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New York Begins Phase One Of Reopening Today; CNN Poll: Trump Approval At 38 Percent, Worst Since January 2019; Minneapolis City Council Announces Intent To Dismantle Police Dept. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: First phase of reopening today, a huge step for the city that was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Here is what Mayor Bill de Blasio said about this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NY: This is a triumphant moment for New Yorkers who fought back against this disease. This was the epicenter. And folks did the hard work. They sheltered in place. They did the social distancing, the face coverings, and goddess to this day. So my message, John, is stick to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But now, 100 days to the day after the first confirmed coronavirus case in New York, it's still going to be a slower turn. Today, nonessential workers and construction and manufacturing will be allowed back to work. Retail stores will be allowed to reopen for curbside service or in store pickup.

Joining me right now is Mark Levine. He's New York City Councilman. He's also the chair of the Council's Health Committee, importantly here. Thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it. It is today a day to celebrate?

MARK LEVINE, CHAIR, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL HEALTH COMMITTEE: This is an important step forward. It's an incremental step on our road back to reopening the economy. But I want to emphasize that while New Yorkers might be ready to be done with this pandemic, the pandemic has not done with us yet.

We're still averaging about 500 cases per day of newly diagnosed New Yorkers with COVID-19. The virus is still here, it's still circulating. And we still have to take precautions. We want New Yorkers to understand that this step forward is being done cautiously. And now we're going to continue to watch the health numbers like a hawk, and that further openings can only happen if we continue to make progress in beating back the spread of this virus.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Governor Cuomo made very clear today that he -- there is going to be a special focus. They will be keeping your eye very closely on New York City to see any spikes in the data going forward. What is your biggest concern then as the city now makes these moves. I mean, I know you have been very outspoken about the talk of possible outbreaks from protest gatherings.

LEVINE: Look, we have a massive case of quarantine fatigue in this city. The weather's getting warmer. Folks have been protesting right that I strongly support because of the stakes in the fight against systemic racism and policing and society at large.

Our job as public health leaders is to help people understand the risk and do what they can to limit it. And we do understand that open air environments are less risky than indoors. We do understand that wearing a mask does provide protection. But we don't want people to entirely let their guard down.

We need more people going in for testing. That's the way we're going to track this. And we started contact tracing in New York. Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of New Yorkers know that. But we need people to answer the call if they get a positive test. Talk to the contact tracer. You have to recount who you've been in touch with.

This is the kind of important health infrastructure we need in place to protect us. As we reopen, while we still have again 500 new cases diagnosed every single day.

BOLDUAN: As this is all happening, there is also this important conversation going on about policing in America. And New York City is front and center and part of this as well. Minneapolis, we're hearing from council members there are moving to defund their police department. You spoken out about cutting the NYPD's $6 billion budget, what do you want to do with the money?

LEVINE: Look, there's going to have to be dramatic change in policing in New York City because of years and decades of police brutality and, frankly, because of unacceptable and reprehensible practices in the last 10 days, that have been overly aggressive and at times violent to peaceful protesters.

And that is going to have to include moving money out of the NYPD where it's desperately needed into youth programs, health programs, affordable housing. We're going to have to take money out of the NYPD for the good of this city, and ultimately to make us safer by investing in young people and health and the other things that we need to be a healthy society here in New York.

BOLDUAN: A whole new -- you know, maybe not a new conversation, but an important conversation about what public safety actually looks like and should look like now. Mark, thank you for coming on, appreciate your time.

LEVINE: Thank you, Kate. You're welcome.

[12:34:34]

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, President Trump, he's looking at slumping approval rating right now as the country deals with -- deal -- is dealing with kind of boiling over with race boiling -- dealing with a boiling point over race relations and the coronavirus. What a new CNN poll is finding, next.

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BOLDUAN: A new CNN poll out this morning shows the President's approval rating is dropping just one month down seven points, 38 percent of Americans saying that they approve at the job that Trump's doing overall, right now 57 percent disapproving.

And when it comes to race relations in this country at the moment, a clear majority, as you can see a clear majority saying that they disapprove of how Trump is handling the issue.

Let me get to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She's joining me now with much more. There's a lot in these numbers that are -- that I think are important. And you know that the President, Kaitlan, and his team, they watch the polls very closely and what are they seeing here?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And they just met on Thursday in the Oval Office with the President to discuss their own numbers where the President -- they show that Biden is beating the President in some key states that he's going to need in November.

[12:40:03]

So this is not going to be a welcome poll for them. We know the President is already pushing back on it. You know, he once said any negative polls he believes are fake news. And this morning, he's criticizing the poll saying that the media does not cover it enough of the positive aspects of his administration. And he believes that's part of these poll numbers.

But if you look at this, you know, it's not just his approval rating is down 7 percent -- or seven points, and then he's behind Biden by 14 points. But also, that one number that really stuck out to me was 65 percent of people, Kate, say that they believe the way that the President has handled the outrage and the unrest over George Floyd's death has done more harm than good.

That is, of course, not what the White House is going for. But that is what you see is the result of when the President comes out like he did last Monday. He has the blowback that he faced over the photo op in front of St. John's Church. And these are not the numbers that they are hoping to have going into November of course, because they know they also want the President not just to maintain his base, but also to go after those independent voters as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes, 26 percent of those polled saying that how the President has reacted has been helpful. Only 26 percent --

COLLINS: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- in his first response to this. And that goes to, that is I think is an important context to the new reporting that there is this mounting pressure for the President to formally address the nation on race on unity this week. Honestly, what is the likelihood that that is going to happen? And what are you hearing?

COLLINS: It's unclear. We know that last week when the President came out to the Rose Garden, he made that address where he was condemning the rioting that's been happening. Several advisors had been coming to him and saying that if you don't do something to quell the violence that's happening across the nation, you're going to lose in November.

It was a pretty blunt message. It kind of shook the President a little bit. And that played a role in his response that we saw come after that where he wanted to be portrayed, as you know, being the law and order candidate. But now other aides were also saying, you know, you really need to talk about why these people are protesting and address that and do something to bring them together.

That's still an appeal that's being made into the White House after, of course, the backlash of what happened. It's unclear ultimately, if that will happen. And if the President does make this message at this point, you know, do people buy it? How do people respond to that?

Because, of course, the President has before, you know, said something on teleprompter, and then whenever he starts taking questions from reporters, you see a pretty different response.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And just look at the last three years for that. Kaitlan, thanks, really appreciate it.

As Texas reopens, coronavirus cases in Dallas are on the rise. Could the city be facing a possible spike, a second wave? Mayor of Dallas joins us next.

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[12:47:16]

BOLDUAN: In Dallas, a sudden rise and coronavirus cases that some medical experts and government leaders concerned about what this means, a possible second wave over the last week. Dallas County reported a series of record high daily cases of COVID-19.

Joining me right now is the Mayor of Dallas, Eric Johnson. Mayor, thank you for being here. So you have these cases taking up in Dallas County. What is behind it?

MAYOR ERIC JOHNSON (D), DALLAS, TX: I think it could be a lag in the data and what we're seeing from decisions that were made a few weeks ago to start reopening our economy. I think no matter where you stood on whether we should or shouldn't and how we should reopen our economy, I think everyone understood that once people started going out more, once you start being able to go to bars again, once you start being able to go to gyms again, once you start being able to do all those things, people are going to start interacting more, and you were going to have the possibility of more spread of the disease.

So I think what we're seeing now is possibly just a lag in the data in terms of the decisions that were made a few weeks ago. BOLDUAN: So Mayor, do you think, do you think you reopen too soon? Do you -- where are you on this? Because the question is, if it's a lag in the data, do you have your arms around it now, so two weeks from now, it's going to show that you've been able to contact trace, you've been able to test, you've been able to track down those to quarantine and isolate, all of the kind of systems in place that everyone said that when you reopen you need to be ready?

JOHNSON: My job is not to second guess the decisions that were made. And I'm not going to refuse to do that. My job is to look forward and make sure that the city of Dallas is prepared for whatever happens. And so what I'm focused on is making sure in Dallas that we have the testing capacity that we need and that we have the contact tracing that we need.

So we're working with our county, which does our health work here locally, to make sure that those things happen. I am a little concerned about what may have accelerated some of spread that we won't again see for another couple of weeks, and that is some of the lack of distancing that occurred during the past week of protests that we've had in Dallas.

I think a lot of folks were wearing masks. But a lot of folks weren't. A lot of folks were trying to be socially distant and a lot of folks weren't over the past week. So we've got to make sure the folks who were out there protesting go and get tested and that if we find out folks are carrying the virus that we go ahead and get those folks quarantined and do all the things that we were doing before a week ago.

So that's my priority, not looking back and questioning, you know, whether or not we should or shouldn't but making sure we're safe going forward.

BOLDUAN: Well, and that is, you know, that is something we hear from a lot of -- from State officials to the CDC that with these protests taking place across the country, the need for getting tested for those who are protesting is certainly high and certainly important.

[12:50:09]

This weekend, the protests were largely peaceful. Last weekend, though, was a different story around the country, including in Dallas. I was reading about one protester, Mayor, who's now recovering from losing his eye saying that he was hit by a rubber bullet from police. And the Department says it's investigating. Are you calling for changes in your police department?

JOHNSON: I'm looking for answers from our law enforcement leadership in the city from our police chief and from our city manager right now. And I'm trying to get to the bottom right now, on what happened, not just in the incidents early on, in our protests.

Our protests early on, and continued to be largely peaceful, but early on, we had a couple of folks who came out not with the intent of protesting but of causing trouble. And they were looting and engaging vandalism. But, you know, I want to understand how we use force in the situation and why the decisions were made that were made to use rubber bullets or wooden bullets or tear gas or smoke or whatever the things that we are hearing from the public were used on peaceful protesters on June 1, on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in our city.

And before that, during the week, you know, during some of the more violent or, you know, non-peaceful situations, we need to understand all of it. So I'm calling for us to as a city look into those uses of force and understand what we've been doing this past week.

I'm also interested in making sure that any reforms that we discussed that, you know, in going forward in the city of Dallas, have input from the people. I've signed on to the Obama Mayor's Pledge to look into these practices in our police department. And I'm committed to bringing about change with the people's input but it needs to go through our city council. And we need to have those discussions.

BOLDUAN: Well, one city council that has been very outspoken has been the Minneapolis city council right now. And their focus is, they're poised to move to defund and dismantle its police department. That's where the conversation is right now. Would you support defunding and dismantling the Dallas Police Department?

JOHNSON: I will tell you this. I think that oftentimes, I've been a legislator for 10 years. I was in State House for 10 years before I became the mayor. And I understand that policy and legislation is a lot more complicated than can be reduced to a couple of words or phrases.

I don't know what people mean by defund. And I don't know what they mean by dismantle. But I will tell you this, I believe that in the city of Dallas, we need to have a robust conversation about the police and about the relationship between the police and the community and about the use of force.

And the City Council needs to be involved in that decision. And the people need to be at the table as part of that decision. And we need to proceed from there. But I don't believe that we can do without a police force.

So if by dismantle, we mean not have the police exist anymore, I do not support that. And by defund, I'm not sure what people mean. But I do think that our budget process which is coming up. We need to look at every department and we look at every part of our city and determine whether that we were adequately spending on social services and what people need. But that's something we have to do as a council with people's input.

BOLDUAN: Mayor Johnson, thanks for coming in.

JOHNSON: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

[12:53:29] Coming up for us, still, President Trump is going after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell now, after Goodell statements supporting players' rights to peacefully protest.

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BOLDUAN: As athletes, coaches, and teams are using their platforms to call for change, President Trump is once again trying to resurrect an old debate and insert himself in a conversation again, athletes silently protesting during the national anthem, the President overnight going after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's new statement of support for players to protest.

CNN's Andy Scholes is following all this. He joins me now. It's good to see you, Andy. We've seen massive protests in the last two weeks, Andy, bringing back this conversation, this debate. What is this going to look like this time?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, you know what, when the NFL season rolls around, when it eventually does, I fully expect players to peacefully protest once the games do eventually start.

You know, the last time President Trump inserted himself into this debate was back in 2017. Remember, Colin Kaepernick started the kneeling movement in 2016. But he was out of the league in 2017. But some players still carried on the movement. And that was when President Trump early on in that season in September of 2017, said owner should kick the players off the field that were kneeling during the national anthem and fire them.

And it was right after that. He said that that players around the league in a show of solidarity. Many of them took a knee that Sunday before their games. We're showing you the images right now. And I fully expect something like that to happen when this NFL season rolls around and some players already saying that they will be doing it.

Running back for the Washington Redskins, Adrian Peterson, he told the Houston Chronicle this, he said, we're all getting ready to take a knee together going into this season without a doubt. We've got to put the effort in as a group collectively. Are they going to try to punish us all? If not, playing football is going to help us save lives and change things.

And with players saying things like that, Kate, and Commissioner Roger Goodell basically saying they were wrong when they tried to silence those players. You know, they did come up with some rules after that about players kneeling during the national anthem. They've kind of stepped away from that. But so now the league is saying they were wrong in that situation. Players are saying they're going to do it. I fully expect it to happen.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Andy, hearing those news for Major League Baseball about a restart this season. What are you hearing?

SCHOLES: Well, yes, according to ESPN sources, they're saying the owners have come out with a new proposal. They're now saying 76 games, and the players would get 75 percent of their prorated salaries.

Just last week, the players proposed 140 games getting 100 percent of their prorated salaries. Kate, it's certainly seems like the players and the owners are so far apart and trying to get a deal done.

[13:00:05]

They said originally they wanted to try to start the season July 4th or that weekend.