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Trump Defends Police While Ordering Modest Reforms; U.S. Vice President Calls Coronavirus Case Spike Concerns Overblown; At Lease 18 States See Rise in COVID-19 Cases; U.K. Study Shows Steroid Dexamethasone Can Cut COVID-19 Deaths; Covid-19 Modeler Expects a Second Wave by the End of August. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 04:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome now to our viewers joining us here in the United States. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN Center in Atlanta.

Well, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on policing Tuesday. His first concrete steps to address a growing national outcry over police brutality. But the proposals fall short of what many were calling for. And his initially unifying remarks soon turned combative and defensive. CNN's Jim Acosta reports from the White House.



JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Offering up little more than new guidelines aimed at ending police brutality, President Trump let loose on the protesters who have marched in the streets across the U.S. since the brutal killing of George Floyd.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defend, dismantle and dissolve our police departments.

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.

ACOSTA: President downplay the problem of police misconduct, insisting only a small number of rogue officers are to blame.

TRUMP: They're very tiny. I use the word tiny. It's a very small percentage, but you have them.

ACOSTA: The executive order signed by the president urges police departments to improve their practices. On the controversial use of police chokeholds, the executive order recommends that the state or local law enforcement agencies use of force policies prohibit the use of chokeholds except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.

Despite the fact that his own administration violently cleared Lafayette Square earlier this month, gassing and beating protesters, the President argue the country should be more unified.

TRUMP: What's needed now is not more stoking of fear and division. We need to bring law enforcement and communities closer together, not to drive them apart.

ACOSTA: Civil Rights advocates were disappointed in what they heard.

DAVID HENDERSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I haven't had the chance to take a look at the executive order on paper yet, but based on what I heard, I am disappointed. I think it is a slap in the face of everyone who's been out protesting around the world for the past several weeks.

ACOSTA: The President also use the speech to tout the latest numbers on Wall Street.

TRUMP: The stock market went through the roof.

We're getting very close to the level we were before the pandemic and before all of the things that you've seen happen happened.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump also falsely said former President Barack Obama did not attempt to reform police practices. But that's not true. Obama released his own proposals more than five years ago.

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.

ACOSTA: Presidents event was notable for another reason as few officials wore masks despite the current pandemic.

Traveling in Iowa Vice President Mike Pence also decided to forego a mask as he sat down for lunch inside a restaurant and toured a factory.

On a phone call with governor's this week, Pence tried to dismiss the latest rising coronavirus cases as a result of more testing, even though public health officials caution infections are increasing as well.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing 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.

ACOSTA: Pence was sticking to the President's talking points.

TRUMP: That we stop testing right now would have very few cases, if any. ACOSTA (on camera): And Vice President Pence has posted an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" declaring there won't be a second wave of the coronavirus even though public health experts warn it is way too early to say that. The President is moving ahead with plans to hold a rally in Tulsa on Saturday, but the Oklahoma Department of Public Health wants Trump supporters headed to the rally to take some precautions. Such as getting tested for the coronavirus before and after the even.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: And I spoke with a former police chief about Mr. Trump's new reforms just a short time ago. Jim Bueermann is also the former President of the Police Foundation.


CHURCH: So, President Trump responded to calls from across the nation for police reforms by signing this executive order Tuesday. What was your reaction to those proposals?

JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER PRESIDENT, POLICE FOUNDATION: Well, I think they were pretty modest as your reporter had said. They were symbolic and that's important. And I think most people don't really understand how little power the President has over local policing in the United States or even Congress has over the United States. There are a couple of important parts of what he did today, that if, in fact, they come to fruition, then I think those will be important and those being accreditation process and database that he referred to.

CHURCH: And now critics say the reforms don't go far enough and won't satisfy calls from across the nation for meaningful change and accountability when it comes to police brutality that targets people of color. What do you say to that?

BUEERMANN: Well I think there's some truth to that. I don't think this was intended to do that. Again, what he's proposing are modest reforms.


Many of the things that are included in that executive order have been spoken about before, de-escalation training and use-of-force training is not new in American policing. Again, when I said about the databases for accreditation process, I think is very important especially when you talk about the inability of police chiefs and sheriffs across the United States to easily check whether an officer -- a candidate officer from another state has had problems. In this idea of accrediting police departments nationwide with one similar accreditation tool makes a lot of sense. That's the national coherence on American policing that is surely lacking.

CHURCH: Right and as a result of the horrific images of the killing of George Floyd and the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police we are now hearing calls to defund the police. Which would mean, of course, reallocating some of those funds to community organizations. Would that be a smarter way to deal with some of these situations?

BUEERMANN: Well, I think we're getting a little hung up on this term defunding and taking money from the police to fund some alternative approach to this. What I think is important here is we need to narrow the mission of the police. The police have never wanted to be the first responders of mental illness, drug addiction or homelessness. In the United States that's just who we have given that to. State legislatures have abdicated their responsibility on this. Whether we are moving money from the police and that may or may not be problematic depending on how you do that it is I think not really the issue. What is the issue is that somebody other than the police need be the first responders to those kinds of situations so that you remove the opportunity for a tragic outcome to occur.

CHURCH: Right, and presumably by moving those funds you would actually change those responsibilities of the police, right? So how much time is spent teaching police to diffuse situations rather than inflame them and would that be a better way to train police going forward?

BUEERMANN: Well, I think you have to train police doing that. Regardless of who is going to be first responder to those kind of situations you have to train police in that and it varies from state to state. We have 50 different policing models in the United States, at least, just based on the state laws in each different state. In most of those states if not all of them de-escalation is already taught. This is not new in the field of policing. This has been going on for quite a while.

So, even if we have de-escalation training, even if the officers are trying to de-escalate a situation, removing them from that situation in the first place is probably as if not more effective than simply training them to do some of these things. Because they don't have full control over the situations. The people they're dealing with have some control over that too based on their own behavior and how they react to the officers.

CHURCH: There has been considerable resistance to police reform in the United States. But many people watching what's happening now on the streets believe that it's different this time around. They believe there is a move in the right direction, even if it is slow. Do you think there will be changes, there will be accountability on the part of police, and there will be reform that is meaningful eventually?

BUEERMANN: Well I do believe that there's going to be more accountability and there'll be more reform, absolutely. But I'm very concerned that in spite of all of the things we're talking about -- and I'm supportive of almost all of these reform suggestions that we're talking about -- that we're still working around the margins of this problem. That at some point this country has got to say that the cessation of killings by the police whether their justified or not has got to be a national imperative. Just like in the '60s when President Kennedy said by the end of the decade, we're going to go the moon and we did. Somebody at our national level has got to say by the end of this

decade we will stop all police killings. By stopping all of them we will stop the ones that are, even if they are justified are still bad and their tragic. All police killings are tragic on some level. So we've got to find a way to stop them and we're going to have to think differently and not incrementally.

CHURCH: Jim Bueermann, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.


CHURCH: And we'll take a short break. People in the U.S. are in vacation mode with many heading to beaches and flouting coronavirus guidelines. We'll have details how this is affecting the count of new case. That's next.


And CNN spends a day inside Seattle's so-called autonomous zone. What's it really like inside this controversial neighborhood? We'll take a look.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

In the United States, Vice President Mike Pence is downplaying the current risk of the coronavirus, even as at least 18 states are now seeing an increase in cases. And as states relax COVID-19 restrictions there's new concern the numbers will continue to climb. CNN's Nick Watt has the details.


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 every 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: There certainly were 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. But we do need to validate these results. And also 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. That's what Arkansas is about.

WATT (on camera): The South is certainly emerging as a hotspot here in the U.S. the message as they reopen, we're going to reopen, but you will all need to try to keep safe. The governor of Kentucky just said they're going to open swimming pools at the end of the month and added, everybody needs to remember COVID-19 is still out there, it spreads aggressively and it can be deadly.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: For more I'm joined now by Dr. Ashish Jha. He is the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us.


CHURCH: So, preliminarily finding from researchers in the U.K. suggest the steroid drug, dexamethasone, may help treat the sickest COVID-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen but you have cautioned against getting too excited about this. Why? JHA: Yes, so I mean on one hand this is an exciting finding but all we

have right now is a press release. We really don't have the data. Now the researchers are excellent and I have a lot of faith, but faith is not the same thing as evidence and so we do need to see the actual paper, the manuscript under the peer review. But assuming it all pans out we should be enthusiastic because dexamethasone may end up being the first drug that truly reduces the death rate of COVID-19 and that would be a great, indeed.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And of course we are seeing a lot of these press releases coming out without the data and the methodology. Why are we seeing so much of that? Is that because we're in the midst of a pandemic and people want answers and they want them quickly?

JHA: Yes, I think that's right, Rosemary. And I am obviously very sympathetic to getting information out quickly. The problem is that it wouldn't take that much more time, probably a couple more days to just put together the tables and figures and the basic data and basic methodology so that researchers and experts could evaluate the data. And I've just been disappointed that in study after study it's been a one-page press release that we're all left to puzzle over and try to sort out whether, you know, whether the press release is adequate enough to really change practice or not.

CHURCH: Understood. And doctor, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in about 18 states, a prediction from a closely watched model of the University of Washington suggests the U.S. could see more than 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus by the beginning of October. Of course, you also predicted that same outcome. How bad could this get and how inevitable is a second wave despite Vice President Pence insisting there will be no second wave, even trying to declare an end to the coronavirus.

JHA: Yes, no, you know, I appreciate Vice President's desire to put the pandemic behind us and while I think many Americans want to believe that we are done with the pandemic, the problem is the pandemic is not done with us. Unfortunately, it's still in the early days. And I'm expecting 20 to 30,000 deaths a month in the United States moving forward, 200,000 deaths probably by September or early October. And then even then we won't be done. And we'll have a long way to go.


So what I've been saying to both my fellow Americans and to policymakers is 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 change course and really move towards suppressing this virus.

CHURCH: And, doctor, with that being said, I do want to bring up some images of President Trump signing his executive order on police reform measures Tuesday. And he, of course, we see no effort at all to socially distance or to wear masks. We saw the same images from Vice President Pence not wearing a mask and suggesting as we just said that the spike in cases was due to better testing, even going so far as to falsely delayer the coronavirus over. So that's the message the Trump administration is trying to send. How dangerous could this be?

JHA: Yes, I think this is very risky. First of all, the way the President and Vice President behaved is modeling for how other people who follow the President and the Vice President will also behave. We know that if we want to get this virus under control, social distancing, mask wearing and then testing and tracing and isolation are really the main strategies we have. To the extent that the leadership of our government downplays those strategies, we're really creating the environment for more spikes in cases, and ultimately and I worry about this, having to go to another shut down which no one wants. But if we act irresponsibly and are not on top of the virus that's where we're going to find ourselves.

CHURCH: And just very quickly then. You're really saying for us to lead a normal life while we're waiting for the elusive vaccine, wear a mask.

JHA: Absolutely. You know, this has been really puzzling to me that there are a lot of people who say, you know, masks infringe on my freedom. And I think no, no, no. Masks give you freedom. If you wear masks, if you social distance, if there is adequate testing and tracing in your community that actually gives you the freedom to get about your daily business. To go to work, to go to school, to do the things that matter to you. And it's been striking that so many Americans have decided that the line of freedom they want to focus on is wearing the mask or not as opposed to all the things that matter in our lives. It's puzzling and I'm pretty clear, the evidence is clear people should be wearing masks and social distancing.

CHURCH: Yes, it's such an easy fix. Isn't it? Dr. Jha, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

JHA: Thanks so much.

CHURCH: And coming up, more heated rhetoric between North and South Korea. A day after Pyongyang blew up a joint liaison office. We'll have a live report next.