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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Juneteenth Rallies Nationwide Amid America's Racial Unrest; President Trump Set to Hold Tulsa Rally. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 19, 2020 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The president is leading a country in the midst of a pandemic, a deadly one, where, in many states, the coronavirus infections are surging, in some places hospitalizations as well, and where the president is not leading the way his own health experts would want him to, refraining from putting together a nationwide effort to conduct surveillance testing and contact racing, refusing to set an example by wearing a mask and social distancing.

The president is also leading a nation grappling with both recent and centuries-old wounds of racism, with marches today celebrating Juneteenth, the end of legal slavery in the United States.

And even many of the president's own supporters are giving him bad marks on how he is handling issues related to race. The president is also in the throes right now of a public relations and legal battle with his own former national security adviser, as Ambassador John Bolton joins a growing group of top aides now telling the United States of America that President Trump is unfit for office.

With all this as the backdrop, President Trump says that his campaign kicks off tomorrow with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The president issued something of a threat today, not just against looters and others who plan on heading to Tulsa, but protesters, as the president plans to pack 20,000 supporters into an indoor arena, no social distancing, no masks required.

What, as they say, could go wrong?

And just now, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the rally can go on as planned, rejecting local businesses and residents who tried to stop the rally because of health concerns, as CNN's Abby Phillip reports for us from Tulsa, Oklahoma.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tulsa's Black Wall Street now emblazoned with the words Black Lives Matter.

NICOLE OGUNDARE, AUTHOR: This is the kind of hope and resilience. This is saying that we're here to stay. And we're going to have to come together, because that's the only way we will survive.

PHILLIP: A city on edge bracing for tens of thousands of pro- and anti-Trump supporters to converge here this weekend.

OGUNDARE: I'm just tense about everything.

PHILLIP: In Tulsa's Greenwood district, thousands expected to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday marking when some black slaves first learned that they had been emancipated. And a few blocks away, supporters of President Trump camped out for the first mass gathering of its kind in the country since the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tulsa's mayor putting in place a curfew for the next two days, anticipating more than 100,000 people arriving in the city for both events. But amid these large gatherings inside and out, the coronavirus pandemic looms.

DR. BRUCE DART, DIRECTOR, TULSA HEALTH DEPARTMENT: Let me be clear. Anyone planning to attend a large-scale gathering will face an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.

PHILLIP: Oklahoma one of eight states in the country seeing their highest seven-day averages of new cases, averaging 247 new cases per day in the last week, Tulsa County, the location of Trump's rally, leading that increase and outpacing more populous parts of the state.

The Trump campaign planning to hand out masks to the 19,000 people who will be packed into the BOK arena for his rally on Saturday, but won't force rally-goers to wear them. White House officials at odds about whether they would wear masks.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's a personal choice. I won't be wearing a mask.

KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: If I were at the rally, I would wear a mask.

PHILLIP: Dr. Anthony Fauci more clear, telling CBS News simply, avoid crowds and wear a mask.

The officials in charge of the BOK Center still on edge about safety, now asking the Trump campaign to provide a written safety plan explaining how they will enforce social distancing.

But the president appears more concerned about what will be happening outside, tweeting: "Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlives who are going to Oklahoma, please understand you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene."

DR. MARGARET STRIPLING, FAMILY PHYSICIAN: I don't know what he means by that. Some people who wanted to come out and be peaceful protesters maybe -- may have second thoughts about coming out.

PHILLIP: The White House defending Trump's tweet, claiming the president was not talking about peaceful protesters.

But that tweet just the kind of provocation that appears to have prompted a high-ranking State Department official, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, to call it quits over Trump's handling of race relations and recent protests, and Tulsa residents dismiss the president's overtures on issues of race.

REGINA GOODWIN (D), OKLAHOMA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I'm not going to go to an arsonist to put out a fire.


PHILLIP: Now, Jake, about that curfew, and just to give you a sense of how deeply involved the president is on the ground here, and how fast things are moving, the curfew would have meant that President Trump supporters who have been camped out here for days would not have been able to stay here overnight.

And the president just tweeted and he spoke to the mayor, and the mayor has agreed to lift the curfew. He told his supporters to enjoy themselves.

In a statement, Mayor G.T. Bynum said that they had imposed that curfew because of some intelligence they had received heading into these next two days of activity here on the ground. He now says the curfew is no longer needed -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Abby, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.

More than 19,000 individuals, Trump supporters, going to file into an indoor arena tomorrow to cheer on President Trump. No social distancing, no masks required. And we have talked about this with the protests as well. I just want to note that, for anybody who thinks we're unfairly picking on Trump, those protests were outdoors, and we did see a lot of people wearing masks in them.

What's the potential health risk of what happens tomorrow?


No, I'm glad you raised that, Jake. I mean, the protests, there's a health risk there as well. But I think it's safe to say an indoor sort of setting is significantly riskier. That's just the truth.

And the CDC has talked about this almost since the beginning of the pandemic. We can put up the various risk profiles when it comes to gatherings. As you might expect, a virtual gathering would be the lowest risk, but the highest risk, indoor, people coming from all sorts of different areas, difficult to practice social distancing, masks not required.

This is the highest-risk situation. Jake, yesterday, I spent some time just trying to basically quantify this for people, because you say high risk, and that doesn't always resonate, along with our analyst Erin Bromage. We basically said, how many people are likely to show up at the arena that night already infected,all right, based on what's going on in that community. And you can guess about 100 people probably already infected when they show up. We can show these numbers.

Of that, there's this principle called Pareto principle, which means 20 percent of them are likely to be spreaders, so 20 people likely to spread.

Given the risk factors inside that arena, they're likely to spread it to 40 to 50 more people, so, 1,000 -- 800 to 1,000 people could become infected as a result of that. So, you get where I'm going with this, Jake. Those people then go back to their homes, back to their communities, possibly spread it more.

That is the anatomy of an outbreak. One thing I will say is, I hope people, once they leave a high-risk event like that, they at least quarantine themselves, so to decrease the spread to others in their family and their community.

TAPPER: And over the last week, Oklahoma has averaged about 247 new cases per day. That's a 140 percent increase from last week.


TAPPER: But here's how Oklahoma's Governor Kevin Stitt explained it, or, rather, spun it.


GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): We knew we were going to have an increased a little bit, because we're 56 days into reopening. But what's interesting, it's 18-to-35 group that we have seen a slight increase, but they're the asymptomatic.

And we're testing so many more people right now than we were initially, and the positive cases are still 3.8 percent. So we have seen a steady decline in the hospitalizations.


TAPPER: What's your reaction to that, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Yes, he threw a lot out there. I mean, some of it is just stuff that you can find. I mean, testing rates have actually gone down a bit. Case rates have gone up, not a little bit, but 140 percent, like you mentioned. So those are just the numbers.

Hospitalizations have also gone up a little bit. He's right, not as much as the positive cases. The issue is this, Jake, and we have talked about this for several months now. There's a lag time in between the time someone gets exposed to the time that they actually get tested for the infection, a few weeks can go by, to the time that, if they need hospitalization, they're going to end up in the hospital a few more weeks. So if you start to see cases go up significantly, then, at some point,

the hospitalizations are likely to follow. That's just -- that's just the evidence that we have about how this virus behaves.

TAPPER: And just to put that graphic back up, we should note hospitalizations in Oklahoma were indeed declining in April and May. But, in June, they remain stable.

And in the last few days, we see this, they're ticking up. Is that cause for concern for people in Oklahoma?

GUPTA: I think we're starting to see the beginning of that lag time. So cases have been heading up in Oklahoma for some time. You can start to predict. It's going to be different in different populations.

But the hospitalizations will follow shortly after. If you're talking about a more vulnerable population, like in Oklahoma in this area, if you look at the preexisting diseases among this population, higher than in other parts of the country. Hospitalizations are likely to tick up more quickly and higher ultimately than in other places, possibly the same problem in Florida, Jake.

TAPPER: And when you compare the United States' seven-day moving average with that of the European Union, it shows a wildly different picture.

One infectious disease expert told "The Washington Post" -- quote -- "It really does feel like the U.S. has given up."

And, as you see on that map, you see it's -- the rate in the European union has plummeted, whereas, in the U.S., it went down a little bit and it's kind of holding steady. What do you think of the assessment that it feels like the U.S. has just given up?

GUPTA: It does.

I mean, this is all -- that's all -- it's an inspiring image to look at, because you see what is possible, what has happened in other parts of the world. They have been able to say hey, we're not going to tolerate 25,000 new people getting infected every day. We're just not going to tolerate that. We're going to bring our numbers way down.


We don't have a new vaccine or new medicine or anything. We have the same thing you do. And yet our graph can look like this.

And you're basically saying 25,000 people, roughly, whatever the number is right now, a day is OK, hundreds of people dying every day, two jumbo jets full of people dying every day is OK.

If I had to put it in medical terms, Jake, it's kind of like someone is bleeding, and I decided to hold pressure on the wound for a little bit. But then I kind of got bored, and I just took my hand off the wound, and then it's going to start bleeding again. I'm going to put my hand back on for a little while.

And I'm just going to keep doing this back and forth, as opposed to actually taking care of the problem. So, that's -- have we given up? It sure feels like it, or we're doing a really, really poor job of actually addressing the underlying problem here.

TAPPER: And the site of the rally tomorrow, the BOK Center, they asked the Trump campaign for a written safety plan. They say they have not seen it yet. But we're told the campaign will be providing hand sanitizers and masks, although the masks will not be required to wear.

And let's be honest, President Trump kind of discourages wearing of masks by not setting an example, by doing all sorts of events with no one wearing masks.


TAPPER: What would you like to see in the Trump safety plan for the rally tomorrow?

GUPTA: I would like it to not happen.

I mean, as a doctor, as someone who thinks about public health, I mean, this is a high-risk situation. We're going to gather tens of thousands of people together, not let them physically distance, not necessarily mandate masks in the middle of a pandemic.

I mean, it's going to look so silly years from now, when we look back on that and say, that seemed like a good idea to somebody at the time? It's a terrible idea.

If you had to try and do it as safely as possible, which, again, I think is really challenging, I think people who are vulnerable individuals should absolutely not go, and get tested ahead of time, wear a mask if you're there, and possibly quarantine yourself when you get home, so at least, if you have now acquired the virus, you don't spread it to others.

TAPPER: Yes, Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it.

TAPPER: Be sure to listen to Sanjay's daily podcast, "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction," wherever you access your podcasts.

A new poll showing a once controversial group now gaining huge popularity in the United States. One of the founders of Black Lives Matter will join us next.

Plus, a third of Americans living in states where new coronavirus cases are surging. And with states remaining open, one major retailer is now deciding to close back up again.


[16:16:44] TAPPER: Right now, marches and rallies are happening across the country to mark and celebrate Juneteenth and to continue the push for racial equality and policing reform.

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

From Oakland, California, to Washington, D.C., thousands of people are marching through the streets this afternoon with signs calling for unity and for justice and tributes to some of those who have been lost because of police violence.

I want to bring in Patrisse Cullors, an author, activist, and one of the Founders of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Patrisse, thanks so much for joining us and Happy Juneteenth.

I've heard a lot of black commentators including Van Jones say that he thinks this is a real moment in the U.S., Americans' hearts are opening, attitudes are changing. Obviously there's a lot of work that remains.

But do you agree, do you think we're in something of a cultural shift?

PATRISSE CULLORS, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK LIVES MATTER GLOBAL NETWORK: We absolutely are in a cultural shift. And it's not just hearts and attitudes changing. We're also seeing entire police departments transforming. We're seeing city councils, county board supervisors, governors, the national government trying to have a much more difficult and promising conversation around re-imagining public safety. I think that's profound.

TAPPER: Two polls released this week show that the majority of the American people polled support the protests over George Floyd's death and a Pew poll from last week shows that 67 percent of Americans polled support the Black Lives Matter movement compared to 30 percent who oppose.

Now, for context, only about 40 percent of Americans polled supported Black Lives Matter in 2016. That's just four years ago.

What does this poll tell you about how much perspectives have changed since then?

CULLORS: Well, I think what's most important to recognize about what has happened in the last four years is that Black Lives Matter organizers and the movement for black lives has not stopped acting. We have been in the streets, we have continued our work, we have continued being in educational settings. We have made sure that the movement stayed alive.

And many people didn't believe that we would last. And we've been able to not just last but sustain ourselves over the years. And I think that's why you have -- you see such a drastic change in how people understand who we are. TAPPER: What did you think when you saw Mitt Romney marching in the

streets and saying Black Lives Matter? To me, that was one of the most stark cultural shifts in terms of people just understanding. This isn't about like any specific individuals or any specific leaders. This is just about whether or not Black Lives Matter.

Mitt Romney was doing that, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

CULLORS: I think what happened there with Mitt Romney saying Black Lives Matter is it created an understanding that Black Lives Matter isn't necessarily a political issue but rather how we're having a conversation about black people, and black people as human beings. I think that that was really profound.

But I will say that now that the world is saying Black Lives Matter, there's a new conversation that we're having, which is a conversation about policing, and a conversation about if the police should have as much money as they have, and where money should be going.


For us on this Juneteenth, we're talking about a reinvestment into black communities. And that feels really important as well.

TAPPER: Yes. That's my next question. There's competing legislation right now. The House Democrats have won. Senate Republicans have another.

What do you make of the policing measures in Congress now?

CULLORS: They are important measures. They are measures that clearly are being introduced because of the protests, because of the organizing. But what we want is a bold and courageous ask right now. We need to be taking risks.

What you hear from the movement and what you hear from protests is people calling for a defunding of the police, a reallocating of resources. So we're hoping to work with legislators to start to develop and draft something that is closer to the vision of what's actually being called for on the ground right now.

TAPPER: Now, correct me if I'm wrong, when you say defund the police, you don't mean abolish police departments, you mean take some of the money that is going to police and put them in other places for social services for the homeless, for social workers, for psychologists, for education. Is -- am I -- do I have that right?

CULLORS: You have that right. In this current moment, our demand is reallocating resources. The resources that don't need to be in the hands of law enforcement, and actually need to be in the hands of caseworkers and the hands of psychiatrist, of violence prevention workers, in the hands of our cultural programs. That's what we're calling for right now.

TAPPER: So, I had Congressman Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip and the highest ranking black person in Congress on my Sunday show. I asked him about it. Here's what he had to say.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: Nobody is going to defund the police. We can restructure the police forces. Restructure, re- imagine policing. That is what we are going to do.


TAPPER: Now, are you that -- are you two agreeing or are you disagreeing here?

CULLORS: I think, fundamentally, what I'm hearing Rep. Clyburn say is that he wants to think about re-imagining law enforcement. That's what I think our movement is fundamentally saying as well. We're re- imagining public safety in this moment.

What we currently have as policing does not work. We don't need to see another killing. We don't need to see another humiliating video of black folks in relationship to the police. What we need now is a new vision for what community safety looks like.

I think people are hung up on the word "defund." And that's unfortunate because so many time what's we've heard over the last 25 days is black folks, black organizers, protesters saying we want more in our communities. We want a reinvestment in our communities. That's what I'm hoping that we can work on with legislators on as well.

TAPPER: I've heard a lot of criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden from civil rights activists. The election obviously will be a choice. How do you think Biden matches up compared to President Trump when it comes to these issues that are important to you?

CULLORS: Well, I'm hands down -- Trump not only needs to not be in office in November but he should resign now. Trump needs to be out of office. He is not fit for office.

And so what we are going to push for is a move to get Trump out. While we're also going to continue to push and pressure Vice President Joe Biden around his policies and relationship to policing and criminalization. That's going to be important. But our goal is to get Trump out.

TAPPER: Patrisse Cullors, thank you so much for joining us on this important day. And happy Juneteenth again to you.

CULLORS: Happy Juneteenth.

TAPPER: Coming up next, one of the police officers -- thank you. One of the police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor is now set to be fired. Her family reacts. That's next.


TAPPER: We are following Juneteenth marches this hour as Americans celebrate Juneteenth, the end of slavery in the United States. Let's go right to CNN's Bill Weir. He is live for us in New York -- Bill.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, another big march today in what has been a month of marches in New York City. There's gathering, there are several all over the city and they will go through the night. Today, sort of, because it's Juneteenth, both a mixture of rage and a bit of celebration as well. A lot of people learning the history of this holiday, which largely was a Texas holiday to celebrate a Major General Gordon Granger marching in Galveston and informing slaves over two years after Emancipation that they were free, their masters hadn't told them.

So, it's a holiday of deferred liberty and justice. And over a century and a half later, a lot of people still motivated by the idea that it is deferred liberty and justice for all.