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White House on Defense After Trump Rally Fizzles; Trump Rally Planned in Arizona Despite Rising COVID Cases; White House Defend Trump Comments About Slowing Down COVID Tests; Bolton's Explosive Book to Be Published Tuesday; NYPD Officer Suspended After Apparent Chokehold Incident; Libyan National Arrested for Terror Attack in U.K. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 22, 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. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead the White House in full on damage control cleaning out the U.S. President Donald Trump's coronavirus comments as he fumes about the smaller than expected crowd in Tulsa.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I hope it will remember him as a one-term President.


CHURCH: Mr. Trump's former national security advisor calls his old boss naive and dangerous. Why he says working with him was like living in a pinball machine.

And as Black Lives Matter rallies continue across America, startling new statistics about racism in the U.K., a CNN exclusive report.

Good to have you with us. The White House is weathering storms of controversy from the coronavirus from former officials and from the President himself. Members of the Trump administration say they are preparing for a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall despite the President's comments in Tulsa on Saturday that he asked his team to slow down COVID-19 testing. Staffers now say Mr. Trump was obviously kidding but health experts aren't laughing. Nearly 120,000 Americans have died from the virus and more than 20 states are seeing spikes of new infections.

But the President is fuming about something else. An advisor tells CNN that Mr. Trump is very upset about the low turnout at his campaign rally on Saturday. The Tulsa fire marshal says just 6,200 people showed up way below expectations. And harsh words from the former U.S. national security advisor, John Bolton says Mr. Trump is unfit to lead the country and it should be a one-term presidency for his former boss.

Well, in the midst of all of this, the President is planning to hold another rally, this one in the U.S. state of Arizona where the number of coronavirus cases has nearly doubled in the past two weeks. Ryan Nobles has our report.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After that disappointing showing at his rally in Tulsa over the weekend, President Trump is turning his focus West. He's going to come here to Arizona on Tuesday. He's got two big events planned on that day. First, he's going to head to the southern border and talk about the wall that he has worked on over the course of his administration and the progress that's being made there.

Then he's going to come here to Phoenix that night and speak to a group of young Trump supporters, students for Trump. And there's already some controversy associated with this visit. That's because here in Phoenix the city council and the mayor have instituted a mask order that requires everyone inside a building less than six feet away from someone to wear a mask. And the mayor of Phoenix telling CNN that she hopes that everyone who goes to that rally is wearing a mask, and that includes President Trump.

Now President Trump up until this point has rarely been seen in a mask and he's also made a point about how wearing a mask is not all that important in terms of battling the coronavirus. Now the mayor did tell CNN that she did not expect the city to cite President Trump but she hopes that he leads by example. Of course, the mask story only part of this narrative. We'll also see just how enthusiastic this crowd is and if they were able to bring in the big numbers that they or hoping in Tulsa, to this rally in Phoenix. We should point out, it's not a campaign rally, it's put on by a third-party group but still a group with enthusiastic support for President Trump and it will be in important part of his reelection message.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Phoenix.


CHURCH: Well, the White House is preparing for the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus infections to spike in just a few months. It should be noted medical and scientific experts say the U.S. is not yet out of the first wave of the virus and cases are, in fact, rising in more than 20 states. The White House is in damage control mode after the President made a remark during his rally Saturday about slowing down virus testing in the U.S. CNN's Kristin Holmes reports.



KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the country nears that 120,000 deaths from coronavirus, President Trump's administration spent Sunday defending his remarks when the President said on Saturday night that he asked his people to slow down testing so that there wouldn't be more cases. Now on Saturday, a senior administration official told CNN that the President was, quote, obviously, kidding. And on Sunday Peter Navarro, the White House trade advisor, doubled down on this idea that it was all a joke. Take a listen.

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISOR: Yes, it was tongue in cheek.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know if it was tongue in check at all.

NAVARRO: I know it was tongue in cheek.

TAPPER: He has said similar things for months.

NAVARRO: That's news for you, tongue in cheek.

Jake, we've got --

TAPPER: He has said similar things for months.

NAVARRO: We've got over 30 million people unemployed and we've seen over 100,000 people die because of the China Wuhan virus. Let's talk about some serious issues, Jake. I don't want to go there. I think there's some really important things. I'll break a little news for you --

TAPPER: I think testing is a very serious issue. I'm not the one making jokes about it

NAVARRO: I work on it every day.

TAPPER: You're the one that said the --

Navarro: Now come on, it was a light moment.

HOLMES: Now whether or not it was a joke, we will point out to our viewers that this is not the first time that White House has used this defense when President Trump has said something that is extremely controversial. But on top of that, this is getting a lot of backlash, particularly from President Trump's advisers who had said this was the case since the very beginning. That President Trump cared more about his appearance, which would mean less cases, than he did about the American health. Which would mean more tests which could possibly lead to more cases but of course catching the disease before it was fatal.

So it's no surprise that we're already hearing that Democrats, that Joe Biden's campaign are really latching on to this, that they're putting this out there. They want this on the air waves to be part of their narrative as they head towards November.

Kristin Holmes, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Dr. Amy Compton-Philips. She is a CNN medical analyst and chief medical officer of the Providence health system. Always good to talk with you. DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me,


CHURCH: So the World Health Organization is reporting the largest single day increase in global coronavirus cases by its count. While in the U.S. the death toll approaching 120,000 with 23 states seeing COVID-19 cases rising and in ten states those cases are surging up 50 percent or more. What do these numbers signal to you?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: These numbers signal to me that people are getting a little bit complacent, particularly here in the U.S. you know. As I talk about it at work, as we are right now in the sixth mile of a 26- mile marathon and we have to just keep going and doing all the really hard things. We know we have to get back to life. We have to start earning an income. We have to start getting our economy going, but in doing so we have to do it differently than we did in 2019. And people are getting tired of it.

And so it's easy to get lax and revert to our old habits, but when we do that, more and more people will die. So we cannot give up. We have to do both. We have to get the economy started as well as be incredibly cautious and incredibly careful washing hands, wearing masks doing all the right things so we don't send the death rate skyrocketing.

CHURCH: Yes, I mean those numbers have to be a wake-up call, don't they?

And doctor, after the Trump campaign boasted about attracting a million people to the President's Tulsa rally Saturday, it appears only about 6,200 turned up. That's according to the Tulsa Fire Department. Which is good from a medical perspective but still a worry with only a few of those participants wearing facemasks despite the reduced numbers. What risk could this have posed do you think to the health of those who did turn up?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Well, first off, let me say that was a really wise decision for 994,000 people to make, to stay home and not go to an indoor rally where people aren't wearing masks and where they're cheering and yelling and the risk of droplet transmission is very large. So the people that were there are going to really need to watch themselves. They need to self-quarantine.

You know, one of the big challenges is the government knew that it was a risk and therefore had people sign a waiver saying it wasn't their fault. So you know, clearly public health officials knew that it was a risk to put people that were yelling in close proximity indoors in an environment where coronavirus cases were on the increase. And as you know, six staffers for the rally were diagnosed as having the virus prior to the rally so it was in circulation there. It's going to be a really interesting area to watch over what happens in the next two weeks.

CHURCH: Yes, and of course, there's that two-week lag period before we actually get an idea, isn't there?


And doctor, at that same rally President Trump said he asked his people to slow down the coronavirus testing. His advisers insist he was just joking there, a defense we've all heard before when the President says anything controversial. But what do you say to a President who appears to think if you stop testing for the virus, the problem goes away? And what could be the consequences of an approaching like to?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: History does not look kindly on people who go for wishful thinking over facts and science. Think back, fact checkers back in the 1400s had to say, no, really, the earth is round, right? In fact checkers in the 1500s had to say, no, really, the earth does rotate around the sun even though it was not what people wanted to believe.

Fact checkers in the 2010s had to say, that no, really human produced carbon dioxide is causing global warming. Fact checkers in the future are going to look back and say that this President actually did a disservice to the nation by sewing confusion about testing, about contact tracing, about isolation and about masks and history will not be kind. Because the reason that there are 120,000 Americans that did not get to celebrate Father's Day with their family is because our government has failed at making a consistent coherent message to the public available to stay home, stay safe.

CHURCH: And, doctor, given that, President Trump next heads to Arizona where cases have nearly doubled in two weeks. His upcoming event in Phoenix will again gather lots of people together, this time students. How big a concern is that to you?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Well, my hope is that the students and people in Arizona will do what the 994,000 did in Oklahoma and make the right decision to keep themselves safe, to be kind to their neighbors and their family by not bringing home the virus and to stay well, which means staying out of high risk situations unnecessarily.

CHURCH: Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, thank you as always for talking with us. Appreciate it.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: Well, we are watching a media blitz unfold that seems determined to do one thing, take down the American President. We are less than 24 hours away from a new explosive tell all book from Donald Trump's former national security advisor, John Bolton, hitting the shelves. And ahead of that Mr. Bolton is going all out in interviews.


BOLTON: I hope that it will remember him as a one-term President who didn't plunge the country irretrievably into a downward spiral we can't recoil from. We can get over one term. Two terms I'm more troubled about.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: And that's not all. In another interview Bolton blasted daily life in the White House calling it as being like, quote, living inside a pinball machine. But as he goes after Mr. Trump, he also says that his testimony in the biggest push to remove the President, the impeachment trial, wouldn't have made much of a difference. Bolton told ABC News the Democrats were too narrow in their approach but that the President definitely lied about his dealings with Ukraine.

Well, there's a lot to take in. CNN's Vivian Salama takes us through more of Bolton's claims.


VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John Bolton has finally spoken out in his first interview since CNN obtained his book last week telling some of the dynamic and controversy that he witnessed firsthand when he was President Trump's national security advisor. And some of it is elaborating on what we saw in the book in terms of his personal relationships with certain world leaders, in particular world leaders that John Bolton believed we should treat with skepticism with a little bit of a distance like Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

He said that the President was constantly looking to strike a deal without really any nuance to understanding the problematic history of those countries as well as some of the issues that would come into play in any kind of negotiation. And so, he explained a number of different instances with regard to those talks and ultimately, he said that the President didn't really read a lot of his briefings. He said, you know, the intelligence briefings should happen on a daily basis but that wasn't the case. And he really felt that the President wasn't reading much of his briefings at all.

In fact, the one thing that he said the President had enormous interest in was the election. He said he just wished that the President showed that kind of interest on national security matters. Here's a look at what he said.


BOLTON: Well I think he was so focused on the reelection that longer- term considerations fell by the wayside. It was considerable emphasis on the photo opportunity and the press reaction to it and little or no focus to 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 the reelection?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, El Paso. Thank you, very much.

BOLTON: I didn't see anything where that wasn't the major factor. But a lot of people have complained that he has a short attention span and he doesn't focus. I want to say when it comes to reelection his attention span was infinite. SALAMA: So there you heard John Bolton talking about the President's

interest in reelection issues versus national security matters. And he said that he really wished that the President would have had taken more of an interest in that. Focus on his intelligence briefings with regards to national security matters so that he was better prepared for different issues.

Another issue that he focused on was the family of President Trump in the White House, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. And he said that at one point the President actually diverted media tension to focus on a Saudi arms deal that he was working on even though it was in the middle of the murder of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, two years ago. He said that the President purposely focused the media tension on a Saudi arms deal at that time despite its controversy so that he would divert media attention away from another controversy that was in the news, and that is his daughter's use of her personal emails at the White House.

Vivian Salama, in Washington.


CHURCH: And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're always talking and let him go bro.




CHURCH: A police officer involved in the arrest of a Black man in New York, has been suspended. We will get you the details of that incident when we come back.

Plus, authorities in the U.K. are searching for a motive in a deadly knife attack. A live report next.



CHURCH: The video you're looking at shows several NYPD officers during an arrest on Sunday restraining the man on his stomach in response to what officials have described as disorderly behavior. Now one of the officers also appears in a cell phone video to have his arm wrapped around the man's neck only releasing his hold after his colleague prompts him to.

Now the police officer involved was suspended without pay. And this comes days after New York lawmakers made the use of chokeholds a criminal offense. There are calls for an Atlanta area district attorney to be replaced

following the controversial police shooting of Rayshard Brooks. DA Paul Howard, a Democrat, charged an Atlanta officer with 11 crimes in the case including felony murder. U.S. Congressman Doug Collins, a Republican, claims the charges are politically motivated. All this as the Brooks family prepares to lay 27-year-old Rayshard to rest this week. The funeral is set for Tuesday in Atlanta.

And in the United Kingdom a 25-year-old Libyan national has been identified as the sole suspect behind a terror incidents leaving three people dead. The man currently in police custody is suspected of carrying out a knife attack on Saturday in Reading, England. And our Nic Robertson joins us now with more. So, Nic, what more are you learning about this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, in the last few minutes here, Rosemary, Priti Patel, the British Home Secretary, has been to view the scene of the attack, lay some flowers at the gate where people are leaving floral tributes and address comments to journalists. We couldn't hear what she was saying but we are beginning to learn more things about the attack. And the British newspapers, pretty much all of them, saying the same thing, that he was known to the government, to the government security sources prior to the attack. An eyewitness describes to CNN what happened.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): The aftermath of sudden shocking horror -- a terror attack. Police and paramedics try to save lives among people minutes earlier enjoying the only social gathering allowed during the pandemic, outdoors. Three would die, several others injured, some needing critical care.

(on camera): An eyewitness tells CNN he saw a lone attacker come into the park, shout something unintelligible, and then rush over to a group of people sitting on the grass stabbing some of them in the neck and under the arm. The witness says he fled when the attacker ran towards him. Soon after police surrounded this building evacuating terrified residents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went outside, to ask what was going on. He said it was nothing for us to worry about but he had a big gun in his hand.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The police quickly captured the alleged attacker, a security source now identifies as Khairi Saadallah, a 25- year-old Libyan national. Investigations into his motives continue.

JOHN CAMPBELL, THAMES VALLEY POLICE: I'm not in a position to talk about the man who's been arrested or give any further details about this case as this is a live counterterrorism investigation.

ROBERTSON: Four officials in Reading known locally as the U.K.'s largest town, population close to a 1/4 million. The concern now a possible community backlash.

JASON BROCK, READING BOROUGH COUNCIL LEADER: People will feel uncertain, they'll feel afraid, indeed many people will feel angry. And as a council we've got an important thing to do, working with the police and other partners to engage the local community, understand how they're feeling and seek to provide reassurance to them as we move forward.

ROBERTSON: Police say residents will see more officers on their streets in coming days. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson appearing to indicate not for the first-time warning signs of terror trouble when missed.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: If there are lessons to be learned, if there are changes that need to be made to our legal system to stop such events happening again, we will not hesitate to take that action.


ROBERTSON: The lesson for many people here coming out of lockdown, and only allowed to meet friends outdoors is how safe will they be.


ROBERTSON: And we're beginning to learn new details about some of the victims. One of them, James Furlong, a teacher at a local school. He was the head of a history, politics and governance department at hat school. Friends and family have described him as a kind man, a gentle man, some who were talented and inspirational to the students, who wanted to teach them about the world and how the world worked. So a sad loss. We're learning more about the victims.

CHURCH: Yes, that is heartbreaking, Nic Robertson bringing us the details. Many thanks to you.

And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.


CHURCH: Silence is violence. No justice no peace. Some of the slogans chanted by hundreds of protesters who marched through London this weekend in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept the globe. Now this is the fourth consecutive weekend of anti-racism protests in the U.K.

Extensive polling conducted by CNN in England, Scotland and Wales on the issue of racism has uncovered divisions between black and white people in their experience and attitudes towards race. The poll found Black people are twice as likely as white people to say there is discrimination in British policing, media and politics.

In this example, twice as many say they have experienced disrespect from police and think the country has not done enough to address racial injustice.