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China Tightens Its Grip on Hong Kong; Coronavirus Cases Explode across the United States; COVID-19 Takes a Dangerous Turn in Texas; Big Win for U.S. Abortion Rights Advocates; Italy and U.S. Going in Opposite Directions; E.U. Members Set to Finalize Travel Restrictions; Poll Shows Europeans Souring on U.S. Alliance; Official: Intelligence on Bounties was in Daily Briefing; Brazil Reports More Than 24,000 New COVID-19 Cases; South Africa Turns Rec Center into Field Hospital; Israel Expected to Move Forward with Annexation Plans. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired June 30, 2020 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, China tightens its grip on Hong Kong. A new national security law grants Beijing sweeping authority over the territory.
Governors across the U.S. pressed pause on their plans to reopen as coronavirus cases explode.
And inside the ICU. The hospital that's on the front lines of the outbreak in Texas. How doctors and nurses are coping with the sudden surge.
NEWTON: Of course, we begin with that breaking news, where China's parliament has reportedly passed a controversial national security law for Hong Kong. So significant here. Full details of the legislation still have not even been released.
But state media has said it would criminalize acts of secession, subversion and terrorism. Critics argue that it could undermine the city's civil and political freedoms. We have full coverage for you; Anna Coren joins us from Hong Kong. Steven Jiang is in Beijing.
And I want to start with you in terms of reaction and in terms of how the territory is actually taking all of this in. For many, it will be a stunning reversal to rights that they thought they would have for years to come.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. When British handed it back to China in 1987, I don't think anyone envisaged that China would do this. Amnesty International called a weapon of repression and that this was China's way to govern Hong Kong through fear from this point forward.
We've also heard from the Taiwanese government that it strongly condemns this law. This law will now ban secession, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism but you are talking about terrorism from within.
When countries around the world have these national security laws, it is generally from attacks externally. China views what's happening here as homegrown terrorism. Protesters calling for greater freedoms and some are even calling for independence. They have seen this as a threat and as a major embarrassment.
The timing is crucial because tomorrow is the 1st of July. A year ago, protesters were storming LegCo, the Legislative Council building here in Hong Kong and that was a huge embarrassment for the Chinese government.
The 1st of July is also typically a day when activists do take to the streets and protest, calling for greater freedoms. But China has made sure that that will not be happening and, if there are protests on the streets, which have been planned, that police will be able to arrest them and potentially, under this new national security law.
Critics say this is the end of "One Country, Two Systems," the end of Hong Kong autonomy, the end of Hong Kong's rule of law, which has differentiated Hong Kong from Mainland China. This is a global international hub. And many financial institutions here will be thinking twice.
Interestingly, I should note that the Hong Kong stock market has risen with the announcement of this law, so that is an interesting development, too.
NEWTON: It is, so much to take in there. But also in Beijing Steven Jiang joins us from there.
Beijing clearly feels but emboldened to do this.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: From Beijing's perspective, this is long overdue. Tomorrow is the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's sovereignty returning to Beijing. Over the years, the local authorities enabled a passing national security legislation. They last time they tried in 2003, huge protests turned out on the streets. So the local authorities had to shelve and never re- introduced it.
JIANG: And over the years we have seen many empty Beijing protests and demonstrations on the streets, including this latest protest movement that began last year.
So from Beijing's perspective, there is a growing movement in Hong Kong, growing activism, not only about pro democracy but a pro independence movement. And they have been framing all of this as being instigated by Western powers, especially from Washington.
That is why they are seeing this legislation being not only necessary but also urgent to defend their core interests, that is their sovereignty and security. But this law was discussed and voted on behind closed doors; 161 members of the National People's Congress standing committee, they have been voting this in and many Hong Kong officials not knowing the details so lack of this transparency does not inspire confidence, Paula.
NEWTON: It certainly would be very concerning for protesters, obviously.
Before you go, I want you to talk about the international reaction. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo here in the United States tweeted, saying that the Chinese Communist Party's threats to restrict visas to U.S. citizens is just the latest example of Beijing's refusal to accept responsibility for breaking its commitment to the people of Hong Kong.
But here is where it gets interesting, "We will not be deterred from taking action to respond."
And yet what can they do?
We've seen noted and condemnation from the E.U. and the United States and yet does Beijing believe that there will be any influence on what they do?
JIANG: Beijing has brushed aside any of these concerns and criticisms especially from Washington. Pompeo's tweet was referring to the tit- for-tat measures between the two governments over Hong Kong.
The State Department in the U.S. has imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials, they say responsible for erosion of autonomy in Hong Kong. The U.S. is ending export of defense equipment to Hong Kong, as well as military civilian to use (ph) technologies to the territory.
And the U.S. Senate actually passed a law aimed at punishing China and Chinese officials, playing a similar role, so all of these measures really have been denounced here in Beijing.
And with officials saying that this is not going to do anything in terms of affecting the Chinese government's determination and its capability to uphold and carry out this law in Hong Kong. From their perspective, this is only going to reinforce their notion that these external interferences is why they need this law in Hong Kong.
NEWTON: Ann, it goes back to those protesters and how they will react in the coming days and weeks.
COREN: We are expecting people to take to the streets tomorrow to really put a stamp on the 1st of July and also in response to this national security law. But since COVID, Paula, the police presence on the streets has just been overwhelming. Protesters have not been able to get any traction. The numbers last year we have not seen this this year. With the
national security law in place, people will be scared to take to the streets. We have heard from Joshua Wong, who, as we know, is a very high-profile democracy activist here. He has quit his party, along with other members of that party, obviously fearing what the implications are, not just for them but for the party as well.
People like Jimmy Li (ph), another pro democracy activists who runs "Apple Daily" here, which is an opposition newspaper, online newspaper. He is also very concerned as to what this means for him.
Anyone who has spoken out, anyone who has shown opposition to China, we don't know if this is going to be used retroactively or if these people could face life behind bars. So real concerns.
NEWTON: The bottom line, a life sentence for freedom of speech laws that were supposed to be enforced in Hong Kong for several years to come. Anna Coren with the latest on Hong Kong, Steven Jiang in Beijing, thank you to you both. We will continue to follow the story.
NEWTON: So mandatory masks, shuttered bars, empty beaches, cities and states across the United States are promising a July 4th holiday like no other as they try as best they can to beat back the coronavirus.
NEWTON: Cases are rising across half the country. Look at that map, the red tells you it's prompting many local state and federal governments to hit the brakes on those crucial reopening plans or start closing parts of the economy again.
Among them, Arizona, now back under a partial shutdown, closing bars, gyms and movie theaters for a second time and banning large gatherings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ): I've asked for a lot of patience and I am going to ask for some more patience as we go forward. This pandemic is incredible in terms of the sacrifices that it is asking all of our citizens to continue to participate.
Our numbers continue to increase in Arizona. They are going in the wrong direction and we are going to take some additional actions today to contain this virus and get back on track. To do that, we will have to persevere. And it is going to be for some time in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: There is Arizona's governor taking action there, warning people that they really need to dig in now for a long haul, one few could've expected. The U.S. accounts for a quarter of the world's 10 million cases right now, with 500,000 lives lost. Experts warn it's a race against time to reverse the trends. Jason Carroll has more.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At least a dozen states are pausing or rolling back reopening plans, the country's health secretary warning the window is closing to get the virus under control.
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: This is a real call to action. We have all got to as Americans act responsibly.
CARROLL (voice-over): New Jersey canceling plans to allow indoor dining, while Florida now leads in new coronavirus cases. Starting today, Jacksonville, the state's largest city and site of the Republican convention, mandating masks indoors and outdoors. Bars in the state now closed for the second time and some beaches closed ahead of the 4th of July holiday.
MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ (R-FL), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: We are seeing a rise in the infection rate of young people. They will in turn bring it in to their parents and grandparents and then we will have a problem.
CARROLL (voice-over): In Texas, health experts seeing a sharp increase in infections among young people there as well. The governor says over the past two weeks, the daily number of cases have spiked from an average of 2,000 to roughly 5,000. Some people now lining up and waiting hours for a COVID test.
JUDGE CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY, TEXAS: Hospitalizations here in Dallas have doubled for COVID just this month and also in our region. We're at the tipping point down in Harris County, where Houston is.
CARROLL (voice-over): One bar in East Lansing, Michigan, shows how infectious the virus can be. The Health Department is asking patrons who visited Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub earlier this month to self-quarantine after roughly 85 people contracted COVID-19.
Bars ordered closed in seven counties now in California. It was one of the first states to issue a stay at home order and now sounding the alarm after seeing a surge in cases there.
LT. GOV. ELENI KOUNALAKIS (D-CA): We're not out of the woods. We have to continue to take every single possible precaution.
CARROLL (voice-over): New data obtained by CNN shows some of the hardest hit states, including Texas, Florida and Arizona, do not have the amount of contact tracers they need to stop the spread of the virus.
Contact tracers follow and monitor contacts of an infected person to see whether they become ill.
CARROLL: And this bit of developing news, after continuing with reopening efforts in Arizona, even with a surging number of cases, the governor came out and has said that state is moving in the wrong direction. The governor has ordered all bars, restaurants, gyms and water parks
closed for the next 30 days. The governor is also coming out and encouraging people to wear masks -- Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
NEWTON: You just heard Jason there tell us how Jacksonville is mandating those masks, we have learned that, effective immediately, the city of Miami Beach is also requiring masks in public and people who do not wear a mask can be fined $50.
Miami Beach is also ordering bars and restaurants to stop selling alcohol by midnight every single night.
Los Angeles County, meantime, is closing its beaches this holiday weekend as well and it's also in an effort to try and curb the rising infection rate there. From July 3rd to the 6th, authorities will be enforcing the temporary closures, which also include bike paths, piers and access points to beaches.
Violators could be fined up to $1,000. On Monday, county officials reported nearly 3,000 new infections.
NEWTON: Texas, unfortunately, is also dealing with a major surge in cases. We'll take you inside a Houston hospital struggling to keep up with the spread.
Then, the U.S. Supreme Court delivers a surprise win on abortion rights, despite its conservative majority.
NEWTON: The governor of Texas warned COVID-19 has taken a dangerous turn in his state, with the Houston area emerging as an epicenter. The city have reported more than 1,300 new cases in the last two days alone. Miguel Marquez goes inside a Houston hospital and shows us what the staff are up against at this very hour.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Houston, Texas, now home to a major coronavirus outbreak. A procedure all too common when treating the most seriously ill with the virus, this patient on a ventilator, the breathing tube being replaced to improve oxygen flow to the lungs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three. --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
No, I just thought. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
MARQUEZ: The tube pulled out, caked with dried secretions from the lungs rife with the coronavirus.
The new tube immediately improves oxygen flow.
JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: That's the first one for today.
So that was -- we have to change the tube that is somebody that has no oxygen. People could have die if his tube was malfunctioning, it has a balloon at the end that was ruptured, so he wasn't getting enough oxygen.
MARQUEZ: United Medical Memorial Center, a 117-bed hospital serving a mostly working class community in North Houston.
VARON: For the last three weeks, I have seen more admissions on sicker patients than on the previous ten weeks. So it's been an exponential increase on the severity of illness and then the number of cases that we admit.
MARQUEZ: Its COVID unit expanding way beyond its intensive care unit by turning whole sections of the hospital into temporary airtight chambers, creating negative pressure zones to keep the airborne virus moving up and out.
Protective gear now so abundant that everyone triples up, some employees getting through eight sets or more of PPE in a single shift.
In the 100 days they've been treating patients with coronavirus, only one nurse has developed the sickness. She is now being treated by her own colleagues.
You are the frontline worker in the battle against COVID and you now have it.
TANNA INGRAHAM, ICU NURSE, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Yes. And it's -- I wouldn't wish this on my own enemy.
MARQUEZ: The isolation of the disease difficult to deal with even for someone who knows what to expect.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Her thoughts now with her 9- and 10-year-old daughters.
What would you say to Madeleine and Abigail right now?
INGRAHAM: Baby, mommy loves you and misses you. I hope you're having a great time in California. OK. I'm done.
MARQUEZ: Dr. Varon, who has now worked for more than 100 days without stop. VARON: In Houston, there are two types of patients, those that have COVID and those who will get COVID. My concern as a healthcare provider is that when they get sick, they all come to me at the same time, which is what's happening at the present time. And that's what's going to kill patients because we won't have enough resources.
MARQUEZ: This is something that really worries health care workers, that surge of patients seeking care. The coronavirus can make you sick, it can kill people. But if you have enough people pushing in and trying to get care all at the same time, that can overwhelm systems in Texas and other states and that can lead to many more deaths -- back to you.
NEWTON: Houston's mayor meantime says the surge in cases is a real and serious problem that needs to be addressed, before it overwhelms hospitals, just like Miguel was telling us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D-TX), HOUSTON: There are surge plans. What the hospitals in the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, what they are telling us right now and telling me, is that they have sufficient capacity to handle the increased number of cases at this point.
But the question is, will the rise continue?
Will it go up exponentially?
If it does continue and we are not able to blunt the progression of this virus, then the health care delivery system certainly can be overwhelmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Dr. Emily Porter is an emergency room physician, she joins me now from Austin, Texas.
Thank you for joining us, Dr. Porter.
So Texas is still battling this virus and you heard Miguel's piece there. Right now this hour you in Austin, Texas, and what do you feel most?
DR. EMILY PORTER, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Overwhelming the system. We flattened the curve. We closed down in March and we held out. And we watched New York and California get slammed and I don't know that we learned a lot because Memorial Day happened. And then everybody thought everything had gone away and so since May 27th, in one month, we have tripled our positivity rate. The positivity rate matters more than number of cases. You can say, well, you are testing more people. But your positivity rate should go down if your cases aren't going up.
So the number of people we are testing is getting higher and I spoke to a colleague here that they can't even order tests through the local lab anymore, because the system is overwhelmed. So they are now back to reserving the tests for those who are sick or hospitalized. And that is a problem.
NEWTON: That is a huge problem, because with any asymptomatic spread, you cannot get to that. And I've been watching your Twitter feed, you tell like it is. Few days ago you said wear masks. Unless you want to be intubated by a gynecology intern July 1st who did her last semester of med school via Zoom.
You're obviously using humor to get to an incredibly serious point. You really do fear hospital capacity and, as you heard from the doctor earlier, you fear that that will cost lives.
PORTER: Absolutely, that was totally tongue in cheek, it wasn't meant to offend any doctor. I didn't know where the bathroom was until about August 15th. That's what I meant. Gynecologists are amazing surgeons but intubating is not their wheelhouse, not to imply that people won't be supervised.
But the joke was that if things get so out of control, it is literally going to be all hands on deck. And because physicians and health care workers are so caring, they will do everything they can. And they should not be put in that position.
They need to be put in a position where they are comfortable taking care of people appropriately. But if we don't stop this then we don't know what might happen. It was obviously a joke.
NEWTON: But I think it made the point though, right, people that are spoken to, for five months now, we're on the front lines of this virus and they continually tell me, that we will do all we can to save the lives but try to help us.
PORTER: Right, now mask wearing, is not comfortable expression, especially in a Texas summer but it's about you and also about people you can protect. And I can understand people not wanting to get a vaccine that's new to the market, that's a challenge, it's a needle it's something that might not have years of data. But masks are easy.
PORTER: Doctors wear them for 12 -- some of these ear, nose and throat surgeons do these long surgeries and nobody is passing out from rebreathing their own carbon dioxide. It's just the right thing to do and it's something you can do to help out your neighbor and all the people on the frontlines who are really trying to help you.
NEWTON: I see this unfolding in your own state right now. And one mystery that the economy still can't explain, is it bad luck because many people point to a place like California and say look, they shut down early, they stayed shut down longer, they are still experiencing a spike.
From your experience with this virus, what do you think it is? PORTER: I think that the asymptomatic spread makes it very, very difficult to control. Because if people are liking it to the flu, if people have the flu, they don't feel well enough to go get out, to go to a restaurant or bar or a beach. They feel awful so they stay home.
I don't think that there are people out there, who are intentionally spreading but the asymptomatic spread, people can be doing it unintentionally. We know that mask wearing reduces the spread to others. It protects other people. That is why it's so important, even if you're not having symptoms.
And the young people, I think the fact that they know the mortality rate is a little bit less and they tend to engage more with risk taking behaviors, as most of us did, we are not facing our mortality in quite the same way. So the good news is that the mortality rate has gone down as cases have gone up but the danger is taking it back to Mom or Grandma.
NEWTON: And it just seems there's so much that we've been repeating for the last few months again, it needs to be repeated. Thank you, Dr. Emily Porter, thank you for your contributions and for joining us today from Houston.
PORTER: Thank you, Paula.
NEWTON: OK, now to a big win for abortion rights advocates in the United States, the Supreme Court has struck down a Louisiana law, meant to make obtaining abortions more difficult, if not impossible.
Now the law barred doctors from performing the procedure, unless they had admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Critics say they said they would've closed nearly every clinic in the state. But the top court called the law unconstitutional in a 5-4 ruling.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Abortion rights advocates have Chief Justice Roberts to thank. He was the deciding vote. It's interesting and important because, before this vote, Chief Justice Roberts had actually never voted to block an abortion restriction.
But this morning he did exactly that. In a sense, the chief justice was saying his hands were tied in this case. That is because in 2016, the Supreme Court struck down a nearly identical Texas law. So the chief justice saying he had no choice in this case but to strike it down.
The challengers here, said if this law had gone forward, it would have only left one doctor in the entire state of Louisiana able to perform abortions. It would have shuttered two out of the three remaining abortion clinics in the state.
They said this law, had no valid medical purpose and Justice Breyer, actually took it a step further and he said that the evidence showed in this case, even those doctors who tried to get admitting privileges at hospitals were often blocked, because the hospitals and the hospital officials, were antiabortion.
The White House sniping at the chief justice, along with the other liberal justices, in the 5-4 decision and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, saying, instead of valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate abortion safety regulations.
In fact what is notable here, is that Chief Justice John Roberts, he did leave the door open somewhat to other states, that might try to pass similar restrictions. He said that, in different circumstances, it is possible that restrictions like this could pass muster.
NEWTON: Jessica Schneider.
Now in the meantime, the pro-choice America Group is celebrating the win but warns it doesn't change the simple fact that reproductive freedom in United States remains on the line thanks to antichoice extremists, who have shown that they will stop at nothing to advance their dangerous ideological agenda.
Anti choice politicians be warned. The 77 percent of Americans who support the legal right to abortion care won't forget what you did and you'll be answering to us this November.
Now to the European Union, which has new travel restrictions and Americans won't be allowed in. We'll see who else won't make that cut.
And U.S. lawmakers from both parties demand answers from the White House on the stunning reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops.
NEWTON: Well, so remember early in the coronavirus pandemic -- I know, it seems like centuries ago -- when the U.S. was still relatively unscathed, and no one wanted to wind up like Italy, where things were out of control, and life was shut down? Yes, we're here now. We're fast-forwarding a few months, and now Italy has a handle on things. They are trying to get back to normal.
The U.S., not so much. Ben Wedeman reports on two countries going in very opposite directions.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Italy was the canary in the coronavirus coal mine, proof that the virus would not stay in China. I saw it firsthand.
(on camera): You just need to look at the death notices here. This woman died on the 7th of March. This man died on the 8th of March. This woman died on the 7th of March.
(voice-over): Americans looked on in horror. The U.S. surgeon general warned them to take heed.
JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We have the same number of cases now that Italy had two weeks ago. And we have a choice to make. Do we want to really lean into social distancing and mitigation strategies and flatten the curve, or do we just want to keep going on with business as usual and end up being Italy?
WEDEMAN: Comparing the two countries from the start of their respective outbreaks, it's clear American cases spread much faster. Today, Italy has flattened its curve. The United States has not.
And while the death rate in Italy was slightly higher, American health experts say it's just a lagging indicator.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: It has turned out that America took it even less seriously than Italy, and while we did lock down maybe a little earlier, we just -- we didn't sustain the lockdown. We didn't really ramp up our testing as much as we needed, and we opened up way too early and way too aggressively.
WEDEMAN: Just like Italy before them, some American hospitals are now running out of beds, reliving Italy's mistakes.
But the government in Rome took on a centralized response.
"We managed," the prime minister says, "to get through the lockdown because we developed a national plan."
JHA: What we have right now in the United States is a president and a federal government that has decided to throw in the towel and let every state figure this out on their own.
WEDEMAN: Life in Rome is slowly returning to normal. The cafes crowded with patrons, sipping aperitives.
(on camera): Why didn't the United States see what was happening here and learn those lessons?
DR. WALTER RICCIARDI, ITALIAN REPRESENTATIVE TO WHO EXECUTIVE BOARD: Very difficult to understand,
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Dr. Walter Ricciardi advised the Italian government was advised throughout the crisis. He has confidence in American scientists. America's leaders, maybe not so much.
RICCIARDI: Some of the best researchers and -- and professionals inside the United States. I think some decision-makers are underestimating the severity of this disease.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.
NEWTON: So vacations in Europe aren't looking very likely, in fact, for Americans this summer. The European Union is expected to finalize its new travel restrictions just in the next few hours. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the details.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Brussels, E.U. ambassadors have completed a list of 15 countries whose citizens will be allowed to travel back here to the European Union come July 1.
Now, it's not clear what the countries are that are on that list, and certainly, the governments still have to OK the list. However, it is highly unlikely that Americans are going to be able to travel back to Europe as of July 1.
The European Union has always said that there's nothing political about those decisions. They say all of it depends on the coronavirus situation in the origin countries, and the Europeans say that coronavirus situation has to be equal or better than the average of the European Union.
Clearly with the surges going on in the U.S. right now, that is not the case. And so Americans most probably are going to be lumped in, for instance, with Brazilians and Russians and not be able to come back here to Europe anytime soon.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Brussels, Belgium.
NEWTON: Now, as Fred was just saying, banning American travelers from Europe is an extraordinary step, of course, especially considering all the tourist revenue that's at stake here. But things have taken, of course, an extraordinary turn for Americans on the world stage, as well.
Listen to this. A new poll of 11,000 people across nine European countries reveals an increasingly negative view of America. Just 2 percent said they saw the U.S. as a helpful ally in the fight against coronavirus.
In Germany, meantime, 42 percent said their view of the U.S. had worsened quite a bit during the pandemic. In France, 46 percent said the same thing.
And that is the subject of a new CNN analysis entitled, "The World isn't Laughing at America -- It's Pitying Us."
CNN Politics White House reporter Stephen Collinson joins me now from Washington. And you know, I have to say, your take on this, Stephen, was bracing. You know, you're saying that, look, they're not laughing at America. The world is actually pitying America, and that is much different, isn't it?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. It was one of Donald Trump's great campaign lines from 2016. He would tell his crowd that, Look, the world is laughing at us. They're not paying for NATO. China is ripping us off in trade, et cetera, et cetera. That was never really true, but the world is now looking at the United States in a very different way.
Much of the world is coming out of the coronavirus pandemic. A number of nations have been successful in suppressing that curve. The United States is getting worse and worse. We're on the edge now of what looks like, you know, a national calamity four months into this.
The U.S. curve is not being suppressed, it's getting worse and worse. The virus is marching across southern and western states, consuming big population centers in places like Florida, Texas, California, Arizona.
And the president basically is ignoring it. He hasn't spoken about the virus for a number of days. He's more concerned about protecting statues, which honor Confederate generals, Civil War heroes who fought against the United States itself to preserve slavery in the South, then he is about talking about this virus; because it's inconvenient. It's slowing the economy, and it looks like it's going to affect his reelection chances.
NEWTON: Yes. And that seems to be front and center for him right now, of course.
And, yet, in terms of the allies, allies in the E.U., allies really in Asia, as well, people who really counted on America at one point in time, how do you think this will change their view as they see that America is really one of the only developed countries in the world that has not been able to flatten that curve?
COLLINSON: I think that the last three and a half years of this presidency have been a buckling of assumptions about the United States, that it would always stand up for its alliance system in Asia, but it would always side with its allies in Europe on issues like human rights.
We've seen President Trump, you know, ignite trade wars with U.S. partners, treat U.S. partners very poorly. We saw, in some new reporting by Carl Bernstein today, for example, how he has behaved very poorly towards allies like German chancellor Angela Merkel while cozying up to tyrants like Vladimir Putin in Russia, or Xi Jinping in China.
So I think, you know, it's been a gradual process. But the fact that the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, the country that, in previous international crises, health-wise or national-security-wise, a lot of the rest of the world looked to for a lead, cannot get this under control and appears unable to deal with its own problems, that comes as a big blow to soft power. At the time, when nations like China and Russia are promoting their own political systems as more effective than the United States system of a market democracy.
So certainly, this is going to take a real toll, whoever wins the next election. The prestige and the reputation of the United States is going to take some rebuilding.
NEWTON: And it will take some rebuilding, like you said, even if things do change with the election. I would start by something that the German minister said, saying that, Look, we don't think that putting in a Democratic administration is going to change things, things that have been broken now between their relationship between Europe and the United States.
You know what's interesting, Stephen, this isn't a snapshot in time, is it, framed by the Trump administration? Something different is going on here. It really is a departure.
COLLINSON: That's right. Even if, for example, an internationalist Democrat like Joe Biden wins the next election, there's going to be, in a lot of foreign ministries in Europe, for example, the feeling, well, you know, the United States went down this track once before. This isolationist, populist, almost demagogic track under President Donald Trump. He was elected by more than -- you know, half of the people in the United States, although he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. So he won the election fair and square and 2016.
So there is a substantial portion of this country that likes the idea of America first, that wants to sever traditional U.S. relations, that thinks countries like Germany should pay more for their defense. You know, Donald Trump didn't come from nowhere. These are feelings that have been building in the United States for a long time.
And we're coming to sort of the end -- to a hinge in history, if you like. The World War II generation is passing into history. Those ties that were forged between the United States and its European allies during the Second World War. Its rebuilding of Japan, for example, after the Second World War, that's fading into history. That system, as well, is far less relevant for the lives of many Americans than it used to be.
So I think we're looking at a time of, you know, real changes in the international -- international relationships and the international system at a time when, you know, a nation like China is really beginning to flex its muscle and challenge U.S. power across the board, not just in Asia.
NEWTON: Stephen, I'm glad she pointed out. Nearly half of voters in the United States did, in fact, vote Donald Trump into office. It is not just the personality of the man and, really, what he's done in office. It is something with the American people.
Stephen Collinson joining us from Washington, appreciate it.
NEWTON: And so President Trump denies being briefed that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops. A U.S. official says the intelligence was, in fact, included in one of the daily briefings sometime in the spring.
U.S. lawmakers from both parties are demanding answers on what was known and when it was known. Kaitlan Collins has details.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House, adamant today that President Trump was never briefed on intelligence reports that Russia was secretly offering to pay Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was not personally briefed on the matter.
COLLINS: But the press secretary struggled to explain why Trump wasn't told about the stunning intelligence or what he'll do in response.
MCENANY: I won't speculate on whether this intelligence is verified or not verified, and I won't get ahead of the president on further actions. But I would just point out that no one --
COLLINS (on camera): -- not disputing that it's not true? That's not disputed.
MCENANY: There are dissenting opinions with the intelligence community, and I can confirm with you right now that there is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations.
COLLINS (voice-over): There doesn't have to be a consensus among the intelligence community to brief the commander-in-chief. Matt Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said he's concerned that Trump wasn't briefed on "anything with a hint of credibility that would endanger our service members, much less put a bounty on their lives."
A congressional briefing was hastily thrown together after lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called on the administration to tell Congress what they know.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't know what the Russians have on the president politically, personally, financially, or whatever it is, but he wants to ignore. Something is wrong with this picture.
COLLINS: The press secretary says Pelosi is playing politics, but the calls for more information have been bipartisan. Liz Cheney, the third highest ranking Republican in the House, also said the White House must explain what's being done in response to hold Vladimir Putin accountable if the intelligence is accurate.
Today, the White House did not say what its response would be or whether there will be one at all.
(on camera): You don't think this report is true?
MCENANY: I'm telling you this. That there's no consensus in the intelligence community and that the dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community exist. COLLINS (voice-over): The intelligence was first reported by "The New
York Times" and has been confirmed by several outlets, including CNN. And "The Washington Post" is now citing intelligence assessments that say those bounties resulted in the deaths of several U.S. troops.
(on camera): Now, we should note CNN has not confirmed that report from "The Washington Post." Eight Republican lawmakers have been briefed on these intelligence assessments. They were briefed by the national security adviser, the director of national intelligence and the chief of staff.
And we are told that Democrats are up next, and they are going to get their briefing Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.
And so the question will be, you know, do Democrats come out of this satisfied? Did they get the answers that they wanted to know about this?
Some Republicans said that they did get those answers that they wanted. Some Republican still said they had a lot more questions about what was going on.
So that will be the question of the day on Tuesday. And whether or not the administration is going to schedule a briefing for all members of Congress, instead of just these select few that they did over the last few days.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
NEWTON: Still ahead here on CNN, an ominous warning about the coronavirus pandemic. Why the head of the World Health Organization says the worst is yet to come.
Plus, the hardest-hit country in Africa has turned a giant recreation center into a COVID-19 field hospital. You'll want to see this. We'll take you inside Cape Town's newest effort to fight the virus.
NEWTON: The head of the World Health Organization says the worst is yet to come -- yes, yet to come -- with the coronavirus. He says the pandemic is actually speeding up, and most people in the world still remain susceptible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is, this is not even close to being over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: OK. So it is hard to imagine what this map that you're looking at will look like when this is finally over. Right now, more than 10 million coronavirus cases are confirmed around the world. That's according to Johns Hopkins. More than half a million people have died.
And in terms of what's going on in Latin America, it is Brazil that has been the worst hit country there. Officials are still reporting tens of thousands of cases each and every day. More than 1.3 million people have been infected right across the country and the death toll there now stands at 58,000 souls.
Even so, some areas are still trying to restart their economies. Shasta Darlington has more.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brazil reported just over 24,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday as the total number of infections edged toward 1.5 million. It also reported 692 additional deaths.
Despite warnings from international organizations that the pandemic has yet to peek in Brazil and throughout Latin America, several Brazilian cities continue to relax restrictions, egged on by President Jair Bolsonaro.
The president has clashed with governors and even his own health ministers, who have supported quarantine measures.
Now, Rio de Janeiro is preparing to reopen bars, restaurants and gyms this week and private schools next week, even though the number of new infections has not slowed and the rate of contagion has gone up since the state allowed stores and offices to reopen.
Experts warn a second wave could force Rio to close down again.
Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paolo.
NEWTON: To South Africa now, by far the hardest hit country on the African continent, and it has converted a huge recreational center in Cape Town -- you see it there -- into a COVID-19 field hospital.
Our David McKenzie spoke to a coordinator with Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, about what the situation is like there on the ground.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People were predicting a catastrophe in places like the Cape Flats and Khayelitsha. Has it happened and, at this stage, will it happen?
DR. CLAIRE KEENE, MEDICAL COORDINATOR, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES: Even our best models weren't able to predict what we're seeing now, and we definitely have a lower peak than what we'd expected, but it looks like it will go on for longer.
MCKENZIE: So this is a marathon?
KEENE: This is a marathon. And I think people need to get a reality check and accept that this is here and that it's not going to go away anytime soon.
We've used the time well, and we -- but we were always going to question ourselves, did we use it enough? Did we do enough with the time that we were given during lockdown, during when the epidemic slowed. Every death is heavy on the healthcare workers that worked to save that person's life.
NEWTON: Now, South Africa has recorded more than 144,000 cases of coronavirus and 2,500 deaths.
You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Just ahead, how a campaign promise from Israel's president turned into a controversial plan to annex parts of the West Bank.
NEWTON: And now we take you to Israel, where a battle is brewing over plans to annex pats of the occupied West Bank. Now, the government calls it the application of Israeli sovereignty, but Palestinians see it as outright theft.
CNN's Oren Liebermann has more.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What began as a campaign promise has turned into a political mission. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is poised to press forward with Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Applying Israeli law to areas of Judean Samaria that will remain part of Israel in any future peace deal will not set back the cause of peace. It will advance peace.
LIEBERMANN: In September, Netanyahu vowed to annex the Jordan Valley. More recently, he's talked about annexing Jewish settlements, something he hadn't seriously pursued in his previous 12 years in office.
At the time, he was looking to win over right-wing votes, but he won over the White House, too. The Trump administration's plan for Middle East peace, a departure from decades of U.S. policy.
NETANYAHU: Israel will not miss this opportunity.
LIEBERMANN: But few, if any, conditions on unilateral Israeli annexation.
Palestinians remain defiant, refusing to even consider the White House's plan.
SAEB ERAKAT, SECRETARY GENERAL, PLO: President Trump? That nation is either born to struggle to find strong nations to protect them. The jungle has lost, chaos has order, but this doctrine is the mother of all chaos and lawlessness.
LIEBERMANN: In the midst of a global pandemic and an economic meltdown, Israel is plowing ahead.
Meanwhile, the international consensus has crystallized. The European Union is weighing measures against Israel, with more countries considering recognizing the state of Palestine. Arab states have warned of protests and a freeze to thawing relations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the progress that you've seen and exchanges and openings could be undermined by one simple step.
LIEBERMANN: And the U.N. has reiterated that applying sovereignty over occupied territory is a violation of international law, capable of triggering another wave of violence.
NICKOLAI MLADENOV, U.N. SPECIAL COORDINATOR, MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS: Another explosion, another wall that would happen here would be a terrible, terrible tragedy. Not just a human tragedy, but a failure of leadership on all sides.
LIEBERMANN: Israeli protests against annexation have grown, backed by the peace camp and by many of Israel's vaunted military commanders. The risk is too great, they warned, the reward too small.
MAJOR GENERAL (RES.) AMOS GILEAD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR POLICY AND STRATEGY (IPS): Peacefully, they will not forgive us if we're going to endanger our national security by opening so many fronts. Political, strategic, international law. The United States may be in three months. You, the whole world.
LIEBERMANN: Arab anger over the Trump administration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, removing the embassy was somewhat muted. Proponents of annexation say it will be again.
But those were only changes of U.S. foreign policy. Annexation is an unprecedented Israeli move, a game-changer, in a situation that doesn't respond well to major changes.
Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.
NEWTON: And I want to thank you for joining us here at CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. And I will be back with more CNN NEWSROOM after a quick break. Stay with us.
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