Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Struggles to Get Coronavirus Under Control; Donald Trump: Intel Not Credible on Russia's Bounties on U.S. Troops; Half a Million Dead Globally as Cases Keep Rising in 31 States in U.S. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2020 - 05:00   ET




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


LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: More states rolling back openings to prevent a coronavirus disaster on the 4th of July. Why Dr. Anthony Fauci says the numbers refuse to come down.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Plus, an unsettling story. The president claiming the Intel is not credible, denying that he was briefed that Russia offered to pay Taliban fighters to kill American troops.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White power! White power!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go --



JARRETT: Unmistakable and unthinkable at any other time. The president of the United States forced to pull down a tweet where he shares someone shouting white power. Yes, this is 2020. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START, I'm Laura Jarrett. Good to see you, Boris --

SANCHEZ: And I'm -- great to see you, Laura, I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans. Monday, June, 29th, 5:00 a.m. on the East Coast, always a pleasure to join you, my friend.

JARRETT: Well, the human toll of coronavirus is getting harder to fathom by the day. Around the world, half a million people are dead, 10 million are infected globally. Coronavirus spiking virtually everywhere right now. More than 20 percent of cases in the entire pandemic have come in just the last two weeks. Here in the United States, 31 states are still seeing a rise in cases, only four states sprinkled across the northeast are dropping week over week. Almost 126,000 Americans have died. Reversing this trend will be a monumental challenge.


AZAR: This is a 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 coverings in settings where we can't social distance, if we don't practice appropriate personal hygiene, we're going to see spread of disease.


SANCHEZ: Look, at least 13 states are hitting the brakes on reopening and some like Texas are ordering bars to close and restaurants to restrict their occupancy, but gyms, camps, amusement parks, churches, all places where the virus can quickly spread, they remain open. The "Dallas Morning News" reporting that Governor Greg Abbott may soon have to tighten the shutdown to avoid a disaster this 4th of July weekend.

On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence visited a church in Texas. You might recall he was scheduled to visit Arizona and Florida, those trips canceled because of the outbreak. On Sunday at this church, he wore a mask. But you're watching about a 100 people in the choir who did not.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wear a mask wherever it's indicated or wherever you're not able to practice the kind of social distancing that would prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And we would strongly reiterate that to your local officials in consultation with the state are directing you to wear a mask. We encourage everyone to wear a mask in the affected areas and where you can't maintain social distancing.


JARRETT: New case numbers in the United States over the last four days have now eclipsed the previous highs from late April. Florida reported 18,000 new cases this weekend alone. Numbers rivaling what New York saw just a few months ago. The governor says a whopping 20 percent of people between 25 and 34 years old are testing COVID in the -- using positive in the United States, meaning young people with no symptoms are likely spreading this virus.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that even with a vaccine for coronavirus, the U.S. may not achieve herd immunity because too many people may refuse to get it. Three vaccines are set for large clinical trial soon, and as he said before, there's a sizeable anti-science, anti-authority sentiment in parts of this country. A CNN poll last month found that one-third of Americans would not get a COVID-19 vaccine even if it's widely available and affordable.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I doubt seriously that any vaccine will ever be a 100 percent protected. The best we've ever done is measles which is 97 percent to 98 percent effective. Oh, that would be wonderful if we get there. I don't think we will. I would settle for 70 percent-75 percent effective vaccine because that would bring you to that level of would- be herd immunity level.



SANCHEZ: Well, it's not a surprise. Fauci blames the current surge on Americans who are not following social distancing and wearing their masks. He also says the U.S. is not doing well with contact-tracing. He says it's difficult in hot spots because some 20 percent to 40 percent of those infected are asymptomatic.

JARRETT: California's governor is ordering bars closed in Los Angeles and six other counties. In south Florida, beaches in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties will be closed for the 4th of July weekend. More counties could be added there. And with icing events at a 100 percent capacity, Texas Medical Center hospitals suddenly stopped updating key metrics on their website for days.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it is truly remarkable story. Overnight, the president downplaying intelligence that the Russians offered and may have paid bounties for Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops. The president denies he was briefed about the intelligence back in March. That time line was reported first by "The New York Times" and confirmed by CNN which now says that spies and special ops forces warned about this as early as January.

The president dismissed what he referred to as so-called attacks on U.S. forces, but "The Washington Post" is now reporting that those so- called attacks are believed to have resulted in the deaths of multiple U.S. troops. Nick Paton Walsh is reported extensively from Afghanistan, he joins us now live from London.

Nick, of course, the backdrop to this story is that the United States was trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban. This intelligence indicates that the Russians apparently tried to interfere. Given your reporting, do you believe that the GRU, the Russian spy agency is capable of doing this? Is this something they would do?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, it's entirely feasible that this did, indeed, occur. I mean, I've reported a couple of years ago on allegations from the U.S. and even from Taliban, ex-Taliban militants that the Russians are supplying weaponry to the Taliban insurgency here. Let's wind back a little bit and talk about what we do know and then what is disputed.

I know from a European intelligence official of this scheme, and that European intelligence official was clear that the assessment was the coalition casualties has been caused as a result of these payments by Russian military intelligence, the GRU to Taliban militants. The timing and the nature and number of casualties are unclear.

A U.S. official speaking to my colleague Barbara Starr has confirmed that same plot, added timing to suggest that the report intelligence emerged for discussion in February and March. That there may have been actual money-changing hands. That also tallies what my European intelligence official was saying to me too. The U.S. official, a little more skeptical about the veracity of that intelligence.

And so that's what President Donald Trump seems to be leaning most on, that these reports weren't verified or serious enough that they made their way to his desk. Now, that slightly knocked aside by "The Washington Post" who came out last night and said that, in fact, this payment had resulted in U.S. deaths, a stark departure certainly because obviously if American fatalities on the back of field have been caused by something like this.

You can't imagine a situation where President Donald Trump would not have been informed about it. Bizarrely though, we've seen to have gone from a situation where there are extremely grave allegations being levied against the Russian military intelligence apparatus here, the GRU. I should point out, the unit of the GRU accused of doing this is according to the European intelligence official I spoke to, the same ones who tried to kill the Skripal father and daughter in Salisbury in early 2018.

We've gone from this extraordinary situation of a very serious allegation against the Russians to now a process story it seems about who told who what inside the White House about this allegation. Remember, Donald Trump is always in a strange position when it comes to allegations of Russian malfeasance. He recently suggested trying to get Russia back into G7 despite many Europeans being against that, particularly the United Kingdom.

I should point out the Taliban say, no, we have nothing to do with this. Deny the allegations, so does the Russian Embassy in Washington. But it is a remarkably serious allegation here in what is still America's longest war. Back to you.

SANCHEZ: Yes, no question given the president's apologetic streak when it comes to Russia meddling in the election and Russian malfeasance as you put it overseas. It will be interesting to watch how President Trump responds to this when he's hopefully pressed by reporters soon. Nick Paton Walsh reporting from London. Thank you.

JARRETT: All right, so with news of Russians putting bounties on the lives of U.S. troops emerging over the weekend, here's what President Trump decided to share with his 82 million Twitter followers first thing Sunday morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White power! White power!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White power, you hear now.


JARRETT: That's right. An endorsement of white power from the president of the United States. This confrontation in the video you're seeing took place at the villages, a retirement community in Florida.


The president deleted the tweet three hours later, a rare concession under pressure. Some of that pressure likely coming directly from Republicans including the party's only black senator.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): If you watch the entire video, you can't play it because it was all profanity-laced. The entire thing was offensive. Certainly the comment about the white power was offensive. There's no question. I mean, we can play politics with it or we can't. I'm not going to. I think it's indefensible, we should take it down, that's what I think.


SANCHEZ: The White House ultimately released a statement saying, quote, "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, enthusiasm from his many supporters".

There are two possibilities here that President Trump didn't watch the video and merely retweeted without looking or listening closely which we've seen happen before or that the president watched it, thought it was worth posting, praised those supporters and then finally took it down when he started catching heat for it. President Trump has spent years stoking racial divisions, and now his poll numbers plummet, leading up to the November election, the effort to rile up his base has become more urgent than ever.

JARRETT: All right, still ahead, generational change in Mississippi. Lawmakers vote to lose the Confederate symbol from the state's flag.



SANCHEZ: We're following a breaking story overnight. Five people killed after a gunman opened fire at the Karachi Stock Exchange in Pakistan. An official there confirms that police and security guards are among the victims. Rescue and paramilitary personnel are at the scene this hour. Stay with CNN for updates, we're going to be following the story throughout the morning.

JARRETT: The number of companies joining the Stop Hate for Profit campaign against Facebook is now growing. But on Sunday on CNN, Facebook's Vice President for Public Affairs Nick Clegg pushed back on the premise of the boycott.


NICK CLEGG, VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, FACEBOOK: Facebook, we have absolutely no incentive to tolerate hate speech. We don't like it, our users don't like it, advertisers understandably don't like it. You know, we don't benefit from hate speech, of course not. We benefit from positive human connection, not hate.


JARRETT: On Friday, Facebook expanded its policy on hate speech, and said it will apply warning labels to user posts that are no worthy but still violate its policies. Even after the announcement, Bean Suntory; the company behind Jim Beam and Makers Mark said it will pause all Facebook and Instagram advertising in July and hinted its boycott could last even longer.

Meanwhile, Starbucks, Facebook's sixth largest advertiser says it plans to pause all social media advertising although it didn't specifically mention the boycott. Hershey's, Birchbox, Honda, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Verizon and other huge names already boycotting Facebook.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now a vote of 36 to 14, the motion passes.


SANCHEZ: A round of applause for a historic move in Mississippi as lawmakers vote to change the state's flag, removing the Confederate battle emblem. The bill now goes to Governor Tate Reeves who said he plans to sign it into law. A commissioner is going to design a new flag without the Confederate emblem, that includes the phrase in God we trust. The new design then goes before Mississippi voters this November.

JARRETT: And now to Minnesota where the fired Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd are set to appear in court later today. Derek Chauvin is charged with second degree murder, the others are charged with failing to intervene as Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck. The defense could try to have the charges dismissed and seek access to records and evidence from the prosecutors now.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis mayor and police chief are rolling out new policies regarding officers and body cameras. Incident report must now be filed before they can look at the footage.


transparency, for accountability. We want to make sure that we're getting an accurate recollection from the officer at the time.


JARRETT: Minnesota state lawmakers have so far failed to pass a Police Reform Bill despite mounting pressure.

SANCHEZ: Well, he was the first player in the NBA diagnosed with coronavirus. And with the season getting ready to restart, Rudy Gobert is still feeling the effects. More after a quick break.



JARRETT: The Rolling Stones now threatening to sue President Trump for using their music at his campaign rallies. The Stones classic, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" has served as the Trump campaigns walk off song during campaign rallies in the past. The family of late rock musician Tom Petty has already issued a cease and desist notice after the campaign used the song "I Won't Back Down" at his rally in Tulsa.

SANCHEZ: The heads of NCAA and SEC are welcoming Mississippi's decision to remove the Confederate symbol of its state's flag. Carolyn Manno has more in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT". Good morning Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Boris, good morning to you both. Entities threatening not to hold championships in the state until this issue was resolved. They're now applauding this decision which comes only days after coaches from some of the university's biggest coaches in the state went down to the Capitol to lobby for change here. In a statement, SEC Commissioner really explaining their thoughts process here, Greg Sankey saying in part, "students deserve to learn and compete in the welcoming environment, and that this decision has welcomed action in the spirit of that goal."

NCAA President Mark Emmert confirming to a statement as well that the opportunity for the state to host future NCAA championships now open after that decision. Mississippi state running back Kylin Hill who has been out front in this effort tweeting, "big salute to every university in the state that helped." Hill had vowed never to play for his team again until the change was made.

Meantime in the NBA, Rudy Gobert says he's still not fully recovered from coronavirus. The Jazz center was the league's first reported player to test positive back in March. He told a French newspaper he still has trouble with smell more than three months after his diagnosis. Unclear whether Gobert is going to rejoin the Jazz when the regular season resumes next month in Orlando.

[05:25:00] Meantime, a source telling CNN the New England Patriots are being

fined $1.1 million and will lose a third round draft pick for their television crews filming of the Bengals sideline back on December 8th. The team admitted to filming the team during a game for an internet series called "Do Your Job". A Patriots crew will no longer be allowed to film during games.

But there's some good news for Pats fans this morning. Two multiple reports that the team is signing free agent quarterback Cam Newton. The 2015 MVP getting a one-year incentive-laden deal from New England after being released from Carolina in late March. So Laura and Boris, good news there, and potentially putting the Patriots right back in Super Bowl contention here after everybody was writing them off.

JARRETT: Oh, I know, that makes Patriots fans very happy. All right, good to see you Carolyn, take care. All right, 60 percent of the country does not have coronavirus under control. More states rolling back reopenings to prevent a 4th of July super spreader.