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At Least 17 U.S. States Rein in Reopening Plans Amid Surge; Arizona to Pause Reopenings as Virus Cases Soar; Growing Number of U.S. States Have Mask Requirements; Officials Say Intelligence on Bounties was in Daily Briefing; Sources Say Senior Officials Concluded Trump was a Danger to National Security After Phone Calls with Foreign Leaders; China Passes National Security Law for Hong Kong. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, several U.S. states are backpedaling on reopening their economies amid a sharp increase in coronavirus cases across the country.

The U.S. President says he was not briefed on the alleged Russian bounty plot. A source tells CNN the intelligence was in his daily brief earlier this year.

And EU leaders will soon decide which countries they plan to allow into Europe but the U.S. isn't expected to be on that list because of its handling of the pandemic. We'll have a live report from Brussels.

Good to have you with us. Mixed messages, U-turns and a warning with the July 4th weekend looming, COVID-19 isn't taking a holiday. Now a top doctor tells CNN the country is in a worse place today than it was on Memorial Day.


DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: In parts of this country this has not been taken as seriously as it should be by all of the residents. You know, when you look at where we were Memorial Day and so many states moving into the right direction with numbers of cases going down, parts of the country really trying to use public health guidance as the roadmap to opening up the economy. And then in other parts of the country the message being get back to work, go out, enjoy your social life. There's nothing to worry about with this COVID pandemic. And when you see that clash of messages between some political leaders and then every public health leader taking this so incredibly seriously. When you see that clash of messages, this is the outcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: And the head of the World Health Organization warns this is no time to be complacent or careless.


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.


CHURCH: And the U.S. continues to lead the world in the pandemic accounting for about 1/4 of the 10 million cases and also 1/4 of the more than half a million lives lost. Infections are rising in 31 U.S. states and 17 of them are now pausing or rolling back their reopenings. Among them, Florida, which is center stage right now for its dramatic spike in infections. In California, Los Angeles is shutting down its beaches for the holiday weekend after coronavirus cases topped 100,000. Nick Watt brings us the big picture.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Because of this, this and this --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to change a tube on somebody that has no oxygen. He could have died.

WATT: -- we are now hearing this --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arizona is on pause.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): We will continue to take action based upon the data.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The window is closing for us to take action and get this under control.

WATT: And in states that still won't mandate masks, some mayors now making that call in Nashville, Kansas City, Tupelo, and now Jacksonville, where the president had hoped to hold an unmasked convention later this summer. Is his no mask mantra now evolving?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He encourages people to make whatever decision is best for their safety, but he did say to me he has problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.

WATT: Meanwhile, long lines for tests in Florida, where the new case counts are now more than six times what they were a month ago. So, South Florida's beaches will be closed again for the Fourth of July.

In only four small states are new case counts actually falling, while, in these six states, COVID-19 hospitalizations are now at an all-time high. Bars across Texas have closed again. DEE MARGO (R), EL PASO, TEXAS MAYOR: Forty-six percent of our positives were 20-to-30-year-olds. And we think that was a direct result of congregations in the bars.

WATT: At least 80 cases now connected to one bar in East Lansing, Michigan. Staff wore masks but --


RUTH BEIER, EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN MAYOR: They didn't require masks for entry and they did not enforce wearing masks inside. Try to keep masks on young people in a dance bar is probably a folly.

WATT: And infections among a younger crowd create a problem.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What you're seeing is community-based spread where 20 to 40 percent of the people who are infected don't have any symptoms. So, the standard classic paradigm of identification, isolation, contact tracing doesn't work, no matter how good you are.

WATT: We need, say the experts, around 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people. CNN has learned that right now Florida has about seven, Arizona about five and Georgia is fused to. Dr. Fauci now says he'd settle for a vaccine that's 70 to 75 percent effective but maybe not everybody would be willing to take it making herd immunity --

FAUCI: Unlikely. And that's one of the reasons why we have to make sure we engage the community, as we're doing now.

WATT (on camera): Here in Los Angeles County, home to about 10 million people, officials now say that they're worried they might run out of beds sometime within the next few weeks. The case count is really ticking up here. And in fact, one local official said that unless we put the brakes on, this could become a runaway train.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: Arizona is hitting the pause button on reopenings in the state as coronavirus cases continue to soar there. The state has had nearly 75,000 cases and hospitals are nearing capacity with COVID-19 patients. CNN's Stephanie Elam has more.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey saying that they are going to keep on pausing reopenings as there are a record number of COVID cases and also with ICU beds in use nearing 90 percent in the state. With that in mind, the governor says there's going to be a pause on some businesses. In fact, take a listen to what he said.

DOUG DUCEY, ARIZONA GOVERNOR: Today's executive order will pause the operation of bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks and tubing. ELAM: Now the targeted reopening for these businesses is one month

the governor said, however, they said they're going to be watching the data to see how the numbers are doing as far as coronavirus cases in the state and will adjust accordingly. It's also interesting to note that they're saying they will not be allowing large gatherings in the state of more than 50 people. However, he did say that local municipalities could allow for some of those larger events to happen as long as they make sure that social distancing measures are in place.

Also noteworthy, the state now pushing back the first day of school to August 17th and, again, they say they are going to re-evaluate that date as they get closer but obviously saying these numbers are going in the wrong direction. But this is a bit of an evolution for the governor who at one point was showing up to meetings without wearing a mask and now saying that masks are very much a crucial part of fighting the coronavirus.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.


CHURCH: CNN medical analyst Dr. Saju Mathew joins me now. He is a primary care physician and a public health official. Good to have you with us.

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Nice to be with you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So the World Health Organization says the pandemic is not even close to being over. And that is what we're seeing in America where 46 states have either increased or a flattening of cases. Only four states are seeing declines in cases. And this map shows the situation is worse now than it was back on May 25th, on Memorial Day. So how is that even possible when other nations across the globe are back to normal? What is going on here?

MATHEW: Yes, you know it's a good question, Rosemary. And as a public health care specialist I'm telling you I'm just really disappointed. The other day I mentioned on air how upset I am. I always used to say I don't want to be an alarmist but guess what, we're in a public health crisis, a public health disaster. And I think it really boils down to this one thing. We opened too early. We didn't follow the task force metrics of two weeks of cases that had to go down, dwindle to such a small number that we could actually do contact tracing and isolation. At this point with the numbers surging in a few states, it's going to be really difficult to do that. And we just didn't follow the metrics in my opinion.

And doctor, Health Secretary Alex Azar says the window is closing to get a handle on this and control the virus, but the one thing that could do that is the wearing of masks. And while the Vice President is now telling people to do just that, the President is not and he's not wearing one. He's not taking the lead on this.

[04:10:00] So there's mixed messages that are confusing people. What is your advice to everyone when it comes to masks and why can't some people understand this?

MATHEW: You know, I hope, Rosemary, that people are finally getting it. At least you know a few days ago Dr. Birx mentioned how the mask not only protects other people from me as the mask wearer, it also protects me as well. And I'm really hoping, and I tweeted this the other day, that I'm hoping that finally with that message people will understand, that OK, if I don't want to protect you, at least, hey, I could protect myself.

And we've gone over the numbers. A decrease in 50 percent of transmission, Rosemary, when you wear the mask. And as you and I talked about the last time, if 95 percent of Americans wear the mask, by October we can cut down deaths by 40,000. I don't know how a else to say it. It's really simple and people should just do it to save lives.

CHURCH: Yes, not sure why that message isn't getting through. But infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci warns that a vaccine will only be about 75 percent effective. And his concern is that about 1/3 of Americans say they won't even take the vaccine when and if it becomes available. What could that mean for this country in terms of herd immunity and living a normal life?

MATHEW: I'm a primary care doctor, and I'm telling you I already dread the fall when we're going to have both flu-like illness and influenza combined with COVID-19. I have difficulty as it is convincing my patients to get the flu vaccine. It's going to be difficult to convince Americans now to get a brand-new vaccine. And I'm encouraging our viewers listening all over the world to start talking to your doctors about your concerns regarding not wanting a vaccination. I understand a lot of the concerns, you don't know about the safety, will it work. But ultimately the only way out of this pandemic other than good antiviral medications, Rosemary, is a vaccine.

CHURCH: Yes, and only 45 percent of adult Americans take the flu shot so that is a real concern, too. Just very quickly, how ready is this country for more hospitalizations and will there be enough personal protective equipment for medical staff this time around?

I worry about that a lot. I worry about the states in Florida, in California and Texas right now where there are surges. I've actually talked to quite a few E.R. physicians in Georgia and a couple of states in the South. And the big worry is while the government is saying we're going to send this to you, will they have it right now as the need arises? And the bottom line is it depends on which hospital you're talking to. If you're talking to places like in Georgia where we don't see the cases, yes. A lot of the hospitals are ready. But if you talk to hospitals in Texas and Florida, they're concerned. They're really upset and not really sure if they will actually have the equipment ready to go as the patients come in.

CHURCH: It is a real worry but we thank you, doctor, for all you do. Dr. Matthew, thanks for talking with us.

MATHEW: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, President Trump denies ever being briefed on alarming intelligence that Russia offered to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. troops. But two officials say that intelligence warning was included in one of the President's daily briefings. The Defense Department says it has no corroborating evidence to prove the reports but continues to investigate. CNN's Barbara Starr has details from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The President's daily briefing is a notebook of information essentially that he is given every day. It's up to him to decide how much he wants to go into it all, how much he wants to read. He gets briefed on key matters. And now two officials are telling us this Russian plot in fact at some point was included in what you call the PDB, the President's daily brief, but that he was not briefed on it.

The question is why and that's still to be determined. Apparently, the White House's reasoning is because the intelligence was not fully verified and corroborated. But here's something else. We have also learned that the national security staff had a meeting about the plot to decide and to begin to discuss some potential response options that they could eventually take to the President. So if it wasn't verified, if it wasn't corroborated, if it wasn't all that serious, well, the NSC staff was already looking at response options.

We've talked to a number of officials across the government about this, and what they say tonight is it's a little bit still mystifying why the President hasn't asked more about this.


This involves the fate, the death of potentially of U.S. troops on the front lines. It involves their families perhaps wondering if their loved ones were killed at the hands of Russian cash being spread around Afghanistan. So there's still quite a bit to answered here. Why wasn't the President told and why if he wasn't told, didn't he express more interest in finding out what was going on.


CHURCH: Well, the White House national security advisor explained the briefing gap in a statement Monday writing, and I'm quoting here.

Because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the intelligence community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items.

The national security advisor was one of the officials who briefed a group of Republican lawmakers at the White House Monday about the Russian bounty allegations. The Democrats are expected to send a delegation for a briefing in the coming hours. Congress is demanding the Trump administration explain what it knew. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee tells our Jim Acosta that he has more questions about why the President was not briefed on the matter.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Is this again a concern with speaking truth to power that Donald Trump doesn't want to hear anything negative about Vladimir Putin? Because after all the President was inviting Russia back into the G8 and it's kind of unfathomable that he would do that if he was knowing of the fact that his friend Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin or Russian intelligence services if these public reports are accurate, were offering a bounty on the heads of American troops.


CHURCH: Well now to an exclusive new report from CNN's Carl Bernstein. According to sources familiar with hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign leaders, President Trump was so repeatedly unprepared, outplayed by adversaries and hostile towards traditional allies that some senior U.S. officials concluded the President himself posed a danger to national security. Sources say the calls convinced former top Trump deputies, including national security advisors H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chief of Staff John Kelly that the President was often delusional. And several sources noted he often pursued goals aligned with his own agenda rather than the national interest.


CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In his call with Putin, he was almost slavishly seeking Putin's approval, trying to prop himself up. Trump is a great businessman. Demeaning his predecessors, George Bush and Barack Obama in foul terms, vulgar language, calling them incompetent. Now that he, Trump, was there, that they could deal directly. But the overall tenor of calls, as well as the specifics of them, show the President of the United States in terms of allies bullying them, almost is a sadistically dealing with women on the call, namely Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Those calls with those women are described in almost sadistic terms by the sources. A spokesman for the German Embassy here and in the United States confirmed that those calls are very aggressive and problematic.


CHURCH: And you can read Carl Bernstein's full story on our website. That's at

And still to come, news reports say Beijing has passed a controversial security law for Hong Kong. Now its people wait to see how sweeping that law will be. Back in just a moment.



CHURCH: Well, we are tracking some major developments out of Hong Kong where local media report China's Parliament has passed a controversial national security law for the city. State media in the mainland have said the law would criminalize acts against the central government, like what it calls secession and terrorism.

Critics say the law attacks political freedoms and protesters marched through Hong Kong over the weekend to make sure officials were aware. The law's potential reach is still unknown since official details have not been released as yet. And for more I'm joined by CNN's Will Ripley standing by outside the China liaison office in Hong Kong and our Steven Jiang in Beijing. Good to see you both. So, Will, let's go to you first. What more are you learning about this new law?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary. Just minutes ago we heard from Hong Kong lawmaker Michael Tien who is known to be pro- Beijing, of the mindset that you should work with China as opposed to working against China. And he's one of the people who was inside the China liaison office here in Hong Kong for a meeting with Hong Kong officials and Chinese officials to try to hammer out some more details and information about this national security law.

They did not discuss specifics of the law so it is now in effect here in Hong Kong but still a secret to everyone who lives and works here, including by the way, the Hong Kong government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Although they expect to be briefed in the coming hours. And as soon as we get details on what's actually inside this law, we will pass it along to you beyond what you've just stated in the intro there. That acts like terrorism, secession, subversion and colluding with foreign forces will now be outlawed with the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Now it's significant we say life imprisonment because certain cases could be tried in mainland China where they do have the death penalty. However, people who are arrested here in Hong Kong under this national security law will not face the death penalty, their maximum punishment will be life imprisonment.


Also, and this is key here. We're being told that the law is not retroactive. So people like Joshua Wong, a known figurehead who resigned from his post at the pro-democracy political party, Demosisto, which has now since completely disbanded. Theoretically he could not face charges for what he has done over the last five years as the face of the pro-democracy movement here. It's all about what people do moving forward.

Also, there will be cases where there is not a jury, and in those cases, we're told that there will be three judges. That's it in terms of specifics. Again, we don't know what's going to cause people to actually get arrested. But we probably get a pretty good idea based on what happened one year ago yesterday when protesters on the July 1st handover anniversary, the anniversary of the day that Hong Kong was handed over from British rule to Chinese rule.

Well, there was a huge protest in Hong Kong last year, one year ago tomorrow, and protesters, hundreds of them, they basically stormed the legislative council office and they spray painted and vandalized inside. Slogans like -- Hong Kong is not trying to destroy the Chinese Communist Party. Theoretically that kind of offense which would have resulted in a relatively minor punishment in Hong Kong before this law came into effect, it now potentially would result in a life sentence. Obviously, a huge turn, Rosemary, and that might be why we have not seen any substantial protests today despite calls from people to gather and demonstrate in opposition of this national security law.

CHURCH: Some very disturbing changes there. Will Ripley reporting live from Hong Kong. Many thanks to you. Steven, let's go to you now in Beijing. How big a win is this for President Xi Jinping?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, even without the official confirmation of the passage of the law or official announcement of details, this kind of hardline policy especially on national security issues, especially related to sovereignty always plays well with the domestic audience here. And there is also, probably a dimension of political calculation here as well with the ongoing global pandemic. Governments around the world are probably too preoccupied with containing the virus and dealing with pressing domestic issues than to stand up to China over Hong Kong.

Now course, from Beijing's perspective, this is long overdue. Almost 23 years after Hong Kong's sovereignty returned to China. And the Hong Kong local authorities have tried several times to enact a similar law themselves but failed. The last time they tried in 2003 triggering the huge protests on the streets of Hong Kong and since then we have seen many such protests on the streets of Hong Kong against Beijing, including the latest protest movement that began last year that really shook the Beijing leadership and reinforced this notion in their minds that Hong Kong had become a bastion of anti-China sentiment and anti- China activities especially instigated and supported by foreign powers, including from Washington.

That's why they decided it's time for them to take this matter into their own hands bypassing the Hong Kong legislature to pass this law because they think this is the only way for them to defend their core interests in Hong Kong, that is sovereignty and security -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Steven Jiang there, Will Ripley in Hong Kong. Many thanks to you both for your live reports. Appreciate it.

Will Take a short break. But it's still to come, will you be able to vacation in Europe this summer? The EU is deciding who's allowed in and who's not right now and our sources are giving us a sneak peek of that list. Back in a moment.