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Biden Slams Trump on Health Care in Speech; Governors Mandate Masks in Last 24 Hours; Arizona City Councilman Apologizes for Mocking George Floyd While Wearing a Mask; CDC Reports Pregnant Women with COVID More Likely to Be in ICU; District Attorney Defends Decision to Not Charge Officers in McClain's Death; House Democrats Expected to Pass Police reform bill today; In 30 states infections increase. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 25, 2020 - 15:30   ET



MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He also got incredibly personal in talking about Donald Trump, calling him a child. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's like a child who can't believe this had happened to him. All his whining and self-pity. This pandemic didn't happen to him. It happened to all of us. And his job isn't to whine about it. His job is to do something about it. To lead.


LEE: And, Jake, the reason that we are outside right now is because the reason Joe Biden campaign events have been limited to just pool. This means that only a limited number of reporters are allowed inside, this is so that we can all practice social distancing at these Biden events and it was notable that Joe Biden made a point of saying in his remarks that he wears a mask every time he feels like he is not able to socially distance. He encouraged every American to do the same, saying that this is the single most effective tool of trying to contain the coronavirus -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. MJ Lee in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Thanks so much.

The politics of wearing masks and why some governors are changing their tune, we'll discuss with a former CDC disease detective.

Plus, new details about the potential link between coronavirus and pregnancy especially among one particular group of women. That's next.



TAPPER: In just the last 24 hours we have seen some governors mandate wearing masks in public. Governors in Nevada, North Carolina and South Carolina are just the latest to announce mask mandates. Georgia's governor one of the first to reopen his state released a video urging everyone in Georgia to wearing a mask, but they are not mandatory in that state.

But in Florida, which has seen thousands of cases every day for the past week, the governor there, Ron DeSantis, says enforcing face covings in their state would be too difficult. President Trump, of course, refuses to wear a mask in public, even indoors when having close contact with people. The White House says that the President is tested regularly as are those who have close contact with him. But it is certainly setting an example and a tone at the top.

Joining me now is former CDC disease detective and CNN medical analyst, Dr. Seema Yasmin. Dr. Yasmin, good to see you again. Take a listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert talking about how wearing a mask has become politicized.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It should not be a political issue. It is purely a public health issue. Forget the politics. Look at the data.


TAPPER: If you look at the data, the chance of transmission without a face mask is more than 17 percent according to "The Lancet." With face masks it's down to 3.1 percent. Why are people not understanding how important it is to wear masks to prevent the spread of the disease?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So, it's very frustrating. A pretty straightforward public health intervention, putting on a mask has been a political battlefield. And I know it's very frustrating on an individual level if you're taking that step and you're seeing neighbors and colleagues not wear a mask, but a lot of this comes down to really shoddy, irresponsible leadership, and poor communication.

People have been extremely confused about even some of the most basic interventions because the leadership has toppled back and forth mixing up messages and really misguiding Americans.

We're seeing this now with some states mandating masks, other governors, kind of recommending them, but not being very clear in the guidance. And these are the same states that probably reopened too early and now in the case of Texas with Governor Greg Abbott saying there's no need for Texans to leave their home. So, he wants Texans to shelter in place, but then he's also saying in the same breath that Texas is wide open for business.

So, these send really mixed messages about what the public needs to do. We now know that asymptomatic transmission is a major driver of this pandemic, but you can feel pretty healthy but be transmitting the virus to others who could die from the infection. Wearing a mask protects other people. It should never have been turned into a political debate and the fact it has is extremely dangerous.

TAPPER: There's a new projection from IHME University of Washington which does a lot of the projections, they say that if people wear a mask, 95 percent of the public, then 30,000 lives in the United States could be saved just by October 1st. Does that suggest to you that every governor where there are outbreaks should be mandating masks in public?

YASMIN: I do. Now that we have this guidance about how effective masks can be in the right conditions, I think we need to be much clearer in telling people exactly what they need to do to protect themselves and their communities.

And this projection, Jake, comes off the back of another projection that estimates that 70 percent to 99 percent of Americans who died from COVID-19, that their deaths were unnecessary and could have been prevented if America had acted more aggressively early on and followed the steps of countries such as Germany and Singapore. So, we've missed the boat already. We've been late to the game. We have been getting poor communications, Americans are misguiding them.


I think now is the time to step that up and try to mitigate tens of thousands of more Americans dying from COVID-19.

TAPPER: We only have a little time. But I want you to take look at this video of a city councilman in Scottsdale, Arizona, against masks. Take a listen.




TAPPER: Obviously, incredibly insensitive reference to the death of George Floyd. But we've also we've seen a judge in Texas assaulted after he issued a face covering order. What's your reaction?

YASMIN: This is such an awful exploitative co-opting of the "I can't breathe" statement which is literally black Americans fighting for their right to live and not be killed by racists and just speaks to what we've been talking about for the last few minutes. That wearing a mask is a simple public health intervention, it protects other people. It need be a political debate.

TAPPER: Dr. Seema Yasmin, thank you so much.

A disturbing new report from the CDC. Pregnant women who come down with COVID-19 face a higher risk of being hospitalized, admitted into intensive care and winding up on a ventilator.

I want to bring in CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, you've been following this closely. This is incredibly detailed on just how at-risk pregnant women are right now. Actually, I'm told we do not have Elizabeth, we lost Elizabeth Cohen. So, we're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back hopefully with her.

Coming up, another case of, "I can't breathe." A self-described introvert who told police he would not even kill a fly. Walks home and ends up dying in police custody. What the governor is now doing about it, next.



TAPPER: In our national lead today the governor of Colorado says his office will open an independent investigation into the 2019 death of an unarmed black man killed after police put him in a chokehold and first responders gave him a dose of a sedative ketamine. The death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain has garnered nationwide outrage, two million people signing a petition a calling for an investigation into his death.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins me now to discuss. And, Omar, Elijah was stopped by police while walking home from a convenience store in 2019. What happened next?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake, so all of this happened back on August 24, 2019. He was walking back from a convenience store. Three police officers then approached him as they were responding to a 911 call for a suspicious person wearing a ski mask, and then here's police body camera footage of what happened next.


ELIJAH MCCLAIN, UNARMED MAN ARRESTED BY POLICE DIES OF KETAMINE: No, let go of me. No. I am an introvert. Please respect that boundaries that I am speaking.

OFFICER: Stop tensing up.

MCCLAIN: Stop, stop. I'm going home.

OFFICER: Relax or I'm going to have to change the situation. Stop.

MCCLAIN: Leave me alone.

OFFICER: Stop. Sir, can you, please --


JIMENEZ: Now from there, an officer ended up placing McClain in a chokehold to which he briefly lost consciousness and then we he regained, there apparently was another struggle. That is according to an overview of the incident provided by police.

Later on, first responders did arrive, paramedics. And he was given a dose of ketamine that sedative and then had a heart attack in the ambulance and was pronounced dead three days later.

Now, McClain was wearing a ski mask, but his family attorney says that was because of his anemia. And now ten months later we've seen 2 million people sign this petition to re-examine this case. As it now appears the governor's office is committed to do and we are also seeing an independent investigation being launched by the city of Aurora as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: And the Aurora District Attorney, Omar, just released a statement saying the officers could not be tried for homicide based on the autopsy, explain.

JIMENEZ: Well, for starters, let's go back to why there weren't charges put forward in the first place. The District Attorney said there was no reasonable likelihood that they could prove a crime was committed. Well, with this renewed interest here, the District Attorney released a letter that reads in part saying, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy stated that he was unable to conclude that the actions of any law enforcement officer caused Mr. McClain's death.

In order to prove any form of homicide in the state of Colorado it is mandatory that the prosecution prove that the accused caused the death of the victim. So it does seem there's at least a steep legal burden to overcome from any of these independent investigations going on. But what is clear is that there are at least 2 million people who feel that what's come out so far is insufficient and they want more answers -- Jake

TAPPER: All right. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

In our politics lead today, House Democrats are expected to pass a policing reform bill in honor of George Floyd this evening. This just one day after debate over a Republican-led policing bill was blocked in the Senate by Democrats. The House bill is expected to pass along party lines with Republicans opposing it. As lawmakers on Capitol Hill appear at a stalemate on a bipartisan solution to policing reform.

CNN's Manu Raju joins me now from Capitol Hill. Manu, what's different in this House bill from what Senate Democrats blocked yesterday?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what House Democrats are going to push through their chamber tonight is a bill that tries to take action on the federal level, which is different than what Republicans in the Senate propose, which is try to incentivize states to take action, similar action to what the House Democrats were proposing.


For instance, a ban on chokeholds. That's going to be a federal -- that would be a federal ban in the House Democratic plan. In the Senate plan, it conditions states to enact policies to ban chokeholds and conditions on that they enact those policies then they will get federal funding. If they don't, they won't. That's essentially a significant difference between the two bills. Also, a ban on no -- no so called no-knock warrants in drug cases.

That's in the House Democratic plan. In the Senate Republican plan, they track how the no-knock warrants have been done, they ask for that information to be submitted and they could talk action at a later date.

And a major difference too, is the issue of qualified immunity. That's what Democrats are proposing to change to make it easier to sue police officers in civil court if an individual's Constitutional right has been infringed. That is not in the Senate Republican plan. The White House called it a poison pill.

So, Jake, these differences and the view of Democrats are unsalvageable. And that's why they blocked that yesterday, and the Republican lead sponsor of the bill, Tim Scott, told me he doesn't see how a deal can be reached between the two sides. Because these are Democrats in his view don't want to get a deal. So, he said, how could there be one?

TAPPER: And considering just yesterday the Democrats blocked the Republican-led bill in the Senate, Tim Scott's bill in the Senate, does this House bill that is going to pass tonight, it's anticipated, have any chance of becoming law?

RAJU: No, it doesn't. Because Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, says it goes too far, he calls it an overreach, overreach of Washington. President Trump himself has rejected this plan as well. So, the Republicans don't like what the Democrats were proposing. Democrats don't like what Republicans were proposing.

So, what we have here is gridlock in the Senate and in Congress in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, which put this issue on the forefront of the Congressional agenda. And after we've seen these protests nationwide, both sides agree that something has to be done but neither side can agree on exactly what that is.

So that means, Jake, that ultimately the path forward in this Congress is likely to be closed. The voters will ultimately have to discuss what they choose in November and who to put in power. And then that next Congress we'll see if they decide to do something -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Coming up, a group of people who work and live in downtown Seattle are suing the city saying that the protest encampment that has taken over their neighborhood since June 8th must go. Six blocks of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest Zone or the acronym C.H.O.P. started after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The plaintiffs says they support calling out racism. They support calling out police brutality but they blame the leaders of the city of Seattle for allowing this protest to go on by providing barricades and rest rooms and no police presence.

And as a result, they say their properties have been blocked off and vandalized. The C.H.O.P. zone has been mostly deserted after four recent shootings in it. One this past Saturday left a man dead. The police chief said a hostile crowd prevented first responders from quickly reaching the victims.

Coming up next, new information every mom and mom-to-be needs to know about the link between pregnancy and coronavirus.

Plus, frustrated and fed up, a Florida doctor joins us on the dramatic and deadly spike she is seeing at her hospital.


DR. LILIAN ABBO, CHIEF OF INFECTION CONTROL, JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM: If you don't like wearing a mask, you're not going to like wearing a ventilator.




TAPPER: You've been watching a special two-hour edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

And we begin this hour with our health lead. Crisis levels of coronavirus infections breaking records in several parts of the United States. Look at this map. New infections up in more than half of the country, holding steady in nine states and declining in only 11.

Three of the current hot spots are in the three most populous states. California, Florida and Texas where today the Republican Governor Greg Abbott suspended the phased reopening to deal with this emergency situation.

And the nation's top disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is imploring Americans to please wear masks in public saying, there's nothing political about it. But President Trump still refuses to wear a mask in public and he frankly appears more focused on his re-election and dividing the public, using racist term, "kung flu," protecting monuments to Confederate generals than instead leading a whole of government response to this public health crisis, a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 122,000 people in the United States.

And as CNN's Erica Hill now reports for us, the CDC said today that the actual number of cases in the U.S. could be ten times as high as stated.


ERICA HILL, CNN HOST (voice-over): In the nation's three most populous states, things are going from bad to worse.

DR. DAVID PRESSE, PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITY, HOUSTON HEALTH DEPARTMENT: I don't think history is to look back forgivingly upon the United States and Americans forgoing down this road. HILL: California, Florida and Texas breaking records for new cases in

a single day. Texas pausing its reopening to, quote, corral the spread of COVID-19. In the greater Houston area, Texas Medical Center's normal ICU capacity is just over 1,300 beds. They currently have five available.

DR. UMAIR SHAH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HARRIS COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH: We're running out of that time, with the runways is short and our health system is filling up.