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Trump Claims a "Great Job" As Cases Hit New Record; Trump's Resistance Led to Fewer Briefings on Russia; Russians Back Constitutional Referendum Putin Could Serve Until 2036; WNBA Star Maya Moore Helps Free Innocent Man from Prison. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 2, 2020 - 05:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we did it all right. We did a great job. We're credited with doing a great job.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Not exactly. A record high number of new coronavirus cases. Hospitals now preparing for another surge as the president attempts to turn the page.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: You know, with Russia. Why the president's national security team shied away from briefings on threats from a major adversary.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Good evening, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. It's Thursday, July 2nd. It is 5:00 a.m. in New York.

The president loves to talk about numbers, crowd sizes, ratings, the stock market, the most powerful, greatest, biggest numbers of all time. This is not what he had in mind. The U.S. setting a new single day record with more than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19.

Yet, here's how President Trump sees things.


TRUMP: I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope.


JARRETT: He's been saying that for months and he's wrong. Sources tell CNN there's a split in the White House over whether he should turn back to the pandemic that's killed 128,000 Americans or continue to focus on reopening the economy as if the two are mutually exclusive, but the president's focus hasn't been on this pandemic. It's focused elsewhere -- monuments, Black Lives Matter, Joe Biden, military base names, white power, TV ratings and more.

ROMANS: The president has been beating the race Donald Trump, all week complaining about names on buildings, fair housing rules. He called Black Lives Matter a symbol of hate. A non-stop barrage retreating to his safe space because he knows his support is fading.

With the Fourth of July coming this weekend, it's once again up to the states to decide how to beat the kind of rapid spread of the virus seen after Memorial Day. Cases per day have almost doubled since then.


DR. JOSHUA BAROCAS, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN AT BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: They've sent up a perfect storm. The combination of travel, the combination of opening, reopening perhaps in some cases too early and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines.


JARRETT: Some states are now taking new action on their own. California, the first state to lock down, now reimposing many of the same restrictions. The governor shutting down all indoor activities in counties on the state coronavirus watch list affecting 28 million people.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: In restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment broadly defined by guidelines that we have previously put out, zoos, museums, card rooms in this state.


ROMANS: Other parts of the country are taking steps as well. Miami- Dade County is limiting pool hours and alcohol sales in the hotels for the holiday weekend, New York City delaying indoor dining.

In Texas, where there are still long lines to get tested for COVID, the governor has already scaled back reopening. Some states like Florida where the vice president visits today, those places are refusing to take action statewide. Hospitals both there and in Texas, stretched for beds and critical supplies.


ERIN BROMAGE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY, UMASS DARTMOUHT: The dimmer switch approach works when you have case numbers under control, when you get into Arizona numbers, Texas numbers, Florida numbers, that tiny adjustment that you make is not going to have the effects of turning those new infections around fast enough. You've got to come in with more of a hammer rather than a switch to control this now.


JARRETT: Governors who Trump pressured to reopen are now being forced to retreat. Twenty-three states are rolling back reopening. Top medical officials overseeing the government's response say they have not spoken to the president in weeks. And after days of Republicans stating the obvious, wear a mask, Trump gave them a lukewarm endorsement.


TRUMP: Well, I don't know if you need mandatory, because you have many places in the country where people very stay long distance. I'm all for masks. I think mask is good. I would wear, if I were in a group of people and I was close --

INTERVIEWER: You would wear one?

TRUMP: Oh, I would -- I would -- oh, I have. I mean, people have seen me wearing one.


ROMANS: This is not an issue where the president has led by example. We had seen him wear a mask only once because people asked him to and a photographer captured the moment.

Now, coronavirus cases in the military have more than doubled in the last three weeks, the president has nothing to say about that either.

As commander in chief, he is responsible, of course, for the lives of vulnerable service members at home and abroad.


JARRETT: The Republican Party he reshaped in his image is now embracing more fringe ideology. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health officials are now being targeted because they gave medical advice some Republicans just didn't want to hear.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS: Fauci said today that he's concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things. He doesn't know what he's talking about, we haven't skipped over anything. The only thing I'm skipping over is listening to him.


JARRETT: Now with Mr. Trump's reelection on the line, COVID cases, unemployment and racial tensions are sky high. Only his poll numbers are down.

So how does the president view his own performance?


TRUMP: I think we did it all right. We did a great job. We're credited with doing a great job.


ROMANS: A record daily number of cases and barely a word about the pandemic he is convinced is over. But the nation, of course, knows this is not over.

JARRETT: CNN has learned President Trump's resistance to intelligence warnings about Russia has led his national security team to brief him orally on Russia-related threats less often. The White House denies the president was briefed orally about Russia offering Taliban proxies bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. CNN has confirmed that intel was included in his daily briefing this spring. A former senior intelligence official tells CNN the president's briefers had one simple rule, never lead with Russia.

The real question here is, why? What's behind the president's persistent resistance to stand up to Russia?

ROMANS: Multiple officials say, early his term, briefers realize that when the oral briefing included unfavorable intel on Russia, the president would blow up on them and often question the intel itself.

Yesterday, top aides defended the way Trump's intel is handled.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: When the threat is sufficiently serious, the scale of threat is such importance that there's an action that I think that the president needs to be aware of. And the information that I've seen as sufficiently credible, then we make sure that the president is aware of that.

ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We brief him on everything that he needs to know to keep the country safe. So any thought that we wouldn't brief him on something because it would anger him, it's just -- I don't even know how to respond to that question.


ROMANS: So the White House will be briefed on the Russian bounty intelligence. That's on top of a Gang of Eight briefing delayed from yesterday.

JARRETT: President Trump claims an enthusiasm gap is hurting Joe Biden, but you wouldn't believe it if you look at the poll numbers or his money. The former vice president just outraised President Trump for the second week in a row, raking in $141 million in fundraising in June. That tops the president's total for the month by $10 million.

The Trump campaign has raised $947 million over the past two years. And it has more than $295 million of cash on hand. The Biden campaign has not released its cash on hand for the quarter.

ROMANS: All right. Critical information about the coronavirus recession due in just a few hours. The June jobs report is expected to show record job growth, rehiring as states reopen. It's estimated 3 million jobs were added that would push the unemployment rate down to 12.2 percent.

Down, but perspective, the unemployment rate was near a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February. There has been some improvement. But the jobs market remains in crisis with millions out of work. And the recession is disproportionately hurting women and minority workers. The latest jobless claims likely to show more than a million workers filed for the first time for jobless benefits in the most recent week.

Another sign of the deep economic damage, U.S. car sales had their worst quarter since the recession. Major automakers reported a more than 30 percent drop in sales as demand stalled and dealerships closed. Moody estimates it will take several years for car sales to rebound to 2019 levels, Laura.

JARRETT: Well, he spent 16 years as Russia's president. Now, voters will allow Vladimir Putin to serve 16 more. A live report, up next.



JARRETT: A resounding victory for Vladimir Putin. Russians voting overwhelmingly to embrace Putin's nationwide referendum that could keep him in power for 16 more years.

Matthew Chance is live in London for us.

Hi, Matthew.


Yes, it's absolutely astonishing but expected result, more than 80 percent. About 80 percent of the people who voted, according to the Russian electoral committee voted for these constitutional amendments which is a whole wrath of various changes to the way the country has legally operated. The most important one being that President Putin would get another, likely to stand for another two presidential terms, meaning potentially another 16 years as the country's president. He would be 83 if he were to take full advantage of that.

Now, those big election results have been slammed by opposition figures in the country, saying that the result does not fairly reflect the real opinions of ordinary Russians. One of the main election monitoring groups in Russia have said that a heavily one-sided state media political campaign ahead of the vote would have skewed the vote significantly, and they say they've received more than 2,000 reports on ballot irregularities, ballot box stuffing, people voting twice, things like that.

However, Russian election officials saying they're not seeing anything that all that would alter the results. It looks like they're going to be sticking with this, and it's going to be reviewed.

Its' been a totally bizarre election campaign anyway, referendum anyway, because it took place under the shadow of this COVID virus, coronavirus epidemic, pandemic in Russia, one of the worst affected countries in the world. Voting took place over a week, not just on one single day. And even cash prizes being offered to people, and vouchers they should spend at shops, various businesses, if they took part.


And so, the whole thing has been a strange political process, political theater in Russia -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yes, certainly.

All right. Matthew Chance, thanks so much for that reporting.

ROMANS: Cheers in Virginia's capital city. The mayor of Richmond invoking emergency powers to remove Confederate monuments from the former capital of the Confederacy. The crowd braved the rain to watch the statue of Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson come down after more than 100 years. A member of the city council who pushed for the statute's removal says he's thrilled but there's still more work to be done.


MICHAEL JONES, COUNCILMAN, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA: We've got to move beyond statements and statues. We have to really look at investing in African-American communities, investing in people of color, to begin to rewrite the social injustice that we've endured for over 400 years.


ROMANS: A national reckoning and a push to confront racism has led several other cities and states in recent weeks to remove statues and other symbols honoring Confederate leaders.

JARRETT: Police in San Francisco are no longer releasing mug shots of people who have been arrested. The city's police chief calls it a groundbreaking attempt to curb what he says is implicit racial bias. The department going forward will only release booking photos of suspects who are believed to pose a threat to public safety.

ROMANS: Seattle police are now patrolling the Capitol Hill area that protesters have controlled for weeks, at least 35 people were arrested in the so-called CHOP zone Wednesday after the mayor issued an emergency executive order for police to retake that area following a series of shootings.

Chief Carmen Best calls the damage in the area absolutely devastating.


CHIEF CARMEN BEST, SEATTLE POLICE: I can tell you personally, after walking through the area, we walked the full perimeter. I was just stunned by the number of -- the amount of graffiti, garbage and property destruction.


ROMANS: Only residents and business owners will be allowed in the area for the next nine days. One resident told CNN things started out well-intentioned and then quickly took a turn for the worse.

JARRETT: He was serving a 50-year prison sentence for a crime he didn't commit. A WNBA star skipped the season to secure his freedom. The reunion overnight in "The Bleacher Report."



JARRETT: Welcome back.

United Airlines says leaving middle seats empty is a PR strategy, not a safety measure. United is adding 25,000 flights to its August schedule. That's three times more than it flew in June.

And the airlines does not plan to limit seat capacity. United spokesman says even if middle seat is empty, passengers across the aisle and in nearby rows are still inside of the six-foot recommended social distancing range. In other words, no one is really following the guidelines.

Meanwhile, Southwest and Delta are still limiting their flight capacity, and American Airlines is filling up its planes more, a move that's disappointed top health officials. The demand for flights has recently flattened after climbing since mid-April.

ROMANS: Right, a wrongfully convicted Missouri inmate is a free man this morning, thanks in part to years of work by WNBA superstar Maya Moore.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Coy.


We're talking about one of the greatest ever to play her sport, Maya Moore, four-time WNBA champ, league MVP, six-time all-star. She walked away from her sport in her prime because she believes so deeply in this, Christine.

Jonathan Irons was convicted of a home invasion. He insisted he was not there. Set to serve a 50-year sentence, but yesterday, he walked out of the Jefferson County correctional center in Missouri, and Maya Moore wearing a mask, greeting him with a hug. Thanks with the help of Maya Moore, his conviction was overturned due to the new evidence, Iron is a free man after serving 22 years behind bars. Moore first met Irons 13 years ago as a visit as part of the ministry, a photo with Irons with the hashtag win with justice is posted yesterday.

Moore is going to sit out this season, too, to advocate for criminal justice reform. And Natasha Cloud, a woman on the mission as well. She's going to skip

the WNBA season to fight for social reform. And she tells CNN that true activism has to go beyond just t-shirts and taking down statues. Listen.


NATASHA CLOUD, WASHINGTON MYSTICS GUARD: Wearing a t-shirt is not enough. Wearing a t-shirt that says "Black Lives Matter" is not enough. For the NBA who stole the WNBA's idea of putting "Black Lives Matter" on the court, that is not enough.

And so, not only with our leagues but America as a whole to not be distracted by the crumbs that people are throwing at you. T-shirts and things on the court are crumbs. Taking down statues of racist slave owners, that's crumbs.


WIRE: Cloud also tells us that she can't have as strong an impact in a bubble in Florida. She's fighting for her fiance, her future children, and there's no time like now.

To Major League Soccer where there is just weeks to go before the season is set to open in Orlando, six FC Dallas players tested positive for coronavirus. They are self-isolating at the Disney resort and the rest of the team is awaiting COVID-19 results as well.

This could be a glimpse of what every league will deal with when their seasons get underway.

Finally, Major League Baseball camps opening up yesterday. Many of which were in their team's home ballparks as they prepare for their 60-game regular season starting later this month. The royals won't start training until Friday but yesterday, they announced something interesting for fans.


Season ticketholders are getting a chance to put their pictures in a plastic cutout and put it in a seat at Kauffman Stadium. There will be 500 stand ambassadors as they call it. The proceeds of the sales are going to go to benefit coronavirus-related charities. We already have your cutout waiting for you when you're a White Sox fan by jurisdiction only, I'm told.

JARRETT: Oh, I always back the home team.

Good to see you, Coy. Thanks so much.

WIRE: You, too. Good morning.

JARRETT: All right. The country is facing a new record this morning again. Coronavirus cases topping 50,000 for the first time in the pandemic. More states reversing course. Where is the president?