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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
CDC Director Says One Or More Vaccines Will Be Available By End Of The Year; Interview With Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); White House Weighs Defunding Dem-Run Cities; Barr: Trump Was Speaking "In General Terms" When Talking About Plane Of Thugs Theory; Houston Residents Struggle With Eviction Realities As The CDC Says It Will Move To Halt Those Evictions; Pelosi Says Hair Salon Visit "Was A Setup." Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 2, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It will be a major test to the city, one that the entire country will be closely following. Among those set to start classes are Isabella and Kelvin -- Pam.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: All right, Bianna, thank you so much. "AC360" starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So the President traveled to Kenosha, a city torn over the police shooting of a black man and never once mentioned that man, Jacob Blake, by name.
The President travels around America, a nation torn by a pandemic and lately, never mentions it at all. For the President, it is like the Voldemort of maladies, the pandemic that shall not be named.
John Berman here in for Anderson.
And there is breaking news tonight on just that front, a major new sign of how soon a vaccine might become available. This could, on the one hand be a seriously hopeful development. But given the President's track record on the virus, there's also reason to wonder if the timing of a vaccine rollout might have more to do with electoral politics than sound public health.
We will have new details on that in just a moment. First, though the President's effort as in Kenosha to talk about anything but the matter at hand.
More than 185,000 lives lost to the pandemic, the one that shall not be named. The case count is at best, plateauing, at a shockingly high level and at worst, it is spiking in yet another new region, this time the Midwest.
Here's the Governor of Iowa, one of the President's staunchest supporters, by the way, doing what the President apparently cannot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R-IA): As you may have seen in the news headlines
in recent days, Iowa has had the highest rate of increase in COVID-19 cases nationally last week, and the fifth highest positivity rate increase in the country.
Growth of new cases has accelerated especially as social activity among young adults and on college campuses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now she won't issue a mask mandate, but at least she admits the positivity rate around the University of Iowa has tripled in the last three weeks and is now at a staggering 29.7 percent. That is what Iowa and other states mainly in the Midwest are now facing.
Nationwide, more than a thousand new deaths reported yesterday and more than 40,000 new cases. And though both figures are declining somewhat, the outbreak appears to be plateauing at nearly twice the level it did back around Memorial Day.
So at a moment when just as back then things would go in either direction with schools reopening and another holiday weekend approaching, the President could be telling Americans to keep up the mask wearing and social distancing.
For that matter, he could actually be doing those things himself. But as you can see from his trip to North Carolina today, he's not -- not doing and not talking -- so what is he talking about? Well, for starters, about the election, the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I could win. I think I did win the popular vote, and I am interested -- I think there was tremendous cheating in California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, he didn't and there wasn't. That's from a taped interview, which aired on Fox last night. There's also this smear of his current opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's on some kind of an enhancement -- in my opinion. And I say we should both. I should take a drug test, so should he, because we don't want to have a situation where a guy is taking some kind of --
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, THE INGRAHAM ANGLE: It's like athletes --
TRUMP: No, no -- he should take. I want to take one. I'll take one. He'll take one. We should both take a drug test.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: He offered his evidence, his opinion that the former Vice
President became a better debater as the campaign went on, so much for practice being the way to get to Carnegie Hall. Now, we know, it is drugs.
Look, keeping them honest, what the President of United States said there is pure BS. What's even worse, it has nothing to do with the reality facing tens of millions of parents wondering how to safely educate their children or the millions now looking for jobs or the millions who knew and loved 185,000 people who have lost their lives in the last six months?
What he is saying and doing has nothing to do with the pandemic, the one that shall not be named. Now, to be fair, he did talk about it a tiny bit on Fox the other night, but that was only to lie about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: By the way, I saw a statistic come out the other day, talking about only six percent of the people actually died from COVID, which is a very interesting that they die from other reasons.
INGRAHAM: They had comorbidities -- but the COVID might ultimately have been the key morbidity to hit them, but the bottom line --
TRUMP: It could be, but it's an interesting statistic.
INGRAHAM: Mr. President, you're still having fun doing this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: He answered, quote, "I'm having a good time." As for his theory that most coronavirus deaths weren't really coronavirus deaths. The CDC debunked that today -- his own CDC
Dr. Anthony Fauci debunked it yesterday. The 185,000 people who have died from coronavirus, died from coronavirus, a pandemic that does have a name.
So this is just part of the backdrop to the breaking news tonight that the CDC has told state public health officials to prepare to distribute a vaccine as early as the end of next month. It has also sent out planning documents offering details on distribution and who should get inoculated first putting the emphasis on healthcare professionals, essential workers and long-term care residents and staff.
BERMAN: Now, as you know, several vaccine candidates recently began Phase 3 trials and in the past week, Dr. Anthony Fauci and F.D.A. head, Stephen Hahn have said certain groups may get a vaccine before those trials are complete if the data is overwhelmingly positive.
Now our next guest has her doubts. Saskia Popescu is an epidemiologist at George Mason University. Professor Popescu, we appreciate you being with us. What do you make of this new guidance and the timeline that it implies?
SASKIA POPESCU, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: It's extremely concerning. I think it's very premature. The concern is that we're going to be rolling out vaccines to healthcare workers, very, very early on in Phase 3 well before we have the data to support it.
BERMAN: So you say it's hard to see this as anything other than a pre- election vaccine push. So you're concerned this will be politicized?
POPESCU: Very much.
BERMAN: What do you mean?
POPESCU: It's hard not to see that. If the vaccines are supposed to be pushed out November 1st, and the election is really November 3rd, it's very concerning that suddenly we're pushing through very many safety protocols for vaccines for safety, which could have very serious ramifications and an effort for President Trump to push this as an election piece, which is very concerning from a public health standpoint, from a safety standpoint, but also a trust in science standpoint.
BERMAN: So both Dr. Anthony Fauci and the F.D.A. Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who are on the Coronavirus Taskforce has said that a vaccine may be available for certain groups before clinical trials have been completed if -- if -- the data overwhelmingly indicates it is safe and effective. What about that?
What about if the data says this is overwhelmingly safe and effective? Would it be worth trying to get it to certain people earlier?
POPESCU: I think the biggest piece is that overwhelmingly effective and safe notion and the truth is that many of these haven't even hit Phase 3 until late July. So that means you have to enroll 30,000 people. You have to, in many cases have two vaccines.
So how are you really enrolling that many people and collecting enough data at that point to roll this out safely and to say it is okay for healthcare workers?
Because the truth is, you know, we don't want to be pushing this and we're just not there yet. A lot of this Phase 3 takes years in the making, and even if we do have that overwhelmingly good data, which we simply don't have right now, that would be an entirely different ballgame. And frankly, we're just not seeing that from a temporal standpoint.
BERMAN: In your mind, what needs to happen before a vaccine is distributed, I guess, in any form, whether it's the frontline workers or widespread across the country?
POPESCU: I think we need to have again, as Dr. Fauci mentioned, overwhelmingly positive data, not just that it's efficacious. You know, we need to make sure that it's working 50 percent of the time. You know that it's really protecting 50 percent of those vaccinated, but also that we're not having any negative safety outcomes or negative vaccine events.
Because right now in the U.S., we do have unfortunately, a lot of vaccine hesitancy and the last thing we want to do is be pushing this for political reasons and further driving that vaccine hesitancy and distrust of the CDC or the science behind this.
BERMAN: Professor Saskia Popescu, we appreciate you being with us. Thanks for joining us.
POPESCU: Thank you.
BERMAN: Joining us now CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also William Haseltine, distinguished researcher, former Harvard Professor and now, prolific author of books on COVID, including "A Family Guide to COVID: Questions and Answers for Parents, Grandparents and Children."
So, Sanjay, you just heard Professor Popescu, what do you make of the guidance from the CDC? And are you concerned that this has the whiff of political interference?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, you know, we have to take these things in context. And, you know, there's been, you know, the F.D.A. with this whole hydroxychloroquine thing where they issued this EUA for that with very little evidence.
I mean, that I think, is something that has made people question some of this decision making, the same sort of thing with the convalescent plasma. The data was exaggerated around that EUA. So what I would say is we've got to be very vigilant about this vaccine.
The idea that places are getting prepared, I mean that makes sense. You do want to be prepared, some of these vaccines may need to be stored at certain temperatures, all of that. So you want to make sure that's in place. But that shouldn't be the signal that you know, the vaccine is ready to go.
And also, as we've talked about, John, a vaccine should have a different bar than a therapeutic medicine for somebody who is, you know, sick in a hospital versus a vaccine given to healthy people, it has to have a higher bar. And if you look at the language carefully around why an authorization would occur, it is usually because there is no viable alternative. Right?
Well, I hate to say it, I know people don't like to hear this, but the alternative to a vaccine could be that, you know, we wear masks and distance longer and give us enough time to actually make sure this thing is really nailed down.
BERMAN: So Professor Haseltine, your take. How smart is it for the government, perhaps to rush a vaccine potentially before the election to first responders, healthcare workers, at risk populations before Phase 3 trials are done.
[20:10:05] DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH
INTERNATIONAL: It's a very unwise move. What they're hoping and I read the documents pretty carefully, they are hoping that there's a data safety monitoring board that will look at the data in the middle of the testing process, and determine that it's really worked well.
That is a pretty tough determination, data safety monitoring boards almost never give a green light at that stage and that's what they would have to do. I think the previous speaker discussed how difficult that would be.
This is a political Hail Mary, in my view, is sort of like a buzzer beater. It's a desperate move by an administration that has failed to control this epidemic, using tools that we know work. That's the problem.
We have an enormous epidemic that we need not have had because of the failures, and they're hoping to redeem this at the very last minute with a Hail Mary.
I actually watched Doug Flutie with his wet Hail Mary. Sometimes they work. We should all hope that they work, but you can't count on it in a football game or a basketball game and you certainly can't count on it playing with people's lives.
BERMAN: Yes, beating Miami is one thing, beating a pandemic is something else. Sanjay, you heard Dr. Fauci and we've heard from Stephen Hahn also say that they are in favor of it if the data is overwhelming.
So what data -- how much data? Will we see the data? What do we know of what the science will actually show and how much will be revealed?
GUPTA: Well, you know, as Dr. Haseltine was saying, this data safety monitoring board, they don't actually authorize this emergency use authorization, but they do look at the data first, the scientific data.
And, you know, could it be that they say that people are getting the first dose because it's going to be two doses, right? They get the first dose, and it's just so overwhelmingly favorable, that they say, hey, look, we're sending this now to the F.D.A., and they're going to make the decision about EUA or not. That would be the sort of data that we're talking about here.
But it's just -- that's going to take time, I mean, that takes time. And that board is an independent board. But, you know, they have to be able to have the time to look at this data, probably have to look at the two doses that are given, and then follow these patients along for some time to see if this is effective, and to see if it's safe.
So the basic thing that they're trying to find scientifically is the same, but you need the time to do -- the passage of time is important to actually be able to evaluate that data.
BERMAN: So Professor Haseltine, I want to play what the President has said about a vaccine timeline in recent months. Let's listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm rushing it. I am. I'm pushing everybody. If you had another President, other than me, you wouldn't be talking vaccines for two years.
GERALDO RIVERA, RADIO SHOW HOST: So what's the earliest we could see that -- a vaccine?
TRUMP: Sooner than the end of the year. Could be much sooner.
RIVERA: Sooner than November 3rd?
TRUMP: Oh, I think -- I think in some cases, yes, possible before but right around that time.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're balancing speed and safety and we're on pace to have a vaccine available this year, maybe far in advance of the end of the year.
We'll likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year.
We are delivering lifesaving therapies, and we'll produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So the President is flat out stating or at least implying that a vaccine might be available to everybody before the end of the year. Now that might be political. Is it even possible, Professor Haseltine?
HASELTINE: It is extremely difficult. You know, we, in science learn to say nothing is impossible. But we can say things are extremely difficult and highly improbable, and that is the case here.
I can tell you one thing for sure, in the amount of time that we have between now and the end of the year is not even done ever, we are not going to know how effective this vaccine can be, and we're certainly not going to know if it's safe because we certainly won't have more than six months or even a year. Usually you need more than a year to see if a vaccine is safe.
People have asked me the question, Doctor, would you take this vaccine in November? And my answer is absolutely not. I will not be convinced that it's either effective or safe, no matter what data safety monitoring board says, or no matter what the F.D.A. says at this point.
They've said that two things that aren't particularly effective, one of which is not safe. It has already had Emergency Use Authorization. I think they have seriously compromised their credibility to the detriment of the nation's health.
BERMAN: Talk more about that, Sanjay, because that's something you've been very focused on, whether it be hydroxychloroquine, which we've put to bed for a while or convalescent plasma. The F.D.A. Commissioner has had to admit that he, you know, mangled the data at best, and lied about it at worst. How can these agencies be trusted now?
GUPTA: I know this is really, I mean, this is just really disappointing. I mean, and I think, you know, viewers, people who are watching, they must just have a lot of confusion, a lot of whiplash over this because usually, you know, not always but usually, the scientific agencies do speak with a unified voice and it's been back and forth.
I mean, you know, those two examples of hydroxy and convalescent plasma are, you know, I think important to look at. We can't look at these things in isolation anymore. We have to see what the track history has been around this pandemic with this F.D.A.
I am curious though, I mean, you know, Dr. Haseltine, I am curious if these things had not happened, the hydroxychloroquine and the convalescent plasma decisions the way they went, would you then consider taking a vaccine in November if the F.D.A. approved it and the DSMB said okay?
HASELTINE: No, I wouldn't. I wouldn't because there's simply not enough time. Also, the two vaccines that appear to be the ones that are moving forward fastest have a couple of big question marks.
They are using technologies that have never been used before. That's not necessarily bad, but it's not good. The second thing is, there are very peculiar requirements of cold chains. One requires a really deep, deep freeze like minus 70 degrees or more to keep it stable. The other one, minus 20 degrees.
I've talked to a lot of pharmacies, friends of mine run big pharmacy chains. They didn't even have those facilities. So there are big questions of how you would roll this out. Not only that, when you actually look at the wording of who is going to be eligible to get these vaccines. There's a lot of big questions there.
Who is essential to the economy? Is it a billionaire? Or is it a guy who keeps the sewage running? Who is essential? I don't know who's going to make that decision, but they are going to make those decisions.
So there are a lot of questions about what's going to happen, how it's going to happen, and exactly what it is they're going to push forward and on what basis they'll do it.
BERMAN: Sanjay, turnabout is fair game here. What would it take for you to be comfortable in November to take this?
GUPTA: Yes, I agree with this. But you know, I look at it like this. I mean, you know, the idea of what is the alternative? People are bouncing this against getting the country up and running again. And what I would say is that, you know, there are places around the world that are, you know, have returned to some sense of normalcy again without a vaccine, obviously. They don't have a vaccine.
So the idea that we could wait, make sure this is really nailed down, like I said, that it's, you know, safe, effective and that we have the data to show that. In the meantime, we just -- we do have to adopt these public health practices. It doesn't mean that we have to be shut down. But I think that's the tradeoff.
And I think that's going to increasingly become the discussion point, John, around this. Do we want to rush it because we just simply can't wear masks and physically distance? I just don't think that's a good idea.
BERMAN: Sanjay, Professor Haseltine, thanks both for being with us. I appreciate it.
HASELTINE: Welcome. Thank you.
GUPTA: Thank you.
BERMAN: Next, Attorney General Barr making news on two fronts with the allegation he is making about Jacob Blake being armed and the evidence or lack of it, he provided. We'll show you that and get a live report from Kenosha on Mr. Blake's condition.
Also, what the Attorney General had to say and what he didn't say about the President's conspiracy theory about thugs on a plane.
BERMAN: Breaking News. Attorney General William Barr claimed tonight without citing specific evidence that Jacob Blake was armed when a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer shot him seven times.
Barr made the assertion while comparing the incident to the death of George Floyd in an interview with Wolf Blitzer earlier this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Floyd was already subdued, incapacitated, in handcuffs and was not armed. In the Jacob case, he was in the midst of committing a felony and he was armed.
So that's a big difference. From the standpoint --
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: His family says he wasn't armed.
BARR: Well --
BLITZER: There may have been a knife in the car, but he wasn't armed when he was shot. BARR: Well --
BLITZER: That's what his family and his lawyers say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So bar added, by the way that he did not believe there was systemic racism in America's justice system. CNN's Sara Sidner is in Kenosha tonight to bring us up to date on the ongoing investigation.
Sara, you just spoke to the Blake family. What's their reaction to the assertion from the Attorney General?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we spoke -- yes, John, we spoke to Justin Blake, who is the uncle of Jacob Blake and also Jacob Blake's father's brother and he said, look, he feels that Barr is misinformed. And he says that there are definitely two justice systems and he points to what happened here.
He talked about that all you have to do is sort of look at the videos that came from here, the 17-year-old who was accused of killing two people in the streets. He says, look, he is a 17-year-old white teenager who had a huge long gun after the shooting, after those shots went off the second time, he was able to walk right past several police vehicles and make his way all the way home, which was in Illinois.
So he was able to go home from one state to the next and wasn't even stopped. And he says you juxtapose that with seeing his nephew, Jacob Blake shot in the back by officers. And he says, look, if he can't see two justice systems, then he is blind to what is happening in America. He says there is systemic racism.
And we have also heard from the family over and over and over again and their family attorney, Benjamin Crump and others that Jacob Blake was not armed. They are sticking with that. They say there is no evidence he was armed and they can -- they have definitively said he was not armed.
And so, the Blake family upset hearing from Barr. They also feel that he is doing Trump's bidding, those are his words, and that he is not representing the American people, which is the job that he is supposed to be doing that they feel he is speaking to Donald Trump as opposed to the country as a whole -- John.
BERMAN: Sara Sidner, thanks so much for your reporting. For perspective now, I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Congresswoman. We did hear from Attorney General William Barr in the interview with Wolf Blitzer saying without providing evidence that Jacob Blake was in the midst of committing a felony and that he was armed when the police shot him seven times.
You just heard what Sara Sidner reported that the Blake family and the attorneys have denied that, but what do you make of Barr saying that? REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): You know, it's good to be with you
this evening. Sometimes the nation needs a Commander-in-Chief of healing. Obviously, the Trump administration has failed badly in healing and unifying the nation. I am very happy to know that Dr. Jill and Joe Biden will be in Kenosha tomorrow.
But as a Member of the House Judiciary Committee who has dealt with Attorney Generals for a very long time from Republican and Democratic administrations, I am sad to say that the people's lawyer is no more.
When Attorney General would make a non-factually based statement to add more fuel to the fire of dissent and discourse and the pain that not only the family is feeling deeply for a young man who is now paralyzed, who was a vibrant young father and to the entire community. As a lawyer, what I would say is that I would never represent to anyone the facts of a case that had not been played out.
We don't have testimony from Mr. Blake. We don't have testimony from the officers including the shooter and all he has is possibly someone whispering in his ear or maybe there was a meeting of law enforcement that gave him information. If that was the case, they violated their duty to provide him with information that has not been given to the family and the family's lawyers.
Everyone knows or it has been acknowledged that there had been a weapon, a knife in the floorboard. But we also know that there are gradations in the kind of weapons one might have.
As the video shows, as everyone saw, as the nation saw, it is very clear that we could not see any movement by Mr. Blake that would put the officers in fear of their life. That's the relevant point.
BERMAN: The part of it that's interesting to me. Look, there is an investigation ongoing. We talk to representatives from Wisconsin every day and consistently asked them on TV, give us the latest on the investigation? What do you know about Jacob Blake? Was there -- I mean, they refuse to tell us. They're not going to tell us anything until the investigation is complete.
But the Attorney General just went on TV definitively and said he was armed. So what does it tell you that he is willing to -- what does it do to the investigation when the Attorney General does that?
JACKSON LEE: He is the highest law enforcement officer in the nation. When he speaks, when other Attorney Generals have spoken that have been under, as I said, Republican and Democratic Presidents all of whom have appeared before me as a Member of the Judiciary Committee, we have looked to them to be factual and truthful.
What it says is that he is skewed this case. He has tainted this case. He has tainted the jury.
We've asked for these officers to be fired. Now, they have due process rights, and those rights would play out. But there is a visual of an individual citizen not threatening the officer in question, not turning, not moving, not lifting an arm that is not visible, and I think the video was clearly pretty clear.
And what they're saying is now that that individual was armed, but if that individual is armed, what threat did he pose to the existing community? Why wasn't there a de-escalation? Why wasn't there --
BERMAN: We are waiting for the investigation. As I said, we are awaiting for the investigation, even if the Attorney General -- even if the Attorney General is not.
I want to play you one more bit of sound from the Attorney General, when he was asked about the issue of systemic racism. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: I don't think there are two justice systems. Let's -- you know, I think the narrative that there's that -- the police are on some epidemic of shooting unarmed black men is simply a false narrative and also the narrative that that's based on race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Your response?
JACKSON LEE: Well, he and the President are both living in another world, another era, and another time. They can't even counter the question of Black Lives Matter in the positive intent that it had AND the fact the majority of Americans through this process were committed to understanding and supported the concept Black Lives Matter.
But to that point, John, I will say to you, I asked that same question in Judiciary Committee. He gave the same feeble answer. It's a hurting answer. It lacks an understanding of history. Does he understand lynching? Does he understand the terrible divide in the criminal justice system or mass incarceration, the dominance of African- Americans and people of color incarcerated both in state prisons and federal prisons?
Does he understand the litany of African-American men in particular and women that have fallen to the hands of officers and they were unarmed. Ave Diablo, Walter Scott, Ahmaud Arbery, was under civilian patrol allegedly. Mr. Brooks in Atlanta, unarmed, Breonna Taylor, unarmed, George Floyd, unarmed, Michael Brown, unarmed, Eric Garner, unarmed.
Now one would say they were enforcing the law. And I just say to you that they have an obligation to protect and serve.
JACKSON LEE: And most Americans understand that, that what we are speaking of is reimagining and focusing on reimagining public safety and focusing on stopping violence and producing police community relationships. And as you well know, I'm a strong proponent of George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. That is simply what these protesters are asking for, nonviolent protesters.
We don't support violence or violent protesters. But that is what they're asking, because the President has spoken to that when he was there in Kenosha, could he have spoken to the sympathy and empathy that was needed not only by the family of Mr. Blake, but by the whole community. They needed a hug, if you will. They needed a healer.
And what we got was an attorney general, who, in essence, undermine the investigation tainted the jury, tainted the public opinion and had no facts. And he gave facts out that as you have so aptly said, local law enforcement has never told us.
JACKSON LEE: I'm extremely disappointed. It is a to and do system about justice.
BERMAN: I appreciate you being with us. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, we got to go, because we do have some breaking news.
We learned just now what appears to be the makings of presidential action to withhold federal funds from cities recently beset by protests and violence all run by Democratic mayors.
Joining us now by phone is CNN's Kaitlan Collins. So what's going on here, Kaitlan, what cities are being targeted by the President in a memo that I understand was just released?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a memo that the President just signed and he specifically called out several cities in here. Seattle, Portland, New York, Washington D.C. And basically what he is saying in this memo is that he is threatening to cut off federal funding into these cities, because he says they, quote, allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones. It's this memo threatening to restrict federal funding.
They're calling them anarchistic jurisdictions. And in his memo, he says, he's instructing the Justice Department to determine which ones are considered anarchist jurisdictions. And then he's telling the budget office basically to look at federal funds that they get and find a way to potentially redirect them.
Now, there are going to be a lot of questions about this and just how serious this threat is. Because if the President did move forward with this, of course, trying to cut off federal funding from these cities, of course, a lot of these cities that he's talked about recently saying they're run by Democrats, that's likely going to be immediately challenged in court.
And we've seen the President threatened to do something of this manner before. You'll recall when he threatened to cut off funding to sanctuary cities. This is definitely in the President's playbook. So that is all important to keep in mind as the President is saying in this memo.
Basically they want to make sure that federal funds aren't being wasted or spent in a manner, he says that quote directly violates our government's promise to protect life, liberty and property.
You got to consider what's going on in the backdrop of this, which is the President trying to make this election about law and order, though we've seen polls that showed that is not really something that resonated with voters yet. He is definitely trying to push that message. John.
BERMAN: Look, the President is threatened a lot of things he doesn't follow through on this has a little bit of a whiff of trying to keep this issue in the news as long as he possibly can. Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much for being with us tonight.
We have more breaking news ahead. Wolf Blitzer asked the Attorney General for any proof of the specific flight the President keeps talking about that was allegedly filled with throat thugs. What do you hear the evidence that the attorney general did not provide when 360 continues.
BERMAN: The President as you know has been spreading a conspiracy theory about a terror plane in his war is almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. He first said the plane was heading from someplace to Washington targeting the Republican convention. Then he said it was leaving Washington.
When pressed for details he said it was quote, under investigation which made Attorney General William Barr the natural person to talk to. So CNN's Wolf Blitzer did, he asked him about the specific incident the President keeps referring to.
The Attorney General first said he knew of many reports of many people in black coming from many cities to who -- to in his words caused a riot in Washington. But when pressed on the President specific story or pair of stories he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't know what the President was referring to. But I will say that we are trying to follow these things. And we received numerous reports of people coming from other cities into Washington, as we receive many reports of people going into Kenosha from various stages.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: But you're not -- you're saying you don't know specifically what the President was referring to.
BARR: No, I don't know (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: When he spoke about this.
BARR: He was seems to be talking in general terms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: OK. It was not speaking in general terms at all. He was speaking of specific flight, specific numbers of people wearing back. There was nothing general about it at all.
Joining us now Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, who has just written FBI Director Ray asking him whether the bureau is even investigating.
Congressman Lieu, thanks for being with us. What exactly do you want from the FBI here?
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, John, for your question. There are going to be people who believe in conspiracy theories. But the President of United States should not be one of them. He is supposed to rely on the facts and evidence. Instead Donald Trump has been spewing conspiracy theories that have made the coronavirus pandemic worse.
And now he's spewing conspiracy theories. They're making the chaos and violence under his watch even worse. And Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and I wrote a letter to FBI because we want to know, is the President also using official resources to investigate his wild theories? Because if he is, that needs to stop, they have much better things to do than to investigate his baseless theories.
BERMAN: What do you make of the Attorney General saying, oh, I just think the President was speaking in general terms providing cover for the President?
LIEU: Attorny General Bill Barr was once again making stuff up, because the President was very specific. He talked about a plane loaded with thugs. He talked about them being dressed and black that they're going to do some big damage in Washington D.C. All that was false.
That didn't happen. While it's true that people have gone to these various cities, both right wing and other groups. For example, we know that Kyle Rittenhouse traveled across state lines to go to Kenosha and he murdered two protesters. It's also true that people just fly on planes and they dress however they want to. So there's no evidence that any of this fantastical stuff happened that the President is talking about.
BERMAN: Kyle Rittenhouse is charged in the death of two people in Kenosha. Have you received any response from the FBI? What have they told you?
LIEU: We have not yet. We did just send it today. So we'll like to give them a few days to look into it. But the FBI has much better things to do than chase on wall conspiracy theories.
They should be for example, investigating, why did the Department Homeland Security withhold evidence about the Russians spreading lies about Joe Biden's health and that should be investigated? They show us investigate the Postmaster General for sabotaging the Post Office that much better things with FBI be doing.
BERMAN: One of the things that Wolf also talked to the Attorney General about was the election. And the repeated claim from the Attorney General that he keeps on making that foreign countries will interfere with mail-in voting. Now Wolf pressed him and said what evidence?
What evidence do you have that foreign countries are trying to meddle in mail-in voting? And the Attorney General said I don't have evidence, he produced no evidence. He said, it's logic that tells us and tells him that it's going to happen. What do you make of that argument?
LIEU: I'm a former prosecutor, if I walked into court and told a judge's jury that I have no evidence, just logic, I will be laughed out of court. And Attorney General is just now making stuff up. He has no evidence that mail-in voting is more prone to fraud. In fact, it's the opposite.
And there are states have done now in balloting for years, including the state of Florida. Donald Trump has said that mail-in balloting in Florida is good to go. Well, if it's good to go in Florida, then it's good in other states, you can't just make these random distinctions simply because Donald Trump likes Florida.
So again, Attorney General is just making stuff up with without any factual basis.
BERMAN: I will say ballot fraud in general is very, very small infinitesimal. Mail-in voting fraud happens at a slightly higher rate. But that too is very small. The effort right now, it seems to me should be on making it safe and reliable given that we're in a pandemic, not complaining and spreading conspiracy theories about it. Congressman Lieu, I do appreciate your time. Thanks very much.
LIEU: Thank you, john.
BERMAN: So straight ahead. We're going to take you to Houston and the story of a family hit hard by Coronavirus being evicted and the deputies being ordered to uphold the order. This as the CDC moves to temporarily halt some of the evictions caused by the pandemic.
BERMAN: The Centers for Disease Control says it is moving to temporarily halt evictions for Americans who can't pay their rent because of the effects of coronavirus. It's unclear tonight how exactly that will be done but the administration says the order will apply to Americans qualify for payments under the trillion dollar stimulus bill passed earlier this year. And they would also have to prove they cannot pay rent due to COVID-19. Still, there's no question some affected by the pandemic are going through severe, very severe financial hardship, including the people CNN's Kyung Lah found in Houston.
DEPUTY BENNIE GANT, HARRIS COUNTY CONSTABLES: Hello. (INAUDIBLE).
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From one Houston home to the next. Deputy Bennie Gant with the Harris County Constable's Office executes judge's orders to evict.
ISRAEL RODRIGUEZ, FAMILY EVICTED FROM APARTMENT: We got nowhere to go.
LAH (voice-over): Israel Rodriguez is a tenant at this apartment, but he's not alone. 20-month-old Israel, his brother four-year-old Fabian and their mother are some of the estimated 40 million Americans facing eviction and the downward spiral of the COVID economy.
RODRIGUEZ: (INAUDIBLE) but they will not get everything you need.
LAH (voice-over): Rodriguez admits he hasn't been paying rent behind thousands of dollars.
RODRIGUEZ: (INAUDIBLE) when hit I lost my job. So it took me like a month to get it another job. This is my check, but I am making it with $300, literally $300.
LAH (voice-over): Their stroller now carries their possessions.
RODRIGUEZ: Is mainly the kids clothes because me and her does wear the same clothes almost every day. Make sure we got, you know, toilet paper a little bit of snacks for the kids.
LAH (on-camera): What are you going to do with all of your stuff?
RODRIGUEZ: This that's trash. They could throw it in the trash? Because we don't have a car, we don't have help. We don't have nobody that can come, you know, help us out right now. Nobody. We've got ourselves me and the kids and her we see it.
LAH (on-camera): How did you as law enforcement feel about seeing that family have to go?
GANT: It's a tough situation. I've got six kids, six children. And, you know, a kid see mom dad, investments (ph) this stuff.
LAH (voice-over): Deputy Gant an officer for 35 years is just starting his day. Eight evictions are on his list.
GANT: A co-defendant is here, two of them.
LAH (voice-over): At each stop, people behind on rent are ordered to leave. Possessions pulled out. (on-camera): Where are you guys going to go now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to go in a hotel.
LAH (on-camera): You're going to go to hotel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAH (voice-over): As Deputy Gant works through his list, we get word that 200 eviction orders have come through the Harris County courts for this week. That's double what they normally saw for an entire month before COVID.
(on-camera): Two hundred on Monday. What does that --
GANT: Well, it's a lot. Yes.
LAH (on-camera): What does that say to you?
GANT: Well, what that means is, is that they're ready to start. Haven't people removed from properties?
LAH (voice-over): It is a backlog, but it's also just one precinct in one of America's hardest hit cities in evictions, the job takes its toll.
GANTI: don't really want to put her out here. But I have to under this judge's order.
LAH (voice-over): At this apartment, the tenant is an elderly woman who can no longer afford the rent. The landlord's mover Francisco Munoz works, though he doesn't want to.
FRANCISCO MUNOZ, HELPING MOVE EVICTED TENANT: I have a family. I have a sister. I have, you know, my mom. And we never know. Maybe today it's her, tomorrow it's me, you know.
LAH (voice-over): Midway through the eviction, Deputy Gant decides it's too dangerous to evict her in the Houston summer heats.
GANT: I'm not going to put her out there in this case --
LAH (voice-over): And we'll call social services instead.
GANT: You'll stay today, but tomorrow, you're leaving.
LAH (voice-over): A one day reprieve with an uncertain tomorrow.
GANT: You have a situation where people aren't working. They don't have (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: Kyung Lah joins us now. Kyung that's heartbreaking. That's just heartbreaking to see what these people are going through. I know there was the CDC announcement today. You've been reporting on it. Is it clear how it might work?
LAH: Absolutely. Not here's the view from Harris County, the Constables Office here has immediately put a hold on everything, as local municipalities try to figure out exactly what does this mean? Are there going to be challenges in court? What does this mean if there's a state authority that steps in like an attorney general, they don't know at this point?
What about the rights of landlords, because on that day that we follow the Constables Office, we spoke to a lot of landlords who said, hey, look, the banks want their money. What about us, we have tens of thousands that we have to pay up. And then it's a question of who do you evict because some people won't be evicted? Will if they make a certain income, or if they have or have not built out the right paperwork. So it's very confusing.
And then on the other side of the tenants, what tenants are saying is that, hey, this is nice and all but there's no rent forgiveness. This is simply kicking the can down the road on January 1st, if they have haven't kept up. There's going to be a tremendous bill due for a lot of people, the very same people that you've heard about in this story, John.
BERMAN: Kyung Lah, what a story, what an important piece of reporting there. Thank you so much, painful, but thank you so much for shining a light on it.
Next, the House Speaker walks into a hair salon and walks out into a storm of questions about whether she broke quarantine rules, but it's about what she said about what she did. That turned the storm into something even more.
BERMAN: A questionable decision and new video causing grief for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who swears she was set up. The video shows her inside a hair salon this week in San Francisco that is apparently against the rules, no indoor visits allowed. She's also seen not wearing a mask in this portion of the video release. Now her staff insists she did wear one just not here while getting her hair washed. In response Pelosi blame the hair salon whose owner released the video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I take responsibility for trusting other word of a neighborhood salon that I've been to over the years, many times. And that when they said what we're able to accommodate people one person at a time, and that we can set up that time I trusted that. As it turns out, it was the set up. So I take responsibility for falling for a setup.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now she offered no proof and you know, you would think the House Speaker would know the rules in San Francisco herself. Moments ago the salon owner responded she said the charge was a setup is absolutely false.
President Trump weighed in saying Speaker Pelosi had been decimated by critics and the GOP would take back the House but consider this crowds of unmasked and not socially distance audience, audience members of the President's speech at the White House in the final day of the Republic Convention or the President's own maskless visit to a hurricane relief center in Louisiana last week.
The states own guidelines say mask should be worn when in public indoors and out. So, yes it is fair to criticize the House Speaker who should have known better, but it's fair to criticize anyone who breaks the restrictions, guidelines and just playing common sense we all should lived by.
The news continues. I want to hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME".