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Senate GOP to Unveil Police Reform Plan; Charges in Rayshard Brooks' Shooting Death Expected as Soon as Today; Florida Records Highest Number of New Cases in a Single Day; Oklahoma's New Coronavirus Cases Surge Ahead of Trump Rally. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:07]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. Glad you're with us.

The pressure is building and has been building for weeks for actual action on police reform. In minutes, Senate Republicans will unveil their plan. An advanced copy obtained by CNN shows it does not go as far as House Democrats' proposal. It does not include a federal ban on chokeholds. The Republican plan instead incentivizes states to take action by holding back federal funds if they do not.

Now this comes on what could be a very pivotal day in the case of the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks by police in Atlanta. A decision on charges for one or both officers involved in his death could come at any moment.

Also this morning there are the facts on coronavirus and then there's the message from the White House. Vice President Pence says the U.S. is, quote, "winning the fight" against COVID-19, but here's what we know. 21 states are reporting an increase in new cases. Ten of those states seeing a spike of 50 percent or more and three states are even right now setting records for the most new cases in a single day. That's in Texas, Florida and Arizona. So it's very clear from the numbers this fight is far from over.

Let's begin with my colleague, Lauren Fox. She joins us on Capitol Hill.

In terms of what is expected minutes from now from Senate Republicans in this reform bill, we know quite a lot of what is and is not in there.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Poppy. And I'll tell you, this has been a significant shift for Republicans in the Senate because a couple of weeks ago they were arguing this wasn't even a federal issue that needed to be dealt with. They said this was a state and local issue. Today they are going to be unveiling their own proposal and we expect the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could make the announcement this morning that they could vote on this as soon as next week, Poppy. But a few details of what's in this proposal. We expect that there

will not be a federal ban on chokeholds. Instead what they're going to do is they're going to tie federal funding to state and local governments who actually make their own agreements that they will ban chokeholds on the state and local level.

There is also not expected to be anything in the Senate GOP bill that would end qualified immunity. That gives people an opportunity in court to actually sue police officers. That's something that Democrats want to do in their bill, but that is not something that Senate Republicans are going to touch.

We also expect that there are going to be a few commissions that are set up as part of the Senate GOP's bill. But this really sets up two different proposals that could result in some kind of conference committee where House Democrats and Senate Republicans have to get in the room and make some decisions about whether or not there is enough room to pass something in both chambers.

HARLOW: Yes, I mean, when you have Mitch McConnell saying look, the Democrats wanting to federalize everything, in his words, is a nonstarter and Schumer saying, you know, the Republicans don't go far enough, you wonder, is anything going to get passed that is actually going to make it to the president's desk for a signature. We'll see.

Lauren, thanks. Before you go, the House Judiciary Committee, they're going to mark up their bill today but something else is getting a lot of attention and that has to do with the mandate put in place by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

FOX: Well, that's right. We could see fireworks in just a little under an hour, Poppy, when the House Judiciary Committee is set to mark up their own policing bill. But there is a requirement that everyone going into that committee room, physically going into the room, has to be wearing a mask or they can be turned away. And they wouldn't be able to actually ask questions as part of this markup.

Now one thing to remember is, any member can sign in and attend this hearing remotely so that would be one option for Republicans, but the committee is full of Republicans who have refused to wear a mask at the capitol including Jim Jordan, a close ally of President Trump's. Andy Biggs as well as Louis Gohmert.

So whether or not there's some kind of showdown in a little bit over an hour still remains to be seen, Poppy. But I'll tell you, we're going to be watching very closely at that House Judiciary markup.

HARLOW: Wow. If they don't wear masks it will be fascinating to see if the sergeant-at-arms actually enforces them and doesn't let them be in there.

Lauren, thank you.

Now let's go to Atlanta where the lead prosecutor in the killing of Rayshard Brooks could decide as early as today if he bring forth charges against either/or both of the officers involved in that deadly shooting.

Diana Gallagher, on the case again, with us this morning.

I mean, you know, we spoke to the D.A. on this program on Monday. Has there been any hint since then about what may be expected if there will be charges?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Poppy. And look, all of Atlanta right now, especially the people who are coming out to this Wendy's to pay their respect where Rayshard Brooks died, they're waiting. And Paul Howard indicated that if he decided to charge the officers involved in this deadly shooting that it would come midweek as you said, as early as today.

[09:05:05]

This is a day everyone has had circled on their calendar. Now, the district attorney said that some of the charges that he is looking at are murder, felony murder, voluntary manslaughter. And he said that he's looking at both of the officers here, but he still have some stuff to go over. Ballistics, he had to interview witnesses, and put together what he thought happened in the moments before that shooting, in those split seconds during that shooting, to determine whether or not he thought he could bring charges against these officers.

Now, the attorney for Rayshard Brooks' family said that in the meantime they're getting complaints, they're getting people in the community who have come to them who dealt with one of the officers, Officer Garrett Rolfe who shot and killed Brooks, saying that they had had interactions with him in the past.

And if you'll remember, we reported yesterday that over his 6 1/2 years with the Atlanta Police Department, he'd had about a dozen complaints that had no action and then in 2016, there was an excessive force involving a firearm complaint that he did receive a written reprimand from the department about that complaint the following year. And so the attorney said they've received a lot of complaints from people in the community about their interactions with that officer as well.

But, Poppy, look, the police union that if those officers are charged would be representing them, they tell me that at this point they don't understand how the D.A. could bring charges against the officers because a proper investigation has not been done in their eyes. The officers have not received due process and they say that they believe that if anything it's a political move on the D.A.'s part who is up for re-election.

HARLOW: OK, Dianne, we'll watch very closely, see if charges do come down today. Thank you.

Right now, 21 states are seeing a significant spike in coronavirus cases. One that is seeing some of the most is the state of Florida, which recorded its highest number of new cases in a single day yesterday.

Let's go to Rosa Flores, she joins us in Miami with the latest.

Despite these numbers, Rosa, as I understand it, the governor says, look, we're not reversing course, we're not back tracking, we're not going to close down again.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis digging in his heels saying that even though he knows that there's an uptick in cases, that there's outbreaks in agricultural communities, and in prisons, he's saying that he is not shutting down the economy here. But as you mentioned, as we look across the country, Florida is not the only place. 21 states are showing upward trends and yet the Trump administration continues to downplay the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES (voice-over): Here in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is continuing to reopen the Sunshine State, despite seeing its highest single-day increase of confirmed coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): No, we're not shutting down. You know, we're going to go forward. You have to have society function.

FLORES: Florida will now host the Republican National Convention and could be the temporary home of the NBA and the WNBA. But as crowds return to public spaces like restaurants and malls, a warning from one woman who says she's one of 16 friends who tested positive after visiting a recently reopened bar in Jacksonville.

ERIKA CRISP, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: At the time it was more out of sight, out of mine. We hadn't known anybody who had it personally. Governor, mayor, everybody says it's fine. We go out, it's a friend's birthday. It was a mistake.

FLORES: At least 21 states are seeing an uptick in daily new coronavirus cases over the past week. This as Vice President Mike Pence made stops in Iowa without wearing a mask. The leader of the Coronavirus Task Force downplaying the severity of the disease as President Trump encourages states to ramp up their economies more quickly.

Pence writing in a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed, "The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different. We've slowed the spread, we've cared for the most vulnerable, we've saved lives. That's a cause for celebration."

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: The problem is the pandemic is not done with us. Unfortunately, it's still in the early days. If we do not want to end up with hundreds of thousands of deaths across the country by the time this whole thing is over, we've got to change course and really move towards suppressing this virus.

FLORES: On a call with governors Monday, the vice president making this claim. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In most of the cases

where we are seeing some marginal rising number that's more a result of the extraordinary work you're doing expanding testing.

FLORES: But according to Harvard researchers the United States needs to do at least 20 million tests per day to safely reopen by late July. The current rate is roughly 500,000 tests daily and with the president still set to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Pence falsely claiming that numbers in Oklahoma are on the decline.

PENCE: Oklahoma has really been in the forefront of our efforts to slow the spread and in a very real sense they flattened the curve.

[09:10:09]

FLORES: The truth is, Oklahoma has seen newly reported cases increase since late May. A senior CDC official slamming Pence for selectively choosing data to highlight telling CNN you can cherry pick a handful of counties and use that as a way to say things are not as bad as they look, but that's not the reality.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: Now the total number of cases here in the state of Florida exceed 80,000, and Poppy, a new metric that Governor Ron DeSantis mentioned yesterday is that back in March the median age for people infected with the coronavirus here in the state of Florida was 65.5. Last week, it was 37. And we know that the mayor here in Miami is very concerned about that. That's one of the things he's mentioned, because he's concerned is that these young people are going to take the virus home and spread it to their parents or grandparents -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow, that's so telling from 65 to 37.

Rosa, appreciate your reporting on that.

Let's go to our Martin Savidge now. He's in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

So, Martin, as Oklahoma reports also a new uptick in cases, what are you hearing about how the Trump campaign is addressing not only just fears of COVID spread, potentially at this rally, that Dr. Fauci said he wouldn't go to, for instance, because of his age, et cetera, and what are they actually doing about the concerns that city officials have there?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're not doing much on either one of those fronts. You know, let's just take a look at the latest numbers that we have that shows that Oklahoma is on the rise. It had been fortunate for a while. Compared to other states, things had not been that bad, but they are now getting increasingly worse. Total numbers 8,645 cases. 363 deaths.

Now, the death trend had been on the downward slope, but then you take a look at the seven-day moving average of cases and there you see a significant and disturbing trend, it's all upward. Now, Tulsa County which is of course incorporates the city of Tulsa, that's where this rally is going to be. Monday, they saw the largest single-day increase of reported coronavirus cases. They had 89 cases in just one day. In the span of seven days they've gone from 155 cases to now 532 cases.

There is definitely a spike going on in Tulsa. Add to that now the rally which is projected to bring in maybe 19,000 at the OKC Center. Another 40,000 people at a nearby overflow convention center site, 60,000 plus, not to mention protesters and those who just come to catch some of the vibe, all of them going to be inside a very closed environment.

The president as we know is not a fan of face masks. You could probably expect that those that support him are likely to follow his lead. Now the Trump campaign says they will be checking people's temperatures, they will be handing out face masks and handing out hand sanitizer, but again, it's not mandatory that they wear them and what is a rally?

It's where people get very close together. Very boisterous, they cheer and health experts say make no doubt about it, coronavirus will be there. It will either be brought in by people who have come from other places. It's here in this community and it will be taken home and taken away by those who are participating in the rally.

So the health department here in the state of Oklahoma says if you're planning to attend, you need to do some specific things. Get tested before you go and get tested when you get home -- Poppy.

HARLOW: No question. Martin Savidge, thank you for that reporting from Tulsa.

A lot ahead for us this morning. Minutes from now, Republican senators set to unveil their plan for police reform on Capitol Hill. You will hear from them and their details live.

And changes big and small are already taking place across the country. This morning, Quaker Oats says it will be retiring the Aunt Jemima brand and the logo acknowledging its origins are based on a racial stereotype.

Plus, the first major league sports back in action today. Premier League Soccer returns only this time without fans. What other changes to expect, ahead.

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[09:15:00]

HARLOW: We are moments away from Republican Senator Tim Scott's press conference unveiling the GOP's police reform plan and proposed legislation at any moment. Also a district attorney could announce charges in the police shooting and death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Let's talk about both of these with Charles Ramsey; CNN law enforcement analyst, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and James Woodall, the president of the Georgia NAACP.

Gentlemen, good morning. CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good morning --

HARLOW: Chief Ramsey, here's what we know about what is going to be included in the Republican proposal that Tim Scott will put forward. A review of no-knock warrants, money to incentivize departments to report the use of force, to wear body cameras, et cetera. It will incentivize states to share disciplinary records, but it doesn't mandate a federal database like Democrats are asking for.

It calls lynching a federal crime, it does not ban choke-holds, but again incentivizes departments to ban them through offering more federal grants. And it doesn't make any changes to qualified immunity. As a former police commissioner of a major U.S. city, does it go far enough?

RAMSEY: No, not nearly far enough. It's pretty weak, actually. But hopefully now, both the Senate Republicans and Democrats come together with something that's meaningful that actually has some teeth to it. The one part I do like is the fact that they're tying federal funding into some of these suggestions which has to happen no matter what.

Policing occurs at the state and local level, if you don't tie funding, nothing is going to get done. But there are some things that's not -- and that -- or the president's executive order that they could do tomorrow and make a difference.

[09:20:00]

Bring back collaborative reform for example which they took away out of the Justice Department where the Justice Department came in and actually worked with departments to come up with reforms. Once again, allow pattern and practice investigations to take place for those agencies that have gotten off track, that need to be reformed. So there are things that can be done at the federal level as well as the state and local level.

So right now, I don't see anything that's going to make any real difference, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. It can turn around.

HARLOW: You're right that a major change at the end of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, you know, work at DOJ is that he took away consent decrees which was something that was key under the Obama administration. I know you worked on the 21st century policing taskforce, more on that in a moment. But James to you, when you look at what has been proposed thus far, what are the key parts of it that you think will make a meaningful difference if Republicans and Democrats can agree on it?

JAMES WOODALL, PRESIDENT, GEORGIA NAACP: Well, quite honestly -- and thank you for the question. Quite honestly, I think it is very telling that we are still having conversations of reform when people are literally being shot as we speak, and killed and murdered. And so without any structural changes, paradigm shifts that actually address the root of the question of why we are here, which is white supremacy and dehumanization, peace-meal solution is just simply would not work. And so the thing -- the same thing we saw -- the Senate Dem -- I mean,

the Senate Republicans, the same thing we saw with President Trump's executive orders, simply do not actually address the issue of the day, and to see, you know, the parents and the families of people who have been murdered by either state-sanctioned violence or police and law enforcement, it's quite telling of where we are. This is simply symbolism of trying to actually solve a problem that we have not even identified as the actual problem.

HARLOW: Let's talk about -- Chief Ramsey, to that point, what can be done this time to be most effective? We heard the president falsely claim that President Obama did nothing on policing, it's not true. He set up this 21st century task force on policing, you co-chaired it. But you and the president did express some frustration after seeing how it played out, that it was slowly adopted and not adopted by enough police departments across the country. Because again, it was largely based on recommendations and incentives. Well, so is this president's executive order, it's based on incentives. Is it time for more mandates?

RAMSEY: Well, it is time for more mandates, but there were departments that were moving forward with the recommendations in the taskforce report that President Trump falsely claimed that the Obama administration did nothing. I personally sat in the Oval Office with the president talking about police reform. I know how committed he was to it. Now, towards the end of his presidency, obviously, there wasn't time to get a lot of things off the ground, but you combine that with collaborative reform, pattern and practice investigations.

I mean, all these things combined can certainly lead to reform of police. And as it relates to violence in our communities, we're also missing an opportunity because the discussion is so narrow just on policing which is legitimate. I have no problem with that. But we need to do something about the violence is committed, period, whether it's police, whether it's within communities directed to our -- whatever it might be, we have to -- we have an opportunity here to deal with it in a comprehensive way. And I think that's when you'll start to have real public safety in these neighborhoods.

HARLOW: James, as we -- and again, the fact you lead the Georgia NAACP, we're waiting for the D.A. in Atlanta to possibly hand down charges in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. You've said that, that killing amplifies the urgency of your message. I want to get your response to a really fascinating interview that was done by my colleague Brianna Keilar, with Georgia's Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams, she interviewed him, and he also this, quote, he says it's justified, the killing, quote, "an officer is not expected to wait to see if he gets hit or injured before he retires fire. The moment that Brooks turned toward the officer and pointed what appeared to be a weapon, whether it was a taser or an actual gun" -- we know it was a taser, "the officer would be justified in using deadly force". What do you say to that?

WOODALL: So most definitely -- and first, let me share that just a week prior to that incident, we saw two college students tased by Atlanta Police Department officers. And their response was a taser is not a deadly weapon. And so if they want to be consistent in their message, they need to be consistent, otherwise, they need to stop killing our people.

Secondly, if we want to actually stop this kind of conversation from happening by resolving the issue, we need to actually listen to people on the ground. Being able to talk to organizers that are in these communities, that are doing the heavy-lifting every single day of trying to resolve these issues.

[09:25:00]

We should not be having President Trump, you know, leading this conversation when there are issues that are happening in the communities that we live in that are not being addressed. And so, I think as far as the conversation goes, we need to amplify those voices because they are the ones in the streets, they are the ones taking over I-75 here in Georgia. They are the ones having to literally be tear-gassed because they simply want to protest.

And so to the sheriff's point, it was not justified because if that was his son, his daughter, his friend, he would not be saying what. We are literally receiving calls every single day of people being murdered. Every single day. And so to always have this as an isolated incident is just simply incorrect. And I believe it's insufficient, specifically as elected officials are failing to do their jobs.

HARLOW: James Woodall, thank you, Chief Ramsey, really, I appreciate you both being here. In just a few minutes, we're going to hear Republican Senator Tim Scott announcing their proposal here. Meantime, Quaker Oats is making a big change to how its product line is presented in the face of the conversation and what's going on in this country right now. They are retiring their Aunt Jemima brand and they're acknowledging the origins of it in a racist stereotype.

Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here now. Look, it's a brand that so many people have had in their house and seen for --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes --

HARLOW: A long time, this is a big move.

ROMANS: And questions have been raised forever about the origins of this brand, whether it was appropriate here. The company is going to retire the name and the logo. There will be a new name and a new logo and the company, Quaker Oats owned by Pepsi, is going to be giving millions of dollars over the next few years to try to advance equality in its own business and in its communities. That's what the imagery looks like now.

This is a 130-year-old brand and logo, she has changed over the years. That image has changed over the years, they retired the Kerchief, the Red Kerchief a number of years ago, but the company is saying this is based on the old stereotype, a racist stereotype, they acknowledged that, and it's time to change, this is what they said, "as we work to make progress towards racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers' expectations".

Poppy, I don't think there's a company in America right now that is not examining its product line and also looking at its own workforce and try and figure out how it can be better on this. There has been a sea change overall here. This seems like kind of an obvious change for Quaker Oats, but it's part of an overall Pepsi strategy here that's $400 million over the next five years to do better.

HARLOW: Wow, Christine, thank you so much and you're so right. Hundreds of flights in and out of Beijing are now canceled after a sudden resurgence of coronavirus there. We'll take you to Beijing, next.

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[09:30:00]