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Senate to Vote on Advancing GOP Police Reform Bill Soon; Prosecutor: Justice Department Politicized Roger Stone's Sentencing; Study: Mutations Could Make Coronavirus More Infectious. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 24, 2020 - 07:30   ET



SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): Job and not have the stigmatizing that's occurring currently with not accepting some accountability. This is where the rubber is going to meet the road in terms of real reform. And it's always tough to accept by any organization. I'm going to be talking to the state police in Indiana and the Sheriff's Association later today and say, hey, try to find ways to fix it from within and maybe we won't need to do anything here, but I think this is a moment in time where it's been raised to a crescendo that something needs to happen --


BRAUN: So that's where we're at --

BERMAN: To make it crystal clear --

BRAUN: Yes --

BERMAN: You want to lower the standard to make it easier to sue police in certain instances, correct?

BRAUN: I want to make sure that the egregious situations that occasionally arise -- that's not the general, that's the exception in terms of what we're dealing with, and where you tweak qualified immunity, no one is interested in eliminating it on the Republican side. The Democrats want to do that. That's ironic because they've probably been tighter with police unions over the years.

So what we're trying to do is help law enforcement live through this stretch of where bad actors, the very few are hurting their organization in total. So straddle, it's a careful one to eliminate frivolous lawsuits, but allow redress in these egregious cases.

BERMAN: What's your message to some Republicans who say this is a poison pill? That changing qualified immunity all is a bridge too far?

BRAUN: All I can tell you in 37 years of being a CEO of a company, there are always parallels that I can use in this new job. If you kick the can down the road, you've got something inherently wrong at a division, a location. And you think it's going to fix itself on its own, hardly ever happens. And this is like defense. I think it's one of the most important things we do here in the federal government, but I don't hold it sacrosanct either when it comes to budget issues.

So you've always got within whatever you believe in strongly, ways that you can make it better. And I think this moment is here now for law enforcement.

BERMAN: All right, the flip side of this is that Republican Senator Tim Scott has a bill --

BRAUN: Yes --

BERMAN: And we don't know where it's going to go. There will be a vote today, Democrats are promising to block it. They say it is not salvageable because there are differences on qualified immunity. There are differences on no-knock seizures and entrances. And there are differences on choke-holds as well. What's your reaction to Democrats who say it's not salvageable?

BRAUN: Well, I think that's because they want to at least do something on qualified immunity. They want to eliminate it. I've talked to enough Democrats, if we had the process, which we don't normally have here that's easy to amend and debate, I think we'd arrive at a place where my bill would be the landing spot when there's very few people wanting to do it now, it might be the way you'd get seven Democratic votes on Tim Scott's bill.

I'm a sponsor on it, I'm going to vote to proceed on it. But if we do not get seven Democrats, it's going to die. And then again, we're here in the lurch. This is risen to a high crescendo here. And I think the American public, as well as law enforcement might be disappointed that we don't take the opportunity.

BERMAN: You're talking about Democrats coming your way. Do you feel --

BRAUN: Yes --

BERMAN: Republicans need to give some too, here?

BRAUN: And I think that is where Republicans would have to see reforming, tweaking qualified immunity would be the linchpin of actually getting something done. Otherwise, what Tim has got in his bill is similar to what the Democrats have in their bill, too, but it doesn't address the three issues you talked about, no-knock entries, qualified immunity, and choke-holds.

And qualified immunity is probably where if you want to pick one of the three, you modify it and make it palatable, don't go overboard in how you tweak it. That'd the place we could land.

BERMAN: Senator, we're in such an important moment on race in this country right now which is why I do think it's important to ask about something the president continues to say and said last night. I don't want to play it, because it's frankly offensive, particularly to the Asian-American community. But he refers to the coronavirus repeatedly as the Kung flu. I hate even saying it myself. As a leader, as a Republican leader, as a citizen, do you condone that kind of language?

BRAUN: No, I don't, but I also know that President Trump arrived with his own particular style. And remember, he was the embodiment of frustration with what preceded him. So I believe in so many of the things that we've done policy-wise, but you've also got to make sure and how you deliver your message.


That it brings more into your way of thinking, maybe than turning them away. And everyone has his or her own individual style. I would take a different approach.

BERMAN: Yes, I guess the question though isn't whether it works, it's whether it's right?

BRAUN: And I don't -- you know, I would not use that terminology myself. But President Trump has his own way of communicating, and I don't think that's going to change. And in this case, I think it's probably not going to bring more people over to what I think has worked pretty well policy-wise.

BERMAN: Senator Mike Braun, I really appreciate you being with us, having this important policy discussion this morning. Come back.

BRAUN: You bet.

BERMAN: All right, so did the Justice Department politicize the sentencing of long-time Trump ally Roger Stone? A prosecutor is making that charge and he's about to tell Congress all about it.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Today, a deputy to former special counsel Robert Mueller plans to tell lawmakers that the Justice Department politicize the sentencing of Roger Stone. Aaron Zelinsky claims Stone was treated differently from other -- any other defendant because of his relationship with President Trump. CNN's Evan Perez is live in Washington with more. What do we know, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we're going to hear from two career prosecutors at the Justice Department. Aaron Zelinsky was one of the prosecutors on the Roger Stone case, and he says as you appointed out, that the prosecutors in the case were being pressured to lower a sentencing recommendation for the president's friend, simply because of the relationship with the president.

He says that the instructions were coming from the highest levels of the Justice Department. He's pointing to, of course, Attorney General Bill Barr. He says that, you know, in the end, the judge ended up going with a lower recommendation, but that's not his quarrel. He says that there was political influence being put on the prosecutors in the case. The second prosecutor who we're going to hear from is John Elias. He

says that the Justice Department has launched investigations into marijuana dispensaries or marijuana companies rather as well as auto companies simply because of the president -- the attorney general trying to do favors for the president. Now, we're going to hear from Republicans who are going to defend the attorney general, but one of the things I think we have to take note of today, is this obviously is coming just days after the attorney general pushed out the top prosecutor in -- the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, after a weekend -- after a weekend standoff.

And so the idea of political influence in the Justice Department is something that is in the air, and it's clear that the attorney general is on the defensive on this issue. John?

BERMAN: All right, Evan Perez, stay on this for us. Keep us posted. Thank you very much.

PEREZ: Thanks.

BERMAN: So a Baltimore restaurant has apologized after cellphone video captured a black woman and her son being denied service allegedly because the 9-year-old was in shorts and a, quote, "athletic T-shirt", even though a white child similarly dressed was apparently allowed to dine there. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got on a shirt and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. The gentlemen has already explained to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, tell it to me again, you're telling me we cannot eat here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So unfortunately, we do have a dress code. If you -- you know, if you have some non-athletic shorts --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that white kid out there can eat here with his tennis shoes on and his athletic shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We allow tennis shoes, but not athletic shorts.


BERMAN: Atlas Restaurant Group said they are sickened by the incident, calling it incredibly disturbing. In a statement, the company says, quote, "this should never have happened. The manager seen in the video has been placed on indefinite leave. As a result, we immediately revise our dress code policy so that children 12 years old and younger who are accompanied by an adult will not be subject to a dress code at any Atlas property".

CNN has reached out to the mother, we haven't heard back, but she did post this on Facebook, quote, "I have faced racism time and time again, but it's hard as blank when you have to see your 9-year-old child upset because he knows he's being treated different than a white child." Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Incredible story and obviously we will follow any developments there. Is the coronavirus mutating or somehow becoming less lethal? We discuss that possibility with a leading doctor, next.



BERMAN: So we're learning more every day about how coronavirus affects the body, but many questions still remain. Is the virus mutating? Is it becoming more or less lethal? If you do get it, do you become immune? And for how long? Let's bring in Dr. Ali Khan; dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC.

Doctor, great to have you on with us. Thanks very much for being here. One of the things that we've heard on this show and read about over the last few days is speculation among some doctors and among people treating patients that somehow the virus, as it has spread around the country, has become less lethal. Have you seen any evidence of that?

ALI KHAN, DEAN, COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good morning, John, always great to be back on the show. So there's actually no evidence to suggest that the virus has become less lethal. So if we had the ability to know everybody infected within our communities, the estimated infection-fatality rate is probably still about 1 percent.

Now, that's very different from what we see, right? And so those are just the people who we test and know that they die. And in the United States, we have tragic, 120,000 deaths, 2.4 million cases, so that comes to about 5 percent in the United States of what we see. And that's really variable from country to country. So Italy is about 15 percent, and we do know it depends on the age of the people that you're seeing, who you happen to be testing, and if the healthcare system is overwhelmed.

So in the U.S., we saw a lot of deaths early. A lot of them, unfortunately, were elderly patients in long-term care facilities. And then we started to see more deaths amongst young people, amongst people working in meat-packing facilities. So the deaths started to go down in terms of what we're counting. But overall, probably, the death rate is still approximately 1 percent if we really could measure it.

BERMAN: Do you think we're getting better at treating it? Do you think what we've learned about the virus over time has helped save lives?

KHAN: Oh, absolutely, what we've learned over time. So, we know our clinical management and how we treat patients is a lot better. So the early reports from New York City, if you happen to go on a ventilator, you were going to die essentially. That's not true in the United States so much anymore. And we also now know that if you use this great drug called dexamethasone, you can actually drop the number of people who died if you happen to be on oxygen or need a machine to help you breathe.


So yes, treatment has markedly gotten better, also let's not forget that the hospitals are more prepared for cases than they were initially, so that allows you to get in sooner and get treated sooner than you would have otherwise.

BERMAN: All right, there's a separate issue than whether or not it's becoming more lethal. You don't think it is becoming more lethal in terms of the virus itself. But there are question about whether it's mutating and becoming more infectious which I know is a separate question. What have you seen there?

KHAN: Absolutely a separate question, and without a doubt, the virus is mutating. These are RNA viruses, they mutate all the time. So that's not the issue. The real issue is whether or not these mutations lead to some sort of change in terms of our prevention measures, treatment measures and there's no evidence at all to suggest that that is currently true.

And I want to caution people because it's really easy to show these mutations. During the Ebola outbreak, you know, there was a whole bunch of work that was done that suggested that the Ebola virus had changed, and it was more infectious, and it turned out not to be true. It's just something you can identify in the labs, so we need more research to see whether or not that really has implications for us.

BERMAN: All right, now, another one of the questions -- another one of the things that's so important for the world over the next year or two, questions about immunity. Questions about antibodies. Questions about herd immunity. Alisyn yesterday had a chance to talk to William Haseltine who of course has been a leading professor and researcher in the public health fields and pandemic research. And this is how he describes the concept of herd immunity when it comes to the coronavirus.


WILLIAM HASELTINE, SCIENTIST: Get it and then your body forgets it. This is not the standard virus that you're going to get herd immunity. There's no evidence of herd immunity for coronaviruses. It does not exist.


BERMAN: What have you seen in terms of immunity to coronavirus?

KHAN: So what we know now is that you are immune after you get infected. What we don't know is how long you're immune with this current coronavirus, and we also don't know how do you measure that immunity? So I always caution people that if you go out there and get an antibody test, do not think you have to take no precautions anymore. So these anti-body tests are really good to understand what's going on

in the community, they're not good for you. And you know, I'll agree with the epidemiologist you chatted with earlier that the human coronavirus which causes the common cold, we get those every year and there's no herd immunity with those.

But this is not the common cold, this is not the flu. This is SARS coronavirus 2 and based on what we know with other such viruses, the expectation is that you would get an immune response and that you would be able to use vaccination, for example, to protect people.

BERMAN: Can you explain in a little bit more detail while the length of time of immunity matters and how that will affect things going forward? Even if there is a vaccine?

KHAN: Absolutely, John. So the length of time matters a lot because if your immunity is only for a couple of months or six months or so, then that means you need to -- you are at risk of getting re-infected or you need a new vaccine. So influenza is a great example, right? Every year we need a flu vaccine, those are actually mutations that make a difference.

HIV is also a set of mutations that make a difference, but influenza changes every year and every year we need a new vaccine. So that would be the concern if SARS coronavirus 2 or this new COVID disease if immunity is not long-lasting, either naturally when we're infected or when we get vaccinated, it means we're subject to it one more time.

BERMAN: Say we do come up with a vaccine in January of 2021 which I know is the optimistic guideline. If it only lasts a year, does that mean we start from square one getting the vaccine for the mutated virus or will it become easier and easier?

KHAN: So no, the -- potentially if the vaccination is only for a short period of time and that we're at risk again, we would need to get vaccinated again. Nothing to do with mutations, just the fact that our immune responses aren't that good from a vaccine or from our natural infection that we're at risk again. What you're seeing with the human coronaviruses, but again, right now there's no data to suggest that's true for this coronavirus like SARS or MERS or other ones in these family.

BERMAN: Dr. Ali Khan, these are -- these are interesting questions, I really appreciate your patience, explaining them to us in a way that we can understand. And I don't want you to think we didn't notice you switched out the doctor strange comics for silver surfer. So, we appreciate your efforts --

KHAN: Yes, I did. One of my favorites. And remember, John, before you say good-bye, mask on.


BERMAN: All right, Dr. Ali Khan, thanks for being with us right now, setting a great example for viewers everywhere, appreciate it. Alisyn?

KHAN: Thank you, John.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, the Chinese government has launched a mass testing campaign to gain control of the outbreak in Beijing. CNN has reporters all around the world to bring you the very latest developments.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Beijing following the most recent cluster outbreak in a wholesale food market, they set up mass testing sites like this one. I'll show you how it's organized. You got 19 rows here, that's 19 different communities, you come in, you register. Then you make your way through this line over here.

You can see a group of people doing just that, following the signs. Then over here is where the testing is done. It takes about 30 seconds of each person, you can see they sit down there, they do their testing. You get the staff in full protective suits. In all, they've done about 20,000 people in three days time. This facility was built overnight, so that's how quickly they're moving in some of these spots here within Beijing to try to keep this most recent outbreak under control.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance, and Russia has staged a massive military parade to mark 75 years since the end of the second World War. Thousands of troops marching through Red Square, despite coronavirus still raging across Russia. Officials say troops were quarantined for two weeks and guests including veterans have been tested and socially distanced.

But the patriotic event comes just a week before a key public vote that could keep Vladimir Putin in power until 2036.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: I'm Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo. A Brazilian judge has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a mask in public after the coronavirus skeptic appeared at many rallies without one. The judge said Bolsonaro would face a fine of up to about $380 a day if he refused to use one while in public in the country's capital Brasilia.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Brazil reported nearly 40,000 new infections on Tuesday and more than 1,300 additional deaths.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Vedika Sud in New Delhi. After the Delhi government has come out with staggering figures where they've predicted that Delhi could see over half a million cases of coronavirus by the end of July. They've also mentioned that they would be needing about 80,000 beds. So the government now is working on all the drive to construct as many COVID facilities as possible to meet the expected numbers.

According to Delhi's chief minister, testing has been ramped up from an average of 5,000 per day to 18,000. All railway coaches are now been converted into COVID facilities as well. A doctor spoke with CNN and he said that Delhi should brace for a tsunami in the month of July.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to all of our correspondents around the globe. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surging that we're seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new daily high in Texas, cases topping 5,000 for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And unfortunately we reopened too soon. Basically, we're back to where New York was back in March.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of us have been and continue to be committed to increasing readily, timely access to testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump spoke to an audience of nearly 3,000 people inside this packed mega church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is definitely a certain percentage of the population inside that church that have the virus because of what's going on there.


BERMAN: Good morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, and this morning, the coronavirus is breaking records. And Dr. Anthony Fauci says the next two weeks are critical in saving lives. As of this morning, more than half the country reporting an increase in cases.

Twenty six states, you can see them there in red. Seven states are reporting a record number of hospitalizations, big states, California, Texas, Arizona, just to name a few. The governor in Texas is now urging residents to stay at home. It's not an order, it's a recommendation. Still, it's a huge reversal there.

All of this is raising questions about whether some governors should consider just reinstituting some of the stay-at-home orders as a rule. The European Union which has been far more successful in containing the virus is now considering banning Americans from traveling there. As of this moment, the United States makes up 25 percent of the total cases in the world, and 25 percent of the total deaths, but the U.S. makes up only 4 percent of the world's population.

CAMEROTA: Despite all of that, President Trump held a large indoor rally in Arizona. One of the nation's coronavirus hot spots. Where he again used a racist and juvenile term to describe the virus. Most of the rally crowd did not wear --

(CLEARS THROAT) Excuse me, masks. There were more MAGA hats than masks, and they also

did not socially distance.