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Governor Pushes Schools To Reopen As Cases Surge In Florida; U.S. COVID-19 New Cases Break Single-Day Record; Trump Commutes Pal Roger Stone's Prison Sentence; COVID-19's Disproportionate Impact On Communities Of Color; Trump Confirms U.S. Conducted Cyber Attack On Russia; Turkey Converting Hagia Sophia Back Into A Mosque; Bosnia Marks 25th Anniversary Of Srebrenica Massacre; Japanese Fans Finally Watch Baseball. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 11, 2020 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Moving in the wrong direction: the U.S. grapples with surging coronavirus cases as intensive care beds, again, become scarce.

Off the hook: Donald Trump commutes the sentence of Roger Stone just days before the long-time confidant was headed to prison.

And the U.S. president confirms Russia was targeted in a cyber attack. We'll have a live report.

Hello from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Thank you for joining us. Daily coronavirus infections hit another record in the U.S. Friday, almost 67,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. More people are diagnosed with COVID-19 every day.

States shown here in orange or red have spiking numbers. One medical expert is warning of dark days ahead.


DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: What we're looking at is what I think is going to be one of the most unstable times in the history of our country unless we figure out a way to do something and unless we implement a federal plan. We still can do this. But we need a president engaged. We need a White House engaged.


ALLEN: New cases here in Georgia also hit a new high on Friday, more than 4,400. The state reopened in late April. But now Atlanta's mayor has rolled back reopening, setting up a fight with the state's governor.

Florida, South Carolina, Arizona and Texas also reopened early. They have all seen their average daily cases go up since then, by far, more than 800 percent. In Florida a staggering positive test rate and escalating deaths and hospitalizations have workers trying to stem the violence. We get the latest from CNN's Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long lines for testing in Florida, it's a clear indication of the painful price the state is paying.

In addition to a record single-day death toll of 120 on Thursday, including the death of an 11-year-old child, Miami-Dade County reports hospitalizations are up 74 percent in less than two weeks and 88 percent of ICU beds are currently in use, though the governor today pushed back.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You have got a lot of beds available.

SAVIDGE: The county is also seeing a staggering 28 percent positivity rate of tests being taken now, according to the mayor's office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation is really concerning here in South Florida.

SAVIDGE: The nation's infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the coronavirus surge can be traced back to states opening too soon.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Certainly, Florida, I know, I think, jumped over a couple of checkpoints.

SAVIDGE: Governor DeSantis' response?

DESANTIS: There was really no justification to not move forward.

SAVIDGE: Even as Florida grapples with a deadly surge, Disney World reopens this weekend, bringing thousands of families to the state.

President Trump is also in Florida today, not planning to focus on the pandemic, but discussing drug trafficking and attending a fund-raiser.

TRUMP: It's an honor to be with you.

SAVIDGE: But, as he campaigns, the virus continues to spread, with the U.S. seeing its highest single day of new COVID-19 cases Thursday, with hot spots spreading from coast to coast, today, West Virginia becoming the latest state dealing with a surge, the virus there spreading faster than anywhere else.

GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): This is the only bullet that I have right now to do something other than to shut our state back down.

SAVIDGE: The Texas governor with a warning.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): I think the numbers are going to look worse as we go into next week. And we need to make sure that there's going to be plenty of hospital beds available in the Houston area.

SAVIDGE: And the contagion goes far beyond just those who are infected. With so many still unemployed, the lines at free food distribution sites like this one in San Antonio, Texas, demonstrate a different misery.

Meanwhile, an ominous warning today from the World Health Organization.

DR. MICHAEL J. RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: In our current situation, it is very unlikely that we can eradicate or eliminate this virus.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: Let's bring in Dr. Peter Drobac, infectious disease and global health expert at the University of Oxford and he joins me now live.

Good morning, Thanks for coming on.


ALLEN: These numbers, what can you say?

In mid-May, in what were then the darkest days of the crisis, the U.S. was reporting about 20,000 new cases. Now it's 60,000.


ALLEN: We're seeing a horrific rate of increase. There's only four states going in the right direction currently.

Do you see the U.S. getting out of this hole anytime soon?

DROBAC: Not if we stay on our current trajectory. The current situation is so much worse than it was back in March, April, May. Then, the surge was very much concentrated in the New York-New Jersey area. Now we have multiple New Yorks right now.

What we're seeing today reflects what we did two weeks ago. And so if we start today and go two weeks out ahead and see where we're going to be at the current trajectory, we're talking about 100,000 new cases a day, probably 1 million unreported cases per day. We're talking about overwhelmed hospitals. We're talking about freezer trucks, backing up to hospitals to take care of extra bodies. We're looking at record death rates.

I hate to say this because it should be a last resort and nobody wants it. But we're at a point where a lot of the states and regions where things are out of control need to think about going to back to a shelter-in-place order.

ALLEN: Understand.

What is the recourse?

The White House and President Trump, meantime, continue to claim that the United States is the world leader in fighting this virus.

Does that make any sense?

DROBAC: We're the world leader in all of the wrong ways, unfortunately. We are the richest country in the world with one of the most sophisticated medical systems and greatest concentrations of scientific experts. And we're really in a class of our own, in terms of the endless suffering that has continued to occur.

It's a tragedy. If you look around the world at how the pandemic has unfolded and what's differentiated the places that had some success in containing the virus and those that are struggle, it's not resources, it's not hospital beds. It's leadership and the quality of leadership. And there, unfortunately, we've fallen way behind.

ALLEN: The cases in Florida are staggering. The president was in Florida but barely addressed that. He hasn't met with Dr. Anthony Fauci in weeks. You work with governments on health policy.

Does it make sense that, right now, there's no emergency on the part of the White House, no federal coordinated plan, being addressed?

DROBAC: It's mind-boggling. And I don't understand and you can't wish this away. The virus doesn't respond to bluster and stern talk. It only responds to action. We're months into this pandemic and we know what works.

Unfortunately, as we've seen, relying on states and localities to do this on their own isn't going to be enough. We're only going to do this with a coordinated federal response. Ignoring the problem, as the White House continues to do, doesn't help anybody.

ALLEN: Testing has slowed in the Sun Belt states. Hospitals are trying to keep up. Now we see governors and mayors want different approaches and they're fighting. Contrast the situation with what you're seeing in Europe.

DROBAC: In Europe, things started out in a similar fashion. And many European countries were caught by surprise with a surge in March and that came close to overwhelming the health systems with high numbers of deaths.

What we saw that stay-at-home orders in March, April and May, kept it under control. The difference was probably in May, when most European companies did two things differently.

They were building their capacity to testing, tracing, isolation and containing the virus. Two, they were much more careful and slower and more cautious about reopening. In the U.S., we threw open our doors, even though cases were still rising in mid-May.

And so from late May until now, the curves have diverged. In many European countries, we're seeing a couple of hundred a day and deaths in the single digits. And in the U.S., it doesn't have to be this way.

ALLEN: Absolutely. There's so much conflict but there's a way to have a solution. There's much debate about schools reopening.

What needs to be considered in making these decisions?

DROBAC: Schools reopening is one thing everyone can agree on as a goal that we want to happen. Schools don't exist in a vacuum. They are a part of communities. One thing is difficult is to think you can open schools when you have a raging, out-of-control pandemic. It's like opening schools in a hurricane.


DROBAC: I think the first thing we do is to bring the pandemic under control. What would happen otherwise, we can open schools but within weeks there will be outbreaks and the schools will be shuttered again. It will cause more harm than good.

We need to be thinking about planning and how we can support school systems and resource school systems to set up for social distancing. There needs to be more teachers' aides, protective equipment.

But the reality is, they need the support and we won't be able to do it in many parts of the country unless we get the virus under control.

ALLEN: We appreciate your expertise, as always. Dr. Peter Drobac, University of Oxford. Thank you so much.

DROBAC: Thanks, Natalie.

ALLEN: Brazil is going through one of the world's worst COVID outbreaks with 1.8 million people testing positive, trailing only the U.S. in cases and deaths. Yet, the nation's president keeps promoting unproven treatments as corruption allegations are being investigated. Here's more from the Brazilian capital.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bill Weir in the capital of Brazil. The president Jair Bolsonaro is in semi-isolation, not here at his office but in the presidential palace down the road.

He uses social media to continue to promote his prescription of the anti-malarial, hydroxychloroquine, even though it's been proven by the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration that it does not work on this disease.

But he's so convinced he has his military distributing a stockpile out in the countryside. And at the same time federal police are investigating pandemic-related corruption charges in 11 of Brazil's 26 states for everything from profiteering to buying ventilators that simply do not work.


ALLEN: The United Kingdom's prime minister says England may need stricter face mask rules. Boris Johnson was seen wearing a face covering himself. He wants to see them worn in shops as they are in Scotland.

The United Kingdom has one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in the world. It says it will not join the E.U.'s vaccine program. London has concerns about key issues including setting prices. Meantime, it's relaxing quarantine rules for travelers from some countries, including France and Italy. The United States is not on the list.

It doesn't hurt to know people in power. U.S. president Trump commutes the sentence of his friend and political ally, Roger Stone. We'll talk about that, coming next.

Also, it's the season of political ads in the U.S. The Trump and the Biden campaigns have very different approaches. We'll tell you what they're saying and who they are trying to reach just ahead, in a live interview.





ALLEN: President Trump's long-time friend and former adviser, Roger Stone, is a free man. Mr. Trump commuted Stone's 40-month prison sentence just days before he was to begin serving his time. The self- proclaimed dirty trickster was convicted of multiple felonies related to the Russia investigation. CNN's Sara Murray has our report.


SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump on Friday night commuted the sentence of his longtime friend and political adviser, Roger Stone.

Stone had been convicted of crimes, including lying to Congress, in part to protect the president. He was set to report to prison next week to kick off his three-year sentence.

Stone was pleading publicly for the president to intervene, he said, reporting to prison during the pandemic was akin to a death sentence because he is 67 years old. Ultimately, the president did intervene on Friday and here's Stone, describing his conversation with Trump.


ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: He said, you understand, I have the option, I have the authority to either grant a pardon or commute your sentence. He said, you should understand that a pardon would be final and that in accepting a pardon, you are exceptionally (sic) accepting guilt.

And I would rather see you fight this out, which is why I'm commuting your sentence.


MURRAY: President Trump and Roger stone are insistent that Stone did not get a fair shake at trial. But even attorney general Bill Barr has said the prosecution was righteous. As for Democrats, they're pointing to the president intervening in this case as an indication that he has no respect for the justice system -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.



ALLEN: Natasha Lindstaedt is professor of government at the University of Essex and joins us from Colchester to talk about this.

Good morning, Natasha.


ALLEN: This isn't the first time the president has commuted or pardoned an ally, to be sure. Where does the Roger Stone story fit in?

Was it at all a surprise the president did this?

LINDSTAEDT: It's not a surprise. It's still a stunning show of presidential power to protect one of Trump's friends. It's an egregious attack and comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7- 2, that the president is not above the law.

He's been dangling pardons for Roger Flynn and Paul Manafort. He has been talking about Stone's case and calling it a witch hunt. He doesn't like what happened with the Russia investigation altogether. Of course, it wasn't a full pardon, as the report mentioned.

But they've started to convince Trump that he needed to do this, those in Stone's inner circle because this was an attack on Trump himself. And Trump is all about himself.

But Trump has really focused on pardoning individuals that wouldn't really be very popular to pardon in the American public. It's a who's who of white collar criminals, politicians, law enforcement that have gone above the call of duty. We see Rod Blagojevich was pardoned. He was a corrupt Democratic politician. Joe Arpaio, the controversial law enforcement from Arizona.


LINDSTAEDT: You had financier Mike Milken, White House aide Scooter Libby. These are people that wouldn't be popular to pardon. It really demonstrates, if you are close to Trump, if you are loyal to him and you're a powerful person, he will see to it that you are pardoned and absolved from your crimes.

ALLEN: And Roger Stone, the self-proclaimed dirty trickster, his closest political ally, says he will see the president get a second term, we'll see if he is an asset or detraction on that. Republican Lindsey Graham said he thought the move was justified.

Do you expect his loyal congressional support will stay loyal on something like this?

LINDSTAEDT: It probably will because Republicans have tried to remain loyal to them. Even they know the ship is sinking, due to the way he's mishandled the coronavirus crisis and the way he's handled race relations, this is just another thing that he's done to show that he can really destroy and erode democratic norms.

And thus, the Republican Party hasn't gone too far in trying to attack him on these orders. They've remained loyal to him so that is not altogether that surprising.

Stay with us, Natasha. I want to get your comments on this next story.

With just four months to go until Election Day in the U.S., President Trump and Joe Biden are ramping up their advertising campaigns. And the tone of the commercials reflects visions of America's future that could not be anymore different. Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Never underestimate the power of family or the sacrifices people will make for their children.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest Joe Biden campaign commercial is a warm salute to families, caring, commitment. But in the rapidly heating ad wars...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Joe Biden's failed old liberal ideas will crush our economy just as it's recovering.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Team Trump is lighting up the flame-throwing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): If you're calling to report a rape, please press one. To report a murder, press two.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Attacking Biden as soft on crime, unable to revive the now flagging economy. And Biden, he is hitting every weak spot for the incumbent. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): For the last five years, he's brought

America down with him, attacking health care for patients with pre- existing conditions, giving massive tax cuts to billionaires, not working families, praising white supremacists, stoking racial division.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a beautiful history we wrote together.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Trump's ads sizzle with attacks on Biden's record, saying he's far too ready to embrace trade deals that have and will destroy American jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Losing 300,000 jobs in a failed trade war.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Biden's counterpunch: Trump's record has cost jobs, security and lives, even as Trump denies it.

TRUMP: No, I don't take responsibility at all.

BIDEN: I will do my job and I will take responsibility. I won't blame others.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Trump's ads say, at 77, just three years older than Trump --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Biden is clearly diminished.

BIDEN: All men and women are created by -- you know this.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And Biden's ads suggest that's just the kind of talk that hurts everyone, as the nation grapples with a pandemic, racial strife and economic hardship.

BIDEN: The country is crying out for leadership, leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together. That's what the presidency is, the duty to care, to care for all of us.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The campaign media analysis group says more than 22,000 spots run by Trump since July 1st, nearly all were negative. The same group says Biden in the same period has aired no negative ads, even though he frequently contrasts his record with Trump's.

Where are all of these ads airing?

Trump's are showing up in a broad range of states, including some red ones, where he is clearly trying to bolster his base. Biden's are in fewer places but notably playing in some critical swing states that Trump won in 2016.

FOREMAN: When you watch all of the commercials in a row, the contrast is clear. The president is telling voters he's done a great job. And if he's not re-elected, the sky will fall. And Biden says, go ahead and vote for me, then look up, you'll see a bright new day coming -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Oh, yes. The campaign ad season. I want to get your thoughts on the approaches behind these ads. The president's negative track and Biden, not directly, biting back.

LINDSTAEDT: Right, well, it's not surprising that Trump has gone negative. That's the way he has tended to campaign, very negative and critical and dirty in some ways and really attacking his opponents in a personal way often and playing to the politics of fear.


LINDSTAEDT: Now that worked in 2016. He was able to play on people's fears of what would happen if Hillary Clinton was the president. That it would be disastrous for all a number of areas. That's what his ads are trying to do. That's going to play well to the base.

That's not going to increase his support base, which is something he needs to do. He doesn't really have enough to win it in 2020.

Now Biden, in contrast, is trying to look to the way the American public is feeling at the moment, which is completely hopeless. The economy is in shambles. We have record unemployment rates and a coronavirus epidemic out of control that seems unmanageable. So he's trying to send a message of hope.

And the reason for doing that is in order to get people behind his campaign, that he will be able to unite Americans and try to come up with some solutions to these problems. Trump should be trying to focus on how he's going to resolve these problems and try to send a message of unity and hopefulness, what he can do for small businesses. I think his campaign is missing the boat here.

ALLEN: All right. We always appreciate your insights. Thanks so much for commenting on both of these stories for us, Natasha.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: We'll see you next time.

As we mentioned, Florida is seeing spikes in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. After a short break, a look at how things went so wrong in the Sunshine State.

And Americans of color are paying a heavy toll in this pandemic. Why the communities most at risk have the hardest time getting treatment.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. This is CNN. I'm Natalie Allen.

Another record for daily coronavirus infections in the U.S. on Friday. Almost 67,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. More people are being diagnosed with COVID-19 every day.

Cases are spiking across the U.S. and at least 26 states have paused or rolled back reopening. Florida, South Carolina, Arizona and Texas have all seen their average daily cases rise by more than 800 percent in the last couple of months.

Florida's Miami-Dade County has seen hospitalizations rise a staggering 74 percent over the past 13 days. On Friday alone, the state recorded more than 11,000 new infections. CNN's Randi Kaye has more on the crisis in Florida.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On April 1st, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a stay at home order hoping to contain the coronavirus. Weeks later, while visiting the White House, the governor took a victory lap for how he managed things back home.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Everyone in the media was saying Florida was going to be like New York or Italy. And that has not happened.

We had a tailored and measured approach that not only helped our numbers be way below what anyone predicted, but also did less damage to our state going forward.

KAYE (voice-over): That turned out not to be the case at all. Trouble started in early May when DeSantis rush to reopen, before many other states, restaurants, gyms, barber shops and beaches were first to reopen in most parts of the state.

After Memorial Day, the virus was starting to rage. By July 1st, there were more than 9,000 new cases reported in one day statewide. And recently, new daily cases topped 11,000. But if you listen to DeSantis, there's a disconnect.

DESANTIS: I think we've stabilized at where we're at.

KAYE (voice-over): That's just not true and the data proves it. Since reopening, Florida's average number of daily new cases has jumped more than 1,200 percent. And dozens of hospitals throughout the state have run out of ICU beds.

In the last two weeks in hard hit Miami-Dade County. The need for ICU beds has increased 88 percent and ventilator use jumped 123 percent. The state's positivity rate is hovering close to 30 percent.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: We are in the midst of a very, very vicious spike in our community in Miami-Dade County. And, you know, one thing you can't have is for a governor or a President trying to downplay it as if it's not an urgent thing we need to pay attention to. KAYE (on-camera): Urgent indeed. But despite the governor's promise to release data of how many patients are hospitalized here in the state of Florida with COVID, he has yet to do so. Instead suggesting this week that all of the information can be found on Florida's Department of Health website.

DESANTIS: They have so much raw data on there. I mean, people can pull out, you know, all this information. I mean, it's really incredible the amount of -- I mean people do the charts and the graphs and everything. KAYE (voice-over): That's not true either. The information is just not

there, specifically the critical number of hospital patients with COVID-19. So while the governor continues to defend his move to reopen the state, the fact is more than 4,100 Floridians are dead and the message from the governor still coming up short.

DESANTIS: There's no need really to be fearful about it.

KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


ALLEN: The coronavirus pandemic is hitting communities of color in the U.S. especially hard. As CNN's Abby Phillip explains, a lack of access to health care is taking a heavy toll.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has shifted from the north to the south and west. But one thing has remained the same. In Arizona, Mississippi and in Florida, black, Hispanic and Native Americans are still being disproportionately infected, hospitalized and killed by the virus.

And the problem is likely to get worse. The 23 states in the South and West with growing coronavirus outbreaks are home to 71 percent of all Hispanics and nearly two-thirds of all people of color in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Yes, most of these are red states. In some cases, the states that resisted stay-at-home orders and mask-wearing, moving quickly to reopen with the support of the Trump administration.

TRUMP: It's time to stay open and we will put out the fires as they come up.

PHILLIP: But black and brown communities are paying the price.

KRISTIN URQUIZA, LOST HER FATHER TO COVID-19: My father, I believe, was robbed of life. My father was Mexican-American. For the majority of the stay at home ordinance, he was working until he was furloughed.

PHILLIP: Kristin Urquiza lost her father to COVID-19 in June. Her family, including this criticism in his obituary.

URQUIZA: His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through clear lack of leadership.

PHILLIP: According to CDC data where race is known, non-white groups represent a majority of coronavirus cases and about half of deaths.

Add to that, how to pay for treatment. According to the CDC, Hispanics and Native Americans are three times more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic whites.


PHILLIP (voice-over): And non-Hispanic black Americans are nearly two times more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic white Americans.

As cases rise in Republican-led states that have not expanded Medicaid, that problem could get worse.

DR. OLUWADAMILOLA FAYANJU, SURGEON & BREAST CANCER SPECIALIST, DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICINE: That means there are a number of individuals for whom the healthcare exchange through the Affordable Care Act is unattainable.

PHILLIP: Then there's testing. Racial disparities also continue to be a problem there, experts say.

DR. KEVIN THOMAS, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE SPECIALIST, DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICINE: The populations who are most at risk, that's our Latino and African-American communities. There's not many testing opportunities for those folks.

PHILLIP: When and if a vaccine arrives, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warning that a lack of trust in communities of color, could hamper efforts to protect those groups.

Fauci telling the "Financial Times" on Friday, "We have to do some serious reaching out."

Kristen Urquiza said she shared her family's heartbreaking story, in part, because she wanted to urge policymakers to institute a national policy to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including a mask mandate. Her father lived in the state of Arizona, where that state's governor has resisted a statewide mask mandate.

But he has, as cases have risen over time, allowed localities and cities to institute their own mandate -- Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: What do Americans think about the pandemic?

An ABC News Ipsos poll shows the president with his highest disapproval rate yet on the handling of it, some 67 percent. That's two in three Americans surveyed disapproved of the president's management of the crisis. That's nine points higher than a month ago. Many Americans think the U.S. reopened its economy too soon; 59

percent of those surveyed said it's happening too quickly and only 15 percent said too slowly. About one in four think it's occurring at the right pace.

This news just into CNN. The passing of a giant in the world of English football. Jack Charlton has died. Charlton was part of the team that won the 1966 World Cup. As a player, he spent his entire career at Leeds and went on to manage other teams after that.

Leeds posted the news on its website a short time ago. In a statement, the team said, "He left the club a legend and was part of the club's most successful era to date. He is also the ninth all-time top scorer of the club with 96 goals." Jack Charlton was 85.

Next here, a covert mission to stop Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. midterm elections. Ahead what U.S. president Donald Trump has to say about it, just months before Americans head to the polls.





ALLEN: President Trump has told "The Washington Post" that the U.S. staged a cyber attack on a Russian troll farm in 2018. The covert operation against the Kremlin linked Internet research agency was aimed at stopping Russian interference in the U.S. midterm elections.

It's the same organization accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Let's turn to CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

What are you learning about this, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: According to what Trump said in that interview, all this was happening in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

One of the things going on in the U.S. is that people from the security apparatus were saying they were seeing evidence there was Russian meddling going on again before the midterm elections.

A lot of that influence campaign by the Internet research agency that had been so active in 2016. As you recall, in the run-up to the midterms, we heard then Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats literally say he believed the United States was under attack.

At that point, especially Democrats were calling for stronger action by the Trump administration. Now President Trump confirming that, yes, apparently they did take action. And he authorized this cyber attack, an offensive cyber attack against the Internet research agency. We heard before, we know that the intelligence services believe the attack was successful and succeeded at getting the Internet research agency offline and stopping some of the influence operations that were going on at that point in time.

Of course, a lot of this happening via social media. A lot of this there to sow that the U.S. intelligence agencies put it, sow discord within the American public and also tried to undermine the belief in American institutions, as well.

ALLEN: Try to get it offline.

Is the Internet research agency still active?

PLEITGEN: It's very active still. One thing about the IRA, the Internet research agency, It's changed names and structure over the past years, as well. There's been organizations that have been going after it. The Mueller report, indicted some of the folks from the Internet research agency.

So they've changed the way they operate a little bit. But the goals are pretty much the same. You see that some of the things they're doing have become more sophisticated. Some of the posts in 2016, were crude with grammar and spelling mistakes. A lot of it is cleaned up, as well.

Some of it was outsourced to African nations. But it's still very much going on. The Internet research agency is still operating. And what many folks in the intelligence community believe, Natalie, is that the goals are still very much the same.

They are still trying to sow discord in the United States, with the run-up to key votes. One thing we have to keep in mind, is that it's part of a large empire, by a businessman that is known to be very close to Vladimir Putin.

So certainly, all of the operations will still continue to be fairly well-funded, even as, for instance, U.S. intelligence services seem to be going after the Internet research agency have done so many in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

ALLEN: Thanks so much, Fred Pleitgen, for us in Warsaw, Poland.

Turkey's president has issued a presidential decree that will convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. For much of the past century, the UNESCO World Heritage site has been used as a secular museum. The announcement has sparked an outcry around the world. CNN's Arwa Damon has more about it from Istanbul.



ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hagia Sophia is quite spectacular, a convergence of both Islam and Christianity. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site although that status may now be in jeopardy.

Hagia Sophia was the first Christian cathedral built by the Roman empire back in the Byzantine empire in 1453, when the Ottomans conquered what was Constantinople. It was converted it to a mosque.

Fast forward to modern-day Turkey, the president and founder of Turkey as we know it today, issued a presidential decree to have it converted into a museum. What's happened now is that the Turkish courts have annulled that decree.

And President Erdogan has issued his own decree, moving the administration of Hagia Sophia from the ministry of culture to the presidency of religious affairs. Now internationally, this is viewed by and large as being a highly controversial move.

Prior to all of this, you had U.S. secretary of state Pompeo, the Greeks and Russians, even UNESCO urging Turkey not to go in this direction.

Why now?

Many are saying, because when it comes to the vast majority of the Turkish population, this is a fairly popular move. And some are saying that the president is playing politics, given that the economy here has been on the decline and his popularity has been called into question.

Now the Turkish presidential spokesperson is saying that, despite this move, the Christians icons, the Christian art inside will continue to be preserved. The fact that it is going to be open for prayer should not impact its status as a World Heritage site.

But this is a highly controversial move, especially when you look at it from the international perspective -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


ALLEN: A tropical storm made landfall in the U.S. Northeast. Karen Maginnis will have the latest on Fay coming right up.





ALLEN: A solemn moment in Bosnia. In July 1995, more than 7,000 Bosnian men and boys were executed in a genocide by Bosnian Serb forces. The recently recovered remains of nine victims are being buried at Saturday's ceremony.

The massacre is regarded as Europe's worst atrocity since World War II. Dozens have been sent to prison, including a former Bosnia Serb political leader. Thousands of mourners were hoping to attend the ceremony but it has been scaled back because of the pandemic.

A weather system called Fay is moving through parts of the U.S. Northeast after it was downgraded from tropical storm status just a few hours ago. It did bring drenching rains and some local floods after making landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey.


ALLEN: The National Hockey League is set to return to the ice August 1st. Its season was postponed in March due to the pandemic. Now it will begin in earnest with 24 teams in Toronto and Edmonton, where players and staff will be inside a containment bubble.

The players will be tested daily, as the commissioner says health and safety are the top priorities. Anyone testing positive will be isolated from the team and put in a secured zone.

The boys of summer are back on the field in Japan to the extreme delight of some of baseball's most ardent fans. But as the stadiums open up and the home runs return, strict coronavirus rules are governing how many fans can watch and how they can celebrate. Here's Kaori Enjoji for us.


KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST (voice-over): It's a whole new ball game in Japan, as baseball fans stream into the stadium for the first time in four months.

This man has been making the trip for 20 years but he says this year is special.

COVID-19 canceled those plans to watch the opener in March and when the season finally opened in June, fans like him, were not allowed in.


ENJOJI (voice-over): "My heart is racing," he says, "because tonight will be a night of firsts."

Masks, required and definitely, no alcohol allowed. No one gets in here without a temperature check, so, for me, I am 36.7 degrees Celsius, I come over here, I put that down, I put all of my details, including my, name and my address and I even have to write down my temperature from the morning and it is all for contact tracing, in case there is an outbreak.

The possibility is real, Tokyo logged the largest number of cases for a single day on Friday but the government is determined to reopen the economy further and is betting, that the public will follow the new rules.

The rules are posted everywhere, even in the city. No jumping up and down, no cheering in a loud voice. This is going to be tough, because in Japanese baseball, fans are part of the entertainment.

The carefully choreographed cheering squads, Japanese fans are traditionally as riveting as the game itself. But now social distancing, is the name of the game, as fans come up with new ways to pour their hearts out. The test comes early, in the first inning, when the Lions hit a home

run, straight into right field. No one moves in the stands to race for the ball, just as they are told. Polite clapping, sounds almost like a classical concert.

Video fans, watching at home, are streamed into compensate. Baseball is returning as an Olympic sport next year, the league's commissioner, tells me getting it right tonight, will be a test case, to see if Japan can really host the games in a year's time -- Kaori Enjoji for CNN, Chiba, Japan.


ALLEN: It is good to hear the crack of a bat there. I'm Natalie Allen. Follow me on Instagram. And I will be back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM.