public opinion to be less afraid of the coronavirus and willing to reopen states. It has not worked the way he wants. COOPER: David, it surprises me that people are not offended that the
President is encouraging, you know, people not to wear masks by his own example. And you know, his Vice President can't wear a mask if people around them don't wear masks.
And yet he's got people, like testers around him at all times testing anybody who comes into contact with him testing, you know, he gets tested and probably, you know, whenever he wants to at the drop of a hat, it's just I'm -- I can't believe that people don't kind of see this guy hiding in not a literal bunker, although that did happen, though, he denied it, you know, hiding behind walls of testers and everybody else having to wear a mask in his immediate vicinity within the White House, telling people ignore the Coronavirus Task Force recommendations, which I used to back until I made a fool of myself.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I mean, that's one of the great paradoxes here is he is the leader of a government that is providing guidance to Americans about how they keep themselves safe, keep others safe and try and limit the spread of this virus.
And he is the leader of a movement that is rebelling against his own government's advice, and by doing what he's doing, he is encouraging that behavior.
The thing that was so stunning about Saturday night was that how so few people followed that advice. So many people stayed away. And I think, look, there's another thing that's happening here, which is, the President was counting on a strong economy and an image of a guy who was competent, and strong, and he looks like none of those things now.
The economy is obviously in bad shape, but there's nothing about his performance lately that looks strong or competent and that storyline which they hope to change with that rally on Saturday night, actually was accelerated by the fact that they had ballyhooed the size of the crowd that was going to be there and had called for an outdoor rally as well.
And the turnout and then the strange, disjointed hour and 15 minutes, which by the way, was just old shtick. I mean just a new version of his old routine in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of an economic crisis, and in the middle of a country riven by racial concerns. He had no new material, nothing to say.
So, I think on the whole, this was a disastrous outing for the President and he clearly knew it when he came hat in hand back to the White House on Saturday night, Sunday morning.
COOPER: Van Jones did a piece that we had on this program on Friday night, and he basically went back and met up with some Trump voters who he had met, who voted for Trump in in 2016, and they had problems and a lot of issues with the Trump and what he's done.
All of them, in the end though, said if my memory serves me, all the three that he talked to that they were going to vote for the for the President again. Do you think there's a danger of Democrats you know, seeing all of these things and thinking that this is going to be an easy election? I mean, we still have a long way to go before votes are cast.
HABERMAN: I don't know any Democrats honestly ever seem to think this is going to be an easy election. I think David can possibly speak to that more than I can, but I certainly don't think that it is going to be easy, in part because a lot of people are very scarred by thinking that 2016 was going to be easy, and by people I mean, Democrats were scarred by thinking that Hillary Clinton was naturally going to defeat Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton thought that and her top advisers all thought that and they were sort of appalled and couldn't allow for the fact that he was doing as well as he was and reality overtook them.
And so I think that there are Democrats who are concerned that that is what will happen again. Look, as much trouble as Donald Trump is in politically right now, a lot of it of his own making, but certainly not all of it. Joe Biden is still a very flawed candidate.
He is running a flawed campaign, so far. There are still four months left. They have to have what are supposed to be three general election debates. Four and a half months ago, we were not talking about the coronavirus the way we are talking right now. So a lot can happen.
And I do think it is important to remember that that at the end of the day, elections are still binary and people if they decide to vote, unless they decide to write someone in are going to make a choice between these two men, and there are going to be a lot of people who even if they aren't happy with Donald Trump right now, there will be people who still decide to vote for him in the end.
We do -- it is a real mistake for anybody to start calling the election today based on -- and it's important to not overplay what happened over the weekend, which was ultimately a rally in a red state. They made a big deal, but on its own it's not that big a deal.
COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean, I want to hear your thoughts on that because the campaign manager Brad Parscale tried to blame the media saying they were stoking fears of coronavirus, keeping people away from the rally. That's not what -- I mean, what do you what do you over that?
AXELROD: People had fears of coronavirus maybe because Tulsa was being overrun by coronavirus. But beyond all of that, look, they over promised and under delivered. That's a horrible mistake for a campaign, but I agree with Maggie.
Look, we didn't know four months ago that we were going to have the virus, the economic downturn, George Floyd. We don't know what the next four months will bring.
You're running -- if you're Joe Biden against a candidate and Donald Trump who is willing to do virtually anything to win, and that makes a kind of asymmetric warfare. And the Electoral College is such that even if he is losing by a significant margin nationally, he still could win in these very closely contested battleground states.
But one thing that was really interesting to me about this rally was a little tale of the President. He adlibbed the line. He ripped Biden as the tool of the radical left, and he sort of adlibbed.
He's not part of the radical left. He's never been part of the radical left, but he is weak and he is a tool of the radical left. Now, it underscored his biggest problem and the reason why he brought in an impeachment to try and stop Joe Biden, Joe Biden is culturally inconvenient for Donald Trump. He looked too much like the people Donald Trump is trying to scare and he is a comfortable figure.
So, they're going to have to work very hard to impeach him. Right now, polling is showing he's not doing as well as he did against Hillary Clinton with non-college educated white women in particular. His evangelical vote is down.
So, you know, I think it's going to be a close election, but there's plenty for the President to be worried about right now.
COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod and Maggie Haberman, thank you very much.
We've got breaking news right now across from the White House with heavy police presence in Lafayette Square. Protesters, apparently trying to take down the statue of Andrew Jackson. We will continue to monitor developments and bring you live update as the situation unfolds there.
Just ahead, an Asian-American lawmaker's take on what the President said and how the White House is spinning it. Senator Mazie Hirono joins us.
And next, two of the best experts we know on cases spiking up in Florida and elsewhere, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Professor William Haseltine, who says that we may all have to live our lives very differently for quite some time to come.
COOPER: Well, the President says he asked his people to slow down testing because it makes him look bad. The actual number of coronavirus infections is rising again in this country, including in his own campaign staffers.
Two more revealed testing positive today to bring the total to eight people so far. Take a look. Here's the seven-day national moving average on cases rising back toward the 30,000 per day mark.
Now here's the State of Florida, this upward sloping bar showing why some experts already consider Florida to be the next epicenter of this outbreak.
And in the President's hometown paper, the "Palm Beach Post," the headline reads, "As cases go up, ICU beds go down."
Joining us now is William Haseltine, Chair and President of ACCESS Health International, and former Professor at Harvard University Medical School, as well as the Harvard School of Public Health. He has also written a book out today titled, "A Family Guide to COVID: Questions and Answers for Parents, Grandparents, and Children." With us, as well, CNN senior chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay first, I want your reaction to rising cases in Florida. How concerned should people be?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We've been reporting on Florida since the beginning. And I think there's always been concern about Florida. You know, in fact, in initial days, we were worried that the numbers were going to go into exponential growth there, even going back to April.
The concern really, I think, more than anything, the numbers are obviously going up. They're going out of proportion to just testing alone. We're seeing obviously the demographics, younger people obviously, being more affected by this now, but the idea that ultimately it could affect people who are vulnerable in this state and possibly increase more hospitalizations.
Take a look at this graphic, Anderson. People ask about this all the time. Who is most likely to get infected? Who is most likely to get sick? Who is most likely to die?
GUPTA: Sort of break this down by age group, I think we have this. But one thing is you look at the graphics, you look at the data that's coming out of these various places. Keep in mind that Florida, 20 percent of the population is 65 years or older. So, they are a vulnerable population. Cases go up in a vulnerable population, that's a real concern -- Anderson.
COOPER: Professor, I understand you've been looking at the rise in case numbers and I know you're upset by the spikes. I've heard you compare -- you know, people talk about a wave, a first wave, the second wave. I've heard you refer to this pandemic as a tsunami.
DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Right. The reason I call it a tsunami is I think the image most people have a tsunami is a giant, very high wave. That's not actually a tsunami, a tsunami, maybe a two or three foot wave, but it maybe 10 miles long, and it just keeps coming and coming and coming and goes into any area where it can, so it pushes deep in.
If you ever look at the pictures of tsunami, it just doesn't go away. That's what this looks like.
I'd like to say something else about what Sanjay said just very briefly. It's a new realization that the people who think that they've gotten off scot free because they're young and they've just been infected. It turns out, if you do a CAT scan, they've been very severely
infected in their lungs. They just don't know it yet. It's like having cancer, but not yet being diagnosed. Their lungs, 60 percent of them have what is called ground-glass opacity, which is going to show up later as a serious lung disease.
So, these young people who think they're getting off scot free, oh, I got infected. It's not scot free. They are affected, and it will cause them harm.
COOPER: I've heard some epidemiologists, you know, virologist talk about -- they are saying that things are moving too fast and opening up. I understand you don't think closing down things is the answer.
HASELTINE: No, you know, we can't close our economy down forever. We have to have an economy. And we can't have economies that grow and flourish when disease is all around us.
I was born at just the cusp of the change when we had antibiotics. I was born in 1944. And civilians didn't get antibiotics then, except very rarely. And so we did build our cities. We built our railroads. We built all our great country. But we lived very carefully.
I remember when polio was around. We didn't go out in more than groups of three. We never went to the pool. We never went to the movie theaters. There was fear. I remember that fear as a child.
I remember rheumatic fever. If you've got rheumatic fever, you might suffer for the rest of your life from heart disease. We were much more careful.
What I worry about is, yes, we have to open, but we're not being careful. In some places, we're being careful, like New York City, and the infection is waning. But in other places, we're not careful and we can see the results.
You know, you mentioned how much the infection is increasing, its increasing four to five times what it already was. So it was thousand, it may be 5,000 a day. Five thousand a day, means 50,000 infected people because everybody is infected for about 10 days.
So you have 50,000 people walking around Florida, infecting other people, and in Texas, it's about 40,000 people. So, this is not a small matter. This is a very big matter that we can learn to live with. But we have to be careful. That's one of the reasons I wrote the book, to help people live.
COOPER: Sanjay, I think, the Professor's point Sanjay is so important that I mean, the very thing that the administration is trying to do have open things up, the -- it's not an either or up or close down. There is a middle ground, which is opening up to the degree you're safe, but where mass and social distancing and doing the things that we all know, actually works, Sanjay.
And yet that's the very thing this administration is subverting that notion. I mean, they've been up on their own -- they've given up on their own criteria.
GUPTA: We should have learned some lessons here. I mean, and by the way, I should point out, South Korea, which people often hold up as a model, I think, to Dr. Haseltine's point, they never really shut down. They just did the things that they should have been doing well -- tested early, wear masks, physical distancing, they were able to mostly keep their economy open throughout this and they have fewer than 300 people who have died.
There's absolutely a middle ground and people who are absolutely against shutting the economy down oftentimes, are the same people who don't like want to adopt any of those middle ground strategies. Masks really make a difference.
They're not a panacea. They're not foolproof. Physical distancing makes a huge difference. You start adding these things in. And you know you could you could have an open economy, just it would feel different in some ways.
COOPER: Professor Rasul Jean (ph), appreciate it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as well.
Just ahead, the administration fire as a top Justice Department official would investigate the President's inner circle. It's a story familiar to my next guest, former FBI deputy director and senior contributor Andrew McCabe. He joins us to talk about what President Trump may have known about the Astro when we return.
COOPER: And the White House they had trouble explaining another burgeoning controversy, President Trump's role in the firing of a federal prosecutor involved in the investigation of his allies and organizations close to them.
Late Friday night Attorney General William Barr announced the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York was resigning only in a statement Geoffrey Berman said he wasn't. Berman's office prosecutor former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. And according to CNN sources it's currently conducting an investigation involving Rudy Giuliani and his former associate Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Individuals that figure prominently in the impeachment of the President. Berman agreed to leave after the Attorney General named Berman's deputy as his immediate successor.
President Trump has tried to keep his fingerprints off this one. He told reporters Saturday wasn't involved. That's not the message from the White House today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But why did the President say he wasn't involved in the firing of Jeff Berman when the Attorney General said he -- the President was the one who fired them?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Because the Attorney General was taking the lead on this matter. He did come to the President and report to him when Mr. Berman decided not to leave. And at that point is when the President agreed with the decision of the Attorney General and that to fire Mr. Berman and to promote Mr. Clayton.
COLLINS: So he was involved in it?
MCENANY: He was involved in the sign off capacity. He was not -- AG Barr was leading the way but in the sign off capacity. Yes, the President was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The White House provided no justification for the firing, joining me with someone who was the target of a fruitless nearly two year investigation by the Justice Department after his ouster former FBI Director -- Deputy Director and now CNN contributor Andrew McCabe.
Mr. McCabe, thanks for being with us. Are you at all surprised, first of all, by the mixed messages, the lack of clear explanation, or any explanation for why Mr. Berman was unceremoniously fired?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, Anderson, I'm not surprised by that, because we've seen quite frankly, we've seen this level of confusion and incompetence with other maneuvers around certainly the administration and now the Justice Department. I think the thing that's most concerning about it, though, is it is a series of deliberate misrepresentations to the American people. So the letter on Friday night clearly misrepresented the circumstances around Berman's leaving the post as the head of the Southern District of New York.
And then of course, the Attorney General and the President's conflicting stories about the firing on Saturday only made the matter even more confused. This repeated misrepresentations to the American people have to really undermine people's confidence in the Department of Justice and the way they're doing their job. And I think that's a very bad thing long term for the country.
COOPER: In the Attorney General's letter to Jeffrey Berman. He writes about Mr. Berman's refusal to resign saying you have chosen public spectacle over public service. Does that make any sense to you, especially since there was apparently never an agreement for Mr. Berman to step down?
COOPER: I think we just lost you will try to reestablish that. I believe we have you back. Hey, you're back. So does it -- mean, there was apparently no agreement for Mr. Berman to step down. So I'm not quite clear what Attorney General Barr is talking about saying that, you know, he's chosen public spectacle over public service.
MCCABE: Well, I mean, you know, we all know what happened here. The Attorney General looked back, right, he jumped the gun. He said something was true.
COOPER: I'm sorry. We're having a problem with that we'll try to re establish a contract with Andrew McCabe.
Just ahead more on the disparaging term. The President uses rally Saturday to describe the coronavirus. And Mazie Hirono who joins us to discuss.
And later the latest in the federal investigation into the news left inside the garage stall of Bubba Wallace the only black driver and NASCAR's top circuit. And the men who led the fight to ban the Confederate flag and races.
COOPER: And we're back with Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI. Hopefully it stays up.
Just finally, let me just ask you, I mean, is this anything? Is there any other way to look at this and then other than the White House, the Justice Department doesn't like the fact that the southern district of New York continues to investigate allies of the President. Apparently Rudy Giuliani and others they invested in Michael Cohen and they're just trying to get rid of him, you know, late at night on a Friday with a lot of stuff going on.
MCCABE: Yes, there's no other way to look at it. And look, we know that for two reasons. One, the way they did it. They not only took Berman out, but they tried to put in the U.S. attorney from New Jersey to sit in as the acting until their new selection could be confirmed because they didn't want Berman's deputy to run that office in the same way Berman had.
And also historically that we know Anderson, this is the way this administration moves. If you are someone who becomes identified by the President as an enemy of his either because you tell the truth, or because he feels that you're running the risk of exposing something he doesn't want expose, you get fired. Something just happened to me, which didn't happen to half a dozen AGs, that happened to Colonel Veneman in front of the entire United States watching throughout those hearings. It is the way they move. They eliminate threats, fire people and try to destroy them publicly. I sincerely hope that doesn't happen to Mr. Berman now.
COOPER: Andrew McCabe, thank you very much. Again, apologies for the technical problems.
We are getting reports --
MCCABE: No problem.
COOPER: -- on the White House is asking reporters to evacuate from the White House. CNN Kaitlan Collins is just outside joins us now. Kaitlan, what's going on? COLLINS: Yes, Anderson, we were inside the White House, the Secret Service came around and asked for us to leave that it's something that I don't think has ever happened since I've been inside the White House. Often they say, you can't go outside the white house is on lockdown presses instructed to actually leave the White House grounds. And out here you can see there is a swarm of protesters out in front of the White House. There were reports that they were trying to take down the statue of Andrew Jackson that of course is in Lafayette Square right in front of the White House. And as we were walking back through here, we saw several protesters who said that they had fired some kind of substance at them. They weren't sure if it was tear gas pepper spray. Of course, that was a big debate in the last time. They clear the protesters.
But I'm going to step out of the way that you can see here, the police have moved this barrier to where we are right now. Earlier today, this has not been where the barrier was. And there are several protesters standing around, several police officers here forming a bit of a haphazard line in front of the White House, as we're waiting to figure out more details about what's going on, but clearly they believed there was some kind of threat happening and that's why they had reporters leave the White House and that very unusual move Anderson.
And of course this is a very spot on standing where they moved those protesters not that long ago where they forcefully cleared them out of the way when the President made his walk right over here to St. John's Church next to me. So we're still learning a little bit more about what exactly is going on, what transpired but definitely a much heavier police presence, and protesters, and you've seen here in the last several days.
COOPER: So Kaitlan, just so you know, what we're seeing on the right of our screen from earlier, looks like law enforcement personnel moving in to clear I assume the area around the statue. Can you just explain where you are for those who aren't familiar kind of with the layout of this? Is that the White House all the way in the back and then is that the Jackson statue there also in the background?
COLLINS: Yes, that's the Jackson statue. It's right there in the middle of the park. It's Andrew Jackson on a horse of course, that is Lafayette Park right in front of the White House. And so we're standing here on 16th Street. Right next to the church, that of course, the President had that infamous visit. And so that is the question, you know, as we've seen this debate raging over the last few days across the nation about these statues that are across the nation and what's going on, and there was something going on with that when the police felt the need to move it.
The question, of course, is how they move to these protesters, what tactics they use and what the response of the protesters is going to be. Tension is definitely seem to be running higher than they have been in the last several weeks over here.
COOPER: So Lafayette Square Park has that's been cleared of protesters?
COLLINS: Yes, there is no one in Lafayette Park that is not a police officer at this moment. We're at this barrier, it's exactly where you saw the protesters standing when they forced them out, so aggressively of course that infamous Monday. And so now police have come here, you can see these concrete barriers here in front of it and it is police officer on bikes. You can see a few more but the park right now has been clear.
COOPER: And do -- approximately how many protesters would you say there are obviously it's always hard in a situation like this, but.
COLLINS: It's always hard, especially if you're on the ground. But we actually have been over here reporting a lot. We have a pretty good idea when it's a lot of protesters. This is certainly a -- it's somewhere in the medium range, I would say. Not as many as we've seen on Sundays where they feel this. This is of course, where the story I'm standing on is where the D.C. Mayor renamed it Black Lives Matter Plaza and that's where you saw so many protesters and demonstrators over the last several weeks. But there's only a good amount of people around everyone seems to be watching looking to see what it is exactly that's going on is they're waiting. And of course the question is, you know, do they move the protesters further back? How does that go, because that was a decision they had to make the last time.
COOPER: It's interesting that the White House the Secret Service chose to ask reporters to leave. It doesn't seem like at this stage, there's an immediate threat on the White House itself.
COLLINS: No. And that's what's so unusual, because I'm telling you that I've been reporting on this White House since the day Donald Trump was inaugurated. And we have never been asked to physically leave the White House. They'll take us off the front lawn. They will move us slightly indoors, keep us indoors if they think there's some kind of security threat, but they actually had us leave the entire White House grounds that I understand.
So it's not clear why the Secret Service made that decision. We're obviously cleared now very far back from the White House probably 200 yards back from the White House as we're trying to figure out why the Secret Service made that decision to clear reporters out a very, very unusual move.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, will continue to check back in with you. I want to turn our conversation now back to the what we were discussing the beginning of the hour the phrase the President used to describe the coronavirus the one, the racist phrase that he used kung flu, not only do many Asian-Americans know others find it offensive the phrases being used at a time when the virus is fueling verbal and physical attacks on members of the Asian American community.
Joining us now is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Senator Hirono, the term kung flu. When you heard the President say that, what did you think?
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): That he was racializing the virus. And again raising of anti immigrant fervor. So this is what the President does, he's a very divisive person, and he's up against it. And so you use these kinds of variances, China virus, kung flu, members of this administration have also use those terms. And he must know that there's allies and parents, men and outright physical attacks on Asian-Americans in this country.
He must know that, but of course, he takes some responsibility for what he says and what about (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: The White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany obviously defended the President tried to equate the President's comment to phrases China virus or Wuhan virus, which is an argument I don't quite understand. I mean, kung flu has nothing to do with the actual origin of the virus. They're not the same thing at all.
HIRONO: They're constantly using -- they're not even dog whistles anymore. These are outright racist kind of terms, and they'll try to make excuses. But we all know what they mean. So it just makes them look even more racist, and in my view, pathetic when they try to act as though oh, we really weren't saying that, please. So he continues to use divisive rhetoric and it's harming people in this country.
COOPER: When I'm wondering what you think overall of response to COVID by this administration? What is the situation in Hawaii which, which you represent? And what do you make of the administration's response overall?
HIRONO: The administration's response has been totally incompetent and, you know, uncoordinated. And he's certainly living up to what he said. And what he said was, this is not my responsibility states, you're on your own. So our governor, as well as the governors of all the other states have to bet against each other for PPEs and other necessary items. And that's still the case, even as the Democrats continue to call on the President to have a nationwide testing so that we're not doing haphazard kind of testing. And of course, now we hear that he wasn't joking when he said he's up on the testing because he equates the test with the increasing numbers of people who are getting the virus. And this is a President who does not pay attention to science or facts.
So yes, what's happening in Hawaii is that we have had a stay at home kind of provisions. We're slowly opening carefully reopening various businesses, et cetera. And we've had, you know, lucky, unfortunately, because we have social distancing, and where you have mask to prevent it, I think the spread of the virus in a way that at least some other places have not, but we are being very cautious. We realize that we have not tested enough people. That's my view in Hawaii as well as the rest of the country.
COOPER: Senator Mazie Hirono, appreciate your time. Thank you.
HIRONO: You're welcome.
COOPER: Up next, the racism directed to star of NASCAR who has been helping in the drive against hate and the use of the Confederate flag there. Tonight the questions about how someone was able to get inside Bubba Wallace's garage stall to leave a noose.
COOPER: Tonight the FBI and the Justice Department are investigating after a noose was left inside Bubba Wallace's garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Wallace is a pioneer among black drivers in the sport. He recently began displaying the Black Lives Matter hashtag across his car, and he called for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from events which he did just this month. But on Sunday, the first time fans were allowed back to watch any NASCAR event in person, someone was able to make it into the secure garage area and leave the news.
Randi Kaye tonight on the outrage among fellow drivers and the show unity as they hit the track this afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of NASCAR's drivers have read --
RANDY KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Talladega today a show of force, NASCAR drivers walking in solidarity with Bubba Wallace is number 43 car. A source close to the investigation. Also saying today that Wallace never saw the noose hanging in his driver's stall.
STEVE PHELPS, NASAR PRESIDENT: There is no place for racism in NASCAR. And this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.
KAYE (voice-over): Wallace has yet to speak about the incident but tweeted last night he was incredibly saddened and called it a despicable act of racism and hatred and a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism. He went on to say, this will not break me, I will not give in, nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.
Wallace's fellow drivers escorting his car today to the front of the grid and standing together for the national anthem. Wallace tweeting this selfie writing, together, NASCAR also showed support painting and I stand with Bubba, hashtag in the infield. As the race began, Bubba Wallace's team gave him a pep talk over the radio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you man, we all do. Take care yourself out there, put us in a good spot. Get yourself a deep breath. Get your mind right, especially these haters.
COOPER: Randy Kaye (INAUDIBLE) --
KAYE: So Anderson, they're obviously trying to figure out who did this. And because there's been limited access to the track because of this pandemic, that may make their job just a little bit easier because really, it's just been essential employees like race teams and NASCAR employees. So, the president NASCAR says they are investigating, as you said, along with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Department of Justice and the FBI. He wouldn't say whether or not security cameras around that stall number 43 might have picked up anything but he did say Anderson, that they have ramped up security around Bubba Wallace himself, they are concerned about his safety.
In fact, they let his team inspect his car today before the race to make sure it hadn't been tampered with. And speaking of the race Anderson it has ended. Bubba Wallace came in 14th. But he said quote, all in all we went today. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Randy Kay. Randy, thanks very much.
And to everyone just joining us, Chris Cuomo is off tonight. We have breaking news. Reporters have been asked to leave the White House.