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California Restaurants Struggle Under Pandemic; U.S. Republicans to Propose $1 Trillion Stimulus Plan; Plan Caps Unemployment at 70 Percent of Wages; France Reports Daily Cases Jump Back to May's Level; Tensions in Portland Over Dispatch of Federal Agents; Final Journey of U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights Icon John Lewis. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 27, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: In the age of COVID-19, health regulations are making it increasingly challenging for some businesses to stay alive. CNN's Paul Vercammen reports.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Yelp study says that 60 percent of the restaurants in America are not going to reopen in the COVID-19 pandemic. And one of the casualties, a sensational bombshell in Los Angeles, Trois Mec, the faceless restaurant behind me with garlands of praise from the critics, a Michelin star, Ludo Lefebvre the celebrity chef here. He is wife saying that they are closing down. They just can't survive under the very narrow business margins in this pandemic.

Other restaurant owners in Los Angeles also singing the blues. Dustin Lancaster owns 13 restaurants and bars. Three of them including Crawford's in Burbank, now closed. Lancaster had to lay off 250 employees at one point. He says that the most he's brought 30 percent back. This is something that haunts him at night.

DUSTIN LANCASTER, RESTAURANT OWNER: If you were to drive down a Sunset Boulevard or a Melrose, and you thought 4 out of 5 of those might not be here, right. That collateral damage is almost incomprehensible. And for a person who operates so many, to lose something that you worked so hard for, to know that that won't be there. Even though we're open now for the community and we're employing some people, it's not sustainable. And if I think about losing something like that and losing those employees, I -- it's almost too overwhelming for me to actually, you know, lay in bed at night and process without breaking down from the sheer weight of it.

VERCAMMEN: The restauranteurs here in Los Angeles want everybody to pay attention to a $120 billion relief bill working its way through Congress. The aim of this bill is to prevent further restaurant closures and keep those work workers employed.

Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks Paul.

Well, the White House and U.S. Senate Republicans are expected to unveil a $1 trillion stimulus plan in the coming hours. It comes as the $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits is set to expire this week. Now this new plan will offer 70 percent of a worker's wage instead of the flat rate Democrats want. It also includes a $1,200 direct payment to many Americans. $105 billion to schools and another targeted round of forgivable small business loans.


STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The administration and the Senate Republicans are completely on the same page. Mark Meadows and I were up yesterday just working on technical issues in the drafts. We had previously agreed on all these issues earlier in the week. We want to move forward quickly. The bill will be introduced Monday and we're prepared to work quickly. This is all about kids and jobs. This is our focus. And we want to make sure something gets passes quickly so that we deal with the unemployment and all the other issues. Paycheck protection plan, tax credits to rehire people and money for schools.


CHURCH: And CNN's Eleni Giokos is here with more on the Republican plan. Good to see you, Eleni. So what has been the overall reaction to this new plan and particularly the calculation of 70 percent of each person's wage that will have to be done. How complicated will all that be?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's definitely going to be a lot more complicated than a flat rate. In fact, we had heard in the past that the reason the first stimulus program had specifically focused on a flat rate was to ensure that it would be easy and of course, there would be no bottlenecks in getting the money dispersed.

And one of the big issues, you've got antiquated systems in place for many states. Which means that calculating 70 percent of wages is not going to be that easy. Already you have a system that is under pressure and now bringing in this extra externality is going to be a problem that many people say. We also know that the enhanced benefit is coming to an end this weekend. In fact, people received their last check on Saturday. So, again, many millions of vulnerable Americans are going to be left with a very uncertain future. I want you to take a listen to what the White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said yesterday during negotiations.



LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: It won't stop the assistance. It's going to will cap the assistance at a level that is consistent with people going back to work. That's what we've said from day one. First of all, state unemployment benefits stay in place. Second of all, we will try to cap the benefits at about 70 percent of wages.


GIOKOS: Now, I mean, capping the benefits, that has been the big push by Republicans. And in fact, we've seen the debate going on for almost a week now. Remember, that the discussions and negotiations until now have been within the party itself. Not still going to go to the Democrats. And the Democrats have been very clear. They want to continue enhanced benefits until the end of the year saying that the economic recovery is still fragile. You've got COVID-19 cases increasing across various states in the United States. And of course that creating concern in terms of the ability of companies to go back to full economic activity and stop rehiring.

Interestingly Kudlow also said that he expects that GDP will recover in the U.S. in the second half of the year, increasing by 20 percent. We have second quarter GDP numbers that are set to be released on Thursday. And the forecasts are that will see an analyzed decline and contraction of over 35 percent for the second quarter of this year. That basically means it will be working through the worst of the worst in the pandemic. The question is, are we going to be than recovering in a straight line up. Kudlow says that will probably see a V-shaped recovery. And Rosemary, the reality is without a strong stimulus packages, putting money in the hands of consumers and businesses and looking at how stimulus packages are going to assist across the board. It's going to be very hard to have a straight line up. Many say that it's going to be still a very rocky road ahead.

CHURCH: We shall be watching very closely. Of course, Eleni Giokos, many thanks to you.

Well, the outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria keeps getting worse, 532 people were diagnosed on Sunday. Making it Australia's worst day of the pandemic so far. Six more deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours. The state's premiere says the major driver is people going to work while sick.

And France is seeing a troubling jump in new coronavirus infections. The French health minister told the newspaper, "Le Parisien" that new COVID cases have climbed back up to levels not seen since the country's lockdown began easing in mid-May. So let's turn to CNN's Cyril Vanier. He joins us now from Paris with more on this. So Cyril, what is behind these new infections?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, over the last 2 1/2 months life has been going gradually back to normal in France. And that means people had been mixing more than they were obviously during the lockdown. And as a result, the virus has started to spread a little faster. We are now at a R0 of 1.3. Now our viewers will probably remember what that R0 means. It's the rate at which one infected person infects others. And when it is below 1, it means that the spread of the virus is slowing down. When it is upwards of 1, 1 person in France at the moment infects 1.3 people. That means the spread of the virus is gaining in speed, Rosemary.

And that's just because life is going back to normal. And people are getting a little closer to each other. People are a little less respectful of social distancing measures than they were. People are wearing masks. But you know, it is also the holiday season. The beaches are full. Restaurants tend to be full. And that's why you're seeing the virus spreading again.

Now authorities are choosing their words carefully here. They are saying that they're not worried yet but they are seeing signs of concern. And they've been monitoring this very closely because over the last several weeks the coronavirus indicators have been trending in the wrong direction with several hotspots. Paris being one of them. Hospitals obviously are being very careful. They're not seeing anywhere near the number of new patients and thankfully the number of deaths that they were 2 1/2 months ago but they are preparing themselves, Rosemary, for the worst-case scenario.

CHURCH: It is a lesson to us all. We just cannot be vigilant enough, right? And we must wear our masks. Cyril Vanier bringing us the very latest from Paris, many thanks.

Well, police in South Korea say a man who allegedly brought coronavirus into North Korea was fleeing arrest. The man considered a defector crossed back into the north illegally about a week ago. As a result, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called an emergency Politburo meeting this weekend to deal with the possible spread of the virus. And this is the first suspected case reported in the reclusive North. The government has declared an emergency and locked down areas around a border city.


South Korean police say the man was being investigated in connection with a sex crime.

Well, coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, all weekend long protests in Portland marred by violence and clashes with federal agents. The latest from the Rose city. That's just ahead.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, demonstrators have been packing the streets of Portland, Oregon, for another night of racial justice protests.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose lives matter?

CROWD: Black lives matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose lives matter?

CROWD: Black lives matter.


CHURCH: Activists are calling for racial equality and protesting the presence of federal officers there. It is relatively calm right now after a weekend marred by violence and clashes between protesters and police, as well as federal agents. CNN's Lucy Kafanov has more.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are in downtown Portland. The federal court house building is behind me. You can hear the sounds of demonstrators banging on the metal fence that has been erected to put distance between the federal courthouse and the demonstrators. It's been a lot more of a quiet evening than for example, the previous night. But even this evening we have seen demonstrators lobbing fireworks over the fence. The federal agents then coming out and responding with flash bangs and tear gas and try to disperse the crowd.

The crowd this evening a lot smaller than yesterday. At its height there was about 5,000 people who came out yesterday. But it hasn't been as big of a presence this evening. And it's an interesting observation. You know, there's almost two moods to the protests evening after evening. In the earlier hours you see a much larger crowd.


There are families out, the so-called wall of mom's comes out, the fathers with the leaf blowers, the military veterans, all coming out to further the message of Black Lives Matter, to really speak about the racial inequality that's happening here in America. In the later hours of the evening, both have become on the federal presence here on Portland city streets. You hear chants like "feds go home" and that is when the federal courthouse really becomes the focal point and often, we see clashes and tensions ensue.

Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Portland.


CHURCH: CNN contributor and former editor of "Politico" magazine, Garrett Graff joins me now. He is also the author of "Raven Rock." The story of the U.S. government's secret plan to save itself while the rest of his die. Thank you so much for talking to us.


CHURCH: So we are seeing tensions escalate between law enforcement and Portland protesters. And you wrote in "The Washington Post" recently that this federal crackdown is legal and you said that's the problem here. How is this crackdown legal and how is it within the spirit of the law?

GRAFF: Yes, and so there are a couple of different things at work here. The first is that the way that the federal government is deploying these officers to Portland is legal. They have very creatively turned to this little-known statute known as statue 1315 of the U.S. code that allows for federal officers to help with the protection of federal property. So they're sort of effectively being deputized to help protect the courthouse in Oregon that is the center of these protests.

That doesn't necessarily mean the officers' actions once they are in Portland are legal, that there are -- that there's reason to believe they are violating the spirit of the law at the very least in terms of using this courthouse as a pretexts to enforce other laws in the city, but the deployment of the officers which is controversial is apparently legal.

CHURCH: So if this is legal, what does it leave or where does it leave local authorities who don't want these federal agents there? How do they push back? What is the legal argument for doing such thing?

GRAFF: You know, so one of the things that's important to understand about the American model of policing is that policing and law enforcement is always supposed to be handled at the lowest local level possible. It is largely left up to the local police, the state police come in when the local police can't and as a last resort the federal police arrive. I mean, this instance, this is one of only a handful of times in modern American history, you can count on one hand in the last 50 years that the federal government has dispatched officers to a city or region against the wishes of the local government.

CHURCH: And this racial justice movement has brought mothers and veterans out on the Portland streets to show their support for these protesters along with the city's mayor, and yet they have all been tear gassed. We saw that video. Have you ever seen anything like this? And how big of a role does politics and of course, the upcoming Presidential election play in all of this?

GRAFF: You know, and I think that that's where you're seeing a lot of the outrage come, which is it appears this is nothing but a presidential re-election campaign photo op. That the President wants to try to paint these cities led by Democratic mayors as out of control under violent siege by anarchist protesters. And that's frankly just not the reality on the ground in any of these. The residents of Portland are baffled at these images that the federal government putting out of these protests. Because for the most part, most people in Portland are going about their daily lives totally normally. And it's not clear if the federal police weren't there in the first place, whether there would be any meaningful protests at all. The federal police seem to be escalating the situation more than they are helping.

CHURCH: Right, and just finally, we have seen video from the streets of Portland reminiscent of scenes from George Orwell's 1984. And we know the President intends to expand this into Chicago and other cities. Why do you think there's not more outrage?

GRAFF: Well, I think there actually is a fair bit of outrage. I mean, you are seeing a number of different court cases come up. You're seeing other state and local leaders around the country reject this type of operation in their home communities. And I don't think that the federal government -- that the President's re-election campaign may come out ahead at the end of this.

[04:50:00] But certainly the federal police, the federal law enforcement agencies involved are being deeply harmed.

CHURCH: Garrett Graff, thank you so much for joining us, appreciate it.

GRAFF: Happy to any time.

CHURCH: A U.S. civil rights icon is making his final journey home. John Lewis's dramatic final crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That's ahead.


CHURCH: Americans are paying their respects and celebrating the life of U.S. Congressman John Lewis. His body will be taken to Washington before being laid to rest here in Atlanta. But Sunday saw perhaps the most iconic image of his farewell. Crossing a bridge in Selma, Alabama, one last time. CNN's Martin Savidge reports.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are still days more of tributes and farewells to U.S. Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, but it's hard to imagine that any of them are going to come close when it comes to the imagery and the poignancy of Selma on Sunday.

John Lewis, his history as a civil rights leader, goes back some 55 years when he, with a group of other demonstrators that were actually protesting for voter rights, were crossing over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, when they were set upon by Alabama State Police. They were severely beaten. In fact, John Lewis nearly died. That actually became, eventually, a turning point of the civil rights movement in the United States.

And so now, in the aftermath of his death, going back, this was a connection, both to the terrible day which became known as Bloody Sunday, and to what has changed since that time. The connections and similarity? His casket leaves the same church that the protesters left on that day, followed the same route that they followed that day. But this time, when he approached the bridge, instead of an angry mob, it was a crowd of supporters saying, thank you. Singing to him, praising him.

And when it came to crossing that bridge, this time, with his casket and a horse-drawn carriage, he did it all alone, met on the other side by his family and Alabama state troopers, this time who were there to honor him.

His body was then transported to Montgomery, Alabama, the capital of this state, where people waited in the pouring rain, long lines for the opportunity to pay their respects to a civil rights icon, to a powerful congressional leader, to a son of Alabama.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Montgomery, Alabama.


CHURCH: May he rest in peace.

Thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.