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Joint Chiefs Chairman Apologizes; Dow Dives; Nashville Delaying Next Phase of Reopening Due to Spike in Cases; U.S. Surpasses 2 Million Confirmed Cases, Nearly 113,000 Deaths. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 11, 2020 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What's responsible for what happened today?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I think that investors (AUDIO GAP) driven by just these new fears of the virus impacting the economy again just as states are reopening and as new cases are rising in many states.

I think reality is really hitting home with investors, because if there's a second wave of the pandemic, there's concern that it could put the brakes on the economy again, even when the economy's trying to pick itself up off the ground.

(AUDIO GAP) huge losses really undermine that extreme optimism that we have been seeing in the market lately that had pushed stocks to a new record. We saw the Nasdaq just a few days ago hit a new record, the S&P 500 getting into positive for the year.

(AUDIO GAP) Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell's comments yesterday, his assessment about the prospect of a recovery, Powell warning that the economic recovery will likely take a long time.

So, what we're seeing, Jake, are investors literally taking gains off the table for what could come next -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, the Dow down 1,861 points today.

Now to the politics lead. Any moment, we expect President Trump in Dallas, Texas, to talk about race and policing at an event with law enforcement and community leaders. This comes as, of course, the United States of America is facing something of a reckoning, and President Trump so far has largely been on the sidelines when it comes to policy solutions, not yet endorsing any specific policing reforms, for example.

And, of course, when it comes to a leader trying to heal this nation, well, this president seems more focused, frankly, on dividing, retweeting an attack on the character of George Floyd, pushing out bizarre conspiracy theories about the old Buffalo protester assaulted by police, refusing to even have a conversation that the Pentagon wants about renaming military bases named after Confederate generals, and tweeting today in all caps: "Those that deny their history are doomed to repeat it," an ominous warning. President Trump today also attacking protesters in Seattle as domestic

terrorists, as General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly broke with the president, saying that his appearance at that church photo-op at the beginning of last week, where peaceful protesters were violently cleared by police, saying that that was a mistake and that he should not have been there.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports for us now, General Milley joins a long line of current and former military officials distancing themselves from, if not outright coming out against President Trump in recent weeks.


QUESTION: Your reaction to Milley?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump left Washington today without commenting on the remarkable apology from the nation's top military official for participating in his photo-op at St. John's Church near the White House.

In his first public remarks since authorities cleared peaceful protesters in the area using chemical gas and rubber projectiles, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said he made a mistake.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched. And I am not immune, as many of you saw the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week.

That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there.

COLLINS: In a prerecorded address to graduates, Milley said he was angry about the murder of George Floyd and offered this praise for peaceful protesters:

MILLEY: Peaceful protests means that American freedom is working.

COLLINS: The apology capped off an extraordinary week showcasing a deep divide between the president and the Pentagon.

MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act. His current defense secretary pushed back on his demand to use active-duty troops to crack down on protests. His former defense secretary condemned him in a rare statement.

And Colin Powell, the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs, accused Trump of drifting away from the Constitution. That divide was deepened yesterday when Trump flatly rejected a suggestion under consideration at the Pentagon to rename military bases that are named for Confederate leaders.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president will not stand for that. And these names are associated with the heroes within them, not the name on the fort.

COLLINS: Sources say the president remains convinced that these racially tinged culture wars that he immersed himself in, in 2016 remain a winning strategy, and his latest salvo comes as he's preparing a return to the campaign trail.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do we have a great time at a Trump rally?


COLLINS: The date and location of his first rally since he suspended them amid the coronavirus is coming under scrutiny. Trump will be in Tulsa next Friday on Juneteenth, the annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery.


It's the site of a race massacre 99 years ago, when a white mob killed hundreds of black citizens, and was recently portrayed in the beginning of the popular HBO show the "Watchmen."


COLLINS: Now, Jake, the president just landed in Dallas, and he's supposed to have this roundtable that the White House has described as focusing on justice disparities.

But we are learning that three key law enforcement officials in the area have not been invited. That's the Dallas police chief, the sheriff and the district attorney, though the White House did say they did invite some law enforcement officials, including the police chief of a nearby town, Glenn Heights, which has about 15,000 people.

They invited the state attorney general and they also invited some police union chiefs as well. But those three officials will not be there when the president does make his remarks or host this roundtable that the White House has been describing.

TAPPER: Those three individuals were not invited by the White House to this event with law enforcement in Dallas. Is that right? That's what you're saying, Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Yes, that's what...

TAPPER: Let's put the pictures up again, if we can.

COLLINS: Yes, the Dallas -- a local Dallas outlet first reported this.

CNN, our team on the ground, has confirmed that, that the police chief, the sheriff as well, and the Dallas County district attorney have all not been invited to this event that the president is holding in Dallas, where he's expected to make remarks and make some kind of news, according to the White House. But they have not been invited to that.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much for that reporting. Appreciate it.

Joining me now, retired Major General Dana Pittard, a two-star general who commanded troops in Iraq.

General, I want to start with your reaction to what we heard from Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley today, coming out publicly and saying it was a mistake for him to have participated in the photo- op and the clearing of the park last week.

Really remarkable. I have never seen anything like it. What are your thoughts, sir?

MAJ. GEN. DANA PITTARD (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, good evening, Jake.

General -- I applaud General Mark Milley. In fact, I have known him for years. And that's the Mark Milley that I know. He has admitted a mistake. He has taken ownership of it, responsibility. And he's moving forward.

So it's -- in fact, it's refreshing.

TAPPER: Interesting.

General, another issue that we might hear President Trump discuss today -- we're not sure -- is the debate over removing the names of Confederate generals from military bases named after them.

You have said you have known for decades that it's an insult to African American soldiers for these bases to carry these names of -- I mean, let's face it, these were traitors.

So what is your response when you hear President Trump's response that under no circumstances will he consider renaming them, even though the Pentagon apparently wants to start a bipartisan conversation about it?

PITTARD: Yes, I was disappointed when I saw the president's tweet.

And don't know if it's -- if he's not getting good advice from his advisers or he's just not listening. The bottom line is, those bases, they need to be renamed.

I applaud the Marine Corps for moving forward with removing all Confederate paraphernalia from all Marine Corps bases, as well as Naval bases. And the Army needs to do the same thing.

But there are 10 installations in the Army that still are named after Confederate generals who betrayed our nation. They need to be renamed.

TAPPER: And you have said that the military is no more racist than the society it protects. But you have also talked about your personal encounters with racism in the ranks, from being denied command of an armored cavalry troop unit by a racist commander in the '80s, to ethnic slurs said to you, to a commander having a portrait of a Klan founder and Confederate general in his living room.

I don't know if you think there's systemic racism in the military, or if it's just there are racist jerks in every big organization. But either way, what's the solution, do you think?


I mean, there is a legacy of systemic racism, both in the military, but in society in general. And I will tell you, the Army in particular has made great strides. Right now, there are 43 that I -- from my count, 43 active-duty African-American general officers in the Army.

If you look at that, that's pretty high, compared to demographics in society. I wish the corporate world was as progressive as the Army in that regard.

And what the Army started to do -- and it's not perfect. There's a lot of room for improvement, and there's much more that needs to be done. But they listened. And then they had mechanisms for reporting equal opportunity violations.

So things are moving in the right direction, obviously, not fast enough for so many of us. But they're moving in the right direction. And society in general can learn from what the Army and other places in the U.S. military have done.


TAPPER: All right, General, thank you so much. It's been an honor to have you.

And you can read more from the general. He has a great new book out called "Hunting the Caliphate."

Major General Dana Pittard, thank you so much. And thank you, of course, for your service.

PITTARD: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up -- oh, hold on one second.

Joining me now, I want to bring in a former federal prosecutor and CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates.

Laura, let's talk about what the president's up to today. He's largely avoided answering questions from reporters over the last week-and-a- half. He's finally about to sit down and talk about race in Texas, although you saw some notable people who are not invited to this roundtable.

But he has been ambiguous about what policing reforms he might support. There hasn't been any big speech on unity. And he has said that he won't even consider what the Pentagon wants, which is a conversation about renaming these military bases named after Confederate generals.

What's your take on all this? Why is he handling it this way?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think what you described in an umbrella term would be leadership and talking about the things the American people will require of somebody who's the head of the very branch of government that's in charge of enforcing the laws.

It's very, very critical that people hear not only from the president of the United States, but also have some level of faith in the process, so that he will not do things that will undermine what the other branches of government have been talking about.

The Supreme Court is talking about reassessing qualified immunity, legislative branch talking about police reform on a wider scale, even corporate America looking at issues of how they can either remove technology that has algorithms that have their bias, like the recognition software, or even having a say in Georgia with companies saying, we want hate crime legislation there because of Ahmaud Arbery and other people.

The president's silence on these issues really leaves a void and really makes people think to themselves, well, is the so-called law and order president actually interested in restoring law and order and being in line with the police unions, who oftentimes say they too want to see reform, that -- where they're not judged by the worst among them, and they can actually perform the function that we want them to perform.

But what's really important is who is invited and who's not invited. Unless the president is prepared to have a holistic and comprehensive discussion with all of the agents of change and the key players, it will all fall upon deaf ears.

And that's not a good sign for somebody who leads the executive branch of government.

TAPPER: What do you need to see or hear from the president today to show that his administration is serious about addressing these problems head on?

You're a former prosecutor. In addition, you're from Minneapolis, not far from where Mr. Floyd was killed. What do you want him to say?

COATES: Well, there has to be first and acknowledgement that the statements by his own attorney general that there is no systemic bias or discrimination in America as relates to the criminal justice system is just simply belied by the facts, that there needs to be greater transparency and accountability, contrary to what his own national security adviser has said.

It doesn't take much to admit the obvious, particularly, Jake, when there are laws that are -- have enough foresight to say, we anticipate and try to rectify abuse of power, like color of law, et cetera.

So we need to hear an acknowledgement and then some actual productive steps to correct the issues.

TAPPER: All right, Laura Coates, thank you so much. We always appreciate your voice.

In the wake of this national conversation about race and racism, President Trump will restart his campaign rallies in a city that has a horrific racist past and where a police major is currently under fire for racist comments. That's ahead.

And next: one major city delaying the next phase of reopening, as coronavirus cases spike across the United States.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our health lead, Nashville delaying the next phase of reopening due to the increase spread of coronavirus in that city. This comes as at least a dozen states in the U.S. are battling major spikes in new infections and in hospitalizations, though some governors seem un-inclined to reinstitute restrictions.

More than 113,000 people have lost their lives here in the U.S. because of COVID-19 -- and as CNN's Erica Hill reports for us now, a dire new forecast is predicting it's only going to get worse.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Americans embrace summer, health experts are focused on disturbing new data trends.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Somehow as a country, we have decided that hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from this virus is okay, and that is unbelievable to me.

HILL: New modeling forecast nearly 170,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. by October 1st. In Arizona, nearly 80 percent of the state's ICU beds are now in use. It's one of at least a dozen states seeing a spike in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

DR. JAY VARKEY, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: I think that a critical shortage of ICU beds is absolutely the nightmare scenario. That was the whole reason we were emphasizing about flattening the curve.

HILL: In some of first states to reopen, the curve is not flattening. Florida is still posting more than 1,000 new cases a day. In South Carolina, daily counts have been rising over the past two weeks.

DR. LINDA BELL, SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL: I am more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina than I have ever been before.

HILL: Much of the west and south also reporting an uptick.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): I want COVID-19 to be over, but the data suggests otherwise.

HILL: Nashville now delaying its next phase in reopening in response to a rise in new cases, one of the first big cities to change course.

While in Iowa, the iconic state fair has been postponed for the first time since World War II. No butter cows and campaigning.

New research from the U.K. boosting the case for wearing a mask, noting widespread use could help avoid a second wave.


ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES: It is consistent with several other studies which essentially show that if you get the majority of people wearing mask, the virus really has no place to go.

HILL: And in Chicago, a medical first -- a successful double lung transplant for a woman in her 20s whose lungs were damaged by the virus.

DR. ANKIT BHARAT, CHIEF OF THORACIC SURGERY, NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE: Yesterday, she smiled and told me just one sentence. She said, doc, thank you for not giving up on me. As health care providers, there's nothing more gratifying to hear. This is why we do what we do.

HILL: A bit of hope in uncertain times.


HILL: Jake, in terms of that uncertainty, as you look around the country, we heard from the governor of Colorado today. Cases are staying (ph) in his case but he's started to get concerned by what he's seeing in Utah and Arizona, because there's so much travel between those three states. We also heard from local officials in South Carolina, which as you know is really seeing an increase in cases there. Local officials in Folly Beach, Myrtle Beach and others say they are canceling July Fourth celebration, including fireworks, over concerns about the spread of the virus, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Erica Hill in New York. Thank you so much.

Joining us now, the former health commissioner of Texas and current vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer at the University of Texas System, Dr. David Lakey.

Dr. Lakey, thanks so much for joining us.

At least twelve states have seen an uptick in coronavirus hospitalization since Memorial Day. Why? Is it because of reopenings? Is it in Texas are people not adhering to wearing masks and social distancing guidelines?

DR. DAVID LAKEY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SYSTEM: I think there's many factors involved in the increase. In many ways, I think it was predictable. With the Memorial Day weekend, with the other, the marches, et cetera, and with reopening, we should assume that the number of cases will go up.

Now, as they go up, we also need to continue to watch hospitalization numbers. And we will have to have significant capacity in the state of Texas right now. But it is concerning that the numbers have gone up. We're now at increase -- we had 2,153 patients in Texas hospitals as of this morning. And so, that's -- that's significantly higher than it has been in the last week or so.

TAPPER: So what would you say to Governor Abbott or to your fellow Texans about what they need to do to prevent hospitalizations and sickness and death?

LAKEY: Yes, I think there's personal responsibility that we need to do. I go out, I do things, but I'm careful. I wear a mask when I'm out in public. I wash my hands.

If I'm sick, I'm not going to go into work. I'm not going to go out.

So, these basic public health principles, we need to remember them. The virus is out there in our community. If we aren't vigilant, if we're not prudent, we shouldn't assume that we're not going to get infected with this virus. And so, until we get a vaccine, these public health measures that we've used for a century are really the cornerstone of preventing the spread of this virus in our communities.

TAPPER: So you were the health commissioner for Texas during the Ebola crisis. And a man died in Texas of Ebola after traveling to West Africa. Obviously, Ebola and coronavirus are very different. Ebola is deadlier in a lot of ways, and coronavirus is more contagious, more infectious.

Do you think Texas has been handling this spread, this threat properly?

LAKEY: I think they're doing a good job. I think in these events you need to be careful. You need to be prudent.

I think we, so far, Texas has been relatively spared. Our numbers are lower than the national average. I think that's a variety -- there's a variety of reasons. Early on we also make sure we had hospital capacity. We decreased the number of people in hospitals by stopping elective surgeries early on and waited until we had the right amount of PPE, personal protective equipment, before opening up.

But I think there comes a point where you have to take those steps in opening business back up. That there are tremendous consequences if you have this prolonged lockdown, and not only economic and poverty, but the mental health challenges, substance abuse challenges, domestic violence, child abuse -- there's a variety of, you know, chronic diseases that if people can't get the medical care that they need.

So you can't do full lockdown, and you can't do -- we can't just open things wide open right now. So that middle ground of doing prudent steps to open up business but also to wear the mask, take care of the hand hygiene.


And really important is to protect older individuals, protecting the nursing home so we don't introduce the virus into the vulnerable populations. It's really, really important. TAPPER: All right. Dr. David Lakey, thank you so much. We really

appreciate your time and expertise.

A top Democrat is calling it a welcome home party for white supremacists. Up next, we're going to dig deeper into the Trump campaign's decision to restart President Trump's election rallies on Juneteenth in a city with a devastating racist history.

Stay with us.