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More U.S. States Lift Restrictions, Case Count Still High; Georgia Businesses Picking Up Three Works after Opening; New Jersey Opens Some Beaches as "Dry Run"; Strokes and Other Complications Can Accompany COVID-19; Spain to Reopen in Phases; Top E.U. Brexit Negotiator "Not Optimistic" about Trade Deal; The Dr. Fauci of China; Minnesota State Trooper's Amazing Gift; U.S. Democrats to Investigate Trump's Latest Firing; Demonstrators Demand Justice for Ahmaud Arbery; Major European Football Returns. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 17, 2020 - 03:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Without even saying his name, former U.S. president Barack Obama teed off on Donald Trump's coronavirus response. The White House now hitting back.

Social distancing while catching a suntan. How 48 of America's 50 states are planning to at least partially reopen by Memorial Day.

Plus, he is China's version of Anthony Fauci. The nation's top medical adviser sits down with CNN for an exclusive interview. Hear why he says China is still vulnerable to another deadly wave of coronavirus.

Coming to you live from CNN headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and the around the world, I'm Natalie Allen, this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Thank you so much for joining us.

While the number of coronavirus cases rises in the U.S. and the world, Donald Trump is spending the weekend at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland. He is under fire from his predecessor for his leadership or lack thereof in this crisis.

But first, let's take a look at the numbers for you. According to Johns Hopkins University, almost 1.5 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. That's about one third of all cases worldwide; 88,000 people here in the United States have died.

Meantime, in a virtual commencement message to the class of 2020, former U.S. president Barack Obama said the country's leaders aren't even pretending to be in charge. He never mentioned President Trump by name but it was clear who he was talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doing what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy, that's how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grownups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up.


ALLEN: Obama's former vice president, who is trying to replace Trump, took to Twitter, Joe Biden saying Donald Trump is, quote, "wholly unfit to lead the country."

The Trump administration is firing back. It is defending the president's handling of the virus, saying that he kept those numbers from being higher. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more on the war of words.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the second time in two weeks, former president Barack Obama is speaking out against the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, this time speaking out publicly.


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 are doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge.


DIAMOND: That criticism came just after a week after President Obama criticized the Trump administration's response, calling it an absolute chaotic disaster and anemic and spotty.

This time we are hearing from the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She said this in response.

"President Trump's unprecedented coronavirus response has saved lives. His early travel restrictions and quarantines protected the American public while his paycheck protection program and direct payments to Americans got needed economic relief to our country.

"Moreover, President Trump directed the greatest mobilization of the private sector since World War II to fill the stockpile left depleted by his predecessor."

Now the last line about a depleted stockpile is something that President Trump and his aides have been repeatedly bringing up as they have defended their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The truth of the matter is that, while certain items in the national stockpile had not been restocked by the previous administration, it certainly was by no means completely depleted. Of course President Trump had been in office for three years before the coronavirus arrived in the United States.

President Trump, while he has not directly responded to his predecessor's criticism, he has been leveling other allegations, something he has been calling Obamagate, essentially making evidence- free claims against his predecessor, suggesting he has been trying to undermine his presidency.

In fact, over this weekend, President Trump has been in Camp David with some conservative firebrands on Capitol Hill, some of his loyal allies, trying to find a way to advance that latest conspiracy theory -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: Let's talk about the pandemic now and states opening up.


ALLEN: It has been three weeks since the state of Georgia, right here, began allowing businesses to reopen. It was one of the first states to take that leap. Recently, the number of new cases has bounced up and down day to day. But in the big picture, has remained relatively steady. Natasha Chen reports from right here in Atlanta.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Atlanta, Georgia, a lot of people are starting to come back out to businesses that have been reopening over the past three weeks. What we're seeing is the good news. There hasn't been a major spike in daily new cases.

But the bad news is there also hasn't been a major decrease in new daily cases, either. What we're seeing is there are some places taking advantage of being allowed to reopen their dining rooms.

The governor of Georgia relaxed some of the rules for restaurants this past week. Now 10 people can gather at a table instead of just six. But not everyone is taking advantage of opening their dining rooms.

For example, this restaurant is doing takeout only at the window with people being able to take their food to a table. So some restaurant owners are taking this very carefully.

And there are people who have been observing this over the past three weeks, also being cautious with their families. We met one family who came out today for the first time in almost three weeks. Here's what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's actually like really scary because it's not like coronavirus is over. And, like, everybody is saying like, I wash my hands. I have hand sanitizer, I'm going to be OK.

But you're still going to be around people that cough and touch everything. And like you and you're actually very vulnerable. And it's actually very scary. But it's kind of exciting and happy that you get to go outside to some places that you enjoy again. But you also have to be very careful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I agree with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is the last time you got ice cream?




CHEN (voice-over): Georgia governor Brian Kemp has touted lower hospitalizations and increased testing while some officials in the Metro Atlanta area still caution people to stay home if at all possible, despite the fact that many things are reopening.

We're talking to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce as well. Their president says it's really a mixed bag who is opening and who isn't. This is a long-term change that a lot of businesses have to make.

It's not just having the resources and masks and gloves for the next two to three weeks. This is really for the long term. He said no matter what industry they're in, they're now in the business of health and wellness -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: Many in the U.S. are heading out to the beaches this weekend as states reopen and warm weather collides with cabin fever. First, let's begin in California where Los Angeles County is reopening beaches with restrictions. Paul Vercammen is in Malibu.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A major development in the easing of social distancing rules in Los Angeles County. I'm at famed Zuma Beach, now reopened this weekend.

You can see off in the water some new rules. You can use the beach in L.A. County for recreation. You see them wading there. You're to keep moving along. One thing we've noticed, we saw sheriff deputies on ATVs and they would address people who they thought were parking or setting up tents or umbrellas.

That clearly was a red flag. They want these people to keep in motion. They're also telling people, if you're going to be on the boardwalk or closer than six feet, you're to be wearing a mask. That has mixed results. Not everybody has a mask and that has some people concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely love being our here and I'm glad I'm able to come out to this beach and walk my dog and walk for us. But because people are still disregarding, we're not bringing my kids. Our kids are actually staying with my mom right now because I don't feel quite comfortable enough bringing them out here yet. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't assume everybody's totally sat down and

read all the county's policies on reopening the beach. So a lot of our job is educating the public out here.

VERCAMMEN: Los Angeles County was the last of the Southern California counties to reopen beaches. And in neighboring Orange and Ventura County, they're celebrating, because L.A. County has 10 million residents; that's bigger than some countries.

And some of the residents were spilling off into the beaches in other counties. It seems this has relieved the pressure point and now, with new rules, this is all an experiment as the sheriff's lieutenant said, this is still a work in progress, with reopening Southern California's very, very beloved beaches -- I'm Paul Vercammen, reporting from Malibu, back to you.



EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Several beach communities in New Jersey opened Saturday as part of a dry run for the larger Jersey Shore economic engine. The rest are expected to open on Memorial Day weekend.

Authorities wanted to see what would happen if they reopened boardwalks and parks and asked people to be responsible for social distancing.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: On Saturday, state police reported the experiment appeared to be working, saying there was a relatively low volume of people. Here in Ocean City, many attractions remain closed.

On the beach, CNN drone footage captured groups of people sitting apart from one another. The boardwalk was packed. And most people didn't wear masks though they were not required to.

There's a concern if people don't remain socially distant, the summer season could be shut down, creating another blow to the economy -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Ocean City, New Jersey.


ALLEN: And we have this for those of you stocking up on disinfectants. The World Health Organization is offering this new advice. It says spraying disinfectants outside or across broad indoor spaces may not do any good.

Several governments are fogging streets in efforts to sanitize during the pandemic. But the WHO says dirt and other debris render that effort useless.

Well, let's talk about the latest developments. Let's go to Sterghios Moschos, an associate professor at Northumbria University in England. Good to see you again, thanks for coming on.


ALLEN: Let's start with that report I just gave.

What do you think about the report on spraying disinfectant and whether it does any good?

MOSCHOS: So the complexity of how these particles of disinfectant interact with any airborne particles of the virus is quite hard to model and quite difference to model. I wouldn't even venture to try and understand whether or not this method is effective.

What we know is effective is the application of disinfectant on surfaces. As the WHO rightly says, if you have dust particles, dusty streets, sand, soil, et cetera, affecting the interaction, then you've got a lot of nooks and crannies wherein the virus particles can hide and not get accessed by the disinfectant.

What they're saying is quite right. The public mode of transition is very important and probably a lot comes out of some of these countries being used to spray for mosquitoes and things like that; where the mode of transmission is very different.

ALLEN: Right. We've now learned that the virus can live in the air for more than eight minutes, as long as 14 minutes.

Does that diminish the positive effects of social distancing if it can linger so long?

MOSCHOS: I'm not sure which study you're referring to; I've seen reports of that. There are parts of the virus that can linger for much, much longer for periods of time in the environment.

The effects of social distancing become important when there is also limited crowding, even in those spaces and the flow of individuals is limited and we have airflow and removal of the air from the environment in a very powerful manner.

So if you think of supermarkets, grocery stores, et cetera, if you have a constant traffic of people through there, then the risk of being exposed to the virus increases, because some of the people that will be going through there will have likely got the disease and will be shedding at that time.

The simulations that show how easy it is with this cloud of virus to spread and maintain itself in such an environment. So we really need those open windows on those air circulation systems, just removing the air and putting it out into the greater environment as much as possible to be really safe.

ALLEN: Well, as we've been seeing, beaches have been opening in the United States, there's a holiday weekend coming up at the end of the month. States have guidelines for social distancing. Some ordering mask wearing in establishments. Are you generally comfortable with the openings we're seeing or is it

too soon to tell?

MOSCHOS: I'm afraid I don't agree at all with policy adopted by many of the U.S. governors in the United States. I don't agree with the policy of the U.K. government and I'm in line with what the British Medical Association have said with regards to trying to eliminate transmission rather than just trying to reduce the transmission rate.

We are starting to see a lot of information about people who have recovered from COVID-19, having long-term effects from the disease, even if they haven't ended up in ICU.

So to assume that just catching it and getting a certain immunity is fine, a lot of people have completely debunked this. Now we've seen the reasons why we don't want herd immunity to exist.


MOSCHOS: It might affect the capacity of these individuals to live and perform at the top of their game for the rest of their lives. If you're in your 70s, maybe you're not quite so concerned about your performance.

But if you're starting your career in your 20s, 30s or you're a child, what does that do for the rest of your life?

ALLEN: Very good point there. The U.S. has not seen the spikes that were predicted. Here in Georgia, they were criticized for opening early, cases are down.

Is this a calm before the next storm?

MOSCHOS: You will help me a little bit, because I'm not following every date for opening around the world.

When exactly did Georgia open?


ALLEN: The very first week of May.

MOSCHOS: The very first week of May. So we will see the peak, if we're going to see one, in the next week. That's where it will happen.

Now one has to bear in mind that people are going to be afraid and cautious. So they're going to try to reduce, do as much as they can to reduce the transmission.

However, some however, some of the events happening worldwide with regards to sustaining the lockdowns don't fill me with confidence that we're not going to see continued uptick of the transmission and a return of transmission.

ALLEN: Well, and there is a prediction that there could be 10,000 more deaths in the U.S. by June 1. So these next two weeks will be something to pay close attention to and hopefully we'll talk to you again. Always appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

MOSCHOS: You're very welcome.

ALLEN: Well, many countries in Europe seem to have flattened their curve of infections but the U.K. doesn't seem to have hit its peak just yet. And it is easing restrictions anyway, as we just heard from our guest.

We'll see if it's proving to be a safe bet.

Coming up here also, CNN's exclusive interview with China's top medical adviser. He's the face of the fight against coronavirus there and we'll tell you why he is sounding the alarm once again.





ALLEN: We've been talking about the U.S. But let's look at countries around the world right now.

In Greece, as you can see, hundreds of beaches have opened up again. Authorities had to speed things up since temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit are forecast this weekend. Expect many people out at the beach.

But to keep COVID-19 infections low, there are a few social distancing rules. Beach umbrellas have to be four yards apart and no more than 40 people per 1,200 square yards.

Spain is moving away from its long nationwide quarantine as the number of new cases continues to slow down. On Monday, some limited regulated forms of social interaction will be allowed, opening up public spaces, hotels and commerce.

International travel is set to resume at some airports with more details later today. Spain is reopening in phases, with gatherings of 10 people to be permitted in most of the country. Madrid and Barcelona, the two largest cities, will remain in the more stringent phase zero for now.

Italy has recorded the fewest number of daily deaths since its lockdown began in March. Its 153 deaths on Saturday raised the fatality count to more than 31,700. Measures will be further relaxed Monday. The prime minister calls it a calculated risk that has to be done with prudence.

London police tell CNN that about 1 dozen protesters have been arrested after an anti-lockdown demonstration. People who gathered in Hyde Park to protest the British government's restrictions.

Some chanted, "Shame on you," as police officers without masks asked them to move along. Meantime, more than 241,000 people in the country have tested positive so far. That's according to Johns Hopkins University.

But there is a deadline that's fast approaching regardless of this pandemic, the one for the U.K. to reach a trade deal with Brussels. The E.U. and the U.K. are negotiating their future relationship once the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

And the E.U.'s chief Brexit negotiator says he's bracing for the worst. Nina dos Santos is standing by for us in London.

I would never say that Brexit is a nice, something to do other than pandemic.


ALLEN: But Brexit must be done, you know?

It is a nice break from the usual.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: It must be done. It must also be talked about on a Sunday morning as well because it's so important. But it's also another one of those never-ending sagas that probably the British people and people on the other side of the Channel as well will be rolling their eyes at, when they see these headlines in the newspaper over the course of the weekend.

Essentially what we have is the U.K. negotiator David Frost and Michel Barnier, the negotiator on behalf of the European Commission, coming out of their latest round of talks, saying this isn't an abject failure but we're extremely far apart on a number of things.

And there are red lines and positions that are becoming entrenched. These negotiations aren't taking place in a face-to-face manner over a cup of coffee. That's not really what's happening with these virtual meetings that are taking place in a time of COVID-19, Natalie.

The E.U. is sticking to the same mantra, the idea that the U.K. wants some ambitious free-trade agreement with the E.U., like a Canada-style deal as it's been dubbed. They will have to stick to certain rules.


DOS SANTOS: The E.U. says it will not compromise guarantees on subjects like social, environmental and labor laws and so on and so forth.

The U.K. says, why should we sign a deal that won't let us have more flexible deals with other countries outside the E.U.?

Fishing apparently appears to be something that the E.U. has indicated it has some wiggle room on. It's a huge subject, particular among Brexiteers here. For a long time, some people in the country have felt that the country as an island hasn't had enough jurisdiction over the waters and they want a bigger share of the pie there from here on.

So why is this important?

Well, there will be negotiations taking place on the first of June again. That's when the next round will set up. In about six weeks' time, there's going to be another deadline by which the E.U. and U.K. will have to agree whether to extend the deadline.

Things are coming to a head, both sides yet again, I know we have heard it before, are saying we could end up with another no deal by the end of next year.

ALLEN: My goodness, Nina dos Santos, thank you.

Could dogs sniff out coronavirus?

British researchers suspect the dogs you see here just might be able to. Trials are set to begin in London to find out whether dogs can detect the coronavirus in people even before symptoms appear.

Look at that one. He's cute.

The trials will look at six dogs dubbed the Super Six, a mix of Labradors and cocker spaniels. Respiratory diseases are known to change body odor in humans. And there's been success training dogs to detect other diseases, including malaria, cancer and Parkinson's disease. Yes. They can sniff it out.

What can't dogs do?

Next, some people call him China's Dr. Fauci. CNN's exclusive interview with him next.

Also, a Minnesota police officer wins praise for going beyond the call of duty. What he did instead of giving a front line doctor a speeding ticket. You'll like this one.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, you're watching CNN.


ALLEN: The expert who saw China through the SARS epidemic is criticizing his country's early response to the coronavirus and sounding yet another alarm. He says China could get a second wave of infections, especially if there isn't a vaccine. CNN's David Culver sat down with him for this exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an interview we have been working to get for months, an conversation with the Dr. Anthony Fauci of China. His name is Dr. Zhong Nanshan. He speaks about his concerns that he sees still on the horizon for China. Even though things are starting to open up here, he says they are not in the clear and warns of a second wave. He is also highly critical of how things were handled early on, particularly within Wuhan.


CULVER (voice-over): In the U.S., many have turned to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, as that medical voice of reason.

In China, it is Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a well-known respiratory expert, speaking exclusively with CNN.

DR. ZHONG NANSHAN, RESPIRATORY EXPERT: I cannot compare with Fauci, who is the adviser of the president, always standing beside the president.

CULVER (voice-over): Perhaps he does not physically stand next to the Chinese president but Zhong has the trust of the central government. His advice sparks near immediate action.

Take, for example, Wuhan's unprecedented lockdown. On January 18th, five days before the city was shut down, Zhong traveled to the original epicenter of the outbreak. He questioned the local health officials.

ZHONG: In the beginning, they kept silent.

CULVER (voice-over): Zhong, who gained international praise for working on SARS 17 years ago, believed this rapidly spreading novel coronavirus was far more devastating than portrayed by Wuhan health officials.

ZHONG: I suppose they are very reluctant to answer my question. The local authorities did not like to tell the truth at that time.

CULVER (voice-over): Publicly, Wuhan health officials as late as January 19th labeled the virus as preventable and controllable. Later the city's mayor acknowledged not releasing information in a timely fashion.

Zhong pressed harder for the actual numbers and then headed to Beijing on January 20th. He briefed the central government. Within hours, he was addressing the nation in a live interview on state run CCTV.

He said that human to human transmission was likely and, as proof of that, he said the virus had already infected multiple medical personnel.

ZHONG: It's very dangerous showing this kind of disease. It's very contagious. So I suppose at that time the central government listened to our comments, objection and advice.

CULVER (voice-over): Within three days, Wuhan went into a harsh lockdown that lasted 76 days.


CULVER (voice-over): Yet even with China's central government now taking the lead, there is still skepticism over the official numbers. Zhong believes it is partly political and says the Chinese government would not benefit from underreporting.

ZHONG: The government had a lesson from the outbreak of SARS 17 years ago, they announced one (INAUDIBLE) stack (ph), that all the cities, all the government department should report the true number of diseases. So if you do not do that, you will be punished.

CULVER: What do you believe to be the origin of this virus, in particular?

ZHONG: I think the origin is a very difficult to draw any conclusion to the moment. But I believe, this kind of disease has originated from animals.

CULVER (voice-over): U.S. president Donald Trump and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have said they have evidence that it leaked from a lab, namely, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, an origin theory many international medical experts and even U.S. intelligence say is highly unlikely.

CULVER: Now it seems more and more medical experts do not believe that it originated there.

Do you feel that with certainty?

ZHONG: I don't think so. It took up two weeks to make a very close and deep checkup that proved nothing about that. No. I don't think so.

CULVER (voice-over): Zhong's focus now is on preparing China for a second wave of the outbreak. Over the past few weeks, new clusters of cases have surfaced in several cities, including Wuhan.

ZHONG: We are facing a big challenge. It is not better than the foreign countries, I think, at the moment.

CULVER (voice-over): Zhong, like Dr. Fauci, has achieved a celebrity status here in China. His scientific expertise aside, many are impressed with his physical drive.

CULVER: What is it that you have been doing during this period to stay mentally sane, physically fit?

How does Dr. Zhong conduct his days?

ZHONG: I still keep exercising and sports, so all the things. I keep an open mind and eat not too much every time. So that's why it seems to be that I can still do something in my age of 84. CULVER: Dr. Zhong also spoke about the collaboration he says is

ongoing with his medical counterparts in the United States, particularly with Harvard University.

He suggests that, despite things getting highly politicized and tensions between the U.S. and China heightened, the conversations and the collaboration is still underway, at least amongst certain medical professionals -- David Culver, CNN, China.


ALLEN: They say hard times can bring out the best in people. We've seen a lot of that during this pandemic. Imagine you're a doctor, about to get a speeding ticket, when something amazing happens. CNN's Amara Walker tells us about the Minnesota state trooper who went beyond the call of duty.


AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST (voice-over): If you listen carefully, you can hear the driver of this white SUV, crying as she talks with the Minnesota state trooper.

TROOPER BRIAN SCHWARTZ, MINNESOTA STATE PATROL: You're going way too fast. I don't want you to get hurt.

DR. SAROSH JANJUA, CARDIOLOGIST: It was a very emotional moment.

WALKER (voice-over): Emotional, because instead of getting slapped with a speeding ticket, Dr. Sarosh Janjua was offered a fistful of N- 95 masks by this Minnesota state trooper, a complete stranger, who's also likely to be exposed to COVID-19 in the course of his duties.

SCHWARTZ: They gave us some N-95 masks, do you want five of them?

The mask I'd seen on her seat were the ones I'd seen on news reports that are in such high demand and we had been issued a number of masks. And I felt that I had more than I probably needed.

When I went back up and told her that she had been going too fast and she should slow down, I asked if she wanted some of my masks. And at that point she started crying and I took that as a yes.

WALKER (voice-over): Dr. Janjua had just finished seeing suspected coronavirus patients at Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, where she regularly fills in for other physicians.

Prior to traveling to Minnesota in mid-March from her home in Massachusetts, the cardiologist admits that she was concerned about the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers.

JANJUA: If I did contract the coronavirus I wouldn't be able to get on a flight to come back home.

WALKER (voice-over): The protective masks from Trooper Brian Schwartz lasted Dr. Janjua two weeks, which meant she didn't have to tap into the hospital's limited supply of PPE during that time.

JANJUA: I think I'd only had to use a couple of masks out of the hospital supply. So we ended up preserving a lot of protective equipment. So, you know, this ended up benefiting a lot more people directly than just me.


WALKER (voice-over): Since their March 21st encounter, Dr. Janjua says she reached out to Trooper Schwartz to express her gratitude and how his act of kindness benefited the health care workers at her hospital.

SCHWARTZ: The virus is not specific to any group of people. We're all in this together and we all have to band together to defeat it.

JANJUA: It reminds me, every time there's something ugly happening, that there's people like him out there.



How much do you love that story?

More of that.

Coming up here, President Trump's firing of another government watchdog ignites a political firestorm in Congress and U.S. lawmakers are now demanding answers after a fourth U.S. official responsible for keeping the government honest is abruptly dismissed.

Also, demonstrators demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery, we'll have the latest developments for you.




ALLEN: U.S. Democratic lawmakers say they'll open a congressional investigation into President Trump's latest firing of a government watchdog. U.S. State Department inspector general Steve Linick is the fourth such official dismissed by the president in recent weeks.

It's not just Democrats complaining about that. Republican senator Mitt Romney, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, blasted the president on Twitter.

"The firings of multiple inspectors general is unprecedented," he wrote, "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 of power."

We get more on this story from CNN's Alex Marquardt. [03:45:00]


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: In the Trump administration, it is the watchdogs 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 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 watchdogs, 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?


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 night. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the firing of Steve Linick, saying, it has accelerated Trump's dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people.

Linick will now be replaced by a veteran State Department official, Stephen Akard, who is a close ally of vice president Mike Pence.

Stephen Akard has been serving at the State Department as the Director of Foreign Missions. He's also served in a number of diplomatic posts around the world. He also worked with the vice president in Indiana when vice president Pence was the governor there.

There are now a growing number of Democrats coming out angrily against this move to replace Steve Linick with Akard. With the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs who oversees the State Department calling it outrageous -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Protesters rallied in South Georgia Saturday, demanding justice for Ahmaud Arbery, the African American killed while out jogging. They also want accountability for two local district attorneys, who failed to file charges in the shooting that took place in February.

A rally was held in front of the Glynn County courthouse, followed by a march through the streets of Brunswick. Some demonstrators drove more than four hours from Atlanta to participate. Former president Barack Obama mentioned the case in his virtual commencement address as part of his remarks on the virus' impact on communities of color.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country.

We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn't submit to their questioning.


ALLEN: Our Martin Savidge is in Glynn County and has more on what the demonstrators want and why.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Several hundred protesters made the roughly 300-mile trek from Atlanta to Brunswick, Georgia, demanding for the resignations of the first two district attorneys that handled the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Remember, Arbery died on February 23rd. On that very same day, authorities had in their hands the graphic video that depicted the way in which he died. Yet, for two months, the case was virtually stagnant. There were no arrests.

And it wasn't until the video leaked out, was made public, and the public was horrified by what they saw that things began to change. That's when you saw the Georgia Bureau of Investigation take over the case.

And in less than two days, you saw two arrests, Travis and Gregory McMichael. Many believe that the reason there was no action on that case for two months was the fact that Gregory McMichael is former law enforcement and that the district attorneys gave him favored treatment.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): At least that's what a lot of people suspect who were protesting today. They want the DAs to step down. And an investigation, actually two of them, are under way, one on the state level, one on the federal level, looking into whether the cases were, in fact, mishandled -- Martin Savidge, Glynn County, Georgia.


ALLEN: Coming up next, football is back in Germany. The seats were empty but there was plenty to cheer about. We'll have that story.




ALLEN: The German Bundesliga returned on Saturday for the first time since early March. It is the first major European football league to play games since the coronavirus pandemic.

So does this mean other leagues will follow?

We're all missing our sports. Here's CNN's "WORLD SPORT's" Don Riddell.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Football is back and it looks very, very different. But football fans will tell you that it is a lot better than nothing. And Germany's Bundesliga could now pave the way for other top sports leagues to escape their coronavirus lockdown.


RIDDELL (voice-over): On Saturday, six games were played and from Dortmund to Frankfurt, Dusseldorf to Leipzig, the scene was the same: empty stadiums, players walking out separately, coaches and substitutes wearing masks. The Bundesliga is known for the spectacle, the fans, the color, the intensity of the noise.

But this was the closest anybody came to that, supporters socially distancing themselves in a dormant bar.

Borussia Dortmund's young star, Erling Haaland, was having a breakout year before the lockdown and it's definitely now a season that he will never forget.

Another historic achievement here, he was the first to score on the Bundesliga's return. Look closely at the celebration, no touching.

Dortmund thrashed Schalke 4-0, prompting lighthearted speculation that some teams were perhaps still in quarantine. Nobody has played for two months. Athletes, fans and sports administrators all over the world were paying very close attention. The Bundesliga is the first major sports league returning to action.

But in Germany, it is more than just an experiment; it is serious business: 75 percent of the games this season have already been played. The title race is tight. Borussia Dortmund now just a point behind the seven-time defending champions Bayern Munich, who will pay their first game on Sunday.

It is hauntingly different but the players want to keep it as normal as possible. e Dortmund kept with tradition at the end, saluting the famous yellow wall and even if there was nobody there to applaud them back.

RIDDELL: It is too soon to say if this was a success but at least it happened and there is now a model for other sports leagues to try and follow. The Premier League in England has been debating how they could restart.

And all of the major sports in the United States are keen to find a way back to action. In the meantime, the Bundesliga has the stage all to itself, even if this isn't quite the kind of product they would want the world to be watching -- back to you.


ALLEN: We will be watching. Two more hours of CNN NEWSROOM is just ahead. Please stay with me.