On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by John Dickerson
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb — former FDA commissioner
- Dr. Jerome Adams — former U.S. Surgeon General
- Gina Raimondo — Commerce Secretary
- Quinton Lucas — Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri
- Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker — authors of “I Alone Can Fix It”
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
JOHN DICKERSON: I’m John Dickerson in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, COVID summer surge threatens America’s recovery and brings fresh urgency to the country’s vaccination push. Along with the heat and the fires and the drought comes a fourth wave of coronavirus. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are all on the rise nationwide, with the contagious Delta variant responsible for more than eighty percent of new infections.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I know this has gotten a bit politicized, but I hope it’s starting to change. It’s not about red states or blue states. It’s about life and it’s about death.
JOHN DICKERSON: But severe illness and death are almost entirely among those who are still unvaccinated. What will it talk to encourage holdouts to get the shot? We’ll talk with former Surgeon General Doctor Jerome Adams. And the debate over face coverings is back as some cities reimpose mask mandates. Are they an effective tool against the new viral variants? We’ll check in with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Plus–
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We know that our economic recovery hinges on getting the pandemic under control.
JOHN DICKERSON: We’ll talk with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about how much of a threat the Delta variant poses to the economy. And we’ll hear from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, whose city is grappling with both COVID and crime. Last year there were a record number of homicides in Kansas City. This year is on track to be even worse. What can be done to stem the tide? Finally, we’ll get an eye-opening look at the chaotic final year of the Trump presidency with the authors of a new book, “I Alone Can Fix It,” Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
It’s all ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. The highly contagious Delta variant is driving the country into a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Infections continue to surge, and with less than half the country fully vaccinated, public officials are urgently trying to convince the hesitant so that the spike doesn’t drag on into the fall. We begin this morning with Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News Senior National Correspondent): Unvaccinated America is playing COVID roulette with a mix of reluctance and defiance.
CROWD (in unison): Unmask our kids.
MARK STRASSMANN: And in places like New Orleans, the dominant Delta variant has pounced.
LATOYA CANTRELL: It’s more aggressive; it is deadlier, and it is in our community.
MARK STRASSMANN: Nationally, new COVID cases have spiked almost fifty percent. Rises in all fifty states, and ninety percent of U.S. jurisdictions.
WOMAN #1: If you can, please get vaccinated.
MARK STRASSMANN: Ominously, week to week COVID hospitalizations and deaths both jumped again.
DR. STEVEN STITES: We’re past the tipping point. We’re in trouble.
MARK STRASSMANN: Trouble because of deserted vaccination clinics like this. Everyone has freedom of choice, even when it becomes your problem.
GOVERNOR KAY IVEY (R-Alabama): I’ve done all I know how to do.
MARK STRASSMANN: Governor Kay Ivey’s problem in Alabama, new cases here up seven hundred sixty-six percent in the last month, in a red state with one of America’s lowest vaccination rates.
KAY IVEY: Folks supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.
MARK STRASSMANN: Take Kentucky, since March 1st, ninety-five percent of all COVID cases, ninety-two percent of all hospitalizations, and eighty-nine percent of deaths were among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
MAN: I’m more afraid than anything, I’ll put it that way, than I would have been, I guess, if I had gotten– gotten the vaccine.
MARK STRASSMANN: Vaccination rates in the next few weeks may define this fourth phase of the virus.
WOMAN #2: Like how I saw my parents struggling to breathe. It took me to– to watch my parents suffer.
MARK STRASSMANN: And there’s new vaccine pressure. The NFL warned this week that outbreaks among unvaccinated players could lead to forfeited games and paychecks. And more universities and employers have started to impose vaccine mandates.
GOVERNOR STEVE SISOLAK (D-Nevada): Vaccines are how we end the pandemic, how we protect our communities, and we– how we retire our masks for good.
MARK STRASSMANN: But for now, masking is back, not everywhere, but increasingly recommended, even required. Across the south school starts in a couple of weeks, and when it does, Atlanta’s system will require students and teachers to wear masks. John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mark Strassmann, thank you.
The World Health Organization is warning that countries are in the early stages of another global wave of COVID infections and deaths. This comes as demonstrators in France, Italy, and Australia took to the streets this weekend, protesting against vaccination passes and new lockdown measures. Elizabeth Palmer has the latest from London.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@CBSLizpalmer): Good morning. The idea of vaccine passports is gaining traction in Europe. Six countries now have some version of them, and France has the strictest rules. There, they will be necessary to even enter many public places.
ELIZABETH PALMER: And that kicked off violent demonstrations in Paris. Riot police tussled with protesters on Saturday, which was dramatic, but actually a side show because most people have accepted the new rules. In the line for the Eiffel Tower, some showed bar codes, others hard copies, and there was even on-site COVID testing so anyone without a passport could get in, too. There were also demonstrations this weekend in Australia. Police in Sydney ducked flower pots hurled by protesters furious about a new lockdown. Australia had kept COVID at bay by closing its borders, but the virus sneaked in anyway, and infections are on the rise. In Brazil thousands of demonstrators hit the streets. But they’re demanding more vaccinations and blame President Jair Bolsonaro’s bungled COVID response for one of the highest death rates anywhere. Though, currently, Argentina’s is even higher. In fact, the countries of South America, where it’s now winter, are together losing more people to COVID than anywhere else on Earth. Asia is also hard hit. The Olympics got underway in Tokyo with virtually no spectators. And dozens of athletes have had to pull out after testing positive. Indonesia is overtaking India as the current Asian hotspot. In Jakarta families cued in the streets to buy oxygen. And with ICU beds full, victims often fall ill and die at home. But there are stories of remarkable COVID recoveries. How about a hundred-and-two-year-old Nikolai Bagayev from Moscow, a World War II veteran, who left hospital this week, bursting with pride to have battled the virus and won?
ELIZABETH PALMER: And there is some global good news, too: over a quarter of the adult population of this Earth has now had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. And overall, deaths are on their way down. John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Liz Palmer, thank you.
And now we go to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who is also on the board of Pfizer. He joins us from Las Vegas, Nevada. Good morning, Doctor Gottlieb.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: So let’s start. People are hearing about increasing cases, maybe wearing masks, even if you’re vaccinated. There’s also talk of breakthroughs if you’re vaccinated. You always want to start with the risk decisions that people have to make for themselves. So how should Americans think about what’s happening right now and how they should make their own risk judgments based on what you know?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, the first thing I would urge Americans to do is to get vaccinated. We know the vaccines are highly effective, even against this Delta variant. There was data in The New England Journal of Medicine out this week showing that the vaccines are eighty-eight percent effective against symptomatic disease. And, certainly, anyone who goes out and gets vaccinated right now is going to have a vaccine that protects them through the fall and the winter. So they’re going to have broad, durable protection from that vaccine. Whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, if you want to add an additional measure of protection, if you’re in a high prevalence environment where there’s a lot of infection, a mask can still be helpful against this new variant. The physical characteristics of this virus has– has not changed. The reason it’s more transmissible is that there’s simply more of it. When people get infected, they get more virus, higher viral levels and they exude more virus, so they’re more contagious. But the characteristics of the virus haven’t changed as far as we know. So it’s not more airborne. It’s not more likely to be permeable through a mask. So a mask can still be helpful. I think, though, if you’re going to consider wearing a mask, the quality of the mask does matter. So if you can get your hands on a KN95 mask or an N95 mask, that’s going to afford you a lot more protection. Initially at the outset of this epidemic, we were encouraging people not to use N95 masks because there weren’t enough of those masks for medical workers. Now there’s plenty of masks. There’s plenty of N95 masks in the system. The Biden administration has done a good job ramping up supply. There’s also KN95 masks available. So I would encourage people to look at the quality of the mask and try to get their hands on a better quality of mask. The final piece of advice I would give and the question I get a lot is, if you are vaccinated, can you still spread the virus? We had pretty good data with the old strains of the coronavirus that if you were vaccinated, you were far less likely to transmit the virus. That’s probably still true. You’re probably less likely to transmit the virus. But if you are vaccinated and you do– you do develop an asymptomatic or a mildly symptomatic infection, there probably is a higher chance that you can transmit this Delta virus than some of the old strains because there’s just more of this virus. The viral levels are higher earlier in the course of the infection. So if you’re around vulnerable people, if you’re taking care of a newborn or an elderly patient and you’re vaccinated, you don’t feel well, you should probably get yourself checked out, not assume that you’re impervious to any kind of infection, even if you’re vaccinated.
JOHN DICKERSON: So when you use the word probably it seems like the moment we’re in it. Do we have a handle on this Delta variant in terms of how much there is? And some of the questions you just– you just raised is a little bit more fuzzy than– than we might hope.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yeah, look, what we know is that the– the virus levels that you develop early in the course of the infection are significantly higher with this Delta virus than with the old strains. And that’s why people are more contagious. That’s why this is spreading more rapidly. But the other thing we know about this is that those virus levels go up very quickly. And that’s why we think that the virus is more– it’s easier for this virus to overwhelm the immune system. So, for example, if you have a vaccine that you got seven or eight months ago and your antibody levels are declining, if you get this new Delta variant, it’s easier for this Delta variant to overwhelm low antibody levels. And that’s why we– we’re considering whether or not some people might need booster– boosters to increase their antibody levels. So we know that you have more virus onboard earlier in the course of the infection. We know that you’re likely to shed more virus that makes you more contagious. It also makes it more likely that you’re going to develop an infection from this new variant.
JOHN DICKERSON: There was a study done by the COVID-19 Research Consortium that said basically we may be in this period we’re in now all the way through into mid-October. The CDC then came out with numbers and said over the next three weeks, there may be between ninety thousand and eight hundred thousand new cases. That seems like a very big range, between ninety and eighty hundred thousand. What’s your sense of how long we’re going to be in this period we’re in?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yeah, people are having a hard time modeling this– this outbreak. And the CDC relies on outside modelers to do their own estimates and they put out the models that they got from that consensus group. But you’re right, if you look at heading into the week of August 14th, the models that the CDC puts– puts out or put out estimates that there’s going to be anywhere from ten thousand infections a day over the course of that week to a hundred thousand infections a day, which really is an indication that they don’t have a good sense where we’re heading with this outbreak. I believe that there is more virus than we’re picking up right now. There’s probably a lot of people with mild to subclinical infection since more of the infection is happening in a younger population that’s less likely to become very symptomatic. We’re not doing a lot of testing. More of the testing that we are doing is antigen– antigen tests that are being done at home and not getting reported. So I think we’re much further into this epidemic than we’re picking up and, hopefully, further through this epidemic. If you look at the U.K. right now, and we’re probably about three weeks, maybe four weeks behind the U.K., perhaps a little less than that. If you look at the U.K., they do in the last seven days appear to be turning a corner. You’re starting to see a downward trajectory on the cases. Now, it’s unclear whether that’s going to be sustained. They just lifted a lot of the mitigation that they had in place. But if the U.K. is any guide, we are perhaps further into this epidemic and hopefully going to turn a corner in the next two or maybe three weeks.
JOHN DICKERSON: In– in hindsight, would it have been better if the CDC tracked those breakthrough cases on vaccines so that we’d have a clearer picture of those questions you raised, which is how possible is it for a breakthrough and how symptomatic or how much you might be able to spread, even if you’ve got a very mild case once you’ve been vaccinated?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think it’s absolutely the case. Right now the CDC is only tracking breakthrough infections when people get hospitalized. And so we know that vaccines are very effective at preventing hospitalization in Florida, which is really the epicenter of the epidemic, right now. Ninety-five percent of the people who are hospitalized are people who are not fully vaccinated. But we need to understand whether or not vaccinated people are developing subclinical and mild infections and whether or not they can spread the virus, because that’s going to inform the kinds of decisions that they make. And we’re just simply not tracking that. So it depended upon data from other countries like Israel for trying to answer those important questions. It’s a question I get a lot from vaccinated individuals is whether or not they can spread the infection. Again, we know that they were far less likely to spread the infection with the other variants. We don’t know a lot about this Delta. This is a question that can be answered, and CDC should be looking at this.
JOHN DICKERSON: Finally, in the last forty seconds we have here–those who have kids going back to school under twelve years old, the vaccine is not available. President Biden said he hoped it would be soon. What’s your sense of when that might be available for those under twelve?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Right. Well, Pfizer, the company I’m on the board of, is one of the companies developing this vaccine. It’s a ten-microgram vaccine. So it’s going to be a lower dose in children under the age of twelve than the thirty-microgram vaccine that we have for people who are twelve and above that we’re also using in adults. The clinical data from this trial looking at this ten-microgram vaccine for children ages five through eleven should be available in September. The FDA recently indicated that it’s unlikely to be available before midwinter because I believe that the FDA is likely to require at least six months of follow-up, four to six months of follow-up of the children in that clinical trial. So that puts it more in the winter timeframe.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Doctor Scott Gottlieb, thanks as always. And we’ll be back. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: We go now to Vice Admiral Doctor Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general in the Trump administration. He joins us from Indianapolis. Good morning, Doctor.
JEROME ADAMS, M.D. (Former U.S. Surgeon General/@JeromeAdamsMD): Good morning, John. Good to be with you.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let’s start with those comments by Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama, which is a state that’s had very low vaccination rates. I’ve seen you out talking, trying to cajole, convince people patiently. She, obviously, took a different approach and hit him right between the eyes. She said, “Folks are supposed to have common sense, but it’s time to start blaming unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.” How do you think that’s going to go over?
JEROME ADAMS: Well, I think everyone has a different approach and different levers. I still think there are a lot of people out there who have legitimate questions and who have legitimate barriers. For instance, there are people who have access issues. They’re gig economy workers. There are people who are scared that if they take the vaccine and have side effects, they’re not going to be able to go into work the next day and they’re going to miss out on a paycheck or may lose their job. You also asked Doctor Gottlieb, I heard, about kids getting vaccinated. Here’s what worries me, John. We still have no clear timetable on when we can expect FDA licensure of these vaccines for adults. And a lot of people say that that is still causing their hesitancy, number one. But number two, I can tell you the quickest way to get people vaccinated is through mandates. And we can’t have mask mandates. We won’t– you’re hearing this from the military and from other businesses until you have full licensure of these vaccines. So if you want to get a bunch of people vaccinated, really quickly, get these vaccines licensed and then you’ll see the military make it mandatory. You’ll see businesses make it mandatory.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the– the governor’s–she said that– that people are letting us down. Can we do just a brief public service announcement here? A lot of people have talked about the vaccine as individual choice. It’s my choice. Nobody else’s business. Others who’ve been vaccinated say, what do I care if people don’t get vaccinated? I’m protected. Can you just remind people why it’s important beyond just the boundaries of your own body to get vaccinated?
JEROME ADAMS: Well, I always say to people, it is your choice, but choices come with consequences to you and to other people. The consequences to other people are that you may put my eleven-year-old daughter who can’t get vaccinated at risk. You may put my wife, who is going through cancer therapy at risk, or my mother, who had a stroke last year in the middle of a pandemic, at additional risk, even though, both she and my mother are vaccinated. But there’s also real harm to you because, guess what? More mitigation is coming, whether it’s masking or whether it’s closures or whether it’s your kids having to return to virtual learning, that is coming. And it’s coming because this pandemic is spiraling out of control yet again and it’s spiraling out of control because we don’t have enough people vaccinated. So get vaccinated because it helps your neighbors, but get vaccinated because it’s going to help every single American enjoy the freedoms that we want to return to.
JOHN DICKERSON: You wrote a piece this week saying that the CDC should change their guidance on masking, that even if you’re vaccinated, you should get masked. What made you– why do you hold that position?
JEROME ADAMS: Well, we need to learn from what happened in the past. And in the past, I was reflecting back on my own statements about masking, and I wish in hindsight I hadn’t been as definitive. I wish I had been humble enough to understand that this is a new virus. I wish that my message had been heard differently. And what I said and what Tony Fauci really were saying was save the medical mask for the medical workers. But what people heard– what they heard was that masks don’t work, which was not the message that we were trying to send moving forward. The CDC put out new guidance in May and that– that guidance, quite frankly, has confused citizens; it’s frustrated businesses and public health officials who I continue to hear from. And it’s been by any quantification of failure. Vaccinations are– are down and cases are up. So it’s time for the CDC, if you don’t want to call it, if you don’t want to say we’re changing the guidance, let’s call it a clarification. Let’s go out there and clarify that, yes, if you were vaccinated and you’re around other people who were vaccinated, you are still probably safe. And I still, when I’m around vaccinated people, I still don’t wear a mask. But if you’re out in public, if you’re around people who you don’t know whether they’re vaccinated or not, and especially if you’re in a community where prevalence is going up, as Doctor Gottlieb said, it is probably going to be safest for you to mask it whether or not you’re vaccinated or not. And your public health officials who don’t have a good way of knowing or your businesses who don’t have a good way of knowing who’s vaccinated or not, they’re going to have find that they have no other choice but to call on more people to mask it. And the CDC needs to give those businesses, those health officials, a little bit of cover by clarifying the guidance that they have out there.
JOHN DICKERSON: How effective do you think that will be, though? I think of Florida and Governor DeSantis there, who has basically built an argument on pushing back against these mandates. When CDC suggested masking for those under twelve in schools, Governor DeSantis said, no, we’re not going to do that here. So the CDC can issue guidelines, but there are a lot of people in unvaccinated areas who are only too happy to push against those guidelines.
JEROME ADAMS: Well, there’s always going to be exceptions, and one of the great things about America is that we have the ability state by state, for people to do what they feel is best for their state. But the fact is for every person you point out like Governor DeSantis, there are a number of other governors and health officials who say, if you give us cover, we’re going to move in this direction.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me–
JEROME ADAMS: And businesses still will be able to lean on CDC guidance and say we’re doing this because of the CDC guidance, whereas Walmart said we have no way of telling who is vaccinated or not. So we’re just going to say no mask for anybody. You have the L.A. County sheriff saying we’re not going to enforce a mask mandate because CDC guidance says we don’t have to. We’ve got to give those folks some cover.
JOHN DICKERSON: Doctor, I want to get to the question of overdoses. A record number of overdoses last year. This is an issue you’ve worked on that it’s very important to you. Why is the overdose number up?
JEROME ADAMS: John, this is personal to me, as– as I’ve talked about before, I have family members, my own brother, who’s suffering from substance use disorder, and in 2020, we saw numbers skyrocket. We had a record year in 2019, seventy thousand people sadly died of drug overdoses. We blew that away last year because of COVID. Ninety-three thousand people died. And we know that both isolation from COVID, stress from COVID, but also cut off of resources, Forty-three percent of people reported decreases in services available through syringe service programs because of the pandemic, have combined to cause this explosion. And it’s disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities, a twenty-percent rise in whites, a thirty-percent rise in Blacks and Hispanics in overdose deaths last year.
JOHN DICKERSON: We have twenty seconds. What’s the next step? What can be done?
JEROME ADAMS: Well, I’m working with the Bipartisan Policy Committee. I want to applaud Congress for combining their mental health and addiction task forces, and we need to really ramp up telehealth services, which came about because of COVID, which are really the silver lining here in terms of making services more available. There is hope, but we’ve got to be able to pay attention to it.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Doctor Adams, I’m sorry we’ve run out of time. Thank you so very much for being with us today.
And we’ll be right back in a moment. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: If you’re not able to watch the full FACE THE NATION, you can set your DVR. We’re also available on demand through your cable service; plus, you can watch us through our CBS or Paramount Plus app.
We’ll be right back.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas, and authors of I Alone Can Fix It, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We turn now to the economy and the impact that the COVID resurgence could have on the recovery. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo joins us. Good morning. Thank you so much for being here.
GINA RAIMONDO (Secretary of Commerce/@SecRaimondo): Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: You said this week, if you’re asking me what can we do to get our economy back on track, get vaccinated. Give me your sense–you talk to businesses all the time. What are some specific ways in which, I saw that Apple is delaying reopening their– their headquarters a month because of Delta, what are some specific ways that it’s affecting business?
GINA RAIMONDO: You know, we– at this point this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. You know, ninety-seven percent of people in hospitals are unvaccinated. So what every business leader that I know is just encouraging every employee and every member in their family to get vaccinated so that when they come back to work, a lot of businesses are planning on full back in office post Labor Day. They’re saying, you want to feel safe, you should feel safe, you should feel comfortable. We want you back in the office, collaborating. So that means get vaccinated. I don’t sense, I will say this, you know, we are not where we were a year ago or six months ago by any stretch. We have highly effective vaccines. So the push now is to get vaccinated.
JOHN DICKERSON: I want to talk about going back to the workplace in a minute, but tourism is one of the focuses. You’ve– you’ve tried to help the tourism industry that was hurt. There was a big sell off on Monday and a lot of the stocks that were hurt were tourism stocks. You don’t see any issues there with people being nervous about traveling because of this summer surge we’re seeing?
GINA RAIMONDO: Again, I just– it really does come back to making sure everybody’s vaccinated. You know, I think that people are not nervous because they know these vaccines are incredibly effective on– on the different variants. There is, you know, I think a frustration by those who are vaccinated with those who aren’t vaccinated, saying it’s so simple, it’s free, it’s easy, limited side effects. Let’s get this done.
JOHN DICKERSON: Speaking of let’s get this done, there’s an infrastructure bill that’s bouncing around. Where do things stand? This is in the bipartisan negotiations to get infrastructure passed.
GINA RAIMONDO: Very close. We’re in the final strokes or in the final days. We’re optimistic. We are all engaging daily, multiple times a day, with members of the Senate and we’re feeling really good about it.
JOHN DICKERSON: So if it gets through the Senate, you get the ten Republicans you want and the fifty Democrats you want, but Nancy Pelosi has said she’s not going to send a bill over until another piece of legislation passes and then passes the Senate. That seems to add a lot of complexity. You got to do that before you get this infrastructure thing you want.
GINA RAIMONDO: Yeah.
JOHN DICKERSON: How’s that going to work out?
GINA RAIMONDO: This– this is complex. You know this is unusual and complex, but it’s what Americans want. It’s what Americans deserve. I’ll tell you, when I was governor, if I ever worked on an issue where I had both the Chamber of Commerce and the local AFL-CIO saying they supported it and get it done, I knew it had to happen because it was the right thing to do. And that’s what we have here. I hear from business leaders every day, get this passed. We need everyone to have broadband. We need improvements in roads and bridges. You hear the same thing from labor and progressive. So, yes, it’s complicated. No, we’re not there, yet, but it’s going to happen.
JOHN DICKERSON: So– but the hurdles are not just the Republicans working out on this infrastructure deal. It’s also got to be worked through with the Democratic leader of the House.
GINA RAIMONDO: Absolutely. But I know– I know this. If there’s one person in Washington who knows how to get things done, it’s Speaker Nancy Pelosi and she knows this is what the American people want. And so, it’s– I’m not going to pretend this is not easy. It is complex, but we make progress every day and I– we feel optimistic.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the jobs picture. The President was asked in the CNN town hall, a restaurant owner said, I’m having trouble hiring people. And it was really interesting, the President was pretty candid. He said that basically people are looking to make more money and they’re looking to bargain. And he said, “So I think your business in the tourist business is really going to be in a bind for a little while.” So how is that going to work out? Wages are going up, people want more, but if hiring is not happening, those businesses are– especially the small ones are going to have trouble staying– staying afloat.
GINA RAIMONDO: There is some of that, to be sure. But the thing that I think we all really have to keep our eye on, in addition to wages is childcare.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.
GINA RAIMONDO: Like a lot of people who work in these jobs are women–
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
GINA RAIMONDO: –waitresses working at a hotel. So schools have to open, childcare has to come back online, and we have to pass the President’s Families Plan, which provides for childcare, tax credits, investments in pre-K, investments in home care. Women are in these jobs and they’re struggling to juggle between taking care of their kids and going to work.
JOHN DICKERSON: And is that the answer to the small business question? Because small businesses say, look, the massive businesses, they can offer childcare, they can give inducements to help women back into the workforce. But our small business, we can’t do it.
GINA RAIMONDO: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s why, you know, what the President’s calling for is every four-year-old in America ought to be able to go to public pre-K. It’s good for the kids. It’s good for business. You know the– the Families Plan provides for home care. I– I read a story recently about a woman who had to give up her job as a paramedic because she couldn’t find home care for her autistic son. And she started working for Uber so she could keep the kid in the car with her.
JOHN DICKERSON: You mentioned workplaces, people coming back to work after Labor Day. Do CE– there seems to be some tension between CEOs who want people back, and surveys which show people want to stay with these hybrid environments, thinking of childcare as a part of that, how do you see that tussle getting worked out?
GINA RAIMONDO: We need better, higher quality, affordable childcare. You know I do hear from businesses all the time that women are turning down promotions. You know some of their star employees who are women, they want to get a promotion and women say, I can’t do it because I– I have childcare needs or women aren’t coming back into the workforce. We still have two million women who fell out of the workforce who haven’t re-entered. So, you know, you talk about infrastructure and, yes, we need bridges and roads to get to work. Women need childcare so that they can get to work and be productive and it needs to be affordable. And so I think this is it’s core to our competitiveness to have a better kind of family care infrastructure in America that’s affordable.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.
GINA RAIMONDO: That’s affordable.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Secretary Raimondo, we’re out of time. Thank you so much for being with us.
GINA RAIMONDO: Thank you.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back.
JOHN DICKERSON: We go now to Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas, who joins us from our CBS station KCTV in Fairway, Kansas. Good morning, Mister Mayor.
QUINTON LUCAS (Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri/@QuintonLucasKC): Good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: The chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System said that they are past the tipping point. We talked last week with the Springfield mayor who said he was asking the governor for extra space to handle the COVID patients because they had already passed the tipping point as well. Is that something you’re considering with the uptick in COVID cases in Kansas City?
QUINTON LUCAS: Abs– absolutely. We continue to work with our hospital leadership and ask our friends in Jefferson City to help us out not just with outreach on vaccines, but to make sure that we’re ready to handle any type of crisis that would come to our hospitals. None of us wanted to be in this position. That’s why we have been pushing and clamoring for months for positive messages about vaccines, but certainly now making sure that we’re ready with hospital resources in case we need more and more ICU space to address the current crisis.
JOHN DICKERSON: You– last month you said you were concerned about the inability to break that forty percent threshold of vaccination. There’s been some help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that Health and Human Services have– have helped in Kansas City to get people vaccinated. But the rates are still low, 38.8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. What’s been the sticking point to improve those numbers?
QUINTON LUCAS: You know I– I think they’re painfully low. We have continued to message, perhaps to– to populations that haven’t needed to hear that message. We need to make sure that we’re reaching out to young people. Young men of color is a place where we have incredible weakness right now. That’s why we’re not only being as creative as possible in how we reach out through traditional media, but also concerts. We’ll be appearing and giving away tickets at hip-hop concerts, country music concerts, any number of things that say to people that the vaccine is around, the vaccine is safe and it’s important for you to take. But another part of that is that we continue to have to push back against negative messaging, some of that messaging from people from this state running for United States Senate that are saying that the federal government is trying to kick down your door, force you to get a vaccine. What we’re really trying to say is it is safe. This is not compulsion. This is instead something that’s important for yourself and your family.
JOHN DICKERSON: You talked about compulsion. Over in St. Louis, they are reinstating the mask mandates in some instances. Are you rethinking that as– as the Delta variant spreads? And how does the mask mandate question coincide and conflict with the message you’re trying to pass about getting vaccinated?
QUINTON LUCAS: Well, you know, I think every mayor of a major city in America right now is wondering if it’s a time to return to mandates. We have thought at this point thus far that it is not necessary for Kansas City. As the secretary of commerce just noted, ninety-seven percent of the cases that we’re seeing in hospitals are from those who are unvaccinated, so breaking through to that population. And I think when you think about that population, maybe about half of our unvaccinated folks are those that want to fight and think that this was all just fake. But there’s another half of folks that just haven’t done it yet for whatever reason. So we are trying to make sure that we push that message. In terms of compulsion, we are giving more consideration to requiring all of our five thousand city employees to be vaccinated. I think that is something. I do encourage more American businesses, more American local and state governments to consider that as an important step for how we can show how important it is to our jurisdictions.
JOHN DICKERSON: I’m going to switch to the topic of– of crime and– and violence. When you came into office you– you were– said you were committed to having fewer than a hundred murders in Kansas City. The homicide rate went above that and– and– and set records. What’s been the biggest challenge for you in terms of combating those homicides?
QUINTON LUCAS: You know we can say it forever, but– but firearms, firearms trafficking into our state. Most of the guns used in crimes in Kansas City, indeed, all of the guns used in crimes in my city, Chicago, St. Louis, so many others don’t start out in Kansas City or St. Louis or Chicago. We need an ATF that will work with us in terms of fighting firearms trafficking. But I will note something in my state and it’s happening in more American states, red states in the South and the Midwest. They’ve passed new laws that prohibit or make it a crime for our local law enforcement to work with federal agencies on certain issues, particularly as it relates to gun trafficking. We’re running into more and more hurdles in terms of how we fight violent crime in our major cities. These are things that have not been helpful in turning around this crisis. We will continue to work with our young people and opportunities and everything under the sun. But most of our murders are committed by firearms. We have too many flooding the streets of our city, too many that are sold illegally in gun shows and we need to make sure that we limit that.
JOHN DICKERSON: The attorney general was in Chicago, that– they are focusing on-on five cities. Kansas City is not one of them. Could you use a little– a little more federal attention on that issue of gun trafficking?
QUINTON LUCAS: You know we’ve had a wonderful relationship with the White House so far. I’ve appreciated this administration and I will note something different than from the last administration. When they’re working with us they call us in advance. We have a chance to have a long conversation about what our cities need. We’re not just sending federal agencies and federal forces in to say, you must take this. And so we will continue to reach out to the White House and many others to make sure that we can have more resources. But back to the point from before, we just want an ATF that’s able to do what it is supposed to do, stopping the illegal trafficking of firearms. We need an FBI and others that are focused on preventing violent crime. Those are the things they can help us in all of our cities because, look, we’ve had generations of doing the same thing. Traditional enforcement efforts don’t work the same way that actually working with communities, getting the tools of weapons, working with young people are in terms of changing our violent crime numbers in Kansas City.
JOHN DICKERSON: One of the ways to– you’ve talked about in terms of changing those crime statistics is community programs getting in– particularly with teenagers that were decimated or shut down during COVID. How many of those are coming back online and how much time was lost, how much was harmed that’ll– that’ll last long after the pandemic is gone in terms of those community efforts to help with the teenagers?
QUINTON LUCAS: You know I don’t think any of us would mislead the viewers in saying that this was not a tough year in terms of losing very important community programs with young people who were excited to be a part of them. Here in Kansas City, we brought back Mayor’s Night Hoops, a basketball program. We’re trying to engage with young people as much as possible. But this is kind of the challenge of COVID-19, which is that as we have a Delta variant rising, as we’re seeing more concerns with community events, particularly indoor events, as we at some point get to the cold weather months, we want to make sure we can keep doing them. And so we are bringing them all back. We hope we get to keep having them. And so part of that is getting people vaccinated, including these very young people, so that we can make sure we’re looking out for them.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Mayor Quinton Lucas, thank you so much for being with us. Good luck to your community.
And we’ll be right back in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to a new book that chronicles Donald Trump’s tumultuous final year in office. Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker are the authors of “I Alone Can Fix It.” Good morning to both of you. Carol, let’s start with you. Your first book ended after the first impeachment. The second book has another impeachment. Is there a through line for President Trump’s administration between those two impeachments?
CAROL LEONNIG (Co-Author, “I Alone Can Fix It”/@CarolLeonnig): Absolutely, there is, John. What’s striking about that timeframe is, the President learns as a result of the first impeachment that he’s untouchable. There’s no consequence for his behavior. There is no consequence for stretching the law, bending it, breaking it. You know in a criminal situation, if he weren’t president, there are a lot of people would argue he violated the law the first time around and as well the second time around. So as he becomes more emboldened, he rejects the advice of experts. He’s the expert now. He rejects the– the suggestions of his closest advisers if it’s not what he wants because he knows best in his mind. Unfortunately, in 2020, it’s no longer a PR spin game. You know it is actually a– a crisis that puts all of us at risk, and American lives are lost as a result.
JOHN DICKERSON: So he learned exactly the wrong lesson before the pandemic?
CAROL LEONNIG: Absolutely.
JOHN DICKERSON: Phil, you– you both covered this, in the daily minutia of– and its zaniness. Was there anything that you saw as you went over this and looked at it from slightly higher perspective that comes when you have to sit and write a book?
PHILIP RUCKER (Co-Author, “I Alone Can Fix It”/@PhilipRucker): You know, John, when we were covering this day in and day out for the Washington Post in real time, we thought we knew it all. We thought we were in the room with our reporting. But it wasn’t until Trump left office and Carol and I did this deeper excavation and sat down with a hundred forty, you know, cabinet members and senior administration officials and advisers to get the full story, that we learned how much worse it really was. How much– how close the country came to the brink not only of chaos, but of democracy falling. The fears that General Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had, that Trump could actually use the military in those final weeks as– as President to execute a coup, to stay in power despite the popular will of the voters to elect Joe Biden. It was a harrowing year and an especially harrowing, you know, final few months.
JOHN DICKERSON: Carol, when– when the President, after surviving the first impeachment, had this new armor, this new sense of nothing can touch me. How did that affect the people around him? I mean did they– were they– were they unable to do anything or did they say, yes, I’m getting behind that armor and we’re going to go do great things?
CAROL LEONNIG: I sort of see the presidency in two halves as a result of the reporting that Phil and I did. That first half there are a lot of adults. There are guardrails that are holding the President back from some of his worst impulses and they are not always successful, but largely successful. After that, however, and, sadly, in 2020, when real crisis hits, most of those guardrails have been ground through. And a lot of the people around the President know that they’re not going to succeed unless they say, yes, or unless they nod politely. There’s another thing Phil and I learned that is sort of made our jaws drop, which is that we didn’t know this in real time, or we would have told the American people, many people who were the most ardent supporters of the President were afraid to counter him because they were afraid who would replace them. Would it be worse? Would there be no bulwark at all against orders to vaccinate people before the vaccine was ready? Would there be a loyalist installed to the Defense Department who would do what President Trump wanted all of 2020, which was to sick U.S. active duty military on civil rights protesters during the Black Lives Matter summer.
JOHN DICKERSON: That was– Phil, when you interviewed the President afterwards, he said that was his greatest regret, that he didn’t, well, what– what did he say about the Black Lives Matter protest?
PHILIP RUCKER: John, it– it actually he said it was his only regret from the year 2020. He has no regrets, according to what he told Carol and me about how he handled the pandemic, about the hundreds of thousands of lives lost on his watch. His one regret was that he didn’t send active duty U.S. military troops into Portland and to Seattle and to Minneapolis and to Washington to go after the Black Lives Matter protesters. These were people demonstrating injustice in– in the law enforcement system here in this country. And Trump wanted a show of force. He wanted to send the military into the streets to silence them.
JOHN DICKERSON: Carol, when you look back in an administration and talk to aides, you get kind of two sorts. They’re the ones who say, oh, my gosh, it was worse than you thought. And then the other kind who are still loyal. I get e-mails from somebody in the Nixon administration who was still– it’s like it’s 1972. What was the general temperature of the people you talked to who had served in the Trump administration?
CAROL LEONNIG: Almost to a person, even those who were so, so loyal had left with such disappointment and sadness about what happened, the death that could have been avoided. I’ll give you an example without naming sources. And again, as you know, we– we interviewed more than a hundred and forty people who were on the front row to this– this– this rollicking ride. But we learned in our reporting that former CDC Director Robert Redfield, his biggest disappointment that he confided to aides was that he could not convince Donald Trump to wear a mask. And he knew that not only would it protect the President, it would send a message to the country. And he believes that American lives, thousands of them, could have been saved if he had been successful. He tried convincing the President’s physician, Sean Conley, you know, please reach out to him, get him to do this. The President resisted. He thought it made him look weak. And Conley, the doctor, said to Redfield, I’m so sorry. You know what it’s like when you don’t have– when you have a patient that doesn’t listen to you.
JOHN DICKERSON: Phil, what was the governing principle of– what was the principle that drove Donald Trump?
PHILIP RUCKER: It’s really simple. The principle was, how do I better myself and how do I better my political fortunes? That’s what Trump talked about and thought about every minute of every day in making decisions throughout the four years of the presidency, but especially in his final year as a crisis hit the American people, the pandemic, the economic crisis, the racial justice crisis. He thought every single moment of that time, how do I look better for November 3rd for the election? And he set aside the other concerns. And that’s what was really troubling to the people who served him and confided this in us.
JOHN DICKERSON: It– help me figure out this puzzle, Carol, which is if that’s the mindset, why isn’t the President talking about vaccines more? He could say Operation Warp Speed, this is a huge success. Get vaccinated. Why– why has he responded, do you think, the way he has?
CAROL LEONNIG: In terms of good governing, sadly, this fits the pattern for Donald Trump. You know none of his answers are exactly consistent. For example, everyone who served him told us, well, I should say everyone we interviewed on this subject told us it would have been so easy for him to protect American public health if he had just listened to his doctors, if he had just said, according to his medical experts– experts wear the mask. The vaccine works. If he had just continually said that. But not– but what he was focused on was the daily, hourly, weekly news cycle. I’m going to win the optics war. This was the Trump toolkit that was so inadequate for a real crisis. And what Phil and I were warned about by sources when we wrote the first book, this guy’s toolkit is going to be inadequate if–
JOHN DICKERSON: We go to wrap. Sorry, Carol.
CAROL LEONNIG: Oh, I’m so sorry.
JOHN DICKERSON: No, we’ve run out of time. Carol, Phil, thank you so much.
PHILIP RUCKER: Thank you.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back.
JOHN DICKERSON: That’s it for us today. Thank you so much for watching. We’ll be here again next week. Join us then. For FACE THE NATION, I’m John Dickerson.
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