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Several States in the U.S. Set Record-High New Coronavirus Cases; Florida Governor Blames Hispanic Workers for Coronavirus Surge; Trump Fires Top Federal Prosecutor Who Refused to Quit. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 22, 2020 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Concerns are growing about the state of Florida where we talk about coronavirus pandemic. The state once again shattering single-day records, three days in a row, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Now, the state's largest health system, Jackson Health is reporting a 75 percent increase in coronavirus patients in just the past two weeks. Joining me now is Dan Gelber; he is the mayor of Miami Beach.
Mr. Mayor, good to have you with us. I know you have a lot of concerns about how things are playing out in your city and how people are or are not following the rules and the guidance that is in effect there. Where do you stand Monday morning?
MAYOR DAN GELBER, MIAMI, FLORIDA: Well, the problem is while the numbers can be increased just based on the number of testing, we're also seeing the percentage over 10 percent, which is the metric the CDC says you don't want to break. And our hospitalizations are also going up. We're nowhere near yet sort of a surge that would truly challenge our hospital capacity, but we can't wait until we get to those points to start being concerned and acting accordingly.
We have to act right now. So going to our restaurants, we're going to all the places that attract people typically in our city and we're trying to let them know that they've got to really follow these directions or they're going to have to be closed down. And I think we're going to have to get pretty serious about it, because we don't want to get to the point we were before.
HILL: So you've been warning of that for a couple of days. When do you actually see that happening? What is your threshold then for going in and saying, that's it, I'm shutting you down. This is not working.
GELBER: Well, we already shut a couple of restaurants down in the last day or two. And the county is doing that as well. I'll have a meeting with other mayors this morning, we'll probably have a press conference this afternoon, we're trying to send the message out. I had a big Zoom call with restaurateurs and hotel owners and leaders of houses of worship to urge them to do a little bit better or a lot better. But we will shut down restaurants. We'll do what we need to do. It's painful because these are members of a wonderful industry that has really suffered mightily during this, but you know, there's just not another option. We can't let this trajectory continue to the point where we have to shutter in place at home again, because nobody wants to do that. And we probably have the tools to avoid that if we just, you know, wear masks, wash our hands and maintain physical distance.
HILL: The CDC is set to release updated guidelines about mask wearing. We're hoping that comes at some point today, but we know that they're on the way according to our reporting. If the CDC comes out with stronger guidance, do you think that will help you?
GELBER: Yes, but I mean, honestly, my city, the day the CDC said wear them, we entered and ordered directing people to inside and outside when they couldn't physically distance at parks and on our beaches. We've been following the guidelines. CDC has been late and then haven't given us -- him given us a great playbook, if one at all, frankly.
So we've sort of been on our own trying to right this thing as we go along. But the problem is, there's -- first of all, a lot of young people feel like the fact that we opened up means that they can do whatever they want, and they have to stop it. They just have to stop because they -- first of all, they can get sick and being in the hospital is no vacation. It's at least two weeks and it's pretty painful.
And they have relatives who were also able to be made sick. And so, you know, people have to get smart about this.
HILL: So you --
GELBER: A lot of people are -- go ahead.
HILL: All right, I was just going to say to your point about the number or the age, I should say, of those infected dropping. We know that last week, the average in the state of Florida was 37, but on Friday, Governor DeSantis said at his press conference that, that is dropping and we're going to see lower numbers which we're seeing in a number of areas across the country.
And there's talk about this, you know, feeling of invincibility, that you know, we can all remember when we were -- when we were younger in that age. But at the same time, when the message is, you don't have to worry about it because you're not going to get as sick. How is that impacting, do you think, the decisions that are being made by kids in their teens and their 20s, even 30s?
GELBER: I have two teen -- two college-aged daughters who are home with us right now, and a high school kid in my house. And we on a daily basis have to say, no, you're not doing that. Because the truth is they do feel that way. But I think they have to understand, and that they have people that are older around them.
[07:35:00] Everybody has parents and grandparents. But even more than that, the
places they're going have to be more diligent. Many are doing it the right way, but many are just -- you know, they've been -- they've been without commerce for so long and everybody coming in -- and frankly, hospitality cities like our -- they weren't built for physical distancing. We were built to do the opposite.
So we really have to almost retrain all this entire industry to just back off a little bit or at least be much more careful right now. And we're going to enforce better.
HILL: You know, there's been a lot of talk about where the cases are coming from, not just ages, but you know, where there are flare-ups. Governor DeSantis, of course, last week, was talking about clusters that were being seen among agricultural workers. I just want to play a little bit of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): They're finding these are overwhelmingly Hispanic workers and day laborers, but they were in northwest Florida, found a couple of cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: That's northwest Florida, I know you're south Florida. But he got a lot of -- a lot of pushback for that comment. Do you think that he needed to point that out? Because we do need to know where they're coming from. Do you take umbrage with it?
GELBER: Well, I mean, I don't think that's -- I don't agree with it, frankly. You know, Florida is approaching a 100,000, but my county has had 4,000 hospitalizations and almost 900 deaths. And it's not here, anything like those categories. And I don't think you need to divide in order to make the point. Frankly, we know what's happening. A lot of our seniors are getting sick.
But now, by the way, more young people are getting sick and are in the hospital. And it's very painful if you talk to some of these surgeons, these, you know, critical care docs. They'll tell you, this is no -- this is not something anybody wants to do, no matter your age. So I don't know -- I don't necessarily adopt that.
Plus, our metrics don't show that. Our metrics show right now, we know exactly what's happening. Young people are going out because they do think they're invincible. They're getting the virus and they're spreading it into the community and it's just harder to protect people when that happens.
HILL: Yes, as our own Sanjay Gupta said, until you can get that spread from one person down to, you know, infecting just one person --
GELBER: Yes --
HILL: Or less, we won't have a control on the virus. We'll continue to watch what's happening in your city. Mayor Dan Gilbert, thanks for your time this morning.
GELBER: Thank you.
HILL: President Trump firing a top federal prosecutor over the weekend. So what happens now to the Trump-related cases that he was overseeing? We'll ask a former federal prosecutor who worked in that office, next.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump fired the powerful U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York after that attorney refused to quit. Geoffrey Berman's office had been investigating a number of Trump associates, so what happens to those cases now?
Joining me now is Daniel Goldman; former deputy chief of the Organized Crimes Unit of the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District, also a former senior adviser to the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry and also a coronavirus survivor.
You're like the human nexus of three major stories today, Daniel. So thank you very much for being with us. Look, on Geoffrey Berman, first of all, no relation, so don't worry about offending me. But let me state two facts here. Number one, William Barr; the Attorney General lied about Geoffrey Berman stepping down. Berman says he did not step down, he need to be fired. So the attorney general lied about that. Number two, it's four months before the election, so what does this tell you, Dan?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF ORGANIZED CRIMES, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: It tells me that something very fishy going on. And we've seen a disloyalty purge by President Trump since the impeachment.
There are obviously, we know of, at least an investigation into Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District, and there may be others. It's a very unusual, almost unique timing to remove a U.S. attorney that, by the way, he was nominated by Trump himself.
So all of this is very fishy. And then you add the credibility issues that Bill Barr has prior to this layered on with his lie about the fact that Berman was stepping down, and he had to say, no, I'm not. In addition, they tried to put in the U.S. attorney in New Jersey as the acting, which also never happened.
So, all of this circumstantial evidence leads one to believe that there's some bad faith reason why they were -- Trump and Barr were trying to remove the top prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. We don't know what it is, but we need to find out.
BERMAN: How much visibility would the attorney general have on the details of the investigations going on in the Southern District? GOLDMAN: A lot. And he could get as much as he wants. So, certainly,
the Attorney General would not have information or details about the run-of-the-mind prosecution or investigation in U.S. attorneys -- any other U.S. attorney's office. But he can ask for reports or memos or information and he is able to get whatever he wants. And there have been rumblings that there's been some tension between Mr. Berman and Mr. Barr about some of the investigations going on in the Southern District, nothing concrete, but sort of back-channel rumblings.
And we don't know whether there was one indictment that was ready to be approved and ready to go forward that they clashed about or whether this was sort of the buildup of tension over a long period of time. But this just doesn't happen. And so we need to understand the reason.
BERMAN: Will we or what will we find out about this? What will be allowed to go public, do you think?
GOLDMAN: Well, this is where one of my prior careers dovetails with another one, which is that the House Judiciary Committee needs to start bringing in witnesses. I don't think I would call Bill Barr first, I would start to -- I would bring in Mr. Berman, I would bring in Mr. Berman's former deputy Rob Khuzami, who is now no longer there. I would bring in Jonathan Travis who withdrew -- who resigned from the Department of Justice because of the political influence or infiltration by William Barr.
There's a lot of politicization going on in the Department of Justice. It is shameful. And there are many witnesses who can speak to it. You can build an investigation and a case up to Bill Barr and then you call Bill Barr in and let him respond to the other testimony.
BERMAN: What about the status of those investigations now that Berman has been removed? I know the deputy will be taking over, which is actually a win as far as Berman is concerned. And that is something that he wanted. But what happens in the investigations?
GOLDMAN: They should continue apace. That is the tradition of that office [AUDIO GAP] fired, his deputy Kim remained in office for a number of months. I was there at the time and everything continues as normal. And that's what I would expect to happen.
And that's why Geoff Berman undoubtedly insisted that he -- that Audrey Strauss, the deputy take over, and not the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, who may come in with a different view of these investigations, and may have been sort of a shill for Trump in order to shut them down.
And it was very important, clearly, to Geoffrey Berman, that his deputy who has been involved in all of these investigations and all of the decision-making took over.
BERMAN: There's a whiff of something going on here. There's no question about that, and maybe we'll find out soon what exactly that whiff is all about. Daniel, you mentioned your work on the House Judiciary Committee, John Bolton has this new book out. You had wanted to hear from John Bolton, although you did not subpoena John Bolton.
He now is being critical of house Democrats and your committee that led the impeachment investigation, saying you did it all wrong. I don't know if you've had a chance to respond to that directly. What is your response?
GOLDMAN: Well, my response is that John Bolton ought to stick with national security and not investigations, which he has no expertise about. The fact of the matter is that we were told by John Bolton's attorney that he would file a lawsuit if we subpoenaed him, just like his deputy had done, who shared the same lawyer.
So we're still waiting for Don McGahn's decision to be decided by the D.C. circuit, and that's over a year. If we had gone to court and litigated a subpoena against John Bolton, we'd still be waiting right now. And so John Bolton clearly decided that dollar signs mean a lot more to him than patriotism. John Bolton does not get to tell Congress how to do their job.
There are separation of powers for a reason. He mentioned separation of powers in his interview last night in a very odd way because he's trying to dictate to Congress how Congress should run their investigation. But the interesting thing, John, John Bolton confirms every single thing that we developed, our investigation developed about Ukraine, and he adds additional layers of other misconduct, very similar misconduct by the president in using his power as the president of the United States to force other countries or to try to coerce other countries into helping his re-election.
The president did that with Ukraine and apparently did that also with China, and perhaps with Turkey. It's really a shocking indictment of the president, and as any prosecutor knows, people don't get caught usually the first time they commit a crime. So it is no surprise that the president was trying to put his personal interests above the national interest in other instances.
But certainly, John Bolton, from what I can tell from the reports and what people have said, confirmed the facts that we developed in our investigation, impeachment investigation.
BERMAN: That certainly seems to be the case reading the book, nexus, one other point. John Bolton, by the way, was asked this morning if he would testify if called or subpoenaed and he wouldn't even guarantee that. So take that into consideration when weighing his retrospective look on what took place. Daniel Goldman, great to have you here with us this morning, thanks so much, be well.
GOLDMAN: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: We'll be right back.
HILL: The outbreak in Beijing has now spread beyond the neighborhoods near the food market where it started. CNN has reporters all around the world to bring you the very latest developments.
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm David Culver in Beijing where health officials have increased coronavirus screening capacity to nearly 1 million people a day. It comes after the most recent cluster outbreak linked to a food market here in China's capital. Officials say it is under control. The number of new daily cases has dropped. And all they have confirmed roughly 230 cases in the past week and a half.
Partial lockdowns within the city though are still in place, and schools, they remain closed. There is now an increased focus on testing within certain industry such as the service sector. Officials are testing all of the city's food and delivery people. At least one multi-national business is impacted. PepsiCo reported eight cases in one factory that makes potato chips here in Beijing, forcing it to close down.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: I'm Salma Abdelaziz in London where the U.K. is set to ease coronavirus restrictions on July 4th. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on Sunday saying watch the space, you won't have to wait very much longer, and he promised to provide more details this week.
Now, the country recently lowered its coronavirus alert level from level four to level three, and everyone here is anxiously awaiting the possibility that after three months of lockdown, bars, hair salons, pubs and even hotels may reopen on July 4th.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Mexico City. It's been another difficult weekend for Latin America and the Caribbean as the region's 33 countries are now reporting more than 2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus combined. More than half of those cases come from just one country, Brazil. Health officials there over the weekend announced that the death toll surpassed 50,000 for the first time.
Meanwhile, here in Mexico City, officials had hoped to reopen certain businesses like restaurants and malls as soon as this week but they were forced to scrap those plans as the number of cases here continue to rise dramatically.
BERMAN: Our thanks to our reporters all around the world. Now here in the United States, even as most of the country reopen, many small businesses are discovering it might be too late for them. And that's especially true for black-owned businesses, more than 40 percent closed during the pandemic. CNN's Phil Mattingly has been looking into this, he joins us now live in Washington with much more. Phil.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, those top line numbers, they're devastating and they underscore a reality here. While more than 4 million small business owners were able to tap into a massive $660 billion federal emergency relief program, for black small business owners like those who own the Southwest Soda Pop Shop here behind me, often their survival was in spite of, not because of those efforts.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): That's the sound of the Jones sisters weren't sure they'd hear much longer. A customer buying their ice cream. For the owners of the Southwest Soda Pop Shop, the coming Summer months were the heart of this business.
BRITTANY JONES, SOUTHWEST SODA POP SHOP: We house, you know, soda, but you know, floats, milkshakes, ice cream, things like that.
MATTINGLY: Until the pandemic brought them on the brink of failure.
BRIANNA JONES, SOUTHWEST SODA POP SHOP: Instead of the 30 customers or 50 customers that we usually have on a regular weekday, it went from maybe one or two, three or four because people were scared.
MATTINGLY: But it wasn't a piece of the trillions in federal government assistance that kept them alive.
B. JONES: We just didn't qualify initially for those programs that were out there.
MATTINGLY: They were shut out of the largest small business rescue program in U.S. history, the Paycheck Protection Program, running headlong into the structural issues that have hindered black-owned small businesses for decades, and only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Forty one percent of black-owned small businesses shattered between February and April. Their white counterparts, less than 20 percent.
ASHLEY HARRINGTON, FEDERAL ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE LENDING: This is just laying bare all of the cracks and issues that were already there in this foundation, and that people of color have been experiencing every single day.
MATTINGLY: The PPP was structured in a way to quickly kick hundreds of billions of dollars out the door, that same structure unintentionally entrenched those pervasive disadvantages from lack of banks relationships and disincentives for banks to prioritize smaller loans, to the fact that more than 95 percent of black-owned small businesses are sole proprietorships which limited the funds they could access.
QUBILAH HUDDLESTON, DC FISCAL POLICY INSTITUTE: You know, a lot of it has to do with who has a seat at the table and who we think about in terms of who are the business owners that, you know, are at risk of closing doors.
MATTINGLY: The Small Business Administration Inspector General finding that contrary to law, there was no initial prioritization for these underserved communities, and that no demographic data was collected, making it impossible to, quote, "determine the loan volume to the intended prioritized markets".
Federal officials have recognized the shortcomings and have scrambled to address them. But that push would have been too late for the Southwest Soda Pop Shop, were it not for their own inventive effort.
B. JONES: But GoFundMe was originally my dad's idea. So, you can imagine four young independent black women, we were like, dad, a GoFundMe, that's kind of like begging. It took a lot of pride to the side for us to even send out the GoFundMe.
MATTINGLY: And this viral tweet, with more than $25,000 raised, the business is alive, distanced, masked, but still delicious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is only the beginning for us.
MATTINGLY: But it's also a window into just how acute the longstanding hurdles faced by black-owned businesses have become for a nation in crisis.
B. JONES: Twitter saved Southwest Soda Pop Shop.
MATTINGLY: It wasn't -- it wasn't the government.
B. JONES: It was not the government.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was our community.
MATTINGLY: Now, John, there have been significant efforts over the course for the last five or six weeks for the federal government to respond to these disparities, setting aside billions of dollars, really trying to focus on the issue, even disclosing that they will start to release demographic information. I spent much of last week talking to lawmakers, and there's bipartisan agreement.
Much more needs to be done on this issue. They want a targeted package in the next round, there's a recognition that they did, while it saved many businesses was not good enough for black-owned small businesses. John?
BERMAN: Yes, much more needs to be done, much more should have been done. This is a structural issue, but a knowable structural issue. Phil, I think it's a terrific report. Thanks so much for delivering this morning, appreciate it. NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: COVID-19 cases are climbing, and now more young people are testing positive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the Fall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to continue to open up and not open up safely. We're going to continue to see increased cases.