This is a rush transcript from “Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 10, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All right, you have been listening to Donald Trump that take questions. Some when far afield from the Bob Woodward novel that is out right now -- the book, I should say, that's out right now, a lot of conversations, a lot of taped conversations.
But I want to interrupt that to pass along an item that just has flashed on The Wall Street Journal, that J.P. Morgan, the big investment house, is telling its trading floor staff to get back to the office by September 21.
This is the first premier New York entity, trading entity, to say, the shutdown is over, the lockdown is over, and we expect you to come back to work in-person. They have largely Midtown Manhattan offices that have been essentially desolate since all of this started with the lockdown, but J.P. Morgan indicating right now that the better part of valor is that they return -- quoting here from The Journal -- by September 21.
The trading chief at the bank's global head of sales delivered the message in conference calls, saying that the executives are in agreement that child care and other medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus complications, those individuals can continue working from home, but, for everyone else, back to the office.
This is a significant development, because this is the first major New York City employer that has said, now's the time.
This kind of echoes something that the president was pounding in remarks today about getting the nation back to work, bragging about the 10 billion jobs that have gained over the last four months.
This could put impetus in some of those J.P. Morgan competitors, the Merrill Lynches, the Bank of Americas, and a host of others that have been slowly bringing staff back.
But, again, I wanted to bring this to your attention, because it is indeed a significant development. It gets back to sort of getting the economy back on track.
So welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto, and this is "Your World."
We start off with a very busy item here, and the president responding this Bob Woodward book and all these taped conversations.
To John Roberts, who's been monitoring all of that, joins us now at the White House.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Neil, good afternoon to you.
I thought it was interesting that the president said, starting off the question-and-answer part of all of this, that he did the interviews with Bob Woodward, and a lot of them were done from the residence behind me, and not the West Wing, and they were all taped.
He did them out of curiosity. He said, he didn't know a whole lot about Woodward, but he thought it would be interesting to talk to him. We do know that, when Woodward did his first book about the Trump administration, President Trump was upset that Woodward had never spoken to him and spoken to people around the president.
And the president wanted to, if Woodward did another book, actually talk to Woodward himself. Well, now we have all of these recordings of the president coming out and saying things like: "I always played down the virus. I wanted to play it down, because I did not want to create a panic."
And just a little while ago, the president was asked why he lied -- those were the words that Jon Karl of ABC used -- to the American people.
The president saying that wasn't the case. Here's how he put it:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What I said is: We have to be calm. We can't be panicked.
Certainly, if he thought that was a bad statement, he would have reported it because he thinks that -- you know, you don't want to have anybody that is going to suffer medically because of some fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: The president denying that he lied to the American people or misled the American people, saying that his job was to be calm in the midst of a crisis, to not jump up and down screaming death, as the president put it.
Joe Biden has suggested that this was a life-and-death betrayal on the part of the president. But in a conference call with the Biden campaign, Bill Russo, who is the deputy communications director, was asked, well, if Joe Biden thought that this was such a serious problem, why did he continue to hold big rallies during February and the first part of March?
Here's how Russo responded -- or not.
What he said was: "Those are decisions that look a little bit differently in hindsight, but, maybe if the president of the United States hadn't been lying about the extent of the crisis that we were facing, we would have had different information and made different decisions."
But, basically, Neil, the crux of the situation is here this afternoon the president continues to insist they did not deliberately mislead the American people, that he was trying to lead, and, in doing so, was trying to exude an air of calm in the midst of a developing crisis.
Now, I remember being in Brady Briefing Room the day that the president really did make a pivot. And this was a pivot that Woodward talked to him about, one of those recorded conversations, where the president came out and suggested that more than 100,000 people could die from coronavirus.
And, at that point, I think the numbers were in the low thousands. And I remember it took all of us by surprise that suddenly what had been looking like it was definitely a growing problem was quickly becoming a crisis -- Neil.
CAVUTO: John, I'm just curious. And I don't want to hit you blindside with this.
But the president, he knew that he was being taped, these conversations were being taped, right?
ROBERTS: Yes, correct. He did that, because -- and I remember listening to at least a couple of the sound clips.
Bob Woodward said: "I'm going to start my tape recorder here, as I always do," and I heard the president say, "Fine."
I thought that Karl Rove had a very prescient statement yesterday, because he was there during the Bush administration, when Bob Woodward wrote one book that seemed to portray George Bush as a pretty strong leader. And then the next two books whacked the heck out of him.
Karl Rove said yesterday, every president does a Woodward book that they later come to regret.
ROBERTS: That also happened to the Obama administration.
So they -- fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
ROBERTS: The old "Star Trek" quote, I think, holds true here.
ROBERTS: But everybody does it, and they all come to regret it, like Karl said.
CAVUTO: No, there's something. Maybe the status of it. Who knows?
John, one other quick question. I don't know whether you would know. The Biden people with whom we have chatted have been talking about, it's not a fair comparison with what Joe Biden knew at the time vs. the president, because the president has all this information that the former vice president did not.
Do we know -- and I'm just -- it's a mug's game here -- that when Joe Biden started receiving intelligence and related briefings that would, by and large, corroborate what the White House is hearing?
ROBERTS: No, I don't know when Biden would have had those briefings on coronavirus.
But there does come a time, when a candidate looks like they're going to become the nominee, that they get in on these intelligence briefings. That probably would have happened around that time.
But I do remember that, whether it was Biden, whether it was de Blasio, Cuomo, Nancy Pelosi, during the month of February, in the early part of March, the Democrats were playing this down themselves.
So, for them to turn around now and say that the president's guilty of that, well, they were doing the same thing back then.
CAVUTO: Yes, and I believe, in Joe Biden's case, in March, he had a large rally itself, and, in fact, had criticized the president's move to ban flights from Asia and the rest.
CAVUTO: So, it does seem that we should judge both men on what they were saying and doing by the same means.
But, as always, John, no matter what I throw at you, you're able to handle it with ease. Thank you, my friend, very much, John Roberts at the White House here.
I want to get our star thinkers of you of all of this right now, because it's really each party's sort of proxy to sort of play this to the hilt. Either the president really didn't do anything or say anything false or deliberately deceptive, or, to hear Democrats say it, just the opposite.
Michael Starr Hopkins is a Democratic strategist, Deneen Borelli, a Republican strategist. We have also got Sohrab Ahmari of The New York Post with us.
Sohrab, if I could begin with you and just get this way-back view, whether the president took this too lightly in the beginning, I'm sure there's plenty of time for commissions and investigations and studies, as there was following the 9/11 tragedy.
I'm always left with the impression, though, that we live in the moment now, deal with the virus now. What's going -- what's being done to get ahead of this or to deal with it now?
You can't do two things concurrently, can you?
SOHRAB AHMARI, THE NEW YORK POST: No, you can't, Neil.
And I think it's very important to realize what kind of a fog of war we were in. We're still in kind of a fog of war with respect to this virus, because it's a new natural phenomenon.
But, back then, it was even more. Remember, this was the whole period when the World Health Organization was saying that it's wrong to impose a Chinese travel ban, remember, and then there was a period when the World Health Organization backed down and said it was a big deal.
A lot of liberal media -- I remember there were pieces in The New York Times and The Guardian that suggested that any kind of travel ban was xenophobic, redolent of colonial histories and so forth, in the language of the kind of political correctness of today.
All the various public officials in New York, San Francisco, elsewhere were urging people to go to Chinatown for a New Year's celebration. And then we learned more and more about what this virus was, and you had all of China's disinformation.
So I don't think it's crazy for a president to sit, and he's trying to assess honestly day to day with another -- with a reporter, to say something where he's like, well, I'm feeling this way right now. We're -- the only strange part about it is -- I don't know.
I have never -- I would never be in that position because I'm not a natural-born citizen. I have no aspirations like that, but I would not give Woodward an interview, but -- because you don't want to open someone up into your deliberations like that.
But this idea that he was maliciously manipulating things, just I think it seems out of tune with what we knew then.
CAVUTO: You know, Deneen, going back in time, we can always say the president was certainly shocked to hear some of the recommendations.
His top Cabinet officials and medical experts were saying that this was akin to the 1918 pandemic, and that things would have to be shut down. And it jarred him. So he was obviously stunned by that.
It wouldn't be surprising that he appreciated the seriousness of the virus, but then what he had to do to address the virus.
A very small percentage -- I have just been going through the Woodward book. So, I haven't finished it. But what is very clear at the time is that he was not aware just what this called for, that the sweeping recommendation to shut the government down, to shut everything down was unprecedented. It had never been used, or in the better part of a century.
And it was jolting. And he didn't appreciate that. That's not to give him any slack here.
But I'm wondering, in looking back, if it's as simple as that, a shock that, as serious as he might have privately felt this was, even then, he didn't think some of these more draconian responses were necessary.
What do you think?
DENEEN BORELLI, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what President Trump did was leave it up to the states to decide what was the best measure and efforts to put forward to flatten the curve and to keep Americans safe from the COVID virus.
But, in regards to Woodward and his book and the excerpts and the interviews, Neil, I just think that the president can't do or say anything right.
And, personally, I think this is a hit piece. I mean, think about the timing of all of this. We are 50 days or some out from the presidential election, right? Woodward sat on his information for how long? For months.
Why did he do that? How come he didn't come out with it sooner? And not only that. When you look at how this has sucked all of the news out of the air in regards to the president being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, that's off the front page. There's no talk about that at all.
So this is, in my view, another way, another effort to go after the president, say that he can't do or say anything right, when, in fact, his - - his -- what he put forward was in the best interests for the country, whether it was shutting down travel from China, the medical equipment that was highly necessary, ventilators for anyone that needed it, the hospital ships, the Javits Center.
CAVUTO: In other words, he was punching all those buttons and the things we had to do.
Michael Starr Hopkins, I do want to get your thought on a separate development that does tie in with this, this J.P. Morgan news that it's telling its workers to return to their New York City offices by September 21, or just a couple of weeks from now.
Now, this is the kind of thing that economists will tell you, those who follow the comeback from the virus, you need to see to get things back on track. And others will likely follow that move.
Now, they did some -- with some provisos. The workers who feel skittish or have child care issues or are vulnerable, they could stay at home. I'm sure they're keeping a good count of how many do so.
But do you think that this is the kind of thing the president's been talking about since, that however this started, it's time to get back to work? Now a major investment firm, major employer in New York is saying the same thing. Others will likely follow. And it could have a cascading effect.
What do you think?
MICHAEL STARR HOPKINS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This is an important first step, but the only reason that J.P. Morgan is able to do that is because, in New York, they have able to get -- they have been able to get the infection rates below 1 percent.
They have been able to do that because people are using masks, people are social distancing. I was in Timberville, Virginia, this weekend, Trump country. And one of the things that really bothered me was, when I went into the grocery store, people weren't wearing masks.
And the kids who were at the counter who were bring up groceries were in masks, and their lives were put at risk, not because of anything other than statements made by the president about this being a hoax, about this being a mask.
Yes, today, he's saying it's not a hoax. Today, he's saying that we should wear masks. But we don't exist in a vacuum. And so when you spend months demagoguing scientists, when you spend months talking about how this is just a Democratic hoax, people don't believe anymore.
And so now you have, eight months later, 200,000 Americans dead, and even more dying; 1,100 Americans died yesterday. In France, I think it was 30.
At what point are we just going to say, this guy's not up to the job?
CAVUTO: But you will have to admit that the trend has been improving, right?
BORELLI: But you're blaming President Trump.
CAVUTO: But you will have to admit the trend has been improving? The percentage of positive diagnoses is down the lowest it's been in this cycle, right?
HOPKINS: Yes, but that's like setting 50 states on fire, and then saying 40 of them aren't on fire anymore, so things are better.
Like, yes, they're still better, but the 10 states are still on fire.
CAVUTO: Look, I don't carry water for anyone. I follow the numbers and the data, because I'm a numbers nerd.
BORELLI: That's ridiculous, Michael.
CAVUTO: And the numbers aren't right or left. I mean, they are coming down, the number of serious cases coming down.
HOPKINS: Yes, this is...
CAVUTO: The number of states that have serious incidents of spikes has gone down from 28 a little more than a couple of weeks ago to two right now.
CAVUTO: So, I'm not crediting or blaming the president for what was going on then or what's going on now, but the progress is very, very clear.
HOPKINS: The coronavirus certainly doesn't care whether you're a Democrat or Republican.
And those kids in the grocery store wearing masks, getting coughed on by people refusing to wear a mask, certainly, it doesn't matter.
CAVUTO: I'm just talking about the numbers.
I'm literally just talking about the numbers and where they stand. And moves like this on the part of a major brokerage firm, that's what I'm talking about.
HOPKINS: Yes. Yes, it is a good sign.
CAVUTO: Because it sees opportunity here to get back to normal, right?
HOPKINS: It is.
CAVUTO: All right, we will follow that, guys. I wish we had more time.
I just want to clarify some of that. So, guys, thank you all very, very much.
In the meantime, a quick peek at the corner of Wall and Broad. Stocks were selling off today. This was a rather midday development that technology stocks that had clawed their way back yesterday started going back down again, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, a host of others.
Alphabet under scrutiny now by the Justice Department and others who say, yes, you should look at the fact that it's gotten a bit too big for its britches. That might have been a catalyst to sell those issues. And sell, they did.
We will see what happens after this, because we will have more -- after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They want to go back to school. And their parents want them back in school, maybe more so than they want to be back in school.
And they want them back safely. And they want to go back safely. But they have to go back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: All right, well, a classic example of that is young Maverick Stow.
He is a senior at William Floyd High School. He was suspended for violating the school's hybrid learning plan. He wanted to go to school in-person. They told him, turn around, go back. He didn't, comes back the next day. And off they heave him, I think, to jail. He wasn't arrested, per se, but they did file him up and all of that.
Maverick joins us right now.
Maverick, what's the latest? Do you plan to return tomorrow, pursue the same thing? They say that you're disturbing things and making things very, very difficult for those who are going through a combination of in-person and virtual classes. You say what?
MAVERICK STOW, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Well, tomorrow, I intend on doing nothing. Tomorrow is September 11. And I think there are more important things to be covered tomorrow.
That aside, you -- your basic argument is, I want to learn in-person, right? That's what this all comes down to. So, you...
STOW: That's correct.
CAVUTO: You knew that there was this hybrid teaching structure, but you want to know part of that. So what did they tell you when you came up the first day?
STOW: Well, they -- the teacher didn't find me on my first period -- on his first period roster. And he sent me to the assistant principal, who sent me to the principal, who told me that I had to leave.
I refused. And he said that I had to leave again. And I walked out of his office. And he told me that I would be suspended for insubordination.
I went back to class. I went through the whole day without issue.
CAVUTO: So, right now, I think about 20 percent of their classroom teaching is of the personal, in-person variety. The rest is virtual, right?
How did you not make the in-person part? Or were you trying to force your way to the in-person part?
STOW: Well, I didn't make the in-person portion because I was suspended. And they told me that I was not to come back on school grounds, so -- until the suspension is over, for the five days.
And I came back on school grounds regardless, and they arrested me on a third-degree criminal trespass charge.
CAVUTO: And where does that third-degree trespass charge stand right now?
STOW: How do you mean?
CAVUTO: What are they recommending there on that charge? Have they fined you? Have they threatened jail time if you don't honor that? What?
STOW: I have a court appearance on the 24th of September. And my legal counsel will be present.
CAVUTO: All right, what does your family say about what you're doing, your friends?
STOW: My family and friends are in 100 percent support of me. They all think that it's a valid cause and that I should continue to work for five days a week in school.
CAVUTO: All right, for those who are OK with the virtual learning, what do you say to them?
STOW: That's fine.
If you're more comfortable with that, that's OK. And there's actually full virtual options offered by almost every district in the country. So, if you believe that you're safer, or you feel more comfortable at home, you should stay home.
CAVUTO: All right, so, a lot of the people who are going after you on this are saying you're doing it for show or notoriety or attention.
What do you say?
STOW: I'm doing it to go to school.
If they had let me go to school, I wouldn't have needed to call FOX. I wouldn't have needed to be on this. I wouldn't have needed to contact the journalists.
If they had let me go to school, I would have been going to school today, and I would have came home, and I would have went to school the next day. It wouldn't have been an issue.
CAVUTO: Now, they cycle this through, right, between in-person and virtual classes. So, the next wave for in-person classes or expand that could be some weeks, months away, right?
Are you open to waiting until then, if they keep saying, go home, go home, go home?
STOW: Well, I intend on continuing to make my voice heard, until that -- the administration decides that they can't ignore it anymore, and we get to go to school five days a week, along with all the extracurricular activities, the sports, et cetera.
CAVUTO: Got it.
We're going to talk to a school system spokesman on this in just a second, superintendent's office.
But they also argued that you are threatening other kids' safety by forcing this issue, the distancing programs that are in effect, limited capacity, all of that, and that you are actually risking harming some of your fellow students' health. What do you say to that?
STOW: I argue that that's not a valid point, because the risk is relatively low, as you can see by the statistics and the infection rates.
And I would argue that all of the other students have the same risk, and that the masks are, in fact, decreasing the risk substantially.
CAVUTO: So, you were open and perfectly happy to wear a mask, and do all this other stuff going to school, and they just didn't want you there, because you were not included in that group, with the suspension, right?
STOW: I complied for school policy, and I wore the mask, and I sat at the desks that were the requisite distance apart. And they didn't want me there.
CAVUTO: So, what if they say, we still don't want you here? Whether you wear a mask, whether you do everything by the letter of the law, or the guidelines, they don't want you there?
What are you going to do?
STOW: Well, like I said, this issue is not over until I get to go to school five days a week.
CAVUTO: You want to go on to college, I'm sure, right?
STOW: Potentially. It may be part of my plan.
What are you -- what are you interested in studying?
STOW: I might study business administration or something.
I want to -- I want to trade real estate professionally.
CAVUTO: Hmm. Well, you are pretty good at the legal stuff. Maybe law, a law career could be your next calling.
But, Maverick, thank you very, very much. Good talking to you. We will see where all of this goes. But you're making history. Depending on the point of view, that's either good history or bad history.
Maverick Stow, William Floyd High School, he's a senior, just wants to go to class in-person.
Let's get the other side of this right now with Robert Vecchio. Robert is the William Floyd Board of Education president.
Robert, I'm sure you had a chance to listen to Maverick's argument. He wants to just go to school, in-person classes. That's the way he wants to learn. He's taking all the safety precautions required to make sure he will learn, safe for him, safe for everyone around him.
What's wrong with that?
ROBERT VECCHIO, PRESIDENT WILLIAM FLOYD BOARD OF EDUCATION: So, while we agree with Mr. Stow that we want our kids back five days a week as well, we have nearly 9,000 students in our school system, nearly 3,000 kids in our high school.
And if all the kids decided to come in, like Mr. Stow wanted to come in on his own terms, we would not have enough space to socially distance our kids in our classrooms. And that is the sole issue.
He and his individual opinion does not surpass the rights of the other 8,800 students and their families in this district, that we are forced to adopt the hybrid model to follow the state regulations and guidelines, as set forth by the state government and the Department of Health officials to make sure that we have social distancing in place, so that it's safe for everybody, students and staff.
We don't have (AUDIO GAP) protest against the state regulations and guidance documents that we sent and got approval for.
CAVUTO: All right, we were having some audio -- we were having some audio issues with you, Robert.
If you can hear me, I apologize for jumping on you. We were having some issues.
I just want to be clear here. Did Maverick not make the cut for in-person classes, even though he wanted in-person classes? How was that decided?
VECCHIO: We have a hybrid model, that we have half of our students coming two days a week, the other half of the students coming the other two days a week, and fully virtual one day in the middle of the week.
We have a small percentage of our students that are fully virtual, because we offered that option. For those that wanted to attend, we had no choice but to split it up, due to the size of our district, so that we could properly socially distance in every classroom throughout our buildings through the district.
We're one of the largest school districts in Suffolk County. So we had limited options with what we could offer with the protocol that's put in place by New York state.
CAVUTO: So, the way it goes, if I understand what you're saying correctly, Robert, is that all students are going through a hybrid type program.
Some are learning virtually during the course of the week, some in-person. So, if Maverick wanted to make them all in-person, he couldn't, the way the rules are now?
VECCHIO: That's not an option that's available to us, due to the size of our student population, because, if all the students who wanted to come five days a week came, we couldn't safely socially distant and follow our executive orders by the governor of the state of New York with safe social distancing.
CAVUTO: So, if he, after this suspension, returns and wants to force the issue -- I know he's not doing so tomorrow in light of the 9/11 anniversary, the 19-year anniversary, but if he comes, let's say, next Monday, and tries to force the issue, what are you going to do?
VECCHIO: So, here's the story that I want to clarify.
He's not -- he's not being allowed in school because he wants to attend school. He came into school, was grossly insubordinate, did not follow building administrative directors.
He even admitted to walking out of the principal's office during a meeting, when the principal was trying to mediate the situation. That was the first day.
He and his family were informed that he was suspended. When he came in the second day, he is now a suspended student who is not authorized on school grounds trying to gain access to our buildings.
We have zero tolerance for students that are suspended to try to come into our buildings, regardless of the reason for the suspension. He was an unauthorized individual trying to access our buildings.
And in today's day and age, with the school safety being of utmost priority, based on what we have seen over the last several years, we cannot have unauthorized individuals accessing our building.
So, the second day, when he tried to access our building, we informed him that, if he came back a third day, he would be arrested by Suffolk County police for criminal trespassing.
Every step of the way, we informed him of what the consequences would be. And in a premeditated format, he followed what he wanted to do, not what we were asking him to do. We gave him multiple opportunities to do the right thing. He's choosing to do what he wants to do.
And he was, today, when he came out on the third day, ignoring the...
CAVUTO: All right, Robert, we will see -- we will see what happens.
Hopefully, there's a way to address this or find a common ground. But, Robert Vecchio, thank you for taking the time.
I obviously want to thank Maverick Stow on this.
I wonder what Senator Tom Cotton thinks of this, especially if, someday, he becomes a Supreme Court justice?
CAVUTO: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that one of the biggest investment houses on the planet is telling its workers in the New York City metropolitan area to return to work, to return to their offices on the 21st.
They will make some exceptions, but, for everyone else, get back.
CAVUTO: You know, a lot of people vote for president based on the influence they will have on voting and approving Supreme Court justices, or at least nominating them, and see what happens in various Senate committee hearings, and ultimately in the full Senate itself.
The president has outlined additional names he is considering, should he be reelected for the nation's highest court.
And among them is this next fellow, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.
Senator, good to have you.
Were you surprised that you popped up on -- that's a pretty exclusive list.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Hey, Neil. Good to be on with you.
No, I wasn't too surprised. The president and his team had reached out a couple months ago to talk about some of the names on the list, and asked me about my name last. And I said, I have been clean from the law for 15 years and didn't plan to have a relapse.
But I very much appreciated the president's confidence. And, obviously, it's an honor to be included among such distinguished jurists.
I think the real story here is, it just goes to show, the president is committed in a second term to building on his success of appointing conservative judges, and that we still don't have such a list from Joe Biden, because that list would be filled with a bunch of far left radicals that would hurt him in this election, just one more example of how the president is saying what he plans to do in a second term, whereas Joe Biden is continuing to hide his unpopular agenda from the American people.
CAVUTO: Well, we don't know exactly what Biden is planning, but we do know that he has indicated that he would like to put an African-American woman on the court. That's the closest he's come to tipping his hand on this.
But what do you think of the fact that, on the president's list, there are quite a few senators, Josh Hawley, your colleague, who is not too keen on it. Senator Ted Cruz, I think, probably would like that. But what do I know? A host of other former solicitor generals, that sort of thing.
What's interesting is, we have not had of someone come from senator to make it all the way to the Supreme Court pick since Harry Truman, I guess, did this back in 1949 with Senator Sherman Minton. So, it's unusual.
I'm not saying unprecedented, but how likely you think it would be that the...
COTTON: Yes. So...
CAVUTO: ... president would turn to you? And then how likely you think it is that you would take him up on that offer and go ahead and try?
COTTON: Well, that's pretty far down the road, Neil.
I'm running for reelection, as is he.
COTTON: And there's not even a vacancy yet. And there are a lot of eminently capable conservative jurists on that list.
But I do think the president's list reflects the fact that he believes that a diverse perspective and set of backgrounds is useful for the Supreme Court.
In the last few decades, we have kind of fallen into a pattern of continually appointing judges from the federal courts of appeals. There's nothing wrong with that. Many of them were extraordinary jurists, like Sam Alito or Clarence Thomas.
But to have senators who have had their name on the ballot, or to have a solicitor general, to have an assistant attorney general, there's a long history in our government of having Supreme Court justices who did not come up the ranks of just practicing law and then sitting on lower courts and then going to the Supreme Court.
And I think it would help to have that kind of perspective, because one of the most fundamental qualifications for the court is to understand the difference between making the law and applying the law.
And, too often, we have a group of nine unelected lawyers who want to make the law, in accordance with their preferences, and not allow our people, whether in Congress or in the state legislatures through their elected representatives, to make the law for themselves.
CAVUTO: We also have surprises, right?
John Roberts will zig when everyone expected him to zag, Justice Kavanaugh the same, so what many might have thought at the time were safe conservative bets who end up being anything but.
You're a pretty conservative guy. I mean, your views are well-known, certainly in Arkansas and throughout the nation. Who's to say that maybe sitting on that court, and with those eight other justices, and cases come up that, whatever happens, you change. I have seen it happen, both sides.
COTTON: Well, Neil, as you say, I have been in public life long enough now that my views are very well-known.
Sometimes, you do have disappointments, as the chief justice has had numerous disappointments in recent years.
COTTON: I would say, though, that Justice Kavanaugh has been a very strong conservative voice over the last couple years on the Supreme Court, so I would not at all put him in the same category as the chief justice.
But that just goes to show, again, that the president is committed to transparency with the American people. He wants the American people to look at his record of nominating conservative judges at the trial court, the court of appeals, and the Supreme Court, and to know that he's going to nominate exactly those kind of judges in the future.
I think that's one reason why he refreshed his older list and added this new group of persons to that list. And I think that's what Joe Biden should do. Joe Biden is obviously not going to do that, though.
CAVUTO: All right. Well, we will see. We don't know.
But you're saying, it is unusual. This is the first president who has done something like that, as he did four years ago, doing it again now.
But I do want to get your views, first, as a senator, but, who knows, maybe as a justice down the road, the constitutionality of it, of this fight this one student is having in New York, wants to attend in-person classes, being told that, right now, that's not the way they're doing it. They're doing a hybrid situation with virtual classes and some in-person classes. He wants them in-person all the time.
School told him, tough luck, kid, it's not going to happen. Them there are the rules, essentially, the school seems to be saying.
What do you think of that?
COTTON: Well, I think what schools need to try to do is open for five days of in-person learning. That's what we have done in Arkansas. All schools offer a virtual option as well for students who have health conditions or who have parents with health conditions that might make it too risky for them to be in-person.
But we're now three weeks in. And, sure, there's been some cases confirmed, but, right now, schools are making the very best of it. They have in-person classes. We have had football games already. We have had extracurricular activities.
So, what I would do is encourage more schools to open for five days of in- person classes. A month or six weeks ago, so many of these schools were saying that, we can't do that. Teachers unions were opposed to it.
But now that we're four, six weeks on in places like Arkansas and a lot of private schools around the country, and it is, by and large, succeeding, I think more schools need to move forward with in-person classes.
I know a lot of schools have said they're going to make that decision at the end of September. I would encourage them to do so that moves it in the direction of five days in school.
And I just want to say, Neil, that, also, it's one reason it's so disappointing the Democrats in the Senate filibustered our legislation today that would have provided more funding for schools to reopen or schools to stay open. Then you wouldn't have these kinds of disputes that we have seen in New York, if schools were open five days a week for in- person instruction.
CAVUTO: Now, part of that package that essentially went down in flames -- as you know, obviously, it's not going anywhere now -- was liability protection for companies, businesses that do reopen.
So, in case someone gets coronavirus or they get sick, or -- they can't be sued right out of business.
Now, I only say that in the context of this news, sir, that J.P. Morgan, the big investment house, is telling its workers, we think the coast is clear right now for everyone to return back in our New York City offices on September 21, some allowances for those with kids and those with other conditions.
But they're leading that charge without any legal protection. What do you think of that?
COTTON: Well, it wouldn't provide liability protection just for businesses. It would also provide it for schools and for universities too.
And that's an important step in moving the direction of five days a week of in-person instruction.
COTTON: And so schools and universities know that they won't face that kind of liability.
This is not a blanket immunity...
CAVUTO: Got it.
COTTON: ... from any kind of responsibility for irresponsible behavior.
It's saying, if you follow public health guidelines, and exercise the best practices, then you can't be sued by a bunch of ambulance-chasing plaintiff lawyers.
CAVUTO: And that's what they're doing. And that's what they're doing.
I'm jumping on you again, Senator, because I screwed up my timing here.
But I hear where you're coming from. They're free to do that. They are going to do that. In the case of J.P. Morgan, they're going to implement that, on the 21st, everyone back at work, in the building, and soon.
More after this.
CAVUTO: All right, continuing with the California wildfires right now, which have made vulnerable about three million out of 12 million homes in the state.
Jeff Paul with more on all of this from Monrovia, California -- Jeff.
JEFF PAUL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Neil, evacuation warnings are in place, as the folks who called Monrovia home prepare for the worst-case scenario.
In fact, firefighters say all it really takes is for those winds to start picking up, and they will see those flames get closer and closer to the homes here in the foothills.
And it is a similar story playing out up and down the Western United States, with many fires burning in multiple states, as many as 13 states, Oregon being one of the hardest-hit. At least three people were killed.
And the state's governor says that number could go up as the fires continue to move so fast, hundreds of homes destroyed, and five small towns have been leveled by the flames.
In California, a dozen people are missing after the North Complex Fire exploded in size, that fire already claiming the lives of three people. More than three million acres burned this year alone in California.
And the state's governor says resources are especially stretched in, with neighboring states who often lend a hand fighting their own devastating fires.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Have wildfires in the Pacific North that we are struggling with, as well states like Washington and Oregon are struggling with.
So, the mutual aid system is a little stretched up there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: In addition to the fire damage, the air quality is also having a big impact.
Normally, you would be able to see the hills of the Angeles National Forest, but it's pretty hard to make out with all that smoke going into the air, and fire officials and local officials saying this could go on for weeks and days and days and days, as these fires continue to burn -- Neil.
CAVUTO: Jeff Paul in Monrovia, California, thank you, my friend, very much. Be safe.
In the meantime, the campaign is still on. And it's getting busy. And both candidates are out on the stump. The president will be making a trip to Michigan tonight. Guess who was just there? And back and forth, they go.
The latest on what he plans to do tonight -- after this.
CAVUTO: All right, the president will be in Freeland, Michigan, tonight, a little later tonight.
That's not too far from Saginaw, Michigan. Michigan was the state the president once shocked the world when he won it, first Republican to do so since 1988. It was by a little bit more than 10,000 votes.
Polls are very, very tight right now, some showing the vice president, former vice president with a lead of anywhere from four to five points. It had been seven to eight points before.
Anyway, Steve Harrigan with the latest on the importance of the state and why the president is there yet again -- Steve.
STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Neil, a packed house here.
And Trump supporters began arriving in the early morning hours for a 7:00 p.m. rally by the president. You're right. The president did squeeze out Michigan in 2016, an incredibly tight race, the president winning by just three-tenths of 1 percent in 2016, just about 11,000 votes.
Most polls in RealClearPolitics show Biden up about four points right now. And, as you mentioned, Vice President Biden was in Michigan yesterday in this battle over a battleground state, the vice president saying Michigan is all important if he's going to win the presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This comes from the gut for me. And I'm going to be coming back. I'm going to be back in this state at least two or three more times, because it's a must-win state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIGAN: The president is likely to talk about the economy tonight. That's an issue he's been doing very well on.
He's released a series of ads this week in Michigan, saying the economy is coming back to life and that Joe Biden would wreck any chance at recovery. Michigan's economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus.
Unemployment was at 24 percent in April. It's down to about 8.7 percent now -- Neil, back to you.
CAVUTO: Thank you, Steve, very much, Steve Harrigan in Michigan.
The economy coming back is a big theme the president's pounded in all these states, as Steve said. And to amplify that point, word out of The Wall Street Journal and now other sources as well that J.P. Morgan is telling its trading staff and accompanying sales staff to come back in-person to offices largely in Midtown Manhattan on September 21.
Those with other issues, childcare issues, or vulnerable workers, those with respiratory or related elements, can hold off on that. But for the better part of valor, they're saying get your heinies back to work. Others are expected to follow on that, which continues a theme the president has been pounding, reopen, reopen, reopen, this the same week we learn that New York City restaurants will be returning to indoor dining, albeit on a 25 percent capacity basis.
Charlie Gasparino on the significance of all these developments.
What do you think, Charlie?
CHARLIE GASPARINO, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, J.P. Morgan, this has been well-telegraphed.
I mean, I know the memo went out today, but as we were reporting on FOX Business, on your show, a couple of weeks ago, the plan at J.P. Morgan was simply this, 50 percent capacity -- bring 50 percent of their workers in by the end of the year, start slowly by filtering what's known as essential -- more essential workers.
People that transact businesses with small investors, known as brokers or financial advisers, don't have to come to the office. But, remember, traders are people that need to be near technology and on the trading desk. They're considered more essential.
GASPARINO: So, that's why the trading staff is going in first. Some investment bankers will go in.
The real issue here, though, Neil -- and this is not just J.P. Morgan -- it's every Wall Street firm -- is that they know they can operate very efficiently with just some other staff in, maybe 50 percent known as essential, computer programmers, traders, in initially, but everybody else does not have to be in the office every day of the week.
And what's going to go on here is...
CAVUTO: Well, do you think, Charlie, others will be kind of incentivized to come in as well now, maybe on a limited basis, but that J.P. Morgan might be the leader here, others will follow suit, that it could change the complexion in New York, and certainly the economic complexion in New York?
GASPARINO: I think -- here's what I think.
I think J.P. Morgan, based on the -- and I have been reporting this for weeks -- believes that a lot of its workers can work from home still. And these are essential workers. And this is the problem that New York City faces, not just high crime, not just the pandemic, but, right now, big businesses, like banks, that are very good at cutting costs have realized that a lot of their workers don't have to be in the office.
Traders may have to. Remember, trader -- trading is a very sophisticated technique. It involves technology. You're talking zillions of dollars of derivatives that are flying around the world. You don't want to mess up. That can bankrupt a bank.
GASPARINO: That's why it needs to be in the office sometimes.
But the other players don't. And this has been well baked in. The real question is, Neil, see what happens by the end of the year, who's in the office and who's not at these firms, because if there -- if there's only less than 50 percent, then that means the banks have figured out they can cut big costs by not bringing everybody back into the office in New York City, in this high -- in high-priced real estate.
For all I know -- they keep telling us, Charlie, like you and me specifically, no, you can keep doing imaginary shows as long as you want to. You are not welcome to come back.
GASPARINO: Well, I'm nonessential, Neil.
CAVUTO: So that's where we are, yes.
GASPARINO: Neil, I'm nonessential. I don't ever have to come back.
CAVUTO: You're nonessential. If you're nonessential -- oh, come on. You're our Italian fact-finder.
GASPARINO: You, on the other hand, have to...
CAVUTO: All right, Charlie Gasparino, thank you very, very much.
But it all started here, right? So, now what happens? Do others follow suit? Do they feel compelled to follow suit? The future of the economy, not just in New York City, could be in the offing.
Here comes "The Five."
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