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New Model Warns Florida Could Be Next Large Epicenter; A Million and a Half More Americans Filed for First-Time Jobless Claims Last Week; Justice Department Asks Judge to Block Bolton's Book. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired June 18, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. Glad you're with us this morning. There is a lot to get to.
First, the two officers charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta are facing a 6:00 p.m. Eastern deadline today to surrender. All of this apparently affecting morale within the Atlanta Police Department. Sources tell CNN officers there some of them not responding to calls overnight. And many calling out sick to their shifts. We have those details ahead.
Also this morning, coronavirus cases spiking in nearly two dozen states. So why is the president denying the facts?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out.
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HARLOW: He says it's dying out. The numbers tell a very different story. And so does the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, telling CNN, football, the NFL, also may not happen this year.
And a fierce showdown between the White House and the former National Security adviser, John Bolton. The Justice Department asking a judge to block his tell-all book from being released.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think he's fit for office. I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: We have a lot to get to. First though, let's begin with Dianne Gallagher. She joins us in Atlanta.
Dianne, let's begin with the charges. There are 11 charges facing these officers including felony murder for the one who fired the shots.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right. And that officer -- now former Officer Garrett Rolfe facing 11 different charges. The most serious of course is that felony murder charge which could carry a sentence of life in prison or even the death penalty if convicted. He also faces five charges of aggravated assault for shooting Mr. Brooks, for kicking Mr. Brooks, and then against three other individuals who were in a vehicle that was hit by a bullet there that night.
They also face the criminal property damage because of that car and then violation of oath of office charges. Now, Officer Devin Brosnan, the original responding officer, faces an aggravated assault charge for standing on Mr. Brooks while he was there on the ground, still fighting for his life, and two violations of oath of office.
Now the attorney for Officer Brosnan says that he actually sustained a concussion during the incident and was disoriented and did not realize that Mr. Brooks had been shot when he put his feet on his shoulders. The attorneys for the fired Officer Rolfe say that they believe that he acted justified that night in the shooting, and that they also deny the fact that he kicked Mr. Brooks while he was on the ground.
Now the district attorney announced these charges yesterday afternoon and apparently did so without informing the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. They put a post on their Facebook page after that press conference saying that they had not been given the heads up about these charges and they were going to continue their investigation, Jim and Poppy -- or Poppy, to continue on without I guess paying attention to this.
Also something you mentioned here at the police department's last night. Our colleague, Ryan Young, received word from sources inside the Atlanta Police Departments that three of the six zones in Atlanta were not responding to calls last night as a result of those charges against the officers. The Atlanta Police say that they weren't walking off the job, they were simply not showing up a larger number to their shift but said that they did have enough officers to cover any sort of things that may have been needed overnight.
HARLOW: OK. Dianne, thank you for those important updates this morning.
Let's talk about all that has transpired. Joey Jackson is with us, criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst, and Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent and CNN law enforcement analyst.
Gentlemen, thanks so very much. Joey, I want to begin with these charges against former Officer Garrett Rolfe, felony murder, 10 other charges facing them including five counts of aggravated assault, four counts of violation of oath, one of criminal damage to property. What do you make of the charges the officers -- lawyers saying they were completely justified in this action?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning to you, Poppy. You know, we're in a new era of -- HARLOW: I can't -- can you guys hear Joey? I'm sorry.
JACKSON: Yes. It's OK. Can you hear me, Poppy?
HARLOW: I'm sorry, I can't hear -- I can't hear anything. Let's take a quick break and we'll be right back.
HARLOW: All right. Welcome back, everyone can hear everyone now which is a good thing.
Joey Jackson, let me go back to you on that question. I just laid out the charges including felony murder that had been levelled against Officer Rolfe here. What do you make of the charges and the response from the defense team that says look, they were completely justified in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks?
JACKSON: So, Poppy, it's hard to have a discussion about this case without pointing to the broader issues that are happening across the country, the way people are viewing police and policing, and the lack of accountability. And it's important in having this discussion and saying that, you know, it's not a narrative of demonizing police at all. Police serve communities every day and twice on Sunday, they do so faithfully and certainly their service should be saluted and appreciated. But when something happens that is amiss, I think it's incumbent upon us all to say something about it, and it's incumbent more than saying to do something about it.
To your question, the D.A. was doing something about it. Doing something how? By looking at the issue of accountability and saying that, listen, I don't believe, says the D.A., that you acted in an appropriate justified or a lawful manner. Why? Because you are not in immediate fear of death or serious physical injury in accordance with the charges. Number two, the force you used was disproportionate to any threat that was posed. And number three, you acted unreasonably.
And in light of that, and in light of this new era of accountability where DAs are constantly questioned, are you going to charge, are going to move forward, are you not, are you going to sit on it, are you going to get an indictment, this D.A. said, you know what, there are issues here. Like what, like the fact that if policy says that you can't even fire a taser at someone running, how then can you fire a gun? If the policy says that you need to render aid, you should do.
And so what I make of the charges, the prosecutor saying that I'm going to take a stance here, we will allow a jury to make the ultimate determination, and finally, Poppy, you know the defense has a lot to say with respect to their clients being justified but that'll be a jury question, that'll be a question for another day. But (INAUDIBLE), let's take action and then let's allow that jury process to play out, and that's what's happening here. HARLOW: OK. Jonathan, to you, when you look at Georgia law, there's a
lot of question now about whether a taser is a deadly weapon or not. That's what a lot of this is centered around. The D.A., Paul Howard, said just a few weeks ago, under Georgia law, a taser is considered a deadly weapon. We looked at Georgia law and here's what it says. Under the law there, it says, quote, "For the purposes of this code," it's code 16, "the term firearm shall include stun guns and tasers."
The charges against the officers indicate otherwise, right? He said one thing when there was the apprehension of those officers using the taser against those college students, and now the counterargument is he's saying something else in terms of whether a taser is a deadly weapon or not. What's your read?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, listen, I think that there's a rush here by the D.A. I mean, by the fact that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation put out that statement last night that they were unaware of these charges being brought by the D.A., they have not concluded their investigation. So I think that, you know, there's a lot of gray zone here with how the taser is being applied.
You know, it was applied one way a few weeks ago by the D.A. and now it's being applied differently. Law enforcement officers don't have that ability to -- you know, to bifurcate those narratives when they're on the street at that moment so what they are doing is based upon Atlanta procedures, Atlanta PD procedures, an officer who reasonably believes that a suspect possesses a deadly weapon, and in this instance they believed that that taser was a deadly weapon, was authorized to utilize deadly force.
If they believed that they were in fear of serious bodily injury or bodily injury or death would come to somebody else. There's this -- go ahead.
HARLOW: Jonathan, just one follow-up question here on that. When it comes to rushing charges or not rushing charges, the GBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, wasn't done with their investigation. Does it never happen that charges come forth before an investigation? Look at Minneapolis for example, in the charging of Officer Chauvin and the three other officers. Was the investigation by -- you know, the same sort of party in that state done before those charges were brought?
WACKROW: Well, what you have to look at is when you have a multi- jurisdictional investigation, you want coordination. The very last thing that we're going to have right now in terms of prosecuting these officers is now we have a fractured investigative process right now. That's only going to lead confusion through the judicial process. And quite frankly, it could taint the jury pool later on.
So I think that from an investigative standpoint, you want all of the stakeholders to be aligned. Now there -- the outcome of each investigative report may be slightly different or have a different outcome and that's what the district attorney will have to way when they make that decision. But the Georgia Bureau of Investigation never even had the opportunity to present their findings yet. And those findings could very well adjudicate some of these outstanding issues that we quite frankly don't know yet.
We don't have all of -- we were presented with some evidence, we weren't presented with all of the evidence in this matter.
HARLOW: They will still have the opportunity to do that, obviously we're listening very closely. Thanks to you both. Sorry about the technical difficulties, it happens.
WACKROW: Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: Joey Jackson, Jonathan Wackrow, I appreciate it.
The president says coronavirus is dying out. Those are his words in a new interview. That is not true, but this is true. 23 states are seeing a spike in cases, tens of those states -- 10 of those states, rather, recorded a record number of new cases over the last week.
Let's go to our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. She joins me this morning.
What do the actual numbers tell us in the face of the president saying this is, quote, dying out?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They tell us that he's wrong, Poppy, to put it succinctly. And another fact tell us that he's wrong which is that hundreds of Americans are dying every day of coronavirus.
Can you imagine if this were happening under President Obama, President Trump would be saying, look, this is a national travesty, and he would be right. Hundreds of Americans are dying of coronavirus every day. That is not a lull, that is not dying out.
Let's take a look at this map real quick. When you look at the orange and the red, those are states that are seeing increases, states like Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, states that opened up pretty early and pretty extensively. Oklahoma, of course, where the president is going to be making a trip. The red states have seen increases of more than 50 percent in one week. Poppy?
HARLOW: Many Americans are asking this morning, given a new interview that Dr. Fauci just did, whether for example there's going to be football. And this goes beyond football, right? It's emblematic of getting back to quote/unquote, "normal". Dr. Anthony Fauci just told our colleague, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, it's going to be hard to see how football can actually happen this year. What do you think?
COHEN: Right, I think he's right. I think if we look forward, what we can see is that flu will come to us in the Fall and Winter as it does every year, that's a given. And the experts are predicting that things are going to get even worse for coronavirus come Fall. So it really -- it really makes you wonder, how can we have activities that bring people together? This is super simple. This virus spreads when people get together and they don't socially
distance. So events like football, you have to wonder, would you really want to go to a football game? Do those players really want to be, you know, smashing their bodies together when there's coronavirus out there?
HARLOW: Yes, right, fans aside, do they want to be on top of one another and then going back to their families?
HARLOW: Elizabeth, thank you on both of those --
HARLOW: Let's go to my colleague, Rosa Flores, she joins us in Florida this morning. Rosa, you have some researchers saying that the numbers they're seeing coming out of Florida are telling them that state could actually be the next coronavirus epicenter.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right. This is a model out of the University of Pennsylvania that says just that, that Florida has all the ingredients for disaster. And really, Poppy, all you have to do is just look at the numbers. Last week, we were talking about a 1,000 cases a day. That changed over the weekend to more than 2,000, and the latest number that we have is 2,600 in one day with a 10.3 percent positivity rate.
That is the biggest positivity rate in the past two weeks. Of course, very concerning. We reached out to the governor's office to see if this changed the calculus, to see what this all meant. Governor Ron DeSantis' office issuing a statement, saying that it's all due to aggressive testing in areas that are seeing outbreaks like prisons, long-term care facilities and also agricultural communities.
Well, we also consulted with an expert here at FIU, who says that that's not the case. It's not just testing, there is a rise, and the mayor of Miami-Dade County which I have to give you some perspective here, it is the epicenter. Miami-Dade County is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic here in the state of Florida. He is saying that there is an uptick in cases, that there is an uptick in hospitalizations, and he is worried so much so, he is sending police officers to businesses, beaches and parks to make sure that people are social distancing, that they're wearing their masks.
So Poppy, it's not smoke and mirrors. The numbers are actually going up, and politicians, locally we're seeing more and more are reacting, they're taking action. Not the same that we're seeing from state governors or even the federal government. Poppy?
HARLOW: Wow. We'll keep watching Florida so closely. Rosa, appreciate your reporting. Still to come, stunning revelations, the former National Security adviser John Bolton says the president is not fit for office as the Justice Department fights to stop his tell-all new book from being released. We're also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. The Dow -- you've got futures down across the board here. Trading
begins in just a few minutes. This comes as the Labor Department reports another million and a half Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. This is the tenth straight week that those numbers have been in decline, but still just stunningly high. The economy shut down when the pandemic obviously really began.
And since then, close to 46 million Americans have filed for unemployment help.
HARLOW: This morning, the president is unleashing on his former National Security adviser John Bolton, why? Because of Bolton's "Tell- All" book. The Justice Department is racing, trying to get it blocked by a judge. Bolton not backing down at all.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You described the president as erratic, foolish, behaved irrationally, bizarrely, you can't leave him alone for a minute. He starts conspiracies behind rocks and was stunningly uninformed. He couldn't tell the difference between his personal interests and the country's interests.
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think he's fit for office. I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job. There really isn't any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what's good for Donald Trump's re-election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say that you were astonished by what you saw. A president for whom getting re-elected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation?
BOLTON: Well, I think he was so focused on the re-election that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside. So if he thought he could get a photo opportunity with Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone in Korea, there was considerable emphasis on the photo opportunity and the press reaction to it, and little or no focus on what such meetings did for the bargaining position of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Well, CNN has also obtained a copy of the book, the claims are explosive. Our chief political correspondent Dana Bash and White House correspondent John Harwood are with me. Dana, let me begin with you because this goes so far beyond opinion. There are striking first- person accounts of the president asking President Xi of China to do something to help him win re-election, to directly saying to Bolton that he was going to withhold aid to Ukraine until his -- you know, political opponents were investigated, offering to kill a U.S. investigation into Turkey.
A U.S. investigation into Erdogan's -- Erdogan in Turkey, and then giving China approval to imprison Muslims in concentration camps. What do the American people do with this?
DANA BASH, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, that's a good question. I mean, at this point in the Trump presidency, at this point after the American people have heard allegations, maybe not as stark and as jaw-dropping as several of those that you just explained that are in the Bolton book, the question is whether or not this is baked in.
And we don't know the answer to that. And when I say this is baked in, you know, I don't think that there are a lot of people who are potentially swing voters who are going to wake up and read this Bolton book and say, oh, you know what? Never mind. I actually thought Donald Trump was somebody who was stable and didn't have a chaotic point of view, and didn't run the government in a way that was absolutely not -- in some ways frightening.
If you are looking at the stability of the government and doing what is in the national interest, not what is in his personal interest. Again, we don't know the answer to that, but what we do know is that this is a really important time for history. I mean, this is a guy who was the title says in the room where it happened.
I mean, he didn't agree with the president at all ever before he went in or even since on North Korea. So you have to take that into account. But the important thing is that he -- you know, is a note taker and he's reporting on really troubling things.
HARLOW: John Harwood, the excerpt of the book where he talks about the stunning moment where President Trump asks Xi to basically make all these ag purchases from, you know, important states across the Midwest because it will help him win re-election, talk about the significance of that.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's significant, in that the president is shameless about seeking assistance from others to help. Remember, Poppy, he stood in the driveway of the White House and asked China to conduct an investigation --
HARLOW: Yes --
HARWOOD: Of Joe Biden. But I think we need to step back. You know, you asked Dana a minute ago, what are the American people going to do with this? Well, first of all, if you look at the polls, what the American people are preparing to do with this is to vote Donald Trump out of office. But if you step back to where we were in 2016, you had Ted Cruz who said in that campaign that Donald Trump is an utterly amoral, narcissistic, pathological liar.
You had Marco Rubio saying he's a con artist. Hillary Clinton said he's unfit for office. And now what we've seen is, we get to the end of this Trump term, we've seen the senior most people in the most important jobs, John Bolton, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, all saying you know what? That wasn't just campaign rhetoric. Those things are true. Donald Trump is amoral, he is dishonest, he is focused on the interest of himself exclusively, not those of the United States.
He is unfit for office. And I think what's happening now, those things have been fairly obvious throughout Donald Trump's presidency. But what's happening now is the real world consequences in the lives of Americans, the economic devastation resulting from the pandemic, the public health devastation from the pandemic.
And now the American cities being torn apart by racial conflict and concern over police community relations, all things that the president has either ignored or exacerbated. They're connecting to the consequences in their lives to those characteristics of the president that we can all see are true.
HARLOW: And Dana, I should note, the response from many Democrats in Congress has not been to applaud Bolton for his bravery.
HARLOW: It's to say, where were you? Where were you during the house investigation? You could have talked to us even before.