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Pence Won't Say If He Thinks It's Harder for Black Americans to Make It in U.S.; Soon, Trump to Sign Police Reform Executive Order; New Details on Officers Involved in Rayshard Brooks Shooting; Capt. Sonia Pruitt, National Black Police Association Chair, Discusses Officer-Involved Shooting of Rayshard Brooks, Police Reform, Trump's Executive Order on Police Reform; 18 States Report Increases in New Coronavirus Cases; Trump & Pence Say Spike in Virus Cases Due to More Testing; Fauci Says He Hasn't Spoken to Trump in Two Weeks. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 11:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm John King, in Washington. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

It's a very busy news day. Consider this framing as we work through it. The election is 20 weeks from today. The result will change the national trajectory of race relations and police reforms. That's a big action item today, including some new proposals from President Trump.

And the results of that election will decide whether you want to stay the course or hire a new team to manage the coronavirus.

Today's stayed-by-state numbers tell us to be quite vigilant but you hear no such urgency from the team asking you for four more years. The nation's top expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says this morning he's not spoken to or briefed the president in two weeks.

Also a grim global coronavirus milestone this hour, eight million worldwide cases. More on the pandemic in a bit.

First though, race and policing. President Trump next hour offers his reform proposals, including national policing standards and a national database to track officers with repeated abuse complaints.

There's a debate in Congress about additional federal steps. And cities and states coast to coast now proposing their own police reforms.

The urgency is reflected here. This is an attorney for Rayshard Brooks, remember, shot and killed by police Friday night after a 27- minute encounter at a Wendy's in Atlanta. The attorney says what happened to his client can happen to every black man in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUSTIN MILLER, BROOKS FAMILY ATTORNEY: It's very much personal. I'm Rayshard Brooks. I'm George Floyd. It's happened to me. It's happened to my friends. It's happened to my father and every other black person I know. So we're all the same. So when we fight these battles. We're fighting them from a place of knowledge and really from the heart.


KING: Now we get the politicians are hesitant to acknowledge problems on their watch. But we don't get this. The vice president asked today a pretty simple question: If he believes it is harder for black Americans to make it in this country. The answer, of course, is yes.

But the vice president never said that. His response ran 2:49 and it included a couple of mentions of Joe Biden and noted the president's support of school choice and opportunity zones but he never directly answered the question.

Here's some of the non-answer.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS CO-HOST: Do you think it's harder for them to make it in this country in 2020?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Brian, I love your question. We're going to take these steps today to help improve policing.

Biden says everybody ought to have a fair shot at the American dream. Well, we would say why don't you support allowing African-American families to choose where their kids go to school?

We understand the media narrative around this time and the negativity around this time.


KING: The president's executive order on police practices is to be unveiled in just an hour.

Let's get straight to John Harwood covering the president from the White House.

John, what are we expecting from the president?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What we're expecting, John, is action but modest action. This is the administration trying to pull police departments along but not force them along.

Three main components to the executive order that we expect. The first is some sort of certification process that will -- that is designed to codify best practices and reward those departments that adopt those practices, get a seal of approval. And it includes things like discouraging the use of chokeholds but not banning them outright, which we see in some of the legislation on Capitol Hill. Secondly, data collection and sharing among departments about use-of-

force complaint against officers so that the so-called bad apples that the administration talks about would be flagged. So that if they leave one department, try to go work for another one, the new department would be aware of what their record was at the previous department.

Finally, an attempt to expand the expertise available to officers on call so that if an officer is dispatched to something where mental health expertise would be of assistance to them, you get a mental held responder joining the police officer.

Now, they'll try to implement those changes with the carrot of federal grants, giving incentives to departments to get grants in order to make these changes but not forcing them to.

And if you're talking about forcing them, that's where the legislation on Capitol Hill is going to be relevant. In the House, for example, they would ban chokeholds. They would ban no-knock warrants.

The Senate is less prescriptive. Republicans will lay out their bill this week. And then we'll get some negotiations. Don't know if those negotiations will bear fruit either before July 4th or after and whether we'll get a deal.

But if there isn't a deal, the administration will at least be able to point to this executive as having done something in response to these mass protests -- John?

KING: Something in response. It'll be interesting to see if the president weighs on what he thinks there should be this federal legislation or whether he stays silent.

John Harwood for us covering the White House. Big announcement next hour. We'll be there live. Thanks, John.

The Fulton County district attorney says he could make a decision as early as tomorrow about whether to bring charges against the police officers involved in the deadly confrontation with Rayshard Brooks.


Today, we're learning more details about the two officers involved and their histories.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Atlanta with that.

Dianne, what do we know?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Atlanta police provided the disciplinary records of those two officers, John.

And Officer Garrett Rolfe, the man who police say shot and killed Mr. Brooks here at this Wendy's, did have a use-of-force complaint in 2016 that involved a firearm. He received a written reprimand over that complaint the following year in 2017. He also had several citizen complaints, but according to the records that were provided to us, they ended without any sort of action.

Now, Officer Devon Brosnan had two firearm discharges on his record, no disciplinary action, but it did appear, based on the dates, that one of the firearm discharges was the incident here at the Wendy's.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke yesterday about an executive order that she had signed that basically outlines reforms to the way that police can use force in situations, saying that they need to use an objective and responsible amount of force just -- just if they feel that potentially their life may be in danger or if they need to effect arrests or protect the public.

She also talked about making sure that other officers are now required to intervene if they feel another officer is using excessive force. And referring all deadly shootings involving officers to a citizens review board.

Take a listen to what the mayor had to say.


KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, (D), ATLANTA MAYOR: We're peeling back the layers of our standard operating procedures. Some of it is ambiguous and some of it is simply not laid out.

And what I can say is that, if this is a challenge that we're having in Atlanta, I assure you that there are agencies across this country, if they haven't already begun to do this work, then they probably need to today.


GALLAGHER: You hear the mayor talking about that.

I did speak with the police union, John, the representative, who would be -- the union that would represent those two officers if, in fact, they are charged.

Told me that they feel that the district attorney and the mayor are being political about this. They feel that the officers have not received due process, both with Officer Rolfe being fired and the potential for charges from the district attorney, saying that there's a rush to judgment without an investigation.

John, the earliest that we would probably get any word on those charges, according to the district attorney, is tomorrow.

KING: We'll keep an eye on that.

Dianne Gallagher, live in Atlanta, appreciate the reporting. Thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss this is Sonia Pruitt. She's the chair of the National Black Police Association. She's also a captain with the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department

Ms. Pruitt, thank you. Captain Pruitt, I should say, thank you for being here with us again.

When you hear Dianne Gallagher outline this case, and there was a previous complaint against Officer Rolfe, how unusual is that? Is that pretty standard fair if you're on the force long enough, are they going to have a complaint? Or does that tell you there should have been a red flag and maybe he needed additional training or something?

SONIA PRUITT, CHAIR, NATIONAL BLACK POLICE ASSOCIATION & CAPTAIN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: The number of complaints would indicate that perhaps this officer needed additional training.

But we have officer on the street right now in contact with vulnerable communities, and they are exhibiting what we call badge-heavy personalities. That means that I am going to finish this mission no matter what the outcome.

That's a part of the systemic issues of policing culture. So to have someone have so many complaints.

The other issues with policing culture is that people are not being held accountable for their actions, officers are not.

So it kind of outlines what the mayor is talking about, hey, we need to put some teeth into the things we're asking our officers to do by limiting the parameters in which they do them.

I know that the president will probably talk about this it. The president is putting out a piece about what he thinks we should be doing.

But anything we do in this country regarding use of force and excessive force and deadly force has to have force behind it. And it has to be done quickly. We can't keep waiting on it.

KING: Absolutely right about we can't keep waiting.

You do see some precedent, how quickly we see action in states and cities. The question is: Do they get to the finish line, and what does the product line look like you?

But you mentioned the president. Let me ask you about that proposal. I think the most teeth, the most meat, the most credibility will come at the city, state and local level.

However, is it valuable and how big of a deal would it be to have a national database of, my language, bad cops, a national database where sometimes police can move from department, they can move shift to shift, where you could look up and see does this overs have a history of use of force complaints against he or she?

PRUITT: It would be tremendously helpful. That is one of the biggest issues now is that an officer will be involved in misconduct, he may be fired, released from his police department, and then he'll just go somewhere else and be hired.

[11:10:01] And not only that, but there are police departments who will be glad to take him. Those police departments should not be able to hire someone who is on that list.

KING: And so -- that's the federal level. And we'll see what else the president unveils. Interesting that you hear that's a positive proposal.

Let's look at the local levels. You see the ban on chokeholds. That one seems pretty obvious but it is controversial in some quarters for some reason. Ban on chokeholds, disclosing officers' misconduct, meaning and transparency and oversight boards. There's a lot of talk of reallocating police funding. Banning no-knock warrants, mandating the use of body cams.

You look at that list -- this is what you do for a living so help me. I look at it and I say that seems pretty common sense. What would the objections be?

PRUITT: No objections to any of that. However, there's a piece of the conversation that is missing. Our president talks about being a law- and-order president. We hear that a lot. We've heard it from other presidents before him.

Instead of hearing someone say we need to handle this symptomatic racism in police departments because that is what the underlying cause is. And the more that perhaps we say it, the more that it can be normalized.

Everyone is going to have to be a part of the solution, and that includes the federal government. The 1033 program, for instance, has been reinstated so that police departments can be militarized.

Consent decrees, we don't know what has happened to those. Those have been rolled back. No one talks about using consent decrees.

And our attorney general has a conversation with police officers about the fact that they should be respected before they give adequate service to the community.

And then our president goes into cities where there are black police chiefs and commissioners and disrespects them in their own cities like he did in Dallas and in Chicago.

So these are things that really should be addressed because people are following our leaders. And if your leader is not with the program, then we're going to continue to have issues

KING: You're a leader, Captain Pruitt, so let me ask you from your personal experience. You're a black Boston police officer. You're also a women police officer. So there's two barriers you've had to confront. You mentioned the symptomatic racism. There's also a macho culture in a lot of police forces.

How have you dealt with this? And what is the key to success? And what are some of the roadblocks and barriers you faced? PRUITT: It is a tremendous challenge or at least it was for me. I'm

pretty sure it might be easier for other women in larger police departments where there are more black women. But there were not a lot of black women for me to look up to, to mentor me. So I would have to go outside our department for that. That was just a small piece.

The larger piece was the fact that, because I was a black woman, I felt like I was at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to being respected, having my education and my training and my skill set acknowledged, right up until the time that I was promoted to captain almost -- well, a year or so ago.

And so we are facing issues in our police department whereby we don't have enough people to represent the vulnerable communities that we police so that we don't have input on policy and training and hiring. That's problematic. We can't speak for our own communities because we just don't exist. And when we talk about these things, there's a pushback. We might be ostracized. Someone might call you a racist, which is ridiculous to me because I'm a black woman. But that happens.

So in the meantime, things keep on going the way that they are going. And now we have the Coke bottle, like I call it. We've shaken our Coke bottle, took our finger out and now it's an explosion and the public is unhappy. If the public is unhappy, then that means we're not doing our jobs as law enforcement agencies.

KING: Well, hopefully, you can keep coming back and sharing these insights as we get through this conversation.

We appreciate it, Captain Pruitt. Thank you very much.

PRUITT: Absolutely.

KING: Thank you.


When we come back, the vice president gets on a phone call with governors about the coronavirus. The case numbers are going up. He says don't worry. It's just because we're testing more.


KING: A leading coronavirus model now projects the United States death toll from the virus will hit 200,000 by October. The increase in that projection comes as we see some troubling signs in the state-by-state trends.

We knew the case counts would jump some as the coronavirus reopening accelerates. The question is whether these increases we're seeing are manageable.

Let's take a look at the numbers. And let's look first at the cases since April. This is the U.S. case level since April. You do see it's a bit of a plateau at the moment. But it's come down from where we were certainly in March and early in April. And then you come across, this is the current daily cases, newly confirmed cases. Plateaued at the moment. Maybe turning up a little bit in recent days. We'll watch it.

This is the map we watch most closely. You have 18 states heading in the wrong direction. That's the orange and red. Those states are reporting more cases this week than last week, meaning they are heading in the wrong direction.

Green means we're going down. Twenty-two states and 10 states essentially flat, holding steady in their coronavirus case count.

It's interesting, if you look at this, Michigan going down quite dramatically. Remember, that was an early hot spot.

The south and into the west is where you have the big problems. You see the swath of red and orange across the country.

Regionally, if you look at the trends, the south, that's up here, heading in the wrong direction. You don't want that. Yellow is the west. Pretty much a plateau here.

And the Midwest and the northeast -- remember, early on, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, et cetera, problem spots. They are down here now at the bottom of the trend.

Now the administration says the higher case numbers are because of more testing, and we are doing more tests in the United States. You see the line here, the seven-day moving trend here.


And 400,000 or so tests a day in the United States. Way up if you go back to March. Even up if you go back to the beginning of May. And this is a good sign here. You want the positive, the number of tests come back positive to drop. That tells you have got the virus under at least better control. That's going down.

So some see the rising case numbers and some look at this map and say, with the reopening comes the spike, we have a problem.

Listen to the president. He says, no, we're getting more numbers because we have more testing.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our testing is so far advanced, it's so much bigger and better than any other country that we'll have more cases. We're always going to have more case.

And if you don't test, you don't have any cases can. If we stopped testing right now, we'd have very few cases, if any.


KING: Joining us now to discuss, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent with the "New York Times."

Dr. Gupta, let me start with you.

Is the president right, these case numbers are going up state by state by state, and you see across the south and up into the west, just because we're doing more testing, nothing to worry about?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: More testing is going to find more cases. I mean, that part of it is true. But we also know that there's other things that we need to be paying attention to.

You know, I mean, since the beginning it wasn't just about the number of people who were being infected. That's an important number. But ultimately you want to know how many people are getting sick, how many people are ending up in the hospital, and how many people are dying, you know. So hospitalization rates, for example, have gone up in certain places.

In Texas, which I know the president was talking about yesterday as a model of success, they have had some of their highest hospitalization rates so far. I mean, throughout the entire pandemic.

Arizona talking about issuing emergency plans for it to handle the number of patients that they expect could be coming into hospitals. So there's real concerns. North Carolina, you're seeing similar sorts of trends. There's all sorts of different ways of looking at this.

The thing that hasn't changed, John, is the virus. The virus is the same. It's still very contagious. As we reopen, there will be more people who get infected. That's a fact. And I think everybody recognizes that.

I think the question that we're grappling with now is what is acceptable. More people died yesterday in this country than people have died in other countries throughout the entire pandemic. In 24 hours, more people died in this country.

Are we comfortable with that? Are we willing to accept that? And what will be the triggers in terms of the number of people who are getting sick, hospitalized, to go back to some sort of stay-at-home sort of order?

KING: And, Jonathan Martin, it is just inescapable. The election is 20 weeks from today. So as the administration manages the pandemic, they can't forget that. You might want to set politics aside. The calendar is the calendar.

You had had the vice president -- you reported on this in the newspaper today. And we can listen to a little bit of this. This is the vice president on a call with the nation's governors. It's interesting, we don't see big Coronavirus Task Force briefings anymore at the White House. The administration's message is essentially, we've got this, it's not that important anymore.

Listen to the vice president telling governors, if your case count is going up, here's your answer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: We've had such an overwhelming response that we're also looking at another venue. We're also looking at outside activities. And I know the campaign team will keep the public informed as that goes forward.


KING: I'm sorry. That, Jonathan, is about a different issue. It's the wrong piece of sound from the former (sic) vice president.

But he said on this phone call, when he was talking to governors, he said, "I would encourage you all to talk about these things to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of the increase in testing. Most of the cases we're seeing some marginal rise in number. That's more a result of the extraordinary work you're doing."

Meaning, testing.

And from the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, just today, "Florida's actively searching for COVID-positive individuals to provide immediate treatment." And Governor DeSantis saying it's because we're testing.

There's no question, Sanjay says, because they are testing, but.

JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, John, he's coaching them up to try to get them on message to say that the reason that you're seeing these spikes is actually part of a silver lining in the cloud, that this is because of the increase in testing.

Which, of course, it is directly related to the political imperatives that the administration is facing. This is an election year, as you mentioned.

They have to have an explanation for why, after months and months of quarantining, and now an effort to let folks go back out, that we're seeing this spike in positive cases. And the easy answer for them, if not the fully truthful answer, is because there's more testing.

But, John, is this is a real challenge for the administration. This president wants to get his rallies back. He lives for those political rallies. He does not want to be denied any longer.

But he's going back on the trail at the very moment where a lot of states in this country are seeing spikes and rates, and positive rates, and not just because of the increase in testing. It's going to create a huge challenge for them.

KING: Including the state of Oklahoma where the rally is scheduled on Saturday.

MARTIN: Right.

KING: You heard in that clip from the vice president that they are looking potentially at another venue.


Sanjay, we can put up on the screen the number of cases in Oklahoma. And you see the arrow, the trend line is heading in the wrong direction.

And when you look at the Oklahoma cases -- I mean, simple medical question -- should the president be having this rally and putting thousands of people in one venue? And what difference would it make if they are serious about this change of venue and they went from an indoor stadium to some outdoor location?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, the answer is no. I mean, there's not a way that you can say this can be done safe. I mean, there are ways to do it as safely as possible.

By the way, when you look at the graph, one-fifth of the patients infected in Oklahoma throughout this entire, you know, pandemic have been within the last week. So they are definitely heading in the wrong direction. And that makes a difference, right? Because the virus is clearly spreading in that community.

Now if it's an indoor event, 20,000 people -- my understanding was the capacity of the arena was 20,000 people -- so no physical distancing, handing out masks but not requiring people to wear them, a carnival- like atmosphere, a lot of people yelling and shouting, I see that as disbursing virus into the environment when you're doing that. That's the worst-case scenario.

Look, I'm not saying anything magical here. That is known. It's a contagious virus.

You put it in an indoor environment without masks and a lot of people yelling, that's how the super spreading events begin. People then go back to their communities, spread it to -- hopefully not -- but spread it to their families or communities. That's the concern with something like this. It can really cause a significant cluster and outbreak of cases.

Outdoors is better than indoors, John, to your question. Yes, because you have a larger space for dispersion of the virus.


GUPTA: But this is a concern. There's no question about it.


MARTIN: John, I think there's going to be --

KING: Go ahead. Go ahead.

MARTIN: -- huge pressure on the president and his campaign to move a lot of the events in the summer months to outdoor venues. I think that's going to be real pressure on them. Because a lot of the protests against police brutality are obviously outdoors. And I think for both optics and just for pure science, I think you're going to see them push to go outside more going into the summer here.

KING: And what does it tell us -- this is both a medical question and political question I guess and I'll go to Dr. Gupta first -- that Dr. Fauci has not spoken to or briefed the president in a couple of weeks? What the does that tell you, Sanjay?

Again, you can make the case if you want to make the case that we knew the case count would go up when we reopened, that the administration can make the case they believe it's manageable. The best way to make the case is to talk repeatedly and consistently to the American public, which they have decided to stop doing.

What does it tell you that Dr. Fauci and the president, no briefing, no conversation in a couple of weeks?

GUPTA: Oh, I talk to Dr. Fauci on a regular basis, and I think that he's a --

KING: You find it helpful?

GUPTA: -- truth teller.

I find it helpful.

KING: Yes.

GUPTA: He's a truth teller. And these are difficult truths. I mean, no one likes what's happening right now in the country, nobody. It's tough on everyone. But the truths need to be told, you know. There needs to be an honest out there and Dr. Fauci is one of those people.

So the fact that the president is not leaning on him when other public health agencies all over the world lean on him -- he's not just considered this person of knowledge here in the United States but around the world -- I think it's a loss. It's a loss for the country not to be hearing from him on a regular basis.

And it makes me worry that people are not wanting to hear from him because they don't like what he has to say. You know, I don't enjoy it either, but we all need to be hearing this.

KING: Yes. There are some -- sometimes we have to eat our peas or listen to the experts.

GUPTA: Right.

KING: The president might have a different agenda.

Dr. Gupta, Jonathan Martin, appreciate your insights.

We'll be right back.