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Protesters Try to Topple Andrew Jackson's Statue in D.C.; U.S. Soldier Charged with Planning Ambush on Own Unit; President Trump Claims Mail-in Voting is a Fraud. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 23, 2020 - 07:30   ET



RAPHAEL WARNOCK, CANDIDATE, U.S. SENATE: Primary responsibility this -- later today is to walk with his family. As they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, tomorrow, we will raise the issues concerning this case and we'll talk a little bit about that today. But it's important for us to be present with this family as they deal with this unspeakable loss.

So, I hope to shed some light on his humanity and connect it to this larger problem in America, in which we are the incarceration capital of the world. And I submit that as long as we are committed to this problem of mass incarceration, we'll continue to see these escalations on the street, which literally lead to death.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: In fact, I have heard you say that you have gotten far too much practice with funerals like this.

WARNOCK: That's right. Somebody asked me a few weeks ago, what is it like to stand in the pulpit of Martin Luther King Jr., and preach after the tragic death of George Floyd? And tragically, I have way too much practice doing this. It was like the Sunday I preached after the death of Trayvon Martin, after the death of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson and the list goes on and on, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor.

And so, I'm concerned that we've become too accustomed to black death in this country, and we've got to take seriously this virus of racism that we're fighting. We're fighting two pandemics in America. We're dealing with COVID-19 and what I also call COVID-1619, the day some twin slaves arrived on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia.

That virus mutated into Jim Crow segregation, and now it's mutated into mass incarceration. And until we come to terms with that, we're going to find ourselves tragically here over and over again. The good news is that there is a massive coalition of conscience pouring out onto American streets, people of all races saying America is better than this, and we can, indeed, live up to the ideal of the American promise, equal protection under the law.

And may we use this moment, this moral moment, to create a transformational moment that makes life safer and better for all of our children. CAMEROTA: So, you do see this as an inflection point. I mean, after

that tragic litany of funerals and eulogies and sermons that you've talked about, do you think this is the moment?

WARNOCK: Oh, clearly, there is something happening in America. Something has shaken the core of this country. You see it in the eyes of people who are willing to pour out into the streets in the midst of a pandemic, knowing in some ways you assume some risk of your own life. But I think when people saw the tragic death of George Floyd, saying over and over again, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe", that it struck a nerve in the hearts of just ordinary, decent people.

And indeed, this needs to be a transformational moment. George Floyd, like Eric Garner, was killed in broad daylight by those sworn to protect for $20? In Eric Garner's case for loose cigarettes? Meanwhile, Wall Street bankers gambled with home mortgages and literally pushed the economy to the brink almost over the cliff. Eric Garner and George Floyd were executed on the spot.

No Wall Street banker went to jail. There's something fundamentally wrong about that. We need a revolution of values. We need to re- imagine in this moment what it means for us to be one people in covenant with one another.

CAMEROTA: OK, so, that leads us to your race for U.S. Senate. Man of the cloth, politician. You know, some people think that those are not necessarily a likely match. So, why are you running for Senate?

WARNOCK: If folks say to me, pastor, are you going into the swamp? Well, I'm going to put on all of my scuba gear and make sure that we bring the best of the community to this process. Listen, I've spent my whole life engaged in the work of service. And it's really driven by my own biography. I grew up in public housing down in Savannah, Georgia. I know what it's like to walk through a grocery store as a teenager, accused of shoplifting because I was walking while black in a grocery store.

I know that humiliation. I know that pain. And somehow, I made it out of public housing, the first college graduate in my family, was able to get a college degree and go on and earn four degrees, a PHD degree. I'm running because it's harder now for children who grew up in families or are growing up in families like mine than it was for me all of those years ago.


I'm running because too many of our children have to mortgage their future in order to have a future, and workers need a living wage. And in a state like Georgia, and all across the country, people need access to healthcare. I think people have seen enough of this incestuous relationship between political back rooms and corporate boardrooms. I think this is a moral moment in America. We need moral voices, and yes, I think the Senate could use a pastor.

CAMEROTA: Reverend Raphael Warnock, we'll be watching today, thank you very much for taking time this morning to be on NEW DAY. WARNOCK: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: All right, breaking overnight, clashes between police and protesters near the White House. The protesters were attempting to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson. America's reckoning with racial injustice has led to scenes like this across the country. CNN's Brian Todd with the latest.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 80 years, the statue of Theodore Roosevelt on horseback has stood outside New York's American Museum of Natural History, intended as a tribute to Roosevelt's tireless work as a naturalist. But now there are plans to remove the statue. Flanking Roosevelt are depictions of a native American man and an African-American man on foot, appearing subservient to Roosevelt.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK STATE: The statue clearly, you know, presents a white man as superior to people of color, and that's just not acceptable in this day and age. And it never should have been acceptable.

TODD: Historians say Roosevelt did make progressive moves on race while he was president, like inviting African-American leader Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House. But the museum called some of his views on race troubling, and that particular statue has offended people of color for decades. The Roosevelt family agreed it should be removed.


Observers say the protest movement following the killings of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and others has brought a turning point and a renewed debate over how Americans view their monuments.

MICHAEL DICKINSON, AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY, VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY: I think what has changed is that, hopefully, that these perspectives of people of color and African-Americans in particular are finally being heard.

TODD: Early on, the movement went after confederate monuments as examples of racism against African-Americans. But now, a broadening, where symbols of the oppression of native Americans and of European colonization are being targeted.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN, RICE UNIVERSITY: Some monuments to Spanish conquistadors might be coming down in Latino communities. But this is not just kind of statue-ripping season in the United States like Donald Trump will make it sound like.

TODD: The president has recently stoked the fires of a culture war over statues and monuments, sometimes framing it as a partisan divide. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The unhinged, left-wing

mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments.

TODD: Trump lamented that statues of figures who are still revered by many have been defaced or torn down, monuments to Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we think slave owners should have statues?



TODD: Historians say this could present an opportunity for Americans to have a smarter discussion of the complexities of those men.

BRINKLEY: There are many sides to Thomas Jefferson. There's Jefferson the slave owner, books are coming out on it, school kids learn about it. But there's also Jefferson who gave us the declaration of independence.

TODD: The answer, one historian says may not be to destroy those monuments completely.

DICKINSON: They should be placed in spaces where they can be contextualized fully. And I think museums are wonderful spaces for that. To tell a larger narrative of where we've come from and where we are going toward.

TODD (on camera): The historians we spoke to say there are no simple answers in our debate over statues, that no matter which monuments are brought down, someone will be offended. But many of them agree, this is the moment to have our discussions over this, that the country has been presented this opportunity by recent events and we've got to seize it. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Brian for that report. So, this morning, prosecutors say U.S. army soldier plotted an attack on his own unit. We have new details, next.



BERMAN: Developing this morning. Federal prosecutors have charged a U.S. army soldier with attempted murder for allegedly planning an ambush on his own unit. CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with the details. What's going on here, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, good morning. A very disturbing story emerging, 22-year-old army soldier Ethan Melzer arrested by the federal government and now with those charges. He is accused of planning a mass-casualty attack on his own unit by communicating with a hate group known as the order of nine angles.

Who is that hate group? Well, they are a group that according to the Justice Department has espoused violent neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and satanic beliefs. He is now charged with -- so disturbing, conspiracy, attempting to murder his fellow service members, providing support to a terror group, essentially, as you say, ambushing his own unit by communicating with this hate group.

The Justice Department saying in part in this indictment, and I quote, "as alleged, Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal. Melzer declared himself to be a traitor against the United States and described his own conduct as tantamount to treason." We agree the Justice Department said his plot to ambush his own unit was thwarted in May, and he was arrested just on June 10th. Alisyn?


CAMEROTA: Barbara, thank you very much for all of the reporting on that story. So, for millions of people, voting by mail is the perfect solution to casting a vote and protecting their health. President Trump uses a mail-in ballot, but he claims they lead to fraud. Why does he think it's OK for him but not for others? Well, John Avlon has our "REALITY CHECK".

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bright and early Monday morning, the tweeter-in-chief was at it again, screaming a new conspiracy theory about voter fraud, in all caps -- "rigged 2020 election. Millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries and others. It will be the scandal of our times!" So, this is a twist on an old obsession, but it's not just the debunked issues of widespread voter fraud, but that foreign powers would commit fraud through fake mail-in ballots.

So, where did Trump get that idea? Well, it seems to be a claim advanced by AG Bill Barr. First in a "New York Times" interview, quote, "there are a number of foreign countries that could easily make counterfeit ballots, put names on them, send them in, and it would be very hard to sort out what's happening."

But Barr cautioned that quote, "I haven't looked into that", and he offered no evidence to substantiate the claim. So, this is just the Attorney General speculating about a hypothesis. And so, we took a lot of heat for it, including from the Federal Election Commission's Ellen Weintraub, who tweeted, "there's simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud. None."

And there's a couple of reasons we know this. First, roughly a quarter of Americans voted absentee by mail in 2016, as did President Trump, Vice President Pence, the attorney general, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Now, currently, five states have all vote by mail -- Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii and Washington. And in the 20 years that Oregon has done mail-in ballots, it's had a grand total of around a dozen cases of voter fraud out of 100 million ballots cast. One important reason that mail-in ballot fraud is so rare is that many

states assign a unique barcode for each voter, meaning that counterfeit ballots by foreign powers would be almost impossible to pull off. Now, Trump's also arguing, we voted during World War I and World War II with no problem. Someone should tell him that soldiers have voted by mail since the civil war and it has worked out pretty well.

Now, finally, Trump is arguing that foreign powers will interfere in our elections on Democrats' behalf. This is classic deflect and project. We all know that Donald Trump didn't only expect to benefit from Russian interference in the 2016 election, as newly unredacted sections of the Mueller report show, or that he tried to withhold military aid until Ukraine announced an investigation into Joe Biden's family.

But also, according to John Bolton, President Trump was pleading with Chinese President Xi to ensure he'd win re-election this Fall. So, why is he doing this? Now, let's ask New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I think this is a setup. I think they're going to lose the election. I think they're going to claim fraud and they're going to go back to these states with the mail-in voting, and they're going to use that as an argument.


AVLON: But none of this had stopped Bill Barr from stirring the pot while sounding sanctimonious.


BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: People's confidence in the outcome of the election is going to be undermined, and that could take the country into a very dark place if we lose confidence in the outcomes of our elections.


AVLON: But that's exactly what Barr and Trump are doing by floating these baseless conspiracy theories, while trying to suppress the vote during a pandemic. And that's your "REALITY CHECK".

CAMEROTA: Our thanks to John Avlon for that. Meanwhile, the top Manhattan prosecutor Geoffrey Berman was fired by President Trump and President Trump also fired multiple inspectors general, in other words, watchdogs. How does he get away with it? Join CNN's Jake Tapper for a new CNN special report "TRUMP AND THE LAW AFTER IMPEACHMENT", it's this Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Well, some California college students are taking tests of a different variety. How the results could lead to their return to campus, next.



CAMEROTA: South Korea recently believed they had the pandemic under control, but this morning, they say they're entering a second wave. CNN has reporters all around the world to bring you the very latest developments.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Hancocks in Seoul. South Korea says it is now officially in its second wave of coronavirus. This according to Korea's CDC. They say that they believe that the first wave was from February to April when mass testing and contact-tracing managed to decrease new infections significantly.

But officials say that after the May holidays, there was then a significant increase in infections, and they believe this is the second wave. Right now, officials are looking at whether or not more stringent social distancing needs to be reintroduced.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sam Kiley in Abu Dhabi where there is disappointment but no great surprise that the Saudi Arabian authorities have announced that the annual Hajj pilgrimage usually attended by tens or hundreds of thousands of pilgrims will be severely restricted as a result of their continuing efforts to control the coronavirus, which has been spreading inside the kingdom.

This year, only residents of Saudi Arabia, albeit foreign residents will be able to attend -- the numbers will be very restricted. And that is because the Saudi authorities are saying that they are very anxious to control this virus, particularly at a moment when in the Middle East, there are deep fears of a second wave of infections.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, where the German Center for Disease Control says that the reproduction number for the novel coronavirus has been soaring. Now, they say in large part, that's due to localized but very large outbreaks specifically in Germany's meat processing industry. There's one meat processing plant here in this country where more than 1,300 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and German authorities say they're trying to get that situation under control.



BERMAN: Developments around the world that do bear watching. Here in the United States, calls of administrators mapping out plans to potentially bring students and faculty back to campus sometime this Fall. CNN's Stephanie Elam live in Los Angeles with one -- with how one school is doing that. Stephanie?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Think about all of the things that you can learn in college about those labs in person, what you learn about yourself. Well, how do you allow for that when you're in the middle of a pandemic? Take a look at what UC San Diego is planning to do this Fall.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just really exciting to be a part of this.

ELAM (voice-over): UC San Diego student Eleanor Gruden(ph) didn't prepare for this test, but it might have the greatest impact on her education next term. She is taking part in the pilot phase of the University of California at San Diego's return to learn program. The eventual goal -- to test the university's population for COVID-19 on a consistent basis for eight months beginning in September, potentially paving a path to return to some in-person education in the Fall.

ROBERT SCHOOLEY, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, UC SAN DIEGO: We want to be able to come back in the safest way possible. And one of the key features of that is to be able to monitor for presence of the virus.

ELAM: By following clearly posted directions, Gruden(ph) is collecting her own sample.

SCHOOLEY: We're planning on having all around campus a bunch of collection boxes, each of which would contain a stark of individually wrapped swabs with medium, each swab would have associated with a QR code. We'll have loaded on the CSD app a barcode reader that will attach the identity of the person, using the swab, they will pop the barcode, pull the swab out of the sleeve, swab their mouth, particularly swab back into a plastic sleeve and then drop it into a box.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was way better than I thought it was going to be.

ELAM: Every two to three hours, researchers say these boxes are taken to the center for advanced laboratory medicine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our goals are to try to provide results within the 24-hour time period.

ELAM (on camera): What is the most difficult aspect of adding on this layer of COVID-19 testing?

DAVID PRIDE, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, UC SAN DIEGO CLINICAL MOLECULAR MICROBIOLOGY LAB: It's hard to get materials to do the COVID testing and it's hard to get enough people to do every single step of the process.

SHARON REED, DIRECTOR, UC SAN DIEGO CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY & VIROLOGY LABS: We have a couple of months to scale up to the degree we need to.

ELAM: Does the testing replace masks?

REED: No, it's just one part of it. Until this either burns out which chances are is not going to happen or until we're pretty much immune from a vaccine, we'll have to be extra careful.

ELAM (voice-over): While the pilot program was focused on about 5,000 people who remained on campus after it shut down, at full speed, UC San Diego will need to regularly test its community of 65,000 students, faculty and staff.

NATASHA MARTIN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE MODELER, UC SAN DIEGO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The simulations indicate that if even 75 percent of the population were tested per month, we would still be able to detect an outbreak before there were, say, about 15 detect more infections on campus.

The secondary component which is really critical is what we do once we identify the outbreak. That's where we're going to rely heavily on measures such as contact-tracing and isolation and quarantine and social distancing interventions.

ELAM: Test results pop up in the app. And so far, students seem gamed to participate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're providing us all sorts of comfort to know that like none of us were carriers.

ELAM: Especially if it helps get their peers back on campus.

JANIE PARK, FOURTH YEAR STUDENT, UC SAN DIEGO: That would be amazing because a lot of college is what you learn in the classroom, but so much of it is also your experience.


ELAM: So true. So true. Now, I can tell you that during that pilot phase of three weeks that they were testing out this program, that they tested more than 1,500 students and not one person came back positive for the virus, but they do have plans if someone does. The other thing is, they're saying that this program has to be adaptive. Now, you may have noticed that our student there, Eleanor Gruden(ph) was going to swab her nose.

Well, they found that students really didn't like that, so they're planning on moving to saliva testing, once this rolls out when the Fall comes along there. Just knowing what you need to do and testing a population when not everyone is always staying on campus and interacting with the rest of the community around them. John and Alisyn?

BERMAN: I think it's not just students who don't like it, humans don't like it, Stephanie. Look, I have to say --


ELAM: True --

BERMAN: It's fascinating to watch how schools around the country are dealing with this and trying to come up with ideas and the different ways they're doing it. ELAM: Yes.

BERMAN: It's still June, I do wonder and I do worry whether by the end of August so many of these schools may have to adjust even the best laid plans that is thought out as you see SD. Stephanie, terrific report, thanks so much for being with us. Right, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are still reacting. The only way to get ahead of the virus is to way tamp down the cases in any area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventy five percent of the ICU beds are already occupied in Florida. We are right back to square one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas, but it must be corralled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is expected to attend several public events in Arizona where the number of daily coronavirus cases has been steadily surging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you put a bunch of people together in an indoor space, those are the perfect conditions to have a super spreader event.