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Trump Pressures Governors to Reopen Schools as Cases Surge; Trump Threatens to Cut Funding for Schools Who Don't Reopen; New School Plans Must Balance Virtual and In-Person Learning; Phoenix Man Died During 2017 Arrest, Begged for His Breath; New Report Expected to Show Only Slight Drip in U.S. Jobless Claims. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 9, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, schools and universities across the United States are grappling with how to reopen safely for the coming school year. A former director of the CDC says opening schools is essential but doing it too early can backfire adding to the stress. Threats from the U.S. President to pull funds for education and pressure on governors to open the classrooms. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more from the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pushing for schools to reopen, President Trump is already turning to heavy- handed tactics, threatening to cut funding to reluctant schools and dismissing some of his administration's own public health experts.

Falsely accusing Democrats of opposing school reopenings across the board, the President tweeting, may cut off funding if not open.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you heard from the President is just a determination to provide the kind of leadership from the federal level that says we're going to get our kids back to school because that's where they belong.

DIAMOND: Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill telling CNN the President doesn't have that unilateral authority. And Vice President Pence downplayed Trump's threat.

PENCE: We are going to respect those unique communities that may have challenges -- that have rising cases or rising positivity.

DIAMOND: Suggesting the administration will, instead, push financial incentives for schools that open their doors. The president also slamming the CDC's reopening guidelines, calling them very tough and expensive.

Tweeting, they are asking schools to do very impractical things.

CDC director Robert Redfield defending but also downplaying those guidelines. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of CDC's guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed. Remember, it's guidance. It's not requirements.

DIAMOND: And with the CDC preparing to release new guidelines next week, Redfield declining to say if pressure from the President is overriding the science.

REDFIELD: We will continue to develop and devolve our guidance to meet the needs of the schools and the states.

DIAMOND: Also in the president's crosshairs --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: If the current state is really not good. We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this.

DIAMOND: -- Dr. Anthony Fauci.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him.

DIAMOND: It was the latest sign of tensions between the President and the doctor Americans trust most amid this pandemic. The fallout at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Dr. Fauci notably absent.

DIAMOND (on camera): And while Dr. Fauci didn't attend that task force briefing, we are told that he did attend a task force meeting beforehand. But he didn't join from the Department of Education like other officials. Instead, a source familiar with the matter is telling CNN that Dr. Fauci was told to attend the meeting from the Situation Room. So listening in remotely from the White House, thereby not being able to attend that task force briefing.

That's notable, of course, because we have seen the President and Dr. Fauci publicly contradicting each other recently, mainly because Dr. Fauci is sticking to the facts and raising these serious concerns about the rise in cases we're seeing across the country while the President, instead, trying to downplay and undermine the science, as well as public health officials.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Joining me right now from New York is Randi Weingarten. She is President of the American Federation of Teachers. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: So President Trump is pressuring all schools to reopen and is now threatening to cut funds to those that don't. And on Wednesday, he tweeted this --

I disagree with the CDC on their very tough and expensive guidelines for opening schools while they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them exclamation mark three times.

So what is your reaction to the President suggesting that CDC guidelines as they stand right now are too tough and impractical?

WEINGARTEN: So the President has played fast and loose with people who go to his rallies. We now see a huge increase in Tulsa that they think is because of the rally. Because of with people who go to bars, with people who go to hair salons. But we don't want him or DeVos to play fast and loose with teachers and kids.


And if they had simply listened to the CDC guidelines and reopened the way the CDC had said. Just like the European countries have reopened with safety first, we'd be in a lot better shape than we are right now. So the President wants to be reckless because all he cares about -- he's never cared about public schools or public education in the 3 1/2 years that he's been there. All he cares about is he's trying to jack up the numbers of people who are going back to work. And so he is trying to do that by any means necessary, even if it hurts kids and hurts teachers.

CHURCH: So you're saying he is really using the schools as childcare?

WEINGARTEN: He's using the schools as childcare, but even worse than that, he's using the schools as pawns in his political gains. And ultimately you might use adults, you know, as pawns, you want adults to come to your rallies, fine. You want adults to go to bars, fine. But when it comes to being in school indoors for that long a period of time, we need to actually be safe.

At the AFT we've been fighting for the conditions that are in the current CDC guidelines which essentially boil down to 6-foot physical distancing and masks. We've been fighting for them since April knowing full well this year's going to be unprecedented and we want to make sure that we can have in school, we've been fighting to have people back at school since April. We want to make sure it's safe and that we meet the needs of kids.

We know kids shouldn't be at home, but we know that if you do it safely, as the CDC has said, as epidemiologists have said, as a universe of scientists have said, you make sure that you have enough distance between people so that if you sneeze your droplets are not going to get onto someone else. That's why there's the 6 feet of distancing. And so, we've seen that work in rec centers and the childcare that happens for essential service workers in New York and New Jersey. Meaning, physical distancing and masks. And so, we think that they become the anchors of what we do in schools to reopen them.

CHURCH: Right, so you'd like the guidelines that are in place now. And you don't want to see them watered down by the CDC in response to President Trump. I did want to ask you from an educational point of view as well. Because earlier in the year the pandemic forced students to study remotely from home. An easy solution, of course, for those kids with a computers and wi-fi. But a real challenge for those students who don't have access to those. So how do you strike a balance between virtual and in-person learning to ensure students have a safe and educational environment.

WEINGARTEN: So we've been saying all along that remote should never be a substitute for in-person learning. So that's why we've, you know, we've actually just done a poll of our members who overwhelmingly said -- 86 percent said that remote didn't really work. And we had known that for years. The balance has to be to the extent that parents are willing to send their kids to school and teachers and parents had the safeguards so that they know we're not spreading the virus in school is a hybrid model. Where you basically have 50 percent capacity of kids in school at any one time and then the other 50 percent are on remote instruction.

And so, for younger kids we need to do direct instruction in school and do reinforcement in remote. For the more senior kids you can do some direct instruction remotely and then do the reinforcement in school. And that's what teachers, who frankly now know more about remote instruction than Silicon Valley, have told us, you know, teachers who have been doing it every single day since March.

CHURCH: Randi Weingarten, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

WEINGARTEN: You're welcome.

CHURCH: And still to come, and Arizona woman seeks justice years after her brother died in police custody while screaming, I can't breathe.


A close look at another case that bears striking similarities to George Floyd's death.


CHURCH: We are learning more about the moments before George Floyd died and the interaction the African-American man had with Derek Chauvin. That is the officer who was fired after he knelt on Floyd's neck killing him. According to transcripts from the body camera footage of two of the other officers at the scene, Floyd told the police he couldn't breathe and Chauvin responded by telling him to stop talking. And saying, takes a hick of a lot of oxygen to say that. Floyd went on to say, I cannot breathe. They're going to kill me. They're going to kill me. I can't breathe. All four former police officers who were at the scene that day are now facing charges.

Well, the extensive news coverage of George Floyd's death has prompted one woman to demand answers in the death of her brother in 2017. It happened while Phoenix police were trying to arrest him. As we're about to see, there are remarkable similarities in the two cases including the words, I can't breathe. And I have to warn you, the video is graphic. CNN's Drew Griffin has the story.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Muhammad Muhaymin died three years ago, pleading for breath.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: I cannot breathe.

GRIFFIN: 43 years old, black and homeless.


GRIFFIN: Most likely you never heard his name.

DAVID CHAMI, FAMILY ATTORNEY: What happened to Muhammad Muhaymin is strikingly similar to what happened to George Floyd. The only difference is in Mr. Floyd's case we had a pedestrian with an iPhone.

GRIFFIN: It took place January 4th, 2017. To the people of Phoenix, it was a local news story, a homeless man on drugs resisting arrest.


But CNN has now obtained the raw video from multiple police body cameras, witness statements that describe no threats to police officers and testimony from a famed forensic neuropathologist hired by the family who reviewed the autopsy materials and concluded Muhaymin died from positional asphyxiation, meaning he died because he couldn't breathe. His sister, Mussalina Muhaymin is suing the city of Phoenix.

MUSSALINA MUHAYMIN, BROTHER DIED IN CUSTODY: I don't know how police officers allowed to be judge, jury and executioner. This is -- this wasn't a death penalty situation, right? He wanted to use the bathroom.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: How are you doing, officer?

GRIFFIN: It began 9:30 a.m. on a Wednesday. Muhaymin and his Chihuahua named Chiquita were homeless. He needed to use the public restroom. An employee stopped him. No dogs allowed and the police were called.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: I'm doing is a natural thing. A natural function.

GRIFFIN: Muhaymin suffered from schizophrenia and anxiety according to his family. He didn't go anywhere including the bathroom without Chiquita, his emotional support dog. Police finally allow him to use the bathroom, but while Muhaymin is inside, they learned he had a warrant for failure to appear in court for having a marijuana pipe. They prepared to arrest him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: Wait, what for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got a warrant.


GRIFFIN: Muhaymin begins to panic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: I don't have no one to watch her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll find somebody to watch her.

GRIFFIN: Police pry the dog out of his arms and take him down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the (BEEP) ground.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground, dude.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you're going to be going for a felony now, dumbass.

GRIFFIN: An officer holding Muhaymin down with a knee to the head as the dog watches. For a few seconds it seems the worst is over. Officers walk Muhaymin to their SUV. He's still handcuffed, still pleading for his dog.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: That's my child, officer.

GRIFFIN: While the officers are trying to frisk him, somehow Muhaymin's cuffed hands that were behind him end up in front.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arms are in front now.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: I cannot believe this (BEEP).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just relax, dumbass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the ground. To the ground.

GRIFFIN: Once again Muhaymin ends up on the ground. Once again, his head pressed to the pavement by a knee. Other hands and feet hold down his torso, arms, restraints added to his legs. Several officers are now pressing into his body.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: I cannot breathe!

GRIFFIN: At four different points of the police video he screens I can't breathe.

MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN: I cannot breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop moving. Shut up. GRIFFIN: Muhaymin vomits, goes limp, appears to stop breathing. At 10:39 a.m., a little more than an hour after he'd walked into the community center to use a bathroom, he's declared dead.

CHAMI: He never swore at them. He never made any aggressive acts towards them, yet the way they handled him was as if he were a violent felon. And that's simply not the case.

GRIFFIN: In the aftermath, police released shorter clips of the video. The county medical examiner's report called the death a homicide due to cardiac arrest aggravated by psychiatric disease, acute methamphetamine intoxication and physical exertion during law enforcement's subdual. The Maricopa County attorney's office cleared all the officers of any wrongdoing.

MUSSALINA MUHAYMIN: They don't see him as a human being, so they didn't treat him as a human being and they killed him.

GRIFFIN (on camera): The Muhaymin family is suing for $10 million and answers citing that lawsuit. The Phoenix Police Department wouldn't comment on this case beyond saying it's committed to the safety and security of everyone in its community. All ten officers named in the lawsuit remain on the Phoenix police force today.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: Very distressing video evidence there.

Well a powerful tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement on Wednesday night. Black major league soccer players raised their fists and took a knee in Orlando, Florida, before their first match. And they observed an almost nine-minute silence. The same amount of time that a white police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd. More than 100 people took part in the pre-game protest.



CHURCH: Well, the number of Americans filling unemployment claims has been falling for three months. But it looks like that trend might be slowing. The country's latest jobless report will be released in the coming hours. It's expected to show that more than 1.3 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits during the week ending July 4th. Now it would only be slightly fewer than the 1.4 million who filed the week before.

Joining me for more on this is CNN's John Defterios. Good to see you, John. So this report drops in the next few hours. And this number seems high at over 1 million. How will latest the surge in COVID-19 cases likely play into this?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well you know, the spike in cases we're seeing right now, Rosemary, and the jobless claims are kind of bonded together. They're really tightly linked. And that's been the trend for the last three months since the start of the pandemic, actually stretching to four.

We had a nice trend line coming down from the peak that you were talking about in April. But in the last two to three weeks it's been flat lining. And that's not a very good sign because it means that people are having a tough time getting jobs.

So let's look at the expectations. This is a collection of all the expectations that we see in Wall Street today for 1.37 million people still filing for claims right now. Alarmingly high because it's seven times the norm, pre-COVID. Let's put it that way, Rosemary. And then you have this reoccurring number that everybody's watching more closely now at nearly 19 million. It tells you that people are coming back time and again for benefits. And we've had nearly 50 million people since the start of the pandemic actually file claims. Something you'll never see for certain in your lifetime ever again.


And what is the challenge, Rosemary? You take a United Airlines for example. It's been getting a bailout to pay the employees during this very difficult time. The carrier was saying, when that runs out they'll probably have to furlough up to 36,000 workers despite the efforts by the government to keep the airlines afloat. This is the new normal in the world, and anything on the frontlines. For example, retailer Brooks Brothers, has been around for two centuries, filing for bankruptcy. So if you're in retail, restaurants, hospitality and the airlines sector, extremely challenging times. And that means for Americans, very difficult to go back into the work force and find a job right now.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. John Defterios joining us live from Abu Dhabi. Many thanks.

And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is up next. You are watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.