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Episcopal Bishop Outraged Over Trump Church Photo Op; At Least 21 States See More COVID-19 Cases as Country Reopens; New York City Sets Earlier Curfew to Stop Widespread Looting. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 2, 2020 - 11:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The president and the first lady are visiting the St. John Paul II National Shrine here in Washington today. It is the second visit by the president to a religious institution in just hours. A follow-up to the bizarre, seemingly made-for-TV moment that played out yesterday, you might say, in three acts.

First, the president marching from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church across the same ground peaceful protesters were driven from just moments before the president walk through. Then the photo op, the president posing in front of the church holding up a bible. Finally he slowly coaxed over several members of his administration team, including the Defense secretary, the attorney general and the National Security adviser to join him for more photos. You see his press secretary there as well.

With me now the bishop from the Episcopal Diocese for Washington, the Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde.

Reverend Bishop, I don't know where to start.


I know you have outrage. When you see the president of the United States in front of a church that if you're familiar with this town has been symbolic because of its proximity to the White House. It's been important to so many presidents. What did that mean to you to see the president, not reading from the bible, just shaking the bible?

BISHOP MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON: Well, as some of your earlier reporting had indicated, there was an abuse of political power with the way the crowds, the nonviolent crowds were cleared with tear gas and riot police so that he could make the walk to the church. So I would say that his appropriation of the bible and standing in front of the church was a misuse of sacred space and sacred symbols.

Somehow aligning himself and his immediate rhetoric with that of God, the word of God, and the ministry of the church, and I felt that I needed, on behalf of all of us, to disassociate that -- to separate those two things and to say that his words and his actions were, in fact, antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.

KING: For our viewers around the country, and we have viewers around the world today, who might not understand St. John's and its role over the years, presidents have gone there way back Abraham Lincoln. But we have some video of President Obama, of President Bush, President Clinton, all going to St. John's as well.

Put the importance of this in terms of as the bishop of the Episcopal Church here in Washington, knowing you have this sacred church across the street from the White House, help put it in context for us.

BUDDE: Well, let me be clear that every church is a sacred church, and St. John's Lafayette Square has the distinction of being the neighborhood church for the White House. And as such, presidents have, from time to time, come there to worship, to worship God alongside their fellow citizens in humility and in generally calm decorum.

It has also been a chosen site for a prayer service, a private prayer service for the president and family members and Cabinet members on the day of the inauguration. So that is the role that it has played. It is no more or less sacred than any other church in this country. Its gift is its proximity and its offering to presidents as fellow believers to have a place of prayer and communion with other Christians.

KING: Help me understand how you viewed this from the church perspective when you have this president who very rarely goes to church. You have this president who just a couple Fridays ago came into the briefing room demanding governors open churches, then he did not try to go to church that weekend, he went golfing instead. To see the bible and to see one of your churches -- I'm sorry, I didn't say it quite right, altars of course are sacred, I didn't mean to say -- suggest one was more superior than the other.

BUDDE: No, I understand.

KING: But to see the United States essentially try to use your church as a political prop, what went through your head?

BUDDE: Exactly what you just said, that the president is using sacred symbols as photo opportunities for a different agenda and that that needed to be called out, and frankly, we needed to turn our attention yet again to the real suffering and the real agony that is facing our country right now. And so for a minute, I don't want to linger on the outrage of this act without turning our attention again to the real issues that we are facing as a country and the need we have for anyone in leadership to address our people with words of solace, with words of resolve, with words of hope.

If the president had come to pray, if the president had come to offer words of consolation to give people hope for a better day in this country, he would have been welcome. That's the message that we need to offer and proclaim as both political and religious leaders in our country right now.

KING: Bishop Budde, thank you so much for your insights and for your grace this morning.

BUDDE: Thank you so much.

KING: Thank you.

Still ahead for us, staggering losses in nursing homes across the country from the coronavirus.



KING: Let's turn to the coronavirus pandemic now, and as the country continues to reopen, we see a disturbing trend in new cases -- potentially disturbing anyway -- for a number of states. Let's take a look at the 50-state map here. Cases in 21 states, that's the orange and the red, 21 states going up. Seven, those are the beige states there, those cases there are holding steady. 22 states, that's the green, going in the right direction, meaning fewer cases this week than last week, going down.

Joining me now is Dr. Tim Inglesby -- I'm sorry. He's the director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Inglesby -- it is Tom, sorry. I was wrong there. Sorry.


KING: My apologies. It's one of those days. Dr. Inglesby, thank you so much for being with us. It was inevitable. We were told this repeatedly by all the experts as America reopens, the case count is going to go up.


But when you look, and we can just show you the top states reporting cases yesterday, Massachusetts, California, Illinois, New York and Texas, were the states with the most new cases yesterday. Again, we were told this was inevitable. As you watch this data, are you nervous? Is it a manageable number? Are there some states where you think we have a problem?

INGLESBY: I think we need to know a little bit more about the data in each state. We are doing much more diagnostic testing over time than we were before, so that will help us find mild and moderate cases and that will drive our numbers up somewhat. I think numbers like how many people are hospitalized, how many people are in ICU beds, and how many deaths have there been over time. Those are going to be even more concrete numbers to watch.

Of course, when a state's numbers are going up in new cases, we need to watch it really carefully, but it's -- we need to get a little bit more data to know whether there's actually a problem in the health care system or a problem with more people dying from the disease. KING: The Lancet Medical Journal in what it called the most

comprehensive study to date yesterday made clear and it said there should be no disputing that physical distancing and the use of a mask are the two most helpful things. As you know, the country is in a bit of a political debate over masks right now. Some people saying it's government overreach and they are unnecessary. Any doubt at all of the science?

INGLESBY: No, there's no doubt at all that this is something that we should all be doing. I think that Lancet paper helps further the evidence around it. I think it's especially important for people to be taking these measures now as states are beginning to reopen in different ways around the country. These are all things that we can do even with reopening happening. And, you know, even a little bit of distance, six feet of distance, is enough to demonstrably, to substantially lower your risk of getting infection or giving that infection to others.

And same with the mask. The main purpose of the mask is to prevent you from giving it to someone else, even if you don't feel sick, you might have the virus, we don't know it, and it may have some protection for you as well. So I think it's something we all should be doing. We see it around the world in countries that are having much better success than even the U.S. in controlling the virus. They're using masks and they're physically distancing.

KING: You mentioned earlier a very important point, that we should look at rate of hospitalizations, rate of infection, not just the case count. And so I want to go through this, but I just want to put the California cases in the past 14 days and you see the red line as the moving average it's moving up. South Carolina cases over the past 14 days, again the red line trending up a little bit.

So you are absolutely right to tell us don't focus just on these numbers. But in terms of lag time, what is it you look for? You know, as state reopens, then it accelerates the reopening, more people are back to work. Two weeks, three weeks, a month or two? What will it take for us to be able to say this was the impact of America's reopening on COVID-19 and whether or not it's manageable?

INGLESBY: I think it's probably going to be a few weeks. You might see the first patients -- let's say a change is made on a Sunday and that change led to a new case in some way. You might see that new case five or six days later start to get symptoms, and maybe if they're sick enough to be in a hospital, it might be another three, four, five days before they're hospitalized, so it could take time from that change for that to happen.

But I think small numbers of cases are hard to see in the overall background noise of what's going on. So to really see a big change, I think it probably will be weeks before we really notice a big change in numbers following a reopening change.

KING: I just want to tell our viewers what they're seeing. The president and the first lady on the right of your screen are visiting the St. John Paul II National Shrine, a wreath laying there in Washington, D.C.

Doctor, before I let you go, Tony Fauci, the president's top infectious disease expert, says he hasn't met with the president in two weeks. As a public health professional, he is the top guy in United States government. Does that trouble you?

INGLESBY: It sure does. Yes, I think Anthony Fauci has been incredibly important for the country in the last five months, and he gives very, very strong, good counsel. He's been doing this for a long time. He's counseled many White Houses through crises and I think his voice is very important, and it should be part of decision making. I also think the CDC should be part of that, Dr. Birx. They're really crucial voices to be heard as big decisions are being made.

KING: Dr. Tom Inglesby, very much appreciate your insights and expertise today, sir. Thank you.

INGLESBY: Thanks, John.

KING: Still ahead here, America in crisis. The New York mayor spoke just moments ago as protests in his city intensified.



KING: The curfew in New York City will begin earlier today. Officials there are hoping it will stop some of the widespread looting. You see some pictures there that they saw before 11:00 last night. We're now told about 700 people were arrested. Most of them in Manhattan. At least one police officer sergeant was struck in the hit-and-run. The mayor, Bill de Blasio, responding to the violence just last hour.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: A police officer was hit by a car yesterday. It appears to be quite purposeful. That's unacceptable. Police officers shot at, unacceptable. That does not move us forward. Anyone who does that is a criminal, not a protester. An attack on a police officer is an attack on all of us.


KING: CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is in New York for us. Tough words from the mayor there, Shimon.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It is tough words, John. And of course we had this curfew, right, that they set up for 11:00 yesterday, but most of the violence, all of the looting really started hours before. And so you have to ask yourselves why do they set the curfew to 11:00 p.m.


It seemed a little too late. Today, of course, the mayor coming out saying, well, we're going to now move it earlier to 8:00. The looting, I was out there. The looting started around 7:00. And you have to wonder if the looters knew that this curfew was coming and so they needed to hit hours before. Of course the big question on everyone's mind here in New York City is, how does this stop? And do the police need more resources and here's the mayor talking about this just a few minutes ago.


DE BLASIO: The vast majority are doing their job, doing it well, doing it with restraint, because they have been trained incessantly to act with restraint. The National Guard, a member of the guard called up from any part of this state doesn't have that particular training, doesn't know our environment, but is carrying a loaded weapon. That is a bad scenario.

I want to just put down the marker. The National Guard should not be brought here.


PROKUPECZ: There are a lot of police officers here that were on the streets last night here, John. And it's not that they were overwhelmed, but it was just pure chaos all over the city. And so that's a lot of what we saw last night.

KING: The governor just moments ago, the Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying he's outraged by what happened.

Shimon Prokupecz, we'll see what happens tonight with the earlier implementation of the curfew. Shimon, thank you.

Coming up for us, why Louisville's mayor fired the city's police chief after a local business owner was fatally shot.


KING: The mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, firing his police chief. That because of the police shooting of a black business owner. The firing came after it was revealed that Louisville police officers involved had not turned on their body cameras. The mayor called it a, quote, "institutional failure." David McAtee was shot as police and the National Guard attempted to clear protesters overnight Sunday. That shooting now under both state and federal investigation.

Hello, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John --