Return to Transcripts main page


Reopenings Halted Nationwide Amid Covid-19 Resurgence; Trump's Daily Briefing Had Intel About Russia Bounties; Reports: Beijing Has Passed Hong Kong Security Law. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 30, 2020 - 05:30   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Slamming the brakes, putting more reopenings on hold as we see more coronavirus cases across the country. One CDC official saying we're not even beginning to be over this.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And a warning about Russia paying to target U.S. forces was in the president's written daily briefing. Former top aides believe his calls with foreign leaders make the president a danger to national security.

We have reports this morning from -- this half-hour London, Hong Kong, South Africa, Brussels, and Jerusalem -- all around the world.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans. We are 31 minutes past the hour and we start with more bad news on coronavirus.

JARRETT: Yes, Boris, reopenings all across the United States coming to a grinding halt. At least 16 states have paused or rolled back their reopenings after a big surge in coronavirus cases.

This map says everything you really need to know right now. Look at all of that orange and red. Only two states are heading the right way. Thirty-six states seeing cases spike in the last week. On Memorial Day, it was half that many.

Here's a dire new warning from a top CDC official.


DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that a summer -- everything's going to be fine -- we're over this, and we are not even beginning to be over this. We have way too much virus across the country.


SANCHEZ: Wishful thinking, right.

With July Fourth approaching, officials want to avoid repeating these scenes that we saw on Memorial Day. Thousands ignored warnings. They flocked to beaches, bars, and parties.

In one of the most drastic rollbacks in Arizona, bars, gyms, movie theaters, other businesses now closed for at least 30 days. Events with more than 50 people are banned. The rate of positive tests in Arizona has climbed from five percent to an astounding 40 percent in just one month.


GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R), ARIZONA: It will take several weeks for the mitigations that we have put in place and are putting in place to take effect. We will have to persevere and it's going to be for some time into the future.


JARRETT: So now, beaches are being closed on both coasts. Los Angles shutting down its famous beaches for the holiday weekend. ICUs in neighboring Riverside County are at 96 percent capacity.

And Florida is closing more of its beaches as well. Monroe, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties -- the entire southeast coast shut down over the holiday.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And up the coast, Jacksonville, Florida now requiring face masks where social distancing is not possible.

Don't forget, President Trump is set to accept the Republican nomination there in less than two months. A room full of people wearing masks not exactly the visual he wants for his transition to greatness.

A worsening national picture forcing changes in states where things have been improving. New York now considering delaying the restart of indoor dining. A state that has seen a reduction in cases, New Jersey, already taking that step.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: The carelessness of one establishment can completely undo the good work of many others. We will not tolerate outlier bars and restaurants. So, unfortunately, the national situation compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home are requiring us to hit pause on the restart of indoor dining for the foreseeable future.


JARRETT: Industries that rely on big crowds are in big trouble.

Cirque de Soleil, which features those high-flying Vegas acrobatic shows, has filed for bankruptcy and cut 3,500 jobs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Clip from Disney's "Mulan."


JARRETT: The AMC Theater chain is postponing reopening by two weeks as well after studios pushed back two summer blockbusters that could be key to persuading audiences to return.

And, Broadway will remain dark for the rest of the year at least. All 41 theaters have been closed since March 12th in New York.


CNN has reporters covering this pandemic from coast to coast.



Gov. Doug Ducey says that we are not going back to normal anytime soon here in the state, pointing to the record number of hospitalizations and also the fact that ICU beds are filled to almost nearly 90 percent of that capacity.

With that in mind, he's putting a pause in place for some businesses and shutting them back down for at least a month and said that they will reevaluate how the numbers look, of coronavirus cases, before deciding to reopen those businesses.

He also said that the first day of school will now be pushed back to August 17th, and it's another date that they continue to reevaluate.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brian Todd in Washington.

There appears to be a crisis within a crisis with the coronavirus pandemic. A research group called Nephron Research now says that there is a woefully short supply of contact tracers in the United States. Those are the disease detectives that contact an infected person and find out everyone they've been in contact with over the past several days. That's a way they can contain the pandemic.

Experts say that each community of about 100,000 should have about 30 contract tracers, but states like Texas, Florida, and Arizona are far short of that mark. Texas only has 11; Florida and Arizona have fewer than that.


Pediatricians are pushing for kids to be physically present in school this fall, but with precautions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its back-to-school guidance. It says attending class in person would be best for children's learning and reduce their risk of any abuse or isolation at home. And schools should consider ways to minimize the spread of the

coronavirus. The guidance mentioned social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, wearing masks, temperature checks.

Now, the Academy says these difficult discussions should start early and they may vary depending on the local dynamics of the pandemic.


And air travel has reached a new high point of the pandemic. More than two million people passed through security at America's airports between Thursday and Sunday -- the busiest day on Sunday. Traffic is still a fraction of what it once was, a long slog to levels from a year ago.

The most interesting thing, though, is that you now have a higher chance of being on a completely full flight. American Airlines has now joined United Airlines in saying that it will sell every seat onboard its aircraft.


JARRETT: Thanks to all of our correspondents for those reports.

Well, new overnight, intelligence about a Russian effort to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers was included in one of President Trump's daily written briefings. That's according to a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter. "The New York Times" reports the Intel was included in a written version of the daily briefing in late February.

Officials are looking at possible ties to an April 2019 car bombing that killed three U.S. Marines.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Why would he not be briefed? Were they afraid to approach him on the subject of Russia? And were they concerned that if they did tell him, that he would tell Putin?


SANCHEZ: CNN is also reporting President Trump was consistently unprepared in classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, often outmaneuvered by autocrats and abusive toward U.S. allies.

Multiple White House and Intelligence Agency officials tell CNN's Carl Bernstein the president's repeated lapses convinced his former Secretaries of State and Defense, two national security advisers, and his longest-serving chief of staff that he posed a danger to U.S. national security.

Several Republicans were briefed about the Russia intelligence on Monday. Democrats get their briefing today.

I want to bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He joins us live from London.

Nick, at the core of this story is sort of the conflicting version of events. From the intelligence side, we have sources that tell us that this Intel was based on electronic eavesdropping on the interrogation of Taliban fighters. From the White House side, the president says that this information is not credible.

NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It's all about the major intelligence to some degree. There's very little doubt that there was adequately convincing intelligence, certainly for the United States, to brief its allies about. I've been speaking to a European intelligence official who has knowledge of the similar Russian plot to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers.

One particular point of contention here seems to be whether or not the Russian plot, itself, resulted directly in American fatalities.

I spoke to a U.S. official who saw some of the intelligence earlier this year and their conclusion back then was that the links were still being examined of possible connection between this Russian military intelligence plot and American fatalities in Afghanistan because Taliban militants had carried out Russian bidding for cash rewards.

But the conclusions, according to this U.S. official, hadn't been fully drawn when they last saw the intelligence earlier on this year.


So there appears to be part of that which was perhaps still being evaluated. That has been what the White House has very much lent upon.

It is startling, frankly, that what we haven't heard from President Donald Trump is a -- is a condemnation of a Russian military intelligence plot to kill Americans that may have been successful. Instead, the White House response has been to concentrate on the process.

That first press secretary statement came out and said "The New York Times," who first reported the story, was wrong to say the president had been briefed about it. Well, it now transpires, according to our reporting, that it certainly made his written briefing.

We know from his former national security adviser John Bolton that often, those presidential daily briefings were Trump talking, not listening -- so it may be that it was there but he never actually paid attention to it. But then, why wouldn't you raise something as utterly serious as a Russian plot to kill Americans with the commander in chief?

A lot still circulating here. I should say Russia has denied this, said it's a hoax, said it's a lie. The Taliban have, as well. But there are consistent intelligence officials now saying the same thing.

The question remains did it end up killing Americans? And why on earth is that not the focus of the White House response and why they're tied up more on who knew what, when, and how that was OK? Back to you.

SANCHEZ: Yes, you have to wonder how troops overseas are hearing this news -- hearing the White House go after leaks not quite as harshly as they should be going after the news that Russians maybe put bounties on American troops.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

JARRETT: Breaking overnight, Hong Kong media is reporting that Beijing has just passed a wide-ranging national security law. Many in Hong Kong fear the new law could be used to further erode the city's civil and political freedoms.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. will now stop sending certain types of military equipment to Hong Kong.

CNN's Will Ripley is there. He joins us with the latest -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And overnight, Laura, the Chinese responding back, saying that they're going to retaliate against the United States for the steps that the Trump administration is taking to strip away the special relationship that Hong Kong has enjoyed because of the fact that the U.S. no longer believes Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy from Mainland China.

I want to set the scene for you. I'm standing outside the China Liaison Office. These barricades are set up at police stations and government offices across Hong Kong because protesters, for months, would attack buildings like this, throwing Molotov cocktails -- you know, trying to get in there.

In fact, one year ago tomorrow, protesters broke into the Legislative Council -- the heart of Hong Kong's government -- spray-painting anti- China slogans on the walls and vandalizing the property.

Those kind of offenses, last year, might get people a slap on the wrist if they were arrested. Now, with this national security law in effect, the maximum penalty, life in prison. And they could actually have to face trial in Mainland China.

That's one small detail that we've learned about this national security law passed unanimously and now in effect but kept completely in the dark from Hong Kong's government and people in terms of the actual details.

In fact, the chief executive Carrie Lam -- after this bill passed, was asked about it. She couldn't comment because she still doesn't know any details. She has not been briefed about this bill. So the person who is running Hong Kong doesn't know about this law that's going to potentially forever change life here.

We've seen pro-democracy activists step down from their posts overnight. We've seen certain organizations already shutting down because there is so much fear now that this law is going to be used to silence any dissenting voices here in Hong Kong. But it is having one desired effect. There were calls for protests

today. You can see no need for this barricade. Nobody has been out on the streets, Laura.

JARRETT: Yes, it's a pretty amazing scene from just weeks ago we saw protests in the streets there.

All right, Will. Nice to see you this morning. Thanks so much for that report.

All right. Well, are you desperate enough to travel that you're going to take a middle seat on a commercial airline right now? Well, some airlines are putting that to the test, next.



SANCHEZ: Across Africa, coronavirus cases are still soaring. The developing world among the last hit by the virus. In South Africa, the region's epicenter, CNN was given special access to a basketball stadium transformed into a field hospital -- one that's now filled to capacity.

CNN's David McKenzie is live in Cape Town. David, South Africa's health minister saying that the country's hospitals are going to be pushed to the limit.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, you know. We are right in the middle of the surge, said the health minister. We've got weeks of these difficulties to go, Boris. I'm right near a clinic where people are lining up to get tested for Covid-19.

If you just look behind me, this is what people are dealing with. People living close together. It's almost impossible to socially distance.

But they had some time to prepare for this surge and they've used their time well.


MCKENZIE (on camera): People were predicting a catastrophe in places like the Cape Flats and Khayelitsha. Has it happened and at this stage, will it happen?

CLAIRE KEENE, MEDICAL COORDINATOR, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS (MSF): 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'll go on for longer.

MCKENZIE (on camera): So this is a marathon, really?

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've -- 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? And every death is heavy on the health care workers that fought to save that person's life.



MCKENZIE: Well, there are far fewer resources here to battle this virus but they hope that this can be replicated across South Africa and across the rest of the continent, Boris. But as I said, the next few weeks will be absolutely key as the cases rise dramatically just here in South Africa and possibly, in some other countries in the continent.

SANCHEZ: David McKenzie, thank you so much.

JARRETT: All right. At any moment, the European Union will publish a list of countries that can resume travel to the E.U.

Frederik Pleitgen is at the E.U. headquarters in Brussels. Fred, the U.S. is not expected to make the cut. It could have an enormous effect on business travel.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it could certainly have an enormous effect on business travel.

And it's quite interesting to see which countries are probably going to be on the list because you have, for instance, China -- which is, of course, where the coronavirus originated.

But then you also have some countries that simply have a lot less well-funded health care systems than the United States like, for instance, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Serbia, and even Rwanda where the European Union clearly believes that these countries are doing a better job at beating back the pandemic than the United States at this point in time.

Now, European officials have always said that all of this is only according to medical criteria. It depends on the virus situation in the countries of origin. And clearly, with the surges going on in the U.S. right now, the E.U. simply believes that the U.S. is not at a stage where they can allow American travelers back in.

There are some European officials that I've been talking to who are quite concerned about the situation in America because there are certain measures that are considered common sense here in Europe. Like, for instance, wearing a mask, lockdowns, and physical distancing, which they believe are being politicized in the United States. And that might be one of the reasons why the situation in the U.S. continues to be the way it is and won't allow for Americans to come back here to Europe, at least within the next two weeks, guys.

JARRETT: All right, all eyes on the E.U. today. Fred, thanks so much. SANCHEZ: This morning, Israel is on the verge of annexing parts of the West Bank. The move has been long-promised by Benjamin Netanyahu but most of the international community views the plan as fatal to hopes for a two-state solution.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live for us in Jerusalem. Oren, we know the Israeli army has been preparing along the West Bank for some time. What can we expect to see today?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a very good question. That's because it more on the potential verge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been incredibly quiet about what he intends to do as early as tomorrow. And that's the date set for a coalition agreement for which Israel and specifically, Netanyahu could move forward with annexation of parts of the West Bank. But there are very few others who know his plans and that, it seems, includes -- as crazy as this sounds -- his defense minister and his foreign minister who aren't necessarily on the same page as Netanyahu when it comes to moving forward.

There were meetings in the White House recently about what plans will be advanced and there was no consensus after three days of meetings. Meanwhile, one member of the Trump administration's peace team is here to see if there can be some consensus.

Now, there doesn't have to be. Netanyahu has the votes to move forward with annexation alone, but pressure is building not only from the Palestinians who have said they'll basically dissolve the PA (the Palestinian Authority) and put Israel in charge of everything.

But also, from the European Union, which has said it could take measures against Israel, including perhaps recognizing the state of Palestine from the U.N. -- from the Arab states who have warned that annexation would lead to frozen relations that are slowing thawing between Israel and the Arab world.

There's a lot of pressure here and right now, it's all up to Netanyahu what he wants to do and crucially, when he wants to do it.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a lot of moving parts. A lot of uncertainty, too.

Oren Liebermann from Jerusalem, thank you.

JARRETT: Let's take a quick look at markets around the world. Asian markets closed higher. European markets are pretty directionless right now.

Meanwhile, on Wall Street, futures are pointing to a lower open today. The Dow closed 580 points higher on Monday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also finished higher.

Airlines are going to start offering middle seats on their flights as the industry sees a modest rebound in flying. American Airlines said customers may notice flights are booked to capacity starting July first. JetBlue has a policy to leave its middle seats empty through the end of July. Delta and Southwest say they will leave the middle seat empty through the end of September.

SANCHEZ: Baseball's black pioneers getting a long-overdue tip of the cap -- a salute marking the hundredth anniversary of the Negro Leagues. Prominent civil rights leaders, entertainers, and sports greats taking part in a virtual tribute, along with several former presidents.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm tipping my hat to everybody in the Negro Leagues who left a century-long legacy of talent and spirit and dignity on our country.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can just imagine what baseball would have been like had the predecessors to Willie Mays been unable to play Major League Baseball.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Negro Leagues made baseball better and America better.



SANCHEZ: And the campaign includes photos and videos from Hank Aaron and Rachel Robinson. Her husband, of course, Jackie Robinson, broke baseball's color barrier in 1947. Great to see those amazing athletes honored.

Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coronavirus cases are surging across sections of the country.

DUCEY: Our expectation is that next week, our numbers will be worse.

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The hard reality is this is not even close to being over.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And the White House adamant President Trump was never briefed on intelligence reports that Russia was secretly offering to pay Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops.