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George Floyd's Death Sparks Outrage Across U.S.; National Guard Activated as Protests Grow in Minneapolis; CDC Projects 123,000 Plus U.S. Deaths by June 20; Role of Social Media in Protest Movements; Mixed Signals, Misleading Messages from Top Officials; Diplomatic Backlash to China's National Security Law in Hong Kong. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 29, 2020 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[01:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. And we are, of course, following that breaking news this hour out of the U.S. State of Minnesota. A Minneapolis police precinct on fire. Extraordinary scenes. This is after thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody. The police department says the staff of the precinct there was evacuated earlier. The mayor declaring a local emergency. Now, nearby in St. Paul, protesters clashing with police there, as well. Well, into the night, fires breaking out as stores are being looted. Police have responded to protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The National Guard is now being deployed, more than 500 soldiers will be sent to St. Paul, Minneapolis, and surrounding communities to try to help keep the peace. CNN's Josh Campbell is in Minneapolis for us. He joins us now on the line. First, though, the obvious, what are you seeing right now? I mean, the idea of a police station on fire like this is just extraordinary. The local Target on fire. What caused things to get so out of hand?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, Michael, wherever you are in the world right now, when you think about a police station, a police department, that's usually that conjures images of a fortress that is impenetrable. That is not the case here now in Minneapolis. There were a number of protesters that gathered outside this precinct, Precinct Three is the name, just not far from where the death of George Floyd occurred, which we know was the African-American man, who -- that dramatic video that we've showed before, showed him on the ground with the police officer with his knee on his neck. He later died. That's obviously been the subject of a robust investigation by local officials, as well as the FBI.

But it's that incident that has now sparked such outrage here in this community, leading to a number of protesters gathering outside this police station. What started as peaceful then turned into a very confrontational situation where you had protesters outside who were throwing rocks at the police station. And we did see a number of police officers on the roof who are returning fire not with lethal weapons but with tear gas. We ourselves were gassed at one point and had to move back. But they were trying to push people back from this police station. That continued to escalate through the night as night fell here in Minneapolis into the scene that you saw on your T.V. there with flames ravaging this building outside.

And protesters clearly unhappy with the police, clearly taking their frustration and outrage out on the police department. I think it's more important to note also, that as we've been covering this, and been there on the ground, there appear to be different camps. You have people that are just clearly focused on this criminal activity. They're trying to burn down this government building. But we've also seen protesters out there who are nonviolent, that have been expressing their outrage at the death of this black man at the hands of the police here in Minneapolis. And it's that dichotomy that we've seen that, you know, it's so -- such a powder keg here. We have people that are so unhappy.

When you think about the police, Michael, and what we're seeing on the screen with a police department that's now being torched. The police department has clearly lost this part of the city. We've seen these images in so many locations around the United States tonight. People protesting, the police deciding that they're not going to go in and enforce what's being taking place, they're not going to push the crowd back. They're not going to conduct arrests. They are apparently going to let this building burn to the ground. Their calculation likely being that their mere presence would likely inflame the situation even more, which again, when your presence is going to cause even more outrage, you've clearly lost this part of the city, Michael.

HOLMES: And, Josh, you know, speak to that a little more because you reported this earlier, too, that you were surprised or you certainly noted that police at least where you were, we're not out in force. You think that was a tactical decision?

CAMPBELL: Yes. When you think about policing and obviously, you know, there are -- there are more residents than there are police officers, we were there, my colleague, Sara Sidner, and I were there outside this police precinct surrounded by thousands of people.

[01:05:09]

Thousands of protesters, rioters, looters. And, you know, obviously people that were conducting the criminal activity that we saw on our screen by breaching this building. There's no way that law enforcement officers were going to come in and full force in that type of volatile situation. You know, our estimation is they probably decided that, again, coming in and trying to arrest people, or trying to move the crowd back would probably lead to even more violence and possibly death. Now, again, if you're a police official, your job is to enforce the peace, is to calm society. That's not what we saw taking place. And, again, this is going to continue throughout the night. This protest continues. We've seen it in a number of cities around the country, still yet to be seen how long this takes place.

We did get news just not long ago, that the National Guard here in the State of Minnesota has been called up, some 500 soldiers. And for our viewers around the world, the National Guard are controlled by the local state officials. They usually are involved in disaster response. They also provide troops to foreign wars, as well. But when that type of action is being taken place where you have now the state officials calling up the National Guard to try to protect these facilities, this has clearly moved into a very different and a very dangerous phase. Michael?

HOLMES: Great reporting this evening, Josh. Good to have you there, Josh Campbell in Minneapolis. Appreciate it. Now, I want to take you to the moment when this anger all boiled over at the police precinct that you heard Josh just talking about. CNN's Sara Sidner was there when the fire began. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Those are fireworks being fired off by the protesters. We are watching them being fired off directly in front of me. All of those sparkling lights that we see over -- I don't know if you can see that. That is from fireworks. But we are definitely now seeing a fully on fire third precinct here. That is clearly what's happening there. There have been boards that have been put up outside of a third precinct. And those boards are on fire. But it looks like the fire has gotten even bigger at this point in time. And you can see protesters so close to the fire that they are getting hit with sparks from the fire coming off of that building. So, that is what's going on right now.

It is official that the building is on fire, the third precinct is on fire. We do not know where the police are. We see the Minnehaha liquor, that is on fire. On the other side of the street, we see a fire behind the precinct. We also see protesters throwing fireworks at the precinct. And the fire alarm is going on inside of the precinct. This is a scene that has completely changed from earlier today when things were peaceful and people cheering and more fireworks going off as literally the police precinct is burning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And Sara Sidner joins us now on the line. Sara, I can almost see the disbelief in your voice there is as you realize, oh my god, the police station is on fire. And speak to what was going through your mind there, and not just the police station. It feels like half that area is on fire.

SIDNER (via telephone): Yes, I think what has really changed here, something I have actually never witnessed, and I have covered dozens upon dozens of protests. The thing that is different here is I have never seen a situation where police have completely left the area and literally let it burn. Usually, you at least see firefighters come. You see a bigger contingent of police. They'll pull back, and then all of a sudden, you'll have (INAUDIBLE) come in from all parts of the city. In this case, it's clearly a calculated move from the police. They moved back to the precinct, they -- we watched that happen yesterday night. And today, they never left the precinct. And then, as night fell and the fires grew, and then, they finally, you know, set the building on fire, the officers were gone. We have not seen them for hours.

What we have seen is fires now burning in other places. So, now just across the street, where there's a huge parking lot and people have been firing off, lots of fireworks. You are seeing the Target engulfed in flames. You are seeing across the street from the police department, the liquor store engulfed. I mean, it is -- it is burning hot and is burning large, and you are seeing other businesses start to catch fire because those fires are burning so hot, but I have never seen a situation -- I have never seen a situation where a precinct, police department precinct is on fire, and there is absolutely no authority out there to try and control the situation.

[01:10:10]

So now, it is literally just the protesters who are out in the streets. And they are -- some of them just standing and watching, others of them cheering, many times you'll see lots of fireworks that are going off overhead. You hear cheering, people were actually trying to break into the precinct but it's on fire. So, there's a great danger there, as well. And now, we could smell gas as we were leaving the scene. And now, we're hearing from the city that they believe that a gas line has been ruptured that is excruciatingly and extremely dangerous, because if fire gets near that, we will have an explosion. So, there are a lot of people that could be in imminent danger and don't even realize it.

HOLMES: Yes, they -- you know, the city putting out a warning to people to get out of that area because if this is indeed a gas link -- leak, there could be an explosion. I mean, you've been there all day. This -- let's remember where this all began. This began as a protest with purpose. It was about George Floyd, the man who was -- who was killed with a policeman's knee on his throat. That's where this began. And it began with -- there were local people policing the protesters, if you like. What happened?

SIDNER: So, you know, nightfall is always things tend to change, and I know you know this, you've been out in some of these protests. When nightfall began to happen, there are people who, you know, left. Some of the community activists were out there all day long for 10 hours or more, because it started a lot earlier than it did yesterday. And they have families. They are trying to organize to help the neighborhood, which they have been looking after to try to make sure people have what they need who live in that neighborhood because now there are no grocery stores.

So, they're trying to make sure they can organize things for the neighborhood. And what you saw is just a very different scenario when night fell. You saw a change, there was no more music, there was nobody on the mic telling people that you've got to channel your energy, you've got to put it towards something that is constructive, not destructive. We understand. We've heard this over and over, we understand your anger. We're angry, too. But let's channel this. Let's use it to -- in a different way, so that your community isn't destroyed, so that we don't have to deal with this destruction for many months to come. Now, there are so many fires; this is going to be something this community deals with for months, if not longer.

HOLMES: Yes. And as you pointed out quite correctly with the Target on fire, the local police station, I mean, this is -- the community will suffer from this damage for months to come. Sara, amazing reporting this evening. Thank you, Sara Sidner there. Now, protesters expressing their outrage in cities right across, yes, it's not just in Minneapolis. They're outraged not just over the death of George Floyd but for others killed by police, and it's no secret, he was far from the first protests in Louisville, Kentucky turning heated police, say, what began as a peaceful demonstration has turned into scenes of violence and property damage. Or even reports of shots fired there.

Local news says the crowds gathered to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a woman shot after police officers for forced their way into her home back in March. Turn our attention to Memphis, Tennessee, we got police in riot gear who faced off with protesters marching. They were chanting hands up, don't shoot. All right. Let's discuss further. Joining me now on the line is Cedric Alexander. He's a former public safety director in DeKalb County, Georgia. Thanks so much for being with us. I mean, just speak to the sight of a police station, a significant building there on fire, and that comes after a number of other buildings were also vandalized and torched. Speak to what you thought of those scenes and how easily these things can get out of control?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR, DEKALB COUNTY: Well, first of all -- well, first of all, let me say this, I think it's very -- it's very hard to watch a city, any American city, and in this particular case, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, that is having a horrible experience tonight, as it relates to what many people in that community feel as just being totally unjust system, where officers who were involved in the -- this handling of a prisoner that led to his death.

[01:15:01]

What we see, unfortunately, is rage and anger. And we're seeing people across the country and a number of cities across this country tonight, who are just absolutely outraged. This is not a way that this should be managed or handled. There's no question about that. This is wrong. This is criminal.

But at the same time, the bigger question becomes, for me, as a public safety director -- and I think the bigger question, a former public safety director, but also, I think to -- for the rest of this country. We got to look back even in the last four, five, six years during Michael Brown case, Michael Brown, what is the things? What are the things that we certainly have not done to make sure that what we see going on here tonight, never happened again?

We're in a very, very uncomfortable and horrible place in this country tonight, when we watch these images of an American city -- of an American city that's burning. HOLMES: I got to ask you, we, you know, it's interesting. And you're right, a powder keg does not come from nowhere. It reminds me of like when there's a mass shooting, and we have these conversations, what needs to happen, this has got to stop. Let's not let this happen again. It's the same thing with these sorts of cases, like George Floyd. This goes back years and years and years.

And we've seen riots in the street over black men being taken down by police, the feeling of alienation and brutality among African Americans in the U.S., and we have these same conversations. Things have to change. There has to be more respect, but we keep having the conversations. What will change? What has to change now?

ALEXANDER: Well, you know, part of the issue is that really nothing has changed. There has been a lot of work done over recent years to an attempt across this country to build relationships, closer relationships between police and community.

And I happened to be part of several years ago, under President Obama, a 21st century task force that created a document, a roadmap, if you will, that would have allowed policing community to work very well together, and find ways and create new ways of working together that has proven to be of some advantage.

But something that happened along the way. We now it feels, to me, when I looked at that image the other day, and the death of Mr. Floyd, it's almost as if it took us back 100 years, because clearly, that was not a training procedure. Clearly, we saw someone a knee and a man's neck, who cried for help, who went into an infantile state and begged for his mother, and nothing, nothing happened. No one helped him.

The officers that were there to say help him. They hurt him, and they hurt him bad, and they hurt him on public television, that we all have seen the footage. And people are just outraged. They're horribly, horribly outraged. Because we keep seeing these images, we keep seeing and having these experiences. You go to Briana Taylor there in Louisville. You go to the Aubrey case in South Georgia. It's just it appears that easy things continue to happen and they see totally inexplicable to people.

And people go to a point where they just cannot take anymore. So now, we got to pick up, attempt to pick up and start over again. Because people are tired of us talking about doing something different.

HOLMES: Exactly.

ALEXANDER: (INAUDIBLE)

HOLMES: The conversation keeps on happening. When will things change? Cedric Alexander, we're out of time. We got to leave it there. I really appreciate you joining us. We're going to take a quick break. We'll have more on the breaking news when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. We are, of course, following the breaking news out of the U.S. State of Minnesota, where protesters have set fire to a police precinct and numerous other buildings in the area. They are angry over the death of an African American man, George Floyd, in police custody. He died on Monday. The video of the incident now infamous after an officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Floyd was suspected of passing a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.

All right, we'll return to that story. Let's meanwhile check the latest headlines on the coronavirus pandemic. We start with new predictions from the U.S. government on the toll the outbreak is taking on the country. More than 101,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19, at least.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects more than 20,000 additional deaths by mid-June, it's only a couple of weeks away. Experts say a vaccine, well, it's at least months away, possibly longer.

But in the meantime, they are urging people to wear masks which can cut the spread of the virus by 50 percent. They also say socializing should be done outdoors, people staying at least six feet apart. Internationally, Brazil reporting a record 26,000 new cases of the virus in just the past day. More than 1,000 people have died there in each of the past three days. Back in the U.S., new infections still on the rise in 16 states, most of them in the southeast. CNN's Jason Carroll with those details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just as California has begun moving forward with reopening, comes word the state is now reporting the largest single day increase of confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The California Health Department now reporting 2,617 new cases in the past 24 hours.

[01:25:10]

Meanwhile, in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic, scores of ambulance crews who came to New York to help during the height of the crisis were returning home with fanfare. This as New York City's mayor reaffirms that the city is just weeks away from reopening.

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR, NEW YORK: We are getting to the point very, very soon, where we can take the first step to restart in phase one.

CARROLL: When that happens, 2 to 400,000 people will head back to work.

DE BLASIO: You have earned it.

CARROLL: New York is one of two dozen states seeing a decrease in new cases. But there are 16 states mostly in the southeast with an uptick, Arkansas, the worst among them, recording a 46 percent increase in cases among children. A spike also in Mississippi, but that's not stopping the governor from lifting the stay-at-home order on Monday.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): There will still be health and safety guidelines for people to follow. But we cannot have an endless shutdown.

CARROLL: And with cases in Alabama, also on the rise concerns remain over the number of ICU beds.

STEVEN REED, MAYOR, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: So, we're down to two this morning, as of the last update I have, so we're not doing better, we're actually doing worse, unfortunately. We are in a place that you know, would be considered a crisis at this moment.

CARROLL: The Centers for Disease Control now highlighting a new forecast, predicting an increase in hospitalizations across the country next month. And as more businesses reopen or are poised to reopen, the CDC issued new guidelines for employers to help keep their workers safe, including increasing outdoor air circulation and installing barriers to separate people when social distancing is not possible. Still, new research showing six feet of social distancing may not be enough.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: If you are in an area where you're really close with people and that virus is not in air that circulating well, it's going to be easier for you to breathe and then rule is 15 minutes, right? So, closer than six feet for longer than 15 minutes. That's the threshold that we have been using.

CARROLL: Going forward, health officials recommend socializing outdoors when possible. And yet, one of the nation's oldest outdoor events, the Boston Marathon, canceled for the first time, in its 124- year history. So much uncertainty, but also examples of the power of the human spirit. Take Jennie Stejna, a 103-year-old grandmother from Massachusetts, who survived COVID-19 (INAUDIBLE) and celebrated with a Bud Light.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes?

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we will have more on the breaking news out of Minneapolis, where protests against the death of a black man in police custody, spiraling out of control.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:32:19]

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world.

I'm Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The top story, of course, anger boiling over at this hour in the U.S. state of Minnesota and indeed across the country. Protesters torching a Minneapolis police precinct while thousands took to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in police custody. The National Guard now deploying more than 500 soldiers to several cities.

Social media has become a powerful tool for protest movements. Let's bring in CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter to talk about its role in the Minneapolis story.

But Brian -- before I do, the President's tweet I think we need to deal with it. He tweeted just a short time ago and I want to read the whole thing.

He says, "I can't stand back and watch this happen to a great American city, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership." And then he makes it political. Either the very weak radical left Mayor Jacob Fray gets it together and brings the city under control, or I will send in the National Guard and get the job done right.

As we've already said, the National Guard has already been ordered in and not by the President. This is interesting, too, part two.

"These thugs" -- that is a loaded word in the United States -- "are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walsh, told him the military is with him. Any difficulty, we will assume control."

And then again, an extraordinary line. "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

The President of the United States.

Brian -- your thoughts?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The President is referring to something that Miami's police chief said in 1968 when there were protests at an RNC convention. He said when the looting starts, the shooting starts.

That was a threat back then, a statement about getting tough back in 1968. And it is a vile threat tonight. Let us hope that cooler heads prevail, that the President's aides intervene, that he is just acting tough on Twitter like he oftentimes does. And that nothing more will come of it.

But if you are wondering what the President was going to do in this case, if you wondered if he would show leadership in a volatile moment like this, I think we now have the answer -- Michael.

We're going to see the President resort to his typical techniques of sowing this kind of chaos and division. As you mentioned using the word "thugs", you know, calling out these protesters. And by the way, the President has been late on this situation all week long. Late to react to the video of what happened in Minneapolis; late to react to the protests and the unrest. You know, we are far past the point where the President should be weighing in for the first time on these matters.

[01:35:02]

STELTER: Clearly, the situation is out of control in parts of Minneapolis. The city of Minneapolis is doing a very bad job communicating with its own residents right now. Of course, under the cover of darkness, we don't know everything that's happening. But what is clear there are fires and looted stores and broken windows and other disturbances in multiple neighborhoods of Minneapolis right now. We'll have to wait until sunrise to get the full picture.

Amid all of this, you have to wonder, if you live in Minneapolis right now, do you feel any better seeing the President of the United States talk the way he's talking on Twitter? I'm going to wager no -- Michael. But let's see what the residents of Minneapolis say in the morning.

HOLMES: Yes. Saying again, (INAUDIBLE) and we will assume control. I'm not sure how the federal government assumes control of something like this.

I wanted too, to ask you about the issue of social media, cell phone use as well because all of this -- George Floyd's death was on camera and filmed by people who were eyewitnesses to this. And you know, it's not like George Floyd didn't happen before. They have happened before. They're now just getting filmed.

And speak to the role of the cell phone in this but also the role of the cell phone in spreading the protest.

STELTER: Yes. Right. This death was filmed from multiple angles and this is not the only altercation with police just this week in the United States that has been caught on camera and caused a lot of concern in local communities.

We are seeing protests, as you've mentioned, in other cities that is a result of what happened in Minneapolis. But it's also the result of other videos in other cities on other days. This kind of cacophony that's created when you have access to these images on social media.

It is also notable that in this age both of social distance and social media, people are able to move more quickly towards these protests. So you see a kind of virality that happens not just online but in person.

When people, for example, in St. Paul, Minnesota heard that the 3rd Precinct was on fire in Minneapolis, some got in their cars and drove over to Minneapolis a couple of hours ago.

So there is that kind of effect of making these bigger and moving and escalating more quickly that happens in the age of cellphones and instant technology. I think there are obviously positives to that and negatives to that as well.

We have, by the way, the front page of Friday morning's "Minneapolis Star Tribune" reacting to this in real-time, calling this a state of agony.

That is really important. As much as we are talking about anger here, an overwhelming amount of anger in the streets. It's also about grief and agony. We are talking about a population that has been mostly indoors and stuck at home for months, and now seeing people that they trust to protect them fail them.

And that kind of situation causes anger but it also causes agony. To see this in the midst of a pandemic, to see people posting videos of fires with a quarantine sort of logo, it is an incredibly strange and frightening situation -- Michael.

HOLMES: Great to have you on to discuss those aspects. CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter -- appreciate it. We will check in with you next hour as well. And thanks for that.

All right. A new CNN special that I will tell you about this, too. It examines race relations and police brutality in the United States. It's called "I CAN'T BREATHE: BLACK MEN LIVING AND DYING IN AMERICA". It will be broadcast Sunday, 8:00 p.m. New York time and Monday that's 8:000 a.m. in Hong Kong. It will be only here on CNN, of course.

We're going to take a quick break.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM with me Michael Holmes.

We'll be right back.

[01:38:31]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Let's get you up to date on our top story this hour. More than 500 National Guard soldiers are on their way to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota to help deal with violent protests. Demonstrators have set fire to a police precinct and several other buildings. Minneapolis officials warning protesters to move away from the area because there might be a severed gas line.

Protesters are angry over the death of an African American man in police custody on Monday. Four officers have been fired, but prosecutors say they are not ready to bring charges, not yet.

All right. Let's turn now to the coronavirus pandemic. When the U.S. hit the staggering number of 100,000 deaths on Wednesday, it was an opportunity for President Trump to be what many critics say he has not been through this crisis, and that is presidential.

But instead of marking the bleak occasion with a heartfelt statement or a show of presidential empathy -- silence, not a word, didn't mention that number being reached until a single tweet the next day.

CNN's Jim Acosta reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It took more than 12 hours after the U.S. crossed the gut-wrenching milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus for the President to reflect on the lives lost. Mr. Trump tweeted, "We have just reached the very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of 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."

Asked what took the President so long, White House officials said Mr. Trump marked a milestone before it was reached.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President recognized that landmark before we even hit. The President -- that was, after all, it was the impetus behind him lowering the flag to half staff. He did that for several days.

ACOSTA: Former vice president Joe Biden posted his on video hours before Mr. Trump.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I know what you are feeling. You feel like you are being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. It's suffocating.

ACOSTA: At times during the pandemic, the President repeatedly passed along what ended up being false estimates of the death toll in the U.S. from 60,000 --

[01:44:52] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're talking about

maybe 60,000 or so -- that's a lot of people. But that's -- 100,000 was the minimum, we thought that we would get to, and we will be lower than that number.

ACOSTA: -- to close to zero.

TRUMP: And again, when you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

ACOSTA: The President is making time to stir up debate over the use of masks in public, retweeting a post from a conservative Web site claiming that masks aren't about public health, but about social control, undermining his own surgeon general.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON-GENERAL: As the country begins to reopen, don't forget to wear a cloth face covering when in public.

ACOSTA: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will allow store owners to deny entry to customers who don't wear them.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We're giving the store owners the right to say if you're not wearing a mask, you can't come in. That store owner has a right to protect themselves. That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store.

ACOSTA: As the U.S. Hits 100,000 deaths, the White House has sidelined its own coronavirus task force, sharply reducing the number of meetings and news conferences for health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci who has contradicted the President on his race to reopen the country.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AND One of the things that I think the people who are out there frolicking need to realize that when you do that, and you see no negative effect in one week, please don't be over confident because the effect of spreading is not going to be seen for two, three and maybe even more weeks.

ACOSTA: The President is trying to change the subject, threatening to take action against social media companies after Twitter added a fact check label to a tweet on voter fraud.

TRUMP: I guess it's going to be challenged in court -- what is it?

ACOSTA: The White House suggested that is not necessary, as the President always tries to tell the truth, despite his long history of false and misleading statements.

Are you saying that the President of the United States has never lied to the public before?

MCENANY: I'm around the President. His intent is always to give truthful information to the American people.

ACOSTA: The White House did weigh in on the unrest in Minneapolis following the killing of George Floyd, who died in police custody, vowing the administration will seek justice.

TRUMP: That was a very, very bad thing that I saw. I saw it last night and I didn't like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the police officer should be prosecuted?

TRUMP: I'm not going to make any comment right now. I can tell you, I think what I saw was not good. It was not good. It was very bad.

ACOSTA: As for the mixed signals coming from the White House on the virus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany touted the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. That came one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said the drug is not an effective treatment for the virus.

On the President's war with Twitter, Mr. Trump said he will shut down the social media platform if he could do so legally. Obviously, he can't.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM with me, Michael Holmes. We're going to take a short break. We will be right back.

[01:47:46]

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HOLMES: Welcome back.

The U.S. President Donald Trump says he is holding a news conference on China in the coming hours. Not only is he blaming Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic, his top diplomat is telling Congress that Hong Kong no longer enjoys a high degree of autonomy from Beijing.

China's parliament has now approved a highly contentious national security law in Hong Kong. Critics say, it undermines the one country- two systems framework. A British diplomat says the U.N. Security Council will also meet privately in the coming hours.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is standing by for us in Hong Kong. Let's begin with that international reaction that is ramping up -- the U.S., the U.K. You've got Carrie Lam now speaking out on foreign interference. What have you been hearing?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, after the passage of the national security legislation during the National People's Conference, international pressure is building and the pressure point is Hong Kong.

All eyes now on the United States, in particular U.S. President Donald Trump and what will be his next move after his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made that declaration to congress saying that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous.

That declaration more than just words. That opens up the door to significant potentially U.S. action, including the United States possibly revoking the special trade status of Hong Kong which would jeopardize billions of dollars worth of trade between Hong Kong and U.S. and jeopardize the standing of Hong Kong as an international finance center.

All eyes also on the U.K. The British government right now is considering a citizenship path for 300,000 Hong Kong residents, unless China scraps that controversial national security law. Now this citizenship path would only be available to those Hong Kong residents who have the BNO passport or a British National Overseas passport which is something that they would have registered for at the time of the handover in 1997.

Earlier today, Carrie Lam, the top leader of Hong Kong, issued this -- a statement for the people of Hong Kong published in virtually every single newspaper with the exception of "The Apple Daily", which is of course owned by the pro democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai. And in it, she is urging Hong Kongers to accept the national security legislation, but she also condemns external forces.

There's a line in there. She says, "External forces have intensified their interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs."

Beijing at the moment is hashing out the details of this just-passed controversial legislation. we know it will allow the Ministry of State Security to establish themselves here in Hong Kong, and to enforce this law which many critics fear will heavily curtail freedoms here.

Back to you.

HOLMES: Yes. I was going to ask you, what the chances would be of Beijing budging? I imagine the answer is zero. But what is going to be the reaction or the likely reaction of the protest movement which has fought literally so hard over the last year?

[01:54:49]

STOUT: They have -- and they fought so hard and at this moment, their options are very limited. So their only option right now is relying on international pressure and appealing to international leaders, lawmakers in the U.K., the U.S., appealing to Donald Trump, to intensify their pressure on Beijing.

We heard from Jimmy Lai earlier in the week, who has called for Donald Trump to quote, "stand with Hong Kong". Earlier today, Joshua Wong (ph) took to Twitter again, saying this. He said quote, "All eyes on the U.S. president tomorrow. Let's see what happens."

It seems international pressure and Donald Trump's next move -- that is basically the only leverage, the main leverage that the Hong Kong protests movement has right now.

Back to you.

HOLMES: China -- the mainland obviously seems emboldened that they can do this without much blow back. It's going to be interesting to see how that unfolds.

Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. We'll check in with you later. Thanks so much.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

I will be right back with more news though. Don't go away.

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