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Trump Wages War On Masks Despite Evidence It Saves Lives; Police And Protesters Clash Over Death Of George Floyd; Trump Issues Ultimatum With North Carolina On GOP Convention. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 27, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And this morning, the United States moves ever closer to 100,000 confirmed deaths from coronavirus. That's in just a few months. That toll is truly staggering.

This morning, the vast majority of Americans believe that masks should be required to help slow the spread of the virus. And that's also the guidance from doctors. The official guidance from the U.S. government is that we should all wear masks in public. Yet the president has mocked the notion at times and mocked journalists and leaders who wear masks.

Now, the former vice president, Joe Biden, is responding in an exclusive interview with CNN.


JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way. I mean, every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you're in a crowd.


BERMAN: More on that interview with Dana Bash in just moments.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Also, breaking overnight, hundreds of protesters clashing with police in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd. Video shows Floyd pleading with police, telling them that he cannot breathe. But a police officer keeps him pinned down on the ground with a knee on his neck for several minutes. George Floyd died. The four officers now have been fired.

This morning, we have new video of the interaction between George Floyd and police that led to this deadly encounter. We will get to that in a moment.

But, first, continued steps towards reopening in parts of the country, what does the country look like right now? Well, joining us now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN Chief Political Dana Bash, who will give us a preview of her great interview with Joe Biden.

Okay, Sanjay, let's just take a status report of where we are right now. In 14 states, cases are trending upwards. I'll pull up the map for everyone to see at home. In 19 states, cases of coronavirus are trending down. In 17 states, they are holding steady. Is this what you would have expected? Is the virus proceeding along predictable lines now as we reopen?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, to some extent, Alisyn. It's tough to get an exact trajectory here because I still feel like we're very early on trying sort of to guess the score of a game after only looking at the first couple of innings.

But I think that there's a couple of things that come out when you look at that map. One of the states where you had some of these earliest cases, like Washington State, for example, things sort of holding steady over there. And you're getting an idea of why that might be.

And also, this idea that it's not truly bifurcated between open and shut. You know, there are states where things have been opening up and yet, aside from some of the terrible images that we've shown where people are really congregating, it does seem like most people are actually doing a fairly good job of maintaining physical distance, of wearing masks and things like that. And we have increasing evidence that that goes a long way.

I mean, this is a virus. It's not a particularly hearty virus. If it's not in the environment, not spreading from human to human, it really can't do much. So just keeping that distance wearing a mask seems to make a big difference.

It's hard to know, Alisyn, where this goes because the virus is still out there. If people start to become a little less diligent about this, I think the numbers are going to go up. Nothing about the virus has changed.

And I always remind, we put this pause in place when we had fewer than 80 people had died and 4,500 people who had been infected. And now you look at the right side of the screen, the numbers have obviously changed a lot, and that's sort of loosening things up.

It's going to be contingent on people more than policies at this point in terms of where that trajectory goes.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I want to ask you also about the antibody tests. The CDC now says that they're only right half the time. I thought that these were going to be the key for us to reopen, to figure out who could go safely back to work. I mean, are the antibody tests worthless?

GUPTA: I think, ultimately, they may have a role, Alisyn. I think that there's a couple of issues here. One is that there were a lot of tests. And these were the tests to see if you had been exposed in the past, if you've developed antibodies. That's different than the diagnostic tests, which looks for evidence of the virus itself. Now, with the antibody tests, because there were so many tests that got out there early on that weren't validated, there are just some bad tests and they're starting to go back and validate some of these tests. That's part of the issue.

There's another more nuanced part of the issue, and that is that the -- how good these tests are. It very much depends on the prevalence of antibodies in the population.


So let's say if there's 5 percent of the population have antibodies, your tests -- even if it's a fairly sensitive, fairly specific test, it's probably going to still have a pretty high false positive rate because there's just not enough people out there with antibodies. It's called the positive predictive value. So in an area where there's 5 percent, it's not going to seem like a good test.

If you look at just healthcare workers where you are, Alisyn, in New York, all of a sudden, you may have a better positive predictive value of the test. Hopefully, that will make sense. But as we get more and more people who are exposed to this, and that's inevitably going to happen, the majority of whom may not even know it or have just mild symptoms, then I think the antibody tests will become more useful.

So, yes, ultimately, I think they're going to have a role, but maybe not now, maybe in kids more so than adults because of this post- inflammatory syndrome that we're talking about, but this will change, I think, over the next couple of months.

CAMEROTA: Okay, really helpful. Thank you.

Okay. Dana, let's talk politics. Somehow, masks have become a political issue. Though the surgeon general says that wearing masks protects other people and helps the numbers come down, though the White House's own coronavirus task force says that we should be wearing masks, somehow the president, I guess, thinks wearing a mask makes him look weak or like a failure or something. I mean, it's unclear.

But you sat down with former Vice President Joe Biden about this issue, particularly because President Trump has mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask in public. So you got right into that with him, and let's just play a moment.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You mentioned the mask, that you wore a mask yesterday. President Trump went to a Memorial Day service. He did not wear a mask. It's not just some people making fun of you. He did. He did on Twitter. He re-tweeted a photo of you wearing it. He's trying to belittle you for wearing a mask, making it seem like it's a sign of weakness. Is it?

BIDEN: He's a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way. I mean, every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you're in a crowd. And especially when you know you're going to be in a position where you're going to inadvertently get closer than 12 feet to somebody.

I know we're 12 feet apart. I get that. It's just absolutely -- this macho stuff. For a guy -- I shouldn't get going. But it just is, it's cost people's lives. It's costing people's lives. And like I said, we're almost 100,000 dead today, 100,000 people. Columbia study is showing that we could have -- if this started a week earlier, it would have saved thousands of lives.

I mean, these -- this is a tragedy.

BASH: But wearing a mask has become a cultural and political flash point and the president is involved in that, even stoking that.

BIDEN: Sure he is. And he's stoking deaths. That's not going to increase the likelihood people are going to be better off.

BASH: Do you think wearing a mask projects strength or weakness?

BIDEN: Leadership. What it presents and projects is leadership. Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely -- it reminds me of the guys that I grew up with playing ball. They walk around with a ball in their hand but didn't like to hit very much.


CAMEROTA: Tell us more about what the vice president shared.

BASH: Well, you know, it was very interesting, Alisyn, because he obviously has been sitting in his house, he has done some remote interviews, but this is the first in-person interview he has done since the pandemic hit, so in more than two months.

So much has changed in the world, not just with the pandemic, but more importantly for him in this context in the 2020 race when everything shut down. It was right after CNN's debate where he was still debating Bernie Sanders.

And now his opponent is Donald Trump. And he hasn't had a chance to have even close to a normal kind of mano-y-mano campaign style situation with him. And so this is the first time he really has shown what he is going to do.

And you heard the language there, that the president is being macho, that he's a fool. At other times, he said that he is -- basically saying he's emotionally unstable. He's being tougher than I have heard him in the past. And the question is, how far out is he going to go given the fact that he's also campaigning as the antidote to that kind of language.

CAMEROTA: Well, at the same time that you hear all of that, I also hear him pulling his punches, Dana. He says, I shouldn't get going. When is the moment to get going? I mean, we're a few months from the election. Is he going to stop pulling those punches or is that just not the former V.P.'s style? [07:10:00]

BASH: I think he wants to. If we were not -- if he were not in a political fight where he is trying to run as somebody who is kind of the chicken soup for the country as the way somebody described it to me, somebody who can return to a more normal rhetorical situation and that if it wasn't that, if it was just Joe Biden, the guy who is getting challenged, in his words, a macho way by the president, he would probably be more aggressive, but it's a fine line.

And, in fact, one of the things I asked him about more broadly, you remember, of course, last week, the former vice president made what he admits is a stupid remark, saying that -- to African-Americans, if you are thinking about voting for Trump, you ain't black. He said it was a mistake. And I asked him about the fact that he's running against the guy who never admits a mistake and whether or not he can compete in that realm. And he said, if I do something dumb, if I say something that I shouldn't have, I am going to admit that.

And it might seem small but it really does encapsulate the very different worlds that we're dealing with while they're still on the same very real political battlefield.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, as you watch all of this play out, the fact that masks have become political, as a doctor, it must just light your hair on fire.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, I've been wearing a mask for close to 25, 30 years as a doctor. So it is strange to sort of see this sort of flash point over something that is so common among healthcare professionals. I understand that, culturally, it is something that in the United States we're not used to. And I remember having these conversations with Dr. Fauci early on saying, what is the reluctance here, this idea that does it make America appear weak or sick in some way.

But at this point, it's very clear that they have evidence that they work. I mean, again, when we showed these numbers and what is happening, obviously, it is tragic, the number of people who have died, people who are still getting infected. But the masks do have evidence that they work. And you wear them to protect other people. So this is really about this notion that we're really in it together and it's a sign of respect and all those things and a sign that you're taking this seriously.

So I think that there -- as we go through this, the virus has not changed. Our reaction to it has and masks are a big part of it.

BASH: Can I just add one quick thing from a political point of view?

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, Dana.

BASH: One of the Republican strategists who has worked on a ton of campaigns who I rely on to kind of get a sense of what this all means said something really interesting to me yesterday. He said, the mask has become equivalent to putting an NRA sticker on your car for a lot of people in this country. That, yes, the president is very much stoking that cultural flash point and he is giving a voice to it.

But it's the same notion as people who are not in cities like we are in the northeast, Alisyn, who -- this is the perspective and perception of some people who are very much anti-mask, like these people have the luxury of wearing a mask/staying home/having a 401(k) and I'm somebody who has to go to work, I'm somebody who doesn't have a nest egg (ph). I'm somebody who can't deal with that. And they don't understand me.

The fact that they can't go to work and wear a mask, that's logic that is kind of hard to wrap your mind around. But just in terms of the raw politics of this, that is what the mask has become already in terms of the political symbolism.

CAMEROTA: That's really helpful context. Dana Bash, thank you very much. Sanjay, thank you as always.

So, overnight, we saw these huge protests in Minneapolis over the deadly police encounter that killed George Floyd. We have new video of the moment that led to that deadly confrontation, next.



BERMAN: Breaking overnight, protesters clashing with police in Minneapolis, calling for justice after the death of George Floyd. Video shows the black man being held down by a police officer with a knee to his neck for several minutes as he repeatedly told officers that he could not breathe.

CNN's Omar Jimenez live in Minneapolis with the breaking details. Omar, I know it has been a long night there but people want answers.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They do, John, and specifically the family of George Floyd says it's going to take more than just the firings of these officers, which we even saw happen within 24 hours of Floyd's death. And it's a mentally that played out in the protesters throughout Minneapolis that descended here and in one other location last night demanding more accountability and answers.


JIMENEZ: Protests intensifying overnight in Minneapolis. Four police officers were fired after their involvement in the death of George Floyd. Police lined the streets throwing tear gas and non-lethal projectiles to disperse crowds after thousands flooded the streets, Tuesday.

Anger boiling over in the community when a cell phone video was shot Monday night showing a police officer with his knee to Floyd's neck while he's on ground handcuffed. For several long minutes, George Floyd told the officer he couldn't breathe, as bystanders pleaded with officers that Floyd was struggling.

And protesters echoed Floyd's words in the pouring rain last night. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody, the world needs to be watching this. The world, please watch this.

JIMENEZ: The officers say they were responding to an alleged forgery in progress and were initially told the suspect was sitting on a car seemingly under the influence. Police said Floyd physically resisted and they placed him under arrest.

GEORGE FLOYD: My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts.

JIMENEZ: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey supporting the decision to fire the officers.

MAYOR JACOB FREY (D-MINNEAPOLIS, MN): For five minutes, when you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense.

JIMENEZ: CNN has obtained new surveillance video from a nearby restaurant that shows two police officers crossing the street and approaching the car at 8:33 P.M. Monday night. The officers are talking to the passengers in the car for a few minutes before two passengers emerged from the car. George is then taken from the car by one the officers and was handcuffed.

Floyd is sitting against the exterior of a building on the sidewalk while another police car arrives. Eventually, two cops pulled George up from the ground and walk back across the street.

Floyd's family saying they want the officers charged with murder.

PHILONESE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: He screamed, mama, mama, I can't breathe, I can't breathe.

They treated him worse than they treat animals. And I (INAUDIBLE). They took a life. Now they deserve life. I don't feel sorry for them. They hurt me, they hurt my family.

JIMENEZ: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar calling on an outside investigation to be conducted to explore possible criminal charges against the officers.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): This was not a sudden mistake or a procedure gone bad. This was over a period of time.

You got to look at all the evidence. But, to me, this evidence is just crying out for some kind of a charge.


JIMENEZ: And on Senator Klobuchar's last point there, that's what we're waiting on at this point. We saw these officers fired. That was the police disciplinary action within the department. But we're also watching investigations play out at the federal, state and local levels again to determine if any criminal charges will be filed.

And among what they're looking at, we've seen that cell phone video, we've seen some surveillance video, but as we understand, these officers' body cameras were also rolling as well, something that will no doubt play into this investigation. John?

CAMEROTA: I'll take it, Omar. And we are going to be speaking to George Floyd's sister coming up as well. Thank you very much for that report.

Now, to an update on a story that we first told you about yesterday, a white woman who called the police on a black man in Central Park has been fired by her employer. The man, Christian Cooper, recorded part of their conflict, which started when he said he asked her to follow park rules and put her dog on a leash.

After the video went viral, the woman, Amy Cooper, publicly apologized for the incident but denies being racist. Last night, Christian Cooper, the man, spoke to CNN's Don Lemon.


CHRISTIAN COOPER, BIRDWATCHER RECORDED WOMAN CALLING THE COPS ON HIM: I'm not sure if an apology she recognizes that, while she may not be or consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist.

She was looking for some way to get an edge in the situation. And that's where she went. And that ultimately did not help her. So, you know, is she a racist? I can't answer that. Only she can answer that.


CAMEROTA: Well, Amy Cooper's employer thinks she is. They said they fired her because, quote, they do not tolerate racism of any kind.

Meanwhile, President Trump has threatened to relocate the Republican convention over a fight with North Carolina's Democratic governor. What does that state's Republican lieutenant governor have to say about all this? We ask him, next.




GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NA): I'm not surprised by anything that I see on Twitter. I will say that it's okay for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be.


BERMAN: That's North Carolina's Democratic governor responding to a threat from President Trump to move the Republican convention out of Charlotte because of coronavirus restrictions. The president has given him a one-week deadline.

Joining me now is the Republican lieutenant governor of North Carolina, Dan Forest. We should note, he is running for governor. Lieutenant Governor, let me just say that again so people understand, because every state has different policies here. The governor is a Democrat. You are a Republican and a Republican who happens to want to replace him. So, people, I just want to have them keep that in mind. Great to see you, thanks for being with us.

LT. GOV. DAN FOREST (R-NC): Full disclosure is always a good thing.

BERMAN: Absolutely. The secretary of Health and Human Services in your state, Dr. Many Cohen, has asked the Republican Convention Committee to put forward a written plan for how it wants to conduct the convention in August. What would you like to see that plan entail?

FOREST: Well, I think we're well over three months away right now. We're about three month away. It's a long time. It's more time between now and that convention than there has been between now and when this coronavirus actually hit North Carolina.

So, as you well know, John, a lot happens every single week with this. Our trends are going down. The trend lines are looking better. Case numbers sometimes go up here and there. But the reality is the case load over the number of cases over a seven-day period continues to trend down. So that's good.

So I think we should be moving forward in a positive way and thinking about how we get this economy open. And I think people should be all working together to go, you know what, we can have a great successful convention and open up our economy in Charlotte and really add a real good incentive boost to the people in Charlotte, especially in the hospitality industry, who have been hit the hardest.

We have over a million people unemployed in North Carolina and many of those came from the hospitality industry this convention would benefit.

BERMAN: Just a couple things. Number one, the seven-day trend nationally is going down. Seven-day trend in North Carolina isn't going down. I can put this up on the screen so people can see here. You can see the number of confirmed new cases. And that red line is the seven-day moving average. It's actually going up. And North Carolina has had its single-highest day of new cases over the last five days and its Single highest day of hospitalizations.


FOREST: In full disclosure, John, in full disclosure, it's going down. Just a few weeks ago, it was 13 percent.