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THE SITUATION ROOM
Hundreds Attend W.H. Signing Ceremony, Sit Side-By-Side With Few Masks; Trump Contradicts Health Experts, Claims Vaccine Coming "In Weeks" And U.S. "Rounding The Turn" In Virus; Israel, UAE, Bahrain Sign Historic Diplomatic Pacts At White House; Trump Retweets Baseless Smear Against Joe Biden; New Forecast: Hurricane Conditions Just Hours Away On Mississippi, Alabama Coasts; Louisville, KY Reaches $12 Million Settlement With Breonna Taylor's Family; L.A. Deputy Saved Partner's Life While Bleeding From Face Wound. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 15, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're following breaking news. Hurricane Sally now threatening to inundate parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, with as much as 30 inches of rain, prompting warnings of record flooding. We have a new forecast just after the National Hurricane Center.
Also breaking the coronavirus death toll here in the United States now topping 195,000 people with almost 6.6 million confirmed cases. But as the crisis worsens, President Trump is once again offering some false hope saying a vaccine could come within four to eight weeks contradicting most health experts who say a vaccine probably won't be widely available until at least next summer.
We're also following a truly historic day over at the White House where Israel assigned diplomatic pacts with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, fully normalizing relations. We'll talk about that in more just a few minutes with President Trump's Senior Advisor and son in law, Jared Kushner, he's standing by.
First, let's go straight to the White House. Our Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us.
Jim a historic day there against the backdrop though, of a worsening coronavirus pandemic.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, President Trump spent the day celebrating some big diplomatic agreements reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But the coronavirus pandemic was stealing part of the spotlight from this deal like the President's rallies, the event at the White House featured attendees sitting side by side many without wearing any masks.
The President and top officials continue to brush off concerns that they are asking encouraging Americans to crowd into places where the virus can pick and choose its next victim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): Bringing together the leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to establish diplomatic relations, President Trump heralded the agreement as a breakthrough that will spread peace across the Middle East.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're here this afternoon to change the course of history.
ACOSTA: President pointed to the moment as a sign of his deal making skills bearing fruit in a troubled region.
TRUMP: Together these agreements will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region, something which nobody thought was possible, certainly not in this day and age maybe in many decades from now.
ACOSTA: But the event may have been spreading the coronavirus too. Top administration officials, members of the President's family and GOP lawmakers took their seats side by side for the ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House with no social distancing and mostly unmasked.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I did wear it earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we saw you not wearing it earlier.
ACOSTA: A replay of how the President is tempting fate at his rallies. His latest campaign events in Nevada and Arizona were endures and filled with supporters all at a time when the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 200,000 approximately 20 percent of the deaths from the virus worldwide.
TRUMP: Jared Kushner, Jared, thank you very much.
ACOSTA: President's son in law, Jared Kushner, who got a pat on the back for his diplomatic work in the Middle East said it's up to Trump supporters to take precautions.
JARED KUSHNER, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Look, President Trump believes that people can make their own decisions we put out guidance for how people should follow, most of the President's events had been outdoors.
ACOSTA: Democrat Joe Biden's approach is dramatically different wearing a mask in public and holding smaller events as he responds to the President's attacks.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Just tell the truth. Everybody knows who Trump is. People are going to show up and vote. Thank you.
ACOSTA: President continues to tease that a vaccine could be released before Election Day even though his own health experts say that's unlikely. TRUMP: It's going to be soon. Now, will it be before the election? It could be in terms of we have something and we'll start delivering it immediately upon getting it.
ACOSTA: And he is still responding to Bob Woodward's book that revealed the President intentionally downplayed. COVID-19. A book Mr. Trump now says is, "fine."
TRUMP: I actually got to read it last night. I read it very quickly, and it was very boring. But there was not much in that book.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it accurate, Mr. President?
TRUMP: That's a boring book. It's OK. I mean, it's fine.
ACOSTA: Another author that's gotten under the President's skin, former National Security Adviser John Bolton is now facing a Justice Department investigation into whether he revealed classified information. Move seen by critics as a warning shot to others in the administration.
Bolton has blasted the President's handling of the virus.
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The President simply didn't want to hear about it. He didn't want anything in the way of the trade deal with China that he signed in January.
ACOSTA: As for the President's attempt at Middle East peace, he still faces two big obstacles. Just how he will bring the Palestinians to the bargaining table with Israel and what to do about Iran.
TRUMP: I think right after our election, the American election, if we win, we'll have a deal with Iran.
ACOSTA: Now, as for the pandemic, CNN has confirmed that Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo apologized to staffers at the department today for comments he made on Facebook, accusing government scientists of sedition and being part of a resistance unit. Our sources tell us Caputo status at HHS is uncertain at this point. I am told Caputo was already on thin ice before these revelations about his comments on Facebook. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you. Jim Acosta over at the White House.
Now there's more developments unfolding in the coronavirus pandemic CNN's Eric Hill is working the story for us from New York.
Erica, more than ever hope is writing on a vaccine. What's the latest?
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That it is and we're just hearing from Dr. Anthony Fauci who tells CNN just a short time ago, it's a matter of time in his words, before the trials that AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine resume.
You'll recall they were pause worldwide last week after a participant in the U.K. trials became ill. They are still paused in the U.S. They have resumed to the U.K. But again, Dr. Fauci saying it's only a matter of time until they start again, here in the United States.
This as the push for a vaccine continues, Wolf. And as the reality sets in that even once there's an approved vaccine, there is still a very long road ahead.
HILL (voice-over): America is at a crossroads.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We can just stay on, on message about the science and talk about what the science tells us.
HILL: Science that is reportedly being stifled at the highest levels by politics.
BILL GATES, CO-CHAIRMAN, GATES FOUNDATION: And we saw with the completely bungled plasma statements that you know, when you start pressuring people to say optimistic things, they go completely off the rails. And so, the FDA lost a lot of credibility, there.
HILL: New evidence the virus can linger, nine year old Eli Lipman and his father still battling symptoms after six months.
ELI LIPMAN, 9-YEAR-OLD RECOVERING FROM COVID: It is a big deal. It will hurt. You just got to face the truth.
HILL: The truth is, this virus is still spreading. The average number of new cases reported each day is down significantly from late July when it topped 70,000. Yet the more than 34,000 cases added Monday are still above the early peak back in April.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't relax with this thing. It's relentless.
HILL: In East Lansing home to Michigan State, a mandatory quarantine order for 30 houses, most of them fraternity and sorority houses.
LINDA VAIL, INGHAM COUNTY, MICHIGAN HEALTH OFFICER: If we can't get this in control and we are still dealing with really poor control of the first wave that when the second wave comes, that we may be looking at lockdowns and things like that again.
HILL: There are some positive signs, new cases over the past week holding steady in 20 states, those in yellow and down 21, the states in green, among those seeing an uptick nearly all of New England.
GOV. NED LAMONT, (D) CONNECTICUT: We need a little more leverage when people are breaking the rules.
HILL: Connecticut's governor announcing fines for those organizing or attending gatherings with more than 25 people inside 100 outdoors and for anyone ignoring the state's mask mandate.
In Nevada, the company that hosted this tightly packed indoor rally for President Trump slapped with a $3,000 fine for violating state restrictions on gatherings.
DON AHERN, OWNER, XTREME MANUFACTURING: My goal was to continue the Great American traditions of the right to assemble.
HILL: Houston's Lakewood mega church will resume in person services next month.
JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: It just felt like the right time.
HILL: Capping attendance at 25 percent or 4,200 people.
OSTEEN: If we look up in a couple of weeks and things aren't going well and children aren't doing good in school, then we will make the changes.
HILL: In Denver and national Western Stock Show which attracts as many as 700,000 people is off the calendar for now.
PAUL ANDREWS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW: The responsible decision was to postpone the Stock Show one year to January of 2022.
HILL: 2022, a date that feels very far away.
HILL: There are more choices, more decisions that will need to be made as we head into the winter. And before that into the fall, Wolf.
Dr. Mike Ryan at the WHO, he's the executive director of their health emergencies program. He said very bluntly today we have to decide what's more important. Is it bars and nightclubs keeping those open or is it keeping kids in school? Because if we're going to protect children, and if we're going to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities, we have to make that decision.
BLITZER: Erica Hill in New York for us. Erica, thank you.
Let's get some more on all of this. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us.
Sanjay, the President held yet another event today over at the White House that failed to follow the public health guidelines of wearing mass social distancing. The President -- the example the President sets on matters like this is very worrisome, isn't it?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. I mean, without a doubt. I mean, it's it sends exactly the wrong message in the middle of this pandemic. I think we're going to look back on this time and sort of be able to point to certain events like this and say, well, these were, you know, these really problematic events where the virus likely continued to spread.
Wolf, let me show this diagram. I think most people know this by now, if we have this diagram in terms of what is safe, what is not likely to be safe. The worst sort of event would be indoors, when you are having lots of people clustered together, not wearing masks, not really able to practice, you know, significant physical distancing. In the middle of a pandemic with a very contagious virus, that's where you can get those potential super spreader type events. Lowest risk, obviously virtual.
And then you can see what's sort of in the middle there outside people being able to physical distance, somewhat mask wearing. The event that you just described, Wolf, that's the highest risk event. It just is. I mean, the virus doesn't care. The virus just wants to find willing hosts. So if you're close together without a mask on, the virus is very happy.
BLITZER: In addition, Sanjay, to the -- his actions, the President's words are also leading to confusion. He continues to suggest we're rounding the corner with this virus. He also told Fox, a vaccine could be just, what, four to eight weeks away. Is that vaccine timeline realistic?
GUPTA: I don't think so. I mean, and I spent a lot of time as you know, Wolf, reporting on this. I talked Moncef Slaoui, the Chief Adviser to Operation Warp Speed last week.
Look, the enrollments not even completed in some of the furthest along vaccine trials. After that, you have to wait a period of time as, you know, from a safety standpoint, Moncef Slaoui told me, you know, 42 days is when most adverse effects sort of happen. So they may want to wait at least that amount of time.
They've also got to make sure that the vaccines actually working. You know that the effectiveness is there. So they're comparing the vaccinated group against the placebo group. It just -- that process takes time, even for an authorization to get full approval, as you know, Wolf will take even longer than that.
BLITZER: The former CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, the man you know, said today it's easier to figure out if the vaccine works than to determine if it's actually safe. Frieden says he has some safety concerns about a potential coronavirus vaccine. What exactly based on all your reporting is he worried about?
GUPTA: I think there's a couple things. I mean, there's this there's this idea of something known as antibody dependent enhancement. And what that basically means is, you give the vaccine, now the body's got a lot of antibodies as a result of the vaccine. Those antibodies are good fighting cells, they should fight the virus, should they ever see the virus.
The problem is, in some situations, it can have such a significant response to the virus that you start to develop a storm of inflammation in the body and that can actually be worse than the infection itself. That's the sort of thing you're trying to avoid.
And the thing is, Wolf, if you see that in 0.1 percent of people, for example, if you vaccinate 100 million people, that still means 100,000 people could have an effect like that. So that's why you got to look not only for these types of side effects, but even things that would be considered rare. Because when you start giving this vaccine at the scale, we're talking about those rare things become much more common.
BLITZER: We certainly do. All right, Sanjay, thank you very much. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, helping us better appreciate what's going on.
Up next, I'll speak live to the senior Trump advisor Jared Kushner. We'll discuss the historic deals signed today by Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain much more right after this.
BLITZER: It's been a truly historic day over at the White House as President Trump presided over ceremonies marking the normalization, full normalization of relations between Israel and its Middle Eastern neighbors, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
Were joined by President Trump's Senior Advisor, his son in law, Jared Kushner.
Jared, congratulations on these deals. I know you've worked on them for a long, long time. And as you know the President, he hosted the leaders of these three countries to sign these historic agreements. How do you believe these deals will actually, though, alter the overall landscape of the Middle East?
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, Wolf, and thank you for the well wishes to me and to the administration on this historic breakthrough.
So obviously, I think that today what we did was we shattered an amazing barrier. Bringing the Arab countries together with Israel hopefully marks the beginning of the end of the Arab Israeli conflict. I think it removes a huge psychological barrier in the region. And it also allows people in the region to start doing business together, traveling to each other.
You know, one of the biggest issues that's kept the region divided for so long is the Al Aqsa mosque and people throughout the Muslim world thinking that they can't go pray and visit there. And then the false notion that's been put out that the mosque is under attack. This allows Muslims to go there.
And I think that that will hopefully reduce the tension in the region, hopefully help us counter extremism and terrorism in a much more efficient way. It allows us to bring troops back to America. And I think that at the end of the day, it allows us hopefully to spend our money instead of on foreign wars here rebuilding our country, which is a very important thing. BLITZER: The President has said the administration is very far along in talks with other Arab countries who want to follow suit. Earlier in the morning, he said five or six countries. Later this afternoon he said he expects seven, eight or nine Arab countries will join, including what he called the big one. Which countries is he talking about?
KUSHNER: So as you know, when we announced the first deal, which was the deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, we caught everyone by surprise. It's very rare in Washington that you can actually break news via presidential tweet that was, you know, really guarded by so many people. So, the diplomacy I've done over the last years, obviously, it's been untraditional. We've taken some criticism for doing it that way. But we've kept our cards very close to our vest, and it's produced results.
And I will say that, again, a lot of the people who criticize the approach that we took on this deal are the same people who said that if Trump was elected, we'd be in world war three. And quite frankly, that hasn't work.
Today, the President signed two peace deals with Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel and Bahrain. And again, the last peace deal was done 26 years ago. And in Israel's existence before this month, they had two peace deals in 72 years.
So, I think we had a very good breakthrough.
What's happened is, is in the Middle East, the deals have been so well received. That's what helped Bahrain go quickly. They saw how well the deal was received in the United Arab Emirates and throughout the Muslim world.
The people in the region are tired of war, they're tired of conflict. They want to move forward and they see bridging this gap and getting a better understanding between countries as a way to move forward.
BLITZER: Is Saudi Arabia, Jared, one of those countries?
KUSHNER: I think you've had a lot of changes in Saudi Arabia over the last three years. President Trump's worked very closely with King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on a lot of reforms. They've modernized their society. We've brought ourselves closer together. And we have a common thread in Iran.
And so, I think what you're seeing is a new Middle East that's being formed. And President Trump, again, he laid out his vision for it on his first foreign trip in Riyadh, we've executed that vision ever since. And I think that you have leaders that are tired of the way things have been done.
Quite frankly, also, we put out our vision for peace. You saw the Palestinian leadership reject it before it even came out before they knew what was in it. So, people are getting a little tired with the tactics played by the Palestinian leaders. They want to help the Palestinian people, but they're not going to allow them to hold back the nationalists interest of all these different countries. So --
BLITZER: Are you having any conversations at all with the Palestinian leadership?
KUSHNER: So again, I keep my discussions, very private, which I think benefits, you know, getting to the outcome. But what I will say is that, again, they know where we stand.
They do believe that President Trump could accomplish what very few people could, right? Again, you have past administrations that have spent a lot of time in the Middle East and have had absolutely nothing to show for it other than, you know, greater threats to America and lots of wasted time.
President Trump has been able to do an unconventional way. And today, we signed two peace deals.
So, the Palestinians see that he has a lot of sway with the Israeli public. You know, Israel trust President Trump, that he knows what their security needs are. He knows what their bottom lines are. And they do believe that he's the only person that could actually make this deal.
But, I think that, again, you're not going to make a deal until it's ready. We do believe that before there's a deal with the Palestinians, you're going to have more countries normalize with Israel.
And then, you know, again, when the Palestinian leadership decides that they're ready, then that's when a deal be made. But again --
BLITZER: Is the U.S. --
KUSHNER: -- we can't want to -- if I can just finish the point, Wolf.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
KUSHNER: We can't want peace more than the Palestinian leadership wants to make peace. And so when they're ready to do it, we'll be there to help facilitate it. But I do think we've brought everyone in the region much closer together than where they were a couple years ago.
BLITZER: Is the U.S. sale of F35 jets to the United Arab Emirates part of this deal?
KUSHNER: It has nothing to do with the peace deal. But again, we have our relationship with the United Arab Emirates. We fought together, and I think over four wars. You know, they've got a tremendous military. They're right on the edge with Iran.
President Trump's Middle East strategy has really been about countering Iran's aggression. You know, the last administration did a probably one of the worst deals I've ever seen, which was the Iran deal where they gave $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran over, you know, I think there's $1.8 billion in cash. Once that happened around use that money, funneled it to its proxies, and you had much more instability throughout the region.
President Trump got out of that deal. We've cut off a lot of Iran's --
KUSHNER: -- finances and by sending F35s to the United Arab Emirates, it obviously strengthens our regional alliances and puts, you know, the biggest cause of instability on notice that we're moving, you know, serious -- we're moving serious attention to where they are. So --
BLITZER: I will point out, as you well know, $150 billion, that was Iranian assets that were frozen here in the United States, which the Obama administration decided to ease up on and dispatch.
But let's move on. I know --
KUSHNER: But I will say, Wolf --
KUSHNER: -- when they made that decision, they had Iran really in a position where they could have made a deal. They basically gave them a pathway to a nuclear weapon, and then they let them have the sanctions relief where -- and they didn't hold them back on ballistic missiles. They didn't stop the regional instability that they were causing. And they basically made one of the worst deals we've ever seen.
So, again, all that money went to fund terror. And you talk about, you know, protecting American soldiers.
And there's been some debate, you know, recently, you know, President Trump took strong action against Qasem Soleimani, who the last -- we're criticized by that by the other side. And obviously, you know, that he was the architect of a lot of the IDs and a lot of the different ways that American soldiers killed or maimed in the region in the years before.
So, President Trump has stood up for our troops and he's doing things that will make the Middle East a more stable place in the short, medium and long term.
BLITZER: Let's get to some other issues. You have a wide portfolio in this administration. Let's just talk about the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, the historic event at the White House today, just one of several events the President has held in the past few days with very few mask, very little social distancing. Why does the White House and the Trump campaign refuse to follow the administration's own health guidelines?
KUSHNER: So, I was watching as I was waiting to come on the show here and all the clips you were showing of people without masks were people who were in the front rows. Those were administration officials who were tested.
The invitation encouraged people to wear masks. It was an outdoor event. I have some friends who didn't come to the event because they felt like they have comorbidities and they didn't want to put themselves at risk.
Look, we're six months into this, people know what their risk profile is, and they can take the appropriate measures. And again, I think that, you know, when I was watching it, I was happy at least that CNN was covering Trump accomplishments. So, I didn't mind that you were showing the clips of people out there.
But at the end of the day, you know, again, it was --
BLITZER: But don't you think, Jared, that the President and the top advisors to the President like you should set an example for the American public?
KUSHNER: Yes. And again, we've been holding our rallies outdoors. By and large, we had one where several outdoor venues were forbidden to us by the governor. So that was forced to go indoors.
People have a First Amendment right. I mean, that's something that CNN has, have vociferously argued for. And when we do our events, we do encourage people to wear masks, we make masks available, and we ask people to follow guidance. And we also tell people who think that they're high risk for the disease to stay home.
But again, at the end of the day in America, we still have to figure out how to live our lives. We're not going to lock ourselves in our home because of the pandemic.
I think we know a lot more today we know who's at risk, we know how to mitigate the risk, and we're all going to act accordingly.
BLITZER: But as you know, almost 196,000 Americans have died from coronavirus over these past six months or so. And that number potentially could double by January 1 unless dramatic action is taken.
And once again, the president sets an example for the American public. Don't you think to save lives he should be doing more as an example?
KUSHNER: Yes. So what we've seen now is I think, mortalities at about 30 percent on a daily basis of what it was at its peak.
BLITZER: Thousand Americans today are dying, Jared.
KUSHNER: I think the number is about 700, this week, which is down from a thousand, which is down from 2,200.
BLITZER: All right. So let's say 700 is 700 Americans a day.
KUSHNER: Yes. And at the end of the day, we're doing everything possible. We've just searched tests to nursing homes. Again, you have a lot of different governors who run their states in different ways. And we're doing everything we can to get them the supplies we need and to make information available to people.
But at the end of the day, Wolf, if you had as many as almost 50 million people who lost their jobs because of this pandemic, and what we've been trying to do is figure out how to get the economy going. People thought we'd be at 20 percent unemployment now, but thanks to the financial interventions the President made, we're at about 8.4 percent.
And again, you have increased in suicides, you have increased in overdoses. You have a lot of causes. Lockdowns kill people too.
And at the end of the day, you know, again, this is a unprecedented global pandemic. President Trump has worked with his advisors and he's worked to come up with what are the right mix of policies and prescriptions to make sure that we can both save lives, save our economy and allow people to move forward. And I think that's what we've done.
BLITZER: I think it's still very worrisome to see all those folks so close together even if they're outside not wearing masks and those social distancing.
KUSHNER: I will say, Wolf, I didn't hear you and CNN being that worried when you saw people out there, you know, doing protests in different ways, so.
BLITZER: We were plenty worried about that, as well.
I know you got to run, but a very quick question because I was very disturbed earlier today, when I saw the President retweet to his 80 million plus followers, very, very disturbing, ugly message, accusing the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of actually being a pedophile.
Is that appropriate to give publicity to a really disgusting accusation like that? Especially at a time when there are all those q anon conspiracy theories about pedophiles running the Democratic Party, all those anti-Semitic conspiracy theories they're spreading as well. It's so disturbing to see that Jared.
KUSHNER: Look, Wolf, if I haven't seen the tweet. I've been focused today on this historic peace deal. I got here early in the morning, I've been helping get this thing ready.
Again, we accomplished a lot today. I'm happy to come on another time and talk about that. But today, let's focus on the fact that President Trump was nominated this month, two times for the Nobel Peace Prize. He achieved a historic peace deal that nobody thought was possible.
And again, he took a different approach, but he achieved a result. And that's what we're here today to celebrate.
BLITZER: I congratulate you and I congratulate the President. KUSHNER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Congratulate the administration on this historic deal. It is very important. But please tell him, tell your father in law, that it's really bad, it's really disgusting to retweet those kinds of ugly, disgusting tweets about his Democratic rival.
It -- I was -- as you can tell, Jared I was pretty upset when I saw that.
KUSHNER: I will relay to him your concern.
And again, I think one thing about this President, he's a very transparent President. He, you know, he lets people know what he's thinking. He tweets, he says what -- you know, he feels is out there and, again, he always is expressing himself in the way that he sees fit.
BLITZER: Jared Kushner, once again, congratulations. Thanks so much for joining us. Let's continue this conversation down the road.
KUSHNER: Thank you, Wolf. I look forward to being with you again.
BLITZER: All right. Thank you.
KUSHNER: Thank you.
BLITZER: And a quick programming note for our viewers later tonight, Bob Woodward sits down with our own Anderson Cooper to talk about his new book, "Rage". Be the first to hear unreleased audio from Woodworth's interviews with President Trump. The interview for the full hour airs 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
And there's more breaking news coming up, a new forecast just out for Hurricane Sally now threatening to bring historic flooding to parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. And we'll also go live to Oregon, where mobile morgues, mobile morgues are now being mobilized amid fear that the wildfire death fell may be much worse than what we know right now.
BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following. A new forecast just out for Hurricane Sally. Government weather experts say hurricane conditions along the coast of Mississippi and Alabama are just hours away and there are warning of life-threatening flooding and surge from this very slow moving storm.
Our National Correspondent Gary Tuchman is in Pensacola, Florida for us. Gary, you're also under a hurricane warning there. First of all, be careful. Tell us what's going on.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, suffice it to say the lifeguards are gone from Pensacola beach. So by default, I am life guard. So if anyone's foolish enough to go in the Gulf of Mexico right now, I promise I will try to save them.
In the meantime, let me tell you about what's going on here. This is Santa Rosa Island, was a barrier island just south of the city of Pensacola. This is known as Pensacola beach. It has been raining cats and dogs now for hours. And that gives you an idea of the main concern. The winds right now are very strong, but this is not like Hurricane Laura two and a half weeks ago where we had 140 mile per hour winds. These winds are expected to go no higher than 85 miles per hour.
Right now, they're tropical storm strength. But the rain, that's a whole another story. We're expecting up to 2.5 feet, and I say feet, 2.5 feet of rain up to 30 inches. That's a huge amount. If that happens, there will be catastrophic flooding on this island. There is no mandatory evacuation order in effect, it's a voluntary evacuation.
There are only a few shelters and the main reason for that -- but one of the reasons for that, is the COVID outbreak. I pointed that out during the last hurricane, I point it out again, people are afraid a lot of people to be with large groups of other people with shelters. So the advice being given is stay home, be careful, and that's what we're seeing.
A couple of people walking around here, we've seen very few people walking around. You can see the red flags. Those are the hurricane flags, meaning is the beach is closed. And behind me right over here, this pier.
Whenever I cover a hurricane, I look at items like this pier and I think, will that pier be standing when this hurricane is over? The red flags are flying at the end of that one-third of a mile pier. It's very unlikely it will be. We've already seen one pillar fly into this angry Gulf of Mexico.
So this is going to be a huge rain event. There's a lot of concern that's moving so slow. There's a lot still to come.
BLITZER: And when do they really expect it to hit Pensacola, Alabama, Mississippi? It's going to be widespread.
TUCHMAN: Right now, it looks like that the aisle will cross over the Gulf Coast between Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, somewhere in that range around 7:00 a.m. Central time this morning. So 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. But I'm telling you, it's already bad and is expected to continue being bad for hours afterwards because this is moving so slow.
BLITZER: Very slow. Those waters are so warm. This is a hurricane. Just be careful, Gary. Thank you very much for that report. We'll stay in close touch with you. Gary Tuchman on the scene for us.
Coming up, Louisville, Kentucky settles a wrongful death lawsuit with a family of Breonna Taylor. I'll talk about that and more with the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: City of Louisville, Kentucky has agreed to pay $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor to settle their wrongful death lawsuit. The 26-year-old emergency medical technician was killed in her home by police serving a no-knock warrant back in March.
Let's discuss this and more with the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor Bottoms, thank you so much for joining us. So, the city of Louisville today reached that historic settlement following the killing of Breonna Taylor, but Taylor's family says this is just the beginning of their fight for justice. What's your reaction to the settlement, Mayor? And what is this development say about the need for reform?
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: Well, I am glad to hear that they reached a settlement. I know just in terms of the community and the family moving into the next phase of what this fight for justice looks like, this is an important part of that process. But I know that it didn't bring their loved one back, Wolf. We all know that.
And I think that it is an opportunity for us across the country to continue to look at where we are with reform with our respective communities and with our police department. In Atlanta, we're continuing to do the work alongside our police department with our communities to make sure that we can really be a model for other cities across the country. Because we saw what happened in Atlanta, we saw what happened in Louisville, and we know that the pain continues in our communities, and there is still so much work to be done. But this is an important part of the process.
BLITZER: Certainly is. So, let's talk about Atlanta for a second. You're entering what's called phase two of the reopening plan. How much more difficult does your job become when President Trump actually continues to hold events, many of them indoors, with little respect for the necessary practices of mask wearing and social distancing?
BOTTOMS: It makes it extremely difficult because as we enter phase two, we still had several phases to go before we're able to resume what we will -- we know will be our now normal as our country continues to face COVID-19. It's irresponsible, a complete disregard for the health and safety of the well-beings, the communities that he's entering. But this is who this President is, so it does not surprise me.
But we've entered phase two in Georgia or in Atlanta. And I'm very glad to hear -- to see that we've been able to do that based on our metrics. But the reality is that our black and brown communities especially are being hit hard in Georgia, and we are seeing an uptick with Hispanics who are being infected. But still at a higher rate, African Americans are dying in our state. But its progress if we move to phase two, and if this trend continues, we'll be able to move to phase three of our reopening plan by the end of September.
BLITZER: Well, good luck in all of that. I know you've been very open about your family's personal fight against this virus, including your husband's long-term battle. How is he doing, first of all, and second, what have you learned throughout this process that you'd like others to know about the personal pain of how all of this has impacted your family?
BOTTOMS: Well, Wolf, my husband's a very practical man. And his -- What he says to me repeatedly is people died. And so, in comparison with where he is, he thinks he's doing OK, but he's my husband, so, of course, I see what he's dealing with on a daily basis. And what I continuously remind him, and I know that people who are considered long callers have to be reminded of, is that there's so much that we still don't know.
And then there's so much that we attribute to COVID that very well could be attributable -- attributed to other health challenges that people may be experiencing. And so, it's important to take all of these things, all of these symptoms seriously, but especially in light of COVID.
And it's going to be important for us to not look just that the patient that are enduring and experiencing COVID, but what will be the long-term effects. Because as you know, I was infected with COVID, my son was infected with COVID, and there's still so much uncertainty surrounding it. But we count ourselves fortunate when I look at what so many families across this country have experienced with the loss of loved one.
BLITZER: Well, just be careful out there. Please pass along our best wishes, and we will stay in close touch. Thanks very much for joining us.
BOTTOMS: Thank you.
BLITZER: And stay with us, we're keeping a very close eye on the rapidly deteriorating conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Looking at live pictures coming in from Pensacola, Florida right now. We'll update you on that.
Also, we have some amazing new details about a sheriff's -- a sheriff deputy's heroic efforts to save her partner's life after an ambush while she was bleeding from her own wounds.
BLITZER: Tonight, we're learning new details about the shooting ambush that left two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies severely wounded. Let's bring in CNN Sara Sidner, she's on the scene for us. Sara, one of the deputies actually saved her partner's life while she was bleeding from a face wound. Tell us what happened.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was absolutely incredible. Both of the deputies are still alive partly because of the reaction by this 31-year-old mother of a six-year-old. Both deputies still here in Compton (ph) but stable condition.
SIDNER (voice-over): And incredible show of bravery. A 31-year-old L.A. sheriff's deputy profusely bleeding from a bullet to the face is seen helping save her 24-year-old partner. She applies a tourniquet to his bloodied arm, and helps him move behind a pillar to avoid taking on more fire. Both have already been shot multiple times.
Surveillance video shows the ambush a shooter fires into their car while they sit in their vehicle outside of metro stop in Compton.
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES: The female deputy, after getting shot, both of them, four or five times, with a broken jaw in the face, stepped out and gave a tourniquet to her fellow deputy who had been shot in the head as well, probably saved his life while calling for help.
SIDNER (voice-over): She and her partner had just become deputies 14 months ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Claudia Apolinar.
SIDNER (voice-over): A mother of a six-year-old is seen here as she proudly graduated from the police academy in 2019. As they are recovering from their injuries at the hospital, a callous call for their death by a gathering of about five people outside the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), I hope the die motherfucker.
SIDNER (voice-over): The leader of the group that calls itself L.A.'s Africa Town Coalition says he hopes the shooting is in retaliation for the shooting of black and brown people by the LASD. The most recent shooting sparked protest in Compton when deputy shot Dijon Kizzee for an alleged bicycle violation. The family says Kizzee was shot in the back and investigation is still underway.
KEVIN WHARTON PRICE, AFRICA TOWN COALITION LOS ANGELES: So is this is a start of retribution, then I think this is the very good start.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is set to go, I assume.
SIDNER (voice-over): The LASD has faced serious controversy over the years, its sheriff convicted of lying in 2016 was fired and jailed. There has also been a lawsuit brought accusing deputies of forming a gang inside the department. The most recent accusation and a complaint by a deputy. The whistle-blower said in a deposition, deputies formed a gang called the executioners in Compton. He says they supported the same tattoos and used excessive force on suspects.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me being a field training officer, you know, I'm a supervisor and I have to report this behavior.
SIDNER (voice-over): The sheriff deputies union responded to those claims.
RON HERNANDEZ, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF LOS ANGELES DEPUTY SHERIFFS: The accusations of there being criminal gangs within the sheriff's department, that's ridiculous.
SIDNER (voice-over): But union representative Hernandez and some longtime Compton residents say the idea of retaliation like this is sickening.
HERNANDEZ: So the people -- the group that came out here and screamed, we hope you die, that in itself is also pathetic. Maybe not as bad as the guy that actually pulled the trigger, but it's just as bad.
DAVID COLBERT, COMPTON RESIDENT: We don't want those police officers to die. You know, we don't want that, that's a tragedy. And our prayers go off for those officers and their families. Yes, there's an issue. You know, we believe that there should be some kind of reform in police department, you know, to make it better for everybody.
SIDNER: And residents here very clear that they are praying for the two officers who are here, both of them rookies, only on the force for about a little over a year. All of them hoping for their speedy recovery. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Sara Sidner, what a story this is. Thank you so much for sharing.
Coming up, a truly historic signing ceremony over the White House though with no social distancing, a very few masks. Will an effort to spread peace in the Middle East wind up spreading the coronavirus as well? We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're monitoring Hurricane Sally as it begins to lash the Gulf Coast. It's on a slow and potentially disastrous path that could bring historic downpours and life-threatening flooding to the region very soon. This, as more American lives are being lost to the coronavirus.