Return to Transcripts main page
China Passes National Security Law for Hong Kong; Fauci: U.S. Could See 100,000 Cases Per Day if Surge Continues; Biden Slams Trump on Coronavirus; Trump Under Fire Over Russia Bounty Intelligence; Trump's Phone Calls Alarm U.S. Officials; Calls to Foreign Leaders Raised Security Concerns; Russian Vote Could Keep Putin in Power Until 2036; Former Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks Granted Bond; National Security Law Tightens China's Grip on Hong Kong; Latin American Countries Adjusting as Cases Surge; China Discovers New Swine Flu with 'Pandemic Potential'. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired July 1, 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 am Paula Newton. Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Do not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON (voice-over): A plea and a dire prediction from one of America's top medical experts as the coronavirus spreads unchecked through parts of the country.
Hong Kong's leader touts a controversial new security law that could mean life in prison for anyone who violates it.
And Russians vote on a change to the constitution that could keep Vladimir Putin in power until 2036.
NEWTON: Hong Kong's leader is defending the contentious national security law that China has imposed on the city. At a ceremony marking the territory's handover from British to Chinese rule, Carrie Lam pushed back against critics who say the legislation would erode Hong Kong's civil freedoms. Instead, she argued that it will help keep the city safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): It shows that the Hong Kong government, after a whole year of ceaseless, escalating violence and riots, is determined to restore stability to Hong Kong.
It shows the central government's determination to protect the absolute majority of lawful Hong Kong citizens from the harms done by a small minority of people who endanger national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now we've only known about the details for a few hours. Those were released and this is what the law will do.
It broadens Beijing's power to investigate and punish acts of secession, subversion and what it considers terrorism. That's key. More on that later.
And it also allows the mainland to establish its own law enforcement presence in the city and it lets police search properties, intercept information and carry out surveillance without a warrant. Those convicted could face life in prison.
CNN's Will Ripley joins us from Hong Kong and Steven Jiang is standing by for us there in Beijing.
Will, first to you. In terms of reaction and it's only been a few hours since they have seen the details of a law that has already been enforced, what's the reaction there?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so I'm going to step out of the shot so you can see Victoria Park. This is where it was standing room only last year for a peaceful march marking the handover from British rule to Chinese rule in 1997 that turned violent when protesters broke into the legislative council chamber.
You could not move in here. The cellphones didn't work in here. Today we see not a single protester at this stage.
And we have been driving around Causeway Bay, where you would normally see protesters gathered. I saw one person on a loudspeaker. I saw a lot of police. Nobody's out.
Even though the majority of Hong Kongers probably have not read the full text of this national security law, what they are learning is chilling for anybody who has been a member of the pro-democracy movement.
We spoke with Hong Kong police and they tell us they have been given explicit instructions today, if they see anybody waving a pro independence Hong Kong or Taiwan banner or flag or if they search someone's bag and find that kind of material in their bag advocating for the independence of Taiwan or of Hong Kong, they will be arrested.
They will be taken to a processing facility, questioned by officers who have been reorganized as part of this national security law. They can face penalties of 10 years or even life in prison, depending on how things go in the legal system.
And that seems to be enough of a deterrent, at least for now, for people to stay away. Granted, if there was to be a march, police have banned the march, this is the first time since 2003 that police have banned a demonstration for the handover anniversary.
But if people do come out here later, they face the very real possibility of significant prison time if they even utter a slogan that talks about liberate Hong Kong, the kind of slogans that were so common among protesters, they were spray-painting "Hong Kong is not China," spray painting slogans in opposition of the Chinese Communist Party.
That language, that kind of material in your possession could land you in prison for a very long time and you can see apparently what the result is here, just dramatically different from what we saw this time last year.
NEWTON: Absolutely, Will. As you pointed out, as you are pointing out.
NEWTON: This is really the end to that freedom of expression that people in Hong Kong have come to cherish, who have been on the streets trying to preserve.
Steven, when you look at those pictures that Will has been showing us, in Beijing, the Communist Party has to be saying, mission accomplished.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: This is certainly part of their desire. In fact, in terms of safeguarding national security from their perspective in the press conference that is still ongoing, two senior Chinese officials staunchly defended this law, saying this is a perfect embodiment of the one country two systems policy.
That is a policy that was supposed to give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years but now is very much in doubt in a growing number of people. Chinese officials here are saying for too long this policy has been led astray because they say one country is the foundation of two systems.
But a lot of people have been misinterpreting this policy by only emphasizing the two systems part and this new law is designed to correct that wrong direction. And they're also saying the kind of controversies that we have been hearing when you read the law, including how Chinese government agents will exercise investigative powers and Chinese prosecutors prosecuting cases, they say that will be a very rare occurrence, only under the most extraordinary circumstances.
One official at the press conference even going as far as quoting the late leader, Deng Xiaoping and saying in Hong Kong, you can still verbally attack the Communist Party but you cannot turn these verbal attacks into real concrete actions because we cannot tolerate Hong Kong to become a bastion of anti-China activity.
So they are very much trying to brush aside concerns and criticisms that you've been hearing from Hong Kong around the world and putting on a very brave face, defending this law, justifying its passage and saying it's the Beijing government prerogative.
Of course, it seems that may not be enough to allay the fears of people in Hong Kong and around the world -- Paula.
NEWTON: And very much putting some guardrails there, impenetrable guardrails on freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
Will, you have reminded us so many times and you reminded us this last year as well. There is a segment of the population in Hong Kong that was fed up, right?
The protests that stalled the economy and they did not want the chaos in the streets. Yet I know some of those very people will be hanging on because they cherish the system that they were living under.
Do you sense any ambivalence there?
RIPLEY: I think it's excellent that you raise that point because, as you look at the scenes behind me, yes, there are people who will say that this is a dark day for Hong Kong. Hong Kong has forever changed, it's a sad day.
And there are also people who are quite happy that traffic is running, businesses are open. It is a public holiday so some are closed but a lot are open, people are able to play ball out here in the park, people are able to move from point A to point B without having to avoid entire areas of town that are shut down because of massive demonstrations like they were last year.
So for people who wanted to have life go on, at least on the surface, as normal, this is a victory. For people from Mainland China who felt fearful of speaking Mandarin in public, they might feel more empowered. They might feel like this is a little more like home now.
But for people who really felt that they were fighting to hold on to the spirit of Hong Kong, what made Hong Kong a unique and special place, this is indeed a sad day and a dark day. And a lot of them are not out here expressing those feelings.
They are somewhere else, not in sight of the Hong Kong police because they know that if they express those views today, they could face a lot more serious punishments than they did yesterday.
NEWTON: The effect is as chilling, as many expected it to be. Our thanks to Will Ripley in Hong Kong and Steven Jiang in Beijing, thanks to you both.
And now we want to turn to the coronavirus pandemic and predictions that new cases in the United States could hit 100,000 a day. I want to point out that's 2.5 times the rate that they are at right now. And the numbers that they are at now are not acceptable.
There is growing concern about huge crowds out this weekend to celebrate the 4th of July. CNN's Jason Carroll has more.
FAUCI: Clearly, we are not in total control right now.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, delivering a stark prediction on Capitol Hill, if the U.S. cannot control the surge in coronavirus cases.
FAUCI: We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned.
CARROLL: Fifteen states now seeing their highest seven-day averages for new cases. More than half do not require masks statewide.
CARROLL (voice-over): Dr. Fauci and others from the Coronavirus Task Force advising the American public to do what the president won't, wear a mask.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and embrace the universal use of face coverings.
FAUCI: We recommend masks for everyone on the outside.
CARROLL: Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, 17 states have paused or rolled back reopening plans, bars and beaches closed from coast to coast in California and Florida, where more than 6,000 new cases were announced today.
MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-FL), MIAMI BEACH: We don't have a lot of tools left in the kit right now. So we're trying everything we can to stop this spread and reverse what is a very enormous spike in our community and in our state.
CARROLL: In Arizona, concerns over the death rate ticking up, doctors worried they cannot handle the influx of patients.
DR. BRANDON BIKOWSKI, INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: It's something that we don't know how to deal with as medical professionals. I think people should probably be as scared as I am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is discrimination.
CARROLL: In Texas, bar owners protesting the governor's decision to force them to re-close, some of them now suing the governor and state alcohol regulators. Meanwhile, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which have all emerged from the worst of the pandemic, have added eight more states, including California and Georgia, to a quarantine list. Come from one of those states and these states want you to quarantine.
Face coverings are required in public places in all three states, a reminder of that in Manhattan, where, outside the New York public library, the iconic lion statues, aptly named Patience and Fortitude, are donning masks themselves.
And despite seeing a surge in cases in Florida, that state's governor has come out and has said the state is not going back to closing businesses. He went on to talk about those young people who health experts say are gathering in large numbers there in the state and helping to spread the disease.
He said, as for those large gatherings, he said a lot of that is just social interactions -- Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
NEWTON: The man hoping to win the White House in November is taking direct aim at Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic, Joe Biden says the president hasn't gotten the job done and urged him to address the crisis before he tees off for another round of golf.
The former vice president also blasted Mr. Trump for not wearing a mask in public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He called himself a wartime president.
Now it's almost July and it seems like our wartime president surrendered, waved the white flag, left the battlefield.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Dr. Ashish Jha is the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and joins me from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
It was a stunning thing during the hearings today. Dr. Fauci saying that 100,000 cases per day in the United States, 2.5 times more than are recorded today, is possible.
That's what we call exponential growth, right?
And that is the worst fear right now.
DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: That is the worst fear. The virus is starting to get out of control in about a dozen states across the United States, out of control in a way that simple interventions are not going to work and we would have to do something very extreme again. So I think Dr. Fauci's warnings need to be heeded.
NEWTON: When you say need to be heeded, I want to ask you about this before we move on, do you think anything short of shutdowns is going to do the trick at this point?
JHA: Over the weekend, Secretary Azar, the health secretary, said that the window of action or the window of opportunity for action is closing. He's absolutely right. I think that if all of those states got very aggressive now, shut down all indoor activities, such as restaurants and bars and gatherings, mandated mask wearing and continued to work on ramping up testing and tracing, yes, I think there's a possibility we can hold off on shelter in place and total lockdown. But I just don't feel like those states are taking it as seriously as they need to.
NEWTON: One thing that obviously people are not taking as seriously perhaps as they should is wearing masks. And I know that you've seen this video today. I'll show it to our viewers. It's fascinating, really, we should run this over and over again.
It's a study from Florida Atlantic University and there they basically have how far the droplets can actually go, the distance that they go. But the issue here is that masks help. And this is what we are looking at right now. We are just looking at the effects of having no mask. That means your cough travels 2.4 meters, even stitched masks with two layers.
NEWTON: So many of the kind that those of us that have ordered online or have had our kids or our neighbors make, six centimeters.
How significant do you think this proves, that mask wearing should actually make a difference?
JHA: It's one more strong piece of evidence in a growing body of evidence. At this point, almost everything is pointing to the idea that wearing a mask reduces spread of the virus. It reduces exponential growth.
And it's really just unbelievable to me that many people are resisting this, when the alternative is the entire community, entire cities, states will have to shut down. That's a much greater abridgement of freedom then wearing a mask is.
NEWTON: Do you wish they had done it sooner?
I was shocked to hear Dr. Fauci a few days ago say that the reason we didn't recommend masks for everyone is we didn't want people to hoard masks. But so many of us were making them at home. Even if you look back to what you were saying in March or April, do you think we should have been more active about that?
JHA: To be perfectly honest, I got it wrong in March. I really wasn't convinced of the data and I thought in early March I think I even publicly said I didn't see a clear benefit for masks. But the data has really changed. The evidence has changed. Now we have
been incontrovertible data on this topic. And therefore, our opinions should change as well. But at least for the last 3-4 weeks it's clear to me that everyone should be wearing a mask outside the home.
NEWTON: And to be fair experts like you and other experts all over the world were clear from the outset that we don't know much about this virus. It's a very new one. We are adjusting as we see the evidence.
Before I let you go, I want to talk about young people. I've noticed a kind of fatalism. It's not just in the United States. It's all over the world, places where even things have started to open up and they're maybe dealing with a second wave. This fatalism, it won't affect me, let's just get this done with, let's get infected and I can be over the coronavirus.
Why is that a dangerous attitude to have?
JHA: There are three reasons why. First of all, we are finding that young people do get sick. Some of them get sick quite severely and we don't know the long-term health consequences. So what I'm saying to young people is if you care about the long-term health of your lungs, of your heart, I wouldn't be so cavalier.
Second, young people getting infected keeps the virus going and provides fuel for further spread.
Third but related to that, young people do have parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and they can spread it to people. They can spread it to people who will potentially get very sick and die. So lots of reasons why young people shouldn't be so cavalier about this virus.
NEWTON: And we will see if any of their attitudes change as the prevalence goes up, not just in the United States but around the world. A lot of places dealing with what might be the tail end of the first wave, not even the second. Thank you, Dr. Jha.
JHA: Thank you.
NEWTON: There is growing pressure for more answers. Coming up why U.S. lawmakers are not satisfied with White House explanations on intelligence reports about Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers, paid to the Taliban.
And what a scathing insider says about President Trump's dealings with leaders around the world, what sources say about hundreds of classified phone calls.
NEWTON: The Pentagon says President Trump has approved plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Germany. The move is drawing opposition from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and America's allies in Europe.
The fear is a smaller force would fail to deter Russia. Under the plan, 9,500 of the more than 34,000 American personnel would be redeployed. Dozens of congressional Republicans are urging the U.S. president to reverse the decision.
The White House is also under pressure to do explain what President Trump knew and didn't know about Russia's alleged bounty payments to Afghan militants to attack American troops. Administration officials will meet with top lawmakers in the coming hours as the Democrats demand more answers. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump had the information; he just may not have read it. A U.S. official telling CNN that officials did share intelligence about Russian bounty payments with the president earlier this year, putting it in the president's daily brief, a highly classified document outlining the U.S.' latest intelligence, known as the PDB.
The White House claims the president was not briefed. When asked whether the information was included in the PDB, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany played semantics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: He was not personally briefed on the matter. That is all I can share with you today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND (voice-over): The problem?
Trump is known for not reading that document, instead relying on an oral briefing a few times a week. Former Vice President Joe Biden calling that a dereliction of duty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The presidential daily briefing is something I read every single day as vice president. So the idea that somehow he didn't know or isn't being briefed, that is a dereliction of duty if that's the case.
And if he was briefed and nothing was done about this, that's a dereliction of duty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND (voice-over): After initial silence, a trio of top national security officials now releasing statements, emphasizing that the intelligence community is still working to corroborate the intelligence, warning that leaks make that task more difficult.
National security adviser Robert O'Brien writing, "To those government officials who betrayed the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, your actions endanger our national security."
But Democratic lawmakers who were briefed on the intelligence today say it's the president who is undermining national security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The president called this a hoax, publicly. Nothing in the briefing that we have just received led me to believe it is a hoax.
I shared the concern at the White House today that I think many of us have, which is there may be a reluctance to brief the president on things he doesn't want to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND (voice-over): They're also demanding to be briefed directly by intelligence officials.
Meanwhile, the president is spending his time on Twitter, attacking protesters, his political rivals and the media. But when it comes to Russia, he has been silent, confounding even some Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That bothers me that, whether it's Xi of China, whether it's Putin, you don't get bad words against them from the Twitter handle. You'll get it about Germany, for instance. I don't know why that is.
NEWTON: Now we move to another story about the Trump administration. A damning picture emerges of President Trump's dealings with foreign leaders in a new CNN report by Carl Bernstein.
Sources said hundreds of classified phone calls led top aides to conclude the president was often, and I quote, "delusional." His conversations were described as "freeform, fact-deficient, stream of consciousness, ramblings full of fantasy and off the wall pronouncements," based on his intuitions, guesswork, the opinions of FOX News TV hosts and social media misinformation.
Now the harshest treatment was reserved for women, apparently. His most vicious attacks, said these sources, were aimed that women heads of state. In conversations with both May and Merkel, the president demeaned and denigrated them in diatribes described as near sadistic by one source and confirmed by others.
Some of the things, and I quote, "that he said to Angela Merkel were just unbelievable. [00:25:00]
NEWTON: "He called her 'stupid' and accused her of being in the pocket of the Russians. He's toughest in phone calls with those that he believes are weaklings and weakest with the ones he ought to be tough with."
We want to turn to CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd. She has more on all of this.
Really good to see you, Sam. It has been a minute. So much has transpired since then.
I argue it's less of a page turner. We have heard this kind of information come out before. In fact, it's more like a catalog, going through all of these shocking points.
What is your takeaway when you see it assembled in this way?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: What I see is that the president's track record is catching up with him. In the first instance, it comes as no surprise to anyone that he wings it on calls with foreign leaders.
Winging it with national security is not a good idea, especially on the phone with someone like president Vladimir Putin, who is well prepared for calls, or other leaders that view these calls as an opportunity to manipulate the president.
The president's phone skills have long been a risk for national security, whether it's dialing up TV pundits, people in his personal network or, as we are learning right now, just winging it on foreign calls.
This lack of preparation, going back to the other story on the Russian intelligence about Russia paying proxies in Afghanistan, is really catching up with him.
What we are seeing is the president's self inflicted lack of intelligence. I served in the White House for four years. I can tell, you intelligence is available to the president in many forms. But here in the U.S., you can lead a horse to water but you can't force it to drink.
In this case, I don't doubt that President Trump's team gave him detailed briefing memos ahead of calls with foreign leaders. I used to work on those briefing memos. Every talking point is painstakingly clear.
So I don't doubt his team tried to prepare him for calls nor do I doubt intelligence was in the presidential daily brief or other briefing memos that they gave to him. He chooses to be knowingly uninformed. That's how he's approaching our national security, uninformed, winging it and overall, Paula, that's incredibly dangerous. NEWTON: I want to get to more points about what happened, apparently
with that bounty that Russia allegedly was giving to the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers.
What I want to put a fine point on here is something that some allies, including the German foreign minister, said just this week. He said, even if Vice President Biden wins, let's say, in November, the damage that has been done to U.S. foreign affairs won't be repaired easily or quickly.
Is that a fair point?
VINOGRAD: Oh, I think it will take a generation to repair the damage that has been done to national security in several ways.
One way is, when you look at reporting or intelligence on strategic issues like the balance of power between great powers like China, Russia and the United States, or intelligence on threat streams related to terrorist groups or even climate change, it's not like you get a new president into the Oval Office and flip a switch and suddenly you are completely caught up on everything that you have missed paying attention to, acting on and more, during the four years of the Trump presidency.
Second, I think we all know how President Trump has treated the international order, whether that was alliances, international organizations and more. That will take painstaking effort by his hopeful successor in November to try and repair.
Finally, the image of the United States, looking at the data even from the Pew Research Center and others, the image of the United States has been really tarnished, whether it's our credibility when it comes to global pandemics like COVID-19, our reputation as a leader of a liberal democratic order on things like democratic freedoms and protests and the right to peaceful protest and a free press.
That will take a generation to repair, such that the world hopefully will begin to view the United States as a credible actor, a reliable partner. And coming back to our discussion on these intelligence and national security issues, a well informed counterpart that has a president that is working on national security on behalf of the American people and not trying to achieve some kind of personal agenda from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
NEWTON: I want to get back to that issue. As you pointed out and I know you have been one of the key people during the Obama administration, putting together these kinds of intelligence reports.
We have gone back and forth on whether or not he didn't read it; it was apparently in there, how does he get briefed. But I want to ask you, as someone from the inside, it's extraordinary, the extent to which certain people went to leak this information.
What does that tell you.
[00:30:12] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the leaks are unfortunate, and I don't condone leaks of classified information, but unfortunately, as we learned during the Ukraine scandal, the normal route for voicing concerns about unethical behavior have, unfortunately, become a danger unto themselves. And while not condoning leaks, traditional routes, like for example, filing whistleblower complaints, have become a dead end.
The Ukraine whistleblower, allegedly, his security has been impugned. People that spoke up during testimony in front of Congress, fulfilling their Constitutional duty, were removed from their positions.
So voicing fears about how senior officials are acting or not acting has been very dangerous in this administration, and that's problematic.
The leaks are unfortunate, because they do, to a certain extent, jam the intelligence community. But I just don't know what other avenue there was.
And so what we're seeing right now is Congress demanding access to the intelligence. We don't know if Congress got, you know, some kind of indication that this threat stream was out there.
But Congress doesn't get the PDB, the presidential daily briefing. That's just for the president. So what we need to have right now is congressional oversight of the -- of the existing intelligence. And frankly, Paula, we don't know that this threat stream has dissipated.
Without knowing the confidence level and without having access to the intelligence, we don't know if Putin has stopped --
VINOGRAD: -- Taliban proxies. What we do know is that the U.S. government looks disorganized and incompetent, and no costs have been imposed on Putin during that period.
NEWTON: Yes. What we also know is that U.S. service personnel continue to lose their lives in Afghanistan. We shouldn't forget that when we're talking about the politics.
Samantha, thanks so much. It is really good to see you. Appreciate it.
VINOGRAD; Thank you.
NEWTON: Now, Russians are voting on changes to the Constitution that could keep Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin for life. We'll look at the amendments and how likely they are to pass.
Plus, pro-democracy activists are condemning the Hong Kong national security law. But some legislators say it will bring much-needed change. We'll speak with one of those officials right after the break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NEWTON: OK, in about a half an hour, polls open again in Russia for the final day of the weeklong vote on reforms. Now, voters are deciding whether to amend the Constitution and allow President Vladimir Putin to potentially remain in power for another 16 years or beyond.
Matthew Chance explains what's at stake.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With its lockdown lifted, it doesn't look like a pandemic in Russia. Nor, indeed, a national vote which could tighten President Putin's already firm grip on power, yet both are in full swing.
"I would elect him for another ten years," says Antonina (ph), a pensioner from outside Moscow. "There are no presidents like Putin. He's smart and has improved lives," she says. "People like him must be kept, not let go."
He could stay, possibly, until 2036 if proposed constitutional changes are passed as expected.
Ahead of the weeklong voting, some of Russia's biggest stars have been urging the public to approve the changes, like the family of former Olympic and world figure-skating champion Evgeni Plushenko. "Think how huge our country is, compared to tiny Austria," his wife, Yana, tells their son. "This is our country," the skater explains. "Let's vote for the amendment."
The fact that they allow Putin to stand for two additional presidential terms is, well, skated over.
It's an omission drawing the wrath of Russian opposition figures like Alexei Navalny, who sees the vote as a constitutional coup by the Kremlin. "Poor child, having such greedy, unscrupulous parents," he commented on Instagram, attracting more likes, he says, than the video itself.
But the Kremlin has made sure the constitutional changes aren't just about Putin's rule. This pro-Kremlin video shows a Russian man adopting a child from an orphanage, then introducing him to his new mom, a male partner. The video has been slammed as homophobic, but it reminds voters the constitutional changes would enshrine a ban on gay marriage in Russia, a potential vote winner for a deeply conservative, some might say prejudiced, electorate.
And if that doesn't convince, there are even prizes on offer if you vote. Bonus points, which as this Russian TV anchor explains can be spent at supermarkets, toy shops, and all participating stores.
For a population desperate to put coronavirus and its economic hardships behind them, this alone could be enough to win support.
Matthew Chance, CNN.
NEWTON: In the U.S., the former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks has been granted $500,000 bond. Now, the judge said Garrett Rolfe is not a danger to the community for a flight risk. The decision came despite Brooks's widow asking the judge to deny his release.
Rolfe has been charged with felony murder and five counts of aggravated assault, following the June 12 shooting. CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more on the terms of his release.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a whole slew of conditions that go along with it, including the fact that he has to wear an ankle monitor and adhere to a curfew. He also cannot have any contact with Rayshard Brooks family, any of the witnesses or alleged other victims from that shooting.
He also has to surrender his passport, cannot possess any weapons, and then there's this. He can't contact any Atlanta police officers. And some of this appears to stem from the district attorney's office saying that, in the moments after the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, Rolfe exchanged text messages with at least four Atlanta police officers there on scene. And they've been trying to figure out what those text messages said, but they can't get into the phone because they say Rolfe won't give them his pass code.
NEWTON: Our Diane Gallagher there.
Now, the attorney for the Brooks family says they're disappointed and say it's one step in the long quest for justice.
Now, the last U.S. state with a Confederate battle emblem on its flag is officially getting rid of it. The Mississippi governor signed a bill Tuesday to retire the controversial flag after weeks of nationwide protests against racial injustice.
A commission will now design a new flag without the Confederate emblem, which critics say represents the war to uphold slavery. Voters will decide on the new flag in November.
Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, cities right across Latin America are easing coronavirus restrictions, despite health officials warning hundreds of thousands of people could die from the virus by October.
Plus, the European Union pulls out the welcome mat from under American tourists. Who they are planning to let in, that's next on CNN NEWSROOM.
NEWTON: Hong Kong is marking the 23rd anniversary of its hand-over to China as it begins -- as it begins to adjust to a new national security law imposed by the mainland.
Now, the city's leader has welcomed the move and blasted critics who say it could erode civil freedoms. The legislation will, in part, broaden Beijing's power to investigate, prosecute, and punish what it considers criminal acts. This includes secession, subversion, and alleged acts of terror.
I'm joined now by Michael Chen. He's a pro-Beijing legislative council member and Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress.
And I want to thank you for joining us on what is a momentous day there for Hong Kong. I remember you speaking about a year ago, and at the time, I recall you saying that peaceful expression was not in jeopardy in Hong Kong. It would seem this law will put that to an end because, you know, you know as well as I do this takes aim at words, not just the deeds of pro-democracy activists.
MICHAEL CHEN, HONG KONG DEPUTY TO NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS: A year ago when we spoke, there was no violence on the street. I don't know whether you remember.
NEWTON: I do.
CHEN: There were a million people marching on the street, making demands on government to retract a bill. Subsequently, a few days later, the government did retract the bill, but then protesters continued to set the city, you know, on fire and chaos and making other demands, some of which are absolutely non-starters. For example, releasing all those that were arrested, OK, and others.
And this thing has dragged on for six, seven months to a point where there's no -- no end in sight.
CHEN: And police at odds with the citizens all the time. So that's when the central government stepped in.
NEWTON: OK. Well, Mr. Chen, look at this. We're looking at the video. And I know our reporters and our reporting shows that there are certainly citizens in Hong Kong that were fed up with the protests, because it had disrupted life.
But if you just look at one component of the law that has just been brought in, terrorism, you know, the definition is so sweeping. It calls -- it says that the disruption of public transport, literally blocking a bus, could be punishable by life in prison. I find it hard to believe that that's what you want for Hong Kong's aspiring youths, what you want for their future.
CHEN: Interestingly, I, in some way, agree with your wording just now. But you are taking the issue to the other extreme. [00:45:00]
You know that our underground, the subway, has been really completely paralyzed. We're only operating at a half capacity. All the machines are broken. The trains are not running. If you use that example, yes, if history repeats itself they would get into trouble. We are not talking about blocking one bus. We're talking about paralyzing the entire metro subway line.
NEWTON: But to be clear, the law -- the law does not delineate the -- the law -- the law gives all the discretion, all the discretion, to authorities in this instance. You -- you and I won't be having a reasonable conversation as to whether or not a 19-year-old gets a life sentence for, OK, damaging you know, the token machines in the subway.
CHEN: Let me clarify that. They state clearly in the law that for the so-called not-so-heavy offenses. In the same offense, if you are not committing it to a so-called, a very severe degree, maximum is three to five. That's the one thing.
Secondly, all these cases will be tried in the Hong Kong court, according to our own prosecution and our own judges. Only in the three situations where the Chinese national bureau station in Hong Kong, to be settled in Hong Kong, will step in. Two out of the three involve situations where Hong Kong is under control.
The last one is about a major and imminent threat to national security. I do not call blocking a bus or even paralyzing the Hong Kong public transport major and imminent threat to national security. So as far as I'm concerned, for them to send people to the mainland to be prosecuted and tried, it's a different level of crime. So I just want to set the record straight.
I also have to say -- yes.
NEWTON: You're setting the record straight, but you will not be the one to judge those young people as they appear before judges. And remember, a lot in this law gives sweeping authority, apparently, for investigations, as well, for searches without any kind of warrants. You know yourself how sweeping this law could be in practice, regardless of the kind of discretion that you believe will be employed here.
CHEN: OK. The details came out at 11 p.m. last night, Hong Kong time. It is now 12 p.m. It is now 13 hours later. I have read every single line, every single word. I assume you haven't. So --
NEWTON: I've only read the translation. And that is my -- I don't -- I cannot read in the original language.
CHEN: Exactly. So --
NEWTON: The translation that I read was chilling.
CHEN: Yes. You, indeed, were reading the translation. So if I can add some value to this interview, it is that I am what they call a liberal nationalist.
I've been criticized by Beijing as the naughty boy, all right? I am probably the most critical of a lot of things that happened in China. I read these details. You are right. They are tough. In terms of enforcement, in terms of the three major crimes where they will actually send people to the mainland to be tried, all right, those are tough. OK.
Other than these three situations, the rest of it will be tried in Hong Kong by Hong Kong judges. There will be jury. If there's no jury, there will be a three panel -- a three-judge panel presiding. All right?
Now, if you don't believe in the judiciary in Hong Kong in terms of a fair trial, I guess there's not much that I can say. These are not new judges sent down from Beijing. These are all the current judges that we've been using in Hong Kong.
NEWTON: Well, you know the kind of chilling effect it's had with these pro-democracy activists. They are calling it a reign of terror. I have to leave it there just now --
CHEN: That's now why --
NEWTON: -- but please. But we -- we do appreciate your --
CHEN: That's why I volunteered to take this interview, to give another view. Everybody try to blow everything out of proportion. I'm not saying that -- I'm not saying that this is a very -- this is a perfect set of details. I believe some of them, indeed, aren't quite harsh. I admit it. Harsh in terms of China's essential government's determination to protect national security.
But whether or not they will use things to their utmost extent, I actually believe that the main purpose of this law is deterrent. It's deterrent; it's a sharp sword hanging over a minority of people.
This is a phrase that was used by the Hong Kong and McArthur (ph) office. And I do believe them. Things have gone to the other extreme in Hong Kong in the last year.
NEWTON: Promise me this, because what a lot of people are saying is that this will, in fact, completely blunt freedom of speech in Hong Kong, something that was supposed to be enshrined, certainly, when Hong Kong was handed over 23 years ago.
I'm going to have to leave it there. I promise you, we will have you back. And hopefully, we'll speak quite soon, just exactly to see how this law plays out.
Thank you for your time.
With coronavirus cases rising in Latin America, some countries are now adjusting and reinforcing their containment measures while others continue to ease restrictions.
Among the largest hotspots, Mexico which reported nearly 5,500 new infections on Tuesday alone. And of course, Brazil, which has now surpassed 1.4 million cases -- incredible -- and a death toll now nearing 60,000.
CNN's Shasta Darlington has the latest from Sao Paulo.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: While many Latin American cities reopen for business, the Pan American Health Organization warned on Tuesday that more than 438,000 people could die of COVID-19 in the region by October as the virus continues to spread.
The group's director said Chile and Colombia could see peaks by mid- July, but countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Peru aren't likely to peak until mid-August.
Nonetheless, while some cities like Buenos Aires are imposing more restrictive measures, many others are reopening. In Mexico City, retail and sports club have been open since Monday, and on Wednesday, restaurants, hotels, hair salons and shopping malls will be allowed to open their doors, even as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro is preparing to reopen bars, restaurants and gyms on Thursday, and private schools next week. That's even as Brazil reported more than 1,200 deaths on Tuesday and more than 33,000 new COVID-19 infections, surpassing 1.4 million confirmed cases.
Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.
NEWTON: As if COVID-19 wasn't enough of a calamity, experts are now warning of a possible new pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARK DYBUL, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR GLOBAL HEALTH PRACTICE AND IMPACT: It is a catastrophic future we could face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Details on a new strain of swine flu. That's next.
NEWTON: OK. Brace yourself for this one. To China, where researchers have discovered a new swine flu they say has the potential to become a pandemic.
It's a descendant of the H1N1 swine flu, and one health expert in the United States warns it could be catastrophic. David Culver has the details.
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new virus with pandemic potential emerging once again out of China. This according to a new study published in a U.S. science journal, Chinese researchers warning the disease can infect humans. The origin? Pigs.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: It's not, so-called, an immediate threat where you're seeing infections, but it's something we need to keep our eye on, just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu.
CULVER: Experts say this new swine flu, called G4, is genetically descended from H1N1. H1N1 became a pandemic in 2009. It killed up to an estimated half a million people globally.
While scientists caution that this new virus does not pose an immediate global health threat, they warn that, once transmitted from pig to human, it could lead to severe infection and even death.
DYBUL: If we have, at the same time, new waves of the coronavirus, the potential for a bad flu season or a swine flu, it is -- it is a catastrophic future we could face.
CULVER: According to the journal, Chinese researchers made the discovery during a pig surveillance program. From 2011 to 2018, they collected more than 30,000 nasal swab samples from pigs across 10 Chinese providences.
Of the 139 swine flu viruses identified, one kept showing up year after year after year. It was the G4 virus. In two Chinese provinces, Hubei and Shandong, more than 10 percent of workers tested on pig farms between 2016 and 2018 were positive for the virus.
While not yet seen with the G4 virus, human-to-human transmission is why doctors believe COVID-19 spread so rapidly. It is also what Chinese officials in Wuhan downplayed and have been accused of covering up early on in the novel coronavirus outbreak.
China denies that they ever covered up key information. When asked Tuesday about how China is handling this pathogen, a foreign minister spokesperson said they are watching it closely. Adding that they will take all necessary measures to prevent the spread an outbreak of any virus.
Late Tuesday, China's government-controlled media quickly downplayed the G4 virus, stressing that disease control experts said the public should not overreact, and hog farms have shown no signs of related disease. They also cited an unnamed Chinese veterinary expert who claimed this new virus is preventable.
(on camera): No doubt allegations of China's early mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak, along with international criticism over their lack of transparency, makes any new virus emerging from this country all the more worrying.
Meantime, we're also hearing from Chinese researchers with new details of a distinct and highly-contagious strain of the coronavirus. They believe it was imported by a woman returning home to China from the U.S. in March. They say she spread it first in her apartment building's elevator and then, ultimately, to 71 people.
It is a claim that plays into a popular government narrative here, stressing in recent months that the greatest coronavirus threat is external. That is, from outside China.
David Culver, CNN, Beijing.
NEWTON: And I want to thank everyone for watching. I'm Paula Newton. CNN NEWSROOM is back in just a moment.