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THE SITUATION ROOM
George Floyd To Be Laid To Rest After Emotional Final Memorial; Most GOP Senators Silent On Trump's Tweet About Elderly Protesters; A.G. Barr Contradicts Trump On Why The President Was In WH Bunker; What "Defund The Police" Advocates Hope To Accomplish; Horse-Drawn Carriage Taking George Floyd To Final Resting Place; Nineteen States Seeing Spike In Cases Over Past Week. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 9, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Washington D.C. confirmed that some of its members have now tested positive and here in Los Angeles, anybody who attended a protest is now being encouraged to self quarantine for 14 days, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The pandemic continues to rage. Nick Watt, thank you so much. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news.
The funeral of George Floyd has just concluded in Houston, 15 days after his death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. His body is now being taken to a cemetery where he'll be buried next to his mother. This as a 15th night of protests in his name, are getting underway.
For it's shocking killing is spotlighting similar incidents including one in Austin, Texas graphic the newly released body cam footage captured Javier Ambler, an African-American man telling police multiple times that he couldn't breathe as they arrested him before he fell unconscious and died last year.
Meanwhile, President Trump is pushing a conspiracy theory about the 75-year-old protester sitting on video being pushed to the ground and severely injured by police in Buffalo, New York. The President asking a tweet if the incident was a setup by left wing activists.
Let's begin this hour in Houston. Our national correspondent Sara Sidner is on the scene for us. Sara, hundreds of people attended the private funeral for George Floyd update our viewers as we see the casket and the motorcade beginning to move.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are watching as the motorcade and the body of George Floyd is being taken to its final resting place. In the last mile when they are about to get to the graveside, he will be put on a hearse drawn carriage and people in the community can say their final goodbyes as he is buried next to his mother.
SIDNER (voice-over): This was the last moment anyone will ever see George Floyd in the flesh. His family members breaking down in front of his casket just before his body was sealed inside forever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you and I thank God for giving me Give me my own personal Superman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This law could be change. No more hate crimes please. Someone said make America great again, but when has America ever been great?
AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: We must commit to this family. All of these fam, all five of his children, grandchildren. And then all that until these people paid for what they did, that we're going to be there with them cause lives like George will not matter until somebody pays the cost for taking their lives.
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Like most you must grieve and public is a burden. A burden is now your purpose to change the world for the better. The name of George Floyd.
SIDNER (voice-over): Among the 500 family and friends of Floyd inside the Fountain of Praise Church In Houston.. The black American families who know their pain all too well. Their children killed by police too. The families of Ferguson's Michael Brown, New York's Eric Garner and Dallas's Botham John attended the services offering their support.
Protests around the country pushing cities around the nation to consider police reform after two weeks of nationwide demonstrations. The Houston Police Chief himself who's demanding reform from the inside out.
ART ACEVEDO, CHIEF, HOUSTON POLICE: The community recognizes bad policing when they see it. And there's still too many instances where bad policing is tolerated. So we need to -- we need to just say no.
SIDNER (voice-over): The Houston Mayor going further announcing at Floyd's funeral and executive order to ban chokeholds among other reforms.
SYLVESTER TURNER (D) MAYOR HOUSTON: -- in this city, we will ban chokeholds and string of holds (ph). And this city we will require de escalation.
SIDNER (voice-over): In Minneapolis a judge approved a restraining order to stop police there from using neck restraints and chokeholds. In Los Angeles, officially announcing a moratorium on one type of chokehold. In New York, a promise by the mayor to cut some police funds and move them to youth and social services. As the world says their final goodbyes to George Floyd in Texas police actions and tactics now under intense scrutiny. A body cam video just released from an incident that happened more than a year ago north of Austin, Texas, sparking a new investigation. A reminder, Floyd wasn't the first to beg an officer for his breathe.
JAVIER AMBLER, VICTIM: I have a congestive heart failure. I can't breathe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop resisting.
SIDNER (voice-over): Today an NYPD officer turning himself into face assault charges for this.
In New Jersey, the State's Attorney General now releasing video of a May encounter with a state trooper that left a black man dead after a struggle during a traffic stop. The governor saying this case will be presented to a grand jury. In the video the officer says the man was reaching for his gun.
In Buffalo New York. Two officers are suspended and an internal investigation is underway after this shoving incident that left a 75 year old man badly injured.
SIDNER: Back here in Houston, you are looking at the procession of cars that are heading to the final resting place of Georgia Floyd to the cemetery. Among those, of course are the families who have suffered alongside the Floyd family, families that know his pain all too well.
We also have been, you know, watching as folks like Floyd Mayweather, who have helped pay for this funeral are also here mixed in with the crowd. But mostly you have folks from Houston watching this for on television and lining the streets. They are simply here because on the one hand, they want to have peace. And on the other hand, they want to have justice. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right Sara, thank you very much. Sarah Sidner reporting in Houston.
Now let's go to the White House right now. Our Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is on the scene for us. Jim, so far, not a word from the President about the pain so many people in this country indeed, people around the world are feeling today.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And top White House officials, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. They're up on Capitol Hill meeting with Republican lawmakers right now.
About police reform proposals that are brewing up on Capitol Hill in Congress. President Trump is still in hiding though as you mentioned in avoiding the press, while tweeting out cruel comments about the 75- year-old man who was hospitalized after he was shot by police in Buffalo that sent a lot of Republicans running for cover up on Capitol Hill.
ACOSTA (voice-over): With police brutality under the microscope on the same day relatives gathered in Texas for George Floyd's funeral, President Trump is lobbing grenades from his social media bunker.
The President is promoting a baseless conspiracy theory about 75-year- old Martin Gugino who is pushed to the ground by officers during a protest in Buffalo, tweeting Buffalo protesters shoved by police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. I watched he fell harder than was pushed. Could be a setup.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There protests are pushed by Buffalo police was appearing to use comment ANTIFA tactics.
ACOSTA (voice-over): President cited this thinly source segment on the pro-Trump TV network OANN. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the ANTIFA allegation, fabricated.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I mean if there was ever a reprehensible dumb comment, and from the President of the United States at this moment of anger, anguish, and anger, what does he do? Pours gasoline on the fire.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Asked about the latest Trump outrage, a few Senate Republicans took issue with the tweet.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I saw the tweet. It was a shocking thing to say. And I won't dignify it with any further comment.
ACOSTA (voice-over): While others were doing all they could to avoid our cameras.
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS): -- this buffalo protesting what we have here. I know.
ACOSTA (voice-over): GOP Senator Marco Rubio told CNN, I didn't see it. You're telling me about it. I don't read Twitter. I only write on it. Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said, you know, a lot of this stuff just goes over my head. And South Dakota GOP Senator John Thune added most of us up here would rather not be political commentators on the President's tweets.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this a great thing that's happening for our country.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The President has done little to ease tensions across the U.S. laying low behind his fortress like fencing. Ever since his administration brutalized protesters for a photo op.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden appeared in a video at Floyd's funeral calling for an end to police misconduct.
BIDEN: We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism and stings that are very soul.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Even Mr. Trump's own advisors have questioned his actions with one surrogate telling CNN, the President should avoid giving an address to the nation on the subject of race, saying quote, a speech lacking genuine compassion at any point would not help. He's just not genuinely compassionate.
The President has instead seized on the wishes of some protesters to defund the police an effort aimed at diverting money away from law enforcement agencies, but Democrats working on police reform say that's not even in their bill.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, because I don't think that that's the appropriate thing to do. I think what the President is seizing on is the fact that he knows his poll numbers are dropping.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The President is also being contradicted by Attorney General William Barr over why Mr. Trump ended up in the White House bunker during the demonstrations.
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended the President go down to the bunker.
ACOSTA (voice-over): That's not what the President told Fox.
TRUMP: That was there for a tiny little short period of time and is much more for an inspection. There was no problem during the day.
ACOSTA: And Republican senators met behind closed doors to work on their own proposals for police reform, but those GOP senators led by Tim Scott of South Carolina came out of the meeting noting they have yet to come up with anything concrete.
As for the President's tweet about Martin Gugino, our colleagues up on Capitol Hill are reporting even the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to criticize Mr. Trump's comments. Here's what happened when our colleague Manu Raju caught up with the senator earlier this afternoon. Here's what happened.
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The President said that he could be an ANTIFA provocateur, he said that he felt harder than he pushed, and question if he was set up, was that appropriate?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R) MAJORITY LEADER: Well, as I said, what we've been talking about here in the Senate Republican conference, is what we think is the appropriate response to the events of the last few weeks. RAJU: What about the Pres -- what about the President's tweet that was that appropriate sir?
MCCONNELL: As I said, we are discussing in the Senate Republican conference, what response we think is appropriate to the events of the last two weeks.
ACOSTA: And so, Wolf, as you saw there, in that clip with Manu Raju with these Republican senators, they seem to be more annoyed with our questions about the tweets than the President's tweets themselves.
BLITZER: Yes, they're clearly scared of irritating the President on this issue. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
We're joined now by CNN Anchor, Don Lemon, and CNN political commentator, Van Jones.
Don, first of all, how powerful was it to hear George Floyd's loved ones remember him so beautifully and at the same time call for justice at this memorial service today.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It was not only powerful Wolf, it resonated with a whole lot of people in this country. Unfortunately, people who have had to deal with similar situations as the Floyd family and their loved ones nationwide, but it also resonated with the country, I think because everyone today can relate to having a family member pass away.
But to have a family member die in such -- in such fashion where the entire world is watching. I think it's just unfathomable and to hear that family and see that family stand there, you know, and front of the group of people in the world and conduct themselves in the way that they conducted themselves.
I just think it was powerful. It was amazing and, and it was heartfelt and quite honestly, it made me think of me and my family. When I've had to stand in front of not the world, but in front of a church and say goodbye to someone you love. So it was very powerful.
BLITZER: Certainly resonated with millions and millions of people who were watching. You know, Van, in a video message, the former Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the burden put on this family to grieve in public and lead the calls for change. So what struck you Van from the messages we heard today?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, just the dignity. You know, first of all, you know, Biden sort of embodies empathy, embodies compassion, and I think that would welcome a bomb. But what I would say is that, you know, this ritual of grief in the black community is a burden in and of itself, and I don't think we should take it for granted.
You know, can you imagine the person you love the most in the whole world, you know, give them a hug, give them a kiss, you text them and then an hour later, you find out that they've been killed by law enforcement, unarmed. And then you have to become an overnight expert in policing policy, an overnight expert in the law, in media relations, in grief counseling, all of these things instantly --
JONES: -- and -- exactly and restraint. Meanwhile, the image of your loved one is shown in the worst possible way over and over and over and over and over again, imagine if that was the person you love the most. So to deal with all of that, and to still do what black people do, which is to somehow find strength beyond strength, and we know what we are expected to do.
Because if you show your rage, if you do anything other than showing dignity, then they say well, what kind of family this guy come from. So he had when -- you know, he had it coming to him, look at how crazy his family is, look at how angry they are, he must be so we have to put on this cloak of supreme dignity that Rosa Parks Nelson Mandela cloak of dignity and perform the actual rituals of healing and home going when we have not even had a chance to truly grieve.
JONES: And I've been work doing this work, as you know, Wolf for 25 years, and I've held hands with a lot of families, it's super human, what we expect. We at the same time we treat people in a subhuman way through these horrific acts, we then expect them to perform in a superhuman way. After that's happened, both of them are a burden. And, and yet, over and over again, black families find a way to do it.
BLITZER: You know, Don, since so these protests began a little bit more than two weeks now, other videos of police killings have been getting a whole bunch of new scrutiny including a disturbing video from Austin, Texas and many cities are already starting to implement some reforms. Can the Floyd family take some comfort in knowing that these are the first steps and more presumably are on their way?
LEMON: I can't tell them Wolf how to feel, you know, that but I would hope that it would, I hope that anything that my words, your words, the fact that all these people are out on the streets worldwide that it provides them some comfort.
But I do have to say that, you know, young Brianna was right -- Gianna excuse me was right about her father, her father did change the world. And, you know, what Reverend Al Sharpton and others said today, he didn't have a huge platform, when before his death, just as a civilian, someone who is living his life, but look at how the world is paying attention to him that he has former Presidents calling his name and speaking out for him.
Some of the best known people in the world coming to his defense, helping his family, not only to guide them through this, but also grieving alongside them. Yes, if there is anything good to come out of that, I would hope that this offers the family some solace. And I hope that George Floyd can take credit for it. And I just have to say Van, everything you said absolutely right. I want everybody in this moment to think about when someone died, lost
a loved one in their family, how they reacted, even if they expected an illness or sickness that it happened for a long time. That would have been, you know, coming on for a long time. Or if it was sudden, think about how you reacted. Now imagine having to do that in front of the world. I just -- my heart go out to these.
BLITZER: Our -- all of our hearts go out to these people. It is so sad. All right, Don, thank you, Van, thanks to you as well.
Up next, the Republicans run, as you saw from questions about President Trump's tweet about that elderly protester in Buffalo, New York shoved by police and his suggestion -- the President's suggestion that it was a setup.
Also coming up, I'll speak about the death of George Floyd. Michael Brown and others with the mayor elect of Ferguson, Missouri, the first African-American woman to hold that office. Much more of our special coverage right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, right after this.
BLITZER: A live pictures of the hearse carry George Floyd is left the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston a little while ago following the private memorial service. You can see it's escorted the hearse, the motorcade Houston Police. The procession by the way, will make its way towards the cemetery where Floyd will be buried and for the last mile of the journey retold.
George Floyd's casket is expected to be carried by a hearse drawn carriage to his final resting place that will be right next to his mother in the Houston Memorial Gardens, that's in Pearland, Texas. Will continue to follow this as we continue our special coverage.
Meanwhile, President Trump largely has stayed out of sight as thousands across the United States mourn the death of George Floyd and march to protest abuses by police. However, the President has used his Twitter account to attack his perceived enemies and to push baseless conspiracy theories.
Let's discuss with CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, and our political correspondent Abby Phillip.
Dana, today, the President, as we've been reporting put out this totally baseless conspiracy theory about Martin Gugino, the peaceful 75-year-old protester who ended up in a hospital in serious conditioned in Buffalo, New York after severely being pushed by police officers who've been charged now.
The President wrote, among other things, he wrote, Buffalo protester shoved by police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75-year-old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to blackout the equipment. Away and then I watched that's a very right wing TV network. I watched he fell harder than was pushed was aiming scanner could be a setup.
It was not a setup we all saw what was going on. It's a baseless accusation Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a baseless accusation. And it's one that's quite dangerous, because it really is a kind of belittling to the entire movement that is happening right now up to as close to the doorstep of the White House. Thousands of protesters can get. And that movement is for equality, but it's also for reforms of law enforcement.
And just because the person who fell was 75 years old and white, doesn't make it any better that law enforcement was wrong, appeared to be wrong with everything that we saw with our with our own eyes. And so it really speaks to the larger issue that the President is, is just not understanding. The question that you alluded to in the intro here is why aren't more Republicans on Capitol Hill speaking out?
I mean, that has been the same old question that we've been asking, since day one of this Trump presidency. And I can just tell you look at the poll that CNN released yesterday, even though the President's approval rating is quite low 38 percent, 88 percent of Republicans say they support the President.
Those Republicans are the same ones who the Republican senators and House members rely on to win their elections. And that's the answer.
BLITZER: Yes, that's it. That's the situation indeed. You know, Abby, you point out this is part of a long pattern going back to when Donald Trump was a private citizen, he launched that conspiracy theory that the country's first African-American President Barack Obama wasn't even born in the United States and shouldn't have been allowed to become President.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, this is a President and I know that Dana knows this well, as well, that he is attracted to conspiracy theories. He encourages them. He really traded on the birther conspiracy to break into politics. And as President, he has used his Twitter feed repeatedly to amplify conspiracy -- conspiratorial voices and to amplify conspiracy theories that are from all corners of the internet. And some of it can be attributed to the President simply seeking out information that he wants to hear.
But I also think that at a certain point, you do have to acknowledge that that the President is doing so, knowing that he is spreading falsehoods, knowing that all of this is probably divorced from reality and simply not caring. And I think in this case, this particular conspiracy falls into another pattern that he has, which is that he has made it very clear that there is a certain amount of force that he is willing to allow police officers to utilize against civilians. And he is OK with that.
A couple of years ago as President, he told police officers that were gathered at a convention that they should not be so nice to suspects when putting them in the back of a car. And so this is in that same mold. And even while the President is pushing this law and order narrative, we should be really clear. There's a whole other thing happening. Republicans on Capitol Hill are talking about police reform. The President seems to be the one who is left behind.
BLITZER: And you can -- we're showing our viewers once again the hearse carrying George Floyd's casket making its way to the Houston Memorial Garden gardens in Pearland, Texas. We're watching this unfold. You see the police escort there as well.
Abby and Dana, guys, thank you very much.
Coming up, we're seeing the signs. We've heard the slogan so but what do advocates of defunding the police really hope to accomplish? We'll be joined by the newly elected mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, the town where Michael Brown was killed by police. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: There you see the hearse carrying George Floyd's casket surrounded by police. There's the hearse. It's making its way to the Houston Memorial Gardens in Pearland, Texas.
You can see people have gathered on the streets, as they try to say goodbye themselves. This has been going on now, for quite a while. We're watching all of this unfold a very, very sad day in Houston, Texas. The memorial service was very, very powerful.
During the past two weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd, we've been hearing and seeing more and more of the slogan, "Defund the Police". CNN's Brian Todd is joining us with a closer look. Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a movement basically designed to deescalate police violence by in some cases replacing police with community advocates. But there's a serious debate tonight over whether this approach can work.
TODD (voice-over): It's been a rallying cry since the police killing of George Floyd. Protesters, activists and some city officials calling for police departments across the U.S. to be defunded. It's painted in huge block letters on city streets from Washington to Wisconsin. But how would it work? Some who support the idea want to strip all police funding and dissolve entire departments.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want no more police.
TODD (voice-over): But other advocates want to reallocate some but not all money away from police departments and funneled some of it to training civilians to do some of the jobs police have always done.
LISA BENDER, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: We've done an analysis of all the reasons people call 911. And I've looked at ways we can shift the response away from armed police officers into a more appropriate response for mental health calls, for some domestic violence calls, for health-related issues.
TODD (voice-over): The cities of Eugene and Springfield, Oregon have a service which does just that. It's called cahoots. In some instances, instead of police, dispatchers in Eugene and Springfield send out cahoots teams. Two civilians in each, a medic and a trained crisis worker to respond to what they call noncriminal calls.
EBONY MORGAN, CAHOOTS CRISIS INTERVENTION WORKER: We can respond for welfare checks, we can check on folks who maybe need some mediation if there's an argument, we can de-escalate. If someone is in a neighborhood kind of just acting odd, we can just check on them and make sure they don't need anything.
TODD (voice-over): Ebony Morgan says cahoots helped more than 20,000 people in those situations last year alone, with their non-combative unarmed approach.
MORGAN: I've seen police presence agitates some folks, and they get a little more intense for whatever their experience has been. When they see us, they know that we're just there to talk. And if they tell us to leave, we'll leave.
TODD (voice-over): Some police advocates say, that approach simply doesn't work when you're walking up to a potentially dangerous domestic dispute.
JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: To think that you're going to send an unarmed therapist or social worker to the scene of a domestic dispute where somebody has beaten up their partner, shot their partner or committed some act of violence against them, and you think that you're going to send somebody there without their required equipment to protect themselves and the innocent person that they're responded for help, that's folly.
TODD (voice-over): Advocates for defunding police say that money can be used to pay for schools, hospitals, housing and mental health services, in poorer marginalized communities, all of which they say helps increase safety. But one police chief is worried about what could suffer.
CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE: The first thing that will go will be training and all the things we need to make sure that we have the properly trained and professional police that our communities deserve.
TODD: Now only one substantially large city in the United States has ever completely dissolved a police department. Camden, New Jersey did it in 2012. Completely starting a new police department from scratch. It did work to cut down violence and police corruption but no city, the size of Minneapolis has ever tried it, Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.
These are live pictures. We can see now for the last mile of the journey, George Floyd's casket is now being moved over from the hearse to a horse drawn carriage that will take him to his final resting place, right next to his mother in the Houston Memorial Gardens. They are now in Pearland, Texas. We'll watch that unfold as well.
In the meantime, let's discuss what's going on with the Mayor-elect of Ferguson, Missouri, Ella Jones.
Mayor-elect, thank you so much for joining us. In the aftermath of teenager Michael Brown's 2014 killing by a white police officer, Ferguson was federally mandated to make changes to its policing these many years later. How far have you come on serious police reforms?
ELLA JONES, FERGUSON, MISSOURI, MAYOR-ELECT: We have come a long ways on police reform. We have reform our court system, our police department, we are constitutional policing, we have community policing, the police are working with the community and the youth. So the consent decree help us to achieve those goals thus far. We are not finished by no means, however, we are still working to become a better police department.
BLITZER: As George Floyd's death, Mayor-elect, led you to consider more reforms?
JONES: Well, we have a lot of reforms already in place. So working with those reforms and getting them into policy is the most important thing we can do right at this time.
BLITZER: You've just been elected Ferguson's first black female mayor, you're going to be sworn in in a week or so. How significant do you believe it is, especially at this moment?
JONES: Well, it's very significant simply because we have a group of people here who are undeserved. And they were determined to have a voice. And so they rally around me and started working, knocking doors, calling people because they realized that their vote matters, and they got out and they voted.
BLITZER: How much as the national conversation around police abuse, police brutality shifted? Do you believe, Mayor-elect, since Michael Brown's death?
JONES: It has shifted a lot. Most of the cities are looking at Ferguson as -- because we have become a model and they are looking to us to lead the way in Ferguson is the city that can lead the way.
When we finished with the consent decree, we will be the best city in the United States for a person to live, work and raise a families.
BLITZER: Well, congratulations on your election. Mayor-elect Ella Jones of Ferguson, Missouri, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck. JONES: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to watch now this horse drawn carriage carrying the casket of George Floyd to his final resting place at Houston Memorial Gardens in Pearland, Texas. We'll continue to watch that.
We're also watching something very disturbing right now, a very alarming increase in coronavirus cases in several states. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're looking at live pictures right now. This is Pearland, Texas. The horse drawn carriage carrying George Floyd's casket making its final way to the Houston Memorial Gardens in Pearland, Texas right now. You see a lot of people have gathered there. They want to witness this. They want to be part of this important, important day. We'll continue to watch the casket as it's taken to the Houston Memorial Gardens.
Meanwhile, there's other important news we're following as well. The U.S. coronavirus death toll has now topped 111,000 people. Our National Correspondent Erica Hill has the latest.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More than 1,000 people tested in one Vermont community after Memorial Day gathering.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an outbreak.
HILL (voice-over): Two dozen children are among the more than 60 confirmed cases.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were shared activities of, I think, several different types, including we think transmission within households.
HILL (voice-over): Only one in five of those who tested positive reported having symptoms. The World Health Organization meantime on cleanup duty Tuesday, confirming asymptomatic spread is possible. After saying yesterday, it was rare.
DR. MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, TECHNICAL LEAN ON COVID-19, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We do know that some people who are asymptomatic or some people who don't have symptoms can transmit the virus on. And so what we need to better understand is how many of the people in the population don't have symptoms.
HILL (voice-over): As the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. approaches 2 million, Washington, D.C. and at least 27 states including California, Florida, Texas and New York are not reporting probable cases despite CDC guidelines to do so. Information that helps officials track the spread and prepare for a possible search. More than half of those states as shown here are among the 19 seeing a spike in new cases over the past week.
DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: I'm concerned about the transmission potential we're seeing as we come back out of this lockdown as we reopen the economy. We've kind of gone from about 2 miles an hour to 200 miles an hour.
HILL (voice-over): Florida's Miami Dade County has lagged behind the rest of the state in easing restrictions. Its beaches are now set to reopen on Wednesday. Today, the city of Chicago cancelled all large events, including Lollapalooza through Labor Day as the nation's top infectious disease expert cautions there is still much to learn about the virus.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We've only been involved in for months. What about people who recover what are they going to be like six months from now? We don't know that.
HILL: There is still so much that we don't know. One thing we also heard today from Dr. Fauci, Wolf, is that this really is his worst nightmare because it is so transmissible and because it's spread so quickly. And again because there's still so much, Wolf, we don't know.
BLITZER: That's absolutely true. There's so much we don't know indeed. All right, Erica Hill in New York for us. Thank you.
Coming up, I'll speak to the NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley about the death of George Floyd and the international outcry that's following. These are live pictures coming in as this horse --
BLITZER: Tonight, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin is defending his country's response to the coronavirus. What's extraordinary is the spokesman came down with the virus and he spoke exclusively with CNN's Matthew Chance.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's accused of hiding the true extent of Russia's coronavirus pandemic. Of abandoning exhausted doctors to its ravages, using the lockdown to crack down on dissent. But the Kremlin's chief spokesman is now defending his country's coronavirus response.
(on-camera): Back in March, President Putin said the situation in Russia was under control, in fact, better than in other countries. But within a few weeks, it suffered the second highest number of coronavirus infections in the world. What went wrong?
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: Well, actually, nothing has went wrong, except the coronavirus itself. Our country uses the maximum possible amount of tests for coronavirus. And the more you test, the more you detect.
CHANCE (on-camera): That is not just the number of viral infections, it's the fact that the mortality rate as well, is remarkably low. And it's sort of added to this suspicion that Russia is somehow been manipulating the facts, manipulating the figures, perhaps in order to prevent the Kremlin from being criticized.
PESKOV: No, I don't agree with that assessment. Have you ever thought about the possibility of Russia's healthcare system being more effective?
CHANCE (on-camera): Is that your explanation?
PESKOV: Giving an opportunity for more people to stay alive.
CHANCE (voice-over): In fact, the strain on Russian health care has been one of the most alarming features of Russia's pandemic. Across the country, doctors complaining of poor conditions, lack of personal protection equipment and unpaid wages. There was even a spate of mysterious plunges of doctors out of high windows, perhaps a sign of desperation with their place (ph).
There have been protest too rare in Russia, but still worrying for the Kremlin as approval ratings for President Vladimir Putin sink to all time lows.
(on-camera): How concerned are you that this pandemic has dented the popularity of President Putin perhaps irreparably.
PESKOV: President Putin has stated numerous times that he didn't care about his personal rate. That in politics, if you are a real estate, you shouldn't think about your rating because if you think only about your rating, you won't be able to take responsible decisions.
CHANCE: Wolf, decisions like when to ease coronavirus lockdown measures. Tonight, Moscow is having those restrictions lifted. Critics say that's because the Kremlin wants to gain popularity ahead of an important vote at the beginning of next month that could exceed Vladimir Putin's power extended. So maybe they do pay attention to ratings after all, Wolf.
BLITZER: Maybe they do. All right, Matthew Chance reporting for us. Thank you.
Coming up, a final emotional send off for George Floyd.