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GOP Lawmakers Distance Themselves on Masks; White House on Intelligence Briefs; Hong Kong Police Arrest 180 Protesters; Oklahoma Officer Killed During Stop; Coronavirus Update from Around the Country; Trumps' Inaction with Russia. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 1, 2020 - 06:30   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But with the president in the general election tacking so far to the right on these culture war issues, making, you know, in a tweet last night, issues of whether or not fair housing laws ought to be repealed, making that the core of his campaign. It is very easy for the Democratic candidate then to be somewhere in the middle, which is where Joe Biden has always believed, frankly, that the country is.

So, you know, for President Trump the question is now, will he take the advice of his own supporters and on some of these issues let some of this sort of confederate, you know, history sort of -- kind of -- the kind of re-telling of history of confederate history, let some of that go. Let some of the mask stuff go.

The president thinks that this is the best way to go, but it is clearly not expanding his support beyond his right base. And it's not helping him compete with Biden in a general election.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: It will be interesting to see what happens because, as we know, the president does not like to change positions, does not like to admit he's wrong.


HILL: So that will be fascinating.

Abby, I want to talk a little bit about what we've seen over the last couple of days with this intel briefing that the president said he was never briefed, now apparently has been briefed. However, there was an interesting moment yesterday with Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany as she weighed in to let everybody know where the president stands. And I just want to play that moment.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president does read. And he also consumes intelligence verbally. This president, I'll tell you, is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats that we face.


HILL: So, Abby, he's been informed. The question is, is he actually taking that information in, right, and what is he doing with that? And that's an important part of the discussion. It's not just about, is he being given the information, it's, is he actually consuming it and letting it sink in?

PHILLIP: Yes. And I'll tell you that this is something that goes all the way back to the beginning of the administration. You know, I -- I remember very early on sources telling me that the president, they needed to find different ways to convey information to the president because the written briefings were not really getting through to him. It is not a defense, frankly, of the president to say that he's the most important -- informed person on matters of intelligence. He is supposed to be. He is supposed to have access to all of the relevant information when it comes to keeping the country safe. So it's a real question of whether this -- and our reporting is that it was included in his written briefing. If it was, why was that apparently not internalized because the president claimed himself that he was never briefed.

The presidential daily briefing is a briefing, whether it is delivered to him verbally or not. And I do think that the question here is, is the White House taking that responsibility seriously? It's not, I don't think, an acceptable explanation and won't be to Congress when they look into this, that the president simply didn't look at the information in his daily briefing. This is some of the most important stuff when it comes to saving lives and protecting our troops overseas. And the White House's excuse seems to be boiled down to, well, even if it was in there, he didn't -- he wasn't verbally briefed on it. It's a sort of technicality argument that I'm not sure is going to fly, even with Republicans on Capitol Hill.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No, to be cornered into a space where your response is, the president does read. That's not a place you want to be. I mean that's tantamount to the president ties his own shoes and cuts his own meat. I mean you don't want to be in a place where saying "the president reads" is your best defense. That just goes to show how they've handled this the last few days.

PHILLIP: Yes, no, there's absolutely no universe in which the -- saying that "the president reads" is an accolade. I mean he is the president of the United States. I think we -- we just kind of get to the point where the -- the -- we -- we expect so little at this point, but he is the president of the United States and on this matter, I think putting all of the other things aside, on issues of national security, I think that is where the bar is extraordinarily high. You're going to have -- you're going to see a lot of people having problems with the White House claiming that just because it wasn't verbally delivered to the president, he may not have known about something this serious.

BERMAN: Abby Phillip, great to have you with us this morning. Thanks so much.

So, new this morning, two primary races settled overnight, setting up races that we will watch very closely in the fall. In Colorado, former Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper will take on Republican Senator Cory Gardner. Hickenlooper had a tougher than expected primary and had to apologize for statements he has made about race in the past, but Democrats see the contest as one of their best chances to unseat an incumbent Republican.

In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will face former Marine pilot Amy McGrath. Now, the Democratic primary in Kentucky actually took place last week, but they were counting the absentee and the mail-in ballots. She won a really close primary against Charles Booker.


She had a huge amount of money to spend. She will face an uphill battle. McConnell has held the seat since 1984.

We do have major breaking news overseas. Hundreds arrested protesting in Hong Kong as China begins to exert its power on that city. A live report from Hong Kong, next.


BERMAN: All right, breaking news.

Police in Hong Kong have arrested at least 180 people who were taking part in protests on the first day of Beijing imposing a controversial new national security law. Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Hong Kong with the latest.

Just so people understand, Will, this is the first time China has exerted this kind of direct power in Hong Kong there. Tell us what you've seen.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the first day, John, that the new national security law imposed unilaterally by China's ruling body on Hong Kong without any input from the people or the government, despite promises 23 years ago today that Hong Kong people would run their own city, but Beijing making very clear with this new law that they are the ones in control.


And they're using the Hong Kong police force basically out in the biggest numbers that I've ever seen for so few protesters because we do need to point out, the number of people who are actually out demonstrating in the streets is very small compared to today, last year, when you couldn't even walk through this area there were so many people.

But let me see if we can walk through here and not get the police yelling at us to show you all the way down this city block here, and we're just going to keep walking, Dan, to try to get a shot. I know traffic's going here and they might tell us to stop, but there is -- there's a convoy of police vehicles as far as the eye can see. They've deployed their water cannons against individual people because this is not a large demonstration.

This is a relatively small part of Hong Kong. This is Causeway Bay. It's a very busy retail district. And yet the police are out in force. They've already arrested, as you said, more than 180 people, including, for the first time, arrests for the national security law. And the potential penalty for that, John, life in prison, even if somebody so much as possess a sign encouraging Hong Kong independence, which is a slogan that was regularly repeated by protesters for months last year, just uttering those words or possessing a sign could actually land somebody in prison for their whole life.

Let's see if we can see this line of vehicles over here.

BERMAN: Will, I'm watching this. I'm so glad you're showing us these pictures because this city, at this point, has the image of being a security state. It looks like a security state now.

How many of these arrests this morning were a direct result of the new national security law?

RIPLEY: So this is an important point you raised because police are saying only seven of the at least 180 that have been taken into custody were arrested under the national security law. Basically, these people who were arrested, it's a whole new, unchartered legal territory for them because they're taken to a processing center, they're interviewed by officers. You can see a handful there. They've really managed to kind of just seal off this entire area and prevent people from assembling in large groups. They've closed off tunnels. They've closed off transit lines.

But for these seven people and anyone else who's arrested under the national security law, they're going to be questioned by officers who have been specifically trained to prosecute. And, again, the penalties are significantly more serious than anything we've seen in Hong Kong for protest-related offenses. You're talking the potential of life in prison for charges that would have landed you maybe a slap on the wrist or a couple of years before today.

BERMAN: Wow. All right, Will.

Will Ripley, do me a favor, please, you and your crew, stay safe this morning. Images I really haven't seen before coming from the streets of Hong Kong.

Terrific reporting. Thank you.


HILL: In Oklahoma, a police officer has been killed, another critically hurt during a traffic stop. Tulsa Police Sergeant Craig Johnson, and a second officer, were shot in the head when they pulled over a driver.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joining us now with more. Brynn, good morning.

So, what happened here?


Well, the city of Tulsa is mourning this morning. Sergeant Craig Johnson, he's a 15-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department and on Monday he and another officer pulled over a suspect in the early morning hours. There was a scuffle and, according to the police chief, the suspect pulled out a gun and fired multiple times. And Johnson was hit several times, including in his head. We're told he had surgery, but his condition never improved and he died on Tuesday.

The other officer, Aurash Zarkeshan, who our affiliate says just actually started working patrols, was also shot in the head, but his condition is apparently improving. And he is responsive to doctors.

Now, police caught up with the suspect after he fled the scene, 32- year-old, there he is, David Ware, now charged with murder, and an alleged accomplice also charged.

And according to a CNN affiliate about Johnson, he's a dad to two little boys, a husband. The Tulsa Police chief has awarded him with the department's Purple Heart. But, Erica, of course, this reminds us of the sacrifice and the risk these officers are still taking, even in this volatile climate.


HILL: That's for sure.

Brynn, thank you.

GINGRAS: All right.

HILL: A Ft. Lauderdale police officer who was captured on video shoving a kneeling protester has now been charged with battery. Officer Steven Pohorence was suspended from the department after that incident back in May. According to the police chief, he is now on unpaid administrative leave. The battery charge is a first degree misdemeanor. It carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

BERMAN: The 75-year-old protester who was shoved to the ground by Buffalo Police has now been released from the hospital after nearly a month. Martin Gugino's attorney says he can now walk with a little help and will continue his recovery at an undisclosed location to ensure privacy. The 75-year-old suffered a fractured skull. Two Buffalo police officers have pleaded not guilty to second degree assault charges.

The back and forth over what the president knew and when about Russian bounties for U.S. troops, should we be surprised to learn of another potential blind spot when it comes to Vladimir Putin?

[06:45:00] Our "Reality Check" is next.


HILL: The city of Houston is trying to get ahead of the pandemic with case numbers and hospitalizations climbing rapidly.

CNN has reporters covering this pandemic from coast to coast.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Lucy Kafanov in Houston, Texas, where the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing. Younger people are getting sick. Hospitals, strained. Long waiting lines at testing locations like this one. The governor shutting down bars to try to curb the spread of this disease. Bar owners now suing the state.


To better cope with extremely long lines for unemployment benefits, like the one you're seeing here, Oklahoma's unemployment office set up a two-day event that starts this morning in Midwest City. Hundreds desperate for unemployment benefits camped out overnight Sunday into Monday at Oklahoma's unemployment office to be the first in line to get help. These pictures and reporting from CNN affiliate KOCO.


Some have waited months to get benefits amid the pandemic, but Oklahoma unemployment security commission staff couldn't see everyone and capped the line at 170, turning some people away.

The solution, today's event to help answer questions. Officials say they'll take the first 500 in line and next week they'll add similar events in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alexandra Field in New York, where health officials are investigating a cluster of Covid cases. At least 14 people tested positive after attending a drive-in high school graduation ceremony. One person who was at the ceremony had recently returned from Florida, later started showing symptoms, and then tested positive. The Chappaqua Central School District says they are working closely with authorities in order to stop the further spread of the virus.


BERMAN: That is of huge concern in Westchester County.

So, CNN has learned this intelligence about the Russians offering bounty for U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan was in the president's daily brief. Still, the president said he didn't know about it and has not taken any official action in response. How does that fit into the larger pattern of his posture toward Vladimir Putin? John Avlon with a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Reports that Russia put bounties on U.S. service members are stunning. And not just because of the optics, but because the president should have known about it, but he did nothing. Now, if true, this would be an absolute outrage and an unprecedented dereliction of duty.

But the White House seems angrier about accurate press reports, characterizing them as leaks, than the incident itself and its own inaction.

This is all Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany will say in the president's defense.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president was never briefed on this.


AVLON: But CNN has learned that the president was briefed in the spring, months before he unilaterally offered to invite Russia to the G-7. Now allies are scramming to explain what happened, like Senator John Cornyn of Texas who said, quote, well, I think the president can't single handedly remember everything, I'm sure, that he's briefed on. At the very least, this fits a long pattern of President Trump avoiding confrontation with Vladimir Putin, despite repeated provocations. It's also a reminder of why so much rides on this week's expected decision by the Supreme Court on whether Trump's taxes and business records can be turned over to Congress and the New York D.A.

Now, there are massive implications for the separation of powers and American's ability to make a fully formed decision in November.

President Trump has, of course, broken with decades of precedent in refusing to release his tax returns. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig points out that six different federal courts, three district courts and three courts of appeals panels, have heard these cases and all six have ruled against Trump.

But that's not all. A 1924 law states that the Treasury secretary shall furnish such tax information, which Steve Mnuchin has refused to do, citing no legitimate, legislative purpose.

But there is a clear, legislative and public interest in finding out whether hidden business dealings might explain Trump's strange but persistent reluctance to confront Vladimir Putin. It's not like there isn't any evidence already. Before Trump's political career, at a time when many U.S. banks refused to do business with the Trump organization, by the way, Eric Trump bragged the company could get all the money it needed from Russia.

2008, Don Jr. told a real estate conference, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. And Reuters reports that 63 Russians invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings.

Now, CNN has tallied no less than 25 times that President Trump has been strangely soft on Russia. From denying Moscow interfered in U.S. elections to his benefit, to suggesting it could keep Crimea, to undermining sanctions, to withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, to praising pro-Russian leaders in Europe, to railing against NATO.

In addition, we've seen a pattern of administration officials being told not to even bring up Russia to the president. Court watchers caution that there's no guarantee that President Trump's business records or taxes will be made public anytime soon. For example, the New York D.A.'s subpoena for Trump's taxes for a grand jury investigation would be information closely held by the court.

But accountability will lead to more transparency on a question that confounds even some Trump allies. Why does Trump keep praising Putin? The American people deserve to know the truth about Trump and Russia, and that means following the money. The Supreme Court will decide now whether the truth or partisan politics will win out.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: Our thanks to John Avlon for that. We will be speaking to a Democratic representative who did receive a briefing at the White House on these issues concerning Russia shortly.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States have risen dramatically over the last month. More than 50 percent in some cases in over half the country.


What's the plan to fix this? Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Covid-19 pandemic, not easing its grip on the United States.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day, if this does not turn around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The total number of cases in the U.S. may be as much as ten times as what we've actually been measuring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going back, closing things. I don't think that that really is what's driving it.

JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Please, wear a face covering when you go out in public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of Covid-19.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

Erica Hill in for Alisyn all week long.

Great to have you here.

HILL: Good morning, my friend.

BERMAN: So, this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. is clearly not in control of the coronavirus pandemic.


So the only question anyone should be asking is, how do we get there? How do we get control?