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Why Did We Pull Together After 9/11 But Are Bitterly Divided During COVID?; 4 Ex-Cops Charged in George Floyd Death in Court Today; Paula McKinnon, New Hampshire School Nurses' Association President, Discusses Being Tasked with Monitoring Students for COVID; Update on Coronavirus Responses Around the Country; Today's "Homefront" Addresses Trump's Question to General Kelly About Solders Buried at Arlington: "What's In It For Them?". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 14:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I remember driving by the vice president's house many, many times. The people standing there with signs saying get out of Joe Lieberman's house. That was happening on the streets.

But he didn't handle it as a Republican president. George Bush handled it as an American president. Going to not just Ground Zero with the bull horn, which is probably the most famous image, but going to mosques and saying this isn't about the Muslims. It's about people who take that religion and twist it for doing ill.

It's hard to imagine those things right now. And it is unfortunate.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: That actually brings up, Dana, an excellent example to me where, following 9/11, and there was violence and discrimination against Muslim-Americans and --

BASH: Yes.

KEILAR: even sects who people would mistake for being Muslim.

BASH: That's right.

KEILAR: And in the wake of the virus, Gloria, there's been many incidents against the Asians and Asian-Americans. And it's not something that has been tamped down by the president.


KEILAR: Instead, he's bolstered it, calling the China virus and kung flu.

BORGER: Right. Donald Trump likes to find someone to blame, always. Because he takes responsibility for nothing.

And what George Bush did was say, here is what we need to do. We need unite. And as Dana was pointing out, he tried to unite the country and say we're all in this together. I think the difference here is you have a president looking for

someone else to take responsibility rather than saying we need to listen on the science. This is the path we need to take from day one.

And we know from Bob Woodward's book that he knew more than he was telling us.

It's two completely different approaches to leadership and governing between two different Republicans, George w Bush and Donald Trump.

KEILAR: And, Dana, President Trump and Joe Biden have accused each other of politicizing the availability of a vaccine. The majority of Americans, 62 percent, believe political pressure will cause the FDA to rush a coronavirus vaccine. They've seen the impact on the FDA in past incidents.

BASH: Yes.

KEILAR: How might that effect the president's appeal?

BASH: Well, it is going to affect the president's appeal, but much more, I think, importantly, it's potentially going to affect getting a handle on the virus because let's just hope that there's a legitimate vaccine that the -- one of the drug makers will find, that the FDA scientists genuinely find is effective and safe. We hope that moment will come someday soon.

Selling that to the American public and making it so they feel comfortable taking, it is going to be a challenge.

And it's because we have had five years now of a very, very loud megaphone, Donald Trump, chipping away at institutions. It's not just during the pandemic. This is his whole calling card.

And so, when the president is saying it's OK to mistrust institutions -- and by the way, that's an OK thing to say. We're journalists. Our job is to question institutions, right?

But when you take it and paint such a broad brush, it makes it so when this country and Americans need to trust their institutions, it's a challenge. And so when we get to that point, hopefully, we will find a way.

And I think the fact that Anthony Fauci is probably the most believed figure, not just beloved but believed figure in this whole pandemic, there's going to be a lot of people looking at him, not to mention our own colleague, Sanjay Gupta.

KEILAR: Dana, thank you so much.

Gloria, thank you.

And still ahead, I'll be speaking to the head of a school nurses' association about what she's seeing on the front lines of the pandemic.


Plus, all four officers charged in the killing of George Floyd in court today. And his family's attorney is slamming their defense strategy. We are live in Minneapolis, next.


KEILAR: All four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd were in court today. This pre-trial hearing is the first time that all of them have appeared together before a judge.

Prosecutors want them tried together but they've already started pointing the finger at each other in the case.

We have Josh Campbell, our CNN security correspondent, who was in the courtroom following this.

And I understand, Josh, that you just heard from the Floyd family attorney. Tell us about this.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The moments seeing the four officers altogether for the first time in the same room and just seeing their interactions. They weren't speaking to each other.

They remained stoic. And watching their faces as prosecutors described the moments of George Floyd's death. Again, the first time that we saw together.

Now this pretrial hearing was an opportunity to present several motions by both sides, the defense and prosecutors.

I have to say the main take away was quite an embarrassing day for county prosecutors in the area. The judge ruling on a motion to remove the county prosecutor and some of his staff from this case that stemmed from an incident where they're alleged to have met with a witness.

The judge saying that isn't appropriate, calling it sloppy, removing them from the case. So it's up to state prosecutors and anyone else that the county wants to send in.

There are a number of issues still pending. For example, prosecutors are weighing whether to change the venue. The judge is looking into that, trying to determine whether they can get a fair trial in the area with all of this publicity.

But there was one topic that came up. The judge denying the motion but it's still raising eyebrows.


Some of the defense councils wanted to insert information from past incidents where George Floyd had encounters with law enforcement. In one incident, one of the prosecutors saying that George Floyd made a habit of ingesting drugs whenever he had encounters with police.

As you mentioned, we heard from Ben Crump, the Floyd family attorney, outside, who had some pretty harsh words for that defense strategy.

Take a listen.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: The only overdose that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force and racism by the Minnesota --


CRUMP: -- Minneapolis Police Department.


CAMPBELL: Now, again, the judge denying entering evidence and information about past incidents, saying, in his own words, "What relevancy does that have to this case?"

Now, this trial continues. I wanted you to take a quick look behind me. There have been several protesters behind me, several hundred that gathered once it started.

There are still several dozen here calling for racial justice, calling for an end to police brutality.

That is something we have seen both here in this city and across the nation. It's something likely to continue.

The next trial date, the next milestone for this hearing is set for March 8th -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Josh, thank you so much for bringing that to us.

And coming up, the government issues its first COVID-19-related citation for a meatpacker for failing to protect workers.

Plus, as students go back to class around the country, school nurses say they're getting mixed messages. We'll have one of them joining us live, next.



KEILAR: As schools resume in-person learning, there's one group with a unique perspective and that is school nurses who are on the front lines. It gives them greater insight into what works and what does not.

Paula McKinnon is the president of the New Hampshire Nurses' Association.

Paula, thank you so much for being with us.

We're very curious what you're seeing. What is it like in schools right now?


What we're seeing is New Hampshire is just starting to open up schools. We have some districts that have been open a couple of weeks and others that just started this week.

And we have three different plans of operation going on throughout the state because every district had to develop their own plan.

So we see some kinds are doing a hybrid model, meaning that, on two days a week, half the population is in person. And the other half, they'll be in person on Zoom, so that the class sizes are down that way. And they have a mixture of what they're calling a hybrid.

We have some districts that are all remote. All of the kids are starting at home.

We have other districts with a blend of the two. Those that wanted to stay home, can and be on remote. And the rest have come back in person.

So we've got three different -- which one is right, we're not going to know until we have data and have been in school for a while to know which model would be working best.

Perhaps they'll all work equally. That's to be determined.


KEILAR: You're still waiting to kind of see how these different things work and you need time.

But I know that you've said you've got mixed messages when it comes to masks. Can you tell us about that?

MCKINNON: Sure. Sure. The state of New Hampshire has not mandated masks. We have very few communities that have. I can say most school districts have mandated them.

We are an extension of the community. We are a portion of the community. And when we mandate masks at school, but, yet, when they leave school, they're under the jurisdiction of their parents and any other laws that may be present. They no longer have to wear masks.

And that mixed message is, it's hard to speak to, because with schools, going to the lengths they've gone, to be able to reopen, to make it safe for school for kids so they can be in school.

To then have the protections undone by the community, really says that the mixed messaging isn't necessarily on the school nurse's part or the school's part. It's on the community as a whole.

So, who are they listening to? Are they listening to the state that hasn't mandated masks? Are they just deciding on their own that masks aren't beneficial?

What we would like is that everyone be listening to the same guidance. We, as school nurses, strongly state that we should have everybody masked at all times, not just in the school community.

KEILAR: Paula, thank you so much for talking to us.

You and school nurses all over your state and the country are taking incredible risks to keep kids safe.


KEILAR: And you're taking those risks with your own health.

So, we appreciate you discussing them with us.

MCKINNON: Thank you. Thank you.

KEILAR: And for more coronavirus deadlines from around the country, let's check in with our CNN correspondents.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: I'm Jacqueline Howard, in Atlanta. A new study from the CDC suggests adults with COVID-19 are about twice as likely to say they dined at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to feeling sick.

Researchers looked at more than 300 adults who were tested for COVID- 19. There were no major differences between those who tested positive to negative when it came to other activities like shopping or going to a salon.

The CDC says low-risk ways to enjoy your favorite restaurant are to order takeout or delivery. And outdoor dining, spaced six feet apart, is a lower risk than indoor.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dianne Gallagher, in Atlanta. U.S. labor officials has cited Smithfield Foods for failing to protect it workers in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, processing plant from Coronavirus.

They say that they recommend that the maximum fine, which is about $13,500.

The president of the union that represents those workers, the UFCW, they called this a slap on the wrist, pointing out that just under 1,300 employees at that plant contracted COVID-19 and four of them died.

Smithfield said that the citation is meritless, and it plans to contest it.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jessica schneider, in Washington. NFL wide receiver, Josh Bellamy, is facing a slew of fraud charges after the Justice Department said he used coronavirus relief funds for his own personal use.

Bellamy allegedly took more than $100,000 from a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program to buy luxury goods from places like Dior and Gucci.

Bellamy's attorneys, though, say he's a good man that should be given the benefit of the doubt.

In recent months, the Justice Department has charged more than 50 people for taking money for personal use from the PPP loan program instituted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.


KEILAR: Thank to you my colleagues.

And Dr. Fauci urging people to hunker down because things may not get back to normal until the end of next year, the end of 2021. We have that ahead.

But first a sneak peek at next week's "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" series here on CNN.


ANNOUNCER (voice-over): All next week, on CNN, every step moves us forward.


ANNOUNCER: Bringing us together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have neighbors helping neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sparking action and innovation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mission is to build homes that are earthquake and hurricane proof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not just giving back. He's also educated minute process.


ANNOUNCER: Follow along with those walking the walk.


ANNOUNCER: Change makers --


ANNOUNCER: -- leading the charge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is hard to make a difference if you don't disrupt the status quo.

ANNOUNCER: And inspiring others.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a door opening for a new life.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody here is a champion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is amazing to see people's lives change.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are our hero.




# Today on "HOMEFRONT," our digital and television column where we try to bridge the civilian/military divide and bring you stories of military families, we're addressing the question that Trump, according to multiple reports, posed to John Kelly in 2017 while standing alongside his son Robert's grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

"What is in it for them," he reportedly asked about servicemembers.

It is a crude question and it misses the point.

According to Marine Corps veteran, Kait Wyatt, who lost her husband, Marine Corps Corporal Dereck Wyatt when he died in Afghanistan in 2010, this is a big one.


KAIT WYATT, MARINE CORPS VETERAN WHO LOST MARINE HUSBAND IN AFGHANISTAN: To serve something higher than yourself is why most veterans, from my view, from my experience, why they join.


KEILAR: Veterans and Gold Star family members told us that they and loved ones serve because they love their country, because they're loyal to their brothers and sisters in arms, and for a number of other reasons.

But my husband, who was Army Special Forces deployed, he has a ritual familiar to many servicemembers. He sits down and he writes letter. One for his adult daughter and one for each of our little boys and one for his grandmother who raised him and one for his family in Texas and one for me. And he sits alone, and he does this. And the last time he wrote these

letters at our dining table, I walked by him on my way to the kitchen and saw he was crying as he was writing.

Now he returned home safely, thank god.

I came across those letters in the bottom of a desk drawer last week still sealed. "Do not open unless I'm gone," written on them.

And they were on my mind a couple of days later when Jeffrey Goldberg's article in "The Atlantic" came out, which detailed how President Trump had called American Marines killed I World War I "losers" and "suckers."

In his book "Tribe," war correspondent, Sebastian Junger, writes about the challenges that military personnel face when they return from war.

And he said this. He says, "What would you risk dying for? And for whom, is perhaps the most profound question a person can ask themselves. The vast majority of people in modern society are able to pass their whole lives without ever having to answer that question, which is both an enormous blessing and a significant loss."

I could tell you from my personal view that it is a blessing and a loss to not have to answer that question.

And for the commander-in-chief, the leader who ultimately decides how and where our nation's servicemembers are deployed, to never truly seek an answer to that question, it is also a shame.



KEILAR: You can find this column today on and send your questions and comments and story ideas to