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Rat of Infection Rising in Almost Half the U.S.; Trump Falsely Claims Virus is Dying Out; Face Masks Will Be Optional at Trump's Tulsa Rally; Court Appearance Expected Friday for Fired Officer; Trump's Tough Week, Supreme Court Losses, Bolton Book; Trump Claims He Made Juneteenth Very Famous. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 19, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church live from CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

Ahead this hour, the next coronavirus epicenter could be one of America's tourist hot spots. This as President Trump claims the virus is dying out.

Two Atlanta police officers surrender one day after being charged in the shooting death of a black man.

Falling poll numbers, rising coronavirus deaths and an explosive tell all. Donald Trump prepares to end one of the worst weeks of his presidency by heading back on the campaign trail.

You good to have you with us. So as more U.S. states relax restrictions and move to reopen businesses, the coronavirus is showing signs of surging in about half of the country. Ten states are facing their sharpest spikes in new cases since the pandemic began including Florida. Disease experts warn the virus could spiral out of control there. CNN's Erica Hill has more.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Record single- day highs for new cases, just over 2,500 added Thursday in Arizona, more than 3,200 reported in Florida.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Florida has always made the stuff of nightmares I think for me.

HILL: New modeling predicts that state could become the next epicenter. The president dismissing data.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look, the numbers are very miniscule compared to what it was. It's dying out.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: One of the problems we face in the United States is that, unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias. They just don't believe science and they don't believe authority. And that's unfortunate because, you know, science is truth.

HILL: Florida is one of ten states posting their highest seven-day averages for new cases, as 23 state report an uptick in new cases over the past week. New York, among the 19, seeing a decline, as Governor Cuomo considers a quarantine for anyone traveling to his State from Florida.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I have experts who have advised me to do that.

Who would believe this 180 turnaround?

HILL: Face coverings now mandatory statewide in California. Local officials in hard hit Texas and Arizona pushing for stricter regulations citing the science.

DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Wearing a masks, you're not wearing a mask shouldn't be how you're going to vote in the upcoming election. It's really about protecting yourself from an infection.

HILL: When it comes to infection, those with type A blood have a higher risk of catching the virus and developing severe symptoms. Type O has the lowest risk, according to new research just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The nation's top infectious disease expert optimistic about a vaccine.

FAUCI: We'll going to move fast and we'll going to assume we're going to be successful. And if we're not, the only thing we've lost is money. But better lose money than lose lives by delaying the vaccine.

HILL: Football likely sidelined this season. Dr. Fauci telling CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, unless players are essentially in a bubble, insulated from the community and tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall. 13 players at the University of Texas positive for the virus, according to the school. College football is slated for kickoff August 29th.

(on camera): Here in New York City on Thursday mayor Bill de Blasio announcing the city can move into phase two on Monday and restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor dining. Of course, all of the rules will apply in terms of social distancing. But that's an important step forward in this city. Meantime, the governor of this state, Andrew Cuomo, also announcing an executive order on Thursday that for businesses who do not comply with the rules and regulations for reopening, they could be subject to losing their liquor license. Back to you.


CHURCH: And joining me now from Seattle, CNN medical analyst Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips. Always great to chat with you.

DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Great, thank you for having me.


CHURCH: So President Trump has falsely claimed that the coronavirus is dying out and that Oklahoma's case numbers are very small and the spike has already ended. Tulsa, Oklahoma, of course is where he intends to hold his 20,000 strong rally Saturday. What's your reaction to his false reading of the numbers and, of course, his intentions to pack so many people together without masks?

PHILLIPS: Yes, unfortunately this is one of those areas where I am speechless by our government response to the pandemic, to be honest with you. You know, we are still in the midst of this first wave. We've come down a little bit but now as you know, in so many states it's going back up again. And in Oklahoma in particular they're seeing a spike in cases. So if you have an area with a spike in cases and they put 20,000 people together in a closed environment, the risk of having explosive growth is huge. So this is a really worrisome moment.

CHURCH: Yes, and of course, he's getting those participants to sign a waiver so he's not responsible if they get sick, which perhaps reveals a lot there, too. So more than 118,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. and now new projections show the state of Florida could become the next epicenter of the virus. Why is that happening at this time and how can that state avoid this or alter the trajectory?

PHILLIPS: You know, if you look at a few case examples, so look at Japan. Japan you would have thought would have had a huge number of cases of COVID. And because people in Japan have the norm be wearing a facemask, they've had a very, very minimal transmission and a lot lower number of cases than we have here in the states.

You also look at the case of the hairdresser in Missouri who had active disease. She was suffering with COVID and kept coming to work cutting hair and she did that for 80 some odd clients but she was wearing a mask and her clients wore a mask and none of them got the infection. And so we know it's possible. Think about all those grocery store workers that during the entire pandemic have been wearing masks and doing safe hand washing, disinfecting carts, we know there are ways you can prevent the infection from happening.

But when you have governors saying it's not important, when you have people like President Trump saying, you know, it's not my problem, it's your problem, sign a waiver, come to my rally, it sends the wrong message. If our leaders send the message that you wear a mask, you do physical distancing and you wash your hands, we would have a lot less than the 200,000 people dying. And those are 200 individuals dying from this germ. So it's really, truly maddening.

CHURCH: Yes, it is a concern. I do want to talk about masks in just a moment, but also on Thursday top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called anti-science bias a problem for America. He said they don't believe science and that's unfortunate because he says science is truth. And we know that of course. But President Trump is ignoring the science here and manipulating the numbers. What could be the consequences of this effort to ignore the fact that this country is in the grip of a pandemic. And that that is due a lot of the time to the science being ignored here.

PHILLIPS: It's absolutely the issue with the science being ignored, the same thing in Brazil. And countries where people, where the leaders have ignored the science and tried to gloss over the fact that we're in the middle of a pandemic and that people are at significant risk from coming into contact with others, they're the countries who've suffered the most.

If you look at companies like Germany or New Zealand, my goodness they're just wonderful, right. That they said let's deal with this early, up front. Deal with it very, very concretely initially and then that way we can open up without having so many numbers of our citizens die, those are the countries doing really well. And so it's not a bad thing to use science to do this. It actually saves the citizens of the countries who use science to guide policy.

CHURCH: And that takes us back to the masks because that is key here, isn't it? And masks have become so politicized that some Americans actually think it signals how people will vote in this country. California's governor has made masks mandatory across the state. Is that what needs to happen to avoid another round of shutdowns, another wave of the virus? But is that even possible in the country because of the resistance from some portions of the population?

PHILLIPS: It is possible. It takes political courage. I think back to seat belt use. So back in 1968 the government mandated that you had to put seat belts in every car. But people didn't use them. They were just there.


And I remember growing up nobody ever used their seat belts. And it was in the mid '80s when New York was the first state that passed a mandatory seatbelt use law that the culture started changing but people mandated it, states mandated it. Now 49 states have seatbelt laws, mandatory seat belt laws. And you wouldn't think of getting in a car without putting on your seatbelt or driving somebody else without their seatbelt on. It took that mandate to make the culture change and to make seat belt use normal. And I believe we need that kind of mandate to make mask use normal.

CHURCH: And as you say, they need the political will though, don't they? Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, thank you as always for talking with us. Appreciate it.

PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: A court appearance is expected Friday for a fired Atlanta police officer charged with murder in the shooting death last weekend of an African-American man. The prosecutor told CNN he would not seek the death penalty in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. We get the latest now in the case from CNN's Ryan Young.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After nearly a week of emotions, anger and tension, both responding officers charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks have surrendered. Former Atlanta police Officer Garrett Rolfe is being held without bond stemming from 11 charges, including felony murder. His attorneys told CNN his use of force was justified.

BLITZER: Critics say you overcharged. How do you respond to that?

PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, I have to say, that's just not true. What we did is we charged based upon the facts.

YOUNG: Officer Devin Brosnan turned himself in earlier today and has since been released on a signature bond. Brosnan is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks' shoulders, which he denies.

His attorney says Brosnan put his foot on Brooks' arm for less than 10 seconds to make sure he couldn't get access to a weapon.

DON SAMUEL, DEVIN BROSNAN'S ATTORNEY: He's disappointed in the system, to be honest with you. He dedicated his life to law enforcement. He knows that the system will work eventually, whether it's the DA's office, or the GBI, or if it has to be a jury eventually. But it's going to be a rough couple months.

YOUNG: On Wednesday night, hours after the charges were announced, officers across Atlanta refused to respond to calls in three of the departments six zones. Others walked out or called out, according to the police union.

The Atlanta Police Department denied claims of a walkout but acknowledge a higher than usual number of call outs. CNN spoke to a handful of officers who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.

One telling CNN: We are one bullet away from dying and one mistake from an indictment.

Another saying: The morale is the lowest it's been in 18 years. This is because of the mayor and the DA.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: Across the country, morale is down with police department and I think ours is down tenfold.

YOUNG: Despite this, Atlanta's mayor says the city has shown its commitment to the officers through a pay raise and bonuses.

BOTTOMS: This has been a very tough few weeks in Atlanta.

YOUNG: In a newly released interview filmed four months before his death, we're hearing from Rayshard Brooks in his own words, the challenges he faced after being released from jail. He had no money, in need of a job, and had a mountain of debt.

RAYSHARD BROOKS, SHOT BY ATLANTA POLICE: We can't get the time back. We could make up for it. I'm not the type of person to give up.

YOUNG: Months before his death, he talked about his struggle with a previous arrest, where he pleaded guilty because a public defender told him he could get 10 years behind bars.

BROOKS: It hardened me at a point, you know to like, hey, you know I have to have my guard up, because the world is cruel. You know, it took me through saying different things, you know, in the system. You know, it just makes you hardened, to a point.

YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: Today is Juneteenth marking a momentous event in American history. After the break -- how Donald Trump is trying to take credit for making Americans aware of it.



CHURCH: It has been a trying week for President Trump from that uptick in coronavirus cases to Supreme Court setbacks. CNN's Jim Acosta takes a look at the turmoil he's facing.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With 2020 shaping up to be a reelection nightmare, President Trump appears to be in denial when it comes to the string of crises overwhelming his administration. Take Mr. Trump's response to concerns about the coronavirus at his rally this weekend in Oklahoma.

TRUMP: No, because, if you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out.

ACOSTA: But that's not true, as the virus is spiking in states across the South in places like Florida.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: The potential for the virus to take off there is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences.

ACOSTA: The president is even questioning the value of testing for the virus, telling "The Wall Street Journal," I personally think testing is overrated, even though I created the greatest testing machine in history.

No wonder one of the administration's top health experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, worries about an anti-science bias in the U.S.

FAUCI: 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 inconceivable and not understandable, they just don't believe science, and they don't believe authority.

ACOSTA: Besides the virus, Mr. Trump's presidency is in a tailspin on a number of fronts, from the unrest in U.S. cities, to losses at the Supreme Court, to the biting comments from his own former aides like John Bolton.

After the Supreme Court ruled against his administration's plans to scrap the DACA program that shields young undocumented immigrants from being deported, Mr. Trump tweeted: Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?

Doesn't sound like the winning he promised voters in 2016.

TRUMP: And we're going to win so much. You're going to get so sick and tired of winning.


You're going to come to me and say, please, please, we can't win anymore.

ACOSTA: As for Bolton, who is just the latest ex-aide to slam the President, the former national security adviser is alleging in a tell- all book that Mr. Trump sought China's help in the 2020 race and even blessed Chinese concentration camps for ethnic minority Uyghurs.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. 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.

ACOSTA: The president, who once said he only hired the best people, told "The Journal," The only thing I liked about Bolton was that everybody thought he was crazy.

TRUMP: In terms of Bolton, he broke the law. He was a washed-up guy. I gave him a chance.

ACOSTA: The President is also defending his Lafayette Square photo- op, where he held up a Bible after protesters were pushed back with force, saying: You have people screaming all over the place, and I didn't think it was exactly the right time to pray. So I went there, stood there, held up the Bible, talked to a few people, and then we left. I came back and I got bad publicity.

Incredibly, the president is claiming success for raising awareness about the Juneteenth holiday dedicated to remembering the end of slavery, as that was the original date for his Tulsa rally, before he postponed it.

Saying: I did something good. I made Juneteenth very famous.

The president insists his rally will be safe.

TRUMP: No, we will go there. Everyone is going to be safe. They have to be safe. They want to be safe. ACOSTA (on camera): The President concedes there is a chance a small

percentage of the people at his rally in Tulsa this weekend may contract the coronavirus. As it turns out, the topic of his rally did not come up at the latest meeting of the coronavirus task force, the one place where experts would have told aides to the President an indoor political event in the middle of a pandemic is a bad idea.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: And joining me now in New York, Michele Mitchell. She is a history professor at New York University. Thank you so much, professor, for being with us.


CHURCH: So U.S. President Trump is now taking credit for making Juneteenth very famous when, in fact, it appears he himself had no knowledge of the significance of the day that commemorates the end of slavery in America until he had to move his Tulsa rally that day to June 20th. What's your reaction to his effort to take credit for that significant day?

MITCHELL: It's at once laughable and infuriating that he resisted moving it once he was made aware and now today to take credit when, in fact, in terms of making Juneteenth part of the national consciousness, it really was a grassroots effort that began in the '80s and '90s and also you have to think about Texas migrants themselves that took it to new communities. And so, the fact that he is taking credit for something that really is known because of grassroots initiatives is really infuriating. And grassroots initiative of African descendent people who were enslaved.

CHURCH: And, professor, as Tulsa remembers the pain of a racist massacre back in 1921 ahead of the Trump rally, residents there are now organizing a counter rally. How significant is that move in meeting this moment? And how inappropriate is the President's choice of Tulsa at this time?

MITCHELL: It's deeply offensive. One could argue that his choice of Tulsa, and from what I understand holding his rally near where the massacre with the violence happened, it's an attempt to rally his base. And we don't know yet what the content of his speech will be, but just the very choice is incredibly problematic. And historians now estimate that around 300 people were killed. At the time in 1921 people thought around 100, which is already high. And so, if you take 300 people killed, if you take an entire black business district destroyed that's never really been rebuilt, it's just -- it's hallowed ground, it's incredibly offensive on so many levels. And with all of this going on here, it's just problematic.

CHURCH: Yes, the details of that massacre just incredibly shocking. And as we watch this country react to the killing of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police, along with too many other African-Americans who have lost their lives under similar circumstances, we see the country respond with an awakening of sorts perhaps not witnessed before. Do you think Juneteenth 2020 will be different because of that and marked by perhaps a greater amount of hope that racial inequality in this country may be addressed and things may change and we could see reform become a reality sooner rather than later?

MITCHELL: It might. It's definitely going to have a different tenor than last year. Because last year which seems so, so long ago.


There were hearings on Juneteenth about reparations in the House and so that was a very different moment and a different way of commemorating Juneteenth. And so, the fact that there are going to be protests that there are going to continue the protests that have been going on, it's going to be a different politicized moment, yes.

CHURCH: Right, and professor, this comes as "The Washington Post" reports the top State Department official Mary Elizabeth Taylor resigned in response to the President's handling of the protests. The African-American Republican wrote this in her letter of resignation.

Moments of upheaval change you, shift the trajectory of your life and mold your character. The President's comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions.

Ann Taylor added that she had to follow the dictates of her conscience and resign. It is, of course, a bold move. But should a young, successful black woman have to resign from a top post to make her point to send a message to the President?

MITCHELL: It seems that's what it takes, yes.

CHURCH: And how were you moved by her actions?

MITCHELL: It's heartening on the one hand because this has been just such a distressing moment, and the administration has been distressing on so many levels. And so that sort of an action, it's meaningful and, you know, I don't know whether or not it's actually going to move the President, but it's meaningful.

MITCHELL: Michele Mitchell, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

MITCHELL: My honor. Thank you.

CHURCH: And both Republicans and Democratic lawmakers say they will introduce legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Together with my colleagues, Cory Booker and Tina Smith and Ed Markey, we are proposing that Juneteenth be a national holiday. SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): It's an opportunity to reflect on our

history, the mistakes we have made but yet how far we've come in the fight for equality and a reminder in just how far we still have to go.


CHURCH: And demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice are set to take place across the country later in the day to mark the anniversary. And just ahead of Juneteenth, the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had four portraits of former Speakers of the U.S. House removed the chamber. The men opposed the union and sought to break it up. Pelosi said there's no room it Congress to honor men who embody the grotesque racism of the confederacy. Pelosi said she wasn't aware of their service until recently.

And Congress isn't alone in dismantling Confederate symbols. A crowd cheered as a 30-foot statue obelisk was removed from the town square in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur on Thursday. A county judge ordered it to be put in storage after the city argued it had become a threat to public safety during recent protests. The judge said he wasn't trying to prevent its public display but was taking an appropriate measure to protect it.

In this is CNN NEWSROOM. Coming up, John Bolton's new book has Washington buzzing about his strong allegations against President Trump. And how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is upping the rhetoric calling his former colleague a traitor. Back with that in just a moment.