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Officers Charged In Rayshard Brooks' Death; Coronavirus Cases Rising In Florida; President Trump Set To Hold Indoor Rally; White House Won't Say If Trump Will Take Responsibility If Supporters Get Sick At His Tulsa Rally; New Statement From Attorney For Officer Charged In Brooks Killing Deepening Divide Among Americans On Masks, Social Distancing; Bolton Book Says Trump Directly Asked China's President Xi to Help Him Win Re-Election. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The second officer at the scene faces three charges in Brooks' death and has agreed to be a state witness.

Also tonight, we're following alarming increases in coronavirus cases in 21 states, including Texas, Florida, and Arizona. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, new cases have hit a new one-day high, as the president pushes ahead with a rally there indoors this coming Saturday, despite the health risks.

All this as we're learning about damning new allegations against the president in John Bolton's new book, including this bombshell. The former national security adviser writes that President Trump directly asked the Chinese president, Chinese President Xi, to help him win reelection.

Let's go straight to Atlanta first.

CNN's Ryan Young is on the scene for us.

Ryan, both police officers have been charged in Rayshard Brooks' death just five days after it happened.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Wolf.

This really surprised a lot of people in the community, especially the fact that one of the officers is now going to turn state's witness. And that really shocked the crowd on the inside there.

But after this was all said and done there, was a small group of protesters who took over the intersection behind me. In fact, look at this video. The DA himself had to step down and have a conversation with them, trying to quell this crowd that wasn't letting any traffic pass.

He had a long conversation with them. They wanted to know why the officers were not going to be arrested tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: These are 11

charges against Officer Rolfe. The first charge is felony murder. This is a death that is a result of an underlying felony.

And in this case, the underlying felony is aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. And the possible sentences for a felony murder conviction would be life, life without parole, or the death penalty.

YOUNG (voice-over): Fulton County's district attorney announced charges against the two police officers involved in the Rayshard Brooks shooting.

HOWARD: At the time that the shot was fired, the utterance made by Officer Rolfe was, "I got him."

The city of Atlanta says you cannot even fire a Taser at someone who is running away, so you certainly can't fire a gun, a handgun, at someone who is running away.

YOUNG: Brooks' widow was inside the courtroom as the district attorney's team displayed enlarged photographs showing the last moments of his life. It all started Friday night. The two officers responded to a call about a man sleeping in a car and blocking the Wendy's drive through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo! Yo! What's up, my man?

YOUNG: For 20 minutes the officers talked to Brooks, but after Brooks failed a Breathalyzer test, he resisted arrest when officers tried to handcuff him for suspected drunken driving.

The three are seen here fighting on the ground. Brooks runs away, taking one of the officer's Tasers. As the officer chased him, Brooks points the Taser over the shoulder at Rolfe and then opens fire. After Brooks was shot, the DA said Rolfe kicked him.

The other officer, Devin Brosnan, also faces charges for aggravated assault and two counts of violation of oath.

HOWARD: At the time of the photograph, he is standing on the body of Mr. Brooks.

YOUNG: But he has turned into a state witness.

HOWARD: He plans to make a statement regarding the culpability of Officer Rolfe, but he indicated that he is not psychologically willing to give that statement today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG: Wolf, as you can imagine, the pain that was in that room, especially from the family, just this afternoon, the family had another news conference where they talked about the loss they have had.

In fact, listen to Rayshard Brooks' widow talking about the pain just her family is going through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMIKA MILLER, WIDOW OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: I was very hurt. I couldn't imagine being there, because I don't know what I would have done if I would have seen that for myself.

But I felt everything that he felt just by hearing what he went through. And it hurt. It hurt really bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Now, Wolf, we're just getting new information here that is going to sort of throw everything off.

We have been told by the attorney for Officer Devin Brosnan that he is actually not going to be an attorney for the state. I have just learned that during this live shot, so we're going to have to work through that statement from his attorney to try to figure out where this all goes.

And we should also throw in there that GBI is doing their own investigation. They say they were unaware the DA Paul Howard was going to move forward with these charges today. So this is getting even messier by the moment.

But, once again, I want to say this. We just got this news as we were inside that news story there that Brosnan apparently will not be a state's witness. So, we're going to have to figure this out, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that is unusual, because the DA, Paul Howard, did say he had agreed to be a state witness.

[18:05:03]

And now, all of a sudden, his attorney is saying he has not agreed to be a state witness. We will try to clarify that.

Ryan Young on the scene for us in Atlanta, thank you.

I want to bring in CNN Anchor, Don Lemon, along with CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams. He's a former deputy assistant general, and Redditt Hudson, co-founder of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement for Justice Reform and Accountability.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

Elliot, that's -- you can -- I don't know if we can speculate about why he would -- the DA says he was going to be a state witness. Now his attorney says he is not going to be a state witness. I think that is pretty unusual.

But let's talk about the big picture right now, the fired police officer, Garrett Rolfe, 27 years old, now facing 11 charges, including felony murder, which carries a potential death sentence.

What stood out to you from what we heard from the district attorney's announcement?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, a number of things, Wolf. Thanks.

So, number one, the speed with which this all happened. To use another Georgia case that happened recently, remember the case of Amanda, was not shot by police, but obviously it was another what we call racially motivated killing that happened in Georgia.

It took two months for them to decide whether to proceed with charges. Also, in Minnesota, quite recently, the George Floyd matter took some time to put the case together. This was a matter of days in which you had a number of significant murder and felony charges that came. So that is, number one, the big part.

Number two, this open question as to whether Brosnan is going to testify. If he were going to, that would be profound, because of what you hear sort of almost colloquially as the thin blue line of how reluctant officers typically are to testify against each other.

So, we will see how that plays out. But that -- even the mere fact that it was an issue was significant. And then, number three, the big sort of legal question, what this was about for the prosecutor was, is he going to charge murder? Is he going to charge felony manslaughter, you know, voluntary manslaughter, or nothing?

And this was always going to come down to, can the prosecutor prove that Mr. Brooks presented or didn't present an imminent harm of serious bodily injury, right? And, clearly, based on what he laid out today, the prosecutor believes that Mr. Brooks did not present any harm.

He talked about how there was a 41-minute lag from the time this all started before the shooting. He talked about, frankly, the mechanics of Tasers and how Tasers are not actually a threat. They talked about the standard operating procedures of the police department.

All of these things create a picture that the prosecutor wanted to get out into the public that this individual did not pose an imminent threat or, frankly, any threat at all, even after having been patted down, and that, ultimately, the killing was, in terms of the law, with malice of forethought, the shooter had known he was going to kill somebody and went ahead and did it.

BLITZER: Felony murder carries in Georgia either life without the possibility of parole or perhaps even the death sentence.

You know, Redditt, the other officer who was on the scene, 26-year-old Devin Brosnan, facing lesser charges, aggravated assault, some of the actions he took after Brooks was shot in the back twice.

As a former police officer yourself, what do you make of Brosnan's role in this killing?

REDDITT HUDSON, FORMER ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICER: Well, first, let me say how interesting it is that he was announced as a state witness earlier in the day, and now it sounds like he has backed out.

I can assure you that he received a tremendous amount of pressure from his fellow officers immediately when they learned that he was even considering testifying against his partner. He certainly had some responsibility in the situation.

We find out that he stood on top of Mr. Brooks after he was already down and fighting for his life. That speaks to a dereliction of duty, when you have a duty to offer some care to someone that you have just grievously injured. So he failed in that aspect.

And he is charged thusly. I just think we're at a critical moment, where these officers have been charged. That is important. In Minneapolis, that officer has been charged. That is important. We need to see this thing through all the way to conviction, while we do the massive work of trying to remake police culture and the criminal justice system that we see desperately needs to be remade.

BLITZER: Yes.

Don, I want your thoughts, big picture. At the same time these charges today were filed against these police officers, but we remember the former police officers responsible for George Floyd's murder, what, four weeks or so ago in Minneapolis, we're still a long way off from any convictions in either case.

Clearly, this is going to go on for quite a while. But do you see this, what we're seeing unfold right now, as some sort of sign of progress?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Of course. Any little bit is a sign of progress.

We -- you know, for the longest time, forever, up until now, we usually don't see these situations play out like this. Officers can say they were in fear of their lives, for their lives, and then get away with whatever happened at the scene, whether they were guilty of killing someone or misconduct or not. They were able to get away with it.

[18:10:08]

That is not happening. I have to tell you that I am actually surprised by these two, you know, Minneapolis and now Atlanta, especially the speed with which these charges have come down.

But I have to say that this is -- Wolf, you asked me for big picture. This is -- the whole world is upside down. This is an unstable and unusual time for families of victims of police brutality and police abuse, for police officers, for bad police officers, who are not trained properly, and police departments, who were once able to operate with impunity, won't be able to do that.

Police officers are saying, my gosh, my -- the way that I conduct myself and the way I do my job, that has changed.

For white folks who are waking up to this racism now, because they are seeing it play out, for the black people who look like the people who are on those videotapes for -- dying in the middle of the street, whether they're shot by a shotgun from someone pretending or thinking they were a police officer or killed by an actual police officer.

The sports world is turned upside down. Athletes now are feeling empowered. They are going against the league and corporations. You have the head of the NFL now, Roger Goodell, saying, black lives matter.

Also, you have -- it is an unstable time for millions of Americans who are dealing with the coronavirus. They don't know if it is coming or going, especially when you're listening to this president.

And then you have an unstable and ineffectual leader who, by all accounts, is in the Dark Ages when it comes to race, our health, and also the times that we're living in right now, policing in America.

It is an unstable time. And people don't know which way to turn. Unusual. I'm surprised, but yet again not surprised, because it is such an unstable time.

BLITZER: Yes, it is an important point.

Don Lemon, thank you. Redditt Hudson, thanks to you as well. Elliot Williams, appreciate it very much.

By the way, we're just getting in right now the statement that Officer Devin Brosnan's attorney has just put out. Let me read it to our viewers.

"Officer Brosnan has not agreed to testify. He has not agreed to plead guilty. He honestly told the DA's office everything that happened during a lengthy" -- he goes on to say "lengthy interview yesterday. He will continue to tell the DA or the GBI," the Georgia Bureau of Investigation," or any other investigator what happened. But he is absolutely not guilty of any crime and will not plead guilty and has not agreed to be a state's witness."

That statement from Amanda Clark Palmer and Don Samuel, the attorneys for the former police officer Devin Brosnan.

More on that story coming up. We're also going to get more reaction to the charges against Rayshard Brooks' killing, the charges involved in the killing, and how it may play into the protests for racial justice around the country.

I will speak with two-time Super Bowl champion, the NFL star Malcolm Jenkins, who's a new CNN contributor.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:17:42]

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in the case of Rayshard Brooks.

The district attorney in Atlanta announcing 11 charges against the former police officer that fired the shots in his back, including a felony murder charge that potentially could bring the death penalty.

Joining us now, activist, two-time Super Bowl champion and brand-new CNN Contributor, Malcolm Jenkins.

Malcolm, welcome to CNN. Good to have you on our team.

The last time you and I spoke, we discussed George Floyd's murder, the killing in Minneapolis. Now we are learning harrowing new details about the killing of Rayshard Brooks.

This new death further proves these are by no means isolated incidents in our country, but, rather, part of an urgent and still very pervasive problem that is going on. I assume you agree.

MALCOLM JENKINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think for -- people have been talking about police brutality and policing for a long time.

So, these events have happened, obviously, this year have been horrific and have shocked -- shook, shaken our country really at its core. But, at the end of the day, for the black community, this is what we have been dealing with.

And I think it is -- you know, we talk about our system like it is broken. And a lot of times, I ask people, OK, well, when was it fixed? And as a black person, policing has never been fixed in this country. It's never been for us.

And so unless we start to change this -- the narrative around policing to completely changing or turning it on its head, and doing something different, about-facing from what we have been doing, then the small reforms and things that are being thrown out there now will just keep us in the same direction.

And so I hope that this moment is one that we really take to literally about-face what we're doing and head in a new direction.

BLITZER: So, we saw the charges against the ex-police officers in the George Floyd killing. Now we have very serious charges for these officers in Atlanta responsible for the killing of Rayshard Brooks.

Do you think police are increasingly, at a minimum, being held accountable for excessive use of force?

JENKINS: I think there's yet to be seen.

I think these are good steps. You have the DA do a quick investigation and come back with murder charges. And you end up with arrest and charges. That's just the first step.

We still need to make sure that these turn into convictions, because, if not, then it's all for nothing. And, like I said, this is all while we're still trying to figure out how we radically change how we do policing to stop these type of incidents from happening.

[18:20:03]

It's OK to get justice and get accountability after the fact, but we also want to make sure that these things don't continue to happen as we move forward.

BLITZER: You still play in the NFL.

The president is speaking out right now about athletes kneeling in protest. I want you to listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was very disappointed in the NFL when they came out with a statement. I was very disappointed in U.S. soccer.

We support U.S. soccer. And now they go out and they say that you can do whatever you want.

Now, we have to show respect for our flag and for our national anthem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He just gave an interview to Sinclair.

What's your response to that simplification of this movement?

JENKINS: Well, I would simplify it myself and say that, before I became an athlete, I was black. And when I'm done being an athlete, I will still be black.

And so, unless we want to address these issues, we're going to continue to use our platforms as best as we can until we get change. And whether that's kneeling during the national anthem, or using your platform, writing op-eds and being in the streets protesting, people are going to continue to do this and show up and speak up until this is done.

And so, if we want to get back to the time where we can just enjoy sports, let's move on, let's move forward as a country, fix our problems, and we can all get back to enjoying America's pastime.

BLITZER: All right, Malcolm, thanks very much.

Once again, welcome to CNN. Good to have you here as part of our team, Malcolm Jenkins is our newest CNN contributor.

Just ahead, as coronavirus cases rise in 21 states, we're going to tell you where the spread is most, is most serious right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:26:15] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, including disturbing trends in the coronavirus pandemic, as the U.S. death toll has now climbed above 117,000.

CNN's Nick Watt has the latest from California, one of 21 states where infections are rising.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Record high case counts in the Sunshine State about a month after Florida triggered phase one reopening.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We're not shutting down. We're going to go forward. We're going to continue to protect.

WATT: Reopened bars a growing concern. Sixteen friends who went out unmasked have all now tested positive.

ERIKA CRISP, TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: Governor, mayor, everybody says it's fine. We go out. It's a friend's birthday. It was a mistake.

WATT: For six days in a row now, Texas has set new records for the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital.

MAURICE FUENTEZ, DALLAS RESIDENT: I think that we have opened up too soon.

WATT: Arizona also just smashed a record, nearly 2,500 new COVID-19 cases in a single day.

JULIA STRANGE, VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNITY BENEFIT, TUCSON MEDICAL CENTER: This week, we did hit our capacity in our COVID-designated ICU unit.

WATT: A judge just threw out illegal effort to stop President Trump's MAGA rally slated for Saturday in Tulsa, which just saw more cases in a day than ever.

DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The people who come to the rally, they don't care about them, except as a photo-op, because they're going to kill some of them and some of their family and friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should have done any and every thing that we could to move this to some other time, because, as you all heard, our numbers are spiking. This could be a super spreader.

WATT: Oklahoma one of 10 states now seeing their highest average daily new case counts since this pandemic began.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: And then a few days or a week later, you will see a spike in the hospitalizations, and then, a few days later, you will see a spike in the deaths. WATT: American Airlines says it just ejected a passenger who refused to wear a mask on a New York-to-Dallas flight.

In South Korea, everyone on public transport must now wear one. With an aggressive test-and-treat program, South Korea has kept its COVID death toll to 279. In the U.S. we are now over 117,000, and carrying out about a half-million tests a day.

EMANUEL: All of the experts, myself included, think we need three, four, five million, at least, per day. We're just not getting it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And there are nine mayors in Texas who want the power to make masks mandatory in their city, but the governor won't give it to them. They wrote him a letter saying, we think you would agree a healthy economy starts with healthy people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick Watt in L.A. for us.

Nick, thank you.

Let's get some more on the president's Tulsa rally that is coming up and the risks, as his administration spreads some false information about the pandemic.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, you tried very hard to get some answers on all of this from the White House.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

But White House officials are refusing to say whether the president or the administration will take responsibility if people catch the coronavirus at the Trump rally this weekend. An administration official tells us the president and his team are in denial, the word denial being used here, when it comes to the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): With President Trump expected to hold a rally this weekend in Oklahoma, White House officials are dismissing any questions that the administration might be responsible for exposing the thousands of supporters expected to attend to the coronavirus. In other words, rally at your own risk.

(on camera): Will the president or the White House take responsibility if people get sick and catch the coronavirus at this rally on Saturday?

[18:30:05]

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So the campaign has taken certain measures on, to make sure this is a safe rally. Temperature checks, hand sanitizers and masks, we are taking precautions.

ACOSTA: But you're not requiring people to wear masks.

MCENANY: They will be given a mask. It's up to them whether to make that decision. CDC guidelines are recommended but not required.

ACOSTA: Trump campaign is already posted a disclaimer for the Tulsa rally, telling attendees that the president and other event organizers cannot be held liable for any illnesses.

White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, tried to compare the potential for exposure at the rally to the dangers post by attending a baseball game. But hold on, pro sports events with crowds have been scrapped for weeks.

MCENANY: As if any event, you assume a personal risk on that, it's just what you do. When you go to a baseball game, you assume a risk. That's part of life. It's a personal decision of Americans as to whether to go to the rally or whether or not to go to the rally.

ACOSTA: With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Tulsa, Oklahoma health officials are urging attendees to be tested for the virus before and after the event. Public health experts are warning the White House they could be putting lives at risk.

ARTHUR CAPLAN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The people who come to the rally, they don't care about them except as a photo op because it's going to kill some of them and some of their family and friends.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The disinfectant there knocks it out.

ACOSTA: Ever since the president suggested Americans could inject themselves with disinfectants to ward off COVID-19, Mr. Trump has sidelined his own coronavirus task force. An administration official tells CNN they just don't want to deal with the reality of it. They're in denial.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is blasting Mr. Trump's handling of the pandemic.

JOE BIDEN, PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE: We've lost lives. We've lost businesses. We've lost paychecks. And now thanks to Donald Trump's bungling, we may lose some of the progress we had begun to make, all because he's lost interest.

ACOSTA: As whether he would attend the Tulsa rally, task force Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is 79 years old, told The Daily Beast, I'm in a high risk category. Personally I would not. Of course not.

On the administration's efforts to curb police brutality, White House officials said the president would support proposals being pushed by GOP Senator Tim Scott, aimed at cleaning up law enforcement practices.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): We hear you. I think this package speaks very clearly to the young person who's concerned when he is stopped by the law enforcement officers. We see you. ACOSTA: Democrats insist the Republican bill doesn't go far enough.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We don't need a window dressing, toothless bill. We need to take action that is real.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: The press secretary was asked why so many White House officials are no longer wearing masks around the west wing after a brief period when staffers were using them in response to an aide to Vice President Mike Pence contracting the virus. McEnany said the masks are recommended but not required at the White House, another reminder that the president and his team are not really interested in being public health role models on this issue. Wolf?

BLITZER: Important point indeed. All right, Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much.

Just ahead we'll talk about all the late breaking developments in the coronavirus pandemic and more with The New York Times Columnist and Author, Thomas Friedman. There you see him. We'll discuss right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:00]

BLITZER: There's this breaking news. A new statement just released from the attorneys for ex-police officer Garret Rolfe charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. The statement says this. Mr. Brooks violently attacked two officers and disarmed one of them.

When Mr. Brooks turned and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe, any officer would have reasonably believed that he intended to disarm, disable or seriously injure him. We're going to follow up on that, first statement coming in from the attorneys representing the ex- police officer, Garrett Rolfe, 27 years old.

Also there's other news were following, the Trump campaign now moving ahead, full speed ahead with its plan to hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma this coming Saturday, despite growing concerns that a huge number of people potentially could be infected with the coronavirus at an indoor rally of this type. Let's get some more analysis on what's going on with The New York Times Columnist and Author Thomas Friedman is joining us. Tom, thanks very much for joining us.

In your new column, that just was posted in the The New York Times, you write that the president's response to this pandemic, in your words, absolutely devilish. And you go on to say this. Let me read a couple sentences.

We have a president who, instead of wearing a mask, turns defiance of mask wearing into a heroic act of defiance against liberals, who forces 1,100 West Point cadets to travel back to campus and quarantine for two weeks so he can get a photo op addressing their graduation, who is planning a mass rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, where the most notable precautions is that you sign a legal disclaimer that you voluntarily assume all risk related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President Inc. liable.

You argue that there are -- these are steps, there are steps the administration could be taking right now to make this pandemic less dangerous and you ask why aren't they. What's the answer?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, you know, Wolf, the point I was really trying to make is this, that I think historians, you know, they may go easy on President Trump for what he didn't do back in December or January, when the right thing to do around the coronavirus was widely debated, some unproven, and a lot of it hard.

[18:40:00]

But today, where we are right now, the steps we could take to preserve both lives and livelihoods are clear, they're proven, they've been demonstrated in the field, and actually they're relatively easy. Wear a facemask whenever you're out in public, okay? Maintain social distancing as best you can in public and at work places. And avoid super spreader events, like a big rally where you'll be close to people and they'll be shouting and screaming and spreading the coronavirus.

This actually is relatively easy stuff, which we could do to keep the virus from resurging while we wait for a vaccine. The fact that the president won't do the easy stuff, the known stuff, is positively devilish. I heard you quote his White House spokesman as saying, masks are recommended at the White House but they're not required. And you really want to ask her, are brains recommended and not required? What are you people possibly thinking?

By the way, Wolf, how does this work for Trump? Because the average person actually isn't that stupid, they're not going to go to the restaurant, they're not going to go to work, they're not going to go to a rally if they think they're going to get sick or transfer the virus to someone who is vulnerable. Most people will not do that. So the economy won't even come back the way Trump hopes. It's just flat out stupid.

BLITZER: Why do you think, Tom, the president is so set on moving forward with this potentially very dangerous campaign rally in Tulsa?

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I really -- it's literally beyond me, Wolf. He thinks that this will somehow appeal to his base by defying the supposed liberal consensus that you should wear a mask and social distance and prevent super spreader events.

But there's nothing liberal about this. Mother nature is not interested in liberal or conservative. She has no clue where the border is between Oklahoma or Texas. And you can see all of this is spreading to all these different markets where it didn't hit early on.

And so I have no idea what goes through his mind. I think there are only two things on Donald Trump's mind and you see this in the Bolton book. One is how to get re-elected and the other is Donald Trump and everything else be damned.

BLITZER: You know, we're learning new details and we have a copy now of the Bolton book, the John Bolton book, the president's former national security adviser. We have more on this coming up later this hour.

But in the book he says that during a 2018 meeting between the president and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, he writes this. He said, Pompeo, the Secretary of State, passed me his notepad, on which he had written he is so full of, you know the S word. I agreed. Does that surprise you at all?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Trump has the distinction now of two secretaries of states describing him with barnyard epithets. Secretary of State Tillerson was quoted as calling him a freaking idiot after a meeting in the Pentagon only he didn't use the word frigging. And now Pompeo is describing him as being full of manure, only he didn't use the word manure.

What does it say to you, Wolf, that the people closest to him, his closest advisers, hold him in such contempt? I've really -- I've never seen this in my time covering national security. But it should be a warning sign to all of us how inappropriate he is as the leader of the free world.

BLITZER: We're going to have more on this coming up. Tom Friedman, as usual, thanks very much.

Just ahead we're going to get some more of the shocking accusations from the President's former national security adviser, John Bolton.

Also we'll take a closer look at how wearing masks and taking precautions to prevent the virus has become all of a sudden so political.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:48:52]

BLITZER: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to kill hundreds of Americans every single day, the divide between Americans taking precautions and those ignoring them seems to be deepening.

CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us.

Brian, when it comes to wearing a mask and social distancing, it is clearly a tale of two Americas.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. Millions of Americans are staying disciplined tonight, wearing masks everywhere and staying home. But many others are crowding into bars and restaurants like nothing ever happened. And some are feeling the consequences.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): At Lynch's Irish Pub in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Erika Crisp and more than a dozen other women had a night out recently. None of them wore masks and they're all now paying the price. At least 15 of them have tested positive for coronavirus.

ERIKA CRISP, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: I think 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.

KAT LAYTON, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: My experience definitely -- of course, we do feel foolish standing in front of all the people we knew.

[18:50:00]

We were -- we were pushing it.

TODD: Crisp says she has since been contacted by complete strangers who were at the same location at the time, who are now sick. The bar has shut down again. In New York City, people crowded outside bars last weekend, several seen not wearing masks.

On the Facebook page of a group called Reopen NC, a burn your mask challenge, and someone cooks a hot dog over a mask.

Medical experts say tonight, there's apathy and outright fatigue at play with millions of Americans who are dropping social distancing.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: We've told them from the last three months your connection is now through a computer screen, through Zoom, through phone. You can't see people. You can't see the expressions of smiles on their faces because we're covering them. That's emotionally exhausting. That said, the virus doesn't care if we're tired.

TODD: But it's a tale of two Americas. While millions are shedding masks and crowding beaches and bars, millions of others are still staying home, wearing masks, distancing. The disconnect could partially be due to the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration.

Members of the president's coronavirus task force like Dr. Anthony Fauci warning this pandemic is by no means over. Spikes are still occurring in at least ten states and distancing is critical even in places that are reopening.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Even when you do proceed according to guidelines you've got to be careful to make sure that to the extent possible, you physically distance yourself and you wear a mask literally at all times.

TODD: But at the same time, the head of that task force, Vice President Mike Pence writes an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" saying there's no second wave, blaming the media for inciting panic. Pence, Trump and others repeatedly attending events where they gather closely with people with no masks and pressing ahead with plans for a rally in Tulsa where tens of thousands are expected, masks optional.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: It has a direct negative consequence on the public health of this country. It's disgraceful.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Dr. Jonathan Reiner says it's criminal endangerment for the Trump team not to require people to wear masks at Saturday's rally. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany says the campaign is taking precautions, giving out masks, handing out hand sanitizer and giving temperature checks.

But one official close to the Coronavirus Task Force told CNN that the White House and the Trump team never asked the task force for its blessing for Saturday's rally. That official saying, quote, they know better -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting indeed.

All right, Brian Todd, reporting. Thank you.

Coming up, as we're learning more about John Bolton's shocking allegations against President Trump in his book, Bolton is also now speaking up. We'll have that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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BLITZER: We're back with breaking news on John Bolton's new book and the stunning allegations he's making about President Trump and the administration.

I want to bring in our National Correspondent, Vivian Salama.

Vivian, we're now hearing directly from the president's former national security adviser about a shocking ask of the Chinese president. Update our viewers on that.

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, so many questions have been answered and yet there are so many more questions now that we've obtained a copy of John Bolton's forthcoming book and the former national security adviser goes into great detail explaining some instances with the president which he characterizes as clear cases of obstruction of justice, information that definitely some House Democrats would have loved to know several months ago during the impeachment inquiry when John Bolton obviously did not appear to testify before the House.

And so, a number of instances beyond even just Ukraine. He talks a lot about China and the president's relationship with President Xi of China and we have a full screen of one clip here where he says: He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaign, pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.

So, obviously, a very explicit ask here which John Bolton described as problematic. And he said he felt it was really a shocking thing to ask of a foreign leader, especially like Xi where the relationship should not be as cordial and is trusting as with other countries.

In general, the book details a lot of the president's dynamic with foreign leaders that Ambassador Bolton had witnessed over his time at the White House. He talked to ABC's Martha Raddatz, an upcoming interview, a clip aired today, where he talked specifically about the dynamic with President Putin of Russia. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think Putin thinks he can play him like a fiddle. I think Putin is smart, tough. I think he sees that he's not faced with a serious adversary here. I don't think he's worried about Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SALAMA: And so, Wolf, you see he talks about certain dynamics like that one with Putin but also just the president's tendency to be a little bit, you know, checked out when it came to certain intelligence briefings. He said that he didn't understand a lot of the issues that were brought forward to him. And even some of his advisers questioned some of his judgment at times.

TAPPER: Just beginning, Vivian, to go through this book over here, we have a copy now. You have a copy. I guess almost all the journalists in Washington now have a copy of this book entitled "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir", John Bolton.

So, presumably, there's going to be a whole lot more details in there, not very pleasant reading for the president of the United States.

Vivian, thank you very much for that report.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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