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THE SITUATION ROOM

Police Use Rubber Bullets, Pepper Spray On Protesters In Compton; Austin, Texas Sees Disturbing Spike In COVID-19 Cases; New CDC Model Predicts 135K-Plus Deaths By Mid-July; Trump Urges Schools To Reopen: "Kids Are Much Stronger Than Us"; More Young People In The South Test Positive For Coronavirus; Rayshard Brooks' Funeral To Be Held In Atlanta On Tuesday; Rep. Collins Calls For Special Prosecutor In Brooks Case; Bolton Details Shocking, Disturbing Tenure Working With Trump. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 21, 2020 - 21:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:00:29]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition to THE SITUATION ROOM.

We have some breaking news coming in "Situation Room" right now. Police in Compton, California have just fired rubber bullets and use pepper spray on protesters out there. Let's quickly go to see it as Paul Vercammen, he's in Compton for us.

So Paul, update our viewers. What are you seeing what are you hearing right now?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The tension has died down a lot, Wolf. If you look behind me, you can see L.A. County Sheriff's deputies. They're right near the Compton Sheriff's Substation. Their visors are up a while some of them have their fingers on their trigger guards of their guns at fire rubber bullets, this is a lot less dangerous than what we saw about 200 yards mirror not long ago.

The demonstrators and those deputies -- a different set of deputies were face to face, or face to -- face shield and the next thing you know rubber bullets started flying. Some sort of pepper spray like substance was sent to the air we heard class bags. This began as a march a long march about four miles almost protesting the officer involved shooting death of Andres Guardado 18 years old.

He was shot at an auto body shop, cousin said that he was basically working there as a security guard. Police have said among other things that he was in possession of an illegal firearm and the only term they use for this was he produced it. We don't know if it was pointed at officers. There's an ongoing investigation.

But tensions extremely high here in Compton earlier as died down now, but we'd have to note, this is important. There were about 3,000 we would estimate people at the demonstration earlier, it was completely peaceful. And they marched through the streets here, starting in the Gardena community, and then ending up here in Compton. Right now, the protest is slowly winding down, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope it does. Let's hope that it's peaceful. We don't want to see any more violence by any means. Paul Vercammen, thank you very, very much.

And meantime, the White House is dealing with the fallout from last night's campaign rally for President Trump by the President his campaign expected to big crowds and a packed arena. What they got was a crowd that the Tulsa Fire Department estimated at about 6,200 people. That number was disputed by the Trump campaign. CNN's Kristen Holmes is joining us right now from the White House.

Kristen, White House officials today, they find themselves once again defending remarks by the President that last night, this time his suggestion that he wanted to actually slow testing for coronavirus. Tell us about that.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, administration officials spent the day really cleaning that up. They actually started on Saturday night we heard from a senior administration official who said that President Trump was quote, obviously joking.

And then earlier today on an interview with our Jake Tapper, White House trade advisor, Peter Navarro, double down on that narrative. And Wolf, I just want to point one thing out. This is not the first time that the administration has used that as a defense that the President was joking when he says something that is highly controversial.

However, given the timing of this, there's receiving a lot of backlash. We are at a time in the country where we are nearing 120,000 deaths from coronavirus and here you have the White House top officials saying that it was just a light hearted joke. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER NAVARRO, AMERICAN ECONOMIST: You know, it was tongue in cheek.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Did the President?

NAVARRO: Come on now. Come on now, that was tongue in cheek, please.

TAPPER: I don't -- I don't know that that was -- I don't know that it was tongue in cheek.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: He said similar things for months.

NAVARRO: But, you know, we got --

TAPPER: But he has said similar that for months that --

NAVARRO: -- over these 30 million --

TAPPER: Go ahead.

NAVARRO: -- people unemployed, and we've seen over 100,000 people die because of the China Wuhan virus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And it's confusing why President Trump would bring up testing at all, as we know and as we've covered for the last several months, one of the biggest points of criticism in the Trump administration's response to coronavirus has been all of the problems that we have seen with testing.

Now, it is clear that this has given some fuel to his adversaries who have been saying this really since the beginning of the pandemic. They've been arguing that President Trump cares more about his appearance, meaning lower test numbers here -- or lowercase numbers here in our country than he does about keeping Americans safe.

[21:05:04]

So it's no surprise that we're already hearing from Democrats, already hearing that Joe Biden is going to be using this little snippet getting this on the airwaves as part of their narrative as they move forward towards November.

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes at the White House for us. Thanks very much.

Texas is one of several states right now seeing a very disturbing uptick in new cases of coronavirus. And Austin, Texas may be one of the hottest hotspots in the state. On Saturday alone, Austin Travis County Health officials reported another record number of newly confirmed cases it was the third time in a week.

Here's one possible reason this video from an Austin bar shows no apparent compliance with social distancing regulations. It's now one of several Texas establishments that have had their alcoholic beverage licenses suspended for violating state protocols. The Austin Mayor Steve Adler is joining us right now

Mayor Adler, thank you so much for joining us. You say Austin residents are what now three times as likely to catch the virus as they were just two weeks ago. Tell us about that.

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: We have a lot more people with a virus walking around our city right now some of the people probably know it because they have symptoms but many people are probably asymptomatic.

Our numbers are going up. You're right. We set another record on Saturday night. By the way, within the last couple hours, they announced the numbers for today Sunday we went across 500. That's that is yet another record for us.

And I understand that when you look at cities across the country right now, at the biggest decreases in doubling time in orders, the rate at which the number of cases doubles. Texas has four of the top 10 cities in the country right now. With decreases in that doubling rate or so it's --

BLITZER: Yes, you issued an order Mayor on Wednesday, mandating that all businesses come up with a specific plan to require face mask. That means all employees and visitors. Are you seeing acceptable compliance on that?

ADLER: You know, we are, you know, it actually doesn't go into effect on Tuesday, but just announcing that it was going to be required, sends the message to the community that this is real and it's serious. You know, back a month and a half ago, it was required in the city and, and masks are something that more and more people were utilizing.

And then we were stopped being able to do that by the governor's order. And I think that while the governor still encourages everyone to wear masks, by making it so that the city's couldn't enforce it or making it appear that way, I sent the message to our community that maybe this virus thing was over. So just being able to have that tool, again, is changing behaviors in the city and it needs to.

BLITZER: Yes, that's encouraging. I interviewed the mayors of Phoenix and Miami, here in "The Situation Room" today, and I wonder if the same thing is happening in Austin right now. Data showing that the disease is actually skewing younger, that people in their 20s and 30s apparently are at an increasing risk or right now, is that happening in Austin? And if it is, why do you think that that's developing right now that people in their 20s and 30s, they're coming down with coronavirus in bigger numbers than earlier anticipated?

ADLER: You know, that could easily be here as well. And I think it's because kind of intergenerational kind of way. There's a whole generation, the whole age group that that at this point probably believes that. If they caught the virus, it wouldn't be that bad, they would recover quickly.

The problem is, is that even folks in that age group, even if they're not the ones that are going to end up in the hospital, the more people we have walking around with infection, the more likely somebody's going to get it who then goes home and hugs their grandmother.

So that message is a message that we have not been successful in getting out. My hope now, with the new orders that we have now just been gotten the power to put back into place, we're going to be able to send that message.

BLITZER: Texas, the state of Texas, Mayor reopen too quickly.

ADLER: You know, I -- when the governor started reopening and then started letting restaurants open to an ever increasing capacity, I wish he had done it more slowly so that we could have seen the numbers with each one of the phases before we moved on to the next phase.

We've now moved into three different phases. And we're seeing the numbers really from the first phase. And they're shocking. They're the numbers are going up so rapidly. So yes, I wish we had done this more slowly so we could have seen the data along the way. BLITZER: Mayor Adler Good luck to you. Good luck to everybody in Austin, Texas. You got a great city over there. We will certainly want to stay in touch with you. Appreciate your joining us.

[21:10:05]

ADLER: Absolutely. Wolf, take care.

BLITZER: The President in some of his circles would like you to think the coronavirus pandemic is actually quote dying out. But clearly it isn't. In fact, new cases are spiking as we've been reporting across 23 states right now. And as we near 120,000 dead Americans tonight, new CDC guidelines are actually predicting over 135,000 Americans baby (ph), as many as 145,000. Americans will lose their lives to coronavirus by July 11th. With those numbers, so what those numbers mean? When we come back.

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BLITZER: The CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assess up to 145,000, 145,000 Americans could die from coronavirus over the next three weeks by July 11th. And the virus is now surging in 23 states with more cases reported last week this week than -- last week I should say, 10 states have actually seen a jump in cases of 50% or more.

[21:15:12]

Dr. Megan Ranney is joining us right now. Dr. Ranney, doctors in Texas and Florida, among other states. So they're seeing really surging numbers in those states. How troubling is all of this right now?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN: Wolf, this is quite troubling. This is what many of us were worried about back in early May, when the state started opening up before they were seeing decreasing case counts. There are a couple things that are worrying here. First, the increased number of positive tests.

Second, the increased percent of tests that are positive which says that more people who are being tested are positive as a percent and the third and most worrisome thing is the increased number of hospitalizations. We know there's a lag between testing positive being hospitalized and deaths. And as we see hospitalizations climb that says that deaths are unfortunately not far behind.

BLITZER: That is a political campaign rally last night in Tulsa. The President said children are doing better against the virus that schools should reopen and reopen quickly. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: New Jersey was very heavily hit, very hard hit thousands of people. He said with thousands of people that died thousands of people. There was only one person that died under the age of 18. Would you believe that? Which tells me one thing, that kids are much stronger than us. When you see a little kid running around say, boy, oh, boy, do you have a great immune system? How about a PC (ph) your immune system? They don't even know about this. Let's open the schools please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So is the president right Dr. Ranney about people under 18 and that schools should reopen or reopen right away.

RANNEY: So this is a question that parents and teachers and school administrators across the country are struggling with. We all want to see our kids go back to school. We want to see them educated, we want to be able to go to work without worrying whether they're being taken care of. But we're also trying to balance danger to the kids and danger to the teachers and to the larger community.

The evidence is still out, there some stuff that suggests that kids don't catch COVID as frequently as adults, certainly they don't generally get as sick as adults. But there's other evidence from some countries suggesting that if you open too early, without adequate physical distancing, hand washing and masks, that those schools themselves can turn into super spreader events that go and infect an entire community.

So across the United States over the course of the summer, I think we're going to see more evidence, and we're going to see teachers and parents working together to try to figure out the best things for communities.

BLITZER: At the same time, Dr. Ranney, we're actually seeing more people in their 20s and 30s, especially in some of those southern states testing positive for the coronavirus right now. What do you think is behind this increase?

RANNEY: I think it's because we're seeing people in 20s and 30s going out, they're going to bars, they're going to parties, they're going to large indoor spaces and spending time with each other where they're very likely to transmit infections from one person to another.

So I think that it reflects kind of personal habits, as well as, of course, increases in testing. The worry is that those folks are at risk for getting really sick, and certainly can spread the disease to others to their parents to older members of the community. And that's what's quite worrisome to those of us in public health and medicine is even if those young people don't get sick, they're going to spread it to those who are really high risk for hospitalization and for death.

BLITZER: And even if they're totally asymptomatic, they can still spread the virus, right?

RANNEY: That is exactly right. Even if they are completely asymptomatic. We know that the time of greatest infectivity, the time when you're most likely to spread the virus is in the one to three days before you get symptoms. And there are studies showing that people who never get symptoms can still spread the virus. That's why wearing that mask, the physical distancing and hand washing are so critical, because you can't know at any particular moment if you might be infected and not have symptoms. And so it's important for you to keep other people in your community safe. And for us to keep ourselves safe from people around us who might be infected and not know it.

BLITZER: Always important information from your Dr. Ranney, thanks so much for joining us. We're grateful.

RANNEY: Thank you Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, we're following new developments from Atlanta right now, a U.S. Congressman now joining the Atlanta Police Union and demanding an independent prosecutor in the Rayshard Brooks' case we have new information, we'll update you, when we come back.

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[21:24:23]

BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) Atlanta where preparations are underway for Rayshard Brooks' funeral, his family says they have invited the Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to Tuesday's funeral. Brooks was killed by Atlanta police in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant on June 10. The officer who fatally shot and is charged with felony murder. A second police officer was at the scene is also facing charges of aggravated assault and violations of his oath of office.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Atlanta for us. Tasha has been covering all of this for us. Tell us more about the plans first of all, for the Brooks funeral.

[21:25:02]

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right Wolf. Well, tomorrow we're expecting a public viewing for Rayshard Brooks in the afternoon, followed by a private funeral on Tuesday, all Ebenezer Baptist Church. Now as you mentioned, the church says that the family has invited the mayor and the DA, according to the church and the family has also asked that Atlanta police not be involved with the security of the event. Obviously, there is a lot of tension right now between not just the family and police, but also the community and police.

So much so that the police union held a press conference today, along with other elected leaders, really supporting the men and women in uniform. Here is Representative Doug Collins talking at that press conference about the need for a special prosecutor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R- GA): It is time for the district attorney of Fulton County to step aside and have (INAUDIBLE). And to allow the Attorney General to appoint an independent prosecutor you cannot prosecute cases until the investigation is over. You don't do it for politics. Your job is to find justice for everyone. Not race, not class, not anything else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: The DA has told CNN though that his office is independent and can make decisions independent of a Georgia Bureau Investigation report. And meanwhile, there was an arrest warrant issued on Saturday for 29-year-old Natalie White for arson in the first degree.

And that's related to the fire -- the burning of the Wendy's building one day after Brooks was killed there, if convicted as someone could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine for that charge. The fire department did tell me there could be other possible suspects out there.

Now, a source close to the case told our Ryan Young that investigators are working with the idea that white may have had a relationship with Rayshard Brooks. Body camera footage from the night of the incident show that her name was brought up in conversation between Brooks and the two officers. However the family tells me that they do not know her.

A cousin for Rayshard Brooks told me that you know, they had the family has never wanted violence, never wanted burnings in the city that they love, and that they cannot and will not associate Rayshard or the family with such actions or with this person, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Natasha. Thanks very much. Natasha Chen reporting for us from Atlanta.

Coming up, we're going to take a much closer look inside the potential national security fallout from John Bolton's bombshell new book. We'll be right back.

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[21:31:43]

BLITZER: A new tonight we're learning new details from former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, a severe critic of the Trump administration right now revealing the President rarely read much only had intelligence briefings maybe once or twice a week. Let's go to our National Security Correspondent Vivian Salama is joining us right now. Vivian update our viewers.

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, if John Bolton is finally speaking out, of course, we obtained a copy of his new book a couple of days ago, but now he's given adding some context in the first interview since we obtained his book a few days ago, and really he paints a picture of a President who has a very awkward and unique dynamic with world leaders.

He talks about some leaders who from Ambassador Bolton's perspective should be viewed with great skepticism by the U.S., people like Vladimir Putin of Russia, North Korea, Kim Jong-un, and others. And he talks about the President's failure to prepare well, for some of these meetings. He said that he really didn't have a lot of context. He wasn't really too keen to prepare in advance.

I didn't do the research. Of course, we had heard a few days ago when the book was released that he thought that Finland was part of Russia. He talks extensively also about Putin and how Putin was playing him like a fiddle, talks about Kim Jong-un laughing at him every single time they exchanged letters because the President felt like he was developing this really close relationship and unique relationship with Kim Jong-un.

And so here you have a number of national security matters which from John Bolton's perspective, were very, very troubling. But one thing that he said was very interesting was about the how the election, his preparation, and his focus on the election versus on national security matters differed.

The quote, he said, and here it is. I think we have it, he said, so a lot of people have complained that he has a short attention span and that he doesn't focus. And then we have a sound bite. Sorry, we do have a sound bite that we're going to toss to next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think he was so focused on the re-election that longer term considerations fell by the wayside. 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying that all decisions the President made were driven by re-election?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, El Paso. Thank you very much.

BOLTON: I didn't see anything where that wasn't the major factor. So a lot of people have complained that he has a short attention span and he doesn't focus, what to say when it comes to re-election his attention span was infinite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SALAMA: So Wolf, there you have Ambassador Bolton talking about the President and how he was focused on the election. And one interesting point that aired a short time ago, he talked a little bit about the relationship with the family, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner being at the White House.

And he said that the President really tried to hype up certain issues with Saudi Arabia, in particular his interest in getting a Saudi deal because he wanted to divert from negative intention in the media toward Ivanka Trump, when there a scandal first broke about her use of personal emails at the White House. And so a number of very interesting observations, and I'm sure more to come from John Bolton.

[21:35:00] BLITZER: I'm sure you're absolutely right. Vivian Salama reporting for us. Vivian, thank you very much. So let's get some more on this from someone who worked in the Clinton and Obama administration is Ambassador Capricia Marshall, the former Chief of protocol in the Obama State Department is joining us. He's also the author of an important and brand new book entitled protocol, the power of diplomacy and how to make it work.

For you, Capricia, thanks so much for joining us. We just learned tonight that John Bolton says he's not voting for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden, in November. In your book, you say that Joe Biden is a master of diplomacy contrasting with how Bolton has depicted President Trump, how significant of an edge do you believe Biden will have in the campaign when it comes to diplomacy and national security?

CAPRICIA MARSHALL, STATE DEPARTMENT OF PROTOCOL UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, quite significant of an edge. Thank you for having me, Wolf. Vice President Biden is a master of diplomacy. I witnessed time and again, how he knew how to utilize those tools that are in his arsenal. When he engaged with his counterparts at the bilateral table. He also he came fully prepared. He knew that preparation is key in diplomacy. And he would take all of his briefings, not just the briefings that we were slated to offer him, but he always asked for extra briefings.

In addition to that, when he got to the bilateral table, he knew how to make a connection across to that person, that individual who wasn't quite sure how this relationship was going to go. But he created a great connection with them. And then, of course, that turning into a collaboration between the two of them. So yes, Vice President Biden is quite the master of diplomacy.

BLITZER: In his book, Bolton claims that President Trump asked the Chinese President Xi Jinping for help with his re-election, or during a meeting, what do you make of that?

MARSHALL: Well, I'm confounded by many of the allegations that are in John Bolton's book. And I have to certainly say that if I'm confused by them, the motivations of this administration and their foreign policy initiatives and I'm certain that the world leader that we are engaging with are confounded as well.

I'm not certain why our President would seek out the advice of a, a counterpart. Why wouldn't we have our own plan set forth protocol puts you on a clear path and creates these environments of respect for the President. And it seems like he just steps outside the boundaries of that time and again.

BLITZER: Bolton writes that President Trump and his words were stunningly uninformed. In your book you described countless State Department official visits. How important is preparation when it comes to diplomacy?

MARSHALL: The ultimate preparation will guide you no matter what. Your protocol is there to make sure that it sets the wheelhouse of diplomacy in action and to do that, you have to be fully prepared, you are set out on a very clear roadmap. So for all of your engagements, and you go through and ultimate list

of preparation, taking through every detail of that engagement, making sure that you are hitting all of those details because it is the details that matter that can really make the impactful moves for you when you are staring down at a treaty that needs to be negotiated or a crisis that might be coming across your desk on that day.

BLITZER: Bolton also writes this. And let me read a sentence he says, "I am hard pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure, that wasn't driven by re-election calculations." You worked for President Clinton, you worked for President Obama, there are obviously politicians, they both wanted to get re-elected. They were in fact re-elected. Describe what you saw then, as opposed to what you're hearing about now from Bolton?

MARSHALL: Well, you know, President Clinton and President Obama were there to serve the country. It was service to country above all else that drove all of their activities. I did see them and both are domestic operations and certainly in their foreign policy engagements.

They were direct in how they wanted to make these endeavors and how they were going to lead our nation and one very rarely crossed over to the other influencing any of their decisions as they move forward our foreign policy initiatives.

BLITZER: Well, did you see actual decisions that they made on national security, diplomacy, foreign policy that went against the political wisdom, the re-election, for example, that went against domestic politics from their respective points of view?

[21:40:03]

MARSHALL: Well, certainly, because they're at times when you're serving as president you have to again, you have to hold country above all else. They serving the people of the United States and at times that will go contrary to their political endeavors, their political perspectives.

But while in office, you serve in the office of the presidency, you maintain and hold that office that is outside the boundaries of a campaign. So yes, they most certainly would hold the work that they did as the President above any campaign endeavors, election endeavors that they would have.

BLITZER: Ambassador Capricia Marshall is the author of a new book, once again, entitled Protocol, former Chief of Protocol for the United States. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck with the book.

MARSHALL: Thank you so much, Wolf. I appreciate it, and Happy Father's Day.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. And don't miss this Wednesday, the former National Security Adviser to the President John Bolton. He will join me here in the Situation Room. We'll discuss his new bombshell book and a whole lot more. That's Wednesday during our 6 p.m. Eastern hour of the Situation Room. We'll be right back.

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[21:45:38]

BLITZER: Breaking news coming into the Situation Room right now, New York has just suspended a police officer after an apparent chokehold incident. Let's go straight to CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro, he's in New York City for us.

Evan, what are you learning?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. This is another one of those incidents where one of these viral videos showing an incident where a police officer interaction with a person is caused another conversation about police tactics here in New York City.

Now this all began about 8:45 this morning at Far Rockaway, Beach in Queens on the boardwalk there. We have some video I believe playing where you'll see that the police are interacted with some people from the public there for a little while, eventually ending in an arrest and that arrest resulted in claims by bystanders and in that video that there was a chokehold.

Now chokeholds are now banned under recently policed -- recently passed police reforms here in New York City. And instantly very, very swiftly according to the authorities. This case moved the Internal Affairs Division of the New York Police Department and led to the officer involved being suspended without pay while that investigation goes on.

So another story about a police interaction caught on video now leading to a very swift action by the New York Police Department to have this this particular officer suspended during the investigation.

BLITZER: All right, Evan we'll stay on top of this story together with you. Evan McMorris-Santoro. With that thanks for much.

Other important news we're following here in the Situation Room, Major League Baseball has closed training camps in both Florida and Arizona. Over the coronavirus fears. The players union was supposed to vote this weekend on a proposal to finally start the season. But there are now reports that the vote again has been delayed. The award winning sports caster and MLB Network Host, Bob Costas is joining us right now.

Bob, are we going to see baseball this year?

BOB COSTAS, MLB NETWORK HOST & PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: I would have told you, yeah, in some form despite all the unsightly and unseemly disputes between the owners and the players, I would have said yes, up until very recently. Now, I can only say I think so. But Wolf, this was always going to be a very difficult series of needles to thread around the whole issue of the coronavirus.

It's just that the labor dispute has taken precedence in the conversation about baseball. But even if everything had been harmonious between the warring labor parties and the owners, they still would have faced these difficulty as well football if and when it tries to come back and perhaps hockey and basketball, even though they're isolating in a single place.

BLITZER: Well, let's talk about that because some people are questioning if the NFL will actually play this season. Here's what Dr. Anthony Fauci said. And let me read it to you, Bob, "Unless players are essentially in a bubble insulated from the community, and they are tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall.

If there is a second way, which is certainly a possibility, and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year." What do you think? What are you hearing because you're well plugged in?

COSTAS: That seems very logical to me. I think each league should have its contingency plans, best case scenarios and then all the other possibilities. So football is right to put out a schedule and habits plans and to hope that they can get a season in but they have to play several weeks, it's not like they can isolate someplace.

These teams are in 32 different places, 32 different franchises with differing degrees of surge or relative receding of the virus at any given time. As I said, this is a very, very complicated fix all puzzle, and it will be a miracle if any of the leagues, let alone, let alone for them and put it all together falls.

BLITZER: If there are a basketball, football hockey baseball season's games coming up, can we assume that they're going to be played without fans in the stadiums or arenas?

COSTAS: Yeah, I think that is the assumption, if not the certainty. I think there was some hope, Wolf, that they could start let's say talking about baseball, start with no fans and then eventually with some social distancing in the ballpark, bring fans back in. I think that's off the table now.

[21:50:07]

BLITZER: The President, President Trump is taking aim at the NFL once again. Here's what he said in his political campaign rally in Tulsa last night. Listen to this, Bob.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And explain this to the NFL, I like the NFL. I like Roger Goodell, but I didn't like what he said a week ago. I said, where did that come from in the middle of the summer? Nobody's even asking. We will never kneel to our national anthem, or our great American flag. We will stand proud and we will stand tall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, so what's your reaction, Bob, when you that, and what do you think the owners and the players their reaction is going to be?

COSTAS: I know what the players' reaction is going to be overwhelmingly, yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before. We didn't buy it when you were calling us SOBs. We don't buy it now. And a larger faction of owners will feel the same way. Certainly not all of them and perhaps not a majority of them, but a growing number of them.

Let's be obviously just as straightforward as we can hear everything President Trump says about any subject is directed toward his face. And many people in the National Football League are not part of the state.

BLITZER: But some of the owners are. Do you think some of the owners are with the president when it comes to this?

COSTAS: Yes, and a half dozen or more owners were supporters of his campaign or his inauguration fund. But I think there's a growing feeling that the owners and the commissioner has articulated this have got to pledge their basic support with the idea that there's racial injustice historically at present in the country, some 70 percent of the players in the league are African American.

Many of them have been very outspoken about this. You don't have to agree with every last particular that somebody asserts and some players are better informed and more sight bowling and more to be listened to than others. But as a general idea, I think that the league office and the owners have got to stand with the players at least with a basic idea that they want a more just an equal society.

BLITZER: As you know, and we've been reporting now for the last couple of days, coronavirus has really surging in Florida right now could be the new epicenter in the days ahead, both the NBA Major League Soccer, they're set to resume play in Florida next month. How worried should these leagues be about the spike that's going on right now?

COSTAS: Well, if they can create a bubble, I don't know about soccer. I'm not attached to that. But if the NBA can create its Disney World bubble in Orlando, and they apparently have a 100 page protocol of all the precautions and steps that they'll take, and they don't have to play for as long a period of time as baseball or football which has to get some semblance of a regular season in hockey and basketball just have to finish what they suspended.

So perhaps they've got a better chance even though in Florida you're right, of course, that the coronavirus is surging, they hope to create a bubble of protection and they won't have travel so they can play games more quickly. They don't have to have travel days in between they can get it out of the way. That's their hope fingers crossed, get it out of the way in a compacted period of time within that bubble.

BLITZER: Yeah, let's hope sports fans we all hope for that. Bob Costas as usual, thanks so much for joining us. We are grateful to you for everything you're doing right now. I appreciate it very much.

COSTAS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Thanks very much are watching. I'll be back in the Situation Room tomorrow. 5 p.m. Eastern.

But before I go, I want to note something special. Today is the first full day of summer one year ago on this weekend, baseball was inching closer to the All Star break and later a World Series championship for my Washington Nationals.

The Toronto Raptors were celebrating their first NBA title, in hockey the St. Louis Blues had lifted their first Stanley Cup and NFL teams were getting ready for training camp. Fans were enjoying games and titles and dreams of what might be next season.

And for many of us, we were all taking it for granted that thinking these games would simply go on forever. But now we know sports was as vulnerable as anything else to the pandemic. Obviously, canceling games is nothing compared to the appalling death toll from this virus.

And we know there are many things more important than sports. If nothing else, the pandemic has certainly taught all of us to really appreciate those things like the health of loved ones, the freedom to see family and friends and simply walk about unafraid in public.

But as a sports fan, I still miss sports, and I hope we won't ever again take for granted things like home runs and buzzer beaters. It's our sincere wish that the players will find a way to return to the diamond, the ring, the court, and the gridiron swiftly and safely so that the games can begin again.

[21:55:18]

Have a good night. State of the Union with Jake Tapper is next right after a quick break.

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