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President Trump Speaks about Race Relations; New Coronavirus Cases Rise in 19 States; CNN Anchor Don Lemon Discusses Speaking Out about Protests in Wake of Death of George Floyd at Hands of Police; Growing Concern Over Coronavirus Resurgence in America; Washington Post: First Lady Renegotiated Prenup Before White House Move; Key Officials Not Invited to Trump Event on "Justice Disparities". Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 12, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Word's association with slavery. Big policy and cultural shifts, but one person seems to be mostly standing still. That's the president. He's not a player in the changes being discussed, and in some cases stands in outright opposition. He says fixing racism will be easy.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear. But we'll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labelling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots. We have to get everybody together. We have to be in the same path, I think, pastor. If we don't do that, we have problems. And we'll do that. We'll do it. I think we're going to do it very easily. It will go quickly and it will go very easily.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We are also covering this morning the concern over a spike in coronavirus cases -- 19 states are seeing increases in new cases as Americans try to get back to their regular routines. Also, hospitalizations are up sharply in several states.

And the reaction from the Trump campaign behind the scenes is very different than what they're saying in public about the risk. They're making anyone who wants to attend the president's campaign rally next week in Oklahoma sign a waiver vowing not to sue the Trump campaign if they contract the virus at the event.

Joining us now to discuss so many things, a man never before seen at this hour of the day, CNN's own Don Lemon, anchor of "CNN Tonight." Don, it's great to have you here. I assume you have been up all night waiting for us.


CAMEROTA: It's great to have you.

LEMON: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: So, look, you on your show often talk about issues of race, issues of policing. And so I'm wondering what you think of these weeks since George Floyd's death. Do you see, everything that John just laid out, a sea change in this country yet?

LEMON: I do see a sea change, and I see a president who is, quite frankly, at the very least tone deaf. When you see all the people around him, the people he respects the most, the generals, the military folks, even people who are in his inner circle, disagreeing with him on how he handled protesters in Washington when he wanted that photo-op by gassing then and moving them off the streets, and for really not meeting the moment right now.

So I think that right now, the president is probably the person who is doing the most harm when it comes to race relations, police relations, in this country right now because he is simply behind the times. Not only is he not 2020, he's not even in 1968.

BERMAN: But changes, though, Don, seem to be happening despite him or in opposition to him. When you have senators, Republican senators saying no, no, we really do think the names of army bases should be changed from honoring Confederate generals. When you have Kevin McCarthy, the leading Republican in the House, saying, you know what, I do think we should ban choke holds, these changing are happening no matter what the president says.

LEMON: Well, they are. And they're sensible changes. It's not -- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out a black member or a Latino member, America, I should say, an African-American doesn't want to enter the base that has a name of a traitor on it, or someone who didn't think that they should be a full person, that they were three- fifths of a person. And so I think that that is only common sense. Any of these things.

And so I think the president, what he's doing, is appealing to a very small group in his base. I shouldn't say a very small group. They're quite -- it's a large number. But it's minority of Americans in his base, and he's not expanding his base by that. I don't believe that most Americans see eye to eye with the president when it comes to these things.

And when you actually look at them objectively, no one wants the name of a traitor or someone who lost the war, or actually fought against America in the Civil War, on a military base or on a school or on a park or anything. It makes complete sense. And I think that the GOP, although they have been silent for most of his presidency, I think they're actually waking up now because they realize that public sentiment and actually history is not really on his side.

CAMEROTA: Don, I've heard you and some of the other great voices like Bakari Sellers, say things to your white friends, say them, broadcast them, please, white people, stop calling me and asking me what you can do, asking how did this happen, asking like, oh, my gosh, I'm so surprised, this is all so shocking. And I think that it has been revealed that these past few weeks have been a very steep learning curve for some of us. Some of us who considered ourselves pretty open minded and kind of educated, we have learned a lot over these past few weeks. And I'm wondering if you hear the conversation about white America changing as well.


LEMON: I do. And listen, that's partially a joke saying stop calling me, because I always want you to call me. Alisyn, we're friends.

BERMAN: Not me.

LEMON: I want you to call me, John, as well. We're friends. I would like you to call. But if you're going to ask someone, if you know someone, then why not ask? I don't mind. It's just shocking to me that people have not -- that this is an epiphany for some people. So yes, and I have heard these conversations.

Listen, white people are so scared right now to do anything, to talk about anything, to broach these conversations, to even -- they're sort of frozen because who wants to be called a racist, right? Who wants people to think that they have a racial blind spot?

But this is what I think. I think that -- this is going to sound weird, but every year, I have hydrangeas in my yard, and they come back a different color, or a tulip, or an orchid. And it's not because they're different. It's because the soil is different, right. It depends on the nutrients of the soil.

So if you grew up in America, you came out of American soil, considering the history of this country, then I think we should thinking change in the thinking here and how can you not be racist, how can you not have racial blind spots, how can you not see that the factory reset in America is whiteness? And so until we realize that what our forefathers said, a more perfect union is about not necessarily perfection, but making things better for all people, being inclusive to everyone, a more perfect union, which means that, quite frankly in America, whiteness should not be the factory reset or the norm. It should be Americans of all stripes, and we should be more inclusive.

So I think that this -- I'm actually optimistic about it. I think this is a learning opportunity. Obviously, it's sad that George Floyd had to lose his life over it, but I'm actually optimistic about what may come.

BERMAN: So Don, I woke up this morning at 2:45 this morning, as always, and went on Twitter --

LEMON: Thanks for the text.

BERMAN: I texted you soon after. But the reason I texted you is because Dave Chappelle released a brand new unannounced special on Netflix at midnight called "846." Obviously, that is the length of time that George Floyd had a knee on his neck and died in the process. Dave Chappelle put out this special. In it, though, he addresses you directly, really directly. You on TV a couple weeks ago called on Hollywood, specifically black Hollywood, to come out, take a stand publicly. And I want to play for you now what Dave Chappelle had to say about that.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: And I'm watching Don Lemon, that hotbed of reality. He says, where are all these celebrities, why aren't you talking? Does it matter about celebrity? No. This is the streets talking for themselves. They don't need me right now.


CHAPPELLE: I kept my mouth shut. And I'll still keep my mouth shut, but don't think that my silence is complicit.


BERMAN: I have got to say, first of all, I was only able to listen to a little bit more of it. It's fascinating, and really deep. And there is irony, Don, in the fact this he's attacking you for calling on celebrities to speak out, and he's doing just that in the special. But what does it feel like to have Dave Chappelle talking about you like that?

LEMON: Well, Dave Chappelle is my favorite comedian, and I do care what Dave Chappelle says. And I actually -- well, first of all, I think now my nieces and nephews will actually give me some props because they'll think I'm cool now that Dave Chappelle has mentioned my name, and I'm actually honored to be memorialized in the Dave Chappelle special. That's an entire special, so I'm excited about that.

But I have -- what I will say is that I actually agree with Dave Chappelle. I agree that I think the establishment has been a bit behind, and some of what we created -- and I consider myself part of the establishment because I'm over 40 years old, I think that the young people who are out there in the streets don't really care what we have to say. They think part of the world that we created, and what we did -- maybe we didn't move fast enough or we weren't strong enough. And so they're out there fighting and saying, listen, we are tired of what's happening. We tried to do it nice and we tried to do it peacefully, we tried to do all of these things, and you have rejected it. And so I think that they're not only speaking to the white people in this country, but also to all of us, all of us in the establishment. And so I agree with him in that way.

But I do think that this is a moment -- not a moment for modesty. I think it's a moment that we should all be using our platform to do whatever we can, and at least to show those young people and those people out there that we support them. And it doesn't mean taking all of the -- all the credit for it or speaking out for them. I think that they can do that on their own. I think that's exactly right. [08:10:09]

But I think that they need to know that people like Dave Chappelle, like me, or whoever supports them. And that's all they need to know. But the irony is that his special is called "846." He's talking about this issue. And I think it's great. He's using his platform to talk about this in the way that he can.

And listen, I'm not beyond reproach or criticism. I actually welcome it, and Dave can come on my show and he can talk about it any time. I think especially with this, I think many people have been sort of incredulous about oh, my gosh, somebody criticized me or someone is challenging me. We should all be challenged. And I actually welcome Dave to criticize talk about me, call me, whatever. I'm actually -- I think it's a moment where we have two men of color who have two big platforms. We are agreeing or disagreeing with each other and having a discussion, and people are actually paying attention to it. So that's how I feel about that.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Actually, you can do both. The street can talk loudly, and the people with megaphones can talk loudly. Don --

LEMON: Alisyn, listen, what I was saying -- the sentiment I had with that is that when you think of Lena Horne and Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and all of those people from the Civil Rights movement, celebrities, artists -- artists should reflect the times, right? Artists should not be behind the times. They should reflect the times. And all of those people stood on their perch and they yelled loudly. And I think that those young people need as much support as possible. That's it.

CAMEROTA: Don, great to talk to you, great to have your voice on NEW DAY. Thanks so much for waking up and being with us.

LEMON: Can I go back to bed now?

CAMEROTA: You may. You may.


LEMON: Thank you, guys. Have a great day.

CAMEROTA: We'll see you soon. You, too.

All right, there's growing concern this morning of coronavirus making a resurgence in America. We'll talk to the former head of the CDC. What are they saying? Next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: There is growing concern about coronavirus making a resurgence in America. Nineteen states, those are the states there in red, are seeing an increase in new cases.

Joining us now is Dr. Richard Besser. He's former acting director of the CDC.

Rich, always a pleasure to see you.

When you see 19 states with an increase in new cases, when you see a number of states between 9 and 12, depending on how you count, with an increase in hospitalizations what is this evidence of to you?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Well, you know, I think you have to look at each state individually because different things are taking place in different parts of the country. One of the challenges is that some -- some of the case rises will occur with increased testing, but you don't want to assume that's going on. If you're seeing increase of hospitalization, that's a delay after the cases that's telling you there's mere disease not just that you're uncovering it.

And one of the big challenges and concerns that I have is that most states aren't breaking their data down by race and ethnicity. We don't know whether states are doing enough testing in some of the communities that have been getting hit hardest. And, you know, we know in the pandemic to date, black Americans, Latino-Americans, Native Americans are dying at incredibly high rates.

As the economy opens up, if we're not paying attention to make sure everyone is protected, everyone can do the things to protect their health, those same communities are going to -- are going to continue to bear a disproportionate effect of the pandemic.

BERMAN: They have and they will. I don't think there's any question about that, and I'm glad you made the distinction between more testing because some states are seeing more cases because of more testing.

But hospitalizations are like facts on the ground. If people are sick in the hospital and need treatment, that's a problem. And as those numbers going up, it taxes the health care system.

So, Dr. Besser, what does it tell us about some of the decisions that have been made about how to reopen over the last five weeks?

BESSER: Well, you know, I think one of the big problems, one of the biggest problems is that we're not hearing from our public health leaders to really help the public understand the process. You know, until we have a vaccine, really, the tool that we have is dialing up and dialing down on these measures of social distancing.

You know, whether you let people gather outside, whether you let people gather inside in small groups, those are the tools we have to control this. And when you look at countries doing a much better job than we are, what you see is as they let more economic activity occur, more social gatherings, they're looking really carefully. And if there's a small increase, they dial back, no, we have to stop with the gatherings for now.

What we're hearing from the political leaders is that it's a one-way road. That you go from being under total lockdown to a little less to bigger gatherings to everybody going to a baseball game. And it doesn't work that way. We're in the early days of the pandemic and if only 5 percent or 10 percent of the population has had this infection, we have a really long way to go. It's not going to be easy.

BERMAN: Yes, I don't know if there's a political will for someone to stand up a say, dial back. It will be interesting to watch that.

Dr. Rich Besser, always a pleasure to see you. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

BESSER: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Chicago's mayor is slamming a group of police officers caught on camera lounging, eating popcorn, sleeping inside a congressman's office as nearby stores were being looted. That's next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Developing right now, "The Washington Post" reporting about why First Lady Melania Trump delayed her move to the White House after President Trump was elected. According to a new book written by "Washington Post" reporter Mary Jordan, she writes that the first lady was renegotiating a prenuptial agreement. Here's a quote from that book. Quote: She wanted proof in writing that when it came to financial opportunities and inheritance, Barron would be treated more as an equal to Trump's oldest three children.

CNN's Kate Bennett who covers the first lady joins us now.

So, Kate, this was as we all remember in the aftermath of the "Access Hollywood" tape, in the aftermath of finding out about Stormy Daniels, et cetera. So, was there a chance that Melania Trump was not going to move to Washington?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I think with Melania Trump there's always a chance she might not do something more than she would do something, and certainly, this was a period of time that she used to her advantage. You know, Mary's book, she did interviews around the globe about Melania Trump. You know, for this, she's citing three people close to president Trump who agree that this was a time she used to negotiate that prenup.

Now, her original prenup with Donald Trump was not necessarily generous. Even with Marla Maples, Trump's second wife, not necessarily generous prenup there. The reason for that is going back to wife number one, Ivana Trump, where they had a very lengthy divorce battle during which Donald Trump spent about $14 million in that divorce and had to give up an apartment for Ivana, lots of money for the kids here, the house in Greenwich, Connecticut. So, he sort of feels like he lost his shirt, with two falling marriages.


So, the initial prenups were a lot -- probably a lot stingier, and I think Melania saw this as an opportunity to sit down at the table.

BERMAN: So, a lot of leverage, a lot of leverage for a first lady to hold there not to move to the White House until you renegotiate. But there was other leverage too, in terms of the length of their relationship, correct, Kate?

And I also want to know, so people know, you have a terrific book out on Melania Trump. You know as much about Melania Trump as anyone on earth. Your book is called "Free Melania." But talk to us about the leverage that she had then.

BENNETT: Thanks, John.

Yes, they had been together -- I mean, people sort of forget, they have been together more than 20 years. They started dating in the late '90s. They got pretty serious around '99, 2000. So, at the time they were married, you know, they had been together for a while and before he went to the White House certainly she had more standing ground for this than most of his previous relationships.

I will also say though -- and Mary Jordan reports this as well, this is part of the reason why she didn't move. The main part still remains, she wanted normalcy for Barron. She wanted Barron Trump to finish out his school year in New York. She didn't want to feel rushed to sort of make the huge life change.

And as we have learned from Melania Trump, you know, the decision she makes are typically made because of -- she wants to make them, not because an adviser is telling her, it's politically sound or, quote/unquote, the right thing to do. She does whatever she wants.

But I do think it was probably a wily and smart move to have this time being spent to bring him back to the table and say, listen, our dirty laundry is going to get exposed, I'm going to come under a magnifying glass, my life, our life, my son's life, I want -- you know, you got pony up for this.

CAMEROTA: And do we know how much -- do we know how much money she got in this renegotiation or any of the conditions?

BENNETT: Well, in my reporting, you know, the numbers ranged from $1 million more up to $20 million more. So the rumor mill is awash in what the exact final amount was. Again, knowing Donald Trump and knowing how eager Melania Trump had -- you know, was to sign in the first place, she said on the record, I don't have a problem signing a prenup, I get it.

She wasn't one of the wives who dragged her feet. She was like, sure, I'll sign. I would imagine, again, that it's generous. It's a number she feels comfortable about. It's something she knows that Barron isn't going to sort of be lumped in with his other kids, that he's -- he's going to be, you know, set for life. And I think, considering her world revolves around her son --


BENNETT: -- that this was important to her.

CAMEROTA: Kate Bennett, thank you for dealing with the breaking news on Melania Trump. We really appreciate talking to you.

BENNETT: Sure thing, thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to this. President Trump went to Dallas yesterday to attempt a conversation on race and policing reportedly but missing from the discussion were the three top law enforcement officials of the county.

Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, Sheriff Marian Brown and my next guest, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot.

And District Attorney Creuzot joins us now.

Good morning, Mr. Creuzot.


CAMEROTA: Why weren't you and the police chief and the sheriff invited to this roundtable?

CREUZOT: Well, I don't know. You certainly have to ask the president or his advisers as why would you come to the largest metropolitan areas with the problems that we have, systemic problems in policing, not only here but across this state and across this great country, and then leave out the leaders and don't hear from them. That's unexplainable to me.

CAMEROTA: Do -- do you think it has anything to do with the three of you being black?

CREUZOT: I would hope not, but I don't know. I mean, the sheriff and I are both elected across the county and this is a vast county, more than 2 million people. And the sheriff -- I mean, the police chief is appointed by the city council and the manager for the city of Dallas. So I don't know why we were left out.

CAMEROTA: So if there was a conversation about policing and reform, who was there and what message do you think the president received?

CREUZOT: Well, one of our suburbs with a population of somewhere between 11,000 and 13,000 people, that police chief was there. He's very young, very intelligent, very nice man and understands police reform, but I don't know that the conversation went in that direction.

If he wanted to talk about race and policing and disparate policing, I would be the person to talk about, because that is the platform that I ran on of implemented policies to reduce disparity and arrests, at least the implications of it, at the criminal courthouse. And I have kept the numbers, I know what they are, I know what policing looks like across this county, and if he wanted to have a serious discussion, and certainly I should have been there to have that discussion.