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New Yorkers Chris Rock & Rosie Perez Discuss Impact On Minorities; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Defends Decision To Send COVID Patients To Nursing Homes; 40 Plus Million Americans File For Unemployment Benefit In 10 Weeks; Former Vice President Joe Biden Offers Condolences As U.S. Deaths Tops 100,000; George Floyd's Death Triggers Violence, Fires, Looting. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 12:00   ET



ROSIE PEREZ, ACTRESS: I don't care who you voted for. I don't care who you are going to vote for. All I care is that we get out of this pandemic as quickly as possible and as safely as possible. Over 100,000 deaths, it is just incredibly heartbreaking. And we can lower these numbers we're already doing it.

And I wish the media would show how effective the Governor has been in spreading this message of wearing a mask and keeping social distancing and for those who are not adhering to the guidelines just know that you're not just disrespecting yourself you're disrespecting your loved ones, your communities your neighbors everyone.

So please spread love the Brooklyn way get tested, wear a mask. Let's help by this virus. We could do it. We can do it. We will rise up. We will stand up.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Listening to the Actress Rosie Perez there she along with the Comedian Chris Rock appearing at Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily Coronavirus briefing. He is in Brooklyn today those two entertainers coming to help the Governor make what he says an important point to get more people to listen.

When he says were a mask, the Governor also announcing he is signing an Executive Order that allows private businesses across New York to say no to deny entry to anyone not wearing a mask if they want to enter whether it's a grocery store or some other private business.

Again this part of an escalating debate in the country about masks as we go through the reopening and the question issued there the Governor of New York it saying that on the same day of the President of the United States a bit earlier re-tweeting a story from a conservative website the question - that questioned whether use of mask with the government over reach?

So a fascinating debate of playing out right there. At the top of the hour now I just want to bring up the latest. I'm in Minnesota today is also separate from the Coronavirus a black family's pain now the subject of some raw rage. Burning last night in Minneapolis you can see some pictures here are reaction to police killing caught on tape protests turning into riots and looting. That's a target you see right there it was ransacked among the looters there the city's fury spilling over after video emerged of a white police officer pending a black man to the ground the officer's knee on George Floyd's neck.

Floyd's cries of "I can't breathe" were ignored. His death now the subject of a federal investigation Floyd's brother because of an execution. The Speaker of the House here in Washington last hour calling it murder.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA): So, the fact that the police officers were fired. That's one thing about there has to be some justice in all of this we did see a murder on TV that was in self-defense.


KING: Also, today more evidence of the Coronavirus economic punch. 2.1 million more Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits last week, the sum total now of the Coronavirus job disruption 40 plus million Americans that is nearly one in four American workers.

The President pausing this morning to acknowledge the truly awful Coronavirus reality you see the numbers on your screen 100,000 Americans and counting now dead because of Coronavirus. God be with you. The President tells grieving families this morning. The tone of that tweet but we expect to hear from our President.

The rest of the morning Presidents morning Twitter rant grievance as usual. Where this virus goes from here depends on things like masks and social distancing? You can look at the trends here state by state 16 states had upticks in new cases, 24 continue to trend in the right direction. The ramifications of reopening still a 50-state puzzle there. The nation's top expert ranks these past three months among the nation's most trying times.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We take a terrible hit a 100,000 people is just really historic in the public health impact it's had on us. You know world wars, depressions, 9/11 this falls in that category. You know we've got to pull together as a nation to get over this.


KING: CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. Elizabeth, a grim day?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is it is a sad moment and John we can use this time to look backwards to reflect and also to look forward. They're looking backwards there were things that we could have done differently. This did not have to happen.

And I really hope the public health leaders are taking this time at least even privately to look at what kind of could have been done differently and what lessons can be learned? Moving forward you know you were just talking about this masks and social distancing something the President has not only discouraged but in fact has made fun of when that's what saves lives if we don't want another 100,000 we need to pay attention to this.

One of the things that are happening now of course is that people are starting to return to work. The CDC is put out some guidelines let's take a look at those. For example opening windows and doors using help of filters having shields and barriers between workers, single servings of snacks and coffee so you're all not saying grabbing the same coffee pot.

Routine cleaning of high touch surfaces like doorknobs also as we as much as you might want to hug a colleague you haven't seen in a long time don't, don't even shake hands no contact is best, John.


KING: Elizabeth Cohen thank you so much for that. We just saw the briefing today from Andrew Cuomo the Governor of New York. Governor his daily briefings have made him the face of this Coronavirus crisis but there are some new questions over how much his early decisions during this pandemic contributed to the startling death toll inside New York State's nursing homes? CNN's Drew Griffin reporting on this for us Drew, tell us what you're finding?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This goes back to March 25th the heights of the pandemic you remember New York's hospitals were being flooded they needed bed space. And New York Governor Cuomo and the Department of Health in New York issued a directive that is getting a lot of heat right now.

It was a directive to nursing homes basically telling them they have to take in COVID-19 patients from hospitals. And I'll read you the part of the order that is troubling to so many. It says that no resident shall be denied readmission or admission to the nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.

John, Governor Cuomo says his Health Department was just following Trump Administration's health guidelines that are not quite true. Hospitals we know sent thousands of COVID patients into nursing homes nursing homes tell us they felt compelled to take them in even if they couldn't handle that.

6,000 people died in New York State nursing homes and that is where the controversy is whether any of those patients that came in to from hospitals actually infected the rest? It's very difficult to tell because of this directive. But effectively earlier this month the New York Governor reversed the policy.

They're saying it wasn't reversed policy but they now require that anybody going into a nursing home from a hospital must first be cleared of COVID-19 and tested negative before they can be sent to a nursing home. The Governor defending himself just last week saying if there is any blame on anybody you should blame the nursing homes. Here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Retrospect do you think that was a bad decision about the March 25th memo. Do you think that that contributed to the death toll in the state which is you know nursing homes is over 5000 people?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D-NY): No because you'd have to be saying that nursing homes were wrong in accepting COVID positive patients that's what you would have to be saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --to an outside--

CUOMO: That's what you would have to be saying.


GRIFIN: Again John, our reporting from many nursing homes is that they felt compelled because of that directive to accept those patients whether they could or not. I was on with the Governor's office this morning.

They said they had no complaints that will obviously be a fact that is going to be checked in the ongoing investigations that are being called for but right now Governor Cuomo defending his decision taking no blame for any of those 6,000 plus deaths in New York State nursing homes, John.

KING: Well, a story we need to continue to report in New York State and across the country. We know you'll stay on it Drew Griffin thanks so much for the reporting there. More economic news today and it's not good another 2.1 million Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits last week those new numbers out early this morning. CNN's Alison Kosik is with us now with more. Alison it's a record to go past 1 million jobless claims prior to the Coronavirus crisis now boom.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean you think about the recovery process. You know the economy recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic really seems like this huge mountain to climb especially when we get these numbers week after week. We got yet another massive number 2.1 million Americans fall for first time unemployment claims last week.

It illustrates that employers continue to furlough and lay off workers. And over the ten weeks it shows that 40 million Americans have lost their job. This has happened all at once even at some point during the ten weeks overwhelming the state unemployment systems trying to dole out these unemployment benefits to Americans who need the money so badly.

Now I do have a little bit of good news here. It doesn't like - I'm saying this with a little caution because we know that the virus can always turn. It does look like we may have hit bottom with these claims numbers. I want to show you a chart over the past ten weeks we see that the peak of these unemployment claims numbers was at 6.9 million and that was the final week in March.

One more point of improvement. Americans currently on the unemployment rolls those are called continuing claims numbers they are dropped - at the end of May the week ending May 16th we saw 3.9 million fewer continuing claims. That's good news because it means that these job losses are being offset by people actually going back to work in states where we are seeing states reopen.

But you know what despite these bright spots this still is a grim situation. Millions of Americans John is still out of work.


KOSIK: And these aren't just numbers these aren't just data points, these are people who have bills to pay and wait anxiously for those unemployment benefits in hopes that that money is enough to meet their costs every month John.

KING: A critical point there Alison Kosik I really appreciate the insights. And as we go through these statistics whether it's the unemployment on the jobs front whether it's this horrible statistics on the right of your screen. The case count and the death count each one of those numbers is a person Alison a point to make. Thank you so much.

Join CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr Sanjay Gupta tonight along with the Science Writer David Guam and hear what he says viruses - why Coronavirus will keep happening? That's "Coronavirus: Facts & Fears" tonight 8:00 o'clock only here on CNN. Coming up the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sides with President Trump in the fight over Twitter, fact checks.


KING: President Trump today promising a new Executive Order targeting social media companies. This order comes just days after Twitter angered the President by labeling two of his tweets as "Potentially misleading".


KING: The President promising on Twitter today will be "A big day for social media and fairness" Let's bring in our White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond also CNN's Donie O'Sullivan.

Jeremy, let me start with you. The President says he's got an Executive Order is this more bark or doesn't have bite?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it might have some bite John but the question is whether or not this can actually be in force? And so the Executive Order as we understand it again this is a draft Executive Order that we obtain that we understand that White House officials including the White House Counsel's office are still working to finalize this text.

But essentially would look to reinterpret key section. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which provides broad liability protections to websites including these big social media companies for the content that is posted on their websites essentially this could potentially open up many of these social media companies up to more lawsuits based on the content that is posted on their websites.

But John here is the question to your point about whether this is barks or bites? Experts don't believe that this would necessarily overturn all of the legal interpretations that have existed so far about the Communications Decency Act arguing that the Executive Order can't necessarily do that.

So to that point this might be a little bit more bark here. But again what the President here is looking to do John beyond the actual legal enforceability of this continue driving his narrative about social media companies. You know we know that the President and his allies in the past have suggested that these social media companies are trying to stifle conservative voices.

This Executive Order will certainly give the President a platform to drive that narrative further and I did speak with a senior administration official earlier today John who said that regardless of whether or not they're able to legally enforce this Executive Order. Ultimately this will drive the President's political strategy on this front by furthering that narrative and giving him a platform to continue pushing that John.

KING: And what's - I don't know if ironic is the right word Donie is the President's criticizing Twitter a platform he uses repeatedly every day what Twitter did was fact checked him say the statements about mail in voting that the President put out there were misleading. They were misleading. So it's not a factual dispute here.

But I want you to listen as the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Twitter is now saying it's going to get into the fact checking business a bit more Mark Zuckerberg says when it comes to Facebook no thanks.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK, CEO: But I don't think that that a Facebook or internet platforms in general should be arbiters of truth. I think that's a kind of a dangerous line to get down to in terms of deciding what is true and what isn't just because we don't want to be determining what is true and false? Doesn't mean that that politicians or anyone else can just say whatever they want.


KING: This is a fascinating debate.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that is - that's so rich coming from Mark Zuckerberg. They make thousands millions of decisions every day about what is true and false. They have fact checking across their platform. They work with a global network of fact checkers. They say they are removing misinformation, dangerous misinformation about COVID-19. The only people Facebook does not fact check and they got a lot of lap last year for this from Democrats is politicians and Democrats said last year this policy is going to benefit President Trump is 2020 reelection campaign.

But it is quite remarkable there to see Zuckerberg in this moment go on Fox News when Silicon Valley is really under attack from the White House and not stand shoulder to shoulder with his colleagues in the tech industry. But actually go after Twitter for placing a very small label didn't even remove the tweets, a small label at pointing to accurate information about mail in ballots in California.

KING: Donie O'Sullivan and Jeremy Diamond it's a fascinating debate and we know it will continue we'll see what the President has to say when we get the final order today. Thank you both. And we should note that on this day the President acknowledging this morning that more than 100,000 Americans killed by the Coronavirus. We hit that grim milestone yesterday afternoon.

The President writing on Twitter this morning we've just reached a very sad milestone with the Coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all the families and friends of those who have passed I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy and love for everything that these great people stood for and represent. God be with you.

Joining us now the Chief Correspondent for "The Washington Post" Dan Balz Dan, I appreciate your time today. There were critics of the President saying why didn't he say something yesterday? Why did he wait until today?

To me the bigger issue is look, this is everything in life is viewed through a political prism but we are in the unknown a pandemic on any President's watch in the middle of his reelection year it is just a testing moment for the President of the United States?

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: It's incredibly difficult testing moment for the President of the United States. And I think so far public opinion would suggest that people do not think he has handled it the way they would expect the President to do so.

He did make note of the 100,000 deaths at this point which I think we should be expected of the President.


BALZ: But the question is what will - what has he done? And what will he do going forward? This has everything to do with his reelection obviously because it is the front and center issue now for the entire country. And so much of what he has done is to frame this in a political way rather than to deal with it straightforwardly as any President normally would.

KING: You mention any President normally would and you know we're three plus years in now so we know this President is very, very different especially particularly so on issues like this where people are looking for perhaps empathy or the President rally the nation.

And so he deals with this, this morning on Twitter the Presumptive Democratic Nominee gave a statement yesterday in which he sounded like you mentioned what a President would normally do it would be this.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm so sorry for your loss. I know there's nothing higher anyone else can say or do not know the sharpness of the pain you feel right. I can promise you from experience. The day will come when the memory of your loved one bring a smile to the lips before it brings you to your eyes.


KING: You're the best in the business Dan, that that is my opinion on this day. We have no idea how this is going to play out in the middle of a Presidential Campaign where Joe Biden there trying to convince Americans I would be a better job - I would do a better job. I would be a better President at a moment of crisis like this. But we are again in the great unknown.

BALZ: John, we are in the great unknown. I think if you know if this campaign comes down simply to a question of which candidate has a greater sense of empathy and how people perceive that? I think for the Former Vice President has the advantage on that but we know that many other things will go into the decisions that people make.

But I think that one of the things we're seeing from Former Vice President Biden is an effort to contrast himself with President Trump in all kinds of ways having to do with the handling of this pandemic. And I think that the Biden campaign feels that at this moment that is advantageous to him.

We know that the President operates in a totally different way than the Former Vice President and those attributes served him well in 2016 and surprised a lot of people and it's quite possible that that would happen again. Right now it is a difficult moment for the President and the Biden campaign I think feels it's as though they are in a good spot though obviously not taking anything for granted.

KING: 159 until America votes and we know this pandemic will take some twist between now and then. Dan Balz as always I appreciate your insights and expertise. Up next for us Richmond Virginia is about to reopen and the Mayor is a bit nervous.



KING: Anger and frustration in Minneapolis. Protesters demanding justice for the death of George Floyd he was the unarmed black man who died after police pinned him to the ground knee his neck. Last night in the city buildings were set on fire.

Businesses like this target you see here were looted, police using tear gas at points to disperse crowds. The Mayor of Minneapolis speaking out this morning calling Floyd's death murder, listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that was murder?



FREY: I'm not a prosecutor but let me be clear. The arresting officer killed someone.


KING: Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison joins us now Mr. Ellison grateful for your time on this sad day in your city. I want you to listen first and foremost here to a spokesman for the Police Department who said that these protesters has every right to be out there but in his view last night got out of hand let's listen.


JOHN ELDER, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE SPOKESMAN: We've had a number of fires that we've had a good deal of - a good amount of looting or about a bad amount of looting actually. And just widespread civil disobedience and it's unfortunate and sad. If people they're truly there to honor the memory of the decedent and the family, this isn't how you do it.


KING: Do you agree with that at the end that if you want to honor Mr. Floyd you should not be out looting?

JEREMIAH ELLISON, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: Yes look, I'll admit that sometimes when a protest involves it doesn't always involve in a way that somebody like myself would want it to. But I feel that I was there the first night that this was going on and nobody was looting anything on the first night nobody was setting anything on fire on the first night and yet the police response our police response was so brutal took to the protesters.

The worst thing I saw being thrown where water bottles that first night and the police responded pretty brutal. And so I think that it's - it's well I don't like everything that I'm seeing from the protest that you know it evolved I'm struggling to feel like we as a city have any more ground to stand on given the way that our police department is acting or has acted in response to those protesters.