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Racial Injustice Protest in the United States Now on its 20th Day and the Death of Rayshard Brooks and Autopsy Results Ignites Fresh Protests; Picture of a White Activist Rescued by Black Lives Matter Demonstrator in London Goes Viral; Brazil's Daily Coronavirus Death Toll Highest in the World; Face Mask Effective Way to Prevent COVID Transmission; French President Macron Eases Restrictions in France and Acknowledges the Protest Against Racism. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 15, 2020 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes and this is "CNN Newsroom."

We have now witnessed 20 straight nights of protests against racial injustice in the United States. The killing of Rayshard Brooks at a fast food restaurant here in Atlanta has reignited the explosion of anger that began over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

These are just some of the major rallies against police brutality we've been seeing across the country. Meanwhile, a newly-released autopsy shows Brooks was shot twice in the back.

According to the Fulton County district attorney, the first thing the officer said after shooting Brooks was, "I got him." He has since been fired. The district attorney says he is now weighing murder charges.


PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I believe in this instance what we have to choose between, if there is a choice to be made, is between murder and felony murder. I can tell you definitely that probably sometime around Wednesday we will be making a decision in this case.


HOLMES: The deadly encounter between Rayshard Brooks and the Atlanta officers captured on body cam and we are getting a clear picture now of the moments leading up to the shooting. CNN's Boris Sanchez brings us this report from the scene.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Large crowds of people have come and gone from this Wendy's in south Atlanta where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed on Friday night. Many of them, protesting, some of them setting up a makeshift memorial.

What is captured on camera of the incident Friday night, paints accomplice picture. Brooks, at different, points joking with police officers, engaging in polite conversation, but in one fell swoop, everything changes. We should warn, you some of this video is graphic, and difficult to watch.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Responding to a call from a Wendy's in south Atlanta Friday night, Officer David Brosnan approaches Rayshard Brooks' car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up, my man? Hey, what's going on, man? Hey, man, you're parked in the middle of a drive-thru line here. Hey, sir, what's up, man? Hey, you're parked in the drive-thru right now. Hey, sir, you all right?

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Asleep in the drive-thru lane, police body cam footage shows the 27-year-old does not respond right away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, are you tired? All right, man. I'll move my car. Just pull up somewhere and take a nap. All right. All right, are you good?



SANCHEZ (voice-over): Brooks eventually wakes up and agrees to move his car before he appears to fall asleep again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My man, it doesn't mean go back to sleep. You've got to move your car. You're going back to sleep.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Brooks moves to a nearby parking spot where Brosnan asks --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much did you drink tonight? Not much? How much is not much? You say one drink, what kind of drink was it?

BROOKS: It was (inaudible) margarita.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you on any drugs today?

BROOKS: I don't do drugs.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Brooks struggles to find his license and tries to step out of the car.

BROOKS: I'm going to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just stay in the car for a minute. Just look for your license.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Brosnan then radios for another officer to conduct a DUI test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's pretty out of it. Definitely got some good amount of liquor on him right now.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): When Officer Garrett Rolfe arrives, Brooks denies ever having been asleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason why we're here is because somebody called 911 because you were asleep behind the wheel while you're in the drive-thru, right? Do you recall that?

BROOKS: I don't. I don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't recall that? You don't recall just minutes ago where you were passed out behind the wheel in the drive- thru?

SANCHEZ (voice-over): He agrees to a breathalyzer test, says he can't remember how much he had to drink and then he tells police --

BROOKS: I know, I know. You just (inaudible).

SANCHEZ (voice-over): When Rolfe tries to handcuff Brooks, he resists. Witness video shows Brosnan readying his taser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to get tased.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Brooks grabs it out of his hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands off the (BLEEP) taser.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Breaking free, Brooks, punches Rolfe who fires his stun gun as Brooks takes off. And here's the moment the altercation becomes deadly. We slow this down for you. You can see Rolfe chasing Brooks, each man now carrying a taser.

Watch as Rolfe moves his taser from his right hand to his left and reaches towards his handgun. That's when Brooks turns and fires the taser. And Rolfe shoots, firing three times at Brooks as he flees.



SANCHEZ (voice-over): Bystanders almost immediately begin cursing and shouting at the officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both of your careers are definitely done because you just shot a man for no reason.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): A few minutes after he's shot, Officers Rolfe and Brosnan begin to provide medical treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Brooks, keep breathing. SANCHEZ (voice-over): A short time later Brooks is rushed by

ambulance to a nearby hospital where he's later pronounced dead.


SANCHEZ (on camera): Officer Rolfe who opened fire has been terminated, Officer Brosnan who first responded to the scene here has been placed on administrative duty and Erika Shields, the chief of police in Atlanta, resigned over the weekend. Of course, there is an ongoing investigation, potentially with charges coming this week. Boris Sanchez, CNN in Atlanta.

HOLMES: And our next guest is a former president of the Police Foundation, former police chief Jim Bueermann joins me from Redlands in California. Thanks for doing so sir. I mean, when you look at the videos, I'm curious on your take.

It does seem to show that there were choices made. What's your evaluation of the officer's decision to draw his weapon and fire at the moment that the suspect's back is turned and he is fleeing?

JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER PRESIDENT POLICE FOUNDATION: So I think this video shows how quickly what is starting out as a very casual and a very cordial interaction between Mr. Brooks and the officers can go right off the rails.

So the officers are talking to him. Eventually, they decide that they're going to place him under arrest. And one of the things I thought was a little surprising as they did not tell him, at least in a video I've seen, they did not tell him that he was under arrest.

They simply grabbed him; tell him to put his hands behind his back. And it sounds like he had been drinking, that may have startled him, and the fight is on and he took off.

The decision for the officers to use their weapons really is going to be one that's framed around whether it was necessary and reasonable and whether the force that they used was proportional. And I think, you know, decide that that probably wasn't true.

HOLMES: Yes. I mean, one imagines you've got to be fearing for your own life, and it did not appear that his life was under threat, the police officers. I mean, it's just that a tragedy that, you know, George Floyd died after passing a counterfeit $20 bill and Mr. Brooks died after falling asleep in his car at a Wendy's. I mean, do you feel charges are appropriate given what you've seen? And if so, what sort of charge?

BUEERMANN: So, I haven't seen enough of this, but apparently the autopsy has indicated that he was shot in the back. And so, again, whether this was necessary, whether it was reasonable, and whether it was proportional, if Mr. Brooks is running away from the officers and he is not presenting an immediate threat to their life, then I think the officer - it's going to be incumbent upon the officers and their defensive criminal charges are filed, is to determine whether or not or to prove that they thought that they had a reasonable fear for their life.

And, you know, I think when you look at that, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Obviously, some of the things that Mr. Brooks did were not right, He stole the gun from the officers and that's probably a felony, but they knew who he was. They knew where to find him.

And if they have to, they can let him go, and then get him later on. And so I think all of these factors are going to come into play. The officers are going to have their side of the story and they're going to tender a defense if criminal charges are filed.

HOLMES: Yes, I guess, again, you're going to come back to that. Was the officer's life at threat? And it's pretty hard to argue that when the suspect is running away. It does all speak to, and this is sort of all being part of the discussion about reform. I mean, what short of reform would help in that situation? What sort of training, de- escalation and treatment of a suspect?

BUEERMANN: So, I think if you go back to the very beginning of this incident, it looks to me like they're probably arresting him for drunk driving. So, one of the questions might be, first of all, you got to tell him and that's part of de-escalation.

You have to tell people what it is I'm about to do. When you put your hands on somebody and you don't tell him why you're doing that, especially if they've been drinking, they are going to panic sometimes. So, that's part of the problem.

The other problem is, and I think in this discussion about how we resolve lower grade criminal offenses, there are going to be some people who say, well, why couldn't they have just given him a ride home?


He was not causing them any problems. He was cooperating. He was very polite to them. And I think even suggested that they gave him a ride home or he could just go a few blocks and he'd be home. Of course, there are going to be other people, especially those who have loved ones who've been victims of drunk drivers, who are going to take a very different stance on that kind of thing.

HOLMES: Just very quickly, I mean, there is lots of talk about defunding at the moment and, of course, the notion of abolishing departments is not really the argument about defunding, it's about diverting some budget to social services that can deal with some issues police currently handle, from homeless people to mental health. I mean, what do you think of that? I mean, are there situations, maybe this wasn't the one, where police probably don't even want to be handling it?

BUEERMANN: So I'm not sure this was one of those situations, but I will tell, you every cop I know and this wouldn't have been my opinion when I was still a police officer, that cops don't volunteer for this stuff. I mean, society has decided that police are going to be the first responders in those situations.

I think police chiefs and police officers all across the country are going to be very supportive of this idea of shifting that responsibility to other first responders that have better training, are better able to handle that kind of situation.

They don't want to do this. It is who we have decided as a society are going to be the first responders and now is the time for us to change that.

HOLMES: Yes. I think you hit the nail on the head. If only they've said head off home. His sister lived a couple blocks away apparently. Jim Bueermann, really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

BUEERMANN: You're welcome.

HOLMES: The powerful picture of a black protester carrying a white man to safety is going viral on social media at the moment. This all happened during clashes on Saturday between Black Lives Matter demonstrators and far-right groups in London.

Patrick Hutchinson says he picked the man up after noticing he was injured and carried him to police nearby to keep him safe. For more on this pretty unforgettable image, I'm joined by CNN Salma Abdelaziz at London's Waterloo station where these clashes broke out on Saturday. Really is an amazing image. Tell us more about the man and his motives.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: That's exactly right, Michael. And those steps just behind me there is actually where this whole scene unfolded. There were right-wing demonstrators clashing with supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Now, the Black Lives Matter Movement had actually canceled demonstrations for the weekend, but Patrick Hutchinson says he knew that there would be young supporters of the movement that would come out that they could potentially get into trouble, and that he wanted to act as a peacekeeper. Take a look at our interview.


ABDELAZIZ: Is this you in the photograph?

PATRICK HUTCHINSON, PROTESTER: Yes, that is me in that photograph.

ABDELAZIZ: Can you describe to me what's happening in this picture?

HUTCHINSON: My friends and I sort of put a cordon around this man. He was on the stairs, lying in the fetal position with, you know, anything was about to happen to him. The first time I saw him was when I sort of climbed underneath him to go and pick him up.

ABDELAZIZ: And you could have looked at this man and thought he is my enemy. Why did you choose to help him?

HUTCHINSON: There was a particular thought that I had that, you know, you have to show some sort of, you know, love for your fellow man, okay, regardless because I was saying that if the other three officers that were present when George Floyd was unfortunately murdered, if they, just one of them had stepped in and stopped, you know, their fellow officer from doing what he did, he'd be alive today.

ABDELAZIZ: And you put him on your shoulder, you carried him over to the police, then what happened?

HUTCHINSON: I'm carrying him. My friends are surrounding me, protecting myself, and the man on my shoulder. He was, you know, still sort of getting, receiving blows. You could still feel people trying to hit him. I carried him over to the police and I said, here you are. And one of the police officers said, thank you, you did a good thing there.

ABDELAZIZ: What do you want people to take away when they look at that picture?

HUTCHINSON: I think, hopefully, they will take away breaking down the race barriers and realize and see that we're all one people, that we're all one race.


ABDELAZIZ: And this is what is so extraordinary about the Black Lives Matter Movement, Michael. It doesn't have one address, it doesn't have one leader, it is not a monolith, its how you interpret the idea.

And for Patrick, interpreting that idea meant coming out on Saturday, even though he'd never attended any of the demonstrations, coming out on Saturday, trying to keep the peace between these two viciously opposed groups.

And helping a man who could have potentially held prejudices against him, although he did not know who that man is, and he remains unidentified. And as you heard there, Patrick's hope is that, yes, in that moment, he acted on instinct.

But that there is a message in that, and that everyone is equal, everyone is human. And he says he hopes that that man he has rescued might see that picture and think that way as well. Michael?


HOLMES: It would be interesting to see the other man's reaction indeed. Salma Abdulaziz, thanks for that. Fascinating. All right, we got to take a quick break. Health officials around the world agree face masks are the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID- 19. So, why are so many people reluctant to wear them? We discuss after the break.


HOLMES: Brazil has reported another steep rise in coronavirus infections. On Sunday, officials counting more than 17,000 new cases and at least 612 new deaths. The daily death toll there thought to be the highest in the world, it's higher than the U.S. on certain days, where the outbreak is still getting worse in at least 18 states.

But things have been improving in other parts of the country. New York State, the former epicenter of the pandemic, has reported 23 new deaths, its lowest numbers since the outbreak began. Some cities there now starting to reopen, but the governor warning the process can be rolled back if there are too many violations of the reopening policy.


He and other officials are still urging Americans to wear masks as well. Now on twitter, the surgeon general said wearing masks could reduce asymptomatic spread of the virus.

Joining me now is Professor Renyi Zhang from Texas A&M University. Professor Zhang led a team of researchers who published a study on face masks just a few days ago. It does show wearing mask is the most effective way to prevent infections.

Let's talk more about the study with the professor. Yes, this study was very fascinating. You found that masks alone prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy over a brief period of time, more than 66,000 infections in New York City. The bottom line is they work. I mean, there are many different rules around the U.S. Do you think wearing them should be mandatory?

RENYI ZHANG, PROFESSOR, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY: Yes. So basically what we are looking at here as we look directly into the data, the trend of the pandemic. So we are looking toward three places. So the first place, Wuhan, China, and the second place looks at Italy, the third place, New York City.

So, what we are looking at here is that we're looking to how the cases, the total infections and also the daily cases, how the curve goes. I mean, like in China, they had almost simultaneous implementation of different measures, so it's very difficult to see.

But in other places like Italy and New York City, now what they did is at first, like in Italy, they lockdown the city. So we leave (ph) some period and after that, we saw the curves going up and they start to implement face covering.

And finally, like in New York City, they mandated face covering was implemented on April 17th. Basically, what you look at here is just look at all the cases.

I mean, all the infections that they think is how the curve change and how the curve become flattening and how the curve starts to bend. And basically we see, is in Italy and also in New York city the curve really starts to bend once face masks was implemented.

HOLMES: So, they work. I mean, it's sort of a bit of a no-brainer in a way, I mean, but there is a lot of resistance to it particularly in the U.S. and the west in general. Why do you think westerners are so resistant to wearing them?

ZHANG: That's a very interesting question. If I consider most countries in Asia like China, Japan, and South Korea, I think they have a tradition. I mean, you know, a lot of the problem there is that the air was very polluted, you know, like in China, India, enormous problems with air pollution.

Everybody know that, you know, putting on face masks would protect yourselves. So people are sort of used to those kind of practice, but somehow in the U.S., we're just used to blue skies and the people just don't feel comfortable putting on face masks.

HOLMES: And I know you are a scientist, but you know, there is a political aspect to this because there has been mixed messaging from leaders. The New York governor mandating masks, the surgeon general strongly advising their use, but you know, you've got the president and the administration in general, pretty much actively avoiding them.

I mean, there is a photograph that was tweeted by the vice president, of him in front of dozens of staff members, no spacing, no masks. I'm curious, as somebody who've seen the effectiveness of them, what's the risk of that sort of messaging from the top?

ZHANG: I find it very hard to understand the situation. But, as a scientist, I believe the disease is preventable by taking some important procedures. So, to me, I think you will greatly reduce the chance of contracting the virus if you put on a face mask and then you practice good hand hygiene, as well as, practicing social distancing. So I simply do not understand why people are so resistant to face covering.

HOLMES: I just wanted to ask, one final question. There's going to be a big political rally in Tulsa next week, 20,000 or more people in an auditorium. Would you go to that?


ZHANG: I would not go to there. I think it's very unsafe unless everybody is putting on a face mask.

HOLMES: Right. Really fascinating study, and I appreciate your time. Professor Renyi Zhang, Texas A&M. Thank you so much.

ZHANG: Thank you.

HOLMES: President Emmanuel Macron is applauding the efforts of French citizens in battling the coronavirus. In a televised address on Sunday, he announced the easing of more restrictions and he also briefly touched on the recent anti-racism protests. CNN Cyril Vanier with more from Paris.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In his address to the nation, the French president announced the end of the initial phase of the coronavirus crisis here in France. Mr. Macron significantly accelerated the opening of the country. Cafes and restaurants in Paris can now fully reopen.

A week from now, all students, except high schoolers, will have to go back to class. Local elections that will draw millions of voters across the country to polling stations will go ahead later this month. Importantly, travel restrictions are also being lifted.

Starting Monday, French national can travel to other European countries and they will be able to travel outside Europe starting July 1st. While the president warned that the country needed to prepare itself for the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus, his focus is now turning firmly toward rebuilding the crippled economy.

And Mr. Macron also acknowledged the protest movement here in France against racism and police violence sparked by the death of George Floyd. He admitted that France has not done a good enough job ensuring equal opportunity to all regardless of the color of their skin. And he promised unspecified new measures to fight racism, but he was adamant that France would not be taking down any statues or erasing any names from its history.

Devoting a mere three minutes and 30 seconds of his speech to this topic, the president praised law enforcement and then move swiftly back to his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.

HOLMES: It is the latest focus in a new stimulus proposal. Coming up, the White House plan to boost American manufacturing. We'll be right back.



HOLMES: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. For nearly three weeks straight. The U.S. has been consumed by protests against police brutality. The latest flashpoint here in Atlanta, Georgia where an officer killed a black man on Friday. The Atlanta mayor vowing on Sunday that America will "get to the other side of this."

The medical examiner says Rayshard Brooks, who was 27, died from two gunshot wounds to the back which caused organ damage and blood loss. The district attorney considering felony murder charges against the police officer who shot him. There are other charges being considered too, a decision expected by around Wednesday. The officer was fired, the Atlanta police chief to has resigned now.

The weeks of unrest began after police killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Well, now the city is considering how to reform or transform its police department. There are already some changes underway. Lucy Kafanov explains what's happening.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, CNN can confirm that at least seven Minneapolis police officers are resigning according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. More than a dozen more could be in the process of leaving the police department. We are told that as of Wednesday, HR has processed seven separations of employment since Memorial Day. That number does not include the four officers involved in the killing of George Floyd.

Former officers at this point as for why they're leaving, the information is not public. A Police Department spokesman telling CNN "people seek to leave employment for a myriad of reasons. The Minneapolis police department is no exception."

Now, this comes as a department is facing pressure here within the state as well as nationwide to change its practices. They are under a state human rights investigation. There are also growing calls to defund and even abolish the Minneapolis Police Department. The city council taking the first step in that direction on Friday launching a year-long process to liaise with the local community to look into options that would be an alternative to policing.

We are also hearing from police officers. themselves for the first time since the killing of George Floyd. Last week, an open letter signed by 14 Minneapolis police sergeants and lieutenants condemned the killing, and also accused Derek Chauvin of failing as a human "by stripping Floyd of his dignity and humanity. They wrote, this is not who we are. One source telling CNN internally, this send a strong message. Lucy Kafanov, CNN Minneapolis.


HOLMES: Artists in Seattle have painted a giant mural of the words Black Lives Matter along an entire block in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood. That way protesters have taken over a six-block area around an abandoned police precinct. Dan Simon filed this report from what they are calling an autonomous zone.


DAN SIMON CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a beautiful and sunny afternoon here in Seattle. And that has pushed the crowds to a level that I don't think we have seen throughout this occupation. If we pan the camera, you can see all the people down there and it is like this festival setting where you have barbecues and live music, and different speakers on the stage.

Behind me, you can see some Native Americans. They've been doing a drum ceremony. You see the tepee there; the centerpiece of this occupation is the police precinct behind me. And when officers vacated the precinct early last week, it did have its desired effect. It did de-escalate the tension that existed between protesters and police. But the question now is, when might officers get back into that station. The police chief was asked about that today. Take a look.


CARMEN BEST, CHIEF, SEATTLE POLICE: I wish I had the answer to how long it might last. I can tell you that we want to move it forward as quickly and efficiently as possible. But my concern as a police chief, besides that I want to be back in our precinct doing the work, is that we don't want to -- we don't want anyone there to be harmed.

We don't want this to be something that devolves into a force situation. So we're really trying to take a methodical, practical approach to reach a resolution where everyone gets out of here safely.



SIMON: Now, the chief has a valid concern because she says, because officers are not in that station, it is taking triple the amount of time to respond to calls in this area. And of course, she would like to get our officers back into that station as soon as possible, but right now there seems to be no plan or strategy for that to happen. Dan Simon, CNN, Seattle.


HOLMES: Beijing is reporting 79 new cases of the coronavirus after a breakout at what is considered the largest food market in Asia. China's capital had gone 56 days without seeing any new cases. Well, now, 11 neighborhoods are on lockdown and every medical patient with a fever will be tested for COVID-19. A government expert vowing Beijing will not turn into a second Wuhan.

With increasing fears of a second wave of COVID-19 in the U.S., the White House is considering a phase four stimulus package that would be at least $2 trillion. Trade adviser Peter Navarro says the focus will be on reviving American manufacturing. Democrats have been pushing for another stimulus package but Republicans are cautious about another rescue, especially after the surprise drop in unemployment recently.

Meanwhile, Wall Street features all in the red deeply so. Monday's market open could see a deep sell-off. John Defterios is in Abu Dhabi for us. And that sell-off seems to be accelerating. What are you seeing? What's your take?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, so (INAUDIBLE) sell-off in the last hour in particular, Michael. And you have that story coming out of Beijing today. There's real concerns that the number one and number two economies are going to face this snapback. That's why we're seeing the sell-off in Asia accelerate here after those cases rising and the United States did basically.

Let's take a look at the Asian gent sell-off which again is quite a severe one. We see Seoul down better than four percent, the Nikkei index and Japan better than three and a half percent, sharp selling in Hong Kong. Shanghai has been stable but we saw industrial output and retail sales numbers out of China disappoint. That's the challenge here.

The other thing I talked about, if we bring up the U.S. futures again, think about it just in the last two weeks, the Nasdaq crossed 10,000. Now we see again losses of better than three percent for the Dow Industrials with the loss at the opening bell. This holds better than 800 points.

There's also realization about the long-term dislocation of the job front. We had those jobs added in May. But if you look at the jobless claims are better than 44 million. It represents about a quarter of the population. It just really depends how fast in this reopening up and the snapback would influence it'll have on rehiring in the second half of the year, Michael.

HOLMES: How many of those jobs that will come back and how many might not? You know, it's interesting the White House was against another bailout plan. Now it seems to be pushing up big one. What's the aim?

DEFTERIOS: We're looking at $2 trillion-plus. You talked about it and your lead-in there with Peter Navarro who's the trade adviser. He said, indeed, they're trying to get us companies to onshore i.e. come back to the United States. It's all about the supply chains and they over dependency of China.

But what is a mixed signal to investors here, why do you need more stimulus, what are you seeing that we don't see. And then you have the on the other side of the fence in the same White House, Larry Kudlow saying, we're on the mend. Look at the jobs being added to the economy and the signs from small business. Let's listen to him.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: You've got new business applications are skyrocketing. And by the way, small businesses are now about 80 percent reopening. So this is all positive news coming off the pandemic. We are in the recovery stage.


DEFTERIOS: And somewhat of a sneaky play here, Michael, is the payroll tax cut that the White House is trying to push in. This has been a Trump priority and it's something that Peter Navarro said they'd like to see in the second stimulus package even though Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, is suggesting something north of $2 trillion doesn't seem to be reasonable. He wants something about half that size.

HOLMES: John Defterios on top of things as always for us there in Abu Dhabi. Good to see you, John. Thanks.

DEFTERIOS: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right. Critics say it is a verdict that threatens press freedoms everywhere. Coming up a Philippine court rules in the case against an award-winning journalist Maria Reza. We'll have that when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back. A court in the Philippines has found journalist Maria Ressa guilty of cyber libel. Ressa is a former CNN Bureau Chief and the founder and CEO of the new site Rappler which was produced extensive coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly war on drugs. I spoke to Maria earlier just after the verdict.


HOLMES: It's good to see you, my friend, and I will call you my friend. In many ways, considering how the government has treated you, it's not surprising. Where do you go from here? Do you think you've gotten any chance of on appeal?

MARIA RESSA, FOUNDER, RAPPLER: Wow. Well, first of all, Michael, thank you so much for having me. And, you know, yes, today I was convicted, but I don't think Ray, and I, and Rappler, we weren't the only ones on trial. I think today also, the Philippine justice system was on trial.

You know, as you pointed out, I've been under attack by my own government for four years now since 2016. And we were targeted by the authorities after the government's weaponization of social media. So we were first targeted in 2016 with these exponential attacks on social media

Well, today, the judiciary just became complicit in this insidious campaign, and it really is death by 1,000 cuts. And the end goal is to silence independent journalism, stifle press freedom. But you know who I am. You know, the work that we do. I think that part of the reason we come out of this stronger is that we know that there are deliberate efforts to stifle press freedom.

HOLMES: Yes. And there's no -- you know, it's hard first to find a -- find a more honorable journalist. I mean, you have been targeted by this government at least 11 times. And what sort of warning does what's happening to the media in the Philippines send to other countries run by populist leaders, not to mention here in the U.S. where the President calls the media the enemy of the people?

RESSA: When the President did that to CNN and the New York Times, our president a week later called -- attacked us also as fake news, right. So I think we're all connected. And this is part of the -- I mean, when I was at CNN we were never -- these times are extremely different.


You went into war zones. When we would go into conflict, it's -- you know exactly where the bullets are coming from and how you can help protect yourself. This time, it's coming bottom up on social media because when facts are debatable, we have no leg to stand on, and yet our job becomes more important. And then when those same lies are repeated top down by our presidents, how do we deal with that? How do we evolve journalism?

I think this is an existential moment for journalism here in the Philippines. I think we are at the precipice of you know, looking down on the verge of losing our democracy, given everything that's going on. Now, this charge is -- I am now facing eight criminal -- well, now I'm a convicted criminal, which was the narrative that was seeded on social media four years ago. It just took a while for the justice system to catch up. Now, journalists has been replaced with criminals, right? it starts with the wording in the narratives. But I'm still have seven other criminal cases. I have paid more in bail and bonds than Imelda Marcos who was actually convicted in four different countries. So I feel like -- well, actually our managing editor Glenda Gloria wrote a piece that said, where the Philippines goes, the United States follows.

The kind of the weaponization of social media is global. And we know that it has been used, there's almost a dictator's playbook to use this to attack news groups and journalists and to water down facts. I think this is -- this is a big problem.

HOLMES: You know, your president once famously said just because you're a journalist, you're not exempted from assassination. Where do you go from here in terms of your own work, your important work? I mean, you're incredibly brave apart from anything else. What do you do now?

RESSA: We continue -- we will appeal this. We will bring it to the next level, the Court of Appeals. I mean, there are two huge shifts of law that happened in this. In order to even bring this case to court, there were legal acrobatics that had to happen, including changing the statute of limitations for libel from one year to 12 years. That's barely actually addressed in the verdict. And then the second one is this idea of continuous publication, republication.

Essentially because someone in rattler changed a typographical error of a story that was first published in 2012, before the law we allegedly violated was even enacted, because we changed it in 2014, this is what allowed the case to go to court.

So imagine Michael, someone fixes a typo, you can go to jail for six years. That's -- this is insane, and I think this is why we need to find it. Where else do we have to go? Like every journalist around the world, we have to hold power to account and we need to get social media to a point where it is not spreading lies, facts faster than facts. This is a global battle. We will redefine all of this.

HOLMES: That was one of your first campaigns was Facebook and misinformation, and so on and so forth, and had mounds of evidence of that. Do you worry for yourself, Maria?

RESSA: I learned how to protect myself from conflict situations in CNN. You know, we've been in these places. I think the difference now is that it's fear of fear, right? And I've learned a lesson in four years. When someone -- when power, free power, tries to hang a Damocles sword over your head, if you allow it to affect you, they succeed, because you're not doing the kind of journalism that investigative journalism we should be doing.

So what we have learned in Rappler is we swatted away, and we keep our eye on the ball. It makes me wonder and worry, what is the government afraid of? Why are they afraid of journalists? Why must they always make me feel their power? I think I'm a nice person. I asked very respectfully. Our recorders are very respectful. But they just don't like the questions. And we need to get back to this idea of checks and balances. HOLMES: You -- as I said, your honorable, you're a fine journalist, you are a very nice person, and I wish you all power, my friend, and keep at it. You're terrific. Thank you for spending time with us. Good luck.

RESSA: Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: When we come back, is travel safe in the COVID era? As Europe begins to reopen borders, CNN takes to the skies. That's after the break.



HOLMES: Well, as we continue to navigate our new normal, a lot of people are asking, is air travel safe. Well, CNN's Fred Pleitgen took to the skies to find out.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Europe reopens, many of its borders and airlines hope to get some business back. At Lufthansa's check-in in Frankfurt, it's clear, much has changed.

Of course, keeping physical distance is almost impossible when you're on an international air journey. That's why Lufthansa and many other airlines have a policy of asking all of their passengers to wear masks both in the airport and on the plane.

Inside the terminal, a lot of physical distancing measures, but upon boarding, no more. Purser Mike Lauterkom hands out disinfectant wipes, but otherwise, he says, passengers don't need to change their behavior much.

MIKE LAUTERKOM, PURSER, LUFTHANSA: The only thing we ask the passengers that they wear the mask the whole time. Only if they drink or eat something, they can take it off.

PLEITGEN: Like many European carriers, most of Lufthansa's fleet remains idle ever since the corona virus outbreak. The company recently secured a bail out about $10 billion to help it survive the crisis, but our flight from Frankfurt to Porto is packed.

So as you can see, we're all sitting pretty close together. And that's one of the dilemmas that airlines like Lufthansa but many others as well face. On the one hand, they need a hygiene concept that works, but it also has to convince weary travelers that it's safe to get back on planes again. Some travelers a bit concerned.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's also a little bit scary I think because you never know what you might catch or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a little bit surprised because I fought actually based on the coronavirus getting, we are sitting very, very close.

PLEITGEN: Lufthansa says state of the art air filters on the planes make infections unlikely.

ANDREAS KAUSER, CAPTAIN, LUFTHANSA: The medics had said that more than 99 percent of those viruses are going to take out by those filters.

PLEITGEN: The pilots, by the way, always have to wear masks on the ground, but never in the, air the captain says.

KAUSER: The face, its expressions are very important if you communicate with your colleague, you know, and you have some strange situation. It's good to see, is he in fear?

PLEITGEN: Before landing in Portugal, the crew hands out leaflets on how to prevent infections. As airlines tried to convince travelers that holiday air travel is possible without risking new spikes and coronavirus infections. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Porto, Portugal.


HOLMES: It's pretty crowded in there, weren't they? Thanks for watching everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. You're very lucky, Natalie Allen is here with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM after the break in teal.