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President Trump Tweets He Does Not Support Changing Names of Military Bases Named after Confederate Generals; Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) Interviewed on Differences between Democratic and Republican Proposals for Police Reform; Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) is Interviewed About the Police Reform Bill; Top Harvard Doctor Predicts Another 100,000 U.S. Deaths by September. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 11, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Expert who joins us shortly predicts there will be 100,000 mores deaths in this country by September. Another key model is showing a spike that will come in September with projections that the rate of news deaths could rise to about 4,000 a day. Now, those are projections, but you don't have to project to know what's happening right now. Hospitalizations are on the rise in nine states. That's not about more testing. It's about more sick people in the hospital.

All right, first though, the major developments in the confrontation with racism, the reckoning in many ways in the country this morning. Joining us now, CNN political commentator Karen Finney. She's a former senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Also with us, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip.

Karen, I was joking with Abby that I've taken to just quoting her sometimes with attribution, so now I'm going to give her attribution. We were talking about what the president is actually for this morning. You have Democrats and Republicans in Congress both coming up with proposals for police reform. The president hasn't said what he will support yet. But he has told us some other things which indicate where his head is in the middle of this discussion, namely, in the last 24 hours he has told us he won't even consider, will not even discuss renaming military bases that are named after Confederate generals, generals who fought for slavery. So what does that tell us about what the president is for in the midst of this discussion?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It tells us that this president is transactional. He is thinking about his election and how to both hold on to his base of support, and floating this idea of potentially doing some sort of executive order around reforms, which, by the way, I think for most black people in this country right now reform has not worked. We need a full overhaul.

We also know that this president and the people he surrounds himself with don't even think systemic racism in our policing system let alone our whole country is real. So that is what we know. I think we also know, and we knew this from the beginning, certainly

that incident in Charlottesville, you heard me talk about this before, where he couldn't even denounce what was happening -- he has no credibility on this issue. He doesn't understand it. He doesn't care to understand it. And so whatever it is he chooses to do I think is only going to do damage to the effort to try to move our country forward.

And just as Alisyn -- having the tough conversations, and a reckoning with the fact that, as you point out, those generals -- I'm related to Robert E. Lee through my mother who is named Mildred Lee. And he was a traitor to this country, to everything we believe in. We have to tell the truth and be honest about what our history and our past is and what's really happening in our country right now.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Abby, President Trump is very passionate about these confederate leaders. He feels very strongly siding with them. There's just no other way to say it. And as Karen just points out, they were trying to secede from the union. We wouldn't be the United States right now if they hadn't been lousy generals. That's the other thing. And so -- but yet, he feels so strongly. I just have to read the language that he is using this this tweet. "It's been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our legendary bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia. These monumental and very powerful bases have become a part of great American heritage and a history of winning, victory, and freedom." He is dug in here.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It is amazing that that is actually the justification, history, winning, and freedom. And a lot of people have rightly pointed out that some of these generals you wouldn't -- first of all, you would certainly not associate really any of them with freedom, but some of these you couldn't even associate with winning.

But I also think that a lot of times it's tempting for people to assume that everything that President Trump does on this issue is solely because of partisanship. I do think it is important to him to signal to his supporters that he's with them on these cultural issues, but I also think that this is where he actually is. This is what he wants to do, what he cares about, what he thinks is important. And it is to the exclusion of a large swath of the country that has actually said, you know what, yes, we are ready to have these tough conversations. We are ready to start listening to our black brothers and sisters and neighbors and relatives in this country and listen to what they have to say. The problem is the White House is not really interested in having that conversation.

[08:05:04]

They won't even listen to Republicans in their own party. That's what's been very interesting about what Larry Kudlow, the economic adviser, said yesterday, insisting that systemic racism doesn't exist. He's not even listening to black people who are also Republicans who are also allies of the White House who say that is not true. And that's why I think there's such -- frankly, I think what we're seeing in the public opinion is that Americans believe that the president is not helping this situation. I think they would like him to listen, and it's for all of these reasons that they believe that all of this kind of language and divisiveness is not helping heal these wounds that have been here for so long.

BERMAN: Just look where the rest of America is going right now. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag, the president defending Confederate symbols. Just think of the staggering difference there.

And, Karen, there's another issue. Next week, the president is going to give his first campaign rally, he's going to hold his first campaign rally. He's going to Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19th. OK, there's like a million things there, leave the campaign rally, he doesn't want to social distance, no masks in audience aside -- we'll talk pandemic in a second. But June 19th, Juneteenth, which for many people is the moment to mark the end of slavery. It's an important date for African-Americans in this country. And then Tulsa, which was the site of one of the most horrible race massacres on U.S. soil. Again, I don't know what he knows about these things, but someone in there should be aware of the symbolism here, and he may want to address that.

FINNEY: I think a couple of things on that. Number one, they may be aware, and this may be a very clear dog whistle. Again, as Abby was pointing out, Trump does understand from a cultural perspective that the swath of his base, that remember in so many of the studies we saw after 2016, that it was racial anxiety that people were really feeling and that he spoke to so effectively. So this is in many ways the same playbook. It's offensive.

Think about it -- this is the way I think about it. If those Confederate generals had won, that could mean that people like Abby and myself would still be enslaved. That's what we're talking about when we talk about the Confederacy on the Civil War and why these symbols and these dates are so meaningful.

And certainly, to not only desecrate Juneteenth, but to do it in a place -- one of the things that was so important about Tulsa is it was called the black Wall Street. It was a place where black Americans actually, there was a -- beginning to accrue wealth. And that we know is one of the many markers of systemic racism that is in the very bones of our systems, that black Americans do not -- the wealth disparity is very wide as is the unemployment rates. There's so many things you can point to, as you said, John, about why this is so wrong, sends the wrong message.

And again, going back to your initial question, makes it very clear where his heart really is. He is racist. He does not seem to care, nor does he seem to have any interest in changing or understanding, and that is not where the country is right now.

CAMEROTA: Right. Same playbook as the last time, different moment. And so we will see if that is politically wise or unwise. Karen, Abby, thank you both very much.

PHILLIP: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: There's support from both parties for police reform. Is this finally an issue the Democrats and Republicans can come together on? Well, not at the moment, but we'll speak to a Democratic congressman about what's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:12:38]

BERMAN: Congress is expected to vote on legislation in the coming weeks that would reform policing. This is after the killing of George Floyd. So what is in the bill, and does it have the votes? Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee and is the cochair of Joe Biden's presidential campaign. Congressman, a pleasure to be with you.

The Democrats have put their plan on the table. Republicans are still coming up with theirs. They will present it later. But we do know broadly speaking what some of the differences will be. And I'm going to put it up on the screen here. The differences are the Republican proposal does not call for a ban on the chokeholds. The Democratic proposal does. On the issue of qualified immunity for police officers, the Republican proposal does not call for it. The Democratic proposal does. There are some other differences as well. On those two specific matters, why are they important to the Democrats?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND, (D-LA): Well, if we still have to explain why banning chokeholds are measures that restrict airways is important, then I think we have not acknowledged the moment in American history. And qualified immunity at some -- we're at a point where you have to hold police officers accountable, and families are to be able to recuperate for the wrong. So when you say excessive force and a police officer uses excessive force and causes a death to somebody, the family should be able to recover.

But more important, they don't address no-knock warrants. So the real question is whether they're serious and whether they're big enough to rise to this moment in American history. And what I saw yesterday at the Judiciary hearing, they are not there yet.

BERMAN: Why?

RICHMOND: They still have to recognize where we are.

BERMAN: On chokeholds, so if they're not willing to ban chokeholds that's a nonstarter for you in terms of what negotiations may happen ultimately?

RICHMOND: Well, eight minutes, 46 seconds, a knee on the neck, and if they are not willing to ban chokeholds, I just think that -- I really don't want to talk to them if that's the point. So if you're asking me, is that a nonstarter for me, yes. They cannot acknowledge that that is the starting point, then we can't go anywhere from there. I just think that that is so clear that it's absurd that they can't get there. [08:15:01]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to ask you a question about military installations named after Confederate generals. There's one in Louisiana, Camp Beauregard, which is named after the Confederate general who led the siege on Ft. Sumter at the very beginning, at the very beginning of the civil war itself, but President Trump says he won't even discuss rename these bases that are named after -- that honor Confederate generals who fought to maintain slavery.

What does that tell you?

RICHMOND: Donald Trump is exactly who I thought he was. And that's a racist. And the real question is, who are we and whether this nation will rise up to this moment?

And I believe, if looking at the people in the street, the uncomfortable conversations that are starting to happen all around this country, this country is a great country and people are starting to recognize and come together and heal these wounds.

And this guy in the White House is just unable to comprehend the moment. And he's unable to heal this country. So, of course, he's going to retreat where he always retreats and that is when his numbers look bad, when things are not going his way, he doubles -- double downs on racism.

So it's not surprising, it's exactly what I expected. But the real question is, if you're a Donald Trump support, the question is, why? And I think that the country is bigger and better than that and he's showing us exactly who he is.

BERMAN: The White House says he's considering an executive order on police reforms. What are your expectations there?

RICHMOND: None. I have no expectations from this president. If he does it, it will only be because of his staff pushing him there because of poll numbers. But he should just get out of the way and say that he supports Congress exerting its will, passing a meaningful law.

Or how about this, just say you support the Democrat's bill? Which I think is very reasonable. It's not a bridge too far, and it actually solves most of the problems in terms of police reform.

So I really would just ask that he get out of the way and let the Democrats lead on this and just support us. How hard is that to do as a president to say I think the Democrats have a good idea and I'm willing to support it?

BERMAN: You are a co-chair of Joe Biden's presidential campaign, the former vice president was on "The Daily Show" overnight and he was asked about whether he worried that President Trump would resist leaving office if defeated in November. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TREVOR NOAH, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: Have you ever considered what would happen if the election results came out as you being the winner and Trump refused to leave?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE: Yes, I have and I was so damn proud. You have four chiefs of staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump, and you have so many rank-and-file military personnel saying, whoa. We're not a military state, this is not who we are.

I promise you, I'm absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House in a very -- with great dispatch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: What do you make of that? I mean, I guess there are two questions there. One, do you think the military -- it will take the military to remove President Trump from office if he's defeated?

RICHMOND: Well, I haven't asked for much on this campaign but I want to be on the escort committee to make sure that he leaves the White House.

But it's a serious question. I mean, we have always had a peaceful transition of power. That's what makes America different than most of the world. And so, it's a real concern that he will create an issue or a problem and decide that he will not honor the election results, and I believe that's why, one, we need to win with really big numbers. Two, the country needs to meet the moment. And three, we need to start to ignore the temper tantrums that come from the White House.

But I think that former Vice President Biden is exactly correct. I believe the military generals and others will step up and make sure that there's a peaceful transition of power.

BERMAN: Congressman Cedric Richmond, we appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us this morning.

RICHMOND: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: All right. So the U.S. death toll from coronavirus could double in the next few months. That's according to one top public health doctor at Harvard who is making that claim. We're going to speak to him, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:23:40]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. just surpassed more than 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases. And a top Harvard doctor now predicts another 100,000 Americans will be killed by the virus by September. That is much higher than some other models predict.

That Harvard doctor, Ashish Jha, joins us now. He's the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Jha, always great to have you here.

You certainly got a lot of our attention with your prediction and just explain the math to me. Explain how it took five months when the virus was galloping out of control before we knew anything about having to wear masks and wash our hands. Five months to get to that horrible milestone of 100,000. So, now how, when we know so much more, will it only take three months to add another 100,000 deaths?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yeah, so good morning, thanks for having me on.

You know, most of the first 100,000 deaths happened in April and May. And now, we're at a point where we have about 800 to 1,000 Americans dying every day from the coronavirus.

And if we just stay flat, if we don't see a surge in cases, if we just stay flat all summer, that's about 25,000 to 30,000 deaths a month. And we go out -- we're at 113,000 now. At some point in September, we are going to cross the 200,000 mark.

[08:25:04]

And we won't be done, right? We'll have many, many more months to go.

It's really stunning to me that we have this much suffering and death and we're just not doing enough about it.

BERMAN: What do you see that indicates to you that we will as you say just stay flat? One statistic just so people know that jumped out to me overnight was that nine states are actually seeing an increase in hospitalizations, which is different than just people testing positive. These are people who are actually sick enough to go to the hospital.

JHA: Yes, I'm being conservative about this, because obviously if we see increase in cases, increase in hospitalizations, which we are seeing in 21 states, or 20 states, we are seeing increases in cases, nine we're seeing hospitalizations, if those trends continue then, then I'm being too optimistic, that it will come sooner than that.

But I'm hopeful we can get our act together an at least put back some of the social distancing stuff that we let go. Nobody wants a lockdown, and that's not what I'm suggesting we need to at all, but we do need to take this virus seriously. It is done. We are not done with this pandemic.

CAMEROTA: What about the theory that in warmer weather come summer, that that will help suppress the numbers? Are we seeing that in the more northern states where it's now hot?

JHA: Yes. So, I'm still hopeful that the summer buys us a little bit. I mean, no one thinks that the summer is going to, you know, kind of magically make the virus go away. If you look at where we're seeing the new cases, the big increases in cases that are happening in Arizona, and Texas and Florida and North Carolina and South Carolina, those are pretty warm places right now.

And so, the summer months, they help a little, but they're no magic for getting rid of this virus.

BERMAN: Yes. I'm no meteorologist, but I do know that it's pretty hot in Arizona and Texas and North Carolina and South Carolina.

Dr. Jha, what keeps you up? I mean, you know, to say there's another 100,000 new deaths by September, that would keep me up. What is it specifically that you see that has you most alarmed?

JHA: You know, what I'm really worried about, what bothers me, what upsets me, keeps me awake is it's not just all these people dying, but it's all the other people who are suffering, getting very, very sick, the families.

And somehow as a country, we have decided that hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from this virus is okay. We're just not going to act. We're not going to do things that we know can prevent it, and that is unbelievable to me. I still don't believe it most days.

And I'm hoping that we as Americans can decide that we don't want this fate, that we're going to do something different. And we can, but we have to act, and not just become numb to this.

CAMEROTA: Such as? What would make a difference today?

JHA: Well, I think there are a few policy things would help a lot. I think getting people to wear masks when they're outside and when they're inside at retail shops, et cetera. That's critical. I think trying to maintain as much social distancing as possible.

And then something I have been talking about for months, is we've got to really ramp up our testing and tracing infrastructure. It used to be abysmal. Now, it's a little bit better, but nowhere where we need to be.

Tasting and tracing can really suppress the levels of virus in the community, and that can allow us to both reduce deaths and get our economy back. And I don't understand why we're not doing more on that.

BERMAN: I want to get your feelings on a photo that was posted on the vice president's Twitter feed overnight. Now, I don't know if you can actually see our monitor here. But this is --

JHA: I did see it, yeah.

BERMAN: OK. As a public health expert, I would like you to give us your assessment of this photo. The vice president of the United States, the leader of the Coronavirus Task Force, in a room crowded with people shoulder to shoulder, not wearing masks.

JHA: Yes, you know, there's so much wrong with that. The modeling issue, we want the vice president to be modeling good behavior, good public health behavior is critical. These are people working on his campaign. Why it is that the vice president doesn't want to support and protect people in his own campaign, let alone the rest of America is baffling to me.

It sends all the wrong signals, and it's very worrisome because room packed of people like that without masks, that close up, that's how we fuel big outbreaks. We've got to avoid that.

CAMEROTA: Do you have any idea what has become of the White House Task Force that Vice President Pence reportedly leads? I mean, where -- where have they been for the past month? Where's Dr. Birx who we used to hear so much from? Where's Dr. Fauci?

JHA: Yes, we really need both of them back and we need the leadership of the CDC to be talking to America on an ongoing basis. You know, it's clear to me from everything I can tell that the White House is more or less kind of throwing in the towel on this pandemic. That we had a testing czar, that person has stepped down with no sense that they're going to be replaced.

And, you know, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx are still is there. I'm sure they're working incredibly hard, but we as Americans are not benefiting from listening from them and hearing their advice and that to me is a huge problem.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Jha, thank you very much for this wake-up call for us and for everyone listening right now.

END