Return to Transcripts main page
CDC Survey: Number Of COVID-19 Cases May Be Six To 24 Times Greater Than Actually Reported; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Won't Mandate Wearing Masks Despite Record Cases; Mike Pence Claims U.S. In "Much Better Place" On Coronavirus, As Daily Infections Soar & States Pause Reopenings; Dr. Anthony Fauci: Rising Infections In Young People Put Everyone In Danger; Russia Offered Afghanistan Militants Bounties To Kill U.S. & U.K. Troops. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 27, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CABRERA: And the findings of a CDC survey is just out today the total number of infections may be 6 to 24 times greater than actually reported.
Even as the country hit a record for the third straight day with more than 45,000 new cases reported Friday. Florida specifically, which has been eyed as the possible next epicenter of the pandemic, hit another new peak today reporting more than 9,500 new cases in that state alone.
The Mayor of Miami-Dade County announcing he will close beaches ahead of the July 4th weekend, and yet even with the surging numbers, Governor Ron DeSantis doubling down on his decision not to implement a statewide mandatory mask order, saying he trusts people to make good decisions.
Now, in California, we learned today, that state saw a single day increase of nearly 6,000 cases as the public health expert in Los Angeles County warns the hospital system could be overwhelmed without immediate action to slow the spread of the virus.
Let's start in Florida, which has been setting records all week, today topping 9,500 new cases of Coronavirus. The state is now on track to become the next epicenter, nearing New York's highest single-day increase in cases.
Florida's single day peak number of new cases is also now higher than Italy ever saw when that country was considered the epicenter of the pandemic. And the situation in Italy was one the U.S. Wanted desperately to avoid. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Pensacola, Florida, for us. Natasha, what is happening there?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we talked about just now, the high numbers is causing the state to shut down standalone bars like the one behind me. They're no longer allowed to sell alcohol inside the premises, but because where we're standing out in the parking lot is not actually their property, they can allow people to take their drinks to go and sit right outside. Now, let's take a look at the general Florida situation right now. I think you may have shown a graph. Let's show it again. The daily new cases, it really looks exponential. This growth of new cases of COVID- 19 since early June and early June is when the bars began to reopen.
They've only been reopened for a few weeks, and now the bar owners tell me this new shutdown is going to wreak havoc on their businesses, and of course, you also said that Governor Ron DeSantis has not created a statewide mask mandate, but the reason I'm wearing mine is that we're about to walk over to these folks who are sitting here at the makeshift outdoor bar.
We're talking to our new friends here, Chris and Jordan. Hi. So, Chris, you were working on - you're a contractor, you were working on renovating the other location that's owned by the same person. Tell us this liquor purchase that they made, it's all going to waste before July 4th.
CHRIS CARTER, BAR PATRON: That's what's interesting is the two of us have been working together renovating an establishment that went through two months of no business and now they were reopened, they ordered for the first time, and expecting the largest turnout.
You know, we have the Blue Angels flying in two weeks. We have 4th of July coming, so there's a large amount of money that was spent on providing for what we thought was coming, for example.
CHEN: Yes, and Jordan, you're a live musician?
JORDAN RICHARDS, BAR PATRON: I am.
CHEN: So has that affected you and your performances with the bars shut down?
RICHARDS: 100 percent. Yes, most of the places we played were alcohol predominant sales so they're all closed down.
CHEN: Yes, absolutely. Let's turn around and talk to our bartenders here behind the desk because they were behind an actual bar as of yesterday and now have to change to out here. So Chelsea, what's that been like?
CHELSEA DENYAS, BARTENDER: It's definitely different. It's not the same. It's not as fun. It's a lot more work.
CHEN: What do you think of this change and why it's being done? Does the rise in cases concern you?
TIFFANY ANDERSEN, BARTENDER: I do. I think the tourists, you know, population comes down is a big part of it. But our locals do stick around and support us, and we appreciate them very much and we're just trying to make the best of the situation.
CHEN: Right, so everybody sort of adjusting on the fly here, Ana, and again, because bars, standalone bars were shut down yesterday, just to remind you, restaurants with bars in them are still perfectly allowed to stay open.
CABRERA: Natasha, I'm going to put you on the spot for a second because I couldn't help but notice every person you just talked to was not wearing a mask. We talked about the lack of mandatory mask orders happening in Florida. I'm just curious, what would they think of the Governor if he did issue a mandatory mask order? Would they support that?
CHEN: Let's ask. So, our anchor is asking, and curious your opinion, what would you think if Governor DeSantis did create a statewide mask mandate?
DENYAS: I mean it's not unreasonable. You know? The cases are definitely multiplying like crazy. It's not the craziest idea out there. At my other job at a restaurant, I'm required to wear them. Maybe it's different since we're outside.
CHEN: Yes. Okay. All right, Tiffany, do you feel the same?
ANDERSEN: I do, and I don't. I just feel as if everyone should just be safe and keep being sanitary as much as they can. I just am not really sure how it would affect us more.
CHEN: Thank you so much. And we appreciate the viewpoints of all the patrons and the bar owners that have talked to us today, Ana.
CABRERA: Natasha, thank you for that. Meanwhile, Texas is pulling in on the reins on reopening because Coronavirus cases in that state are soaring as well. For the first time, the state surpassed 5,000 hospitalizations.
Texas Governor, Greg Abbott issuing an Executive Order limiting certain businesses and services, and this comes as the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told congress the next two weeks will be critical in how the U.S. Addresses the surge?
Alexandra Field is joining us from Houston. Alexandra a top official in that Houston area is raising the Coronavirus threat to the highest level. What more are you learning?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana, and that means that the threat level is severe. It comes with an advisory to stay home, but it's not a mandate, and the frustration that we're hearing about on the ground here in Texas is the fact that this country has been dealing with this pandemic for months now. Local officials say they know how to deal with it?
There are proven methods that can work like mandating that people stay home and mandating people wear masks. Neither of those orders has come from the Governor in this state. Early on in the outbreak, you had local authorities like the authorities here in Harris County, the third most populous county in the nation, who were able to implement these mandatory stay-at-home orders. Their authority was then preceded by the Governor so they can't re- implement those orders right now. We also have the fact that the Governor of Texas has not mandated that people must wear masks.
Instead, he's empowered the local authorities to require businesses to require customers to wear masks so it stopped short of an all-out requirement for people to wear masks. So we are, again, hearing this frustration from local officials who say in order to get on top of this, in order to curb the wild spread of this in Texas, you need people to stay home and you need them to put on a mask if and when they have to go out.
That isn't happening, but you do have some movement from the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, who has taken some steps to walk, back Texas's very quick reopening. You'll remember they opened all kinds of businesses.
Now he's targeting bars, saying that has really been linked to the spread of the virus here, but again, we're hearing from people on the ground that it's more than the bars. It's going to take a much bigger effort than the one they're seeing states rolling out now. Ana?
CABRERA: Alexandra Field in Houston. Thank you. Joining us now is the Mayor of El Paso, Texas Dee Margo. Mayor, Dr. Fauci says the next couple of weeks are critical in terms of the way we respond to this surge in cases. We know the Houston area has been hit hard. Austin's Mayor says his hospitals there locally could be overwhelmed by mid- July. What is the situation where you are?
MAYOR DEE MARGO (R), EL PASO, TX: Well, we're seeing a real spike in numbers. Two days ago, we actually had more positives than Fort Worth did, so our highest number was like 233. Yesterday, it went down to 166, if I recall my numbers.
We're still maintaining plenty of space from hospitalization standpoint, ICU and respirators so we monitor that heavily. The 6th largest Mayors of the six largest cities in Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and El Paso, we all converse weekly, if not more frequently than weekly, about our status of where we are on the positives and our hospital space and what it looks like?
CABRERA: Okay. On Friday alone, Texas reported 5,700 new cases. Another 5,747 reported today. And yet, at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Vice President Mike Pence seemed to down play the rise in cases happening not just in Texas but in at least 31 other states. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly. We slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. The reality is we're in a much better place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: This just isn't true when you look at the data. Why is the Vice President in denial?
MARGO: Well, all I can figure is where we are in El Paso and what I'm seeing, we are doing more testing and the state has responded admirably. We did 1,500 the other day as a new record of - no, it was over 2,000. We tested over 2,000.
We've tested somewhere in the neighborhood of almost 7 percent of our population. Some of those are repeat tests, but we think we're getting to where we need to be, and understanding where we are. We've tested all of our nursing homes.
We're going to go back on those. We're now in the midst of testing our assisted living centers which include all the residents and also the staff. So we're trying to get to the bottom of it. We're having more positives but we've also had more deaths, as we expected.
We had a 90-year-old pass away today or it was reported yesterday, and then our numbers today with underlying conditions. We've only had three or four that were noted with - and I hate to refer to deaths as statistics.
MARGO: But without underlying and we found out as we dug into that that some of the underlying was obesity, which is not listed. So, we're trying to deal with that. Most of its hypertension and diabetes and most of our positives are the 20 to 30-year-olds.
CABRERA: So, I can tell that you are focused on the details, which obviously is very important in order to get a grasp on this situation and to solve the problem, figure out what needs to be done, what kind of action needs to be taken? It sounds like what you're doing there at this point is working in your community. Governor Greg Abbott, though, admits that it hasn't worked everywhere.
In fact, the reopening that has taken place has set the state back overall when it comes to the number of cases and the ability to keep this infection under control, and he says if he could go back and do anything, he would have been slowing down the opening of bars. He's shut them down again. He's limited restaurants to 50 percent capacity. Is that enough, or do you think the state should have a stay-at-home order?
MARGO: Well, he's - I don't think he's really gotten away from the fact that he said stay home if you don't need to be out, but the you know, I have mandated masks here in El Paso by all employers, so has our county judge. We have parallel emergency orders.
The only thing that the people need to understand, the only thing that the medical experts agree on to stop the spread of this pandemic, this virus, is face coverings, social distancing, and washing your hands frequently.
CABRERA: So should there be a mask mandate in your state?
MARGO: Well, what I'm told is it's unenforceable to the extent that you mandate it. We had one once before and we couldn't enforce it. But the bottom line here is we're putting the onus on the business owners and giving them the freedom to tell people, you're not going to be admitted to my business unless you are wearing a face covering.
So, I think that's working so far. But again, our highest numbers of positives are coming from the 20 to 30-year-olds, and they were the ones congregating at the bars that Texas's alcohol and beverage control board shut down two of our bars a week ago because of the failure to adhere to the rules which said you cannot congregate at the bar.
You must be seated, and you know, I think they shot themselves in the foot with the bar owners failing to enforce the rules.
CABRERA: The President was asked by Fox's Sean Hannity this week if he gets four more years, what would be his top priority? And I want to play you his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: What are your top priority items for a second term?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I've always said that.
Right, I didn't know very many people in Washington, wasn't my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes like, you know, an idiot like Bolton.
(END VIDEIO CLIP)
CABRERA: Mayor, as a member of the President's party, does it bother you that he can't say what his priorities would be for a second term?
MARGO: Well, with all due respect, I'm focused on what we're dealing with right now here in El Paso with COVID.
CABRERA: Should the President be focused on the Coronavirus pandemic right now as well?
MARGO: I would think that would be one of his priorities for sure. We're also focused on the Anniversary of our August 23rd mass shooting. That's a concern to me. And then last year, we were dealing with immigration and the media, you all, called us ground zero for immigration.
I think they need to do something on immigration reform and I have said this from last year and I'll say it again. It's ridiculous not to deal with that, especially when it comes to the easy ones first, which would be DACA.
CABRERA: You would like to see DACA recipients given some kind of pathway to citizenship or at least some permanent status?
MARGO: Absolutely. Most of them don't even speak Spanish. They're great citizens. I know them here. You know, this is not - they're contributing individuals to our community and our state and our nation. And to me, that's the easiest fix you can do starting out.
But they've done nothing in congress on immigration reform for over 30 years. It's time they developed some intestinal fortitude and did something, both houses, both parties.
CABRERA: Okay. Mayor Dee Margo, thank you for your time.
MARGO: Thank you.
CABRERA: Best of luck to your community and dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. I hope it stays low. The case count right now in the U.S. is high 2.5 million.
But a brand-new CDC survey released just today says the true number of cases could be up to 24 times greater than reported, meaning the real number of Americans who have had or have Coronavirus is closer to 60 million. We will talk to a doctor about this next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom"
CABRERA: The White House Coronavirus Task Force did offer this warning. The rate of infection among young Americans is climbing dramatically and this is a trend that could spell trouble for all Americans. CNN's Brian Todd takes a closer look at this growing problem.
BRAIN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the Trump rally in Tulsa, an air of confidence over Coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMEN: I know that I am fully taking on the risk of possibly encountering, you know, or being exposed to it, but as an American, that's my right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: At this Irish pub in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Erica Crisp and more than a dozen other women gathered for a night out recently. None of them wore masks, and 16 people in the group tested positive for Coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERICA CRISP, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: I think at the time, it was more out of sight, out of mind. We hadn't known anybody who had it personally. Governor, Mayor, everybody says it's fine. We go out it's a friend's birthday. It was a mistake.
KAT LAYTON, TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: My experience definitely, you know, of course, we're regretful. We do feel foolish standing there in front of all those people. We knew we were pushing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: In New York City, young people have been seen crowding outside bars recently, several not wearing masks. Now, the price for those risks is coming into focus. The CDC says more younger people in the U.S. are becoming infected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I also want to appeal to the millennials and those that are under 40. It's really important that this group really commit themselves to these practices, to protect those at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Infection among young people is especially acute in states that are now experiencing huge spikes. In Arizona, people age 20 to 44 accounts for almost half of all cases. Young people make up the majority of new cases in urban areas of Texas, according to "The New York Times."
And in Florida, according to state officials, the median age for people testing positive has dropped way down to between 33 and 35 years old. Experts say a key factor? Younger people are much more willing to take risks as those states have reopened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. AMESH ADALJA, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Some of the activities that they may partake in, going to parties, going to bars, it's very hard to social distance so you are seeing transmission in many places linked to attending bars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Overall death rates could go down as a result of more younger people guessing infected but experts are still critical of remarks made by Vice President Pence on that front.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Younger Americans are less susceptible to serious outcomes of the coronavirus, and the fact that we are finding more younger Americans who have contracted the Coronavirus is a good thing.
DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I don't want young people to hear the Vice President's comments and get from that a false sense of security that for them, this infection is a walk in the park.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Pence did warn young Americans about something that medical experts are also sounding an alarm about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ADALJA: They can then transmit that to vulnerable individuals and in states where hospitalizations are rising, that's likely what's happening, these young people are serving as links in a transmission chain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And there are other warnings for America's young people. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Seema Yasmin says some younger Coronavirus victims are staying sick longer and it's not clear why. And she warns contracting the virus when they're young can expose some people to getting chronic fatigue syndrome, which can stay with them for life. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
CABRERA: Thank you, Brian. And joining us now is CNN Medical Analyst and Epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant.
Dr. Brilliant, there has been this uptick in younger people getting the virus. Some of these are asymptomatic but Dr. Fauci acknowledged this week that testing currently used is not working and that they are considering a new approach. What do you think needs to happen? What should they be doing differently?
DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Hello, Ana. Well, let's remember, this is the worst pandemic in our lifetimes, in a hundred years, and we're still learning a lot about this virus. It's a pernicious virus. It has a way of spreading that we didn't expect.
It has a longer life in the body than we thought we would have in young people or old people. I would not be so confident, so sanguine that just getting it if you're young you're going to be okay. That's just not true. And we all were young once.
We know the desire we have to go out and play and go to bars. This is a dangerous thing to play with. And our Governors, our Mayors, and our President must be honest with the young people of America. It's a very dangerous time.
It's - I'm very fearful that what we're seeing right now is simply Memorial Day plus three or four weeks. We doubled the deaths, the absolute number of deaths, in the last three days. We've exceeded 50,000 cases in a single day. Next week is 4th of July. This is a time to be very careful.
CABRERA: And as we have been showing throughout our show the last few hours, the curve that the U.S., you know, was on is changed again and instead of going over the hump, we're going back up, we're climbing the mountain once again.
So, as we're seeing more identified cases, we still know there are many others that haven't been identified. How do you get the testing situation up to snuff? What needs to happen? Is there something that needs to change?
BRILLIANT: Well, I like the idea of trying to do pool testing. It's not a very difficult thing to conceive of. Instead of one person, one test, maybe ten people put their samples in one bat and that bat is tested.
BRILLIANT: If anyone in that bat is tested positive, then you go back and test individually. It's just a better way of moving things through the system quicker if it works. By the way, we're also doing a lot of testing of the environment.
We're looking in sewage to find evidence of fecal transmission or fecal storage of Coronavirus. That's another way to find out whether a community is free of the disease. But none of these changes the absolute need of wearing masks, of social distancing, and of not going into closed spaces with a large number of people. That's the best way to protect yourself.
CABRERA: Right now, the U.S. has about 2.5 million reported cases of Coronavirus. The CDC just released a report today saying based on antibody tests conducted in six areas across the U.S.; including New York City the total number of COVID-19 infections may be 6 to 24 times greater than reported. Do you agree, and what do you think the number really is?
BRILLIANT: I do think that all the evidence we've seen so far is that there's 5 to 10 cases that are asymptomatic that have not been caught up in our system for every one that we know about. But let's just look at the numbers.
If there are 2.5 million known cases and we think that maybe it's 10 times that or a little bit more, that would mean there would be 30 million cases. Ana that would still mean that there would be 300 million susceptible people in the United States and this virus can go from zero to 80 miles an hour, infecting more and more people so quickly, than anything we've seen before. 300 million susceptible people mean if we're not careful, there are still customers for this virus.
CABRERA: The White House Task Force kept highlighting the progress in states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, but Dr. Fauci also reminded us just how interconnected we all are? Do you think it's inevitable that these northeast states will get hit again, especially with reopening just now really getting under way in New York City?
BRILLIANT: I wouldn't say it's inevitable, but I would say it's probable. I mean, we can just look at Singapore, which was the poster child for the best state - the best country in the world, and South Korea, and even China has had re-infections.
We need to be careful, but we also need to take a little pride and be grateful for what we've learned in New York. I would say that Houston, Miami, Los Angeles need to look at the successes that we have had in New York as a model, because they are in danger of becoming like Manhattan was.
CABRERA: Right. Are the states in the northeast, New York, specifically, doing everything right at this point?
BRILLIANT: I think that when you have that many cases and that many deaths and your hospitals are filled up with Coronavirus, when there's no more room in the ICU, you begin to take this disease a lot more seriously.
And I think Governor Cuomo, who was a little slow by his own admission to get started, I think he was frightened, and he took action, and he modeled the best behavior and leadership that we have had after he had gotten frightened of the disease.
We haven't had that level of respect - you doesn't have to be fear - but we haven't had that level of respect in the south. I think that's going to change, unfortunately.
CABRERA: Dr. Larry Brilliant, thank you very much. Always good to talk to you, and I really appreciate your expertise. Thank you.
BRILLIANT: Nice to talk to you. Have a good weekend.
CABRERA: You too. We'll be right back.
CABRERA: We have breaking news. We're learning more about a Russian plot to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Let's get straight to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in London.
Nick, what are you learning?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Extraordinary developments here. A European intelligence official is telling me that they are aware that Russian intelligence officials offered cash incentives to Taliban militants in Afghanistan, people who the U.S. has been fighting along with other nations for many years now, to kill U.S. or U.K. troops recently.
Now, this European intelligence official is not clear as to precise motivation behind the Russian intelligence offer. And it's also not clear precisely when this happened. But it is clear in their assessment, it did result in coalition casualties. Now, it's not clear if that's deaths or injuries.
But it is quite startling to hear this sort of accusation leveled. I should go on to say the European intelligence official goes on to say, quote, "This callous approach by the GRU, the Russian military intelligence arm, accused of offering these cash incentives, is startling and reprehensible. Their motivation is bewildering."
I should also point out, this European intelligence official says that actually a precise unit in the GRU, the Russian military intelligence, known as 29155, is apparently behind these cash incentives.
This same unit was behind the poisoning of the Skripal father and daughter in Salisbury a couple of years, almost, now, and also other alleged prominent attacks in Europe.
I should point out, the Taliban has denied anything to do with this alleged offer, saying they don't need foreigners to tell them how to conduct their jihad.
And also, too, the Russian embassy in Washington has called this part of a #blameRussia campaign and denied it fully as well.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, has, in fact, just come out with a statement saying, while she hasn't really denied the precise reports and the intelligence itself, she said that the "New York Times," who first reported this story, citing a U.S. officials, mostly, that they are inaccurate to suggest that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had, in fact, been briefed on it.
But startling revelations here about Afghanistan.
CABRERA: But why would Russia be doing this now?
PATON WALSH: This is the extraordinary, perplexing question. Frankly, baffling the European intelligence official I spoke to as well. It really is unclear why they would seek to pay the Taliban to, frankly, deal with the Taliban most of the time would want to do anyway, which is kill coalition soldiers.
Is this, some have speculated, possibly a bid to hasten the United States leaving Afghanistan? Is this some sort of proxy revenge for other conflicts? Maybe Russia finds it's on the other side of the United States on possibly Syria as well.
You all know, this is the longest war the United States has ever fought, in Afghanistan. The Trump administration has made absolutely clear they want out. They initially said they wanted to win. Now they want out.
They've been trying to get a peace deal off the ground with the Taliban. Even briefly, Donald Trump suggesting he might even meet the Taliban at Camp David. That peace deal is stalling. But U.S. preparations to withdraw some of their troops are continuing all the same.
This Russian offer just a startling thing. Frankly, nobody really expected, at this point, in this lengthy, awful war for Afghans and Americans.
Back to you.
CABRERA: A lot more to learn.
Nick Paton Walsh, thank you. Protesters say they're a painful reminder of the nation's racist past
while President Trump argues they're a part of our heritage. So what does Confederate President Jefferson Davis' own descendent think of Confederate monuments, including those of Davis, being torn down? We'll have Davis's great-great-grandson, next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: President Trump announcing on Twitter he has signed an executive order telling the attorney general to prioritize the prosecution of anyone who vandalizes federal monuments like those toppled in recent weeks for connections to slavery and racism.
Joining us now, Bertram Hayes-Davis, the great, great grandson of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis.
Bertram, thank you for taking the time.
A statue of your great, great grandfather was toppled by protesters in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this month.
Let's roll the video showing the statue being carted away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Bertram, what goes through your mind? What emotions do you feel seeing that statue come down?
BERTRAM HAYES-DAVIS, GREAT, GREAT GRANDSON OF JEFFERSON DAVIS, PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERACY: It's a dramatic moment in history that we take down a statue without having a clear understanding of the individual that we're seeing in that monument.
These monuments and these statues are historic in reference to representing the entire person. And because we have such a shallow understanding of these individuals, we're certainly going to be offended by things that we hear.
That being said, I think that we need to make sure that we connect our history in a place where we can protect it and we can see it without offending the public.
I've always said, if it's in a public place, the statue should be moved to a place where we can preserve that history and learn from it at our own choice and not be forced upon anyone to see it. CABRERA: So, what do you say to those, like the president, who argue
those statues should stay, that moving them is like erasing the country's heritage?
HAYES-DAVIS: It is erasing our country's heritage and the statues should stay. Where they stay is the question that we all have to answer as a country and how do we preserve that history.
CABRERA: So, to be clear, you don't believe a statue, like that of your great, great grandfather, should stay in a public park or other areas like that. But you do believe it should be preserved -- I know, in the past, you've said somewhere like a museum where the proper context, historical context, could be adequately put with it.
HAYES-DAVIS: That's correct. We need to learn from our history, preserve our history so we know our history. And as we go forward, that should be the basis by which we create our country.
CABRERA: Here's what President Trump has said about the people tearing down these monuments. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're tearing down statues, desecrating monuments and purging dissenters. It's not the behavior of a peaceful political movement. It's the behavior of totalitarians and tyrants and people that don't love our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: He has now assigned the U.S. Marshals to protect and watch over some of these Confederate statues.
What message do you think all this sends to African-Americans in this country and others protesting oppression, inequality, and systemic racism?
HAYES-DAVIS: I believe that the historic principles of this country, including not only my great, great grandfather, but George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, have a tremendous historical presence of this country.
And if we have the intestinal fortitude to learn it, and not be ignorant of it, and appreciate that history, then, going forward, we'll know that entire history.
And then we, as individuals, anyone, can make up their own mind as to what is right, and what is wrong, and what needs to be done and what does not have to be done.
CABRERA: Do you understand where the protesters are coming from?
HAYES-DAVIS: I absolutely do. But I think the protesters don't have a clear understanding of the history of this country.
[17:44:59] And because they're listening to things that may or may not be true about or capturing one phrase in a history book, Jefferson Davis, elected president of the Confederacy, which, to them, means that he created slavery and a few other things, then they don't have an understanding of the history of this country.
We need to keep our history and learn it.
CABRERA: I want to read you something and just get your reaction.
This is from a woman in an opinion piece in the "New York Times" who writes, "You want a Confederate monument? My body is Confederate monument. The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them?"
This is Caroline Randall Williams.
She says, "I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown blackness -- My light-brown blackness," she writes, "is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the old south."
"If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument."
What's your reaction to that?
HAYES-DAVIS: I think she has her own personal opinion and viewpoint of where she is and who she is.
I also believe, as one of your reporters actually said, that it is important for us to capture the entire history to have a clear understanding of the entire history of this country from all perspectives, not from just one.
CABRERA: Your state of Mississippi is in the process of passing a bill to change or to remove the flag in that state that has the Confederate emblem, the last state in the country with a symbol like that in its state flag.
The governor says, send me the bill and I will sign it this weekend. Yesterday, he was saying it should be the voters to make that decision.
What's changed in the past 24 hours?
HAYES-DAVIS: I can't tell you what the politics of Jackson have been or why he's changed his mind.
But I can tell you that, as long ago as five years ago, I wrote an op- ed saying exactly the same thing that's happening today.
That battle flag has been hijacked. It does not represent the entire population of Mississippi.
It is historic and heritage related. There are a lot of people who look at that that way. And God bless them for that heritage. So put it in a museum and honor it there or put it in your house.
But the flag of Mississippi should represent the entire population. And I am thrilled that we're finally going to make that change.
CABRERA: Bertram Hayes-Davis, thanks for coming on. I appreciate your perspective.
HAYES-DAVIS: Thank you for inviting me. I hope you'll ask me back.
CABRERA: Thank you.
Up next, breaking news concerning President Trump's controversial rally in Tulsa where, you know, multiple staffers ended up testing positive. There are now reports that the campaign took steps to pack people in even tighter and closer together. More on that next.
CABRERA: Breaking news, and it's regarding President Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, exactly one week ago. The "Washington Post" saying that the president's campaign directed the removal of thousands of stickers that said, "Do not sit here, please," stickers initially put in place to establish social distancing.
One of the reporters who broke this story is Josh Dawsey and he's joining us by phone.
Josh, tell us about these photos and the videos you got your hands on.
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST" (via telephone): Our reporting indicates, Ana, hours before the rally, the organizers of the event, the company that owns the arena, put stickers on every other chair throughout the arena, thousands of these stickers.
The president and his team were determined to have a packed event. We now know it was not packed. And campaign officials and volunteers went throughout the arena and took the stickers down.
You can see in our story we had a brief video. We have 15 seconds. And you can watch them removing the stickers one by one from the chairs of the arena.
The stickers were designed -- "Please don't sit here." They were designed to keep people at least a couple of feet from each other. But they were removed in the afternoon before the president arrived.
CABRERA: Any response from the president's campaign?
DAWSEY: The president's campaign says that they followed all applicable rules. They did not comment on our findings of the video.
Obviously, the president -- you know, the president's team offered masks to rally goers. They were not mandatory. They did not observe social distancing in the arena. There were thousands of people on the arena and on the floor pretty close together.
But there was concern, obviously, from the company that owned the arena wanting to do more, and they got pushback from Trump world.
CABRERA: And quickly, if you will, do you know what this means as far as the waivers everybody had to sign? Could there be legal action taken against the campaign?
DAWSEY: I don't think so. The waiver said that, if you come to the arena, you accept all risk for coronavirus. Lawyers might debate whether those are actually workable and enforceable and whether those will stand scrutiny in court. It would take lawyers to debate that.
But rally goers who came in the arena, Ana, did not expect any sort of distancing. I talked to a number of folks who were at the arena and they were fine sitting next to each other. It was more the venue that was concerned.
CABRERA: OK, Josh Dawsey, I appreciate your reporting.
We do have a quick look at the video that you sent us. We're trying to get that whole segment so people can see what you've seen with them removing those stickers.
Again, we appreciate your reporting, Josh, thank you.
DAWSEY: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: A programming note. Be sure to join Jake Tapper for a new CNN special report, "TRUMP AND THE LAW: AFTER IMPEACHMENT." It airs tomorrow night at 10:00 here on CNN.
We'll be right back.