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Pence Misleads Americans as Some States Set Virus Records; Senate Republicans to Unveil Police Reform Bill; Prosecutor Could Decide on Charges Today in Brooks Killing. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice President Mike Pence is playing down any concerns over a second wave of the virus.


MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): Make sure and continue to explain the magnitude of increase in testing.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing increased testing, but the increased case counts are outpacing that increased testing.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I'm signing an executive order encouraging police departments nationwide to adopt the highest professional standards to serve their communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate the discussion happening, but it -- that's not enough. That's not true reform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's progress. It's the caboose. It's not the engine, but it's on the right track.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, June 17, 6 a.m. here in New York. Jim Sciutto joins me.

We begin with the Trump administration trying to put a new spin on the coronavirus pandemic, trying to spin it as a success.

Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the coronavirus task force, published an op-ed Tuesday that doctors say is riddled with misinformation.

Here are the facts.

This morning, 21 states are reporting an increase in new cases. Ten of those are -- ten states are seeing a spike of 50 percent or more. Florida, Texas, and Arizona setting records for most cases in a single day. Arizona and Texas also reporting a spike in hospitalizations, meaning more people are getting seriously sick.

We do not know the number of hospitalizations in Florida or Oklahoma, because those numbers are not shared in the same way, but local officials are concerned about what they are seeing.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: A senior CDC official tells CNN that the vice president is, quote, "cherry-picking data" to fit his and the president's narrative. The American people need facts. The last White House task force, coronavirus task force briefing was more than seven weeks ago.

Dr. Anthony Fauci admits in a new interview that he has not talked to President Trump in two weeks.

Meanwhile, we're hours away from Senate Republicans unveiling their police reform bill this morning, as protests continue across the country, calling for real and lasting change.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Rosa Flores. She is live in Miami.

So Florida, it's in the numbers, Rosa, is it not, a rise, a sharp rise in cases in Florida. How are state officials there reacting?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, state officials here are very concerned, of course, but Governor Ron DeSantis really not focusing on that and, instead, focusing on testing.

But back to the Trump administration downplaying, continuing to downplay the pandemic, despite the fact that 21 states are seeing upward trends this morning, and despite the fact that medical experts say that this first wave is far from over.


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 mind. 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 all -- 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.

PENCE (via phone): In most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rising numbers, 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 (on camera): Oklahoma has really been in the forefront of -- of our efforts to slow the spread and -- and, in a very real sense, they flattened the curve.

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."



FLORES: Now the coronavirus task force has not held a briefing since April 27. That's three [SIC] weeks ago. And in an NPR interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that he has not met with President Donald Trump in two weeks -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: It's not the first time that happened. The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago in terms of that gap in communication with the president. Rosa Flores in Florida, thanks very much.

In just a few hours, Senate Republicans will unveil their police reform legislation, their proposal. CNN has obtained an advanced academy of that bill.

CNN's Joe Johns live with more from the White House.

And Joe, you look at this. And what it is, it's about incentivizing police to do things like not use the chokehold, but not require them to do so.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's all about carrot and stick. It incentivizes. It encourages the states to take certain action, but it stops short of the mandates with teeth Democrats have been asking for.

As you said, on the issue of chokeholds, it incentivizes a ban by making federal money contingent on policy changes, but again, stops short of the outright ban on chokeholds that Democrats have been calling for.

And the issue of tracking police officers with records of misconduct when they try to move from one department to another, it creates a system of record sharing, as opposed to the national registry Democrats have been asking for.

And on that important issue of making it easier to sue the police in the event there has been misconduct, it's simply not in there. That's the so-called qualified immunity changes Democrats have been saying they want to see.

Now, Democrats, apparently, do have the numbers to block this bill from advancing. They need -- the Republicans need 60 votes in order to get to debate on this issue.

We also have to note that this comes after the president of the United States unveiled his own executive order that deals with some of these issues, including the question of excessive use of force. He would create a federal database. And he also would ban chokeholds, except when an officer's life is in danger.

So there is a lot to do before the sides come together on these issues up on Capitol Hill.

Back to you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Joe.

So the lead prosecutor in the Rayshard Brooks case could decide as early as today if he will charge the two police officers involved in that deadly encounter.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live in Atlanta with more. What do we expect, Dianne?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Alisyn, this is something that pretty much everyone in Atlanta has kind of been waiting, holding their breath for this day. Fulton County district attorney, Paul Howard, indicated that he would announce charges against the officers, if he chooses to bring them, beginning midweek, as early as today. So this has kind of been the date that everyone has had circled, waiting to exhale to see what's going to happen.

Howard indicated that it could be murder charges, felony murder charges, voluntary manslaughter charges against the officers.

And he says that he's looking at both officers. Officer Garrett Rolfe, of course, according to the investigation, is the one who fired those shots that killed Rayshard Brooks. He was fired from his job, as well.

But Officer Devin Brosnan, he was just put on administrative duty. As far as we know, he did not discharge his weapon at this point, according to the investigation.

Still, Howard said he's looking at those charges for both of the officers. And Brooks's widow indicated that she wants them both charged the same, because she says Officer Brosnan did not try to intervene and stop Officer Rolfe.

And that's something that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has addressed in these new executive orders here in Atlanta. It's very similar to the 21st Century Obama policing reforms that were put into place before. Those recommendations include a duty to intervene, as well as recommendations on use of force and also de-escalation tactics.

She said that making sure the officers hold those other officers that they partner with accountable is important in their quest to make things better between the community and the police here in Atlanta.


MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA: Our police officers are to be guardians and not warriors in our communities. There is supposed to be a partnership with our communities, and that trust has been broken. And we've got to rebuild and reimage and transform how we are policing in our communities across this country.


GALLAGHER: Now, if there are charges that are brought against the officers, Alisyn, you can expect a lot of discussion around the Taser that Mr. Brooks had in his hands.


We've spoken with the police union. They believe that even the discussion of charges right now is premature, because they say that due process has not been given to the former officer and Officer Brosnan at this point. And they told us that they do plan to make that Taser a point of contention.

CAMEROTA: All right. We'll see what happens in Atlanta later today. Thank you very much, Dianne. Well, doctors say that Vice President Pence is misleading Americans

about the coronavirus pandemic. So what is the actual situation in hospitals? That's next.


CAMEROTA: This morning, troubling numbers are sparking new concerns about where the pandemic is headed here in the U.S. Twenty-one states are seeing increases in new cases this morning. And at least ten of those have seen their numbers surge 50 percent or more in just the past week. Texas, Arizona, and Florida all setting records for the most cases in a single day.


But Vice President Mike Pence is trying to convince Americans and governors that the threat is over.

Joining us now is Dr. Ali Khan. He's the former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC. He is now the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the author of the book "The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind's Gravest Dangers."

Dr. Khan, we love having you on.

So what are we to make of this spike in numbers of more than 50 percent in places like Texas, Arizona, Florida? Oklahoma is seeing a spike right now. Is this because of testing, as the administration says?

DR. ALI KHAN, DEAN, COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: So, good morning, Alisyn. And this is completely expected, right? In my experience, infectious diseases don't really care about press conferences, so we've not changed the basic biology of the disease. The virus is out there. Ninety-five percent of Americans continue to be susceptible.

And as you open up, if you don't have containment of the disease in your community, you're going to see more cases. Straightforward.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Khan, so I think we should jettison talk of a second wave at this point, because we're still in the midst of a first wave.

KHAN: Yes! Yes.

SCIUTTO: The second wave is about the fall. But let's show some numbers so folks at home can digest this. I just want to compare where the U.S. stands and Italy. Italy a country, of course, was hit hard before the U.S.

And if you look at Italy's drop in cases, and they stuck with stay-at- home orders very aggressively for some time, those cases dropped off, like a ski slope there on the right-hand side of your screen.

The U.S., it has come down a bit, but pretty -- pretty healthy number of cases still at this point here. Tell us, to folks at home, tell folks at home what that means there.

KHAN: So what I can tell folks at home is that you don't need the Italy curve. You can take the Italy curve. You can take all of East Asia. You can take Australia, New Zealand, and you can take most of Europe. They have all figured this disease out. We're the only country that has not yet figured this disease out.

So for the last three to four weeks, we've plateaued in America. We still have 20,000 cases every day this long into our outbreak. So let's say the number of people who dies is only 1 to 2 percent instead of the 5 percent we're seeing. So essentially, 200 to 400 people every day will die who are being diagnosed today.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, other countries, Doctor, have also reopened. Why haven't we figured it out? Why are we plateauing so high?

KHAN: I tell people, to me, the dichotomy is not open -- open or not. The dichotomy is do you open safely or do you open unsafely? And if you're not willing to put in the work to test and trace -- and this is the public health work and the role of our elected officials -- if you're not willing to put in that work to drop cases, and you're not willing to do -- take the personal responsibility, wear a mask. Please, everybody, wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance.

If you don't have those two pieces, the biology of the disease is known. You put people together, they infect each other.

SCIUTTO: Let's dig down a little bit on this question of testing and whether it's the testing that leads to the increase in cases or the actual spread of the virus. Because that's the -- the allegation that Pence makes in this editorial.

But the facts, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and others, belie that. And let's just look at New York as an example here.

New York has tested more, and the cases have gone down. On the left- hand side in blue, those are the number of tests going up. On the right-hand side in gold, those are the number of cases going down.

So could you explain why Vice President Pence's argument -- we should note, remarkably, he is the head of the president's coronavirus task force -- why saying that cases are going up because there more -- there's more testing is false?

KHAN: Yes, and glad to do so. There was an interesting editorial, given the fact that we're in the midst of the greatest public health disaster in the history of this nation. So there's no doubt we're testing more people, which we needed to do.

But the bottom line is that the number of new cases are disproportionate to the number of testing. And testing is not the only data we look at. So if it was just a function of more testing, then why are more people showing up at hospitals?

So we know we have other data that says that there are truly more cases and more community transmission and that these states and many states in the U.S. have failed to contain this virus at this point.

CAMEROTA: President Trump tweeted something interesting on this topic. He believes that, without testing, we -- that with no testing, we would have no cases. That's his belief.

Let me read it to you: "Without testing, we should be showing almost no cases."

That's like saying, you know, without mammograms, we would have no breast cancer. I mean --

SCIUTTO: Until you die, right? Until you die. That's just a fact.

KHAN: So, yes, 161,000 [SIC] dead people. They didn't need to be tested. They'd still be dead.


KHAN: Really --


SCIUTTO: Masks, if I can --

KHAN: Yes, please.

SCIUTTO: Because masks are recommended by every health expert. And it's -- again, it's in the numbers here. They're not doing it for the hell of it. Right? I mean, you see in the numbers that if you wear masks, the transmission is reduced significantly.

Tell us the importance when the president and vice president refuse to set an example on taking that pretty simple step that I think a lot of us are taking ourselves when we're out in public.

Vice President Pence yesterday going to a restaurant in Iowa and just mixing with everyone without a mask. Why is that a problem?

KHAN: So, I tell all of my friends, masks are really actually a fiscally conservative approach. They're cheap, and they work.

And we have lots of data now. And not just modeling data, which is fabulous. We have real data in countries like Japan that, if you put on your mask, you can drop down cases in community. And so a masking is really a critical factor if we want to have containment.

So everybody in America today should be wearing a mask until you can -- you have, you know, a handful of cases in your community every day.

So let's get to containment. If New Zealand can have zero cases, Taiwan can have zero cases, you know, Vietnam can have zero cases, China is almost there. The U.S. can have zero cases.

CAMEROTA: On that optimistic note, Dr. Ali Khan, we really appreciate you giving us the real information this morning.

KHAN: Always a pleasure. Thank you for the invitation, both of you.

CAMEROTA: So President Trump signs an executive order on police reform without mentioning the debate over systemic racism. We have details on what is in the Senate Republican bill, next.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back. House Democrats and Senate Republicans are gearing up for a clash on Capitol Hill over competing police reform proposals.

In a couple of hours, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Tim Scott will unveil the Republicans' bill, aimed at incentivizing states to take action rather than requiring it.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst Toluse Olorunnipa. He's the White House reporter for "The Washington Post." And CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. He is the former police chief in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Thanks to both of you.

Chief Ramsey, if I can begin with you. The essential difference between the Republican approach here and, frankly, the president's, and the Democrats' approach is whether you require changes, like a ban like chokeholds, or you incentivize it.

The Republican plan is basically saying, Listen, if you don't make these changes, we're not going to give you some money, some federal money.

You ran two police departments. Does that work nationally, to incentivize rather than require changes like this?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Not really, no. They do need to tie funding to these changes, but they need to mandate changes. There need to be national standards, in my opinion.

This is weak. What I saw earlier today when you presented it, it was -- it's weak. There's no teeth to it at all.

I was hoping yesterday, when the president announced his executive order, that somehow that was a signal to Senate Republicans that it's OK for them to really come up with a meaningful bill. Apparently, I was wrong, because this is not it.

I hope what they do now is work with Democrats and come up with something that does have some teeth. Because right now, this is not a time for just incentivizing or just kind of, you know, encouraging. We actually need real change.

The other thing, yesterday, the president mentioned that President Obama did nothing around police reform. That's just flat-out not true. You had collaborative reform. I co-chaired the president's task force on 21st Century policing. We issued a report. I mean, when the administration took over, they actually got rid of

all that stuff. And so we need serious conversation that can -- that can lead to serious results, and right now, I don't see it.

CAMEROTA: About what you did with the 21st Century policing under the Obama administration, those were recommendations, correct? I mean, some police forces adopted them. Some rejected them.

And so --

RAMSEY: They were --

CAMEROTA: So just tell us where it stood after that.

RAMSEY: They were recommendations. We had action steps. We had an implementation guide.

Myself and a couple of others from the task force actually formed a company to actually work with departments that wanted to implement changes. And things were really moving forward.

New administration comes in. We're not -- we're not looking at consent decrees anymore. They got rid of collaborative reform. They actually took the report down from their website. I hear it's back on now, but you've got to dig to find it.

And so it just makes absolutely no sense. Reform is needed. The changes are needed. We need to stop dancing around the edges and get something done.

SCIUTTO: And you mentioned there it's -- I'm glad you did, that under Jeff Sessions as attorney general, this administration ended federal oversight of police departments via things such as consent decrees. That was a notable, concrete change in the other direction.


SCIUTTO: Toluse --

RAMSEY: Yes. I mean --

SCIUTTO: Let's talk about the president's involvement. So sorry. Sorry. Complete -- speak, Chief Ramsey. Didn't want to cut you off.

RAMSEY: No, go ahead, please. Go ahead.

SCIUTTO: Toluse, I was just going to ask about the.