tv State of the Union With Jake Tapper CNN July 19, 2020 6:00am-7:00am PDT
cnn special report, donald trump's conspiracy theories, tomorrow at 9:00. freefall, record-high cases in the country's covid crisis growing worse. >> we have never had as many people infected or infectious. >> the virus is real. it is deadly. >> are our leaders doing enough to stop it? i'll speak exclusively to los angeles mayor eric garcetti and mississippi governor tate reeves next.
this is an attack on our democracy. >> president trump may use the same approach in other cities. is it legal? portland mayor ted wheeler joins me to discuss, next. plus, civil rights icon congressman john lewis has died. >> we are one people, we are one family, we are one house. >> we'll reflect on his impact with congresswoman ayana pressley and lewis' close friend congressman jim clyburn. ♪ hello, i'm jake tapper in washington where the state of our union is in mourning for the late civil rights icon congressman john lefrwis. the state of our union is also this morning terrified. because there are more than 3.7 million coronavirus cases in the united states. and more than 140,000 americans dead. and there is no friendly way to say this. this crisis is spiraling out of control with no indication that
president trump is going to try to do anything different to try to stop it. in the last month the u.s. beat its own daily record for new cases at least nine times. and hospitals and states across the country are reaching capacity. nothing would make me happier than to report to you this morning that president trump and his administration are devoting every resource possible to defeating this pandemic. but not only is that not the case. on saturday cnn learned that the white house is objecting to a senate republican push for more money, for testing and contact tracing for the centers of disease control and prevention. the white house arguing that there is still sufficient funding from the march stimulus package. senate republicans strongly disagree. and many do not even remotely comprehend where the white house is coming from on this. a brand new abc news "washington post" post says it may be tied
to his inability to handle this crisis. president trump trails joe biden by 15 points among registered voters. and the president is behind by 20 points. we invited the president, the vice president and health care experts on the president's coronavirus task force to talk about what they're going to do to defeat this pandemic. they are declined. among the hardest hit states are texas, georgia, florida, arizona, and california. now, this spring, tight restrictions had california looking as though it might be a success story. but the virus has resurged there. and now democratic governor gavin newsom is rolling back many of those efforts to reopen. joining us now, the mayor of los angeles, mayor garcetti. this week los angeles county saw both its highest number of daily new cases and new hospitalizations since the pandemic began. now, when l.a. shut down back in march, there were 231 confirmed
cases in the county. now there are more than 150,000. what happened? what went wrong? >> well, jake, i think a lot of things went wrong. but here where we've had fewer deaths than many of the big cities and our rate of increase hasn't accelerated as much as others, we're kind of in the middle of the pack. we've seen no national leadership. we've had to stand up testing centers on our own. we've had to do so much that is outside of our lane because of the lack of national leadership. but also i think that there are people who are just as exhausted. they were sold a bill of goods. they said this was under control. they said this would be over soon. and i think when leaders say that, people react. and they do the wrong things. they stop distancing themselves. they stop washing their hands. they stop wearing masks. we were the first big city to mandate masks in america. it took another month and a half to see that at the national level. more than two months for our president to don a mask.
we were left on our own when we should've had help. we know this will be a marathon. stop telling people this will be over soon. let people know that this is a marathon, that we have to kind of push through every single mile. if we don't come together as a nation with national leadership, we will see more people die. >> the l.a. "times" wrote this week that re-opening wasn't a good idea, especially because it suggested to a public desperate for release that the coronavirus was in retreat. it wasn't, and our collective complacency paved the way for a resurgence of covid-19, unquote. how much worse does it have to get in los angeles before you feel compelled to issue another stay-at-home order? >> well, i think we're on the brink of that. but as i told people over the last week, the discipline, mayors often have no control over what opens up and doesn't. that's either at a state or
county level. i do agree that those things happen too quickly. it's not just what's open and closed. it's also about what we do individually. it's about the people who are getting together outside of their households with people they might know. they might think because they got a test two weeks ago that it's okay. but it's not. this virus preys on our division. it preys when we get exhausted. it preys on us when we don't have a unified national front or we as individuals think this isn't going to be a big deal. we have to be as vigilant as we were the first day. bring that strength, i kind of feel people are 20 or 30% of their strength these days. and then you have to be patient when you close things down again, wait two or three weeks to see the effect. and you have to be patient when you reopen things and don't have this domino effect of, hey, last week it was the restaurants, next week it can be the bars, week after that everything's open. that is a failed way to go forward. listen to the science, track the
data and be smart. >> you said you could be on the brink of reissuing stay-at-home orders. you're at 150,000 confirmed cases in l.a. county right now. at what point will you no longer be on the brink, you will actually be enacting, again, stay-at-home orders? >> sure. well, we have very strong ventilators. we still have a lot of room in our hospitals. we're 10 million people so we're bigger than almost every state in this union. when you see those numbers, we're a very large entity here in los angeles. but our positivity rates, we haven't had the level of deaths so we're following those very carefully. cases have gone up but we also have the most aggressive testing. we were the first city to offer testing to people without symptoms. i want to be more surgical. i want to go into those factors where we are seeing spread. i want to go into those
communities, especially our lower income communities. african-americans are not dying in bigger numbers than their population. but now this is becoming a much more latino disease. and it's also for our low-income workers. where we need more agents, reagents, we're getting instead secret agents coming into cities like portland that you're talking about where we need help with rent, we're instead getting rants from the rose garden. we need national leadership. this is the last chance for the president to prove that he cares about the people of this country and to step up and do something. >> the los angeles unified school district, which is the second largest public school system in the country behind only new york city, announced this week that it will forego in-person learning when classes resume next month. take a listen to what president trump had to say. >> i would tell parents and teachers that you should find yourself a new person, because
it's a terrible decision. mothers can't go to work because all of a sudden they have to stay home and watch their child, and fathers. what's happening, there's a tremendous strain on that whole side of the equation. >> given the current health situation, what are you telling constituents about how long they should expect to live with remote learning? >> well, we need 14 days off of our state watchlist. i think people need to be empowered. people need goals. people need to feel that they are in control of this. because covid-19 is taking control away from us. so with 14 days on of that watch list, we could be back at school. but this relies on our individual actions and we do need leadership, but it's not from our school district, it's from this white house. >> so, violent crime in l.a. is down overall compared to last year. but homicides have doubled in the last month. president trump is blaming
democratic city leaders such as yourself for the increase in violence. take a listen. >> the left-wing group of people that are running our cities are not doing the job that they're supposed to be doing. and it's not a very tough job to do. we're going to straighten things out. >> what is the reason behind this increase in violence? >> well, let's put those numbers in context. this is on track even with this past month being probably the third lowest number of homicides we've ever seen in our city's history. one of the lowest homicide rates ever. and, as you said, violent crime is way down. one month can skew one way or the other. obviously people have been pent up for a long time. but we feel very secure that this will be not only a safer year in los angeles, but the idea that this is some sort of easy job, the president should come here and be a mayor for a day. he is somebody who is so fundamentally missed a moment. i've never seen leadership miss a moment when his people are
crying out for help, when a third of americans couldn't make the mortgage or rent, when he is talking about not helping states and local governments, when he's saying there is plenty of money out there. sit down at the table where people are trying to figure out how they're going to get food on the table. when one out of five parents in america says their child is hungry today, this is depression-era level crisis economically. this is the biggest health crisis in over a hundred years. and he's missing this racial justice moment too. and the senate took a vacation in the midst of this. it is time for washington leaders to step up, stop blaming, send us reagents instead of federal agents. send us rent help instead of rants. and i know we will all be working very, very hard to make sure that he is not in the white house coming this fall. >> mayor garcetti, thanks so much for your time this morning. and our best wishes and prayers are with your constituents, the good people of los angeles. thank you so much.
>> thank you. sending you strength and love. thank you. my next guest is a republican governor from the south. he took on covid-19 sceptics this week. our supporters of the president listening? plus, oregon officials say that shadowy government agents are arresting protesters without identifying themselves. the mayor of portland will join me, coming up. >> "state of the union with jake tapper" is brought to you by pharma. find out the latest from biopharmaceutical companies at pharma.org/coronavirus. >> we're making great progress because we're collaborating in ways that we've never done before. in a matter of weeks we have progressed from potential treatments to antibodies and antivirals that have shown positive results. >> to several promising vaccine candidates. >> because science, science, science is how we get back to normal. t-mobile and sprint have merged.
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! welcome back to "state of the union." i'm jake tapper. as president trump continues to try to downplay the severity of the pandemic, americans in deep red trump country are suffering. in mississippi, for instance, there are more than 40,000 cases. and hospitals are running out of intensive care space. joining us to discuss this is the governor of mississippi, governor tate reeves. mississippi saw record-high hospitalizations. there were at least eight major medical centers with zero icu beds available. how close is mississippi's hospital system to having to triage patients and even deny
some of the medical care because you don't have capacity? >> well, first of all, thanks for having me on, jake. i wouldn't suggest that our health care system is in a position in which we are going to have to triage patients. we certainly have more patients in icu beds than we have ever had. our total hospitalization on covid-19 patients, but let's keep this in perspective. the number on june 27th was approximately 490 patients in hospital beds. today that number is closer to 890. and so we haven't quite doubled, but we are seeing significantly increased hospitalization. and that's the reason that we have worked with our hospitals and mandated the surge capacity for icu beds and we're making the decisions that need to be made to make sure we achieve our goal. our goal in mississippi is that every single mississippian that can get better with quality care that, they receive that quality
care. we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that becomes a reality. >> okay. but i'm just going by what your own health director said. he said there are eight major medical centers with zero icu beds available. what happens if somebody walks into one of those major medical centers and needs an icu bed? >> we have contingency plans in place. so we're going to make sure that we work with our hospitals. we have the ability to surge icu beds. understand that in our state, and, quite frankly, jake, in many states around the country, there are icu bed capacity issues without covid-19. in many hospitals around mississippi, we have to deal with trauma issues. and we have a trauma care system where we have level one facilities and level two facilities. and it is not unusual for our patients to be transferred from one hospital to the next. that's just the nature of the beast in a rural state. and so this is not something
that is uncommon. is it challenging? absolutely it is. does covid-19 make it more difficult and more challenging? absolutely it does. but we are prepared and we will make the decisions to make sure that every patient gets quality care. >> so there's an unpublished report prepared for the white house coronavirus that's force which lists mississippi as one of 18 states in the so-called red zone for cases and one of 11 for positive tests. closing bars, closing gyms, restricting indoor dining. did the white house alert you about this report and mississippi being on the list before you read about it in the media? and are you going to take any of those steps to try to control the spread? >> well, what i would tell you is that we had a conversation with dr. birx in the middle of this week. in fact, she was in our state. we had a very good conversation. when you look at their model what, they look at is they're looking at two things.
has any particular county had more than a hundred cases in the last seven days? and is the test positivity rate greater than 10%? the model that we're actually looking at is very similar. but we say if you have as a county 200 cases in the last 14 days or if you have over 500 per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days, then we're going to implement additional and more strict measures. we've already done that. we don't have a statewide mask mandate in mississippi, but we do in 13 of our 82 counties. the one thing your previous guest mentioned that i will agree with is the fact that we have to take a surgical approach. now, i don't understand how you can argue that we have to take a surgical approach to the coronavirus and then advocate for a top-down management approach from washington where they make all the decisions. there's no question in the county that our capital city is
in, in hines county, we've got to take on additional measures where we do in another county where we've only had four cases. we are looking at bars, we've talked a lot about bars and the potential spread there over the last six or seven days and we're taking stock of what's going on there. and we may implement additional measures in the near future. >> the bars are still open in mississippi. so you noted that there is a mask mandate in 13 out of 82 counties. the mississippi state medical association this past week said that you should implement a statewide mask mandate. they said, quote, we strongly believe that without a statewide mask mandate, our state's health care system cannot sustain the trajectory of this outbreak. you've encouraged residents to wear masks.
but it's only 13 out of 82 counties that have the mask mandate. the medical association says it should be the whole county. isn't -- you call it surgical, but is it the idea of having a mask mandate only in some places and not the whole state? isn't that like having part of the pool that it's okay to pee in? people travel from county to county. >> it's not at all like that. first fl aof all, i have nothint great administration for many of our state medical associations. but i think about what your previous guest said. he was very clear that in l.a., they were one of the first cities to implement a mask mandate. they've had a mask mandate for months and months. yet they've had over 150,000 cases. they have five to six times more cases than we have in our entire state. so what i would suggest to you is it's not about the words you write on the page. it's not about these words like
mandate. it's about how do you get the majority of your citizens to actually adhere to doing what's right? the things that we believe right now are the right things to do is that people wear a mask in public that, they maintain social distancing, that they stay at least six feet apart from other people, and that we not gather in large groups of thousands and thousands and thousands of people. my view is the best way for me to get my constituents to adhere to those simple things. if we will do the little things, we can make a difference in slowing the spread of this virus. the best way to do that is to highlight those counties where it's most needed. i will tell you that compliance in those 13 counties is exceptionally better today that -- than it was a week ago. and the compliance of wearing masks is better today as well because we go to them every single day we have a press conference. we talk to them, we tell them the truth. we're transparent. they're doing better today.
there's no question that across america the guard was let down in late may. there's no doubt about that. but the reality is we've got to talk about the future and what can we do to get the most people to comply with wearing a mask and with the social distancing. and i believe this surgical approach is the best way to do that in mississippi. >> but you agree that wearing masks will slow the spread and save lives. you agree that people in the 13 counties where they're told to wear masks are complying and it's helping. i've heard from business owners who have said that politicians not imposing state mandates put them in a tough spot, and they wish that politicians would do the brave thing as other governors, i think it's 36 states across the country have statewide mandates including alabama. it's not just los angeles or whatever. it's deep red states as well. if it saves lives, why not do it? >> and that's the point, jake.
in fact, there is a statewide mask mandate in texas and louisiana and arkansas and in alabama. they're all around me. if i believe that was the best way to save lives in my state, i would have done it a long time ago. but, yes, i do believe that wearing masks and maintaining social distancing is a strategy that is worth implementing. now, i will remind you that in early march and early april, there were organizations like the world health organization that said you shouldn't wear a mask, that it would do you no good. it's those kind of mixed messages that are being sent. >> that was a long time ago. >> of course it was a while ago. but people were paying attention then. there are a lot of people in my state who said well these planners who want to tell us what to do, they said six months ago that this is what we should do and now they've completely changed their mind. so it's a complicated process. to those business owners that suggest that things are difficult on them, well, things are difficult on everyone across america right now.
we've got to come together and recognize that our enemy is the virus, our enemy is not one another. we've got to work to the to slow the spread of this virus in our state and across the country. >> right. obviously, the science changed when scientists learned more. but i hear you, governor reeves. thank you for your time today. our thoughts and prayers and best wishes with the good citizens of my the. today. thank you so much, sir. my next guest says that she would not trust president trump's education secretary to watch over a house plant, much less the nation's children. congresswoman ayanna pressley, next. ♪ come on in, we're open. ♪ all we do is hand you the bag. simple. done. ♪ this smells so good. ♪
is that if you're not wexpecting the shock,t and the markets fall dramatically, you might panic. and in the midst of that panic, you might sell and run to cash. at the very moment, you shouldn't. at the very moment, prices are at their low. that's my fear. i'm not worried about the country. i'm not worried about the financial markets, because in the long run, i know they'll be fine. i'm worried about you. i'm worried about how you will personally respond to this crisis. and even if you don't panic, you may...
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welcome back to "state of the union." i'm jake tapper. with less than four months to go until the election, there are growing questions about the president's re-election strategy which seems focused on dividing the american people. whether suburban voters in 2020 will be as receptive to his message in november as they were in 2016. joining me now, a frequent target of the president, the democratic congresswoman from massachusetts, ayanna pressley. i do want to take a moment to start with the death of congressman and civil rights icon john lewis. you broke barriers by becoming your commonwealth's first black congresswoman. what example, what leadership, what mentoring did congresswoman lewis offer to you? >> well, i consider myself an ordernantly blessed while
feeling simultaneously robbed. we just can't have enough of that goodness. certainly i consider myself to be a beneficiary of his activism. the conscience and the compass of our congress, but i could argue for our nation. and it is especially painful to lose a justice seeker and a man with a moral clarity of john lewis against the backdrop, a new moment of racial reckoning in this country when you see police states like what's happening in portland, unrest all around us, voter intimidation and suppression tactics. it is especially acute and painful to be losing him. >> indeed. and amidst this racial reckoning, this week president trump honed in on an obama-era fair housing law intended to combat segregation. the president is accusing democrats of wanting to destroy
american suburbs. take a listen. >> your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise. joe biden and his bosses from the radical left want to significantly multiply what they are doing now and what will be the end result is you will totally destroy the beautiful suburbs. >> you happen to represent boston's suburbs. what's your reaction to that? >> more of the same from donald trump and this administration who sowed the seeds of division. and i can't even accuse that -- characterize that as a dog whistle. it's so far beyond that. that's why, you know, i was hoping the president would not even tweet yesterday about john lewis. at this point we don't need anybody's sympathies or tweets. what we need is action. if you really want to honor the life of john lewis, you don't do
things like gut the fair housing laws. you don't sow the seeds of division. you don't delay bringing the voting rights advancement act named after john lewis to the floor. and that should be brought to the floor immediately. so they're a complete contradiction of everything that john lewis fought for. they dishonored the blood that he shed on that bridge. >> do you consider that pitch that the president's making there -- i think at the white house, not at a campaign rally, do you consider that campaign pitch to be racist? >> john lewis said donald trump is racist. i mean, again, at this point, this is so much bigger than his hateful rhetoric. i'm focused and don't allow myself to get distracted by his hateful policies. the cruelty is the point when it comes to their culture, the corruption is the point. i represent a district that is
53% people of color, 40% foreign-born. we're in a three-mile radius, life expectancy drops by 30 years and median household income by $50,000. so my district is no anomaly, but it perfectly encapsulates the problems we face as a nation. and racial injustices exacerbated. >> congresswoman, let's talk about the difficult decision about whether or not schools should reopen in the fall amidst this pandemic. a recent poll found that almost a quarter of the families in your commonwealth earn less than $50,000. and they say they have too few devices to participate in online learning. additionally, according to feeding america, food insecurity is expected to increase by 60% for those who live in eastern massachusetts as a result of the pandemic. as you know, many low-income families rely on school-provided meals. at what point does the potential
negative impact of remote learning on these families, not to mention all the people who can't work because they have to take care of their kids, does that outweigh the risk posed by returning to school? >> jake, i represent the massachusetts seventh congressional district, the hardest hit district in our commonwealth. chelsea in particular, highest infection rates per capita. i am in daily conversations with superintendents, with educators, and with students and the fear and the trauma is real. we cannot move too quickly on this. the consequences on too great to consider. this is about the public health. what needs to happen is congress needs to continue to act as the conscience of this nation and to lead in the absence of this trump administration to provide reoccurring payments and to mitigate the burdens that families are feeling. to continue to address food insecurity. but we should not rush to reopen
schools. i do want to take a moment to just salute our educators. they have already proven themselves to be courageous and dedicated educators. we are now asking them to be caseworkers and in some instances martyrs. and that is unconscionable. again, we need to pass the heroes act which makes massive federal investments to support the re-opening of our schools when it is safe and this virus is under control. in the meantime we just reported out an infrastructure bill which makes those investments in broadband and other resourcing. but our greatest wealth as a nation is our health. and that needs to be a priority. >> thanks for joining us today. our thoughts and best wishes are with the people in the commonwealth. thank you so much for being with us today. agents in camouflage detaining portland protesters in unmarked cars and vans, is it legal in is it backfiring?
and welcome back to cnn's "state of the union." i'm jake tapper. the department of homeland security is refusing requests from officials in oregon to leave their state after videos have surfaced showing men wearing masks, camouflage, generic police patches, detaining protesters, putting them into unmarked vans. the u.s. customs and border protection later acknowledged taking part in these arrests and cited, quote, a large and violent mob. nearby they say they suspected this protester of crimes.
although there is no evidence of any of that in the video. joining me is portland's mayor ted wheeler. we have a lot to get to but there was more unrest in your city tonight. portland police declared a riot saying that protesters broke into the police association building and lit it on fire. president trump tweeted this morning, in part, quote, we are trying to help portland, not hurt it. they have lost control of the anarchists and agitators. they are missing in action. what is your response to the president, and how under control is your city right now? >> well, the president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect. what's happening here is we have dozens if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. what they're doing is they are sharply escalating the situation. their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. and it's not helping the situation at all. they're not wanted here. we haven't asked them here.
in fact, we want them to leave. >> the aclu filed a lawsuit against the trump administration friday night as did your state attorney general. she accused federal agents of a, quote, escalation of fear in violence. do you think the trump administration is breaking the law in your city? >> i absolutely do. the tactics that the trump administration is using on the streets of portland are abhorrent. people are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. they are being denied probable cause. and they are denied due process. they don't even know who's pulling them into the vans. the people aren't identifying themselves. and as far as i can see, this is completely unconstitutional. >> is there anything you or the governor can do to force these agents to leave your city?
>> well, we can build awareness. and that's what we're doing from our federal congressional officers to our governor to our local elected officials, we are all telling the trump administration stop the rhetoric, take these people out of our city, they are not helping us, they are hurting us, they are escalating an already dangerous situation. what i want to do is raise awareness nationally. this could happen in your city. and what we're seeing is a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government, by a trump administration that's falling in the polls. and this is a direct threat to our democracy. >> trump administration officials, as you know, their argument is that their agents are acting and doing what they're doing because people like you are not. take a listen to what ken cuccinelli from dhs told npr just a few days ago. >> it's not made any easier when you have somebody like mayor wheeler who holds back to a
certain extent his own law enforcement, for instance, they don't allow them to utilize certain nonlethal tactics, and so forth. it makes everybody's job harder. >> we should note that the protests in many ways have been successful. your d.a. stepped down early. the police chief resigned so a deputy who's black could take her place. the police budget was reduced by millions of dollars. and criminal justice reforms were passed. what's your response to ken cuccinelli, his department released a list of more than 80 instances of vandalism or violence in your city over the last six weeks? >> before the federal troops got here, violence was way down. vandalism was way down. our local and state law enforcement officials had contained the situation. the energy was coming out of the demonstrations. we had hoped they would end within a matter of days. and what happened instead is the federal troops came in. they used their unconstitutional
tactics. they injured nonviolent demonstrators. and the whole thing blew up again like a powder keg. so i completely disagree with them. the reason we want those federal troops out of our city is they are making the situation much more dangerous. i'm worried that one of our residents or one of our local or state law enforcement officers is going to get killed because of the tactics that they are currently engaged in. >> all right. well, we certainly hope that does not happen. mayor wheeler, thank you so much for your time today. our best thoughts and prayers and wishes for the good people of portland, oregon, today. we appreciate it. >> thank you, jake. the world lost an extraordinary man this weekend. we're going to take a moment to remember the life and legacy of the great congressman john lewis with his friend of almost 60 years, congressman jim clyburn. that's next. e is. -turbocharged, right? yes it is. jim, could you uh kick the tires? oh yes.
can you change the color inside the car? oh sure. how about blue? that's more cyan but. jump in the back seat, jim. act like my kids. how much longer? -exactly how they sound. it's got massaging seats too, right? oh yeahhhhh. -oh yeahhhhh. visit the mercedes-benz summer event or shop online at participating dealers. get 0% apr financing up to 36 months on select new and certified pre-owned models. ♪ ♪
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the son of sharecroppers, lewis was a freedom writer, he was beaten badly several times for his try to end segregation. i spoke with lewis about being inspired to pursue his friend martin luther king jr.'s pursue. >> i asked my parents, my grandparents, why segregation, why racial segregation? they said, that's the way it is. don't you get in trouble. >> they were worried -- >> oh, yeah, they were very troubled about what could
happen. but dr. king inspired. >> joining us now, a friend of the late congressman, the house majority whip, democratic congressman from sbouth carolin, jim clyburn. thank you for joining us. i'm sorry about the loss of your dear friend. i know you've been friends with him since 1960. when was the last time you spoke with him? tell us about that conversation. >> i spoke with john last saturday. we talked on the phone. we expressed love for each other. we talked about his illness some time ago. we knew that it would come to this. didn't know which day. so, last saturday when all kinds of rumors were floating around, i called him and we talked. and it was a pleasant conversation. i ended up telling him, just stop talking to conserve his
energy. it was a pleasant conversation. >> lewis was obviously a towering, almost larger than life individual in terms of his dignity, his courage. your relationship with him, as i noted, stretches back to october 1960, when you were both organizing protests during the civil rights movement. such an important movement. tell us about those days and about how your friendship perrer is -- persevered for so long. >> well, it had a lot to do with the common cause we found in challenging the status quo. john lewis and i met not long ago the sit-in up in greensboro, north carolina. that was february 1, 1960. and we were on the campus together in the spring of that
year. i did not know john then. the following october on the campus of morehouse college, we did meet. as you recall, there were some challenges going on, some conflicts between students and martin luther king jr. up until that point, martin luther king jr. had been advocating going to jail but he had never been to jail. and it was that -- it was that weekend that that conversation took place. we went into a meeting around 10:00 in the evening, and we didn't come out of that room until 4:00 the next morning. i was transformed in five or six hours. i've never been the same since. and john and i went on to meet our sponsors in the movement.
he met lilian, they got married. i met emily in jail. we got married. they were both librarians and they became great friends. and some of my fondest memories was listening to emily, at least her end of the conversation, with lilian. and sometimes they expressed their disagreements with how we were conducting ourselves. so, john and i got to be fast friends and it was sealed because our wives became such good friends. >> it's doubly a tragedy his death happens at this time in our history because, a, because of the pandemic he is not going to get the kind of send-off that previous leaders of his stature have been able to be given in terms of mass crowds, mass funeral attendance and such. but also because of who the
president is and his reluctance to fully understand the greatness of mr. lewis. after a delay, president trump did send out a short tweet saturday afternoon saying that he was, quote, saddened to hear of john lewis' death, calling him a civil rights hero. are you satisfied with that response? what would you like to see from president trump? what's the best way president trump could honor john lewis? >> the best way he can honor john lewis is to go to the media and say to the country that we have a road map given to us by the supreme court in a roberts decision seven years ago, in shelby v. holder. the supreme court gutted the 1965 voting rights act. and it said in that decision that these are some things you can do to reauthorize this act.
the house of representatives has passed that. i think that trump and the senate leadership, mitch mcconnell, by their deeds, if they so celebrate the heroism of this man, then let's go to work and pass that bill, lay it out the way the supreme court asks us to lay it out, and if the president topper sign that, then i think that's what we would do to honor john. it should be the john r. lewis voting rights act of 2020. that's the way to do it. words may be powerful, but deeds are lasting. >> that's a great loss for the nation and i know a great loss for you personally, majority
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