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Trump Associate Pleads Not Guilty; Infrastructure Negotiations in Danger?; Interview With Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA); COVID Cases Rising. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 26, 2021 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: So, Selina, it's been a mixed start, I think you would say, for Team USA.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, there were some major upsets, including in men's basketball, with France beating Team USA, ending Team USA's 25-game Olympic streak. That dates back to 2004.

Also, for the U.S. women's gymnastics team, they posted lower scores than expected. And, Alisyn, I was there in the stands watching these gymnasts, Simone Biles, perform. And it was a surprise to see some unsteady landings, as well as Simone Biles briefly step out of bounds, and just surreal to see virtually empty stands, as these gymnasts are performing with no friends or family to cheer them on.

And in an Instagram post, Simone Biles wrote the following. She said -- quote -- "It wasn't an easy day or my best, but I got through it." She said: "I truly do feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seemed like the pressure doesn't affect me, but, damn, sometimes, it's hard."

And, Alisyn, the women's 400-meter race was another hotly anticipated event. And an another big surprise, Australia's Ariarne Titmus beat out Olympic champion Katie Ledecky. That was not expected at all -- Alisyn.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, Selina Wang for us there in Tokyo, thank you so much.

Brand-new hour. We're good to be with you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

CAMEROTA: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

Eighteen months into the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction. New daily COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are spiking in certain pockets across the country, particularly Arkansas and Florida.

The CDC says every single county in both states is an area of high transmission. Still, Florida's governor is fighting any mandates that would help bring those numbers down.

BLACKWELL: Now the mayor of New York City is mandating that all city employees be vaccinated by September 13 or be tested weekly.

The White House also had been reluctant to back vaccine mandates. Well, that is until now, because, a short time ago, we learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs will require its front-line health care workers to be vaccinated.

The VA is the first agency in the federal government to do so.

So let's go to CNN's Phil Mattingly at the White House.

The wrong direction in this pandemic forcing the White House to make some changes.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's no question about it.

And, look, this is a significant step by the Biden administration to back essentially a vaccine mandate for front-line health workers related to the Veterans Affairs Department at this point in time. You have made very clear and I think what we have seen over the course of the last several weeks, guys, is the administration has been very cautious about vaccine mandates, very cognizant, administration officials acknowledge, of the potential political pitfalls.

However, one area where they do have the authority is on the federal agency front. And there have been some questions, as the Delta variant has emerged, if they would start to take steps in that direction. And today they did with at least one agency. The question, of course, is whether they will go further with the federal government or perhaps with the U.S. military.

Still no firm answers on that one yet, but the administration clearly taking steps to address what they have seen as an a significant and urgent problem, also making clear that travel restrictions will stay in place, in large part because of the Delta variant.

Guys, we have been talking repeatedly over the course of the last several weeks about how the administration has attempted to ramp up vaccinations, particularly in those areas of the country that have been lagging behind to a significant degree.

That effort continues. But you have also seen some long-term efforts as well, the president today announcing that individuals that have had long COVID or the long-term effects from having the virus, they will now have resources and guidance as well. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many Americans who seemingly recover from the virus still face lingering challenges, like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain and fatigue.

These conditions can sometimes, can sometimes rise to the level of a disability. So we're bringing agencies together to make sure Americans with long COVID who have a disability have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: So, guys, really, it's been a day that kind of underscores a multipronged effort that is still very much under way.

Obviously, the administration has made clear they believe they have been successful in a large portion of what they wanted to do when they came into office when it came to getting vaccinations out, getting people in the position to move past the coronavirus pandemic.

However, they are also keenly aware, particularly because of the Delta variant, that has not happened yet, and therefore much more work needs to be done -- guys.

CAMEROTA: OK, Phil Mattingly, thank you.

So, every state except Colorado has seen an uptick in cases this week. And we have reporters across the country following these spikes for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Leyla Santiago in Miami-Dade, where the mayor has opened up new vaccination and testing sites.

[15:05:00]

People running those sites telling me they are seeing an increase in people coming in for testing. As we have been here today, we have seen a steady flow of people coming in for testing and vaccination.

And this is in a state where it is one of two states where every single county is seeing high transmission, Florida still leading the nation in terms of new cases. And the vaccination rate stands at 48 percent.

I have checked in with some of the hospitals here. They tell me over the weekend they did see a steady increase and they are begging people to get vaccinated.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Suzanne Malveaux in Saint Louis, where the mask mandate is now in effect, city and health officials stressing the urgency of this, saying that the COVID crisis is at epidemic proportions, that the Delta variant has spread like wildfire in this state, and that masks save lives.

So now all individuals must wear masks indoors in public spaces, in public transportation 5 years old and older if you're vaccinated or unvaccinated, with very little or very few exceptions to this.

There has been some pushback by some, the state's attorney general threatening to sue, also various mayors saying they will not spend resources to enforce this mandate, as well as the county council taking a vote on this tomorrow to see if they can actually rescind the order. But officials are not daunted by all of the criticism. They say that,

in fact, this is important, it is a dire situation here in this state and, ultimately, the mask mandate will save lives.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dan Simon in Los Angeles, where hospitalizations are rapidly rising in L.A. County with the spread of the Delta variant.

More than 715 people are hospitalized. That's up about 60 percent from 10 days ago. It comes about a week after L.A. reinstated its indoor mask policy.

Now, cases aren't what they were during previous surges. But, on Friday, the case count had tripled from where things were two weeks ago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: All right, thanks to all of our correspondents there.

And, today, more than 50 major health care groups have issued a joint statement calling for all health care and long-term care employers to mandate employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

They write this: "This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers, to put patients, as well as residents of long-term care facilities first, and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being."

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has just announced brand-new vaccine mandates for certain people in his state.

And Governor Newsom joins me now.

Governor, thanks for being with us.

Your new mandate aligns with what we have heard from these -- these health care groups, but goes a step further. What are the new rules, and when are they applying?

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Well, those same health care groups are partnering with us today as part of our announcement, the private sector health care delivery system recognizing the urgency of this moment, aligning themselves with now the state mandate that we prove verification of vaccines.

If you can't prove, then we are mandating testing as much as two times a week in certain settings. So, this includes all 246,000 state employees, but also includes those long-term health facilities, acute facilities, as well as adult and psychiatric facilities that also will be joining our effort.

BLACKWELL: Governor, correct me if I'm wrong.

From what I have read from your office, there's a distinction between the health care workers and the rest of the state employees, that those health care workers' vaccinations will be verified.

Will the state also be verifying the vaccination of all state employees?

NEWSOM: Yes, that verification is across the board. It's just the testing requirement and a PPE requirement that will be additive, particularly in those non-congregate facilities -- or congregate facilities of high risk.

So, we will be doing testing twice a week. There'll be respirator, masking requirements, N95s in certain settings, more traditional surgical masks in other settings.

But the bottom line is no more self-attestation. We want verification. And if you can't verify you have been vaccinated, then you will have to submit to these mandatory testings.

BLACKWELL: Does this apply to volunteers and vendors and contractors?

NEWSOM: Yes, in certain instances. There's still some telework exceptions. There's some exceptions across the spectrum.

But we think this is a logical next step. I think your introduction, this is really a thing -- a sign of things to come. You're seeing it in New York City. You saw the VA today. I expect other states will follow suit.

And, again, what distinguishes what we're doing here is, it's not just a mandate for state employees. It's also a partnership with our health care delivery system and private sector.

And we're encouraging other employers across the spectrum, bars, restaurants and others that choose to consider following suit to do the same. And we think it's incumbent upon the work force now to really take it to the next level, safe work force, safe state.

[15:10:09]

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about masks. Of course, L.A. County has brought back their mask mandate for indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

I want to put up on the screen the growth in cases. I have got the six weeks before the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people ended on June 15, and then you see the six weeks or so since, and there, of course, is this growth in cases.

Is it time, Governor, to bring back a universal mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status there in California?

NEWSOM: Look, we don't even have to have that debate if we can just get everybody vaccinated that's not vaccinated, that's refusing to get vaccinated, that is living vaccine-free and impacting the rest of us.

It's like drunk drivers. You don't have the right to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else at risk, including your own life at risk. California has one of the highest vaccination rates in America, but yet we're still seeing an increase, because so many people, 25 percent in California, are refusing to get vaccinated.

So we're really trying to focus on ending this pandemic once and for all. Those nonpharmaceutical interventions, like face coverings and face masking, were necessary in the absence of vaccines. But with these vaccines, we can extinguish this virus once and for all and get it behind us, and not worry about getting our kids safely back into in person instruction or keeping our businesses open.

We're encouraged by the local determinations as it relates to mask- covering, mask-wearing, but, at the end of the day, the real focus here, get vaccinated, so we can end this pandemic once and for all.

BLACKWELL: I get that, but short of people getting vaccinated -- and there are lots of conspiracy theories about why people are not getting the vaccines -- but, short of those vaccinations, why not follow the lead of L.A. County and require those masks?

Because we know that the honor system didn't work, that the people who were unvaccinated kept their masks on, while those who are vaccinated took them off in malls and indoor facilities.

So, why back away from that, that option?

NEWSOM: Well, over half of -- over half of the state is in a jurisdiction that requires mask-wearing in California or is encouraged to wear mask coverings.

But you talk about conspiracy theories, it's in -- it's very direct misinformation, not just conspiracy theories. It's the misinformation being proffered by the Ron Johnsons and the vast majority, or at least roughly a majority, of Republican House members.

It's folks like Tucker Carlson. You need to call this out, these guys on the right that have been misinforming the public. And now people's lives are at risk, and the economy of this country is at risk, and our ability to educate our kids is at risk.

We need to be more direct about this. We need to call this out, I think, much more succinctly. We have lifesaving vaccines. We could end this pandemic, move away from the face covering debates, and address this once and for all. In the next few weeks, we can end this pandemic in the United States of America.

We have the one thing the rest of the world dreams of, and that's abundance, ubiquitous access of these lifesaving vaccines. So we need to be a little bit more aggressive in this space. And we need to call out the misinformation that is being proffered by certain groups, increasingly along an ideological spectrum.

BLACKWELL: And that's something we, of course, do here every day.

What are you doing about it there in California?

NEWSOM: Well, we're doing this -- the first state to take a bold step, not only with state employees, but also, as I said, with private sector employees, joining suit in the health care industry.

As I said, over half of California is covered.

BLACKWELL: Specifically on misinformation, Governor. I apologize if that question wasn't clear.

Specifically on misinformation, what are you doing about it?

NEWSOM: I have got a team of people at the Department of Public Health, a team of people specifically, every single day battling in the trenches to address the issue of misinformation, address the issue of hesitancy.

We have partnered with literally -- I'm not exaggerating -- 480 community-based organizations to push back against the misinformation. We're looking at social media sites. We're also looking at what's going on, on people's platforms, all stripes of platforms. And we're trying to get into people's -- well, we're trying to connect with people where they are.

And that includes, by the way, a $40 million commitment with family practitioners, CalVax grant programs, so we can deal with legitimate hesitancy and misinformation one-on-one with caregivers as well.

BLACKWELL: All right, California Governor Gavin Newsom, thank you so much for your time, sir.

NEWSOM: Good to be with you.

BLACKWELL: So, the infrastructure negotiations, they're hitting another pothole. Did you get that?

Democrats are blaming Republicans, saying they're moving goalposts, and Republicans are now responding. We will go live to Capitol Hill with the very latest.

CAMEROTA: Also ahead, Trump ally Tom Barrack back in court, pleading not guilty to charges of illegal foreign lobbying.

We have the latest.

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[15:19:32]

CAMEROTA: Now to that bipartisan infrastructure plan. Sources tell CNN that Republicans are rejecting the latest offer from the White House and Democrats, saying that it opens issues -- reopens issues that had been settled.

So, at last week's CNN town hall, President Biden gave today's date as his goal to get a deal done. But we're told negotiators are still at work and talks are in a precarious place.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

So, the White House says Republicans reneged on a deal for water funding. Senator Mitt Romney call that laughable.

[15:20:05]

Where are we here?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not in a good place for people who want a deal.

In fact, it's more likely that a deal will collapse than come together at this point, because there are just a number of major issues that are just not resolved at this point. And they're reaching a point, running up against to the summer recess, running up against the point in which Democratic leaders are weighing whether to go it alone completely, or if there's a bipartisan approach that they can get a deal on.

They have to make those decisions in the next few days. And they are simply not there yet on a host of key issues, whether it's how to deal with transit funding, whether it's how to deal with funding for this seven -- nearly $500 billion -- nearly $600 billion in new money, $1.2 trillion overall.

They're trying to figure out how to pay for that still. There's some disagreements about exactly how the broadband provisions should work. You mentioned water funding. So, all along the line, there are a whole host of differences between the two sides. After the Democrats put out an offer last night, the Republicans contended it opened up a whole range of issues that they had already agreed on.

So they're meeting tonight, guys. We will see how they come -- what the message is afterwards. But the expectation is growing that this is only going to collapse and force the White House to take matters into their own hands.

CAMEROTA: OK, well, Manu, stay on that for us.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is the first House select committee hearing on the January 6 attack on the Capitol. So, Congressman Kinzinger, as we know, Republican, has now joined the committee.

But, of course, today, he's facing backlash from his Republican colleagues.

RAJU: Yes, from Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, calling him a Pelosi Republican, him and Liz Cheney, the two Republicans who are serving on that committee.

And just moments ago, Kinzinger responded to that attack and dismissed it and the attacks that are coming from his colleagues. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): It's childish. We're doing big things right now.

Bottom line, I'm an elected member of Congress. I'm a Republican. Kevin McCarthy is technically my Republican leader. And to call members of Congress by childish names, like Donald Trump used to do, I guess it's just kind of par for the course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So, I also asked Kinzinger about whether or not he wants to hear from members of Congress down the line, potentially Republican members of Congress who were having conversations with Donald Trump in the run-up to January 6.

Kinzinger made very clear he is more than willing to go down that route, to call in his own colleagues to testify. But that is down the line. Tomorrow, they're going to hear first -- have the first hearing, hear from Capitol and D.C. police officers who defended this building on that day, January 6.

And they're going to lay out the scope of their investigation, figure out how to proceed. But those big questions, those thorny questions, talking to Republicans, calling Republicans, maybe reaching out to the former president himself, all will come down the line in the weeks and months ahead, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us, thank you.

RAJU: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, the man who chaired former President Trump's inaugural committee pleading not guilty to charges of illegal foreign lobbying.

We're live from the courthouse with the latest on Tom Barrack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:27:53]

CAMEROTA: Longtime associate and adviser to former President Trump Tom Barrack entering a not guilty plea in federal court in New York just a short time ago.

BLACKWELL: He's been charged with illegal foreign lobbying and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say Barrack tried to influence the former president's foreign policy positions on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

CNN's Kara Scannell is at the courthouse.

So, what new information did we get from Barrack and his team?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, Alisyn, just a short while ago, Tom Barrack and his co-defendant, Matthew Grimes, appeared in the courthouse behind me, where they entered not guilty pleas to the seven-count indictment that they're facing over illegal lobbying efforts and also, in the case of Barrack, for also allegedly making false statements during interviews with the FBI and obstruction of justice. Now, the judge agreed to the bail package that was reached on Friday

in California. He just added one additional thing, that Barrack could live in Colorado, where his private residence is. But the terms of the conditions are largely the same. Barrack is free on a $250 million bond.

That bond is secured by his ex-wife, his son and a former business partner. And what the judge today is, he had those of individuals appear remotely in a part of the hearing where he explained to them what was at stake for them if Barrack did not show up in court or if he violated any of the terms of his deal.

Now, also the same is true for Matthew Grimes. He's released on a $5 million bond. His father was in court today and swore that he understood the conditions of this release. And, also, his mother and his brother also appeared remotely.

But the judge releasing them on that -- on those bonds, saying that they also have to have GPS monitoring. Their travel is restricted. And in the case of Tom Barrack, if he is going to do any domestic travel, he has to do it on a commercial airliner, not the private jets.

Prosecutors were very concerned that he would be a flight risk. Now, the next court hearing for these two individuals is September 2. Barrack's lawyer said that he is innocent and he will fight these charges in court.

Barrack himself issued a statement, in which he said: "The most important thing for us to remember is, three miles from here, standing in the middle of New York Harbor is the Statue of Liberty, with a torch in her hand signifying enlightenment, welcoming the seven continents across the seven seas