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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  September 2, 2020 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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record. but there is no question the trump campaign paying specific attention to ohio, they have already reserved $5.6 million in ads for this month alone. no republican has ever won the white house without ohio. he needs these 18 electoral votes. >> our coverage on cnn continues right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> and welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." we're joined this hour by the attorney general of the united states william barr. attorney general, thank you so much. >> hi, wolf. >> i know you're incredibly busy. i want to talk about wisconsin and oregon, but i want to start and get your reaction to what we heard from the president of the united states about you last night. listen to this. >> bill barr can go down as the greatest attorney general in the
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history of our country, or he can go down as just another guy. it depends. >> is it appropriate for the president of the united states to are putting pressure on you in the way he clearly did? >> i don't feel any pressure from that. >> you don't think he's trying to pressure you into going forward with the indictments and criminal charges and stuff like that? >> no. when we talk in private, he doesn't talk like that. >> he doesn't talk like that to you privately, but publicly -- but is it appropriate for a president of the united states to be speaking like that publicly about the -- >> what do you think is inappropriate about what he said? >> well, let me play another clip. this is what he said three weeks ago or so. listen to this. >> i hope they're not going to be politically correct, and i hope they do what, because the fact is this, what president obama knew everything, vice president biden, as dumb as he may be, he knew everything. and everybody else knew
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everything. they spied on my campaign, which is treason. bill barr can go down as the greatest attorney general in the history of our country, or he can go down as just an average guy. it depends on what's going to happen. >> i see you smiling. >> i sort of responded to that by saying that if i was really concerned about being politically correct, i wouldn't have joined the administration. and also i held a press conference and said that neither president obama or vice president biden were under investigation. that's how i responded. >> but is it appropriate, and you've worked for another president, president george h.w. bush. is it appropriate for a president to be urging you to launch criminal investigations against his political opponents? >> well, i didn't take that as launching a criminal investigation. we're reviewing the russia gate thing. and i think he's interested in the results of it. but i didn't think it was appropriate for either vice president biden or kamala harris
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to call for the charging of a police officer before that matter is reviewed and all the facts are in. >> we're going to get to that. let me just follow up on this. is it appropriate, though, for the sitting president to be accusing his predecessor, president obama, and former vice president biden of committing treason? >> well, treason is a legal term. i think he's using it colloquially. you have to have a state of war with a foreign enemy to commit treason. but i think he feels they were involved in an injustice. and if he feels that, he can say it. >> are they under criminal investigation? >> who? i've said in they're not under criminal investigation. >> but the president is accusing them of criminal investigation. the he wants them to be under criminal investigation because he says they committed treason. >> you're talking about vice president biden? >> vice president biden. >> i said i held a press
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conference and i said they were not. >> all right. let's talk about friday. marks 60 days before the election and the tradition in the justice department is you don't go forward with charges against individuals that could be seen as politically inappropriate or politically against opponents. are you going to honor that tradition? >> i put out the guidance that has always been put out by the department of justice. and i'll abide by it. >> what is that guidance? >> that guidance is people shouldn't do things for political reasons. >> so will you honor that -- >> yes. >> the perception is that the justice department potentially, if they weren't to honor that, could be seen as interfering in the election. >> well, as i said, i will handle these cases as appropriate. and i do not think anything that we do in the durham investigation, i assume that's what you're talking about. >> right. >> is going to be affecting the election. >> so you don't think there will
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be charges in the durham investigation 60 days before the election? >> well, the 60 days is not part of the rule. but i said that i don't think anything we're going to do would violate our policy, be consistent with our policy. >> let's turn to kenosha. you and the president were there yesterday. the city is clearly struggling in the aftermath of what happened to jacob blake, who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer. neither you nor the president had a chance to meet with him or his family, for that matter. what would be your message to them? >> to who? >> to the blake family. >> i guess my message to them would be what it would be to all americans, which is in cases where it's possible or there's concern over excessive force, we have a process in this country to make that determination, and it involves initially the state looking at it and also the federal government. and we are investigating it, and
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that should follow due process and be fair to everybody including the police officer. and violence is not appropriate. our justice system has to respond to, you know, analysis, reasoned analysis, not mob violence. >> so, you testified that you think you understand the conversations. this is when you were testifying before congress that black parents have with their children about racism in this country. how do you think african-american parents around the country explain to their kids what exactly happened to jacob blake, for example, and why that police officer had his knee on george floyd's sfneck f almost nine minutes? >> i'm not going to talk about the blake case. >> why not? >> because it's different than the floyd case. >> how is that? >> floyd was subdued, .
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>> his family says he wasn't armed. there may have been a knife in the car, but he wasn't armed when he was shot. >> well -- that's what his family and his lawyer said. >> i stated what i believe is to be the difference. i don't want to talk about him as if they're interchangeable. now i did say that i do think that there appears to be a phenomenon in the country where african-americans feel that they're treated when they're stopped by police frequently as suspects before they are treated as citizens. i don't think that that necessarily reflects some deep-seated racism in police departments or in most police officers. i think the same kind of behavior is done by african american police officers. i think there are stereotypes.
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i think people operate very frequently according to stereotypes and i think it takes extra precaution on the part of law enforcement to make sure we don't reduce people to stereotypes, we treat them as individuals. >> because on this program, jacob blake sr., the father said there were two justice systems in our country, one that shot his son seven times in the back and one that let the 17-year-old white gunman walk away after shooting and killing two people. your reaction? >> well, i think the gunman escaped, and the government of wisconsin is seeking his extradition. >> but are there two justice systems here in the united states? >> no. i don't think there are two justice systems. i think the narrative that the police are on some, you know, epidemic of shooting unarmed black men is simply a false narrative and also the narrative that that's based on race. the fact of the matter is very rare for an unarmed african-american to be shot by a
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white police officer. there were ten cases last year, six of them the suspect was attacking the police officer physically. so these are rare things compared to the 7 to 8,000 young black men who are killed every year. >> because you've said you don't believe there is systemic racism in our justice system among the police. but you did say this. you did say i do think it is a widespread phenomenon that african-american males in particular are treated with extra suspicion and maybe not given the benefit of the doubt. >> that's what i just said. >> but doesn't that sound like systemic racism? >> no. to me the word "systemic" means that it's built into the institution. and i don't think that's true. i think our institutions have been reformed in the past 60 years. and if anything has been built in, it's a biased and nondiscrimination and safeguards against that. that's what i'm reacting to on systemic. and also i think we have to be
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careful about throwing the idea of racism around. racism usually means, you know, that i believe that because of your race you're a lesser human being than me. and i think there are people in the united states that feel that way. but i don't think it is as common as people suggest. and i think we have safeguards to ensure that it doesn't really have an effect to someone's future. i think we've made a lot of progress in the past 60 years. to listen to the american left nowadays, you'd think we've gotten nowhere. >> there's no doubt there's been a lot of progress. but do you think black people are treated differently by law enforcement than white people? >> i think there are some situations where statistics would suggest that they are treated differently. but i don't think that that's necessarily racism. didn't jesse jackson say when he looks behind him and he sees a group of young black males behind him, he's more scared than when he sees a group of white youths.
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does that make him a racist? >> it sounds like there are two systems, one for blacks, one for whites. that sounds like there is still racism in the justice system. >> no. i think we have to make sure that stereotypes do not govern our actions in the justice system. and i think police departments do a pretty good job of trying to police against that. and i think progress -- there's more progress being made and more reform and we're going about that. but the demonization of the police and the idea that this is so widespread an epidemic is simply wrong. >> on monday night, president trump compared the police shootings, like jacob blake's, for example, in his word to golfer choking and missing a three-foot putt. >> i think what the president was saying there, be and it's something that i think should be said and has to be said, that in many of these shooting situations, it is not because of race. it's because the officer is
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scared for his life and is in a situation where a half a second can mean the difference between his life and his death, and he's wrestling with somebody, and they sometimes may do things that appear in hindsight to be excessive. it doesn't necessarily mean that it's racism. >> let's talk about portland while i have you. the president suggested once again that sending in, in his words, a massive group of people that are really highly trained to places like portland, chicago, and new york with something that he would do. he said if they don't call and ask for help, he said we just have to do it ourselves. do you think sending in federal law enforcement to cities that haven't requested that help is appropriate or legal? >> it's obviously legal. but what we're trying to do is make clear that it's the state's responsibility and the locality to provide protection if they are unable or unwilling to do
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that at some point things could reach a state where the federal government has to step in. >> but the president, he could do that tomorrow under the insurrection act. he could send in federal law enforcement to portland if he wanted to, right? >> well, we don't need the insurrection act to send federal law enforcement anywhere in the country. this idea that we're like an indian reservation and we can only enforce law inside federal buildings is nonsense. this country is under two sovereigns. and every square foot of this country is within the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement. >> so if he wanted to, he could send in federal troops tomorrow? >> i was talking about law enforcement. and i know that news networks are fond of the word "troop" when they're referring to federal law enforcements. >> so why doesn't he do that if he thinks it's so bad in chicago, new york, portland, places like that? why doesn't he do that? >> well, i think he's right in saying that there could come a point where we do that, but it's the governor's responsibility and the mayor's. it's very easy to maintain peace
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in these cities. in any city where the mayor backs the police, the police chief is doing his job, and the governor's willing to provide backup support, there will be peace on the streets, and there has been peace on the streets. >> i know that you and the president have claimed antifa, a far left group here in the united states for stirring up the violence in some of these cities. and i know you've set up a task force at the justice department to look into this. if antifa is really behind what we've seen some of the looting, some of the burning, some of the violence, why haven't there been any major arrests made of antifa? >> there have been 300 arrests made across the country. >> but apparently not -- >> being a member of antifa, antifa is a movement. there's not a group necessarily that is called antifa and membership in a group does not necessarily mean you've committed a crime. elements of a crime are things like throwing a molatov
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cocktail. >> there aren't many at all based on the evidence we've seen as far as antifa directly related individuals. >> some self-identify them as antifa. some refuse to provide even their identity when they're arrested. i've talked to every police chief in every city where there's been major violence, and they all have identified antifa as the ramrod for the violence. they are flying around the country. we know people who are flying around the country. we know where they're going. we see some of the purchases they're making before the riots of weapons to use in those riots. so, we are following that. >> is that illegal what they're doing? >> crossing state lines to engage in rioting is. >> in an interview -- >> a federal offense. >> the president claimed that he heard about a plane, in his words, loaded with thugs wearing
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dark uniforms from a certain city that was headed to the republican national convention here in washington, in his words, to do big damage. he didn't offer any specifics. he later the next day changed the story. the plane wasn't coming to washington. it was leaving washington. have you asked the fbi to investigate this? >> i don't have to ask the fbi because we received numerous reports of individuals coming from portland, washington, seattle, and several other cities to come into washington for the specific purpose of causing a riot. >> were they wearing black uniforms, and were they loaded, if you will? >> i think there were many on planes. we've received multiple reports on this topic. >> and so what the president was talking about was information that you provided to the president? >> i don't know what the president was specifically referring to. >> it's widely reported on facebook there was some conspiracy that was reported weeks ago about this sort of thing. >> 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
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of people coming from other cities and to washington as we received many reports of people going into kenosha from various states. >> but you're saying you don't know specifically what the president was referring to? >> no, i don't know what the president was referring to. >> when he spoke about this? >> he seemed to be speaking in general terms. >> let's talk a little bit about what the president also said just a little while ago about north carolina's absentee voting system. he said, and i'm quoting him right now, so let them send it in and let them go vote, and if the system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote. that sounds like he's actually encouraging people to commit a crime to vote twice. >> i'm sorry. you'll have to read that again. >> this is what he said. so let them send it in, the vote email, the voting by mail. and let them go vote the ballot, let them send in the ballot, and then let them go vote, and if the system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they
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won't be able to vote. it sounds like he's encouraging people to break the law and try to vote twice. >> well, i don't know exactly what he was saying. but it seems to me what he's saying is he's trying to make the point that the ability to monitor this system is not good and if it was so good if you tried to vote a second time, you would be caught if you voted in-person. >> that would be illegal if somebody mailed in a ballot and then actually showed up to vote in person. that would be illegal. >> i don't know what the law in the particular state says. >> you can't vote twice. >> i don't know what the law in that particular state says. >> is there any state that says you can vote twice? >> there are some that maybe you can change your vote up to a particular term. why are you asking me what he's saying? >> he doesn't believe in the mail-in voting and you're the attorney general of the united states. he said if you expand mail-in
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voting -- >> wolf, this is sort of cheap talk to get around the fundamental problem, which is the bipartisan commission chaired by jimmy carter and james baker set back in 2009 that mail-in voting is fraught with the risk of fraud and coercion. let me talk. >> please. >> and since that time, there have been in the newspapers, in networks, academic studies saying it is open to fraud and coercion. the only time the narrative changed is after this administration came in. but elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion. for example, we indicted someone in texas, 1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote. he made them out and voted for the person
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replaced the same address with several generations of occupants. do you think that's a way to run a vote? >> the only thing i'm saying is that so far we haven't seen widespread fraud. >> so far we haven't tried it. >> there are several states that only have mail-in voting --
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>> this is playing with fire. we're a very closely divided country here. and if people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government, and people trying to change the rules to this methodology, which, as a matter of logic, is very open to fraud and coercion, is reckless and dangerous. and people are playing with fire. >> i will point out there are five states that only have mail-in voting including utah and colorado, washington state, oregon, hawaii. and they've reported over the years they've had virtually no problems. but who's trying to change the rules right now? >> i would say the people who want to go to mass mail-in ballots. >> but you understand why. there is a coronavirus pandemic, and there are a lot of people potentially if they waited along the lines when they go to the polls, they could get sick, especially older people or people with underlying conditions. as a result a lot of people want to change the rules so they
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don't have to go wait in long lines. >> and the appropriate way to deal with that is, number one, arrangements at the polls which protect people, which can be done. and number two, people who have pre-existing conditions and are particularly vulnerable can get an absentee ballot. i have no problem with people -- i voted by absentee ballot. not by mail. >> let's move on and talk a little bit about another suggestion. you've said you are worried that a foreign country could send thousands of fake ballots to people, and it might be impossible to detect. what are you basing that on? >> as i've said repeatedly i'm basing that on logic. >> pardon? >> logic. >> but have you seen any evidence that a foreign country is trying to interfere -- >> no, i'm saying people are concerned about foreign influence. if we use a ballot system with a system that states are just not trying to adopt, it does leave
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open the possibility of counterfeiting ballots either by someone here or someone -- >> so do you think a foreign country could do that? >> i think anyone can do that. >> have you seen any evidence that they're trying to do that? >> no. but that's why we go to the trouble of making our money the way we make it. now, should we have minnesota print up our money on regular parchment paper? >> i asked the question because they said that no foreign -- >> no, i don't have any information because this is the first time we've tried such a thing. >> during your tenure as attorney general of the united states, how many indictments have you brought against people committing voter fraud? >> i couldn't tell you off the top of my head. but several. >> like a handful? >> i don't know. >> several doesn't sound like too many. >> i don't know how many we have. i know there are a number of
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investigations right now, some very big ones in states. >> the president also has said, and i'm quoting him directly, that he's ready to send sheriffs, law enforcement, and u.s. attorneys to polling places on election day. you're the attorney general. can the president do that legally? >> uh, it depends if he's responding to a particular criminal threat. >> he says he just wants to do it as a precaution. >> i didn't hear him say that. >> the acting secretary of homeland security chad wolf said on cnn, we don't have any authority to do that. that's what he specifically said. is he right? >> no. if there was a specific investigative danger that we detected some problem and risk. >> has he raised that possibility with you to send justice department law enforcement to polling places on election day november 3rd? >> no. >> as a precaution? >> no. but sometimes they have been in the past to enforce civil rights. wolf, we've done so in the past
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enforced civil rights to make sure that people were not being harassed and there was no suppression of vote against african-americans. . let's talk a little bit about foreign interference, russia specifically. the top elections official in the office of director of national intelligence revealed publicly last month that russia is working to help president trump get elected while both china and iran prefer joe biden to win. first of all, do you accept that russia is once again interfering in the u.s. presidential election? >> i accept that there is some preliminary activity that suggests that they might try again. >> what does that mean? >> that's all i'm saying. >> you think that russia is -- you've seen intelligence -- >> it wouldn't surprise me if russia tries something again of the same general genre of before. influence basically is two kinds of things. it's hack and dump.
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you get into someone's mail system and then try to disclose embarrassing documents. it wouldn't surprise me if they try something like that or any other country. the other way is social media and putting things out on social media. >> because the intelligence community says russia, china, and iran are seeking to interfere in the u.s. presidential election for various reasons, but mostly they want to sow dissent in our country, exasperate racial tensions. russia, china, and iran, which is the most aggressive in this area? >> i believe it's china. >> which one? >> china more than russia? >> yes. >> why do you say that? >> because i've seen the intelligence. that's what i've concluded. >> what are they trying to do? >> i'm not going to discuss that. >> but they're trying to help who win? >> i want not going to get into that. >> more aggressive than russia? >> yes. >> because the u.s. intelligence community -- >> trying to influence the united states? yes. >> i'm just trying to be precise
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on that area. and one of the most explosive revelations from the recently submitted senate intelligence committee, which is bipartisan, republicans and democrats, they report on russian interference in the 2016 election, and they say that they had confirmation that the russians did interfere. they cite the case of paul manafort who was the trump campaign chairman, was working directly with someone the u.s. intelligence community considered to be a russian intelligence officer. do you accept that? >> i accept that russia made some efforts to influence the election. i wouldn't say i necessarily accept the characterization -- >> but do you agree with what the senate intelligence committee concluded that russia did directly interfere in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of helping donald trump? >> based on the intelligence i've seen, i don't dispute an assessment that they attempted to interfere. >> i know we're almost out of time. you got a lot of stuff going on and i'm grateful to you for joining us. this is an important interview. if the president is re-elected,
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do you want to stay on as the attorney general? >> that would be presumptuous for me to say anything on that. i'm not going to. >> but what do you think? >> i'm not going to discuss -- >> are you enjoying what you're doing? >> i wouldn't don't use the word enjoy. [ laughter ] >> you enjoyed it more the first time around when you were attorney general? >> well, the political climate and the media was a lot different. >> and you had a different president, george h.w. bush. >> yeah. but the media should be fair and balanced no matter who the president is. doesn't give the media a license to lie the way a lot of the media is. >> i can speak for us. we are fair and balanced. i'm sure you would appreciate that. and i'm sure you appreciate that president george h.w. bush was a very different president than president trump. >> yes. and faced a different set of problems. >> very different set of
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problems. >> including the first gulf war. attorney general, thank you. once again, good luck. thank you very much. we'll welcome you back. >> thank you. we have a lot to discuss. we're going to take a quick break. we're going to discuss what we just heard from the attorney general of the united states, william barr, when we come back. hey there people eligible for medicare.
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it allows you to choose any doctor, who accepts medicare patients... and these are the only plans of their kind endorsed by aarp. whew! call unitedhealthcare today and ask for this free decision guide. let's discuss what we just heard from the attorney general william barr in my exclusive one-on-one interview. evan perez, you cover the justice department for us. what jumped out at you? >> wolf, look, i've known the attorney general for many years. and one of the things that we've noticed this time around, as he's serving as the attorney general with president, is that
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we often have the president goes out and says sometimes outlandish things, and then the attorney general tries to figure out a way to make that true. and we've seen that repeatedly in the last few months. the president we want ont out a talked about how antifa was responsible for all of the violence. we've seen a number of cases involving in right-wing groups a boogaloo movement that they've been actually carrying out attempted terrorist attacks including in las vegas. we've seen very few people associated with antifa. the attorney general, though, only focuses on the antifa violence or anything related to it. and we've also seen the president talk recently in the last few days about people clad in black trying to fly into kenosha and other localities to carry out violence. and i was stunned to see the attorney general sort of try to hang some measure of truth to what the president seemed to be passing on, which was a
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conspiracy theory that has been living on facebook. i don't know that even inside the justice department or the fbi people have the evidence to back this up. the attorney general sort of was trying to grasp at straws to try to make that true. and that's part of the problem, wolf, with the attorney general and why he's perceived in the way he is. he's very defensive when people accuse him of trying to defend the president being there simply for the sake of the president. and it's incidents like what we just saw today that make people make that accusation. and i think that's one of the problems with this attorney general. >> it was interesting that he seemed to defend what the president was suggesting over these past couple days. there were these groups of individuals flying into washington and they were plotting to do violence at the republican national convention here in washington or they may have been flying out of washington he said the next day. he said that was based on intelligence. it wasn't based on this facebook
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conspiratorial theory that sort of emerged a few weeks ago. >> well, it's all part of the theme that evan described, which is the attorney general acts as kind of a simultaneous translator. the president says something completely outrageous, completely false, and then the attorney general says, well, no, what he really meant was something less insane. and, in fact, the president says exactly what he means. at the beginning of the interview when it was completely obvious what the president hasn't been doing leaning on the attorney general to put out the durham report, to embarrass biden, to embarrass the previous administration, it's completely obvious what the president is doing there. and in all ingenuousness, attorney general barr says give me a break, we are actually familiar with the english
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language here, and i think those kind of answers are just an embarrassment. >> when the attorney general was asked by me to react to the president accusing president obama, vice president biden of committing treason, which, as you know, carries the death penalty, he said, well, that was just sort of a phrase he was using, he didn't really mean it. >> again, he just tries to sanitize what the president says. as far as i'm aware, the president says exactly what he means. when the president says he has the potential to be a great attorney general by attacking my enemies, that's what he means. when he says biden and obama committed treason, that's what he means. and the fact that the attorney general tries to sanitize it doesn't change, you know, the fact that we have a lawless president. >> i want to get dana and nia to weigh in. dana, what jumped out at you? >> playing with fire, that was his quote, and he was talking about the notion of voting by
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mail. and you rightly pushed back on him a number of times as he suggested that voting by mail is rife with fraud and that it can't be done safely. and the fact is, as you said to him, wolf, in recent years, we have seen a handful of states do it without any evidence of widespread fraud or even close to widespread fraud. he was referring to a commission that was more than ten years ago, which seems to be out of date. but i think if you also look at the quote, playing with fire, that is, again, the attorney general of the united states of america saying if americans do the safest thing possible during a pandemic to exercise their most sacred right as a citizen of america, which is to vote, it's playing with fire, as opposed to, you know what, i'm the attorney general, i'm a member of this administration,
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let's make sure the people can vote safely. and if that means by mail, let's make sure that we prevent fraud. that's what they should be doing in the justice department, not, you know, months before, or, i guess in some states weeks before voting actually takes place, say it's going to be fraudulent. well, that's your job, go out and make it so that that's another the case. even though the accusation that it's based on that it's going to be fraudulent is based on nothing that we've seen with regard to evidence where we've seen mail-in voting in the states that you talked to him about, wolf. >> especially at a time of a coronavirus pandemic. right. >> that's killing almost a thousand americans every single day. and people are understandably going to be nervous about going to polling places and waiting in long lines in order to vote when they could much more safely just do it by mailing in a ballot. >> that's right. he was really animated, frustrated, agitated during this section of the interview in
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really kind of floating all sorts of theories about, well, what if a foreign country tries to counterfeit the mail-in ballots. he at one point said that there are very large investigations going on in multiple states about voter fraud. he tried to make this idea true that this could be open to widespread fraud. again, mail-in ballot has been going on in several states for many, many years. and obviously this president is nervous about it, so he is really trying to attack it, and in many ways successfully attacking it. a lot of democrats at this point and republicans don't necessarily want to vote by mail because of the ways that this administration have gone after vote by mail. what else struck me was the passages in the sections he talked about race and racism and really wanted to avoid this idea that there was any racism at all, or systemic racism involved at all in terms of the way police officers engage with and
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interact with african-americans. he said, well, maybe their interactions are different because it's based on stereotypes, officers are interacting with african-americans based on stereotypes. but i imagine they're interacting based on stereotypes that are race-based stereotypes. it's not a stereotype based on height or weight. it's based on race. so he was sort of all over the place in that instance but really trying to land where the president lands, which is squarely on the side of police and squarely on the side of this idea that there is no systemic racism in this country, and particularly not any systemic racism when it comes to police officers. >> and, wolf, if i can just interrupt real quick. one of the biggest, i think, one of the biggest takeaways from the attorney general's comments during this interview was his making a distinction between the shooting in kenosha where jacob blake was shot seven times in the back and the george floyd
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case in minneapolis. and he said that blake was armed. that's not something that the justice department has announced, that there's been a finding. we know that there has been talk that they suspected he had a knife in the vehicle, which is one reason why the altercation happened. but the justice department has not concluded this. so i'm not sure whether the attorney general is sort of getting ahead of the actual investigation that is going on. his answer was sort of a little unclear because he said that's just my belief based on what i know. so, again, there's a little bit of a distinction that he's making between these two shootings. and it tells you a lot about the way the attorney general approaches these events. he doesn't see them as something that we need to improve the way police handle these types of events. he simply is looking at, well, is there anything we can make an excuse for the cops in these circumstances? and, look, i think you can look
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at both those cases and you can see that there are improvements that police could make in the way they handle these types of incidents. >> that part of the interview struck me particularly as the moment when the attorney general was at his most sincere and saying exactly what he believes. he does not believe there is a problem with race in this country. he does not believe that the police have anything to change or apologize for. this is the government's policy under donald trump, which is that the police are fine, that the "black lives matter" movement is more of a problem than the problem they are trying to address. i just think, you know, we need to recognize that this is where the justice department of the united states is, that the police are fine and there is nothing they need to improve. >> and, wolf, if i may, can i just add one other point that i think is important to underscore
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separate issue? and that is countries that are trying to interfere as we speak with the election process that we're in right now. the fact that he said that he believes based on the intelligence that he says he has seen, it is china that is much more aggressive now than russia. that flies in the face of cnn's reporting and others that it is actually russia still just like in 2016 that is far more aggressive. and we know that china is the country that the trump administration and more importantly the trump campaign is trying to use as a campaign issue against joe biden and to use it against really the coronavirus and against everything that they can to show the ills of this country that it is not donald trump's fault but another entity or country's fault. i thought that was very fascinating that he leaned so far into that. >> all you have to do, wolf, is
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look at the statement that was issued by the top official of the director of national intelligence who is handling the election security. and he said that the russians are actively interfering to hurt the biden campaign. what he said about what the chinese and the iranians were doing is that they have a preference for president trump to lose the election. so, if you read that statement, what you see is that there's one country that is actively interfering in the current election according to that public statement from the dni. and that is russia. now, look, the chinese are a serious threat, and i think the attorney general was trying to portray that without divulging any new intelligence. but i think it is an issue that he's trying to draw a distinction that bill evanina is not making. >> he was talking about this idea of you kind of hack something, hack an email and dump information, and then social media. but we obviously know from what we saw in 2016 these can be very
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complex million-dollar operations involving all sorts of people out of russia. and so that was interesting. but, again, donald trump got the attorney general he wanted in bill barr. he was obviously dissatisfied with jeff sessions, and he's got the kind of person who is going to be able to use in these political back and forth. at some point in here he actually went after joe biden, went after kamala harris for some of the remarks they made about the jacob blake shooting. so he is going to be somebody that this president can use as a political ally in a way that we haven't really seen attorney generals play in that role before in administrations. >> the report that was released on july 24th, they specifically said, and this is the thoughts of the u.s. intellection community, we are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by china, russia, and iran. they said we assess that china
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prefers that president trump does not win re-election, we assess that russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former vice president biden and what it sees as an anti-russia establishment. and it says as far as iran is concerned, we assess that iran seeks to undermine u.s. democratic institutions, president trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. it looks like all of them primarily, they want to do as much damage to the u.s. credibility around the world as they possibly can and to sow dissent here in the united states, which is clearly working for them. >> well, it is. but i believe it was dana who said that intelligence assessment said the only one of those three countries that is actively doing something is russia. just as it did in 2016. and what is the attorney general doing about russia? he is not trying to address the
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problem. he is inventing the idea that china is a bigger problem. and he's launched an investigation through u.s. attorney durham to try to discredit the investigation of russia in 2016. so you see, again, the attorney general doing the political work of the president of the united states. everything in all of these high-profile cases whether it's the michael flynn case or the roger stone case or the durham investigation or diminishing the importance of police misconduct, it is all part of the trump campaign. it is not part of the traditional work of the department of justice. and this is why you have thousands of former department of justice employees expressing their outrage at how he is doing his job. >> you know, dana, i want to play a clip in exchange i had with the attorney general. and he was explaining why he doesn't believe there is
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systemic racism in u.s. law enforcement. listen to this. do you think black people are treated differently by law enforcement than white people? >> i think there are some situations where statistics would suggest that they are treated differently. but i don't think that that's necessarily racism. you know, like didn't jesse jackson say that when he looks behind him and he sees a group of young black males walking behind him, he's more scared than when he sees a group of white youths walking behind him. does that make him a racist? >> what did you think about that, dana? >> as he was saying that i was googling to see if i could find that jesse jackson statement. maybe he said it a long time ago. i couldn't find it recently. and it's possible that i could stand corrected on that. but more broadly and much more importantly i defer and refer back to what nia said, which is that on the one hand he admitted
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the reality that blacks tend to be treated differently by law enforcement. but then, at the same time, he said it's maybe because of stereotypes, not because of systemic racism. well, the stereotype is steeped in racist situations and racist biases. there's no way to get around that. and by by denying that it really makes no sense because it completely flies in the face of every experience so many, not every -- but experiences so many african-americans have had whether just getting pulled over, experiences that i don't have that you don't have, wolf, that jeffrey doesn't have. just the reality of what happens on the streets of cities and suburbs and everywhere in between in this country. it is just a different experience and that is based in
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racial biasses. >> go ahead >> i think the jesse jackson quote did happen. it was many years ago. >> okay. >> but it is also true that racism is an idea, right? anyone can have a racist idea. so if you're jesse jackson and you have grown up in america which has sort of been invented around ideas around race and black people being lesser than white people perhaps jesse jackson has sort of internalized those ideas about black people. i mean, it is perfectly reasonable that some african-american cops hold racist ideas about other black people. you know, other black men. as more dangerous or whatever. because that is what is so prevalent in american society, this idea that black people are more dangerous, less than white people. so, you know, that is not a contradictory thing he is saying there in terms of what jesse
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jackson might have said and some of the beliefs that african-american cops might have. but my goodness. he is certainly trying to avoid what black lives matter folks are trying to point to, which is the fact that black people are treated differently by cops than white people. the statistics show this in terms of black people being more likely to be shot by police officers than white americans, so listen. this is part of what republicans want to do. we heard it at the rnc. nikki haley saying america is not a racist people though there are racist people in this country. that is essentially what he was trying to do there i think. there is no systemic racism. maybe a couple cops here and there who treat black people differently based on stereotypes. they're obviously racist stereotypes. all over the place. but again, this is what donald trump's message is about cops as well as american -- >> can i just say jesse jackson did say in the early '90s that nothing is more painful at this
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stage of my life than to walk down the street and hear foot steps and see somewhat white and feel relieved but again back to what she said, it is based on a lot of things that are very deep seeded. >> let me go to the white house and get her thoughts on what we just heard. what did you think? >> reporter: what was so telling about how he doubled down on something he said in his congressional testimony earlier this summer, he doesn't have evidence that foreign countries are actually going to interfere in the election by using fake ballots in a way they believe could be successful. after he said that the first time we had election experts who said that is not a concern of theirs when there are legitimate concerns about mail-in voting that is certainly not one of them. what was so revealing about the attorney general's answer to you is he made clear he has zero evidence he is basing this off of and is instead basting off of logic. however, something pretty basic,
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the idea russia is interfering in the election again or trying to he said, quote, there is some preliminary activity that suggests they might try again. that is a really basic answer where he is not just saying, yes, they are. he is saying, there is preliminary activity that suggests they might try again. that is a very and the septic answer from the attorney general on something u.s. intelligence has said is happening. if you're the u.s. attorney general you might rely on logic to believe that russia would interfere in the election again given that they interfered in such a sweeping form in the last presidential election we had, yet he would not just come out and simply say that because, of course, we do know that there are multiple senior officials in the administration who go out of their way to say certain things about russia because they know how the president will react. >> very quickly, how is the president going to react when he gets word maybe he was watching the interview the attorney general saying when the president accuses obama and biden of treason he doesn't mean
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it. he is just using a figure of speech. >> that is how some aids have tried to defend things the president has said, not just something as jaw dropping as that, but trying to write it off as the president is just saying that. he is speaking colloquially is what i think the attorney general said. that is not the case, wolf. the president legitimately thinks obama is guilty of treason and that is why he has said it repeatedly for the last several years. >> he certainly has. guys, everybody stand by. we'll have much more on the breaking news coming up including the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic. all of that and much more right after this. but not every tomato ends in the same kind of heinz ketchup. because you can't be everyone's favorite ketchup without making a ketchup for everyone.
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welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room" following breaking news. the coronavirus death toll here in the united states has just passed 185,000 as the total number of confirmed u.s. cases surges beyond 6.1 million. and this just in. the cdc, centers for disease control and prevention is now telling states to prepare to
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distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late october. meanwhile, dr. anthony fauci is warning americans not to let their guard down at all. dr. fauci says the labor day weekend that's upcoming could lead to a new surge of infections urging people, quoting now, to be part of the solution not part of the problem. the director of national institutes of health, dr. francis collins is standing by live. we'll discuss all of this in a few moments. lots of breaking news unfolding. let's begin the breaking news coverage on the coronavirus pandemic with cnn's dianne gallagher. the cdc is telling states to prepare for a vaccine as soon as the end of october. that would be just before the november 3rd election here in the united states. tell us what you've learned. >> that's right, wolf. these sken arrocenario document out by the cdc to different public health officials


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