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Senate Republicans Unveil Police Reform Proposal; Pence Misleads Americans as Some States Set Virus Records. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 11:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And it is markup day across the capitol in the House Judiciary Committee for the Democrat reform effort. Already on how to reconcile the proposals and despite the clear bipartisan urgency over whether a reform plan will actually get to the president's desk.

We are six months into the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has killed 116,000 Americans, infected north of 2.1 million. You see the states in red and orange, And 21 states the infection is trending upward again. And experts warning, likely to follow is the spike in hospital hospitalizations and deaths as well.

But the vice president says any talk of trouble is alarmist. He said there's no second coronavirus wave.

On the latter point, the vice president is technically correct. The nation's top health expert says we are still in the middle of the first wave.

The election five months in front of us is shaping the White House message on the coronavirus much more than the numbers today or the lessons of the past six months. And 1,000 Americans continue to die daily, that is fact. Not as the vice president suggests some media conspiracy designed to sow fear.

It's also a fact that Florida and Texas are among the states seeing record coronavirus state increases in recent days. Their Republican governors say they can manage this and there will be no new restrictions.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): No, we are not shutting down. We are going to go forward and we will continue to protect the most vulnerable. We will urge, continue to advise, particularly our elderly population, to maintain social distancing, avoid crowds?

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX); We are now in a situation where we are co- existing with COVID-19, where we do not have to choose between either returning to jobs or protecting health care.


KING: We'll have more on the pandemic later.

Up first this hour, details on the politics of the new Senate Republican police reform bill. The Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in favor of the fast track. He says he will try to advance the bill next week.

The Republican effort being led by the only black Republican Senator Tim Scott. Senator Scott framing the final product this way.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Too often we're having a discussion in this nation about, are you supporting the law enforcement community or supporting communities of color. This is a false, binary choice.


KING: Let's get straight to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

Manu, a big deal from the Senate Republicans, and what's in it, and what's not in it. The bigger question: Will it get to the finish line?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question. Democrats are already criticizing this proposal. And Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, just took to the Senate floor saying this bill does not go far enough. And there are glaring differences with the House bill.

And can they reconcile those differences and will Democrats block this bill and not allow it to come forward and they allow to bring changes on the floor. And we'll see if they can get a deal to get 60 votes, which means bipartisan support is needed in the Senate to get it out of the chamber. And a lot of questions ahead as it works its way through the legislative process.

But there are significant differences. This bill includes -- essentially, the Republican bill incentivizes states to take action, uses money to force action.

It doesn't outright ban police chokeholds, for instance, but tells states and localities that if they don't have policies in place to ban chokeholds and then they may not get the federal dollars.

And unlike the Democratic bill, which calls for a ban on no-knock warrants in drug cases, that doesn't go that far in the Republican bill. They're asking states to report on the use of such tactics and then they'll make decisions down the line.

Also, there's a big, glaring difference is that the Democrats make it easier for people to sue police officers in civil court if their constitutional rights have been allegedly infringed, so-called qualified immunity. The Republicans say that is essentially a poison pill and that is not in the measure. And I did ask Tim Scott whether or not he'd be open to national mandates like the Democrats are calling for, including the use of body cameras, and the Republicans didn't rule out in their bill. He didn't rule out a national mandate. He said there are certain things that the Republican Congress just will not go for, but he said those are conversations that need to be had in the days ahead.

So, John, bipartisan support to do something on police reform, but significant differences on both sides about what that actually will look like.

And major questions still about whether the two parties can come together, agree on something in this election year and in this environment to get to the president's desk any time soon -- John?

KING: Very little has been able to crack the polarization in Washington. We will see in this moment of crisis in the country does.

Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill, appreciate that.

Let's continue the conversation. With me now to share reporting and their insights, Toluse Olorunnipa, with "The Washington Post," and CNN's political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, let me start on that question.

We have watched in recent years not just the Trump presidency, and in recent years, pre-dating President Trump, and the two parties have talked, I have a proposal, I have a proposal and they don't reconcile.


There was a day, if you had the urgency we see today, House Democrats marking up a plan and Senate Republicans saying we're ready to fast track a plan, they each might pass a proposal and they would get together.

Is what's happening in America enough to crack Washington out of its talk past each other and actually talk with each other?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the key question. I've heard several people, who are on the front lines, saying that this is a reckoning, that that is the description of this moment in time when it comes to race relations, when it comes to law enforcement and how they intersect.

So the question is whether or not Congress is going to break a very, very, very bad habit that we have seen on both sides of wanting an issue more than a solution.

And that habit is, again, not new. It is not just from the Trump era. It has gotten worse certainly in the last three and a half years. But it is essentially true at any time before an election.

And so in the short term, the first question is going to be whether or not Democrats in the Senate even vote yes on starting debate. It's something that they've been grappling with. I've been talking to Democratic sources in the Senate this morning. The answer is they don't know.

If they don't vote yes on debate, it means that it's over and they're not going have this discussion. If they do, then maybe they can have a real honest-to-goodness back and forth about the big differences that Manu laid out. And then maybe they can find a way to pass it in the Senate and then they will reconcile it with the House in the way it is supposed to work.

And it is an art of legislating that so many people in Congress have no idea how to do anymore because it's been so long since they've been able to overcome politics on big things.

KING: We'll see if they get there. It seems, forgive me, idiotic not to allow the debate to start. I don't know why you wouldn't start it. The Democrats, the Republicans getting 60 votes to end it. I don't know why you wouldn't start it to test your chances.

But that is the challenge of the moment, Toluse. We've watched this play out and we're seeing and we're meeting new leaders every day, whether it's the protesters out on the streets, during the coronavirus crisis that has been the mayors and the governors stepping forward.

For the Republicans today, we often hear the majority leader and the committee chairman. And today, it was Tim Scott, the sole African- American, coming forward and telling people out on the streets across America, "I hear you." Listen.


SCOTT: I've told my story seven times. Stop seven times in one year. That has been said a lot. But I was stopped this year, driving while black, when I got a warning ticket for failing to use my turn signal earlier in my lane change.

And so this issue continues. And that's why it is so important for us to say that we hear you. We are listening to your concerns.


KING: There's no question of his urgency and his passion on this issue.

The question is: Is he the man of the moment or are they, the men and women of the moment? Will they get past this because they have significant bipartisan differences? Can they sort it out?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That's a big question. And you hear Senator Tim Scott speaking to his experience as an African-American man, even though he is a Senator, and being pulled over. That's something that he has spoken about in recent years.

And he's been able to convince a number of his colleagues, including a large number of his white male colleagues, that this is an issue that needs to be discussed and an issue that needs to be addressed.

I don't necessarily know if his discussion with President Trump have been effective. You've heard President Trump talking about protesters being thugs, and they need to be shot if they start looting, saying vicious dogs on the White House lawn would take care of them, and that the Secret Service had a very easy time with the protesters in dispersing peaceful protesters.

Even though Senator Scott says he hear the protesters, it's a very different message you hear President Trump putting forward. You didn't hear the president say anything about systemic racism or the idea that policing suffers from any form of racism, even on a small level. So they're in different places on that.

Even though some Republicans are starting to move on this issue, it doesn't seem like the president is there yet. And if the president isn't there, it may be hard to move forward as a united front in terms of getting a bipartisan solution.

KING: That may be the biggest questions of all, Dana, if the sense that we've seen on things that should be easy, and the two parties can't agree, and then either the president doesn't engage or he engages late and blows up potential deals.

On this question, there are philosophical differences. The Senate Republican bill essentially uses grants or incentives, saying, if you are a state of local police department, you should ban chokeholds. You should be more transparent about this.

Dana, we're not going make you do it, but if you want the federal money, you'd be smart to do it because you'd get more money if you do. The House Democrats saying, no, the federal government has to require these things.

And the question is -- listen to the president -- does he shake this tone and push for a deal?



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans know the truth. Without police, there's chaos. Without law, there's anarchy. And without safety, there's catastrophe. We need leaders at every level of government who have the moral clarity to state these obvious facts.


KING: He's reading from the prompter there yesterday, but that's a very different tone than Tim Scott and the Republican Senators who said look, we need strong police forces but we need police forces that have trust in the community and it is our job to try to figure out how to bridge that divide.

BASH: Yes. You didn't hear Tim Scott or any of the Republicans in that press conference this morning talking about our nation's heritage, which historically has been a dog whistle for racism.

And that is the term and the phrase that the president of the United States used in the Rose Garden just yesterday even as he was signing this executive order. Tone matters.

But I think you raise an important points, which is as much as people say that they want to get things done, when you peel it back, what the Democrats want is much more in line with their philosophy, which is federal mandate. And what Republicans want is much more in line with their philosophy, which is incentive, but not a mandate.

And the question is whether they can find a way to thread that needle. It is doable. It has been done before on so many pieces of legislation. But the will has to be there. And even though things are so highly charged right now, I'm not sure that will is there.

KING: We'll see if it is. And for people watching around the country, this is a chance to exercise your will and demand they get things done or at least demand that they give it an honest effort.

Dana Bash, Toluse Olorunnipa, appreciate it very much.

Up next, the vice president wants you at home to declare a coronavirus victory and he wants you to thank his boss.



KING: Vice President Mike Pence says it is time to celebrate a coronavirus success story. And he suggests the media is fearmongering and trying to scare you.

You live this every day, so you know the truth where you live. And you be the complexity of this moment, whether you're still at home, back at work, trying to sort a summer vacation, and trying to find out if the kids go back to school in September.

Facts are facts, no matter what the vice president says or writes.

I want to bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and we'll go through some of the numbers.

Sanjay, if you look, the vice president says we should be celebrating. And if you look at the trend map, 21 states heading in the right direction and that's the orange states.

If you're red, your case counts this week is 50 percent higher than last week. And if you're 50 percent orange, your case count, and that is mostly across the south and eight states are holding steady and 21 states heading down in their case count.

I want to look at this by the day. We've been at this for months. And this is the daily new confirmed cases since March 1st. the trend line in the U.S. is down some. If you go back to April, down a little bit. And we're still looking at 20,000 cases or plus a day in the United States.

Look at that trend line and compare it to, say, Italy. A smaller country, less diverse, and less of a challenge, but that's what it's supposed to look like if you have it under control.

This is where we are in the United States, a stubborn plateau. The vice president said we should be celebrating.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't even have the luxury of talking about a second wave, John. Unlike a lot of places -- you mentioned Italy, there are several other examples like this around the world that have truly brought their case counts low enough where they can say, look, let's plan on the idea of trying to prevent a significant second wave.

We're not even out of the first wave yet. And there are real concerns as we crunch the numbers and look at what's happening in states all over the country. Obviously, as you point out, some doing better than others. But as a country, the idea that we may have significant peaks within this first wave is very real.

And I'm worried, John, that there's been a lack of urgency almost since the beginning in the United States that it being really manifest here during this first wave with significantly increased numbers.

KING: And worry, I just want to make clear, the vice president says we are fearmongering. Worry, concerned, putting out the facts is not fearmongering. We're trying to help people sort through the challenge in their lives.

Let's look at the number again. If you look at most new cases, maybe it's not a surprise, Texas, California, Florida, three of our largest states have the most cases right now. But these are all records, day to day records. Arizona, a day to day record yesterday. North Carolina, a high case number.

One of the conversations, Sanjay, is a lot of these governors say we're testing more and that's why we're seeing more cases just because we're testing more.

So if you look at the case, and this is Florida, yes, especially when you come from April into May, the availability of testing and the frequency of testing went up quite a bit.

But you tell me if I'm right about this. In listening to experts, as you test more, yes, you go up at first but the hope is that then you go down because you've identified people, you've contact traced them, you isolate them and stop the spread of infection.

They've done all this testing in Florida and they are doing that. That's the wrong direction. Am I wrong?

GUPTA: Absolutely. This sounds counterintuitive, John, but it's really important. I hope people understand that.

If you're doing adequate testing, and as tests go up, the case count should come down. You are finding people who are infected, and you are able to isolate them and to decrease the spread of the virus. And that is the whole reason. And that is one of the primary reasons you actually increased testing significantly.

So in the United States, for example, doing about 500 tests a day, roughly. Some of the experts say we need to be doing tenfold that, closer to five million tests per day in order to get that point where you test enough to actually bring the curve down, like the graph you showed in Italy, for example. We're not there yet.


In Oklahoma, which is in the news a lot because of what's happening in the news this weekend, testing rates have gone down. And what has happened to case counts? That's gone up.

And that's the worst-case sort of situation because there, just over the last week, one-fifth of the cases in Oklahoma were diagnosed despite the fact that testing has gone down.

KING: You just mentioned Oklahoma, and I'll look at it and look again. You see Texas and then Oklahoma and it is in the deeper red, which means 50 percent higher cases this week than the week before. The president wants to have a big rally.

I want to get at this point, and you were fact checking this yesterday on Twitter. The vice president's op-ed. He says it's fearmongering. Some of these states will handle this but watch the hospitalization rates. And it's not ideal that you're going up.

But go through the points when you read what the vice president wrote -- and I want to read what you said about the second wave. "We've slowed the spread and we've cared for the most vulnerable and saved lives. And we've created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That's a cause for celebration, not the media's fearmongering."

No one is trying to fearmonger. Again, many of these governors say this is manageable. It stresses the system, but we've got it.

When you look at this map, you just mentioned Oklahoma, you see problems.

GUPTA: It is not fearmongering and not inciting panic. This is a problem that is fixable, which we have not addressed in this country. And there are countries around the world that, throughout this entire pandemic, five and a half months now, they are measuring the death counts in the hundreds and not the thousands, not the hundreds of thousands like we are in this country.

This was an addressable problem. The fact that we didn't address it early on and the fact that we're still not addressing it and the fact that people are getting together without masks and close quarters is ludicrous. We will look back on this and it will seem very shameful what has

happened there, because we put a lot of people at risk that do not need to be at risk, people who died.

And there are preventable deaths happening, John, when you look at the right side of the screen. These deaths did not have to happen.

I think sometimes there's a sense of this was inevitable. And it's a bad virus. And that is true. And it is a contagious virus. That is true. It's circumnavigating the globe. That is true. And those numbers on the right side of the screen, that is not inevitable.

Now what are we going to do? Now we have another chance to do the right thing. And instead, big rally, indoors, no masks, no physical distancing. If you had to describe a worst-case scenario, that would be it.

Is that fearmongering, John? I don't know. I don't know. I feel like, as a health person, you've got to be honest about this stuff. And that's what it is, it's honesty.

You had the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, the vice president, not wearing a mask in a public situation and not physically distancing.

I just don't understand it at all. Again, how many times have we had conversations like this now, John? It's ludicrous.

KING: There's an old saying, we report, you decide. I forget where that came from. I'm joking. I know where that came from.

I just want to go through some of this because it's not really a joke. When you look at this map, one of the questions is -- look, and again, some of the states will manage it and some of the states that are orange and red will be back to beige and green by next week because they'll get this and they will push it down.

And the question is, when you see so much red -- I want you to listen, Sanjay, to Dr. Zeke Emanuel, health care adviser in the Obama administration, saying what he sees is sort of follow-the-dot approach, if you have the orange now, meaning the case count is up, what comes next is hospitalizations. Listen.


DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, FORMER HEALTH CARE ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: You will see a spike in the number of cases and then, a few days or a week later, you'll see a spike in the hospitalizations and then, a few days later, you will see a spike in the deaths.

And unless you actually implement these public health measures of physical distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and not going into bars, you are going to have that. It is inevitable, despite the happy talk coming out of the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: It's an interesting point there in the sense, look, this is the United States of America and there will be disagreement. You need to have the economy reopen. You can't keep the economy shut forever.

But to Zeke's point about -- you just mentioned the vice president doesn't wear a mask. The president is holding a rally. If you're going to be open, you need consistent messaging about common-sense safety measures like masks, correct?

GUPTA: Correct. There's a middle ground here. I get it. And there are places saying, hey, look, we don't want to go back into shutdown mode again, and that is really hard and tough. And I understand that. I live in this country, as well.

And the issue is, are you going to completely sacrifice the middle ground. We know that masks can work. Now we have evidence. And we are learning together, clearly.

If you were to ask me, John, I have the virus, you don't, we're within six feet of each other, what's the likelihood I'm going to give you the virus? Studies will show -- a study came out in "The Lancet," 17.4 percent. There will be studies that show this.

What if I am wearing the mask? What is the chance they will transmit it to you? It's 3 percent. It's a six-fold decrease in transmission.


Why wouldn't we do that when we have the evidence that it works and we've seen what it's done in other countries around the world? There's a middle ground that we're, hopefully, not abandoning in all of this -- john?

KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate the facts. Not fearmongering but the facts.

As always, thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

KING: Coming up for us, the prosecutor in Atlanta schedules a news conference today in the Rayshard Brooks killing. We walk to a member of the Atlanta City Council. What does she want?