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CNN NEWSROOM

Bolton's Stunning Revelations; Anti-Science Bias a Problem in America; Corporate Leaders Tackle Racial Injustice; Iceland Reopens to Visitors. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 18, 2020 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Applaud Bolon for his bravery.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No.

HARLOW: It's to say, where were you? Where were you during the House investigation? You could have talked to us. Even before the Senate voted not to bring witnesses, you could have talked to us.

BASH: And he could have. His deputy, Fiona Hill, did just that. And that is made very clear in Adam Schiff, the House manager, the Democrat in charge of the investigation, his new statement out this morning where he repeats the line from last night, which is that John Bolton may be an author but he's not a patriot. But goes into what he sees as John Bolton's dereliction of duty in not having the courage to come and talk to the investigators during the investigation and waiting to do so when he can sell a book.

That was something that we were reporting on real time. We knew that John Bolton was writing a book. We knew that that was the case. Now, from the perspective of Bolton, there's a frustration, I understand from my sources, that they felt that, in the Bolton team, they gave Adam Schiff a path to get him there in a -- in a way that was mandated by the courts.

HARLOW: Right.

BASH: But he didn't pursue -- Adam Schiff didn't pursue this in the courts, therefore, it didn't happen.

But this is why, as explosive as everything in here is, you definitely have critics of Bolton on both sides, which will chip away at -- potentially chip away at the impact of this.

HARLOW: Yes. Well, I'm sure Martha Raddatz asked him all about -- all about that and why he didn't talk.

But we'll see that in more of the interview.

Thank you both. Dana Bash, John Harwood, good to have you.

Dr. Anthony Fauci with such a candid interview saying exactly what's on his mind, including his major concerns about what he calls an anti- science bias in America, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:36:14]

HARLOW: Despite rising cases of coronavirus in Oklahoma, the president is sticking with his plan to hold a rally there this weekend, ignoring the science, something the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, is very worried about.

Listen to what he just said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: One of the problems we face in the United States is that, unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are, for reasons that sometimes are -- you know, inconceivable and not understandable, they just don't believe science and they don't believe authority. So when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, whose talking about science, that there are some people who just don't believe that. And that's unfortunate because, you know, science is truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Science is truth.

Dr. Kraft, Dr. Colleen Kraft, infectious disease expert and associate chief medical officer at Emery University Hospital, joins me.

Doctor, thanks for being her. How significant to hear Dr. Fauci to say that?

DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: I mean it -- it's not surprising and I think that we have confused sort of, you know, different priorities in how we address a pandemic, right? We -- we have sort of our financial aspects, we have political aspects and then we also have health care aspects. So I don't think it's -- I don't think it's a shock.

I think one of the things I think we have to work on in our vocabulary is, it's not even really about science, it's about practicality. So this isn't a mysterious thing that we don't understand. We have the bounds to understand this and I think however we say that and however we practice it, we still need to be basing ourselves in reality.

HARLOW: And reality is not that the virus is, quote, dying out, which is an assertion the president made just in an interview yesterday.

When you look at the number of deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. just yesterday, 755, that is more than some countries, Doctor, like Austria, Demark, Norway, Greece, are reporting total. I mean that is the reality of where America is right now.

KRAFT: Right. And so I think it gets back to what we're trying to do. Please look at a source of truth. Please understand that you have within your abilities to make a difference in diminished transmission. Wearing a mask or not wearing a mask shouldn't be how you've -- how you're going to vote in the upcoming election. It's really about protecting yourself from an infection. And so it's -- it's difficult because it's sort of been confused at all these different levels.

HARLOW: Let's talk about Florida. There is a lot of focus on Florida right now. Researchers in Philadelphia saying it has all the markings of potentially being the next epicenter for Covid-19.

You have got the governor, Ron DeSantis, saying, no matter what, we are not reversing course, we are not shutting down anymore.

Do you believe this is headed to an epicenter in Florida?

KRAFT: Well, I think -- I think it's one of the things we were optimistic would not happen. You know, we've talked a lot about being good weather and people being outside and maybe that can decrease some of the transmission chains. But we're seeing that close proximity and people that are asymptomatic are going to spread the virus. It indeed could become another epicenter.

But I also agree with the governor, that we won't -- I don't think what the state and the country can survive another shelter in place economically. And so now we've got to figure out, how can we protect people, at the same time they're going about their daily lives? We have to focus on living with Covid. There's not going to be a post- Covid world for a long time.

HARLOW: And it's a really interesting point you make because the economic toll and the health consequences of shutting down are also significant.

[09:40:04]

But masks can change so much of that.

I walked into a -- you know, an optometrist yesterday and people were wearing masks and socially distanced and they could be open and operate safely.

KRAFT: I was also at an optometrist yesterday, Poppy, so we're -- not in the same one (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: There's that.

KRAFT: So, I agree with you, I think it's not -- again, I don't think it's rocket science to figure out how to safely go about our business and protect the employees. There are people that are going to -- that could have very serious illness if they contract this disease. The great majority will not. So the -- we need to be doing masks and hand sanitizer everywhere.

As somebody that initially thought masks were sort of for show, and didn't actually prevent infection, I have come full circle to really realize that it's a really simple, easy step that anybody can take, that makes a huge difference in transmission.

HARLOW: A hundred percent.

Dr. Kraft, good to have you. Thanks very much.

KRAFT: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, tonight you'll want to join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the latest on how to stay safe. Their town hall, "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears," it's live, 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, right here on CNN.

For weeks in the wake of George Floyd's death, protesters have been demanding change, but what about corporate America? What power do the CEOs of our biggest companies have and what will they do? We talk to one, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:45:58]

HARLOW: Welcome back.

A million and a half more Americans filed this week for first-time unemployment benefits. That number down slightly from the previous week but still just tragically high. In total, nearly 46 million Americans have filed for those benefits since mid-March. That is about 28 percent of the entire labor force in America for 13 straight weeks weekly claims have been above a million.

Across the country, CEOs are banding together to denounce racism and to commit to change. Among them Wright Lassiter, president and CEO of the Henry Ford Health System. He writes in a powerful letter to employees, quote, at times like these we all must decide if we will stand silent, turning away from the fray, choosing comfort over progress. In other words, indifference. Or we will summon the courage that exists within us all when confronted with acts that violate our sense of decency and humanity.

Wright Lassiter is with me.

It is so nice to have you. Thank you for being here and thank you for writing that.

WRIGHT LASSITER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM: Thank you, Poppy. It's great to be with you.

HARLOW: For people who don't know, you oversee Ford Health Systems, which is huge. It's a $7.5 billion health system, six hospitals, more than 35,000 employees. And you write in this letter about indifference and intolerance. I wonder if you agree with Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, who says that corporate America has failed black America.

LASSITER: You know, so I would say to that, I do agree in many -- in many respects. And that doesn't mean that there aren't some examples where there has been progress and there's been great support. But I think that, you know, as I wrote that note to our employees a few weeks ago, it was really sort of on my heart that notion of indifference, which is something that I think many Americans are coming to grips with, that the notion of just being a good person, but staying silent in times of struggle, in times of turmoil is not -- is not good enough. And so many corporations have not leaned in to this effort. And I think we're seeing it in many cases now with companies who are deciding they should change a brand that has racially insensitive, historical context, et cetera. And so it really is time for us collectively as CEOs of companies around -- around our country to do more and to lean in.

HARLOW: So I think it -- you're right, it goes so far beyond a brand, right? There are important steps, these statements we're hearing about racism from companies is important. The money they're giving to help is important. But, ultimately, is it not about opportunity at the top? Ultimately, is it not about saying our board has to be way more diverse and we're going to do that now? Ultimately, is it not about making room and elevating black individuals within your corporation so that the c suite is not so starkly white?

LASSITER: You know, clearly, you know, what I have believed for all of my career is that companies should reflect the communities that they serve. And so we do have a historical challenge in America that corporations generally don't reflect the population in general or the communities they serve. And that begins with the steps that you mentioned. It certainly begins with boards of directors and having boards of directors that have the gender and racial backgrounds that are reflective of the communities they serve, the customers they serve and the population they serve. And if you have that kind of diversity at the governance level, then it makes it much easier to have appropriate diversity and inclusion in corporate ranks. So I would absolutely agree.

HARLOW: You -- your history here with this, I mean, you've written about and talked about your parents marching in Selma, civil rights leaders gathering in your living room after the assassination of President Kennedy and Dr. King and you echo the words of Dr. King, right, that a riot is the language of the unheard. You're starting something in a few weeks to train all your top folks on unconscious bias.

[09:50:04]

Even if they say I'm not a racist, there is unconscious bias.

LASSITER: Well, you know, I think we all understand as human beings that everyone has some level of bias. Sometimes it's bias that we are fully cognizant of, but oftentimes it's bias that lives deep within us. And so, you know, I joined a number of CEOs a few years ago with a -- with an initiative called CEO for Action focused on diversity and inclusion. And one of the commitments we made was to train not just our leadership but to broadly train our organizations around unconscious bias, how to -- how to observe it, how to recognize it and how to address it. And so we're very, very focused on ensuring that we can equip our leaders, our clinicians and all of our team members with the tools that they need to manage unconscious bias in a way that allows us to produce the greatest community health that we can in all the communities that we serve.

HARLOW: I want to leave on this. We only have a few seconds left. But your partnership with Michigan State to address the real, real health disparities that have just been exposed by Covid, that black Americans are facing. What are you doing, and what will change for them?

LASSITER: Well, clearly, we want to address the issues, as you mentioned. It is -- it is beyond unfortunate that you have African- Americans disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. And so we're focused on -- on a number of areas. First and foremost we're focused on training. We want to ensure that we train a much more diverse set of physicians to address health and communities throughout Michigan and so we're very committed to that.

We're very committed to public health and looking at using our public health sciences division, which we have at Henry Ford, and the resources at Michigan State to continue to evaluate ways to intervene in communities of color and disadvantaged communities so that we can produce the greatest amount of community health. And we're focused on both urban medicine and rural medicine, knowing that there are very distinct differences in how do you address populations to affect community health in rural communities compared to urban or suburban communities. And so those are some of the things that we're very focused on.

HARLOW: We wish you a lot of luck, Wright. Thank you. Thank you for being a voice on this and thanks for being with me this morning.

LASSITER: Thanks so much, Poppy. Appreciate is.

HARLOW: All right.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:56:40]

HARLOW: Well, Iceland is open. Our Max Foster has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breath in your nose slowly.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Iceland's latest visitor experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breathe out slowly and just try to relax.

FOSTER: A virus testing station for incoming air passengers.

FOSTER (on camera): While not the most comfortable welcome I've had at an airport, but it was either that or go into quarantine for 14 days here. FOSTER (voice over): It may be a remote and sparsely populated

volcanic island, but Iceland had a high virus infection rate. That didn't translate into a high death rate, though. In fact, it had one of the lowest in the world.

The country didn't go into a full lockdown. The restaurants stayed open, faces uncovered. When someone tested positive, a rigorous contact tracing system kicked in.

KRISTIN YR GUNNARSDOTTIR, RECOVERED FROM COVID-19: I got a call and I was told that I was -- I had been around a person that tested positive for Covid. And it was a waiter at the place where I had lunch with my co-workers. The tracing team told me that I needed to go to self- isolation.

FOSTER: This is the lab where all the test samples are sent. I got my result by text a few hours after landing.

FOSTER (on camera): Here it is. You have not been diagnosed with Covid-19.

FOSTER (voice over): They don't just test for the virus here, but also its mutations. That allows them to map which countries the latest infections came from and how they spread through Iceland.

KARI STEFANSSON, CEO, DECODE GENETICS: Since we sequenced the virus of everyone infected in Iceland, we can first of all determine where the mutation came from and then we can follow it as it is spreading in society.

FOSTER: Kari Stefansson, who runs the lab, is baffled that other countries aren't using the same system.

STEFANSSON: And I insist that what has happened in the United States, what has happened in Great Britain is that because of lack of screening, because of a lack of an attempt to understand what is really going on, it has been really difficult to contain the infection.

FOSTER: But scientists had a big advantage here. Politicians, including the prime minister, stood back and allowed them to lead on the pandemic and front the public response.

KATRIN JAKOBSDOTTIR, PRIME MINISTER OF ICELAND: This crisis is not economy (ph) and it was very important not to politicize this crisis.

FOSTER: Now they've pretty much beaten the virus, the government is pushing to reopen the country for business.

JAKOBSDOTTIR: In Iceland we are faced with very high unemployment rates right now. We are not very used to high unemployment rates. So the main -- you know, our guideline I -- now in the government will be how to lower that number and have more people working again.

FOSTER: So as the government reopens tourist sites like the Blue Lagoon, visitors will return and refill these pools. Inevitably, there will be risks, but the government feels now is the right time to restart the economy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: A couple of things, Poppy, I think they have done different here is this way they've been tracking the mutations, not just the virus itself, so they can see how the infection moves through society and that allows them to track more affectively.

[10:00:05]

But also, it just hasn't been politicized. So everyone in the country's got behind --