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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Protests Grow; Trump Signs Order On Policing While Defending Officers: Without Police, There is Chaos; George Floyd's Brother On Trump's Executive Order; Trump's Executive Order Allows Chokeholds When "Officer's Life Is At Risk" Despite Calls For Total Ban; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Police Reform And On Biden Picking Woman Of Color As VP; Dr. Fauci Says He Hasn't Spoken To Trump In Two Weeks. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the President signs an executive order on police reform but George Floyd's family noticeably absent from the White House today, why? I'm going to speak to Mr. Floyd's brother.

Plus, the search for Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris is OUTFRONT.

And Mike Pence tries to declare the coronavirus over even states now report record high hospitalization rates.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, not enough. Protests growing tonight after President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. Crowds, as you can see there, gathering, calling for change for now the 22nd night running. The President making his announcement in the Rose Garden today, but he quickly veered off course, spending nearly as much time focused on his own accomplishments and the economy as he did talking about the matter at hand.

Now, I want to be clear the order has some possibly promising suggestions like incentivizing a ban on chokeholds, except if an officer's life is in danger. That, of course, though would be so subjective. It could defeat the point.

The order also creates a national database to track officer misconduct. So that's in the order and then the President also met today with some families who lost loved ones to police brutality and racial profiling. And in a moment I'm going to speak to the brother of George Floyd who was not in that meeting. But in true Trump fashion, the President then overshadowed his own

message on reform. So instead of acknowledging, acknowledging the deep hurt across this nation, showing empathy, compassion and the calls for social justice and equality, instead of acknowledging all of that, he repeatedly defended police and attacked protesters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defend, dismantle and dissolve our police departments. Without police there is chaos. Law and order must be further restored nationwide. And your federal government is ready, willing and able to help.

In many cases, local law enforcement is underfunded, understaffed and under support. Americans want law and order. They demand law and order. They may not say it. They may not be talking about it, but that's what they want.

BURNETT: The President then went on to attack his political rivals and praise himself. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period. The reason they didn't try is because they had no idea how to do it and it is a complex situation. Nobody has ever delivered results like we've delivered. Nobody's come close.

We enacted landmark criminal justice reform. Something that nobody else could get done. They tried and they couldn't even come close. So we got it done and we got it done powerfully.

We secured permanent and record funding for HBCUs, that's historically black colleges and universities. Numbers that they never thought were possible. We expanded affordable options for better health care. We created opportunities zones with Sen. Tim Scott.

Billions and billions of dollars being brought into areas and neighborhoods that would never ever, ever be taken care of monetarily. We're fighting for school choice which really is the civil rights of all time in this country. We had best unemployment and employment numbers. Think of that in the history of our country.

Then we got hit by the virus along with the rest of the world and now I'm building it up again. Here we go again. Unless my formula is tampered with, we will soon be in a stronger position than we were before the plague came in from China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Listing his accomplishments but not talking in detail about reform. The reform that so many protesters of all races across the nation have been hoping for and are again out on the streets hoping for tonight. Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT near the White House. And Kaitlan, what

are you learning about a meeting, this very important meeting that the President had today where there were some families who have lost loved ones to police brutality present?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This was the meeting that he had right before it came out to the Rose Garden. The White House later said it was a mutual decision that the families did not want to come out in front of the cameras as well and that's why they weren't there. But you heard him name several of the families whose loved ones he met with. People who, of course, have died at the hands of police officers and one of them was Antwon Rose.

And we've now heard from Antwon Rose's mother who says she was not present, she did not go to that meeting with President Trump and she said she wouldn't go if she had been invited.

[19:05:07]

So offering that clarification that though the President mentioned her, she wasn't actually there. We did hear from Aumaud Aubrey's family, they said that they found the President very compassionate as he met with him behind closed doors today. Of course, he later came out to the Rose Garden gave this full-throated endorsement of police officers.

And Erin, I do want to note in that executive order that the President signed, it really just encourages these reforms. It doesn't mandate any kind of immediate action and it really is leaving the heavy lifting to Congress here, not only for funding for some of the programs that the President outlined, but also enforcement, which the President in the White House has said will happen on a local level.

So really, they're looking at Congress and as you know on Capitol Hill, it is far from clear that they're actually going to pass any legislation right now at this point.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much and I want to go now to George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, and Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Floyd family. I appreciate both of you taking the time.

Philonise, you never get a moment where you don't have to think about what happened here now for day after day after day and now the President has this meeting with families who lost loved ones to police brutality and racial profiling. Some of them go some don't. You did not attend, why?

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: Until they sign the bill that Sheila Jackson Lee has brought forth, I will.

BURNETT: So were you invited and chose not to attend?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: No, we just got back from the Congress. I'm sorry.

BURNETT: I'm sorry, Philonise. Go ahead.

FLOYD: Hello?

BURNETT: Yes. I'm sorry, Philonise. I was saying did they invite you and you chose not to attend.

FLOYD: No. I just got back from Congress.

BURNETT: Mr. Crump, I'm sorry, I interrupted you. I know you're obviously in two different locations. Go ahead, sir.

CRUMP: Yes. all I was saying was that Philonise Floyd just got back from testifying before the United States Congress. We made a passionate plea that this is our opportunity to get meaningful, systematic reform to stop this police brutality and these police killings of unjustifiable killings of black people in America.

And he's testifying before the United Nations tomorrow and he wholeheartedly supports the legislation that has been put forth by the Congressional Black Caucus, because they have been dealing with this issue for decades and they know what meaningful legislation needs to be passed that they can attach George Floyd's name to and they don't want to do anything unless it's meaningful.

BURNETT: And I know Philonise you've made it clear, obviously, you believe in Sheila Jackson Lee's legislation. I guess I'm trying to understand because the President said that this was a very empathetic meeting, that he was listening to people. I know that it's not how you felt about your phone call with him at all. If he had tried to extend an olive branch to try to include you in this, would you take that as a genuine offer to talk at this point or not from this president?

FLOYD: Erin, we don't want to - I would like to defer that to my attorney.

CRUMP: Erin, we don't want to talk politics. They just want justice for their family.

BURNETT: Right. I understand that, Mr. Crump. I just am only asking because some people in that meeting are saying the President was very empathetic and really trying to listen, others are saying he didn't and I know it's important to see whether he's going to be willing to work on these reforms which you so passionately believe need to pass Congress.

CRUMP: Well, we hope that the leader of our country will be sympathetic to families who lost loved ones needlessly and justifiably. However, as Philonise said, when they signed the proposed legislation into law that Sheila Jackson Lee in the Congressional Black Congress has put forward, then that's when they will feel good about them doing something for George Floyd not just saying things but actually doing things to try to prevent other black people in America from being killed.

When we testified last week, they asked us about why we thought it was a crisis that needed congressional actions now and I said if you don't do it now, there will be in 30 days another black person killed unjustifiably by police and that was on Wednesday.

[19:10:02]

Two days later, Erin, in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday night, Rayshard Brooks was then killed and another city was on fire. We need to do something now to change the culture and the behavior of policing in America today.

BURNETT: And so the only thing we heard today, Philonise, was this executive order where they incentivize police departments on the use of force. They want to incentivize a ban on chokeholds but not actually ban chokeholds, right.

They say if the officers life is in danger would be the only case they're allowed to use one. And then they have this officer national database to track officer misconduct. Is this a good start at all from how you see it, Philonise?

FLOYD: Anytime you can get one step closer to justice, anything you can have right now because innocent people are being killed every day. Our police officers' job is to serve and protect, but we have to think out are they protecting or are they serving. Nobody should be in fear of any officers.

BURNETT: So, Ben, Derek Chauvin, the former officer charged with George Floyd's murder had 18 prior complaints against him, 18 prior complaints. If that national database that the President order today had existed a month ago, would it have mattered, do you think? Do you think that it would have resulted him in not being on that force? Do you think George Floyd could still be alive today?

CRUMP: That is our hope and if they would have had a prohibition against chokeholds, you hope that would have saved this life. But as we said, Erin, it wasn't just the knee of Derek Chauvin on George Floyd's neck that killed him. It was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department. It was the knee of the discriminatory policing in America that killed George Floyd and this is why this is our time right now. We have to take advantage of this moment to make these changes.

BURNETT: So Philonise, there was something that the President said today addressed to you and other families who have suffered such tragic loss. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side. Your loved ones will not have died in vain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So Philonise, from what you see so far, are you concerned that your brother will have died in vain or do you think that change really now is finally happening because of your brother? FLOYD: Right now, it's still a marathon. I'm still trying to see

what's going on in this world, because I've been seeing time and time nothing, no result. So now enough is enough. Hopefully, we can get to that stage where everything is right, but right now I still have to see.

BURNETT: Ben, I have seen you over the years fight tirelessly and you have not given up and you have represented families and you have tried to make a difference and here we are with these tragedies happening. Do you feel that progress has been made?

CRUMP: I think that this is the best opportunity that I've seen in my career in this aftermath of the killing, the tragic killing of George Floyd to make some real substantive change. I think it's a journey to justice, Erin, and all of these interviews we've done over the years. Sometimes we take a step forward, then we take a step back, as all of that happens on the journey.

But right now, right now, with all these protests, Erin, going all over the country, all over the world, people are protesting against racism, and colorism, and xenophobia and torture, well, these are not just American issues, these are global issues and we're all united in the name of George Floyd and this is our opportunity.

I do believe we will get legislation, we just have to stay focused and keep demanding it.

BURNETT: And legislation is what this comes down to, to changing those laws. Philonise, recently I spoke to Congressman Jim Clyburn and we were talking about the various bills out there. And I asked him if the Senate puts forward a bill that does not include a ban on chokeholds, would that be a non-starter for him and I thought his answer was very interesting. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): I hate to ever call anything a non-starter, because if you get 90 percent of what you want and that's one little thing, it's 10 percent. You might go ahead and fight another day.

[19:15:04]

I'm a great believer in Lyndon Johnson's old adage, a half loaf is better than no loaf at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Philonise, do you agree?

FLOYD: Everybody, they say what they want to say. Like I just told you, all I want is justice for my brother and basically that's it. I don't want to see no more killing innocent people. I just want justice for my brother. My brother pleaded for his life and he didn't get justice. I need that.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate both of your time tonight. Thank you very much.

CRUMP: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you.

And next, the chokeholds. What does Trump's executive order really mean in practice about this tactic that police departments across this country have now banned on their own? Will his order change anything? Former Police Chief of Detroit who said he could have been George Floyd is OUTFRONT.

Plus, Sen. Kamala Harris says Trump's executive order misses the mark. So what does she propose? I'll ask her. She's OUTFRONT.

And radio silence, President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci not a word between the two of them in two weeks, why?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:20:00]

BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump touting his executive order on police reform as calls across the country for racial justice entered their fourth week following the death of George Floyd. But the President's order stopping short of an outright ban on the use of chokeholds that many have called for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As part of this new credentialing process, chokeholds will be banned, except if it officer's life is at risk. And I will say we've dealt with all of the various departments and everybody said, it's time we have to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now the former Police Chief and Deputy Mayor of Detroit, Isaiah McKinnon, and former Federal Prosecutor and our Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates. Thanks to both.

And Laura, so the President's saying chokehold should be banned except for when, his words, an officer's life is at risk, which appears to me to be a very subjective measure. I mean, legally, when you add that to it, what does that actually do?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it doesn't change anything at all. I mean, the subjectivity is really the question that many people have about the amount of benefit of the doubt you give police officers, if it's already in the police officer's hands in terms of figuring out whether they are allowed to use a certain level of force, it's their judgment call.

The President's statements have not changed that judgment call. It still allows for that really big caveat there that says if the officer essentially subjectively and reasonably believes that he or she is in danger, they can perform what has been banned by so many. It doesn't do much to actually elevate the conversation or change the dynamic about reasonableness.

BURNETT: So, Chief, you recently wrote an op-ed saying you could have been George Floyd and in that you called for a series of police reforms, including a nationwide database to track bad officers, which is part of the President's executive order as we mentioned. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Under this executive order departments will also need to share of information about credible abuses, so that officers with significant issues do not simply move from one police department to the next. That's a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, Chief, how do you see this working? I mean, so if there's a database, we were just talking to Benjamin Crump and Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, would something like this have saved George Floyd?

ISAIAH MCKINNON, FORMER DETROIT POLICE CHIEF: No, I don't think so. I think it's - look, the database is good, however, it's what's in the heart, in the head of that individual officer. As the lawyer just said, we need more than just saying this is wrong. We know it's wrong. We have rules and regulations within a police department. We have laws that says you can't do these kinds of things.

But if it's in your heart, if it's in your head, that you can do this and get away with it, it's going to continue to be done. And that's why I mean the things that I've said to you before that I'll say now, it's important to have this database not only to look at what this officer has done, but potentially will do and that includes the mental health screening of an individual.

BURNETT: So Chief, several of the families who met with President Trump today said they have been unable to recover damages and the reason is because of qualified immunity for police officers. And there wasn't a single person in that room in the Trump administration who committed to addressing this issue.

Sen. Tim Scott who, of course, is leading the GOP, the bill that we're going to see in the Senate said it's a poison pill. Do you think that it should be on the table this issue of police officer immunity?

MCKINNON: If a police officer does something that's horribly wrong like kill someone, if a police officer knows that he or she can personally be liable, instead of the city or the police department that he or she works for, then it stops a great deal of this. I know this is something that police departments don't want, but the reality is they must be held accountable for the things that they've done.

Look, the people who beat me up, the people who shot at me, I absolutely think that that is the case for all of the police officers who do these kinds of things.

BURNETT: Laura?

COATES: Qualified immunity is something that leads to such absurd results. I mean, Justice Sonia Sotomayor talked about it being an absolute shield to police officers. Let me just tell you an example.

There were seven cases that came before the Supreme Court. They have declined to hear any of them and the reason for is because they said although it was founded essentially for frivolous lawsuits to guard against it, what happens is, under the judicial jurisprudence essentially says, I have to prove I have a constitutional deprivation of rights.

That's kind of easy to actually be able to prove, but I also had to figure out and show the court that there was an exact fact pattern, not that there was a similar one but an exact one. And that this was exactly a clearly established aspect of the law.

One case the Supreme Court said they wanted to begin to hear, a woman hands her keys to police officers because they want to go into her house looking for a fugitive ex-boyfriend.

[19:25:03]

And then they go in and tear gas and bombed the house for hours on end destroying everything inside. She then sues, the lower court said, well, qualified immunity. You gave the keys. There's not really clearly established back pen that says if you give them the keys, they can't tear gas your home.

That's the kind of absurd results you're looking at. If you don't have a criminal prosecution that gives faith to people in justice and you don't have the ability to secure their compensation through damages, you don't have a lot of incentive by police officers to avoid this sort of conduct and do the right thing.

BURNETT: So Chief McKinnon, we have the District Attorney in Atlanta saying charges could be filed against officers as soon as tomorrow in the death of Rayshard Brooks outside Wendy's. When you look at that, we know that charges could range from voluntary manslaughter all the way to murder, when you look at what happened there, what do you think happened, Chief?

MCKINNON: Well, first of all, I think of this in terms of - one of the first things I've said is you have to have a person not only who's in good shape, but in good shape mentally. And what I saw was two officers who initially did a great job of conversing with him. And then I don't know what happened after that, but when someone takes, whether it's a taser or whatever, unless it's your weapon, why take a life.

I always say, you are there to serve and protect, not take someone's life. If someone's running away from you, let him run, if it's not a felony. I mean, it doesn't make any sense to me and that truly bothers me because, again, being a person who's been a chief versus a person who's been a law enforcement officer all these times and a person who was shot at by police officers, it certainly has an impact on me and other people who've gone through these kinds of things.

BURNETT: Chief McKinnon, Laura, thank you both very much as always.

And next, Elizabeth Warren dodging the question of whether Joe Biden needs to choose a woman of color as his running mate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Every woman being considered for vice president is extremely qualified and would be an asset for Vice President Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Sen. Kamala Harris is my guest.

And why isn't anyone in this picture wearing a mask?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:18]

BURNETT: Tonight, Senator Kamala Harris tweeting that the president's executive order on police reform is, quote, meaningless. Harris going on to say: Since day one, he's used racially charged rhetoric all while rolling back efforts to root out racism and policing and virtually abandoning police misconduct investigations.

OUTFRONT now, Senator Kamala Harris.

And, Senator, I appreciate your time. I'm glad to talk to you again.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Of course.

BURNETT: So, you know -- obviously, you're putting out your point of view here. Why do you think this executive order is meaningless?

HARRIS: Well, Erin, it's great to be with you. And you know, today actually just -- I just left our Judiciary Committee hearing in the Senate. And we had hours of testimony from people who have been working on this issue for years, if not decades. And there needs to be change. We need to fix the system.

And to do that, it's not about commissions. It's not about conversations. It's literally about requiring accountability and consequence of the system and those in the system who break the rules and break the law.

You know, the irony of it is that when in the criminal justice system, someone is arrested, we talk a lot about accountability and consequence, but rarely do we talk about accountability and consequence for the system itself. The package of bills that I have together with Senator Cory Booker and other members -- and all members of the Congressional Black Caucus put together, the Justice and Policing Act, would require real accountability, things like independent investigations of police departments. It would require that there would be pattern and practice

investigations by the United States Department of Justice looking at patterns and practice of discrimination in law enforcement agencies.

BURNETT: Yes.

HARRIS: It would require that we have a national standard for the use of excessive force by police officers. So, instead of asking when they use excessive force, was it reasonable, when you can reason away anything, we would ask was that a necessary use of force. These are the things we need, not empty promises.

BURNETT: So, Republican Senator Tim Scott obviously is expected to introduce police reform legislation this week. And the understanding we have from talking to him about it is it will not, outright, for example, ban chokeholds, Senator. Is that a non-starter for you?

HARRIS: Right.

BURNETT: It's a specific thing.

HARRIS: We have to ban chokeholds. And many police departments have because many of the leaders in law enforcement in America know it is a bad practice and it has to end. We need to ban no-knock warrants in drug cases. That's part of what we are requiring so that in cases like Breonna Taylor, she would be alive and not dead.

These are the very specific things that we know and actually a lot of best police practices acknowledge that these reforms are needed.

BURNETT: And as you point out, look, there have been police departments now across this country that have moved to do that ban. And they're ahead of the federal government in doing so. But the Majority Whip Jim Clyburn the day was open to not having an outright ban and here's how he put it, Senator Harris.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: I hate to ever call anything a non-starter because if you get 90 percent of what you want and that's one little thing is just 10 percent, you might go ahead and fight another day. I'm a great believer in Lyndon Johnson's old adage, a half loaf is better than no loaf at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Again, he was specifically refers there to chokeholds. What do you say to his feeling there, that a half loaf is better than no loaf at all?

HARRIS: Well, I think what the great Congressman Clyburn was speaking to was that there should not be bright lines, that we should be willing, especially at this stage of any subject and issue, we should be willing to have a discussion.

[19:35:03] And that's part of what we were doing today in the Senate Judiciary Committee, is having a discussion about the need, the necessity, and the imperative of significant and substantial change in the way we're requiring accountability and consequence, again, for people who break the rules and break the law so that we can avoid these senseless, these painful, these tragic deaths.

And you can see a clear connection between a lack of accountability and the fact that there is no incentive and there's been no incentive in the law or disincentive to stop these killings.

BURNETT: You are seeing -- of course, Senator Harris is the leading contender to be the vice president nominee for Joe Biden. There's been a lot of discussion about whether Biden will or should choose a black woman. Clyburn also told me last week when asked about that, his words exactly were, it would be a plus but it would not be a must.

Do you think it's a must?

HARRIS: Well, I'm not going to tell Joe Biden what to do. I want him to pick the running mate that is best equipped to help him win because more than anything, Joe Biden has got to win. We cannot suffer another four years of Donald Trump in the White House.

We're in the midst of a pandemic where hundreds of thousands of people have died and a lot of the harm would have been avoided if we had a president who took seriously the issue and spoke truth about it from the very beginning. We have over 40 million people who have become unemployed in the last -- less than 100 days, with small businesses that are going out of business, and we need real leadership in the White House who has the sense of empathy and a sense of compassion and a sense of responsibility to lift up the condition, much less the spirits of the American people.

And Joe Biden will do that.

BURNETT: So, obviously, your -- you know, your background in law enforcement, you -- you know these issues professionally -- personally and professionally.

HARRIS: Yes.

BURNETT: So, Tay Anderson is a Denver school board member, leader of that city's protest today. I don't know if you saw it. You might have.

In "The Washington Post", he was talking about you.

HARRIS: (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: He said: Nominating Kamala Harris in the wake of what's going on is not the best solution. Nominating someone who's put black people in jail doesn't make sense at this moment.

What's your response? Is he misreading your record?

HARRIS: Yes -- I mean, absolutely. Listen, we need right now -- and this is why I am leading with Senator Booker and other members and all members of the Congressional Black Caucus what we need to do to reform the system.

I know the system from the inside out. I'm a child of parents who marched in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and I strongly believe if we are going to change these systems, there has to be the kind of brilliant activism that we've seen from the outside, like Black Lives Matter and the leadership there, combined with what we need to do on the outside to actually upend these systems in a way that we make change to get closer to the ideal we have of equal justice under the law. And it takes everybody to be a part of that process and that movement.

BURNETT: All right. Senator Harris, I appreciate your time. Thank you again.

HARRIS: Thank you, Erin. Take care.

BURNETT: All right. Senator Kamala Harris.

And next, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he and the president have not spoken in two weeks, in two weeks, as hospitalizations hit record levels in many states.

And Mike Pence tells the nation's governors to attribute rising coronavirus cases to more testing. The thing is, though, on the facts, that explanation doesn't add up and we will show you why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:42:36]

BURNETT: Tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, says it's been two weeks since he's spoken with President Trump. It comes as Texas is now reporting a record high in both cases and hospitalizations.

Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We're not shutting down. You know, we're going to go forward. We're going to continue to protect.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida's governor defiant in the face of climbing case counts. The NBA and WNBA both hope to play all the season's games in the sunshine state. The Republican National Committee will hold its convention in Jacksonville.

DESANTIS: In the beginning of March, the median age of positive cases was 65.5. Last week, you know, you had a lot of cases, the median age was 37.

WATT: Today, Texas reported its highest daily case count. Its governor says some counties also seeing more younger people testing positive. GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: It's hard to tell exactly where those

people contracted COVID. It could be Memorial Day celebrations.

WATT: Arkansas just upped the number of people allowed inside bars and restaurants even though the average daily case count has doubled in just two weeks.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's certainly states that did not strictly follow the guidelines that we put out.

WATT: Meanwhile the cheap and plentiful steroid apparently reduced the risk of death by 1/3 in COVID-19 patients on ventilators during a study in England.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: This is huge news. We do need to validate these results. And people need to keep in mind -- this is for very ill patients.

WATT: But masks are and will continue to be key. Some airlines now say they'll ban passengers who won't wear one. Nancy Pelosi might make them mandatory at House committee meetings.

Masks apparently aren't mandatory for those close to the president or at Saturday's MAGA rally in Tulsa where they're now looking to add an overflow venue.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the state of Oklahoma, we've really seen a tremendous amount of progress.

WATT: Case counts are actually now climbing sharply in Oklahoma. And despite a similar worrying trend in Arkansas --

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: The response is not passing a mandate. They need to wear a mask, but we're asking for individual social responsibility and to do the right thing.

[19:45:03]

That's what Arkansas's about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: So, across much of the South, cases are rising, but they're reopening anyway. The governor of Kentucky just summed it pretty well in a release announcing that they're going to open pools at the end of the month.

He wrote this: Everybody needs to remember that COVID-19 is still out there, it spreads aggressively, and it can be deadly.

Yes, it can -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yes, it can. Thank you very much, Nick.

And next, Vice President Mike Pence declares coronavirus over as hospitalizations hit records.

Then, why is the Trump campaign asking people to sign coronavirus waivers at their rallies, right? I mean, if it's over, one should not have to sign a waiver to go to a rally? Dr. Jonathan Reiner is with me next.

And disturbing new details about the man in this video, and we told you about him. We have the latest on his medical condition.

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[19:50:00]

BURNETT: New tonight a Trump administration official telling CNN that President Trump and Vice President Pence are, quote, in denial about coronavirus. This coming as CNN has obtained audio of a call Pence held with governors, where he urged to say cases are increasing in some states, as a result of more testing.

Pence saying, quote, explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing in most of the case where we are seeing some marginal rising number. That's more of a result of the extraordinary work you're doing expanding testing.

Well, here is why that is misleading because when you look at the states where some of the -- the states where cases increased over the last week, you can look at the map, five of them are now doing less testing now than they were a week ago. So you have a rise in cases and fewer tests.

The vice president also attempting to declare victory. In a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed published today, arguing that the U.S. is not facing a second wave of cases.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, member of the OUTFRONT medical team who advised the White House for eight years under President George W. Bush.

So, Dr. Reiner, you know, we heard Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he's using the vice president's narrative today, saying his state, the uptick there is purely testing. Obviously, in many places in this country, that is not true.

How dangerous is this narrative?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, DIRECTOR OF CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION LABORATORY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: It's really very dangerous. I read the vice president's op-ed and it begins with the usual sycophantic, you know, accolade to the president and then goes on really to spin -- to spin the data.

Here's the truth. In some parts of the United States, places like New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, cases are way down with -- after a lot of hard work and after really some devastating illness early on in the pandemic. But in other parts of the country, cases are rising dramatically, places like Florida, Texas, Arizona. If you look at Texas, Texas opened for their second wave -- their

second phase of reopening on May 18th. And since that time, the number of daily cases has doubled, as has the number of daily COVID hospitalizations, cases and hospitalizations. Also, if you look at the positivity rate in that state, it's also more than doubled over the same period of time. More people are getting sick. And more people are getting sick because the states opened too early.

BURNETT: So, you know, today the president, Dr. Reiner, signed an executive order surrounded by law enforcement and there wasn't a single person wearing a mask. Attorney General Bill Barr was there, he didn't wear a mask as he greeted lawmakers.

We know they've been relying on that 15-minute test which has incredibly high, well into double digits, perhaps up to 40 percent inaccuracy rate. We know that someone who received that test still got coronavirus in the White House.

What do you make of the fact that this is still happening?

REINER: It's an effort on the part of the White House to have the country suspend disbelief. Like you're watching a movie, you have to suspend the disbelief. And we have suspend our understanding of the fact that almost 120,000 people have died, and we have to suspend our understanding of the fact that you can prevent transmission of this virus, very effectively by wearing a mask.

They have to present a reality where everything is going back to normal, but that reality, that false reality is going to kill people. If their insistence that there's really nothing to see here, no one here on the stage is wearing a mask, resonates through the populace and people emulate it, and when people don't wear a mask, they get infected, and that's why large portions of the South are burning with this virus.

BURNETT: So, in Tulsa, right, they said they're going to hand out masks to people who attend --

REINER: Yes.

BURNETT: -- but they are not required to wear them, and we know the president will not wear one. He's preparing for a record-breaking turnout at his rally in Tulsa this weekend. They are exploring, the campaign says, a second overflow venue that could be outdoors and they say Trump will likely go in front of that group in person, as well.

So look, what would you tell the president if you were advising him about what he's doing in Tulsa?

REINER: Yeah, I would tell him what he's doing in Tulsa is criminal endangerment. He's intentionally exposing people to the risk of acquiring deadly virus, just for a photo op. He's risking the health of people for a photo op.

You know, we've seen this before. We saw this last week in Lafayette Park in my hometown here in D.C. The president needs a lot of people. He wants the photo-op and he doesn't really care what happens to the people who attend his rally.

I'm begging the people in Tulsa, don't go to this. Watch on the television. Watch the president in television. You'll be safe at home. Do not go.

BURNETT: We should let them know if you go you have to sign a waiver providing immunity to the president should you get sick and God forbid, incredibly sick or worse.

Thank you very much, Dr. Reiner.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump had cast some doubt on what happened in this man, right, saying he fell harder than he was pushed and implying it was a setup.

[19:55:03]

Well, his lawyer says there's no uncertainty tonight. Mr. Gugino suffered devastating injuries. We have the very latest next.

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BURNETT: Tonight, new details on the condition of Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester in Buffalo shoved to the ground by police officers. We are learning tonight that he has a fractured skull and is not able to walk.

This is from his lawyer: Gugino is the same protester president Trump floated a conspiracy theory about last week remember when he said he could be an Antifa provocateur who fell harder than he was pushed, suggesting it was, quote, a set-up.

The man now can't walk. Buffalo officials told me there is no merit whatsoever to Trump's claims, that Gugino has never been accused of being a member of Antifa. He's always been a peaceful protester and one of his friends told us that he's always been an incredibly thoughtful man.

Well, like you, we are upset by this news, but we're hoping for Mr. Gugino's full recovery and very, very saddened to hear this development.

Thank you all for watching.

It's time now for "AC360".