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U.S. Fails To Control Pandemic As Virus Breaks New Records; HHS Secretary Warns Window Is Closing On Combating COVID-19 Spread; Four Ex-Officers Charged In George Floyd's Death Due In Court Monday; California Governor Orders Bars Shut In Seven Counties; Geoffrey Berman's Ouster, The Latest In Bill Barr's Push To Tighten Control Under Trump. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 28, 2020 - 18:00   ET



KELSY GIBSON, WEDDING AFFECTED BY PANDEMIC: We talked to our families about it. We talked to our friends.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They loaded up a few close friends some strict disinfecting rules and their puppy, drove to a lakeshore and got married anyway while they're families watched online. The virus made their big reception wait but not their love. And --

ALEX FERRARA, WEDDING AFFECTED BY PANDEMIC: Our wedding was perfect in spite of the circumstances.

GIBSON: Our wedding was absolutely perfect even though it wasn't planned.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Thanks for staying with me. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Forget about warnings of a second wave of coronavirus. The U.S. is being swept under by the first. Just two states today, two, are reporting a decline in cases, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Taking the brunt of this wave, Florida. The state reported more than 8,000 new cases just today, more than 9,000 cases yesterday. And as the surge shows no signs of weakening, the vice president, the governor of Texas and members of the White House coronavirus task force are all saying what the president has not.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): And it will take these, worn by everybody, in the coming days to make they're sure that we will those lives and we will slow the spread of COVID-19.

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: People should continue to practice good hygiene, wash your hands, avoid touching your face and wear a mask. DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: I'm really appealing to every Texan to wear a mask. I think we know now there's scientific evidence that masks both keep you from infecting others but may also partially protect you from getting infected.

DR. BEN CARSON, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: I don't think there are very many adults in this country who don't know about the hand-washing techniques that should be employed, about the masking, about the social distancing. The problem is people aren't doing it.


CABRERA: Yet just hours earlier, this was the vice president sitting front row wearing his mask while listening to this mask-less choir singing at full volume in Dallas.

Natasha Chen is live in Pensacola Beach, Florida, but we begin with Alexandra Field in Houston, Texas. And Alexandra, the message is clear in Texas today, wear a mask. And yet we just watched this choir of more than 100 people performed for the vice president. He was wearing his mask, but they were not. Is the governor of Texas prepared to mandate face coverings?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, was wearing a mask himself today when he greeted the vice president, who was also masked, but there's really no indication that he would mandate a mask statewide.

If you'll recall, this is the same governor that, in the early stages of the pandemic, overruled the local governments that tried to mandate masks instead, as we have seen cases soar in Texas. He has agreed that those local governments now have the right to mandate that businesses require masks for the customers that they serve. It leaves Texas certainly short far short though of a universal mask mandate.

This as we see cases climb day after day, as we see for a couple of weeks now, the hospitalizations are rising. Governor Greg Abbott, however, today seemed to tell the fact that Texas has the second lowest death rate of the 27 worst affected states.

What we're hearing from officials across the state is that the majority of the new cases seem to be affecting younger people. That's one of the reasons that Governor Abbott this week moved to shut down bars in order to stem the spread.

But what we're also hearing from health officials is that despite the fact that a lot of these cases are now affecting young people, they are still seeing the hospitals fill up. You had ICUs in Houston hitting capacity this week. You have these Houston hospitals now moving into their surge capacity plans, as this spike continues. So, yes, it's very -- very good advice to tell people to wear a mask but it really is not being mandated in a meaningful way across the state. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay. Stand by for me, Alex. And let me turn to Florida and Natasha Chen. That state is being looked at as the next U.S. epicenter. The number of cases are slightly down there today in Florida, but still above 8,000. I know some Florida cities have implemented their own mask mandates. But, Natasha, is the governor considering implementing anything statewide there?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, he didn't indicate anything like that during the press conference this afternoon. So, right now, like you said, it is based on a local jurisdiction. Where I'm standing right now, Pensacola Beach, there is no mask mandate. So people don't have to wear one as they are out in public or going into a business, but just across the way in Pensacola, there is a mask mandate. So it depends, really, where you go.

And we really were looking for updates on how he was going to handle the rise in numbers here.


The rise in positivity has also gotten to be about 12 percent now, a stark increase. The only thing statewide is that on Friday, they shut down standalone bars so that people could no longer consume alcohol on premises.

And I also asked him about the Republican National Convention, because President Trump was in disagreement with the State of North Carolina about potential requirements to wear masks or have social distancing at the convention, and that's part of the reason why they chose Jacksonville, Florida. So I asked whether he has assured the president given Florida's numbers whether they can have thousands of people indoors at that convention with no masks.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We always said, look, it's a work in progress. We're going to try to get to yes, but it was never anything where -- you know, obviously we're in dynamic situation. So they know that, and, but I think we'll be fine by that time. It's a couple months away and we look forward to seeing that.

CHEN: Governor DeSantis also emphasized today that a large increase is coming from younger people, the 18 to 44-year-olds. They've seen a lot more of them test positive and they want people to remember even if they don't see the same aggressive symptoms that they could be sharing it with vulnerable population. Ana?

CABRERA: All right. Natasha Chen and Alexandra Field, my thanks to both of you.

Joining us to discuss is Texas Democrat Congressman Joaquin Castro. He sits on the House Intelligence and House Foreign Affairs Committees. Congressman, good to have you with us. You're from Texas so I want to start with what we witnessed in your state today.

The vice president visiting Dallas, he was wearing a mask, he encouraged Texans to wear a mask, but he also sat and he watched this whole choir singing with no masks. Just how concerned are you to see a picture like that at a time when cases in your state are surging? REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, it's very alarming. And from the beginning, Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, basically followed the see no evil, hear no evil, do as little testing as possible philosophy of Donald Trump. So the governor was very slow to test, very slow to trace the infection and slow to treat patients with it. And because of that, we now have a huge problem with COVID-19 spreading.

Text alerts sent in the last few days throughout the different cities in Texas because hospitalizations are skyrocketing and ICUs are getting very crowded. And if this it continues for another week or two, you will have a lot of hospitals that over capacity.

CABRERA: I mean, the governor regretted allowing bars to open as quickly as he did. Does he deserve credit for now taking responsibilities and saying, I made a mistake?

CASTRO: Well, I'm glad that he's able to say that, but I think he also knew back then that he wasn't doing the right thing but he put politics above science and bowed to people like the lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, and folks on the right who didn't want him to follow the science, who didn't want a mask policy statewide and he buckled. And he gave in to that rather than doing what he should have done.

CABRERA: What's your message to the people of Texas who are not taking this pandemic seriously?

CASTRO: That I hope that they'll step up and be good fellow residents, fellow Texans, that by not wearing a mask, and being irresponsible, that they can harm other people. They can harm senior citizens in their own family. And so wearing a mask shouldn't be something that's either liberal or conservative. it's just way for all of us to combat this virus.

And also the longer we don't do things like wear a mask, the longer this virus is going to continue. A lot of folks when this started, we thought, oh, this will be over in, you know, two months or three months. Certainly, nobody thought that we would be peaking in Texas right now.

But it's because the people in Texas and other places, most of them made sacrifices, stayed at home. A lot of people lost their jobs. People got sick. Some people died. But the leaders like Donald Trump and Greg Abbott, unfortunately, squandered peoples sacrifices. They didn't do their part. So our leaders have to do their part and fellow Texans also have to be responsible.

CABRERA: Let me pivot, because you sit on the House Intel and Foreign Affairs Committees. U.S. and European intel officials have confirmed to CNN reporting that Russia was offering incentives to Taliban-linked militants to target Americans and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Now, today, the president says he was not briefed on this. What's most concerning to you about this reporting?

CASTRO: Sure. Well, the first thing is I am on the Intelligence Committee. I have not been briefed on that. Remember, we've been away from Washington, those of us on the committee, for a few months now. And so it's hard for me to believe that these reports are true. It's hard for me to believe that the president didn't have knowledge about this, that he didn't know about it and that the folks that are advising him on a daily basis would not have made him aware of this.


And if that's the case, and he's continued to argue for Russia to be part of the G7, continue to try placate Vladimir Putin, that really is -- I mean, it's treasonous. It's treasonous to do that to our armed forces, to the men and women who serve our country. And so this is an extremely alarming report.

CABRERA: If he wasn't briefed, as he says so, should somebody be fired? Did they drop the ball?

CASTRO: Absolutely, yes. I mean, if -- I think the president is wrong or lying, but if, in fact, he didn't know about this, then, yes, somebody has got to go.

CABRERA: How should the U.S. respond if this, in fact, did happen? What would be you support as far as a response against Russia?

CASTRO: Well, that's a great question. And, you know, Congress is obviously back in session this week, at least the House of Representatives is. And we're going to be having those discussions. I don't want to lay out a rash plan for exactly what we should do but it's certainly something that can't go unanswered.

CABRERA: Earlier today, the president re-tweeted a video of a supporter saying, white power. Now, he deleted that a few hours later and now the White House claims he didn't hear the white power statement in the video. Do you accept that explanation?

CASTRO: No. I think what you see is the same playbook by Donald Trump. Look, he knows he's in trouble politically, because he's done -- he knows he's in trouble because he's done a bad job managing the coronavirus. So he's going to try to have people look through the lens of race in order to win the election.

And, you know, that's what we're seeing and I think that's part of the strategy for him. And every time this happens, he or his people on the campaign act like it's a mistake, or a joke, or they didn't mean to do it, and that's what he's done today again.

CABRERA: He also hasn't apologized for re-tweeting that video nor has he condemned the message that was in that video. Did you catch that?

CASTRO: I did. And I thought that was striking again. But, I mean, that's been his strategy all along. That was his strategy in part in 2015, is, he believes that he can play a numbers game that most voters in this country are white, and if he can get them to see this election primarily through the prism of their skin color and other people's skin color, he thinks he can win the election.

CABRERA: Do you think Texas is in play this election?

CASTRO: I do. I think that Texas is absolutely in play because Donald Trump is inconsistent with Texas values. And that's why you see the polls so late in this race. You know, I've seen polls in Texas before that have presidential candidates, the Democrat and the Republican, close a year-and-a-half out, you know, or two years out. But to start to get into one of the last few months and still have a very tight race, in fact, this I think says a lot.

And I think that Joe Biden will either win Texas or come closer than even Hillary Clinton came in 2016, which was nine points. She was closer than anybody since her husband, Bill Clinton, in 1996. So, yes, I think Joe Biden is going to do very well here.

CABRERA: Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

CABRERA: So, two new developments today in the fight against the coronavirus. One, the Trump administration urging Americans to wear masks, and, two, Dr. Birx saying they may not just protect those around the wearer but may protect the person wearing it as well. We will talk about this with the doctor, next.



CABRERA: The United States has just had its two highest days of new coronavirus cases. Yet, as you can see, that is a grim comparison to the curves for the European Union and South Korea. The Trump administration warning we are running out of time to combat this virus.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: This is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control.

If we don't social distance, if we don't use face covering in settings where we can't social distance, if we don't practice appropriate personal hygiene, we're going to see spread of disease.


CABRERA: I want to bring in Dr. Patrice Harris, who is the former President of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Harris, today, we've heard the vice president, the governor of Texas, HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson and Dr. Deborah Birx all say something the president has at times mocked, wear a mask. Is it too late?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, Ana, it's never too late, and especially when we see these alarming numbers out of sections of our country. Certainly, it would have been so much better if the message had been clearer and consistent earlier on. I believe we could have prevented suffering and perhaps even death, but it is certainly not too late especially with the numbers, and so the message cannot be stated more importantly, wearing masks protects others and protects ourselves.

CABRERA: What kind of an impact do you think would it have if the president did wear a mask?

HARRIS: Well, it's hard to say for sure, but I know as a former public health official that messaging, clear and consistent messaging, really helps. And it also helps to have leadership modeled behavior that is expected of others. And so, you know, this is not political. It's always been about the health of the public. And so modeling appropriate and expected behavior is critical.


CABRERA: The vice president was wearing a mask today when he visited that church in Dallas. But in the same church, you had all of these people singing, close together, without masks. Remember, back in May, 87 percent of the singers at a choir practice in Washington State ended up testing positive for COVID-19. In fact, 53 people were sickened, two of them died. Is this kind of activity any less risky now?

HARRIS: I don't think so. I mean, it was clear then, and certainly we all enjoy songs and singing and listening to choirs, but the incident that you mentioned was very important, and our knowledge about how respiratory droplets could be spread particularly with singing and, of course, that is a primary mode of transmission of this virus.

And so I was glad to see the vice president wear a mask, but I was a little concerned about the choir today.

CABRERA: Let me come back to something you mentioned a bit ago about masks and who they protect. First, let's listen to Dr. Deborah Birx.


BIRX: I'm really appealing to every Texan to wear a mask. I think we know now, there's scientific evidence that masks both keep you from infecting others but may also partially protect you from getting infected. I think that's a new discovery and a new finding. And it's very encouraging to Texans to know that you can protect one another.


CABRERA: So is that news to you, that this protects the wearer as well as those around them?

HARRIS: Well, I think we have suspected that before and had some data, and so any new piece of data that further affirms the importance of wearing masks is helpful. Of course, from the beginning, we have always talked about the need to focus on the science, the evidence are and the data and not politics or personal opinions. So any new support of that, any new evidence of the importance of wearing masks hopefully encourages everyone to do so. Because, you know, we can have all the regulations around mask wearing, but it's also important for each of us to take that individual action ourselves, to make sure, again, we are protecting others and ourselves.

CABRERA: And we know the percentage of new cases in some states are rising at a much higher rate than the increase in testing. In Florida, for instance, which has been seeing positive infection rates above 15 percent, hospitalizations and deaths unfortunately often lag the positive test results. What do you think we're in for in the coming weeks?

HARRIS: Well, I'm worried. I'm worried. And that's why, again, we need to wear masks. But these numbers are quite troubling because we know that the data and the infection rate and the positivity rate we see today is based on behavior from two to four weeks ago. So these numbers are quite troubling. We know that the ICU bed capacity is increasing in some areas. And so we have to do everything that we can at this moment to be prevent further suffering and death.

CABRERA: Dr. Patrice Harris, thank you for what you do. Thank you for joining us.

HARRIS: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: The four officers charged in the killing of George Floyd are due to appear in court tomorrow. We'll take you live to Minneapolis with what we can expect.

Plus, we'll answer your legal questions that you sent throughout the week. That's next.

And just a quick reminder, Don Lemon takes on the hard conversations about being black in America with his new CNN podcast, Silence Is Not An Option. Find it Apple Podcast or your favorite podcast app.

We're back after this.



CABRERA: Welcome back.

Let's looking ahead to what's happening tomorrow. Four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the May 25th death of George Floyd are due in court. Former Officer Derek Chauvin who pressed his knee on Floyd's neck and his three former colleagues who assisted in that arrest are facing charges ranging from second-degree murder to aiding and abetting murder.

The Minneapolis police chief this week calling Floyd's murder and saying Chauvin knew what he was doing.

Let's bring in CNN Security Correspondent Josh Campbell. Josh, tell us what to expect for tomorrow's court hearing.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Ana, the next phase in this prosecution of those four office involved in the death of George Floyd will be taking place behind me here tomorrow in a courtroom here in Minneapolis. And what we're expecting and what we're on the lookout for is any indication from the attorneys representing these officers that they want to move forward and file a motion to dismiss the charges.

There will also be a procedural move, something called discovery where we expect the defense attorneys to try put in a motion to gather the information that the prosecution has on the case, the witness statements, all of the evidence and the like.

Now, I just talked to just moments ago one of the attorneys for one of the officers. He said that they have started receiving some of that material from the government. He also said that they are very much in the process right now of trying to seek to get that case dismissed. That may be coming in the coming days.

What we're also wanting to hear now, Ana, is any indication of the attorney for Officer Derek Chauvin. We know that at least two of the officers, their lawyers are pointing to Chauvin and his seniority, saying that he is largely responsible for the death of George Floyd. We will wait and see in court whether or not Chauvin's attorney starts to signal what their defense strategy will be, Ana.

CABRERA: Okay. So beyond this one case, we've been reporting on calls for major change to police systems as we know it.


And you write in a new piece that meaningful police reform maybe unlikely even after the weeks of national protests. Explain.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, we've seen those dramatic videos of hundreds of thousands of protesters from coast to coast taking to the streets in the wake of the death of George Floyd, calling for dramatic police reform. But when you look at what legislators are actually doing, it appears that they are actually failing to move forward.

Just here in Minnesota, after Floyd's death, there was a special session that was called. It ended in partisan entrenchment. The two sides, Democrats and Republicans, couldn't pass any meaningful reform before that session ended. The governor saying that he's very disappointed.

You look at Capitol Hill in Washington. Again, Senate Republicans and Democrats stalling on a bill there. It doesn't appear that there will be any national police reform that will be moving forward anytime soon in the wake of this protest.

But I can tell you one group that is -- appears comfortable with the delay are some of the police unions. Just last Monday I sat down with the president of the Minneapolis Police Union and he cautioned against rushing towards reforms saying that there could be unintended consequences. Take a listen.


BOB KROLL, PRESIDENT, POLICE OFFICERS' FEDERATION OF MINNEAPOLIS: Let's have a thoughtful process that takes place over a period of time where we have dialogue from police leaders in the administrative side and the union side. But let's do it -- let's not do it in a vacuum. Let's not rush to get it done overnight or in a week in a special session.

We have more of a focus on safety and security of the citizens of Minneapolis right now than defeating bills that they want to rush through over the cover of darkness. We need time. Everybody's got to take a breath.


CAMPBELL: Now with those comments, everybody's got to take a breath that had been so controversial. And after our piece first aired I can tell you that I personally received countless messages from our viewers. People aghast as the apparent tone deafness there.

If you go back and remember that dramatic video footage with an officer on George Floyd's neck, Floyd was saying, "I can't breathe." He was begging for the officer to get off him. Again, now this police union official in referencing police reforms saying he doesn't want them to move forward too quickly is saying that everybody should stop and take a breath.

Now I can also tell you that we've talked to criminal justice reform advocates. Despite these legislate failures across the country, at the national and state level, they continue to press on and what we're hearing from them is that the issue of policing reform is more than just policy. It's also an issue of politics. And they're saying that they don't just want their supporters out in the streets protesting. They want them at the ballot box in November voting their cause and their heart on this issue -- Ana.

CABRERA: It's also about police culture, I suppose. Josh Campbell, thank you for your reporting.

Two weeks after Floyd's death another man, Rayshard Brooks, was shot and killed by now former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe at a Wendy's drive-thru. And this case brings us to "Cross Exam," with CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig.

So, Elie, one viewer asks, what are the next steps in the legal proceedings involving this officer and the others charged with murder?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Ana. So lots of viewer interest in these cases, understandably. So both of these cases are in similar procedural postures right now. We have groups of former police officers who've been charged based on complaints written by prosecutors.

Now the next big step will be grand jury. And that's where prosecutors go in, present their evidence to a grand jury, which votes on an indictment, which is simply a formal charge or accusation. Then we will be into the pretrial motion space, and this is very important as Josh just talked about. We will see motions over things like severance, meaning, will the officers be tried altogether in one big group or will they be separated out for separate trials?

We'll see arguments over evidence. For example, will the jury get to hear that some of the officers had prior complaints against them? And we may see arguments over venue. We may see the defendants in this case try to have the cases moved out of the Hennepin County where in Minneapolis, Fulton County where Atlanta is.

I expect prosecutors to push back on those motions like they should. Now we do not have a trial date yet. I think it's likely we see trial late 2020, maybe early 2021 in both of these cases.

But, Ana, I think everyone involved in these cases has to understand, time is of the essence. Justice is urgent. It cannot be delayed. The stakes are just too high in both of these cases.

CABRERA: Speaking of timing, a different case, a federal case, on Friday a federal judge delayed the prison sentence of Trump ally Roger Stone by a couple of weeks. It comes as the president retweeted a petition effort to pardon Stone.

First, what does this mean? And another viewer asks, how long can Roger Stone delay going to join to serve his sentence?

HONIG: Well, not much longer. So originally Roger Stone had a June 30th surrender date which is two days from now on Tuesday. He asked for a 60-day extension based on health concerns over coronavirus. And the Justice Department agreed. They said we're fine with that. But the judge said, hang on a second. I want to make sure that the Justice Department is not giving Roger Stone preferential treatment.

Remember just a few days ago we saw testimony from one of the original Stone prosecutors that he had been singled out and given preferential treatment by the Justice Department for political reasons. Eventually the judge gave Roger Stone a postponement, but just a brief one, until July 14th as you said.


Hanging over all of this is the possibility of a presidential pardon. The clock is ticking. We've seen Roger Stone using social media to essentially lobby for a pardon. We saw the president retweet that. So something's got to give here in the next two weeks. Either the president has to officially pardon Roger Stone or else Roger Stone is going to federal prison.

CABRERA: Elie, I have to ask you about mask mandates. The majority of states in the U.S. are now seeing increases in coronavirus cases, but only a handful of governors are requiring people in their states to wear masks in public. One viewer wants to know, is this legal and is it enforceable? HONIG: Short answer, yes and yes. All 50 states have laws and power in

governors to issue emergency health orders. We've seen governors use those powers to issue stay home orders, quarantine orders, business closure and reopening orders. Face mask order would fall under the same legal authority.

Now, somebody could challenge a face mask order in court but that is a serious uphill climb. Courts are going to give governors very broad latitude here. Really the question is, is there any reasonable health or safety benefit in the case of face masks? Of course there is. Now how can they be enforced if someone violates?

Well, we could have an injunction, meaning a formal closure of a business that's refusing to comply. We could see fines and in some cases there are even potential criminal penalties, there could be potential arrests and prosecution. So I hope everyone understands these face mask orders where they have been issued they are backed by law and they are real consequences if people do not follow them.

CABRERA: Do not mess around. And it's for your own safety as well as others.

Elie Honig, always good to have you, sir. Thank you.

HONIG: Thanks.

CABRERA: Up next, we hear from a man who contracted coronavirus along with 28 members of his family. But first, here's this week's "Before the Bell" with Christine Romans -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. A job market in turmoil. That's how one economist describes it. Last week first-time jobless claims did fall slightly. But still another 1.5 million Americans still filed for unemployment.

Macy's announced nearly 4,000 layoffs and chains like GNC and Chuck E. Cheese filed for bankruptcy. All of this sets the stage for the June jobs report. That's out on Thursday. Remember, the May numbers shocked everyone. The economy added 2.5 million jobs and the unemployment rate slipped to 13.3 percent.

For June, economists predict a similar trend. Three million jobs added and an unemployment rate of 12.2 percent. On Friday, U.S. markets are closed for the observation of Independence Day. And investors may be grateful for that break. Last Wednesday stocks suffered their worst day in nearly two weeks following a spike in coronavirus cases. A V- shaped recovery is beginning to look less likely given investors a reason to cash out.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.



CABRERA: Let me take you out west. The governor of California has now ordered bars shut in seven counties including Los Angeles County, citing concerns over the recent surge in coronavirus cases. And the data is indisputable. Here's a look at the number of new cases spiking over the last couple of days and weeks in California. Total coronavirus infections in that state now topped 211,000.

And CNN's Paul Vercammen is joining us from L.A.

Paul, tell us more about these bar closures.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's get right to it, Ana, and we'll show a map of the seven counties that are now seeing their bars closed. They are Fresno, Imperial, where they have that 23 percent positive test rate, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, largest county in the state, San Joaquin, and Tulare.

He's also recommending some other counties on the watch list. Also shut down bars, notably Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, two counties that had very low cases until now. And in a unique move they issued a statement at the health department here in California and among other things were just basically saying people were misbehaving in bars, letting their guard down. That the alcohol impairing their judgment. People were pulling down masks.

Now while I was speaking with Richard Garay, he is a young man who had 28 family members contract COVID-19, this came out. He lost his father right near Father's Day due to COVID-19 and I asked him point black, what do you make of this move to close down the bars?


RICHARD GARAY, FATHER DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: And that's good, man. We don't -- you don't need that. You know? Like, it's a breeding ground, you know? And -- you know -- I might not agree with everything our governor does, but this is the right thing to do.


VERCAMMEN: And Richard told me his father Vidal lived with them. He was 60 years old and what he wants is people to get informed from his family's story and use it as a cautionary tale here in the United States, around the world, to take COVID-19 seriously. They did go through all the proper measures, so says Richard. They were very good about wearing their masks and using the hand sanitizer.

He said the only thing he can think of is just once in a while they didn't wear the masks inside the house. He has no idea how family members might have contracted it, Ana.

CABRERA: Twenty-eight members of the same family and his father passed away from the virus. My heart just hurts so much for him.

Thank you, Paul, for sharing that story with us.

Still to come, we are learning more about the controversial firing of one of the country's top prosecutors. The same official who investigated people in the president's inner circle. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: We have new information about the controversial firing of one of the country's most powerful federal prosecutors. Manhattan U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman was fired by President Trump last weekend, but that came after a very public standoff with Attorney General William Barr. And apparently the tension between the two had been building for quite a while as Berman's now former office brought charges against the president's attorney Michael Cohen and also carried out an investigation against Rudy Giuliani.

CNN's Kara Scannell is joining us now with more.

Kara, is this about Barr controlling investigations involving the president's associates or is there something else going on?


KARA SCANNELL, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think that's a question a lot of people are asking. And me and my colleague Evan Perez took a look back at some of Bill Barr's own words. He had given an oral history in 2001 reflecting on his previous, his first time as attorney general. There are kind of two takeaways from that discussion.

One of them he talks about a centralized attorney general where he even says if you have a strong attorney general and the backing of the president, you can keep the U.S. attorneys in line. The hardest one is obviously Manhattan.

Another point in this oral history that Bill Barr made was he was reflecting on political investigations and he recalled in 1992 an independent counsel had charged criminally the former Pentagon Secretary Casper Weinberger, and that Barr had spoken with the then- president George H.W. Bush about this. And Bush felt that that indictment implicated or, rather, you know, harmed his ability to get re-elected.

So you have these two factors. If you think of that in the backdrop of today, you know, Bill Barr does not -- you know, did not trust Geoff Berman, the U.S. attorney of Manhattan. He felt that he was someone he could not control. It was Berman's office that is investigating Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney. And, you know, there are four months until the election so, you know, whether anyone will say that there's actually political interference here, Bill Barr himself denies that.

He told NPR on Friday that it's conspiracy theorists who are looking for an ulterior motive. He was just clearing the way to replace Berman with someone else that the president liked -- Ana.

CABRERA: And yet Barr has already faced criticism over his handling of the Mueller report after intervening in cases against Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, even for police using tear gas on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square. So what does all this mean for his credibility?

SCANNELL: you know, there are questions within the Department of Justice. Sources tell us that prosecutors feel that, you know, all the moves that you just outlined are undercutting the credibility of the institution and Bill Barr himself. I mean, for each one of those cases that you mentioned, from his characterization of the Mueller report, to his stepping in on the sentencing of Roger Stone, to moving to dismiss the charges of Michael Flynn, all of those are viewed by some prosecutors as his way to protect the president.

Now, we heard this past week from two career prosecutors testifying on Capitol Hill. It's very unusual. One of them about the Stone prosecution. Another also a career prosecutor talking about antitrust. Both of them saying that they do not believe that Barr was vetting out justice as a, you know, independent nonpolitical person but they felt like some of the actions that Barr was making were to please the president.

You know, Bill Barr himself will -- you know, he has denied this. He has said he was, you know, acting appropriately, but lawmakers will have a chance to question Barr himself. He is scheduled to testify under oath at the end of July -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Kara Scannell, thank you.

Tonight, CNN's Jake Tapper takes a closer look at President Trump's actions post-impeachment in a CNN one-hour Special Report. Here's a preview.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is what the end result is.

JACK TAPPER, CNN HOST: Two weeks after Trump was acquitted of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power charges in the Senate impeachment trial, the president declared --

TRUMP: I'm actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.

TAPPER: Not acting as if he is above the law, as Democrats repeatedly asserted during the trial, but that he is the law.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): This is President Trump totally unleashed after he got out of the impeachment trial. It tells us that he thinks that he is king. That he can call all the shots at the Justice Department.

TAPPER: And the chief law enforcement official of the land, Attorney General Bill Barr, has seemed willing and eager to do the president's bidding.

DONALD AYER, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: He believes the president ought to be all powerful.

TAPPER: Donald Ayer served as deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.

AYER: Bill Barr believes that these checks and balances that have affected and limited other presidents shouldn't apply to his president, Donald Trump, and he is working hand in hand with Donald Trump to realize that goal.


CABRERA: Be sure to tune in. "TRUMP AND THE LAW: AFTER IMPEACHMENT" airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern here on CNN.



CABRERA: The FAA has cleared the way for the Boeing 737 MAX to be back in the air as early as tomorrow. These will be a critical set of test flights aimed at assessing the safety of multiple fixes designed for the plane.

The planes have been grounded for 15 months now following the two overseas accidents that killed 346 people. Boeing previously said it expected the approval in the middle of this year.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks so much for joining me on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. And I wish I came to you with good news this evening. Unfortunately, I do not.

The United States is failing to beat a virus that other countries have managed to contain. Right now, just two states, two, are seeing a decline in cases, while more than half are seeing a surge.

For the first time, though, we are finally hearing the vice president and other top officials say what doctors have long urged, wear a mask.