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Police Responsible for George Floyd's Death Appears in Court; Thousands Gather for Floyd's Funeral; Hong Kong Defies Rule to Commemorate Tiananmen Square Crackdown; President Trump Overreaction in Riots; Day 10 Of Protest Remains Largely Peaceful; First Of Several Memorials For George Floyd Held Thursday; Minneapolis Mayor Seen Sobbing At Floyd's Memorial Service; America In Crisis, Protesters Across The United States Demand Social Justice; Black Americans Hit Hard By Coronavirus, Unemployment; Arbery's Shooter Used Racial Epithet; Center For Disease Control Director Under Fire; Coronavirus Pandemic; NBA Plans To Restart Season July 31; Iran Frees Navy Veteran In Deal With United States; Iranian Medical Doctor Released By U.S.; Families Concerned About Americans Jailed In Iran; Vladimir Putin Approves State Of Emergency Over Fuel Spill; Emergency In Norilsk Area After Fuel Poured Into Arctic River. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. This is CNN Newsroom.

After 10 days of nationwide protests and anger, over the death of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, many cities are now lifting curfews which have been put in place for days after some demonstrations turned violent.

Officials say gatherings remain peaceful, there will be no need for any restrictions. And on Thursday, most protests were just that. Today also saw the first of several memorials for George Floyd. Hundreds of community leaders, activists, and celebrities joins friends, and family members in Minneapolis to honor his life. Also, to demand justice for his death.

At a service, those closest to Floyd shared memories of the man they called brother, cousin and friend.

Sara Sidner has that, along with the rest of the day's developments.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the memorial in Minneapolis, George Floyd's family took time to mourn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: It's amazing to me that he touched so many people's hearts. He had been touching our hearts. Everybody wanted justice, we want justice for George. He's going to get it. He's going to get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: Historic national demonstrations in Floyd's name are now well into their 10th day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country, and in every area of American life. It is time for us to stand up in George's name, and say, get your knee off of our next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: Less than a mile from the family memorial, National Guard troops stood watch as three former police officers charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd's death made their first court appearance. All three were granted one-million-dollar bail, or $750,000 with conditions.

A potential key witness, the passenger in Floyd's car, that fatal afternoon, said his friend did not resist arrest, telling the New York Times, Floyd was from the beginning trying in his humblest form to show he was not resisting. I could hear him pleading, please officer, what's this all for?

Minneapolis police have released 235 pages of highly redacted personnel records for the four officers involved in Floyd's arrest. They show Derek Chauvin, the officer now charged with second-degree murder had at least 17 previous misconduct complaints with the department. He was given a notice of suspension and was also reprimanded for removing a woman from her car in 2007.

Alexander Kueng had been an officer less than ix months at the time of Floyd's death. Prior to joining law enforcement, the four men held a variety of jobs including working at McDonald's, Target, Home Depot, and service in the United States Army. They now face between 10 and 40 years in prison if convicted in Floyd's killing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Psalms 27, the Lord is my light and my salvation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: Following the memorial service, Reverend Jesse Jackson paid a visit to the site where Floyd died.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Law must change for George's name.

SIDNER: What do you think about how President Trump has handled the situation? JACKSON: We don't need sedition, not polarization, we need healing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: Reverend Jackson made very clear that protesting is a good way to start, but to get real change, it has to be policy change. He says, voting will help that happen.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.

VAUSE: At this point, we'd like to welcome our viewers who are joining us from the United States. It's now been 11 days since George Floyd was killed, now all four police officers involved in his death have been charged. Three appeared in the Minneapolis courtroom on Thursday, formally charged with aiding and abetting second-degree felony murder.

The officer who pinned Floyd's neck to the pavement was not in court. He has been charged with second-degree felony murder upgraded from third- degree felony murder.

In a day since Floyd has died protests have erupted around the world. New chain-link security fences and barricades are now surrounding the White House, keeping protesters, reporters, and everyone else blocks away.

CNN law enforcement analyst and former chief of police for Washington, D.C., Charles Ramsey joins us this hour from Philadelphia. Mr. Ramsey, thank you for taking the time.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's quite all right.

VAUSE: I want to start off where Sara left off in that package with that chokehold. So, essentially, two types. There's a stranglehold, which stops the blood flow to the brain, the person passes out but continues to breathe, and the other is an outright chokehold, which applies pressure to the windpipe, which restricts breathing, which is how George Floyd died.

[03:05:04]

And according to Floyd's friend who is in the car at the time, when they were stop by police it doesn't sound like a chokehold was necessary. Here he is. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAURICE LESTER HALL, PASSENGER IN FLOYD'S SUV: Those two cops, I don't know, they were intimidated maybe? I don't know what they were thinking at the time. But George, he was as peaceful in form. He retreated to his knees saying hey, man, and so many words. I don't -- I've been hurt, I've been hurt, officer, please, officers. In other words, like, why are you all detaining us and using such force right now?

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: So, some departments like Minneapolis they allow chokehold, others the stranglehold, some don't allow either. Is this an area where the federal government should intervene, have legislation, one national standard, or just simply an outright ban?

RAMSEY: Well, as far as I am concerned, it shouldn't be in existence right now. Most apartments got rid of the chokehold years ago, if not decades ago. Minneapolis still has it, apparently, but what you saw applied there wasn't even a chokehold.

I mean, the knee to the neck is -- I don't know of a single police department the trains that it's OK to put your knee on someone's neck like that on their windpipe. That is totally out of policy and should never have taken place.

VAUSE: The United States is unique and that it has 18,000 different police departments around the country. And with that comes with more than 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers. That's a huge number. Yet, there is no national standard or a statewide standard, saying for training and for selection, you know. Plainly they said only those with the most impeccable character are chosen to have the responsibility of protecting the democracy. Is that what's happening right now across the U.S.?

RAMSEY: Well, you know, as far as the national standards go, I'm not opposed to it. I just don't know how it would be implemented, depending on what you mean by national standards.

For example, if there were certain basic trainings that were required in order to be certified as a police officer, in other words, some kind of accreditation that would be required, that would make sense. But every state has a police officer standard and training board, established, and they pretty much determine which training is required in that state for their police officers.

And it varies from state to state because laws vary from state to state. So, it needs to be discussed, I'm not opposed to it. But the question, is what would it look like and how it would be implemented? But we have to do something. You mentioned 18,000 police departments, that's far too many. Far too many.

There needs to be mergers, regionalization of police departments, 18,000 police departments there's no way you are going to get any kind of standardization at all. It's just far too large a number.

VAUSE: Yes. During the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri after the police shooting of Michael Brown, there was a lot of focus on police firepower, though armed, in some cases, like national armies because for years there was a transfer of surplus of military equipment to local law enforcement.

But as the New York Times reported, President Barack Obama put limits on the program in 2015, and several high-profile cases of police officers killing black men inflame tensions between law enforcement and local communities. Well, fast forward, two years, and naturally, Trump to fully restore

military surplus transfers to police. Are the executive order he signed was described as a policy shift towards ensuring officers have the tools they need to reduce crime and keep their communities safe?

You know, it seems like this debate was over back in 2014, so let me ask you again, why do police need those armored vehicles and personnel carriers? And you know, what would be described as weapons of war to deal with communities?

RAMSEY: Well, it's not to deal with communities, but it's to deal with certain situations should you be confronted with a person who is barricaded, for example, heavily armed. You take, for example, the situation in Las Vegas where you had a sniper that killed 58 people and wounded many, many more than that.

Police officers respond to a variety of calls that require a variety of different types of equipment in order to be effective. The issue for me is making sure you have policy in place that really covers when it's appropriate to deploy those kinds of assets.

For the average or a typical protest, no. You don't do that. You don't need it to be patrolling in the streets of the city at all. These are specialized situations would be the only time you would need it.

So, to totally have nothing at your disposal I think is a mistake. But then again, to have it and then misuse it is a mistake as well.

[03:10:00]

So, it needs to be regulated through policy, very tightly, and they ought to be some restrictions on the kinds of military equipment that police departments can get their hands on.

VAUSE: It does seem that, you know, when you see an (Inaudible) rolling down the street next to a protest it does sort of, raise tensions.

I want to bring up though with what's happening in Washington. Because it appears that Donald Trump will finally get his big, beautiful wall, but it's being built around the White House. It's surrounded by troops and those troops have no insignia, no badges, no identification.

And the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, wants to know why. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This militarization and this proliferation of different groups coming into the capital city, the capital city of our country, some without identification, others without justification, what is the mission, who's in charge, and what is the chain of command? We expect an answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Is there a plausible explanation first for the unidentified and unidentifiable troop? And my other question is, are you concern this new security barrier around the people's house, the White House, will become permanent in some form like other fences have over the years?

RAMSEY: I think the president is overreacting. I think it's inappropriate to have that kind of presence in Washington. I serve as police chief there for nine years. We had from 9/11, the Iraq war protests, we had IMF World Bank protests, some of which got really pretty dicey on occasion, we never had to resort to that sort of thing.

I can recall a couple of occasions when we had the National Guard on standby, but they never really had to be deployed at all. What I see going on now in Washington is something that concerns me greatly. Not only have they brought in military, they are bringing in federal law enforcement from around the country.

They had correction -- corrections officers from Texas in Washington. For what? I mean, there is absolutely nothing going on there that requires that number of personnel, let alone military. I think it sends a terrible message. I think it's not necessary. I have absolutely no idea what he's -- what he's thinking but this is coming right of the White House.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. is the city police. They are not involved in this. These are federal police and military that he's calling up to protect the White House that I think is a huge, huge overreaction.

I agree with Nancy Pelosi.

VAUSE: Yes.

RAMSEY: It just makes no sense.

VAUSE: Yes. Who is in charge? Who is calling the shots? What is the chain of command? No, no. It's been -- yes, it's one of those things that a lot of question and not a lot of answers right now.

But, Chief Ramsey, thanks so much. Good to see you.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

VAUSE: In a very Trumpian way the president seems to be labeling peaceful protesters forced from outside the White House on Monday as terrorists. He's done this by publicly sharing a letter from his former lawyer, John Dowd, who argue about evidence of the demonstration -- the demonstrations were phony and the people there were terrorist.

Regardless, tear gas and flash bangs were used to force them to clear the area so President Trump could walk to a nearby church and hold a bible upside down for a photo-op. All of that has provoked anger and disgust among former U.S. military leaders including Trump's first Defense Secretary James Mattis and retired Marine Corps General John Allen, former commander of NATO's international security assistance force is also speaking out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ALLEN, RETIRED U.S. MARINE CORPS GENERAL: So, as I watched this speech in the Rose Garden, and as I -- you could actually hear the flash bangs going off in the background, then watch with horror, frankly, as those young Americans who are gathering simply to exercise their First Amendment rights, protesting massive social injustice in this country, sought to make a positive change were being driven down the street by riot police with riot truncheons, tear gas, flash bangs, were being driven down the street just to clear a path so that we could have a photo-op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church.

That is what happens in authoritarian regimes. That is what happens in a liberal regime. It doesn't happen in the United States. And we shouldn't tolerate it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Well, up next, justice for George. A demand coming in many different languages. Activists around the world demand racial equality everywhere.

Also, banned public gatherings to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown were not allowed in Hong Kong this year. Still, thousands gathered, and we'll explain the message they are sending to Beijing.

[03:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No peace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The cry now understood and heard not just in the United States but around the world. These scenes from a Mexico City protest in solidarity with U.S. anti-racism demonstrations.

And Australia's capital Canberra, people marched and chanted 'black lives matter.' Europeans also standing up. George Floyd's killing has been a trigger for activist around the world to highlight inequality in their own backyards.

CNN's Melissa Bell watching all of these events from Paris where activists have been demanding justice for a case, they say is similar to that of George Floyd. So, Melissa, what are we expecting today?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have seen over the course of this last week really, the remarkable resilience of this movement that keeps popping up in a sustained way in various locations as these countries look on at what's happening in the United States with a real nerve struck over on the side of the Atlantic as well.

[03:19:57]

I would just say, Tuesday night in Paris, it was all about Adam Traore. That happened again last night in Lilas, the north of France, 2,000 gathered in his name, the young man who was killed shortly after being taken in police custody. He had tried to flee a police identity check and was killed shortly after they arrested him.

And of course, what is that in dispute is whether, as the police -- the gendarmes lawyer say it was underlying medical conditions that cause his death, or as his family claims, the violence with which he was arrested.

So, that question still in contention here in France and still the focus of those protests. But also, in those protests, that sign, those signs, black lives matter, really you see many people inspired by what's been happening in the United States.

In London, of course, yesterday as well, another protest in the name of black lives matter, this time outside Dominic Cummings house, the embattled Downing Street advisor. Also, protests in Barcelona, a candlelight vigil, John, last night was held there. And in Warsaw outside the American embassy people gathered yesterday, again, with those same banners. No justice, no peace.

VAUSE: Melissa, thank you. Melissa Bell there reporting for us in Paris.

Well, for the first time, commemorations in Hong Kong for the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square have been banned officially it's because of the coronavirus. Still, thousands gathered anyway on football field. Shining slogans for greater democracy in Hong Kong.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live for us this hour. This is kind of a tricky one, isn't it? Because there is the coronavirus, but, you know, Hong Kong has been the one place where after 30 years where they have marked the massacre in Beijing of Tiananmen Square with a vigil and thousands have turned out year after year.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And yesterday, what happened last night represented a significant turning point for Hong Kong where we saw thousands of protesters defy a police ban to turn out and mark and commemorate 31 years since the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

They went to Victoria Park here in Hong Kong, they pulled down the barriers, they held lit candles, they sing songs, pro- democracy songs that was sang by protesters in Beijing in 1989. It was a moving display of public mourning, it was a protest for greater democracy that took on an added meaning because of the looming national security laws which will ban sedition, succession, foreign interference, and terrorism here in the territory.

Last night, we also saw a number of high- profile pro-democracy figures and icons including Albert Ho who spoke to CNN's Ivan Watson. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALBERT HO, FORMER HONG KONG LAWMAKER: There is no room for optimism, but I would say that we will always maintain a positive attitude. You know, always with hope and continue with a determination courage to fight. I think that is important. If we give up there would be -- we are bound to be a loser. But if we continue to fight with hope, you know, there is always a chance that we will be able to achieve what we have been aiming at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Former chairman of the Democratic Party, Albert Ho speaking to CNN last night at the Tiananmen vigil. Something else that we did notice that we had not seen at previous vigils here in Hong Kong where the growing calls for independence. There are a quite a number of protesters bearing slogans, banners, and signs saying liberate Hong Kong, independence for Hong Kong, independence is the only way out.

But previously, this localist or pro-independence movement was considered a fringe movement here in Hong Kong. But the calls for independence have been growing louder, the movement has been gaining a lot of momentum in the last year, and belief in the independence for Hong Kong is becoming increasingly dangerous because Hong Kong is changing.

Right now, Beijing is hashing out the details of the new national security law. The government in Beijing, as well as the government here in Hong Kong believe it's necessary to fill a security loophole, as well as to prevent the scenes of arrests that we saw last year during protests.

Chinese officials say that those scenes of protest, that that call for independence is a direct threat to China's sovereignty. John?

VAUSE: It's interesting how, you know, Xi Jinping has tightened his grip on Hong Kong and we are just seeing fuel this demand for independence in a way. But also fueling this demand for independence in a smaller way, I guess, is this national anthem bill which has been passed, I guess, by the legislation there, which, you know, essentially it criminalizes anyone disrespecting China's national anthem.

LU STOUT: This is another significant event that took place yesterday on June 4th, lawmakers and the legislator here in Hong Kong voted to pass the controversial national anthem law which would criminalize the mocking or the insulting of China's national anthem punishable with jail time up to three years. And we had seen scuffles in the LegCo, clashes, people screaming at

each other, even the use of stink bombs, you know, to try to get in the way of this legislative process and eventually pass. We know that people here in Hong Kong at football games have openly booed China's national anthem, but with the passage of this bill now law such action would be a crime. John?

VAUSE: Yes. Someone needs to lighten up in Beijing. Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout live for us in Hong Kong.

[03:25:02]

We'll take a short break. When we come back, George Floyd's life was honored on Thursday in a memorial service, and that is the first of many which will be held in the coming days. Details in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Just coming to 3.30 on Friday morning. Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom.

[03:29:59]

The latest now on our breaking news. Another day of peaceful protests is expected in cities across the U.S. There were some tense moments here in Atlanta, but it ended when demonstrators and police actually held talks and negotiated. The city's Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, told protesters there is something better on the other side of all of this.

In Washington, crowds gathered near the White House, and the U.S. Capital. Early in the day, new barricades, and security fencing was erected around the White House.

George Floyd will most likely be remembered, not for how he lived, but rather for how he died. But in Minneapolis, on Thursday, they gathered to honor him, and his life. The first of many memorials in the coming days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(WOMAN SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Family and friends joined with community leaders, celebrities, public figures, and the president had a big impact on Floyd's death. Among the mourners Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Fray, pray Clutch Floyd's casket while he kneeled before it. And see the mayor's shoulder shaking as he sobs.

The service stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, the same amount of time an officer knelt on Floyd's neck, ending his life. Reverend Al Sharpton noted that the cruel manner of Floyd's death had become a rallying cry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country, and education, in health services, and in every area of American life. It is time for us to stand up in George name, and say, get your knee off of our next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Peniel Joseph, is a professor of history at the University of Texas, author of The sword and the shield, and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School, also, at the University of Texas. And he joins us now from Austin. Professor Joseph, thank you for taking your time.

PENIEL JOSEPH, HISTORY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND DEMOCRACY, LBJ SCHOOL: Thank you for having me, John.

VAUSE: There's been a lot of talk that after George Floyd's death, that somehow we have reached a tipping point in this country, and that it will be different this time. And it is different, I wonder, if it's because of simple facts like the pandemic. People being stuck at home, they are being forced to watch the news, had to see that video, the almost nine minutes he was pinned to the sidewalk.

And you know, and before there was Floyd, there is Brianna Taylor, who is shot and killed in Louisville, and there's a story out of Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery, he was shot while jogging, while black. So there has been a string of these events, people are being forced to watch it and sort of made aware of what is going on.

JOSEPH: Yes. I think there are a few different things happening, John. It is a crisis that is connected to long-standing history of racism and white supremacy in the United States. Certainly, for covid, the combination of the covid-19 pandemic, and the racial disparities that hit the African American community, being diagnosed at higher rates, dying at higher rates, being more vulnerable as public facing employees, but, also in nursing homes, being more likely to have been furloughed, and unemployed, and combined with mass unemployment, 40 million Americans out of work, and then, combined with the George Floyd, really, public execution, on May 26th.

And then, the really outpouring of grief and anger, would also resolve, that we see nationally, and not just along African Americans, but among large numbers of whites, and Latin X, and Asian, and indigenous people. So, this is the largest really peaceful mass demonstrations for racial justice that are multiracial in character that we really had ever seen. And I think that's why many people feel it's going to be different this time.

VAUSE: And President Obama seemed to, you know, talk about that when he was talking the other day, at his foundation, my brother's keeper. And he said the course of the dynamics of the makeup of the protests, the people who actually taking part, he said it was a real reason for optimism. Here is, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know enough about that history to say that there is something different here. If you look at those protests, and that was a far more representative cross section of America out on the streets, peacefully protesting. And, who felt moved to do something, because of the injustices they have seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Now, he is making the comparison to 1968 in the Louisville race riots in the 60s, one is mostly black people out there protesting against the injustice, and how things have changed. So, is this now, I guess, something which can be sustained over a period of time, and what is the goal, what is the outcome?

JOSEPH: Well, I think that we have a generational opportunity to transform American democracy, into and institutional racism to defeat weight supremacy. I think that the end goal is really anti-racism and anti-racist policies. Policies that pursue racial justice, not just in the criminal justice system, but the criminal justice system is a gateway to panoramic systems of racial, and economic oppression, and exclusion.

[03:35:08]

And so, we have already seen it happen, John. In L.A., the mayor has announced that $100 to $150 million that was scheduled for the police budget is going to go into communities of color, and disadvantaged communities. The city of Austin is looking to do the same thing. Other different cities, and city councils, at the local level.

And I think, states are going to be doing this at the state level, and are looking to redirect money to write size their police departments, and use the extra money to invest in everything from early childcare, to invest in deep incarceration, to invest in desegregation of both neighborhoods and public schools.

To invest and provide incentives that are not about tax rates, but are about racial integration, when we think about gentrification, and revitalizing cities. So, there is a whole lot of policies that need to be changed, and there is a whole lot of new policies that need to be implemented.

VAUSE: Peniel, thank you so much. It was good to speak with you. It's a good point to finish off on and good luck with everything. Thank you for being with us.

JOSEPH: Thank you.

VAUSE: There is also the case of Ahmed Arbery who was shot dead jogging in the Georgia neighborhood. In charge of his murder appear via a video conference (inaudible) rather in court. When the lead investigator testified that after Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery, he called him the n-word. Chances are, those words were the last he heard. Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper, spoke about that a little earlier on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANDA COOPER, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: It was very heartbreaking. I often imagine the last minutes of my son's life, and I didn't imagine it would be that harsh, but to learn that that statement was made in the last seconds of his life, again, it was very heartbreaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Now the family's attorney call the killing an intentional act motivated by hate.

The Director of the CDC is facing some tough questions about the response to the coronavirus pandemic, but his own past is also coming under scrutiny. Details on that, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:40:00]

VAUSE: Two medical journals have retracted their studies on treatments for covid-19. One of the studies, published in the Lancet, found patients treated with the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die. Both studies relied on data from an analytics company which orders this were unable to verify.

On Thursday the Director of The Center for Disease Control was grilled on Capitol Hill over the agency's response to the pandemic. There's a big focus on faulty tests kits which caused the country valuable time in finding the virus, as Kristen Holmes reports, this is not the first time the CDC chief has come under fire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After months of near silence, during the global coronavirus pandemic, the head of America's top health agency finally speaking out.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL: As you know, we have now done over 17 million tests.

HOLMES: CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield testified before Congress today, defending his agency, which was criticized for faulty covid tests in the early days of the outbreak. As the virus spread unchecked, across the country.

REDFIELD: The CDC developed within 10 days, a test from the time of sequence was published and that test is not a flawed test, it works perfectly.

HOLMES: The coronavirus pandemic isn't the first time Redfield has been embroiled in a controversy during a national health crisis. In 1992, the height of the aids epidemic in America, the then army doctor, and top aides researcher, was involved in another scandal. Redfield presented findings from a study he was doing on a vaccine

treatment for HIV at a prestigious HIV conference. Dozens of interviews and internal documents obtained and reviewed by CNN, revealed fellow researchers accused Redfield of scientific misconduct. Claiming he oversold the data, and cherry picked the results.

Multiple officials attempted to rerun his numbers, but failed to replicate the same results he had. In internal military memo calling for an investigation, shows that Redfield continued to publicly tout the data, despite assurances, in private meetings, that he understood his past presentations to be an error, and that he would refrain from repeating that error.

After a month's long investigation, the army did not charge Redfield with scientific misconduct, but the then lieutenant colonel, was found in violation of army code for his relationship with the conservative aid organization run by evangelist Shepard Smith. Redfield served on the group scientific advisory board.

The army determines dismiss organization receive information from Redfield, and his lab to a degree that is inappropriate, and that the group appeared to be an outlet for marketing Lieutenant Colonel Redfield research. The allegations hung over Redfield until his retirement from the army in 1996, years before, ending up on the short list to become President Trump's CDC Director.

REDFIELD: Thank you mister president.

HOLMES: Several former collaborators told CNN, they did not think Redfield was a good fit for the job. Now, amidst the covid pandemic, some CDC officials described a deep frustration with Redfield, blaming him for the sidelining of the agency, and not doing more to advocate on its behalf.

One doctor, who retired from the CDC in 2019, said that under Redfield, the agency had been handicapped, and lamented, that Redfield is not as visible as some of his predecessors.

[03:45:10]

Quote, from the outside, we do not see him, we do not hear, him he often does not even come to the White House press conference. And when he does, it is usually as wallpaper, silent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thanks to CNN Kristen Holmes for that report. Well, basketball could be back, but not as we know it. The NBA hopes to restart its covid canceled season on July 31st with 22 of the least 30 teams involved. The players union, now needs to approve the plan. The season is contingent on a deal with the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida, which would house all NBA teams, staff, and relatives, I guess while they play.

Well, Iran has released a U.S. Navy veteran who has been detained for more than a year. Michael White travel to Iran in 2018, he says he was visiting his girlfriend, but was arrested, sentenced to 13 years in prison for insulting around supreme leader, as well as posting private information online. Details now from CNN Kylie Atwood reporting in from the State Department.

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KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Michael White, an American citizen, and U.S. Navy veteran, was released from Iran on Thursday. His mother came out, and said that she had been living a nightmare for 683 days. He had been detained in Iran for almost two years. And she was thankful that that nightmare was coming to a close.

Now, President Trump put out a tweet touting, and celebrating, the release of Michael White, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put out a statement saying that the U.S. was looking forward to Michael White reuniting with his family, and also celebrated Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran at the State Department, who facilitated this release, as well as the Swiss government, because they represent the U.S. diplomatic interest in Iran, given that the U.S. and Iran do not have diplomatic relations.

Now, we should also note that today, that there was an Iranian American doctor who had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran, who was also released as part of this deal, a U.S. official tells us. And the other important thing to consider here is that there are also other Americans who are still detained in Iran.

This is a great day for Michael White, and his family, but there are other Americans who are watching, their families here in the U.S., and they are really concerned. This is an extremely hard day for them, because their loved ones are still being wrongfully detained. Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.

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VAUSE: Up next, a state health emergency inside the Arctic Circle, an oil spill wreaking environmental havoc, and a Russian president on a rant, directed at local officials.

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VAUSE: A state of emergency has been declared in Russia's far north, after a major oil spill. Investigators say 20,000 tons of fuel leaked into an arctic river after technical problems at a power station. The Russian president has blasted local officials who took two days to find out it actually happened, and then they only learn details about the spill from social media.

A cleanup is now underway, but environmentalists say, it will take the river decades to recover. For more on this, CNN senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, who is in Moscow, (inaudible) this hour from London. So, Matthew, what are the factors here that could make this a decade's long cleanup event? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think just

the fact that it is so much diesel fuel that has been spilled. Something like 20,000 tons has seeped into the earth around the fuel container that ruptured. And a vast majority of that has gone into a local river system, which feeds a lake, and so, it provides contamination for the flora and fauna, of that entire area.

We are talking about an area which is inside the arctic, and so it's very difficult to access. For instance, there are no roads getting there. So it makes the clear up operation all the more difficult. In terms of, you know, what this was caused by, the company is -- there is an investigation going in a way, of course, but the company has suggested it could had been environmental factors that led to the rupture of this massive fuel tank.

In a sense, the permafrost stuck in that part of the world has been melting because of climate change, and that led to a sort of catastrophic failure of the structure around the tank. Now, there are investigations underway to determine, you know, exactly who is responsible. I understand one person at this stage has been detained, and could face charges, and more people could face arrest as well, as authorities try to get to the bottom of this.

But it is that other issue, I think that is most interesting, the fact that it took a couple of days before the local authorities found out that this catastrophe had taken place. They only found out about it because of social media. Vladimir Putin, absolutely furious about that. But I think it gives us a bit of insight into the kind of country Russia is.

The fact that, you know, people are reluctant to tell their superiors about bad news. They're worried about the consequences for them, and their preference to be is to cover it up, obviously, in this, case the situation is so dire, covering it up is not an option, John.

VAUSE: This doesn't just happen in Russia, it does sounds a little bit familiar. But Matthew, in terms of immediate cleanup, what are we looking at here, and actually getting this under control? I mean, are they at that point yet?

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CHANCE: Yes, they are, of course. They have got people on the ground, they set up booms inside the lake in the region, which is, you know, as they say inside the arctic near town -- near a city called Norilsk which is in itself actually one of the most polluted places in the world.

They're trying to get extra resources in there, but as I mentioned, there are no roads to go into this pollution site. And so it is only sort of all-terrain vehicles that can get there or helicopters and so it makes the actual, you know, practicalities of getting people and equipment to that site to carry out the cleanup much more difficult than it would be than it would be another -- in other locations.

VAUSE: Yes. The logistics sound like an absolute nightmare, combined with the weather, and also having Vladimir Putin breathing down your neck, obviously, not a good combination. Matthew, thank you, Matthew Chance for us out there in London with the latest, I appreciate it. Thank you,

Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom, I'm John Vause, please stay with us, because yes, I will be back. For international viewers, it is my third hour. For our domestic ones in the U.S., it's my second. See you in a minute.

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