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As Death Count Approaches 90,000, U.S. Begins Reopening; Texas Reports Highest One-Day Total Of New Cases; Beaches Start To Reopen In New Jersey But Remain Closed In New York; HHS Secretary Azar: New Antigen Tests Are In Development; Navajo Nation Faces Deepening Coronavirus Crisis; Interview With Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 17, 2020 - 14:00   ET



ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: NHK and its collaborators did a second cleaner version of the experiment using hygiene changes like separating dishes, replacing tongs frequently and asking participants to wash their hands during and after the meal. Thirty minutes into that experiment, no one had picked up the fluorescent paint.

Anna Coren, CNN.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Hello again, everyone. Welcome this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with most of the country reopening, even though the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. By midnight tonight 48 of the 50 states will have eased at least some restrictions in stay-at-home orders. But as you can see from this map at least 30 states are seeing steady or rising new cases.

Texas, one of the first to reopen, saw its single highest day increase in the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. And the numbers are still rising.

All of this as the White House pushes forward with plans to rapidly reopen the rest of the economy, President Trump promising that a vaccine will be ready for distribution by the end of the year something many health experts say is a long shot.

Let's begin in Texas where single-day records for new infections are being broken. It's an upward trend that began more than two weeks ago when the state started to reopen.

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us now from Dallas. So Ed -- where are we seeing these new cases?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: well, of these 1,800 new cases that were reported on Saturday here in the state of Texas, more than -- a little more than 730 of those cases came around the Amarillo, Texas -- area up in the panhandle of Texas. And state health officials are saying this is happening because of targeted testing in areas around meat packing plants in that panhandle area.

And we have known for several weeks now those counties in that panhandle area where these meat packing plants are has seen some of the highest per capita rates of infection here in the state. In many cases far surpassing some of the bigger cities here in the state of Texas as well. So 734 out of those 1,800 new cases, state health officials here are attributing to cases because of targeted testing in that meat packing area.

We should also point out that the number of tests being done here in the state of Texas especially over the course of three of the last four days have topped 30,000 tests per day. So that is quite an increase since we -- that we have seen here in Texas for the better part of this pandemic.

Those are by far three of the four highest days of testing that we have seen here. And this is significant, because the process of reopening the Texas economy here continues to move forward, no matter what these numbers are saying here at this point -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Pretty alarming.

Ed Lavandera -- thank you so much.

All right. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio says beaches will not reopen for Memorial Day weekend. But in New Jersey, it's a different story as crowds are already flocking to the state's beaches as they reopen. It's part of an experiment right now.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins me. So Evan -- how is New Jersey, you know, enforcing any kind of precautions that they are recommending to people on those beaches?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: well, Fred -- I've kind of been on the northeast recreation beat this weekend.

The curve has been lowered to such a degree in this region that officials feel like they can let people out and do some recreating. But there's different approaches in different places. Where I am right now is Domino Park. It's a six -- about a six acre park in Brooklyn. Very popular with people who live around here. And, you know, it's a small place for so many people that live around here.

And so officials have tried to figure how to make this park available. And you can see from some of the footage that we've shot here today that what they've done is they've taken this park, they painted circles on the ground that are six feet apart so you can sit in your circle and not go to another circle, that's supposed to keep you distant.

And the police presence here is just very, very high trying to enforce the social distancing that officials say is required to keep it safe here. Now, if you couple that with where I was yesterday which was Ocean City, New Jersey -- that's part of New Jersey's plan to test the waters in reopening the beaches -- that all-important Jersey Shore economy to people. And what they did is that they told people, use your best judgment. This is what we want you to do with social distancing but do what you think is best. They had some things broadcast over the P.A. systems. You had signage saying do your best. Please be kind. Do the right thing.

And what we found was that on the beaches, people were sitting in clumps of people far apart from each other, but on the boardwalk it was really pretty packed and there are very few people wearing masks. They were not required to.

Here in Domino Park, people were inside the park, all required to wear them. they were not required to in New Jersey and they just really weren't doing it.

Now, we talked to the state police yesterday after shooting our footage in New Jersey and they said they hadn't seen reports of overcrowding. They felt like their experiment was a success.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But you can just see from the very different way they're doing it here in New York City versus New Jersey that they haven't really figured out yet what the best way to go about doing this is yet -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Variation of methods from state to state. All right. Thank you so much -- Evan McMorris-Santoro.

All right. With the White House focused on reopening the economy, a new test could be the key to jumpstarting containment efforts. Today Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said a new antigen test that's in development could be used to track the coronavirus among some of the most vulnerable in our population.


ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We're going to be bringing online something, Jake -- that I think is quite exciting which is going to be these antigen tests, which are rapid tests, antigen tests. Sort of a -- the look would be more like a pregnancy test, you know, on a it's called a lateral flow device. And we are working with manufacturers on approving those.

Those are very high-volume point of care tests. And so that's going to be also part of the recipe for the future for those kinds of situations like you rightly say is apparent, those concerns for our nursing homes, for our prisons, for our meat packing facilities to aid us with broad surveillance and testing.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Jeremy Diamond joining us now from the White House. So Jeremy -- this new test comes as the President pushes for a vaccine by the end of the year as well. JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: that's exactly right --

Fredricka. But even as the President unveiled that ambitious effort to develop hundreds of millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine by end of this year, the President was also underscoring that vaccine or no vaccine, this country is coming back.

Today the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tried to put a little bit more meat on the bones of that response. Listen.


AZAR: What the President was making the point on is everything does not depend on a vaccine. We're committed to delivering a vaccine. We're going to put the full power of the U.S. government and our private sectors towards getting to a vaccine. But that's one part of a multifactorial response program.

First is the testing that we talked about before. Tests symptomatic people, broad surveillance to find cases, surge and to contain. Also therapeutics, you know we're driving forward on convalescent plasma to be able to treat people.


DIAMOND: And so you hear there the Secretary of Health and Human Services explaining that beyond just a vaccine which, of course, no guarantee that the United States will indeed be able to develop a vaccine, there is also this a testing effort. There is also an effort to develop new therapeutics to try and to reduce the length of this virus and also to decrease, of course, that mortality rate.

So Secretary Azar there describing it as kind of a multifaceted approach. And President Trump, of course, even as he is embarking on this ambitious effort to shorten the timeline that typically would take 12 to 18 months, according to most efforts, to develop this coronavirus vaccine the President aiming to slash that by several months developing hundreds of millions of doses by the end of the year.

The President, of course, though ambitious here and eager to reopen the economy regardless of whether or not there is indeed a safe vaccine. The President says the economy needs to get going again -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thanks so much.

Let's talk further on all this. I want to bring in Dr. Craig Spencer. He's the director of global health in E.R. medicine at New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center. Good to see you -- Dr. Spencer.


WHITFIELD: So what are your thoughts on -- from the antigen to fast- tracking the production of a vaccine? Your concerns or thoughts on all that?

SPENCER: It's a great question because really this is what we've been hearing for months at this point. That we are going to come up with some magic bullet soon, or that we'll have vaccine in a time table that's never been done before and that we should hang our hats on that as opposed to the things that we know actually do help prevent the spread of the disease and decrease mortality.

Things like social distancing, wearing masks, other things that are not being really harped on or not really supported as much by this administration. Look, the reality is that by saying vaccine or no vaccine we're coming back, this administration is expressly saying that there's going to be an acceptable collateral damage of an overly- eager reopening policy.

We have no therapeutics right now that are known to decrease mortality. We have nothing to assume that we're going to have a vaccine with hundreds of millions of doses by the end of this year. Something like that has never been done before.

We all hope that that's the case but we don't even have a vaccine that works yet, let alone trying to scale that up so that there's enough doses for the right people to get it.

WHITFIELD: So no real or new direction from this point until, you know, whenever that date might be for a vaccine. There's a lot left in the middle.


The New York governor said, you know, in the meantime, it's his encouragement that everyone who wants to get a test should be able to do that. There are some 700 sites throughout New York. He demonstrated live on television during his briefing just how simple and easy it is to get a nasal swab test.

In the meantime, how helpful will it be? How many resources are there really available so that everyone who wants a test can get one?

SPENCER: Well, it's been two -- over two months since we've been promised that everyone who wants a test can get one and that's still unfortunately not the reality.

But people that are symptomatic or people that have high-risk position need to know and should know whether or not they're infected, whether or not they're positive, because that's the only way that we're going to be able to control the spread.

By finding people who are positive and isolating them, giving them the support that they need that they don't enter our community into the workspace where they will definitely infect other people. We need way, way, way more tests than we're doing right now.

And yes, an FDA-approved, you know, EUA tests that's allowed, you know, to do a nasal swab that is allowed to go to a couple of different laboratories is great but that's not going to be the capacity or enough of the capacity that we need to be doing the amount of testing we need to test, do contact traces and to isolate the good bread and butter public health that we need to rely on in the absence of any therapeutics or any vaccine to get this pandemic under control.

WHITFIELD: And how much more helpful do you think it might be that the Food and Drug Administration is administering -- you know, authorizing these at-home tests that you can administer on yourself?

SPENCER: We're still waiting on the numbers. The problem with a lot of these emergency use authorizations passed not just for the nasal swabs but also especially for the antibody testing that was referred to earlier is that the numbers just aren't great.

Some of them have false positive rates especially for the antibody tests that are unacceptably high. Meaning that many people will take a test, it will falsely say that they're positive, that they have antibodies, and I would assume, and I think it's been, you know, pretty well shown that people once they have antibodies, or think they have antibodies may change their behavior. Maybe less willing to wear a mask, maybe more willing to go out in public and not take the same precautions.

And the problem is that many of those people are not protected by antibodies because again, we don't know if antibodies actually provide much protection. And they could be people continuing to spread this disease. A lot of the testing we have right now is not enough to make individual-level decisions especially around antibody testing. We don't know the same numbers for a lot of the new FDA emergency use authorization nasal swab tests but if they're good -- it's just again another tool that we'll have to help with the pandemic but we're going to need a lot more.

WHITFIELD: So all of that up against the fact that come tomorrow 48 of 50 states will have reopened, lifted in part, you know, some of the restrictions put in place because of coronavirus.

Texas is already seeing a spike in positive tests of coronavirus. What do you expect is going to happen in the short term?

SPENCER: I think it's obvious. This isn't rocket science. This is pure virus behavior. This virus is perfect in that if it finds you, it will infect you.

You mentioned that 48 of 50 states are easing. We only have 17 states or territories that have decreasing case counts. Meaning that the overwhelming majority of states and territories in the United States have either increasing or stable case counts.

Stable might sound ok, but we've had over 20,000 cases nearly every single day since March 30th including over 1,600 deaths over the past few days. That's still a crazy high number, much higher than nearly any other case in the world.


WHITFIELD: So how worried are you -- how worried are you with that that the White House seems to be sending a message that, you know, that comes with the territory of reopening. And it's somewhat acceptable, you know, that the rates of -- of testing positive or even deaths is expected to go up?

SPENCER: That's exactly what's being said. And look, we're not going to see -- hopefully we're not going to see what me and my colleagues experienced in New York a month, a month and a half ago where we have multiple people dying in one shift where we were worried a lack of ventilators, where we just had overflooded emergency departments.

We might not get to that spot in a bunch of other places around the U.S. But what we have right now, is we have this acceptable new normal that's being pushed by this administration saying that 20,000 case as day is acceptable; 1,600 death as day is just an acceptable price that we need to pay to reopen the economy.

And unfortunately, I think people have really accepted that as this new normal because what many people experienced and what many people are exposed to was the horrific experience many of us had in New York.


SPENCER: Hopefully it's not like that in many other places but again, if this virus continues to spread and has the overwhelming majority of Americans do not have any protection against this and are susceptible to being infected we will continue to have an unacceptably high number of cases and unacceptably high numbers of deaths for some time until we have a vaccine, until we have therapeutics, unless we do good bread and butter public health.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Craig Spencer -- thank you so much. Appreciate it. Be well.

SPENCER: Thank you. You, too.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, the Navajo Nation has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infection nationwide. That's one of many challenges facing Navajo families today. A live report from Arizona, straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: One of the highest coronavirus infection rates in America is happening in Navajo Nation spanning New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Earlier this month the tribe received desperately-needed federal relief funds but the economic devastation continues as all businesses are closed for a weekend lockdown.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Sara Sidner joins me now from the capital of the Navajo Nation -- Window Rock, Arizona. So Sara -- what's the latest on the crisis in Navajo Nation?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're here in the Navajo Nation, the home of the World War II Code Talkers, and the beautiful Monument Valley.

And they're really trying to deal with this in a severe way because they are seeing still spikes in cases and they're seeing a rise in deaths as well.

I do want to bring in now the president of the Navajo Nation Jonathan Nez. Mr. Nez -- we were talking -- we're still in the midst of a 57- hour lockdown. Why have you taken such extreme measures?

That means nothing's open and everyone is supposed to stay home and we have special permission to come out and talk to you about this. Why have you taken such extreme measures?

JONATHAN NEZ, PRESIDENT, NAVAJO NATION: Well, thank you -- Sara. And thank you -- Fredricka for having us on the show.

Right now, we have tested over 23,000 of our Navajo people. 17,409 have tested negative, positive is 3,912 with 140 deaths here on the Navajo Nation. And so these cases are increasing on a daily basis and we are tracking these positive cases by doing some tracing as well to find out where these hot spots are on the Navajo Nation.

But I just want to say, Sara -- that we are testing -- testing here very aggressively. You know, this morning the press conference by Governor Cuomo mentioned that said New York has tested 7.1 percent of their total population in New York. Compared to the Navajo Nation, we have tested over 11.6 percent of our total population. So the Navajo Nation is testing more than any state in the United States of America.

SIDNER: And let me talk about that because you also you have one of the highest rates per capita in the United States and people have to remember that also has to do with the fact that you're testing a lot more people than some other states as well.

But tell me why. People will see, the Navajo Nation spans 27,000 square feet. And when you look across these three states and you see how far people live from one another, it seems like self-isolation and, you know, just sort of being apart from each other would be an easy thing. How is it possible coronavirus has spread so rapidly here?

NEZ: Well Sara -- you've been with us for the past couple of days and saw the vastness of our land. But at same time, we only have 13 supermarkets here on the Navajo Nation. So when our people need to get food and supplies they have to go to these 13 supermarkets.

And many of these gas stations as well have a lot of people coming in. And sometimes that's where people get their news, too. You know, not many people -- we don't have the best broadband or Internet here on the Navajo Nation. So sometimes the only place for our people to get news is to come to, you know, the stores, the post offices, the trading post to get their information.

But they are wearing their masks. We're mandating everybody -- by the way, that's a pretty awesome mask you're wearing there -- Sara. But we are mandating everybody to wear a mask here on the Navajo Nation. And it's concerning to us to that other states around us are slowly opening their doors and their businesses back up. And you see Texas have a big spike, a one-day spike there. And I fear that if we don't work together with other states and other communities in our region, that we'll see another spike here on the Navajo Nation as well off our Navajo Nation.

SIDNER: President Jonathan Nez of the Navajo Nation -- thank you so much for joining us.

And you just heard there they are fearful of another spike. That is partly why they have shut down their major industries. And that is affecting their economy just like everywhere else.

They have shut down their gaming, their casinos and things like that but also their huge economy of tourism is shut down as well. So they are dealing with this like the rest of the nation on both sides, both economically, getting hurt on that end and also in the health industry.

And one thing I should mention to you -- Fredricka is that, you know, one of the difficulties for people in the Navajo Nation that live way out in very isolated places is that about 30 percent to 40 percent of the population here does not have running water and they live in generational homes.

So you can have homes with several generations. So it's very hard to isolate and do lots of frequent hand-washing because they just don't have the resources. That's something that the tribal community is working on as we speak with that money from the federal government -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Sara Sidner and Jonathan Nez -- thank you so much for educating us on the Navajo Nation and the people's plight there.

Thank you so much.

And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: President Trump is firing back at President Barack Obama today calling him, quoting now, "grossly incompetent". This after the former president criticized the coronavirus response while issuing a call to action to the graduating class of 2020.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge. If the world's going to get better it's going to be up to you.


WHITFIELD: CNN White House Reporter, Sarah Westwood joins me now with more on this.

So walk us through the events that have taken place this weekend.


SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes Fred -- well President Trump just moments ago responding to that thinly-veiled criticism from his predecessor calling President Obama incompetent.


This afternoon he was speaking to reporters at the White House while returning from a working weekend at Camp David.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, he was an incompetent president. That's all I can say, grossly incompetent. Thank you.


WESTWOOD: And he's responding to some things that Obama said in two commencement addresses yesterday, including the address for the Graduate Together Special that Obama delivered. And it was rare a public national speech from Obama largely throughout this public health crisis. We have not seen a lot of Trump's predecessor. He's been staying away from the spotlight.

But in those addresses, we heard Obama criticize what we'd characterize as a leadership problem. And he also said, what response we have seen from the Trump administration, although he didn't name Trump or the White House, has been the result of selfishness. I want you to take a listen to a different part of Obama's speech last night.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Doing what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy, that's how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up.


WESTWOOD: While this was built as a commencement address, we did hear Obama give essentially a call to action for values that are typically championed by Democrats, like climate change, like inequality, because it's a lot more nuanced than the much more pointed criticism that Obama delivered in a private call with former aides, former people who had worked for him during his administration in that call earlier this month. CNN reported that at the time Obama described the Trump administration's response to coronavirus as a chaotic disaster. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

All right, coming up, how Speaker Nancy Pelosi is speaking out after President Trump's abrupt firing of a State Department official, a watchdog. She is now suggesting the act could be unlawful.

And tonight, a new CNN film uncovers the dirty truth on America's largest tabloid. Variety calls it hard-hitting and Hollywood Reporter says it is blazingly paced. Scandalous, a CNN film tonight at 10:00 Eastern.



WHITFIELD: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacting to the president's firing of yet another inspector general. Here is what she said today on CBS discussing the ousting of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, I mean, unsavory when you take out someone who is there to enforce, to stop waste, fraud and abuse or other violations of the law that are -- that believed to be happening. So, again, let's take a look and see.

The president has the right fire any federal employee, but the fact is if it looks like it's in retaliation for something that the I.G., the inspector general, is doing, that could be unlawful.


WHITFIELD: Last night, Republican Senator Mitt Romney weighed in tweeting, the firings of multiple inspectors general is unprecedented. Doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance power.

This as more details emerge about an investigation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo being headed by the inspector general, Steve Linick.

Here now is CNN's Alex Marquardt.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: In the Trump administration, it is the watch dogs who are being watched closely with suspicion and disdain now being dismissed at a growing pace.

Friday night, with no warning, the inspector general for the State Department was suddenly fired. President Donald Trump informing the House speaker in a letter, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general. That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general. The State Department's Steve Linick, like all inspectors general, was charged with oversight, keeping watch for any wrongdoing and reporting it. According to the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Linick had launched an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and whether, according to a congressional aide, Pompeo and his wife had misused a political appointee for personal tasks. The State Department has not responded to that accusation.

Linick had a small but important role in the impeachment inquiry and also had issued previous damning reports about the State Department under Pompeo. It was Pompeo, according to a senior State Department official, who recommended that Linick be fired.

The president has repeatedly shown and voiced opposition to his agency's watch dogs, fixated on getting rid of those as he sees as Obama loyalists, who aren't sufficiently loyal to his administration.

TRUMP: Did I hear the word, inspector general? Really? It's wrong, and they'll talk to you about it. It's wrong.

MARQUARDT: It was the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whose actions sparked what became the Ukraine investigation and then impeachment proceedings of the president. Last month, Atkinson too was fired.

In addition to Linick and Atkinson, last month, the Pentagon's acting inspector general, Glenn Fine, who was overseeing spending on coronavirus response, was removed from the top job. And two weeks ago, the official serving as watch dog of Health and Human Services was replaced after investigators found shortages of testing kits and masks along with delays and coronavirus test results.

TRUMP: Where did it come from, the inspector general? What's his name?

MARQUARDT: Three of the four were dismissed late on Friday nights.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): This is the dismemberment of accountability in the federal government if it continues.

MARQUARDT: The Trump administration has named a new inspector general for the State Department. His name is Stephen Akard. He worked closely with Vice President Mike Pence in Indiana when Pence was the governor there. Akard also served as a career foreign service officer in a number of diplomatic posts around the world.


Most recently, at the State Department, he has been the director of foreign missions.

But the anger is growing among Democrats with the chairman of the House for Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees the State Department, calling the firing outrageous.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And today, new developments in the Ahmaud Arbery investigation. Text messages obtained by CNN suggests Georgia police enlisted the help of one of the suspects months before the shooting.



WHITFIELD: All right. Now to the new developments in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. Please be advised, this is disturbing footage, but we need to show it to discuss what happened that day.

As you have probably seen by now, this video from February 23rd appears to show the 25-year-old Arbery jogging in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia. Behind Arbery, a pick-up truck with two men, at least one armed, and then one of the men in the truck is seen getting out and going after Arbery. Three shots, gunshots, are heard before Arbery falls to the ground. You hear them there.

Several months later after the video was provided to a local radio station, the two men in the truck, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his 34- year-old son, Travis, were arrested and charged with felony, murder and aggravated assault.

The lawyers for both men have said not to rush to judgment, and that more information is going to come out.

Well, in the days since the video of the killing, security camera videos have surfaced from a nearby construction site showing a variety of people walking through the property. And in this video from the day of the shooting, Arbery's family confirms the 25-year-old is seen in that video. The property owner says nothing was taken.

And now, CNN has obtained this text message from the lawyer for the owner of the construction site. And the message sent by a police officer informs the owner that his neighbor, Greg McMichael, happens to be a retired member of the police force. It reads, McMichael is available day or night if he gets any action on his security camera.

CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Laura Coates, joins me now to discuss what has become such an incredibly troubling case from start to finish. Laura, these details now provoke even more questions about why local police didn't initially make any arrests and the kind of relationship the suspects may have had with police and the truth about no reports of burglaries.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Precisely. And all this to unpack it, to have a sort of flow chart of what really happened here.

A lot of this is distracting in many ways, Fred, to think to themselves, well, hold on, was it a matter of did he have some sort of deputizing power because he was alerted by the authorities and could actually look into matters? Did Larry English need to report something at the property owner? All that information is part of a general inquiry about how the prosecutor's office responded, why arrests were not made.

But it doesn't truly get to the meat of the matter for people, which is what transpired in the immediate altercation between Ahmaud Arbery and Travis and Gregory McMichael. Remember, even a matter of looking into it, you still have to have some level of authority or entitlement to be able to not only defend somebody's property or even to use lethal force.

And we still haven't gotten to that issue that actually substantiates why they used lethal force against this young man.

WHITFIELD: Right. And in anticipation, there was someone videotaping this pick-up truck going after him. And then you hear now the suspect's attorneys say, they have evidence to back up the suspect's claims and motivations. What does that tell you when it's the prosecution that has the burden of proof?

COATES: Well, two things. Number one, it is the prosecution who has the burden of proof and, normally, a defendant does not have to put on a case unless they feel that the jury will be swayed by some provision of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecutors. They don't actually have to ever put on a case.

But if you believe that they're going to now put on a self-defense, really leading up to right now, this tells you that they are trying to present self-defense. They're going to give some case to show what their motive was. They're going to talk about how they thought it was the kill or be killed. And also given the climate of all of the conversations around it, they're probably going to want to plan a case to undermine any insistence, this is racial profiling, or there was some discriminatory bias at play here.

WHITFIELD: And if there's that kind of self-defense claim, that self- defense coming at the moment that McMichael actually got out of the vehicle, holding a gun, and, naturally, Arbery is trying to defend himself and it might be that suspect will say, at that moment, you know, I was trying to defend my life and that's why I pulled the trigger? That could be where his attorneys will go?

COATES: Well, listen, it could be. But why that is confounding to people is because you cannot provoke an altercation and then claim to be the victim, in fact, and if that actually takes place. And so you have somebody who pursues and chases and hunts down somebody who is unarmed, as we know.

He's running down the street jogging at his leisure and he is hunted down by two men in a pick-up truck who then come out with a shotgun, at least in one instance.


The idea that you could say, well, I was trying to fend is for my life, if you're Travis McMichael, when you have put yourself in various (ph) circumstances that would provoke an altercation, the law does not recognize. However, this will be part of the holistic investigation here. We're really behind the eight ball, Fredricka, in these cases because more than 80 days transpired at this point before this actually happened Ahmaud Arbery and any arrests being made.

And so we're all trying to figure out, well, if you're raising a self- defense claim, is it because of the idea of kill or be killed, you did not provoke it in some way or is because the defense of property? Because in Georgia, you cannot use lethal force to defend property unless, one, it's your property, or the person is trying to commit a forcible felony. Jogging down the street does not qualify.

WHITFIELD: Right. And at that moment, they're not even on that property.

COATES: No. And they don't have the legal duty to protect Larry English's property. He didn't even report this young man on his property.

WHITFIELD: Laura Coates, thank you so much. So disturbing, this entire case. I appreciate it.

COATES: Beyond words. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Phyllis George, a broadcast television pioneer who became the first female co-anchor of the football pregame show, The NFL Today, has died. She was a former Miss America, first lady of Kentucky and paved the way for women in the sports casting world. She was 70 years old. And if you ever had the pleasure of meeting her, as I did, you discovered she was beautiful inside and out.

Here is Richard Roth with a look back at her life and legacy.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The road a trailblazer travels can have some pretty unlikely beginnings.

PHYLLIS GEORGE, FORMER MISS AMERICA: I am from Denton, Texas. I've gone on to a lot of things.

ROTH: No doubt about that, she describes herself as a small town Christian girl, but Phyllis George headed out to the bright lights.

GEORGE: Miss America was a huge turning point in my life.

ROTH: At the age of 21, George was a finalist in the prestigious Miss America Pageant after failing once before to be accepted in the contest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first runner-up is Miss Carolina.

Miss America, Miss Texas.

ROTH: Phyllis George, the reluctant contestant, was the winner.

GEORGE: For a small town girl like me, it was a great opportunity to launch my career.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Phyllis George, Miss Texas.

ROTH: Opportunities poured in for this vivacious, glamorous pageant winner.

George traveled to Vietnam and wherever U.S. soldiers were deployed around the world as part of USO Tours.

Anyone that didn't know her name would soon learn it.

GEORGE: The season's second Sunday coming right at you on the NFL Today.

ROTH: A relative broadcast novice, Phyllis George became the first woman co-host of an NFL pre-game show. She was a part of the CBS pre- game NFL show with some heavyweight colleagues.

GEORGE: I knew I had a big responsibility for women. And when are you a pioneer or a trailblazer, you have to like just think as positively as you can.

ROTH: Sports stars not used to women reporters eventually opened up to a different approach for the CBS program.

GEORGE: Roger, you have an all American image, a straight kind of guy. Why is this? And how do you handle it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone compares it to Joe Namath. He's having all the fun. I enjoy sex as much as Joe Namath. Only I do it with one girl.

ROTH: George knew the ceiling she was breaking.

GEORGE: Barbara Walters was the pioneer in news broadcasting and I became the pioneer in sports.

ROTH: Host Brent Musburger tweeted after George's passing, Phyllis didn't receive nearly enough credit for opening the sports broadcasting door to the dozens of talented women who took her lead and soared.

George was briefly married to film producer Robert Evans. A year later, she married a Kentucky businessman John Brown, the ceremony hosted by the Clintons. Just days later, Brown decided to run for governor. He called Phyllis George his greatest asset in the campaign and in office after winning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me welcome Phyllis George. ROTH: Now, the first lady of Kentucky, George was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

GEORGE: It's interrelated. And showbiz is very much like politics and vice-versa, because you want the public to like you. You are trying to do and say the right things.

ROTH: The governor and first lady had two children, a son, Lincoln, and a daughter, Pamela. Lincoln became an entrepreneur, Pamela is a CNN Senior White House Correspondent.

George turned from sports to news, co-hosting the CBS this morning program. George's post daily T.V. life was wide-ranging, a businesswoman and even a singer on the Muppets. She wrote a book offering famous people giving advice on what you can't give up.


She even had a small part, including a back seat wild ride behind Ben Stiller in the movie, Meet the Parents.

GEORGE: I auditioned for the role, and I got it.