Transcript: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on "Face the Nation," July 19, 2020

Atlanta mayor: Georgia governor's actions are "simply bizarre"
Atlanta mayor: Georgia governor's actions are... 06:41

The following is a transcript of an interview with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms that aired Sunday, July 19, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Atlanta, the city where John Lewis lived. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joins us from her home this morning. Good morning to you. 

ATLANTA MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: Good morning. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You knew Congressman Lewis. You were a friend. What do you see as the nexus between him, his legacy and where social justice movement is headed next?

MAYOR BOTTOMS: You know, growing up in Atlanta, we have the great privilege of having these giants walk amongst us. So for me personally, John Lewis was more than this historical figure. He's a person you see in the grocery store, that you see a church, that you see out and about around town. And his legacy really speaks to so much about where we are with this movement and this moment in America. What he instilled in all of us was just courage and to do the right thing and treat people in a way that would- would then in turn have dignity and respect upon all of us. And so I am so grateful for his leadership and legacy. And I- and I don't think it happenstance that his last public appearance was on the Black Lives Matter Plaza. Because I think in his own way, he was leaving with us this reminder that the fight continues. And while we have come a long way in this country, we still have so much further to go. And he's passed on the baton to future generations, and I'm just grateful for his life.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You in Atlanta have been facing some battles with the governor. As our viewers know, Georgia was the first state to reopen from the shut down due to the pandemic. But the governor said this week that it was the racial injustice protests that led to the rise of infections that's happening in the state right now. What role did they play? Why do you think infections are spiking?

MAYOR BOTTOMS: Well, I've actually not seen any data or science that points to that. But what I have seen data on is that when the governor reopened our state, people from across the country came to- to our state. We've seen that tracked with cell phone data because we were open for business as if we were not in the midst of a pandemic. And the governor has done many things as of late and said many things as of late that, quite frankly, are simply bizarre. He filed a 124 plus page lawsuit against me this week of- calling for an emergency injunction to stop me from speaking about his orders. If the governor of this state had his way, I would not be allowed to speak with you today. And so this blame game is most unusual. There were other cities in our state who instituted mask mandates, and he did not push back against them. I don't know if it's because perhaps they were led by men or if it's perhaps because of the demographic in the city of Atlanta. I don't know what the answers are, but what I do know is that the science is on our side. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

MAYOR BOTTOMS: When you look at the report that- the unpublished report from the White House, we are red zone state and we are in danger.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Another congressman from Georgia accused you of auditioning for vice president as part of the motivation for your decision to order mask-wearing. Why do you think these masks have become such a- a point of division, given that it is CDC guidance to wear them?

MAYOR BOTTOMS: Well, first of all, I'm not auditioning for anything. I have a job that I get up and do each and every day, and that is the job as mayor of Atlanta. And my responsibility as mayor of Atlanta is to make decisions on behalf of the people of Atlanta that will protect our citizens. When I look at the unpublished report from the White House that says that Georgia is a red zone state, what that report says is that there are very clear guidelines that we should follow, very clear metrics that we should follow. Face coverings are one. We- Atlanta sits in two counties in this state, two of the highest counties for infection rates from COVID-19. So this is not about politics. This is about people. It's about the over 3,100 people who have died in our state, the over 130,000 who have tested positive. I, by the way, along with my husband and one of my children, are amongst the number of people who tested positive. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But are--

MAYOR BOTTOMS: So this has nothing to with politics.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --are police actually able to enforce this? The governor- the governor says you don't have the authority to do it. It's unenforceable. The Atlanta police had no data to say that arrests or ticketing had happened. Why did you have to issue this? And can- can police actually stop someone and fine them? Has that happened?

MAYOR BOTTOMS: They can stop someone in the same way they can stop someone for not wearing a seatbelt in our state. And, again, I- I don't think it's a coincidence that the governor sued me personally, along with our city council personally after I noted that President Trump came to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and did not have on a mask. And I pointed out he was violating city law. This is about politics. Our police officers certainly can enforce this ordinance, but at the end of the day, the party that- that speaks of local control has taken away local control in attempting to silence our voices in this state.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to quickly ask you, speaking of local control, there's a lot of scrutiny about what's happening right now in Portland, where federal agents have been deployed and are arresting protesters. The local government doesn't want them there. When you see what's happening in Portland, do you have any idea what you would do if this happened in Atlanta?

MAYOR BOTTOMS: You know, we- as a leader of this city, I- I've come to anticipate the unexpected, and there's nothing that surprises me as it relates to anything that this White House will do. And so it is deeply concerning. It is further inflaming all of the mistrust and distrust that- that people are in our streets protesting-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

MAYOR BOTTOMS: --about. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright.

MAYOR BOTTOMS: But we will respond accordingly. And- and I am- I feel very safe--

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

MAYOR BOTTOMS: --that the law is on our side.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you, Mayor Bottoms. We'll be right back.