Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Recap Of Larry Kudlow Interview; Trump Signs Executive Order After Stimulus Talks Break Down; Nine Infections At School Since Viral Photo Of Crowded Hallway; O'Brien Says, Russia And China Targeting U.S. Election With Cyberattacks; Concern Grows Over Food Insecurity As Virus Spreads. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 9, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:24]

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Hello. Thanks for joining me. I'm Dana Bash, in for Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with the U.S. hitting another unthinkable milestone. Today coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed five million. That's by far the most of any nation on earth. More than 1,000 Americans are dying every day.

The death toll is now more than 162,000 and counting. Yet despite that and the economic toll wrought by this disease, Congress failed to find a compromise on a new stimulus deal to help leaving millions of Americans with unanswered questions about their unemployment benefits, food security and eviction.

Now President Trump is side stepping Congress in a series of executive actions. The President said Saturday that he would be acting unilaterally after his team and congressional Democrats reached an impasse.

What he signed allows for up to $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits but only if states ask for it and pay a quarter of it. It also includes a memorandum for a payroll tax holiday and suggests assistance to renters and homeowners facing eviction. The President also issued a memorandum on deferring student loan payments.

All in all, it is still very confusing for most Americans and it is unclear whether the President's executive actions are even legal.

This morning, I spoke with the White House top economic adviser Larry Kudlow about what these new actions actually mean for the American people and what they do not. Here's that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: I want to start with the President's claim that unemployed Americans will get $400 per week in unemployment assistance.

But let's talk about what the executive action really says. Americans only get money if, a, a governor asks for it; b, if the state kicks in $100 for each person each week. But many states, as you know, are really struggling to make ends meet.

So let's be clear. No unemployed American is going to get an extra penny unless the governor asks for it and can afford it. Is that right?

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well look, don't forget, please, the state unemployment benefits continue. There's no affect on what they do.

And yes, you are correct. For an extra $100 we will lever it up, we'll pay three quarters and the states will pay 25 percent. And I think the way this is going to work out, we have additional funds that we will repurpose for this. This is an essential item. We have tried to get it through the Democratic House for, I don't know, two or three times and it's going to be a form of economic assistance.

Probably you'll get $800 total federal and state and if we get it going September 1st which is what the deadline looks like that will probably give the workforce an increase in wages, basically it's a wage increase --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: What do you mean $800 total?

KUDLOW: $1,200. Well, at a minimum we will put in $300 and the states will continue with their $400. But I think all they have to do is put up an extra dollar and we'll be able to throw in the extra $100. So it should be a total -- it should be, may not be in every case, because as you know we are talking averages.

BASH: Ok.

KUDLOW: Some states higher, some states lower but on average, Dana, it will run to about $800. That's about $1,200 wage increase.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But the executive action says -- the executive says $400 and that the state would pay 25 percent of this. You are talking about some other money that I don't know about.

KUDLOW: Well, you know, we will stand ready to repurpose if states put in a little bit more is all it amounts to.

BASH: Ok.

KUDLOW: I mean right now that number is going to run around $700. I think they'll get to 800. Some states can get above $800 with our federal help. And again, the key point here is that it's a wage increase Dana, of about $1,200 for the last four months for the year. That's a big pay hike and not only does that reward the heroes who have been working I think it's an incentive to get more people who want to come into the workforce. BASH: But I just -- we need a bit of a reality check here. You do

agree that the only way any of this could possibly happen is if the states actually ask for it and create a whole new system and is that what your expectation is?

[14:04:57]

KUDLOW: Well, look. That's just -- that's like topping it off. State benefits, I mean we are talking about averages here across the country but state benefits run about $300, $400. That's going to continue. We're not touching that. That's up for the states.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Right. We're not talking about this. We're just talking about the enhanced employment benefit. Let's just -- let's leave that out of the conversation.

KUDLOW: That's correct.

So for a $100 bucks add-on, we will put on $300.

BASH: What makes you think that states have that $100 a week per person who's unemployed in their state to even put into this potential pot of money?

KUDLOW: Well, I think they will be able to make room. Our estimates from the Treasury Department in terms of Cares Act 1 was that the states have not spent all the money that was allocated to them and that there's, you know, considerable overflow that they could make use of.

We're going to operate on the same principle in the executive order. We will be repurposing funds from other areas. So --

BASH: Have you --

KUDLOW: -- based on our estimates, the states will be able to provide the extra $100 and that will gross up the whole benefit to something on average of about $800.

BASH: Have you checked with the states? How many of the 50 states and D.C. and other territories say that they are going to be able to pony up $100 a week per unemployed --

KUDLOW: We'll probably --

BASH: -- citizen.

KUDLOW: Yes, good question. We'll probably find that out, you know, today and tomorrow as we make our canvas. We have been in touch with them. We have very good records coming out of the Treasury Department. But we will be in touch with them, yes.

BASH: So you don't know? So you don't know yet? The President didn't know the answer to that before he made his announcement? KUDLOW: Well look. At the moment we know the money -- probably a good

$80 billion to $100 billion was not spent. So we think that's distributed across the 50 states should be ample. We'll find out the exact specifics today and tomorrow.

BASH: So I want to remind you of something that you said about this kind of move just this past week. Listen.

KUDLOW: We've got to fix and extend the unemployment issue right now. I don't think that can be done administratively. I think that requires an act of Congress.

BASH: So, the whole question of whether it -- there's the money for this to work is one, but what even you yourself said is whether it's even legal. Do you think it is?

KUDLOW: Well, I'm not the lawyer and I probably spoke out of turn there because I worked all week with our counsel's office and they proved to me that we could use the Stafford Emergency Act and that we could repurpose funds to do that. So I probably shouldn't have said that.

I was thinking at that point we might be able to get a deal with congressional Democrats. As you know, we were unable to get that deal. We tried a couple times. We offered compromises. We couldn't get it so the President decided to take action on his own.

Of course I think he was right to do so. And when the lawyers gave me a green light, then sure, no problem.

BASH: Ok.

KUDLOW: We have a lot of -- you know, the president said for, what -- four or five months regarding this whole virus emergency crisis and so forth. He has said we will use every power the federal government has to help out and I think this is an example of that.

BASH: So you do think this is a real power because there's a big question about whether he way overstepped his power.

KUDLOW: I understand. It will be a debate. I'm not the lawyer so I can't give you the final word but Counsel Pat Cipollone have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb and he believes we can do it and we are going to absolutely do it. We will begin -- I believe this will begin effective August 1st actually.

BASH: One quick other question about this apparent unemployment plan. We have talked to experts about this who say that even if this did happen, that it could take months to get this new system up and running. You agree with that?

KUDLOW: No, I don't. the Labor Department working with the states believe it can happen much, much faster than that. Mind you, all the -- all the federal money we had been putting in was running through the states systems so those systems which needed some reform and needed some updating to be sure, those systems are in much better shape today than they were three or four months ago.

BASH: So when will people see their first checks?

KUDLOW: I don't want to be specific because you might hold to me to it as you should. But I think it's going to be in a couple of weeks and I think it's going to come to about $1,200 per person. That's a huge wage increase --

(CROSSTALK)

[14:09:56]

BASH: You keep saying $1,200 per person. Are you talking about in addition to the unemployment that they're already getting?

KUDLOW: Oh no.

BASH: Where does that number come from.

KUDLOW: That's the payroll -- I beg your pardon -- the $1,200 will come from the payroll tax deferral --

BASH: Ok. We're going to get to that. Ok.

KUDLOW: -- on top of this --

BASH: All right. Because there's a lot of numbers here and it's --- it's a little confusing.

KUDLOW: Yes. I'm sorry. It should be --

BASH: I'm going to get to payroll tax in a minute. Go ahead.

KUDLOW: It should be $800. I beg your pardon. It should be $800 for the unemployment.

BASH: $800 or $400?

KUDLOW: No. It should be -- $800. If the states step up, we're prepared to match that should be come out $400 federal, $400 states.

BASH: Ok. We'll move on because I think this is -- that's not what the President said and it is a bit confusing. And I think the fact it's not entirely known is very telling.

I want to talk about evictions, Mr. Kudlow, because the President claimed that he is protecting Americans from eviction but that's not what this document says. It says that agencies should consider whether halting evictions stops the spread of COVID and tells Treasury to identify money to help renters and to promote their ability to avoid eviction. This is not a freeze on evictions. This is a memo asking his cabinet to study it. Right?

KUDLOW: Well, it gives -- it gives the health department, it gives Health Secretary Alex Azar and the CDC a lot of power if they are concerned about community spread, for example. They will trigger actions that will prevent evictions. And I think in most cases -- I mean, we did not fortunately, we did not have much forbearance at eviction from the first Cares period last three or four months.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But if I -- if I got an eviction notice and I listen to what the President said yesterday, I think I'm not going to be evicted. But that's not what this executive order actually says. Do you agree with that?

KUDLOW: Well, no, not exactly, because again, the health secretary has the authority working with the CDC to declare it an emergency. And therefore, there will be no evictions.

BASH: Has the authority --

KUDLOW: And please don't forget --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Does he -- yes or no -- yes or no, does this freeze evictions? Prevent evictions, period, full stop as the President said yesterday?

KUDLOW: It will. It absolutely will. All that has to happen -- we are setting up a process, a mechanism. ok. I can't predict the future altogether. All the federally financed -- single families and multi families will be covered as they have been.

With respect to the additional population, again, if HHS declares emergencies then evictions will be stopped. Look, we do not want --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: I just want you to know in this -- I know you've seen it. It uses words like consider, identify, promote, review. There's nothing that actually says a landlord cannot evict a tenant.

But let's move on because I really want to talk to you about the payroll tax cut. This is another part of what the President talked about.

Let's start with the fact that it doesn't affect 16 million American who are currently unemployed and aren't on a payroll to tax. Right? Let's start there. And I also want to talk about what you said in 2011. You wrote that a payroll tax cut is a quote "very weak-kneed economic stimulant and a lackluster job creator". So were you wrong then or are you wrong now?

KUDLOW: Look. All's I was saying then is there's stronger tax cut measures that would have bigger effects throughout the economy but, you know, when I said that you couldn't foresee what's happened with the virus and COVID. You just couldn't foresee that.

Now look. At this point as I said, it would probably be worth $1,200 per worker. And in terms of the number of workers, yes, we are running somewhere around 15 million, 16 million unemployed way down I might add, thankfully. We have had 9 million increase in jobs and a big decline in the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent on the Friday numbers. We are in, I believe, a strong self-sustaining v-shaped recovery.

BASH: Ok. Well, you say that -- you say that. I just think that -- you say that and it's better than it was --

(CROSSTALK)

KUDLOW: People should think of it, Dana --

BASH: -- but just remember that we are at a place right now where the unemployment rate is still at the height that it was in the great recession of 2009 as you well know.

I mean it's still pretty bad. 30 million Americans don't have enough to eat.

On this payroll tax question --

[14:14:57]

KUDLOW: But Dana, I just -- I want to make sure -- I understand that as I have said many, many, many times. There's still plenty of hardship and there's plenty of heartbreak in these numbers.

That, by the way, is why we are driving forth with administration executive actions to provide unemployment assistance and with respect to the payroll tax, basically we're giving a 140-some odd million people who work through this pandemic. They're heroes. Giving them about $1,200 wage increase after tax. And I think that is --

BASH: Mr. Kudlow --

KUDLOW: -- vitally important. And I think that will --

BASH: -- you say we're giving them -- you say we're giving them that but as you will know, in the constitution it says the power of the tax is a power of the Congress of the United States. How on earth is the President unilaterally making a decision on taxes constitutional?

KUDLOW: Well look, it's a deferral. It is not a tax rate change. I understand it will be challenged in the courts. We'll see what happens. A lot of this, Dana, has to do with repurposing. We have a lot of extra money that has not yet been spent. That's part of the negotiations.

The Supreme Court has permitted us in the past, particularly regarding the wall between the United States and Mexico, to allow repurposing of funds. And we believe the Treasury Department has the authority to suspend the tax, not permanently but to suspend the tax on a temporary basis --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Well, not permanently, but the President said -- ok, but the President explicitly that if he gets reelected, he will make the payroll tax cut permanent.

As you well know, these funds -- these funds go into and help pay for Social Security and Medicare. The President promised many times not to gut Social Security and Medicare. So isn't that exactly what he will be doing here?

KUDLOW: Yes, he's going to -- no. He will protect Social Security and Medicare as he has pledged to do many, many times.

BASH: How does he do that and cut payroll taxes at the same time?

KUDLOW: Well, hang on. When he referred to permanent, I think what he was saying is that the deferral of the payroll tax to the end of the year will be made permanent. It will be forgiven.

The tax is not going away. We're still going to have the Social Security --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Well, he said he would -- he said he would do away with it if he gets reelected. It was a new campaign pledge.

KUDLOW: No. I think that he was referring -- doing away with it -- I believe he was referring to doing away with the payback of the deferral. And I think his intent here and it's written in the EOs very clear that we will take any steps possible to forgive this deferral. That's what he was actually saying.

BASH: Ok.

KUDLOW: We will protect Social Security. We will protect Medicare.

BASH: Ok. I just want to say that's what you're saying but that is not what the President said at all. He said the opposite. Just real quick --

KUDLOW: It's in the executive order. It's in the executive order.

BASH: Ok. Well, that's not what he said. People aren't reading the executive order. They are listening to this.

KUDLOW: Well, I think he was meaning -- I think he meant -- I think he meant the deferral would be forgiven. I think he was saying that the savings on the deferral will be permanent. He did not mean that he's eliminating the Social Security tax.

BASH: Ok. Thank you for clarifying that. Thank you for joining me this morning. I appreciate it.

KUDLOW: All right. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had choice words for the administration. What are she and other Democrats doing to reach across the aisle? We'll discuss that, next.

Plus, the President's national security adviser is now accusing both Russia and China of targeting states' election Web sites. So what is the White House doing to prevent election interference right now?

And remember this photo of a packed hallway in Georgia? That's a school there where CNN is learning nine cases of coronavirus have been reported. We're live coming up.

[14:19:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASH: Welcome back, just hours after President Trump bypassed Congress and signed a series of executive actions that he says would bring pandemic relief to millions of unemployed Americans and those facing evictions, today there's mounting confusion and disagreement about how effective or legal the President's moves are.

Earlier today, we heard from the President's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow as he defended the President's actions but struggled to clarify exactly how they will be implemented or funded.

I want to go to New Jersey to Kristen Holmes our White House correspondent. New Jersey is where the President is at his golf resort where he signed those executive actions.

Also joining me is Diane Swonk chief economist for Grant Thornton. Welcome to you both.

Kristen, let me start with you. So some Democrats and also some members of the President's own party are questioning the President's move. What are you hearing?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Dana. And it's always surprising these days when someone on the Republican criticizes President Trump but that's exactly what Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse did last night. He put out a statement saying that these kinds of executive actions were unconstitutional slop.

Now, unsurprisingly Democrats hit this almost immediately after he made these signings. At one point Nancy Pelosi saying in a statement that they were weak and narrow, and essentially ripping apart President Trump.

Now, she extrapolated on that today in an interview with you and she seized on Senator Sasse's comments. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Everything is left out. Our assistance to the schools, feeding the hungry, helping people who are going to be evicted. The President didn't even do a moratorium. He just did a study or looked at a moratorium. So again, something's wrong.

[14:24:56]

PELOSI: I associate (ph) -- remarks that Senator Sasse has said, they're unconstitutional slop.

I think that right now we want to address the needs of the American people. As my constitutional advisers tell me they're absurdly unconstitutional.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: So a couple things to note here. One is that Speaker Pelosi is right in the sense that this is very limited. It doesn't touch on schools. It doesn't touch on money for small businesses -- things that are very important to both parties.

And we should note that we spent the night on the phone last night talking to experts who said that there are large concerns about these executive actions and that there's a chance that many of the people who need these funds may never get it because of the language and the hoops that people have to go through in order to get this funding.

But on the other side of this we should point out that the reason why President Trump was issuing out these statements, signing these executive actions, was because Congress couldn't come to any sort of a deal.

So there's some optics here and some cleanup that needs to be done by Democrats who see him signing this. They know that people, even if the text of the actual executive actions doesn't really yield many results, they see President Trump saying I am taking the lead on this. Now I signed these executive actions and they're saying Congress couldn't get it done.

BASH: No. That's exactly right. I mean this is not something you can pull the wool over people's eyes about. If you're unemployed and you don't get a check, you know that this is not true. Right?

And Diane, luckily we have one of those experts with us. I also spoke to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine a Republican, who told me that they didn't know whether or not this is something they would participate in. They were going to look at it.

Larry Kudlow also told me that they weren't sure how many states were going to participate.

I mean how real is this? If you are somebody sitting home who heard the President yesterday saying you're going to get $400 additional a month -- it was $600 now $400 -- should they believe it in the short term?

DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: I just don't see how they can. I mean the reality is one, the kind of bureaucracy to go through at the state and local level, one as you mentioned, the states have to accept it and agree to it.

It is not clear, as well, what this would do to FEMA funds. These are funds that are used for hurricanes, we are in the middle of hurricane season. Do they think that we would deplete those funds entirely in the next month, first of all it wouldn't come that quickly, is sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul? This doesn't make any sense because we are going to need those funds especially in a crisis like this where homelessness is already on the rise and food insecurity is on the rise.

We're talking about homeless and food insecurity the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. And this doesn't fix that. And that's what's so hard about it that is that yes, Congress needs to do something. Need to do something now. And the fact that benefits have already lapsed, it is $18 billion a week that is not going into people's pockets nor into the economy.

And all the research, the debates on this, all the research has shown overwhelmingly that the extra $600 a week did not deter people from taking jobs. They think much more long term than that. And in fact it did provide an enormous support for the economy at a critical juncture which we're at again today.

Much of the high frequency data suggests that we plateaued in late June as people got fearful about the rise in COVID cases and everything from dining out at restaurants to traveling to spending and going into malls.

And so that's really important to understand is this. We can get a positive third quarter just because of the high level we ended the second quarter on after an extraordinary drop. But we could be poised to go right down again into a very hard crash in the fourth quarter which would be at the height of the second wave as well.

BASH: So real briefly, Diane, the House Speaker said to me that she's not giving up. That they have no choice but to get back to the table at some point. We'll see when that happens. But as somebody who's an economic expert and an economist, put this into terms that they should and people out there should understand about how critically important and dire it is for them to come up with a compromise on all of these issues that are intended to help people who are really suffering.

SWONK: Well, it really is life and death. We are talking about people not getting money and currently a third of all renters in the last week of July surveyed by the Census Department said they weren't sure they would be able to pay rent in the months to come.

The kind of homelessness, the kind of things we're talking about really is unconscionable in the United States of America. And that's what the real issue is that these are people that are really in need. And we are talking about seeing a worst crisis down the road. We have already got a higher COVID problem which is costing our economy.

[14:29:57]

SWONK: To think that we would go into yet another double dip and see another surge in unemployment which is now becoming more probable, that's just -- I just can't even wrap my arms around it because it's so devastating. And it's a real possibility at this stage to begin. BASH: Diane Swonk, Kristen Holmes, thank both, both of you for joining me. Unfortunately, it's certainly not good news we're talking about but it's important to be discussing this and to be staying on them, especially here in Washington as they talk about going back to the table. Let's hope they actually get back to that table. Thank you.

And coming up, a Georgia school now reporting nine new cases of coronavirus after this photo of a packed hallway went viral. An update, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:35:00]

BASH: In Georgia, nine coronavirus cases have now been reported at a high school outside of Atlanta that went viral earlier this week. This comes just days after a student shared a photo of a hallway packed with students in clear violation of the CDC's recommended social distancing guidelines.

CNN's Natasha Chen joins me now from Atlanta. And, Natasha, what are you learning about what's going on in that school?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, the principal sent a letter to families, which was also shared with the Atlanta Journal Constitution saying that at least six students and three staff members had been in the space and had tested positive this past week. Now, as you said, it comes on the heels of this very disturbing photo that was posted online.

Now, when the photo came out, the superintendent did address that. He said, of course, it does not look good but let me read a little bit from his letter to the families. He said, class change that look like this may happen especially in a school with more than 2,000 students, and that this situation complies with the Georgia Department of Education's path to recovery for K-12 schools, noting that this is a five-minute passing period between classes. And he stated that the Department of Public Health says the real risk of exposure to COVID happens when you're within six feet of someone who is sick for about 15 minutes.

That being said, the image still causes great anxiety for people who see it, including the mayor of Atlanta, who responded to that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: It doesn't surprise me. I was out with two of my children this week and watching them fidget with their mask, taking them on and off. It's 90-plus degrees in Georgia and it's very difficult to expect children to adhere to all of the precautions that are needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

My belief is that schools should offer virtual-only sessions so that parents can make those choices but also extend that option to our teachers, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: That's been very controversial. The Atlanta public school system is going virtual for at least nine weeks. But other districts around the metro area are doing different things. The largest school system in Gwinnett County is starting virtual but then phasing in face-to- face instruction, meanwhile requiring all the teachers to be in the school buildings.

In several of these districts, we're already hearing of a number of cases and people having to quarantine just within the first week of school or with just teachers prepping in the buildings. And, of course, meanwhile, we're looking at a seven-day average of new cases in the State of Georgia that still looks pretty scary, honestly. In July, you saw that huge increase, slightly better in early August but still very troubling numbers if you're trying to start school, Dana.

BASH: They sure are, and let's just hope those nine kids, we think, maybe teachers, are doing okay. I appreciate that report, Natasha.

And the National Security Council is now accusing Russia and China of targeting election websites in an effort to interfere with the 2020 presidential election. What will the president do to act? We'll talk about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:00]

BASH: More intel today on just how far China and Russia are apparently going to try to meddle in the upcoming election in November. In a new interview, the president's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, says foreign actors are using cyber attacks to access secretary of state websites and to collect data on Americans, including on social media platforms, like TikTok and Twitter.

CNN's Alex Marquardt joins me now. And, Alex, we learned just this past week, on Friday, from the nation's top election intel official that Russia was leading efforts to try to get Trump re-elected. The statement China preferred Joe Biden. But we didn't know until this morning how the American government thought that they were doing that. Explain.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think we need a little bit more clarification from Robert O'Brien because he did appear to go farther in his comments today than the intelligence community's top elections official, Bill Evanina, go farther than the Department of Homeland Security, which works day and night to secure these elections.

What O'Brien said in his statement today was that China, as well as Russia and Iran, are right now targeting the election infrastructure, including secretaries of state's offices and other parts of the way that Americans vote. That is more than what the intelligence community says that those adversaries are doing right now.

Let's take a listen to a little bit of what O'Brien said earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Whether it's China or Russia or Iran, we're not going to put up with it. And there will be severe consequences with any country that attempts to interfere with our free and fair elections, whether their leaders prefer Joe Biden or prefer Donald Trump, it doesn't matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: So this question over whether they are interfering is a resounding -- the answer is a resounding yes. Everyone agrees on that. We got this blockbuster statement from the Office of Director of National Intelligence, Dana, on Friday, which said that these adversaries may seek to target the election infrastructure. The head of the cyber unit that is in charge of safeguarding the elections, Chris Krebs, he has said in the past that there has been what they call scanning, sort of poking around in the election infrastructure. But so far, neither DHS nor the intelligence community have indicated that that has actually happened.

What everyone agrees upon is that these adversaries, China, Russia and Iran, will use influence operations to try to further their wishes.

[14:45:06]

And as you note at the top, that means China prefers that Trump not get re-elected and that Russia would like to see Trump re-elected. Dana?

BASH: That's exactly right. And I spoke with the house speaker this morning, who put out in a statement after the DNI released theirs talking about the fact that there is a big difference though between Russia and China. Listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): China would prefer Joe Biden, whether they do -- that's their conclusion that they would prefer Joe Biden. Russia is actively 24/7 interfering in our election. They did so in 2016, and they are doing so now. And they say that to a certain extent but they need to tell the American people more.

The American people, I believe, think they should decide who the president of the United States is, not Vladimir Putin making that decision for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So, Alex, I tried to get her to shed a little bit more light on the intelligence that's leading her to say that. She wouldn't go there, understandably. But it sounds like O'Brien is trying to do that. And just real quick, the question is, that I think we all have for everybody in the administration, what are they going to do about it? If they think that these countries are trying to upset the database in

these election officials all across the country, which is really the heart of our democratic process, how are the administration officials going to stop it?

MARQUARDT: Well, they're in a tough spot when it comes to China, because, obviously, there are lots trade relations, it is a very, very, very significant, complex and able adversary. So when it comes to China, that's very tough. When it comes to Russia, O'Brien said earlier today that they've essentially been sanctioned to the hilt, and that there's nothing more that the Trump administration can do.

If we parse the language from the intelligence community, Dana, in that statement that we got on Friday, there is no doubt that Russia is now working, as they say, to denigrate the campaign of Joe Biden, and therefore, to help get President Trump re-elected. That is something that they're actively doing. That is something they are doing very overtly.

And then when you look at the language they used on China, they simply said that China would prefer that President Trump not get re-elected. And what was really interested was that they're essentially saying they don't know what China is going to do yet. They have a whole range of options and there's plenty of time left. But there -- it really does remain to be seen to a large extent what China plans to do. And that really does scare election officials because they are a very able and significant ally, Dana -- adversary.

BASH: Yes. And the president keeps talking about fraud with mail-in voting, which even Republicans say that they don't see in big ways. And the question is why isn't he focused on preventing foreign adversaries from actually doing real harm to the democratic process?

Alex, thank you so much for that report. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:50:00]

BASH: The numbers are staggering. In a snapshot last month, some 30 million people in the U.S. said they did not have enough to eat at some point in the previous week. Since then, millions of unemployed Americans have lost the $600 a week federal unemployment benefit, money that many used to pay bills and put food on the table.

Chef Jose Andres is joining me now from Spain. Not only is he one of the most decorated chefs in the world but the Founder of the World Central Kitchen. I'm so grateful that you're me now.

You are feeding more than 250,000 people a day here in the U.S. Tell me about the need and what you're seeing out there and how people can safely emulate what you're doing.

JOSE ANDRES, JAMES BEARD AWARD-WINNING CHEF: Thank you, Dana, for having me. At one point, we reached 350,000 meals a day. This is not me. This is the amazing women and men that joined World Central Kitchen efforts. We have in more than 40 states in America alone. We have more than 2,600 restaurants joining our efforts. We are in many countries.

And this is the reality. Right now in America, we have more than 14 million children going hungry. I know the number for the census they say is 30 million. I don't have numbers but my estimate is that we are going to have more than 40 million, 50 million Americans going hungry in the next weeks and the next month.

And we need the president of the United States, we need Congress to understand that this is not only a health crisis, an economic crisis but we need to recognize this is a humanitarian crisis and we need the federal government to step up. We need to make sure we don't go to play golf and we need to make sure that we need to be on the ground feeding Americans in need.

BASH: So, you co-signed a letter to Congress along with the American Federation of Teachers and other groups asking for an expansion of the emergency provisions to allow school districts to feed more kids for free during the pandemic. How hopeful are you that they're going to act on that or frankly anything else since there's a stalemate right now on the discussions?

ANDRES: Well, this is not anymore about being hopeful.

[14:55:01]

This is about real actions by our leaders. Leaders must step up in moments of need for Americans. Right now, Congress is not achieving that. White House cannot be claiming they're doing everything they can on behalf of the American people. Because let me tell you, this is not about Democrats, this is not about Republicans, this is about we the people.

School systems in America are an important cornerstone to make sure that no children, no family will go hungry. So we need to be supporting school lunch programs because they work.

It's not the only way to be feeding America but we need to make sure that the schools are going to be an important part of maintaining our children, the future of America fed, that we keep families fed using schools, using this feeding America, using the food banks, using SNAPs. This requires a 360-degree effort to make sure that no American will go hungry for this pandemic.

BASH: Jose Andres, I know that you're in Spain now. Tomorrow, you're going to Beirut, to Lebanon to try to help there. You are a real life superhero and thank you so much for all of the work that you do for those who are always the most in need. You are truly, truly special. Thank you.

ANDRES: Thank you, Dana, for having me. Tomorrow we will have more than ten restaurants already feeding people in Beirut. And like across America and many countries, this is simple. The big problems, they have very simple solutions.

We need to make sure that our government, the White House, President Trump, Congress, the Senate put every effort to make sure that at least no American will ever go hungry in a moment, that these are very simple solution. Put the resources of the federal government to make sure every American will be fed.

In the process, we can also show a way to other countries around the world to find the same solutions. Let's make sure the White House and Congress show us the way.

BASH: Well, you're definitely showing everybody the way. I appreciate your time and good luck with your efforts not only here in the U.S. but in Beirut tomorrow. Thank you so much.

Stay with us. We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:00]