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U.S. Fails to Contain Pandemic as New Virus Cases Surge in Several States; Vice President Mike Pence Encourages Everyone to Wear a Mask; Interview with Mayor Dave Kerner about Palm Beach County's Mask Mandate; South Bronx Businesses Struggle Without Baseball Fans. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 28, 2020 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: -- 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: People should continue to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face. And wear a mask.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE 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 handwashing techniques that should be employed, about the masking, about the social distancing. The problem is people aren't doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The message there could not be clearer. Right?

Yes, this was today. That was the vice president, the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, just a few hours earlier watching this shoulder-to-shoulder choir, sing at full volume. Not a single choir member wearing a mask. That was in Dallas. And Texas cases and hospitalizations are among those surging right now.

Our reporters are on the ground coast to coast in states hit hard by the surge. Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles, California. Natasha Chen in Pensacola Beach, Florida. But I want to start there in Texas, in Houston, with Alexandra Field.

And Alex, we heard the vice president and other top officials send Texans a clear message. Wear a mask. But still, no mask mandate from the governor.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, months into this, Ana, that message is being sent very loudly that people in Texas need to wear a mask including by the governor who's been careful to appear in public wearing his mask. He's also been endorsing the effectiveness of a mask that scientists have made very clear to people across the country and across the world for months now.

The question is whether that message is resonating with Texans or not. The governor has not mandated this across the state. There's no indication that he will do that. Instead, you are at a point now where local authorities are able to mandate that businesses require their customers to wear a mask. It's up to the businesses, though, to follow those orders and to mandate that.

We have seen that enforced in some of the businesses that we've been to here in Harris County, in the Houston area, one of the hardest-hit parts of the state. We've seen people who've been asked to leave a coffee shop, for example, for not having their masks on.

The good news right now is that you are hearing officials reinforce the importance of this. The bad news, though, is the fact that you have seen these cases surging day after day. You've seen the hospitalization rate going up for some two weeks now.

We're hearing from the governor as well as from local officials that most of the new cases have involved younger people. A lot of people in their 20s and 30s. That's one of the reasons that the governor moved to go ahead and shut down the bars, in trying to stop the spread among young people. More of the bad news, though, is that the hospitals are filling up. You had ICUs hitting capacity in Houston earlier this week.

You've had hospitals across the city moving to their surge capacity plans and local officials are saying people just have to put masks on. Even if they have not been required to do so in the town or the city where they live, that it is the best practice.

And really interestingly, Ana, you heard Dr. Birx sending that important message that masks aren't just about stopping yourself from spreading the virus to others but that they could, in fact, help you protect yourself, so maybe that's a message that will be meaningful to people -- Ana.

CABRERA: Yes, hopefully so. So we know modelers have said that it could save tens of thousands of lives by October 1st if 95 percent of people across the country wear masks.

Thank you, Alexandra.

Let's turn to Natasha Chen in Pensacola Beach, Florida. Natasha, Florida shows signs of being the next coronavirus epicenter

in the U.S. We are seeing Miami-Dade County and Broward County now shut down their beaches for Fourth of July weekend. Tell us about the reaction to those announcements.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There were some people who really didn't like that, Ana. They complained that this would be limiting their freedoms. That this was un-American. The Broward-area mayors held a press conference this afternoon. They had followed in the lead of Miami-Dade County in shutting down beaches before the holiday weekend. And here's a sample of what that looks like when people were not happy with them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should stay at home. Celebrate with your families. Be grateful for the wonderful America that we have. We're all in this together now. And we will get through it if everyone cooperates and continues to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands, and make sure we care for one another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:05:14]

CHEN: And you could hear those people yelling in the background. Just to be clear here in Pensacola Beach, there's been no indication that they would shut down the beaches before the holiday weekend. There's also no mask mandate to wear one in public or inside businesses. So that's really dependent on the jurisdiction that you're in in the state of Florida. Some counties, some cities, have decided there should be a mask mandate.

But Governor DeSantis this afternoon in his press conference still no mention that there would be any statewide mandate and besides, on Friday, shutting down the standalone bars across the state, there's otherwise no statewide action, Ana, to try and curb the spread of this virus that is increasing very rapidly across the state.

CABRERA: All right, Natasha, thank you.

Paul Vercammen is live for us in Los Angeles.

Paul, you interviewed a man who contracted coronavirus along with 28 of his family members. He ended up losing his father. What does he want people to know?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard Garay, Ana, wants everyone to know that even though his family, he thought, took a lot of precautions and wore the mask and used the hand sanitizer, they still have this situation where 28 family members contracted coronavirus. He was so close to his father, Vidal, 60 years old. We should note that Vidal did have a compromised immune system.

But this just tore up 27-year-old Richard Garay when his father passed away one day before Father's Day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD GARAY, FATHER DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: You can't really explain the feeling of losing a father on Father's Day or before Father's Day. It's -- it's something tough to process. A difficult thing to think about. I wish I could have held my father. I wish I could have told my father I love him. That I'm OK. I wish my father was here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And so Vidal lived with his son and his son's wife who is now currently in quarantine, in the house. In fact, they only communicate by phone because they believe she may now have contracted COVID-19. Also in the household, a 2-year-old boy and a 5-year-old daughter. So it just rocked the entire house.

And, again, Richard is saying he wants this message to get out because other people need to learn from it and he wants everybody to take seriously the spread of COVID-19 -- Ana.

CABRERA: And we've said it before and I'll say it again, the virus does not discriminate.

Paul Vercammen, Natasha Chen, Alexandra Field, my thanks to all of you.

I want to discuss these latest developments with CNN medical analyst and primary care physician, Dr. Saju Mathew.

Doctor, are you reassured to hear the White House Coronavirus Task Force come out so strongly today in favor of masks?

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Ana, I was very excited. I must say a bit disappointed that this didn't happen sooner. If you rewind the tapes on air with CNN, you can listen to doctors like myself, Ana, that have talked to you on so many shows on how important it is to wear a mask.

I'm also even more excited with Dr. Birx suggesting that there could be some protections not only in protecting somebody else but also in yourself. And I'm not surprised at all. It makes total sense that a barrier can help protect the virus from spreading out to somebody else and for you ingesting that virus as well.

CABRERA: Dr. Mathew, when you look at the U.S. map right now and you see how each state is trending, only two states in the country are seeing new cases decrease, the majority are increasing. Why are the numbers going up?

MATHEW: For me, Ana, it's one clear criteria that we missed. When we all sheltered in place and we sacrificed so much time, and then we decided that it was time to open back up, I personally don't think, Ana, that we followed the gated criteria that the White House task force had set forward.

It was very simple. You need to make sure that there was a downward trend of two weeks of cases that are dwindling. And what we did in the U.S. compared to the Europe is we just waited to flatten the curve. We did not wait to crush the curve. In Europe, they did the exact opposite, Ana. They waited to flatten but they waited even patiently for much longer time to make sure that the cases were on the downward trend.

And that's really in my opinion where this whole disaster started, if I may say that respectfully, is we did not really pay attention to the rules.

CABRERA: What is your biggest concern right now?

MATHEW: My biggest concern would be those hospitals right now as you and I speak, Ana, where people are arriving in ambulances, trying to find a parking space so they can get into the emergency room because they're short of breath.

[19:10:06]

And, unfortunately, with the low oxygen level will need an ICU bed. I see that all the time. I'm on a group chat with emergency room doctors, Ana. And it's scary in these states where the numbers are surging. It's one thing to know that you had a fighting chance to survive COVID-19. To me, what's even more heartbreaking is that you never made it to that ICU bed, you never had a chance to get intubated.

CABRERA: And the vice president also said this morning the U.S. has expanded health care capacity across the country. He says billions of medical supplies and equipment like PPE and ventilators have been distributed. Do you feel hospitals are prepared for a surge?

MATHEW: You know, the answer to that question, Ana, will really depend on each hospital. If you talk to people up in the northeast where they've sort of dealt with this massive surge, so to speak, like in New York and things are quietening down, they are going to be ready for that second wave.

And by the way, Ana, we're not even done with the first wave. The fall is when the second wave is going to hit us. But in cities like Florida, in cities like in California where the governor really has tried his best to curb and contain this virus, I worry more about those hospitals where the surges are occurring now. That's my biggest concern.

CABRERA: What needs to happen to reverse the trend of new cases going up?

MATHEW: The biggest thing we need to do is it's not only important to hit the pause button, Ana, we have to hit the stop button. I know I sound out there, but I am really very concerned today compared to a few weeks ago when I was on your show. Things have completely changed. We are in a public health storm. This is, unfortunately, a public health disaster. And in order to curb this, we have to really pull back. And I think, unfortunately, the stay-at-home measures need to be re

re-enacted and we need to make sure once again we don't make that same mistake. We have to flatten this curve and we have to make sure that the cases are really dwindling before we go back out there again.

CABRERA: Dr. Saju Mathew, thank you for all you do. And thank you for taking the time to be with us.

MATHEW: Thank you, Ana.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force is now urging Americans to wear masks but some officials are actually mandating them. And that led some Floridians to get a little heated, shall we say?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You disgrace me. You know why? You did not listen to we, the people. You make a decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The Palm Beach mayor joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:46]

CABRERA: Florida has reported more than 18,000 new COVID-19 cases this weekend alone. The state broke records with the number of new cases Friday and Saturday. Now just days ago, Palm Beach County leaders made masks mandatory in public places and some residents were not happy about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want to throw God's wonderful breathing system out the door. You're all turning your backs on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask knowing that that mask is killing people. It literally is killing people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You disgrace me. You know why? You did not listen to we, the people. You make a decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That video went viral, and despite the opposition you just heard, Palm Beach County unanimously approved the mask mandate.

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner is joining us now.

Mayor, are people following the rules and wearing masks?

MAYOR DAVE KERNER, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good evening, Ana. I am delighted to report that after we instituted that mandatory order here in Palm Beach County as I've been out in the community both today and all last week up until Tuesday when we enacted it, there has been very broad cooperation with the mask order and it's very encouraging to see that.

CABRERA: The governor has refused to have a mandate on masks saying he trusts Floridians to be responsible and to make good decisions. He was more concerned about enforcement. Why was it so important to you to make it mandatory?

KERNER: Well, Governor DeSantis has been helpful in that he's empowered local officials like myself and our boards of county commissioners throughout the state to make those decisions locally. We felt that here in Palm Beach County, as we watched the metrics and we watched the numbers, and understanding that we have a very, very vulnerable population and a very large population of vulnerable people in Palm Beach County that as the numbers went up, it was our duty to take forceful action.

And so we did vote bipartisan, unanimously, to institute the mask order. And it's good public policy. I don't think that's in dispute despite the passions that we saw on the opposite side of the issue.

CABRERA: Well, obviously, you are trying to operate in the best interest of the residents in your area. We've now heard from several mayors in Florida who've said they are struggling to get their residents to follow the COVID-19 rules, such as wearing masks, holding large gatherings, maintaining social distancing.

So we've now seen Miami-Dade and Broward County, for example, close their beaches for Fourth of July weekend. Are you planning to do the same?

KERNER: We are. And I'll announce here on CNN tonight that in consultation with our county administrator we will be issuing an order tomorrow, tomorrow morning, that we'll close the Palm Beach County beaches throughout the entirety of the county for the holiday weekend.

It is an unfortunate result but public health remains the focus of the elected leaders of Palm Beach County and, you know, unfortunately, this Fourth of July will not be spent at the beach.

CABRERA: And since you just made the announcement here, what are the details? When does it start? When does it end?

KERNER: I'll have to comment on that tomorrow when we do a press conference. The executive policy group made up of county leaders including the county administrators, myself, will convene at 9:00 a.m.

[19:20:03]

And I will tell you that with regards to enforcement, whether it's the beach being closed or it's businesses not complying with phase one rules handed down by Governor DeSantis, in Palm Beach County we enacted a COVID education and compliance team which had been very helpful in both helping educate business owners and citizens on the responsibilities and taking action where needed. CABRERA: So, again, for our viewers who are watching, Palm Beach

County, beaches in Palm Beach County will now be closed for Fourth of July weekend. That's a new development. Statewide, we are seeing cases skyrocketing in the past week. At least it's not just the number of cases but it's also the percent of people testing positive.

And I want to remind you of what the governor said back in May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: You got a lot of people in your profession who wax poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York. Wait two weeks, Florida is going to be next. Just like Italy, wait two weeks. Well, hell, we're eight weeks away from that and it hasn't happened and so we succeeded and I think that people just don't want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative. It challenges their assumption. So they got to try to find a boogeyman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Mayor, that was May 20th. Did he speak too soon? What's your assessment of how the governor has handled this pandemic?

KERNER: I can tell you, Ana, from a personal perspective, being the chief elected official of Palm Beach County, I've had the opportunity to work well with Governor DeSantis. I can't comment on the statewide policy. I'm laser focused on Palm Beach County. Currently our -- we have an 8.6 positivity rate for today -- I mean, a 9.5 positivity rate for the entire pandemic.

Now, there's a lot of local control that's been handed to us, but we focus primarily on other metrics like, for example, ICU rate and ventilator utilization rate. We've received a lot of assistance from the state DEM and the governor's office in terms of PPE and things of that nature. And so as it pertains to Palm Beach County, we feel like we're in a very good position.

But we want that momentum to continue and we'd like to see the community as they already demonstrated their ability to buy into the restrictions that need to be put in place and enforced to keep our citizens safe.

CABRERA: Let me follow up with you on what you're discussing and that is the hospitals and front line workers there in Palm Beach County, and whether they're prepared for a possible surge in hospitalizations which we know often follows initial positive tests. We're hearing from, you know, local officials in parts of Texas which is also another state seeing a surge in cases where they are very concerned that their hospitals will be overwhelmed in the next couple of weeks.

What's the situation there?

KERNER: I can only speak to today and the past and as we've gone through this pandemic. And by the way, there is no -- you know, there's no training or manual that goes with being a county mayor or a county commissioner when it comes to a pandemic like this. We have seen variability in the amount of ICU utilization and ventilator use in Palm Beach County.

We do have contingency plans as part of our comprehensive emergency management plan including field hospitals and also expanded ICU capacity at our trauma centers in Palm Beach County. Be that as it may, I can't predict the future. And that's why we've instituted things like closing our beach down, the COVID education and compliance team, mandatory masks in public, because we can't predict the future.

We don't want to have a surge that we can't control. It's our duty as government officials to ensure that if somebody has COVID and they need to go to the ICU that there are beds waiting for them. And so we feel comfortable that we'll never get to that point. But we can't do that alone. It takes a community buying into the realities of COVID-19 and you saw some of the passions and perspectives that were demonstrated in the Florida county commissioners.

And while I can say it's frightening, people are entitled to their position, but public health comes first in Palm Beach County.

CABRERA: Well, thank you very much for being a voice of reason and coming to, you know, share your perspective with our viewers.

Mayor Dave Kerner, we appreciate it. Best of luck to you and your residents.

KERNER: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Sports are preparing to come out of quarantine, but mostly without fans in the stands. Up next, a look at the impact this could have on small businesses in and around these arenas, stadiums, and ballparks that rely on crowds.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:47]

CABRERA: America's favorite pastime returns next month with some big adjustments. Major League Baseball is set to kick off in late July but without fans in the stands and the economic impact of this is being felt around the country.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more now from the South Bronx in New York where businesses near Yankee Stadium are struggling to survive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): How important are the Yankees to the South Bronx?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When there's no Yankee baseball, the neighborhood is holding on by its fingernails. YURKEVICH (voice-over): This is not what the South Bronx normally

looks like in the summer. Empty shops, restaurants, bars, and an empty stadium. It's supposed to look like this.

Opening day for the Yankees alone generates nearly $12 million for New York City. Much of it spent right here on River Avenue in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Baseball is set to resume next month but without fans in the stands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My guess is that about a third to a half of them aren't going to survive.

YURKEVICH: Dugout owner Ty Robinson says the bar makes nearly 100 percent of its business during baseball season, which runs April through October. Instead of a packed bar of fans, $15,000 worth of spoiled beer sits on the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just been sitting here, we have plenty more sitting on the floor in the back and it hurts to see it sitting here. It just really hurts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YURKEVICH (voice over): Rents don't come cheap here on River Avenue, about $20,000.00 a month. Robinson has been here for 17 seasons, but closed Dugout in March. We hadn't been back since.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YURKEVICH (on camera): What was it like walking in here today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly cried because not only being closed, now you see the problem starts to trickle down. The employees that I tried to hold on to, I had to let go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YURKEVICH (voice over): Robinson's neighbor, Abdul Abadi, owns Stadium Souvenirs. It's been in his family for 45 years and with its success, he opened this second store four years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABDUL ABADI, OWNER, STADIUM SOUVENIRS: We feel sad, really, because this is the best time for us, summertime here. This is a time we should make the money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YURKEVICH (voice over): Abadi is months behind on rent and he owes $150,000 on brand-new merchandise he bought for the season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABADI: We left everything right on top of the counter, you can see all the merchandise still on top of the counter. We were trying to be ready for opening day to fix everything up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YURKEVICH (voice over): Abadi and Robinson say they've applied for loans, but haven't received any financial help and even when the city says they can reopen again, they say it won't make much difference without fans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My new reality is that I may not be here. I honestly may not be here. Hard as it feels right now, I may not be here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YURKEVICH (voice over): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, South Bronx, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hang in there, business owners.

The President greeted the country this morning by retweeting a video of a supporter shouting, "White Power." He has since deleted it, but how does something like this even happen?

We'll take you live to the White House next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:36:07]

CABRERA: Right now, in the midst of a deadly pandemic with nearly every state in the country recording a surge in cases, the President is in cleanup mode after retweeting this video of someone driving a golf cart with Trump 2020 signs blatantly shouting, "White Power."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GROUP: White power. White power. There you go, white power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The President has since deleted the tweet after the only black Republican in the Senate said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I think it's indefensible. We should take it down. That's what I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN White House correspondent, Jeremy Diamond joins us now. Jeremy, how is the White House explaining this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, what's really drawn criticism in the President's direction today is not just the fact he retweeted it, but the sentiment that he attached to that retweet, when the President said, "Thank you to the great people of the villages," in amplifying that video, in which you can hear one of the President's supporters say "white power, white power."

Now, the White House is responding and they are saying, essentially that the President didn't hear that part of the video even though it is right at the beginning.

They are saying "President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters." That is a statement from the Deputy White House Press Secretary, Judd Deere.

Now, Ana, of course, what's notable about this is that this isn't just an isolated incident. In fact, the President has repeatedly amplified or voiced racist or bigoted sentiments in the past.

Particularly, we have, you know, many of the President's critics today have pointed out that the language here is very similar to what the President said after that rally in Charlottesville -- that white supremacist rally when the President said that there were many fine people amid the white supremacists who were rallying and chanting things like "Jews will not replace us."

And of course, we know that the President has also widely shared or retweeted videos including anti-Muslim videos repeatedly throughout his presidency and during his 2016 campaign.

And so while the President has deleted this retweet, Ana, what he has not done as of yet is apologize for it or condemned these, you know, racist sentiment expressed by that Trump supporter in that video -- Ana.

CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thanks.

Let's discuss with CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Earl Louis; and CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, David Gergen.

Great to see both of you. Errol, the White House says the President didn't hear anyone in that video shout, "white power," but they're not actually condemning the Trump supporters shouting "white power." What's your reaction?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. Well, look, the disavowal was simply not credible. It's not believable.

I think it was "The New York Times" that looked at the number of times the President has retweeted or given a signal boost to some these questionable and racist accounts, many of them anonymous, two dozen of which have been suspended by Twitter and he has done it apparently for something upwards of 140 such accounts. The President of the United States has to be held accountable for the

words that he says and the actions that he takes and that includes giving a signal boost to some of these ugly sentiments.

The incident itself, sounded like a bunch of rowdy old people yelling at each other saying the ugliest things they possibly could. It raises, though, the question why would the President of the United States want anything to do with any of that?

Look, we're a little over 120 days out from Election Day. He's chosen this as a way to try to connect with who he thinks are his voters. I mean, the action speaks for itself.

CABRERA: Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden has reacted to all this on Twitter comparing the President's tweet today to his handling of Charlottesville. And he wrote in part, "We are in a battle for the soul of the nation and the President has picked a side."

[19:40:10]

CABRERA: David, is this reminiscent of Charlottesville?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It reminds me of something of Charlottesville, yes, I do think it has some similarities and some echoes of Charlottesville.

But I also think their issue is, last night we had -- we were told that the President had never been briefed with regard to the Russians putting a bounty on the heads of American soldiers. That was just unbelievable.

The fact that the President could watch that tape and then tweet and not hear "white power," that's just even more unbelievable. You could so -- it was so distinct. It was the one thing that was distinct.

The man in the golf cart yelling twice, "white power, white power," raising his fist, and then a gentleman on pavement saying, "Yes, white power."

So, I think it was quite intentional. He knows he can delete these things afterwards, when he gets his message out and that's what a lot of this is. It goes far beyond dog whistles. It goes to sending messages to keep his base, you know, charged up. That's what Charlottesville had a lot to do with that, and we see it repeatedly.

And, you know, it's so important now, it is such a sensitive time in race relations and questions about white supremacy and how painful these periods have been for African-Americans.

You'd just think there'd be a lot more delicacy and subtlety coming out of this White House, but afraid not.

CABRERA: The Trump campaign is trying to court African-American voters by running ads slamming Biden over his central role in the 1994 Crime Bill. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Every major Crime Bill that's come out of this Congress has had the name, Joe Biden on that Bill.

We do everything but hang people for jay walking in this Bill.

ANNOUNCER: Joe Biden's policies destroyed millions of black lives. Joe Biden may not remember, but we do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Errol, is this going to work? Is this effective in courting black voters?

LOUIS: I don't know who they think the "we" is. If anybody who sees that ad thinks somehow that they'll get a better deal, better treatment from the Trump administration, which dialed back much of what the Obama-Biden administration had done as far as consent decrees, investigating police misconduct, and otherwise looking into it and trying to grapple with these issues, they're welcome to do it.

The reality is, look, the Trump-Pence ticket got something like eight percent of the black vote four years ago. They're not likely to go any higher and they're likely to go a good bit lower.

This was, perhaps, a cogent argument during the primary season, but now that voters on the Democratic side have lined up behind Joe Biden, I don't think there's any question that people are going to -- I am not saying that, you know, let bygones be bygones, but maybe take a second look, ask him to answer some questions about what will be different from 1994, but it was really quite a long time ago.

And as I'm sure David Gergen can explain to you, it was an Omnibus Bill that included all kinds of stuff to deal with domestic violence and to deal with those consent decrees. There was a lot in that Bill.

The notion that you can just hang one vote on Joe Biden after his long decades of service, I think is probably not going to fly with voters.

CABRERA: I do want to ask you about George Conway's group and the new ad it released attacking the President on his coronavirus response. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We're not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.

ANNOUNCER: Haven't we asked enough of the greatest generation?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: David, these ads from the Lincoln Project have really gotten under the President's skin. What makes them so effective? GERGEN: Because they're darn good ads. They are some of the toughest,

to be sure. But they penetrate and they call it out for what it is.

And I don't think that the President is scoring much on this. Last poll I saw just a few days ago support for Trump among African- Americans was at five percent approval rating, five percent.

So, Errol was right, just like that eight percent vote last time around, I think that that's where the President is likely to wind up. You know, somewhere between five percent and eight percent, which is -- it's not nothing, but it's sure not something you can base your campaign on.

And I will say, if I might, Ana, I was, you know, in and out of the White House during the time all of this -- votes were taken back in the mid '90s on the Crime Bill.

There was a lot of support in the country and on both sides of the aisle for elements of that especially putting 100,000 more cops on the streets.

You know, black communities really were looking for more safety and protection. At the same time, there were things that spun out of control.

A lot of the three strikes you're out kind of mentality that I think was such -- turned out to be such a mistake. Joe Biden deserves, you know, he is linked to that. That's just part of who he is. But I do think he deserves some credit for at least admitting we made some mistakes.

You know, it would be something that I think Donald Trump would do himself so much good, to occasionally would say, you know, I blew that.

[19:45:19]

CABRERA: Right, and proof that he has maybe learned, then, from those mistakes.

GERGEN: Yes.

CABRERA: David Gergen and Errol Louis, both so smart. I am very grateful to have you on the show. Thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you, Ana, good to see you.

CABRERA: President Trump says he was never briefed on U.S. Intelligence that Russia offered Taliban militants cash to kill American troops.

But how would he not be told about something so serious? We'll discuss with an official who helped brief President Obama on national security, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:50:16]

CABRERA: A leading Republican voice wants answers regarding the U.S. Intel report that says Russia offered bounties to Taliban forces to kill U.S. troops. G.O.P. Congressman Liz Cheney twitting, "If the report is true, why weren't the President and Vice President briefed? Who did know and when? And what has been done in response to protect our forces and hold Putin accountable?"

President Trump is denying that he knew anything about this disturbing reporting. But according to "The New York Times" which broke the story, the President was briefed on these findings at a meeting in March.

CNN national security analyst and former senior adviser to the National Security Adviser, Samantha Vinograd joins us with our weekend presidential brief.

And Sam, the President says he wasn't briefed. Based on your experience at the White House with the National Security Council, does that make sense to you?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I know my mother is watching, so I'll be polite. The President's explanation just isn't plausible. There are times when a President isn't briefed on threat reporting. That's often when the threat reporting isn't reliable. It doesn't have a high degree of confidence.

In this case, reliability doesn't appear to be a limiting factor. We have reporting from our colleague, Barbara Starr that forced protection measures were taken in response to the Intelligence.

And "The New York Times" reported that the White House held a meeting to look at response options to punish Putin in light of this Intelligence. You don't react to something that you think doesn't exist.

And in my experience dealing with threat reporting, threat reporting of this nature would have been available to the President on multiple occasions whether in the Presidential Daily Briefing, N.S.C. meetings, briefing memos and more.

So, while the Intel was likely available, there is no guarantee that the President chose to digest it. He has had a closed door policy on actual Intelligence for years now. So it is entirely possible that he opted out of receiving these briefings.

The only other explanation is that is handpicked team failed to brief him on multiple occasions, but any way you cut it, this is gross incompetence likely with fatal implications.

CABRERA: "The New York Times" did report that there was a White House meeting on this and no actions were taken. What could the administration do to punish Putin?

VINOGRAD: Well, in the first instance, time is of the essence here. A failure to act means that Putin has no reason to stop what he is doing. That means there could be an ongoing threat to our forces in Afghanistan.

But while acting quickly is important, so too is acting smartly. That's why in these kinds of policy discussions, it's really important to involve two key constituencies -- first, the Intelligence Community. The Intelligence Community should be involved to assess how Putin will likely react to various measures aby the United States.

And second, it's really important to involve allies. Taking action in concert with allies makes measures more effective. Now, these measures are typically drawn from a menu of options like in the economic realm, sanctioning relevant individuals and entities and diplomatically, doing things like kicking out Russian diplomats and seizing Russian diplomatic properties.

So the key point here is that it is critical that the administration act quickly, decisively and thoughtfully or Putin has good reason to think that he can really get away with murder.

CABRERA: What does this indicate about his agenda?

CABRERA: Well, four years into the Trump presidency, Putin is clearly feeling more powerful than ever. He is launching a multi-pronged attack against us.

He is engaged in information warfare attacks, cyberattacks and now, reportedly conventional attacks against U.S. forces. He clearly feels empowered and frankly, Ana, I'm not sure that I blame him.

You just look at the general picture here, and Trump has cajoled and rewarded despots who have harmed Americans like Kim Jong-un and Otto Warmbier or Mohammed bin Salman and American resident, Jamal Khashoggi, more specifically with respect to Russia, Trump has personally given Putin a free pass on basically everything, including attacking our democracy.

So, it is not a surprise to me that Putin feels omnipotent and overall, the way that this reporting is playing out is a net benefit to Russia. The U.S. government looks incompetent and like it is condoning the murder of Americans overseas, so writ large, the view from the Kremlin right now is probably pretty good.

CABRERA: Samantha Vinograd, great to have your insights. Thank you.

VINOGRAD: Thanks.

CABRERA: And a quick programming note. Join CNN's Jake Tapper tonight for a new CNN special report, "Trump and the Law After Impeachment." It airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

That's going to do it for me this evening. Thank you for keeping me company this evening.

I am Ana Cabrera in New York.

My colleague Wolf Blitzer picks up our coverage right after this. Have a great week. See you next weekend.

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[19:59:50]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

This is a special edition of "The Situation Room." Very grim for the world still struggling to combat the coronavirus.

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