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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With National Urban League President Marc Morial; Brother Of George Floyd Testifies On Capitol Hill; Ex-Officer Thomas Lane Charged For Aiding In The Killing Of George Floyd Makes Bail, Released From Jail; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Nearing Two Million, 112,000-Plus Deaths; Harvard Doctor: Expect Another 100,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths By September; Georgia Voting "Catastrophe" In Mostly Minority Areas Under Investigation. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 10, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news.

You are looking at live pictures coming in from New York City, new protests against racial injustice under way this hour, as George Floyd's death continues to strike a raw nerve in this country, this on the 16th night after his death, Floyd.

The fight is continuing in Washington as well, as individuals are pleading with lawmakers to stop the pain and listen to calls for police reform.

And just moments from now, we will bring you a one-on-one interview with the Minneapolis police chief. He's revealing key elements of his plan to stop brutality in his tarnished department.

We are also following breaking news on the coronavirus pandemic. The number of cases here in the United States is now approaching two million, with more than 112,000 deaths.

This hour, I will talk with a top Harvard doctor who now says the U.S. can expect another 100,000 deaths by September.

And the breaking news we're following, NASCAR just banning the display of Confederate Flags at all events. President Trump is taking a very different approach tonight.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, the president refusing to consider even changing the name of U.S. military bases named after Confederate commanders.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Amid this national reckoning on racism, the Army said earlier this

week that Defense Secretary Mark Esper was open to having bipartisan conversations about changing the names of those bases that are named after Confederate commanders.

Today, though, the president, Wolf, is rejecting that out of hand, tweeting that those bases are part of a great American heritage and announcing, "My administration will not even consider the renaming of those bases."

And, Wolf, while the president is weighing in on that issue, we have not yet heard from him what types of policing reforms he is willing to support. But some powerful testimony on Capitol Hill today is certainly ratcheting up the pressure.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND (voice-over): Tonight, an emotional plea on Capitol Hill.

PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: George wasn't hurting anyone that day. He didn't deserve to die over $20. I am asking you, is that what a black man is worth? Twenty dollars? This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you, enough is enough.

DIAMOND: George Floyd's brother intensifying the pressure on President Trump and Congress to reform policing in America.

FLOYD: I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired.

DIAMOND: House Democrats unveiled an ambitious reform package this week, and Senate Republicans are drafting legislation. But two weeks after George Floyd was killed, President Trump is still silent about what kinds of reforms he will support.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We do believe that we will have proactive policy prescriptions, whether that means legislation or an executive order.

DIAMOND: White House officials have sought proposals from criminal justice reform advocates and are now drafting an executive order, the White House also keeping tabs on legislation being drafted by Republican Senator Tim Scott.

But the draft GOP legislation doesn't include a provision to ban police choke holds or change the qualified immunity legal doctrine to make it easier to sue cops.

It also requires states maintain a database of uses of police force that result in death, or lose federal funds. Democrats want to mandate a federal database.

And on body cameras, the Republican proposal is to mandate police wear them when arresting and detaining people. Democrats would require federal uniformed officers to wear them at all times. Scott said he expects to release his legislation on Friday, but will

Trump support it?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): If history is a teacher, the president has been receptive for the last three years on the priorities that I have brought to him. I try to make sure that they're sensible and directed toward the American people and not towards partisan and/or politics at all. Hopefully, he will have the same approach.

DIAMOND: Tonight, the president's top economic adviser became the latest Trump official to deny the existence of systemic racism in the U.S.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: I don't believe there is systemic racism in the U.S.

DIAMOND: Meanwhile, Trump's aides are still answering for the controversies that are leaving Senate Republicans squirming, like Trump's baseless claim that a 75-year-old man who was severely injured after police pushed him was an Antifa provocateur.

MCENANY: The president was asking questions about an interaction in a video clip he saw. And the president has the right to ask those questions.

The president does not regret standing up for law enforcement men and women across this country.

[18:05:00]

QUESTION: Isn't it incumbent on the president to have facts?

MCENANY: The president did have facts before he tweeted it out that undergirded his question.

QUESTION: A baseless conspiracy theory.

MCENANY: It is not a baseless conspiracy, no, not at all. I won't not acknowledge.

DIAMOND: The president also rejecting a proposal by his defense secretary to have a -- quote -- "bipartisan conversation" about renaming military bases named after Confederate commanders, tweeting: "My administration will not even consider the renaming of these magnificent and fabled military installations."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: And, Wolf, the president invited cameras in earlier today for a meeting that he was having with some black conservative pundits and supporters of his.

But we did not hear more from the president about what types of policing reforms he is willing to support, even though we know that White House officials have been working on that issue now for a couple of weeks. What we did hear, though, from the president, Wolf, is that the

campaign certainly is on his mind. The president announcing that he will have his first rally in more than three months next Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite the fact, of course, Wolf, that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much real here in the United States -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly is. And much more on that coming up later this hour as well.

Jeremy Diamond, thank you very much.

Let's go to our national correspondent, Sara Sidner. She is in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died some 16 days ago.

Sara, you spoke one-on-one with the Minneapolis police chief about demands for reform. Tell us how that went.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He says he is going to make reform and that he hears the mothers and fathers who are afraid of police. He says, he hears them and he is going to do something about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, POLICE CHIEF: History is being written now, and I am determined to make sure that we are on the right side of history.

SIDNER (voice-over): Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo laying out a plan for his tarnished police department to move forward following the death of George Floyd at the hands of now four former Minneapolis officers.

ARRADONDO: People are tired. They want action.

SIDNER: Without ever mentioning the four officers involved by name, the chief revealing two key measures of his plan to change the department, one, the immediate withdrawal of contract negotiations with the Minneapolis police union until a thorough review of how the contract can be restructured to provide more community transparency and flexibility for reform, and the other, to implement the use of an early warning system to identify misconduct.

ARRADONDO: If police unions -- and certainly mine here in Minneapolis -- if they do not evolve, if they are not listening, and the voices are screaming out, if they are not listening that changes, substantial changes need to be made in the way that they operate, they will ultimately be contributing to the harm.

SIDNER: But the chief acknowledged, none of this will happen overnight. Arradondo's plan has the backing of the city's mayor.

JACOB FREY (D), MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: We don't just need a new contract with the police. We need a new compact with the police, one that centers around compassion and accountability. SIDNER: Last month, I asked the chief what he thought of the three

other officers who didn't stop Derek Chauvin from pressing his knee down on Floyd's neck.

ARRADONDO: Being silent or not intervening, to me, you're complicit. So I don't see a level of distinction any different.

SIDNER: Today, he was asked if he stood by that belief.

ARRADONDO: I don't put policies out to say that you should only react or respond if you're a two-year member or a five-year member or a 10- year member. And if policies or subculture get in the way, then I expect and I demand one's humanity to rise above that.

SIDNER: Tonight, we are learning Chauvin was in talks to plead guilty before his arrest, which the state attorney general denied last week.

KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I really don't have any idea of what the negotiations or anything like that. It's simply way too early to begin that conversation. At this point, we are preparing to try this case.

SIDNER: Chief Arradondo recently met with the Floyd family. He shared what that moment was like with me.

(on camera): Did they respond to you? Did they -- how did they receive your apology?

ARRADONDO: The grace and the love that they showed -- they hugged me. And we hugged. And so that will also lead my reform work, my transformational culture change work. The Floyd family will lead me forward in the days ahead and the weeks ahead for this important work.

SIDNER (voice-over): Back in Minneapolis, the chief calling on the public to help police the police.

ARRADONDO: Record. Call. Call a friend. Yell out. Call 911, we need a supervisor to the scene, absolutely. I need to know that. We need to know that.

[18:10:07]

So, the community plays a vital role, and did two weeks ago, absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: He actually thanked the bystander for taking that video.

And if you look at the statement the police sent out that day, it did not match what we saw on that video. He said, it may never possibly have come out without it.

I do want to mention that Thomas Lane, one of the officers who has been charged with aiding and abetting manslaughter and murder in George Floyd's case, has made bail. We are just learning that at this hour.

And we should also mention the impact that this case is making beyond this state, of course. We talked about as many as 12 states making reforms in their states when it comes to policing, but also in other venues, other areas, NASCAR.

Bubba Wallace, one of the black drivers at NASCAR, had asked that they stop allowing the Confederate Flag to be waved in the stadiums. And that has actually happened. NASCAR has agreed to ban those flags -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lots of interesting developments, important developments unfolding today.

Sara Sidner doing excellent, excellent reporting for all of us, thank you.

And you look at this. There's more protests continuing in New York City, this on the 16th night of these protests across the country.

We're watching the protests as they unfold.

But, right now, I want to bring in a witness who took part in today's House hearing on police reform, the president and CEO of the National Urban League, Marc Morial.

Marc, thanks so much for joining us.

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Hi, Wolf. Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: So, you heard today that very emotional plea from George Floyd's younger brother.

What do you hope will emerge from this hearing today and what is going on?

MORIAL: I hope what will emerge, Wolf, is broad consensus, not only among Democrats and progressives or African-American and other members of color in the Congress, but broadly into the Republican Caucus, that we need sweeping reform, that we need significant reform today in American policing.

And I thought the hearing was a good hearing. I thought that there was broad-based support. And I thought that the tone even set by many of the Republican leaders was one of a willingness to work together.

I hope it is not just talk for today and that it is really meaningful, because this is what, I think, what people in the streets, people across the nation want to see. They want to see an eradication of this system of policing which has become corrosive, it's become -- it's ineffective, and it's become deadly for too many young African- American men.

BLITZER: So, did you really see a bipartisan -- a willingness to have bipartisan cooperation, Democrats and Republicans working together, on these proposed policing reforms?

MORIAL: I thought the tone of some of the Republican members, Wolf, was not hostile. It was not an automatic no.

Now, there were one or two members who were dancing down a lane of the usual diversionary rhetoric, but, for the most part -- now, I don't want to be overly optimistic, but we are going to be working hard, because what I said to the members in my testimony was, they have got to understand the moment.

Is this a moment? And I think it is a moral moment, where people step up and they respond to the broad consensus in American life right now, the broad consensus that we have to confront a broken policing system.

And a federal statute, a bill by Congress will not be an elixir, will not be an automatic fix, but it will be a powerful step in a positive direction. And so the bill put together in the House does a wide range of things, from banning choke...

BLITZER: I think we may have just lost our connection, unfortunately, with Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League.

We will try to reconnect with him. He was one of the witnesses at this important House committee hearing earlier in today.

All right, we will stay on top of that.

There's other important news we're following, the politics of President Trump's decision to go against the tide of change by refusing to remove Confederate commanders' names from U.S. military bases.

And I will speak with the mayor and police chief of Houston the day after George Floyd was laid to rest there. How far do they think the U.S. needs to go right now to prevent more black men from dying in police custody?

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:57]

BLITZER: We're back with breaking news.

We're just learning that the ex-Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, one of the three police officers charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, he is now out on -- out of jail after making bail.

We are going to update you on more details as they become available, a significant development out in Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, as the nation puts racial justice and equality front and center, President Trump is rejecting a move aimed at healing historic wounds. He says he won't even, he won't even consider removing the names of Confederate commanders from major U.S. military bases.

Let's bring in our CNN Political Analyst, Maggie Haberman. She's the White House correspondent for "The New York Times."

Maggie, the president also announced that his campaign will be restarting events, beginning with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, next Friday. That's -- I guess there's a lot going on right now, but tell us what you're hearing, first of all, about the president won't even consider dropping the names of Confederate generals who fought against the United States from these major military bases.

[18:20:05]

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, Wolf, I think there are a couple reasons I think the president is doing this.

Number one, I think it is to move people's attention away from his attack on a 75-year-old man who was on video being shoved by police officers in Buffalo and was, as of yesterday, still hospitalized, number one.

Number two, I think the president believes it is consistent with a stand that he had previously. But the last time he took this stand was in 2017 after the marches in Charlottesville, where he dug into this defense of -- quote, unquote -- "heritage" and he would tell advisers that he thought his people liked it, and that's why he was doing it.

What he is going to tell people is, this is him being consistent. He is at odds with a number of people right now, including Lenny Curry, the mayor of Jacksonville, which is the likely home of the Republican National Convention celebration of the president's renomination, marched with protesters yesterday.

A Confederate monument came down in that city earlier that morning. So, I think the president is, unsurprisingly, sticking with what he has done before. I am confident he is going to get a fair amount of backlash. And I don't think that the Republican senators who are in tough races this fall want to be debating this right now.

BLITZER: Yes, it is clearly a sensitive issue, especially, Maggie, as you know, some of his top military commanders, current military commanders, not retired generals or admirals, said they were open to the idea of dropping those names, given the history of what these commanders did during the Civil War and what is going on right now.

HABERMAN: Exactly.

It once again puts him at odds with his own advisers, with members of his own Cabinet, puts him in a -- in his own sort of political box. What others had said in his administration about the possibility -- and it wasn't definite, but the possibility of renaming these bases gave cover to a lot of officials to take a position that was away from defense of the Confederate Flag.

The president has made it much harder for people to do now. And it's not -- I don't quite see the logic in it. I understand he thinks that it plays to his political base, but he is making assumptions about his base that I'm not sure polling bears out right now.

BLITZER: And he is clearly not walking away from that very, very controversial tweet yesterday making all sorts of conspiracy theories against that 75-year-old protester in Buffalo, New York, and his press secretary today doubling down on all of that.

HABERMAN: He is not walking away from it, Wolf.

I don't think, as I said, that it is a coincidence that he is calling in reporters to a previously unannounced meeting that he had today at 4:00 at the White House to talk about Confederate Flags and to talk about issues related to race.

I think he does want to get away from that tweet, even if he is not going to apologize for it. But, look, these are all self-inflicted wounds. These are all errors of his own making. Whether they end up mattering in the fall, we don't know.

But if you look at the current polling across the board, it is hurting him right now.

BLITZER: There seems to be some debate over at the White House, Maggie, over whether the president will in fact address this moment with a speech on race and unity.

What are you hearing about his advisers? What are they recommending? They can recommend anything they want, but, in the end, the president has to make the final decision.

HABERMAN: That is the issue, Wolf.

I think, sometimes, advisers float these ideas to see how much blowback it gets and how the president himself will react to it. The president has not wanted to give a speech. Now, that doesn't mean he definitely won't, but he has not wanted to.

He also has not wanted to do listening sessions with black leaders, outside of his own supporters or people are willing to come to the White House. That, again, could change, depending on how much protest keeps up.

But, right now, I don't think he is going to do a speech. And the speech that advisers are concerned about him giving right now is the one that he is expected to give at the West Point graduation on Saturday. He has a tendency to veer off-script. They are concerned he is going to do that there, and it could be problematic.

BLITZER: The Trump campaign is actually demanding that CNN retract and actually apologize for our recent poll that shows the president is trailing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, the former Vice President Joe Biden.

CNN, of course, stands by the poll.

But have you ever seen a campaign send a formal cease-and-desist letter to a news organization because it didn't like the results of a poll?

HABERMAN: No, but it is very in keeping with the kind of stuff that former businessman and private citizen Donald Trump used to do and that he used to have Michael Cohen, his then lawyer, if it wasn't a legal threat, but send sort of an angry letter to people.

I have never seen a campaign threaten legal action against a news organization (AUDIO GAP) that they think this helps them, again, with their own supporters. I think it just draws attention to another poll that is not good for the president, but is in line with other polling.

[18:25:05]

BLITZER: I like the end of the letter that David Vigilante of CNN, one of our lawyers, wrote to the campaign.

"Your letter is factually and legally baseless. It is yet another bad- faith attempt by the campaign to threaten litigation to muzzle speech it does not want voters to read or hear. Your allegations and demands are rejected in their entirety" -- a very strong response from CNN to that so-called cease-and-desist letter from the Trump campaign.

Maggie, as usual, thanks very much. Thanks for all your excellent reporting as well.

Just ahead: top officials in Houston on the death of George Floyd and demands for police reform a day after he was buried.

And a new warning that the U.S. may have another 100,000 coronavirus deaths by September.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: We're just learning that one of the fired police officers charged for aiding and abetting in the killing of George Floyd, Thomas Lane, he is now out of jail after making bail.

Floyd's brother was up on Capitol Hill here in Washington today to plead with lawmakers to end the pain of police aggression.

The Houston police chief, Art Acevedo, was a witness at that hearing, he's joining us now, also with us the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner. To both of you, thank you very much for joining us. Thanks to both of you for what you're doing.

And, Mayor, let's start with George Floyd. He was laid to rest yesterday following a very final, beautiful memorial service in your city of Houston. His killing has sparked more than two weeks of protest around the United States are continuing tonight in New York. What action do you hope to see as a result of this terrible incident?

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON, TX: Well, what I can tell you, just less than 30 minutes ago, I signed an executive order that will ban the use of chokeholds, require the right to intervene police officers if they see another police officer doing something wrong that violates policy or against the law.

It requires verbal warnings before the use of deadly force where practical. It requires for comprehensive reporting of all uses of deadly force, calls for de-escalation. It's the first time that we've elevated it to this level, an executive order, and with the full support of almost all of our city council members. So that's what we've already done.

In addition to that, I've already -- I'm forming a mayor's task force, some police reform. That will be done within the next week or so. So, the marchers, the demonstrations, the protests have caused immediate action and people are -- we recognize that the things that have been done in the past are totally unacceptable now. So -- and this would not be taking place in the absence of those marchers, those demonstrators, those protesters who have been out there for the last two weeks.

BLITZER: Yes, those peaceful protests are really having a huge impact. About a dozen cities are doing what you just announced you're doing in Houston.

Chief Acevedo you testified up on Capitol Hill today, and you heard George Floyd's younger brother, he had very emotional testimony. What do you hope that lawmakers took away from your testimony about necessary police reform?

CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think what I'm hopeful that the take away is they'll take the lead of Mayor Turner and our council here, and make and ensure that policies, the critical policies and procedures and the requirements that we are setting standard here in Houston that they are required across 18,000 police departments, because we know what happened in Minneapolis had an impacted on the entire nation.

And the second thing is that not have a knee jerk reaction in terms of defunding the police department that Mayor Turner and his colleagues recognize because, you know, they come from this community, born and raised in this community, and realize the community that needs us most is the communities of color and the poor communities and quite, frankly, I am privileged to work for a mayor who understands the impact and has the courage to do the right thing for the right reasons and not just look for political expediency.

BLITZER: Well, what about that, Mayor? You see all the protesters raising banners saying, defund the police. Give us specifically your attitude on that.

TURNER: Well, you know, I think what people are wanting in many ways, they're wanting good policing and they accountability. And what they are saying is, if your funding is going just to law enforcement and you're not investing significant dollars in communities that have been underresourced and underserved for decades you've got it all wrong.

Because if the message is that you're going to fund police to police these communities and incarcerate them but you're not willing to make significant, impactful investments in their schools, in their communities, in their parks, provide an economic business and job opportunities, good, sound infrastructure, access to health care, you are missing the mark.

And so it is important for systems on every level, the federal, state, and the local level to re-shift its priorities. And if you invest in these communities that have been underserved and underresourced for decades then you won't have to spend as much on policing these communities.

But if we get it wrong, if we can continue to get it wrong, then these -- the people in these communities, they are going to continue to march, demonstrate, protest, they will get in your face, they're going to make you uncomfortable if your priority in terms of your funding and your dollars are just on the policing element.

And so that's the point I think the work that they are making. We need community. We need law enforcement. But it is important for us to prioritize our dollars and place in those dollars in these communities so that we can build communities of opportunity.

BLITZER: I want to get your quick reaction, Chief Acevedo. We're just learning that one of the ex-Minneapolis police officers charged in the aiding and abetting, in the killing of George Floyd, ex-police officer named Thomas Lane, there you see his picture, he is now out of jail after making bail. I'm just curious to get your reaction to that.

ACEVEDO: Well, you know, I think it's going to be disheartening for a lot of community members because we know that bail reform is something we're dealing with on a national level. And, you know, they committed a heinous act and a very dangerous act and a very violent act and I'm not sure that bail would be my preference because of anything else we want to have a chilling effect on officers in the future that may want to try to basically murder somebody on duty like happened with Mr. Floyd.

BLITZER: Interesting he posted $750,000 bond to get out of jail, so we'll continue to watch this. Chief Acevedo, thank you so much for joining us. Mayor Turner, thanks to you once again. You guys are very, very busy. Good luck going on. We're always deeply appreciative of you, taking a few moments and joining us. Thank you to both of you.

TURNER: Thanks, Wolf.

ACEVEDO: Thank, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, new surges of the coronavirus pandemic in the south, other parts of the United States, as the top doctor is now predicting another 100,000 deaths here in the United States by September. Is this the price of reopening? We'll update you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: The U.S. is now nearing 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 112,000 deaths, as a top Harvard doctor now says the country can expect another 100,000 deaths by September. CNN's National Correspondent Erica Hill has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sobering new data about coronavirus related hospitalizations, up in at least a dozen states since Memorial Day weekend.

DR. MANDY COHEN, SECRETARY, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: It was our highest day yet of hospitalizations. I continue to be concerned.

HILL: In Arizona, 79 percent of the state's ICU beds are currently in use. The director of health services is asking hospitals to activate their emergency plans and reduce or suspend elective surgeries. The overall trends alarming health officials.

RICHARD BESSER, PRESIDENT & CEO, ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION: What concerns me is do we have the systems in place to ensure that a case in a community doesn't lead to a cluster, doesn't lead to an outbreak, doesn't lead to a health care system once again getting overwhelmed?

HILL: Across the country 19 states reporting a rise in new cases over the past week, including Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina among the first to reopen. Much of the northeast, seeing a decline.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It has to be done right and we have to stay disciplined and the evidence is all around us what happens if we're not.

HILL: New CNN polling shows Americans are split when it comes to returning to their regular routines and whether the worst is behind us. Women are more likely than men to exercise caution. Just 38 percent say they're ready to resume those routines and yet the country moves forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've missed it. I mean this is the reason I live here.

HILL: Miami's beaches reopened this morning. Students in Vermont and Rhode Island will be back in the classroom this fall. NASCAR fans can watch the action in person with masks and distance this weekend in Homestead, Florida.

The U.S. government says it will fund and study three experimental vaccines this summer, including one from Johnson & Johnson set to begin human trials next month.

BESSER: Even with the vaccine, there may be other steps that we have to continue to take to control coronavirus.

HILL: Face coverings and social distancing here to stay as experts caution this virus is not going away.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: I understand people are willing to live alongside this virus. It means that between 800 and a thousand Americans are going to die every single day. We're going to get another 100,000 deaths by September. So that's a catastrophic cost.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: We think about where we are today talking about another hundred thousand deaths by September. We heard from the governor of Mississippi today who said, while he wants COVID to be over, the data says that it's not.

That being said we're seeing more and more re-openings. Los Angeles County just announcing today that music, film, and T.V. production can resume on Friday obviously with restrictions and safety protocols, Wolf. But again as more things reopen there are increasing warnings from experts.

BLITZER: So disturbing. Erica Hill, thank you very much for that update.

And just ahead I'll speak with the doctor, Ashish Jha. You just saw him there, he is right there. We'll talk about his startling prediction potentially of another 100,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths by September.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:49:37]

BLITZER: We're back now with more on the coronavirus pandemic that clearly continues as the U.S. death toll now surpasses 112,000 over the past three months alone.

Our next guest is actually predicting another 100,000 deaths by this September.

Joining us now, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Dr. Jha, we did some checking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Thursday suggested that by June 27th, that's this month, there could be between 118,000 to 143,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S.

[18:50:13]

The University of Washington study said by August 4th there could be 145,000 deaths in the United States. But you're now suggesting 100,000, another 100,000 Americans will die potentially by September. Tell us why.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, Wolf, thanks for having me on. And I'm really sorry to have to share such news.

But if you look at the data, if you look at where we are as a country, between 800 and 1,000 Americans are dying every day. Even if you look the low end of that, 800, that's 25,000 deaths a month. And over the next three months, that's an additional 75,000. That's by the time we get into early September.

Unless we change course -- even if we don't have increases cases, even if we keep things flat, I think it is reasonable to expect that we're going to hit 200,000 deaths sometime during the month of September.

I think that's catastrophic. I think that's not something we have to be fated to live with. We can change course. We can change course today, but we have to make that decision to do it differently. Otherwise that's what we're looking at.

And that's just through September. The pandemic won't be over in September. So, I'm really worried about where we're going to be in the weeks and months ahead.

BLITZER: As you know, coronavirus hospitalizations, they're up in at least a dozen states. Health officials have feared we would see spikes following the Memorial Day activity. It takes a week or two incubation to see those results.

Do you fear we're starting to see the negative effect of relaxed restrictions around the country right now?

JHA: Yes, you know, we're really the only major country in the world that opened back up without really getting our cases as down low as we really needed to. We're also one of the few, kind of, you know, advanced countries that doesn't really have a robust testing and tracing infrastructure. Put all that together, and we have made this whole situation for more risky.

And so, yes, we're starting to see the negative effects of opening up. I've always argued we can open up safely and get our economy back but we've got to do it smartly. And we're just not doing it the way we need to.

BLITZER: Yes, yesterday, 983 Americans died alone and we see that number very often going up to 1,000 Americans dying almost every single day.

So, give us the most important thing we should be doing now to stop this.

JHA: Yes, so I think there are -- there's no single thing, right? We've got to maintain as much social distancing as possible. I think masks might be a lot more valuable than we thought in the past. I think people need to be wearing masks.

And we have to put measure on the government to ramp up testing and tracing and really make that a critical thing. That's what both keeps lives saved and lets the economy open up safely. I just can't understand why the federal government hasn't taken that on as a bigger priority.

BLITZER: Yes, you make a really, really critically important point. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there think it's over. It's by no means over at all.

Dr. Ashish Jha from Harvard, thank you very much for joining us.

JHA: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And thanks for the important work you're doing.

Just ahead, we'll take a closer look at the voting debacle in Georgia, malfunctioning machines, hours-long wait times, especially in minority communities. Is this a preview of the presidential election in November?

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BLITZER: Tonight, the Georgia secretary of state is launching an investigation into voting problems in the state's primary. Mostly minority areas were affected even as racial inequities are in the national spotlight.

Let's bring in our political correspondent Abby Phillip.

Abby, this is being described as a catastrophe, a complete meltdown. First of all, what are you learning about what happened in Georgia?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so much happened, Wolf, that it is almost difficult to explain in a short period of time because virtually every part of the voting process broke down in some way. But let's start with mail-in voting because that really is the core of what's happening here. Georgia expanded mail-in voting to allow more people to be able to do that and about 1.5 million people in that state applied to cast ballots by mail. That is a huge increase over what they normally see.

And as a result of that, election officials were incredibly overwhelmed. And by the time we got to Election Day, many of the voters said -- that I spoke to -- said they hadn't received their ballots. They weren't sure what the status was. Some of those people showed up to vote in person.

And that's where we saw a lot of the problems on Tuesday, the lines we saw at these polling places were massive. There were not enough polling machines, not enough polling locations, and even some workers who were relatively new to the job weren't sure how to use the new polling machines.

A lot of this is related to the coronavirus. They had some problems with sites because locations pulled out. They didn't want to host elections because of coronavirus fears. They also lost a lot of election workers who were concerned about contracting the virus or were unable to work on Election Day. All of this foreshadows what we could see all across the country if election officials don't work quickly to get a handle on some of those logistical problems.

There needs to be planning that goes into this staffing. They need to find people who are willing and able to work in order to deal with the massive influx of voters who apparently in this election cycle are coming out to cast their ballots by mail and also, Wolf, in person.

BLITZER: Yes, it was outrageous, some people waited three, four, five, six hours to cast their ballot. It was raining. It's just a terrible situation. Let's hope they fix it by November.

Abby, thank you very much.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.