Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 100,000; Protests In Minneapolis Over Death Unarmed Black Man; Remembering HIV/AIDS Activist Larry Kramer. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 27, 2020 - 20:00   ET


MAURA LEWINGER, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: And he said, I'm sorry, but there is no more pulse. And then, I played our wedding song for him and then that was it, so, I was -- I was with him when he passed.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Maura's bravery and her love for Joe has forever touched me and I know many of you. It has been nearly two months since Joe died, and I'm going to be speaking with Maura tomorrow night. I thank all of you for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is hard to say good evening tonight. 100,000 people in this country have now died of coronavirus.

Mothers and fathers, grandparents and children, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. Tonight, the President is yet to say anything about this stunning milestone, about the 100,000 lives lost or about all of those who might have been spared.

He returned from his trip to Florida tonight and kept silent today about the dead. As you know, he and others around him have suggested that COVID hasn't killed all of those people, though every public -- nearly public health expert will tell you that the actual numbers of victims is likely higher.

The first death we now know of was on February 6th, less than four months ago. Imagine that. The virus has moved that fast and it continues to kill.

We may have grown tired of it, but it has not grown tired of us. How to think about 100,000 deaths, it's more than who have died in all our wars from Vietnam until now. This virus that has now become as deadly as 50 hurricane Katrinas.

But comparisons fail to tell you the pain and the sadness and the grief that so many of us now feel.

The President who talked of America First has, when it comes to COVID, reached that position. We are number one out of all the other countries in fatalities. We are number one.

The U.S. has about five percent of the world's population, but nearly 30 percent of the deaths. We are number one.

We are a world leader in Medicine, medical research and public health. We once created supply chains that helped win world wars. We're now a world leader in lives lost.

The bars on this chart represent death from all causes in this country. The red bars on the right, so much taller than the rest, are since the outbreak began here. COVID is number one in America, and it's not over yet.

New cases are still rising in some states, falling in others, and steady elsewhere. The President is pushing hard to reopen as much of the country as fast as possible, and at the same time mocking those who wear masks and encouraging people to demonstrate against social distancing.

He once said he was fighting a war. Now, he fights to weaken our defenses against further spread and weaken any sense of unity. Unity is what you need to fight a war.

Is anyone really surprised by the images we're now seeing? How some people behaved in their newly reopened states over the weekend? Also, how the President is behaving, what he is saying. Is anyone surprised?

All the distractions that he has been indulging in, whether it's pushing a drug that can kill you or cyberbullying a dead woman and her family?

Yes, the President of the United States cyberbullying a dead woman and her family.

Yes, of course, from the earliest days, he either downplayed the seriousness of the threat or played games with the numbers, numbers in this case of human beings in this country who have died or will die on his watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control.

We have it very much under control in this country. Very interestingly, we've had no deaths.

You know, in April, supposedly it dies with the hotter weather and that's a beautiful day to look forward to.

People are getting better, they're all getting better. There is a good chance you're not going to die.

This is a flu, this is like a flu.

Of the 15 people, the original 15 as I call them, eight of them have returned to their homes.

We're going down, not up. We're going very substantially down, not up. And again, when you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days

is going to be down close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

It's going to disappear. One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear.

But we're going toward 50,000 or 60,000 people.

Seventy five, eighty to a hundred thousand people. That's a horrible thing.

If we didn't do it, you would have had a million people, a million and a half people, maybe two million people dead.

It would be 2.2 million people if we did nothing.

We would have lost probably higher than -- it's possible higher than 2.2. That's one of the reasons we're successful. That's one of the reasons, if you call losing 80,000 or 90,000 people successful --

If we can hold that down as we're saying to 100,000, it's a horrible number, so, we have between 100,000 and 200,000. We all together have done a very good job.


COOPER: Good job. 100,000 dead and counting. Millions of lives changed forever by the loss of those lives. Millions of moments that will never unfold.

He said nothing today about 100,000 dead, but he is proud of the job. Proud of the job he has done on testing, something South Korea, whose outbreak began almost simultaneously with ours deployed to keep its death rate in the low hundreds.


COOPER: The President has been consistently been proud of that.


TRUMP: We're testing everybody that we need to test.

Anybody that wants a test can get a test.

We took over an obsolete broken testing system.

There's not a lot of issues with testing.

The governors are supposed to do testing.

We are lapping the world on testing.

We have so much testing, I don't think you need that kind of testing with that much testing. We've done more testing than every other country combined. So, in away

way by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad.

I've always said testing is somewhat overrated.

Something can happen between a test where it is good, and then something happens and all of a sudden -- this is why the whole concept of tests aren't necessarily great.

But testing certainly is a very important function and we have prevailed.


COOPER: Remember when President Bush got criticized for saying, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," while people were waiting outside the Convention Center and Katrina? The President has been saying he's doing a heck of a job every single day. He's been yelling it, shouting it. He seems to actually believe it.

We have prevailed, he said there. The administration had the exact same lead time as South Korea to get its testing and contact tracing system up and running and they didn't.

Now, they've chosen to kick the responsibility to the states while at the same time pushing those states to reopen and at the same time attacking masks and mocking leaders who wear them, though insisting everyone around him wears masks to keep him safe. How hypocritical is that?

He talks now of a transition to greatness. Perhaps he might try a transition himself to decency, empathy, and competence. That would be a great transition indeed.

I want to get perspective now on many fronts. CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Accosta joins us; our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash and our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley.

Sanjay, you've been on with me virtually every night since this started. A hundred thousand Americans, more now have died because of this virus.

This number, this many people did not have to die. We've seen other countries, South Korea more effective. We've crossed this threshold. What are you thinking tonight?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it's a gut punch, Anderson. I mean, it just sort of took my breath away this afternoon when I first saw the threshold.

I mean, we've known this was coming, this grim milestone. I think we've known for a few weeks or so that this would happen.

But, I guess it still makes it no less painful when it actually does happen. It's just like somebody you know who is a patient or friend of yours who is sick and you know they're sick, but then they get really sick or die and it still hurts.

So, this is, I think a lot of people are just going to be grieving and they're going to remember this day for a long time.

But all the context that you gave, you know, comparing this to wars or other things. As you said, one thing -- one piece of context that should not be ascribed to this is that it was inevitable.

This was not inevitable. There are a lot of preventable deaths out there. I remember, Anderson, you and I in Haiti and we would interview the Doctors Without Borders, NSF and they would call them preventable deaths, stupid deaths because they were something they could have totally prevented, didn't need to happen, and knew what to do.

And as you point out, there's countries around the world. I mean, it's easy, but I think fair criticism right now to say how is a country, yes, South Korea is one-seventh the size of the United States. They had fewer than 300 deaths. They had the same information we did. They had the disease the same time.

They didn't have a magic therapeutic or vaccine. This could have been done, and so it's tough to say on a day like today, Anderson, because I think a lot of people are watching who may be family members of those who have died, and it's tough.

Could my loved one's death have been prevented? You hate saying it out loud, but hopefully there's lessons that have been learned, I think, to answer your question. And lessons that we may need to apply right away.

Because we are not -- I mean, this is by no means over. We're still in the middle of this -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim, I mean, the White House is -- does the Coronavirus Taskforce, are they still meeting every day? Are they -- is this something the President is still involved in?

I mean, obviously the White House is trying to put as much distance between the President and talk of this virus as possible.


COOPER: But what are they actually doing? Are they -- or is it now just up to the states?

ACOSTA: Anderson, I think the President is reaching for his distraction playbook more than he is reaching for his pandemic playbook.

He has been launching a whole series of distractions over the last 24 hours. Just this evening, he has been tweeting out praise from conservative commentator, Lou Dobbs. He seems to be looking for a "dear leader" moment.

He seems to be looking for praise from his apologist and from aides over here at the White House, instead of mourning with Americans over the fact that there are a hundred thousand lives lost now due to the coronavirus here in the United States.


ACOSTA: They are not having as many Coronavirus Taskforce meetings over here. People like Dr. Anthony Fauci are not making as many visits over here to the White House.

The President is not keeping tabs as often as he had been when we were racing up to this 100,000 mark over the last several weeks.

And so what the President is left with is what he has always been left with at times when his back has been up against the wall, he reaches for distractions.

Tomorrow, we understand he is going to sign an Executive Order aimed at these social media companies as he has been having this fight with Twitter.

But what we're all wondering is whether or not the President is going to make mention of the fact that 100,000 Americans have died from this virus, as you just said up in that series of clips just a few moments ago, he still has to answer for a whole litany of comments that he has made over the last three months that the virus would go away, that it would magically disappear.

We didn't even play the clip which I think may be the most damning clip from this entire crisis for the President when he suggested that Americans inject themselves with disinfectant.

So, there's just been a whole slew of missteps for this President every step of the way. I was talking with a Trump adviser earlier this evening about all of this. They are firmly convinced that when it comes down to election time in November that the American people will blame China for all of this and not the President.

Of course, we have video of the President praising President Xi and praising China for their handling of the virus at the beginning of this pandemic.

COOPER: Yes, even on that injecting disinfectant, Jim, the idea he was talking to his -- a government scientist and suggesting that government scientists, you know, actually put time and effort and experiment with this on human beings, injecting.

I mean, it still boggles my mind. It boggles my mind that that's what led to the stopping of the briefings of the Coronavirus Taskforce.

I mean, it's incredible to think that just a gaffe which the President then later lied about would actually have a real world consequence of stopping briefings by scientists on a daily basis for the American people is -- I mean, it's ineptitude.

ACOSTA: And that taskforce and those briefings -- yes, and that taskforce and those briefings have never been the same since that moment. That was sort of his George Bush heck of a job Brownie moment in my

view, and when the President goes out there on the South Lawn or whatever venue he's on and Fox News, and he suggests that Joe Biden has lost a step or is Sleepy Joe, Joe Biden has never suggested Americans, you know, inject themselves with disinfectant.

So, he has just a whole library of comments that he is going to have to answer for over the next several weeks. The question is whether or not he can mark this moment -- it is a moment in American history with any kind of weight, with any kind of compassion for people who are suffering out there.

COOPER: Douglas Brinkley, you wrote an extraordinary book about Hurricane Katrina, about the flood. When you and I spoke a lot during those times, the Brownie heck of a job thing.

I mean, the President has been saying he has been doing a heck of a job from the beginning on this.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes, I mean, history is going to just mark the monumental failed leadership of Donald Trump through this COVID crisis.

I mean, we did lose two months and you know, during Katrina, we used to call that -- we'd lose lives in the 48-hour window. You have to get to people quickly. You have got to respond quickly.

There were lives lost because the Bush administration didn't move quickly enough. In the case of President Trump, we're dealing with probably 50,000 American lives that could have been saved because of his failed leadership.

But what makes it even worse is we've had failed leaders in the world before. I mean, Neville Chamberlain didn't recognize the demon of Adolf Hitler, for example.

But we've never had -- Herbert Hoover didn't recognize the stock market crash and the Great Depression.

But they had empathy, Herbert Hoover and Chamberlain. This is a President with an empathy deficit disorder. He seems not to care that all of these deaths, in my mind, he acts like they're inconvenient statistics that are hurting his chances of reelection, so he wants to push them aside and say it's not really real.

And this makes Trump a very bizarre figure, and no matter what happens in this election, history will not shine a bright light on the way that he has navigated on these last four months.

COOPER: Dana, it's also remarkable just the strategy he is now putting forward of undercutting the message from his own Coronavirus Taskforce, which has now basically been silenced.

He once talked about himself as a wartime President and this is a war against a silent enemy. If the President of the United States during World War II was on the one hand drafting people and sending them to fight and at the same time suggesting that maybe they not follow the orders of their commanders or not really give it their all in the war effort back at home and show up at the factories if they don't really want to.



COOPER: I mean, it is stunning to me that he is playing politics with a pandemic response.

BASH: Very much so. I mean, that's a really important analogy. And the President did at the beginning -- I mean, you showed kind of the arc of what happened with the President over the past two months.

At the beginning he down played it. He made it sound like it was nothing, that they had it under control. And then suddenly, when he realized it was very much not under control, but that he could play President on TV and play wartime President, he went in and took over the press conferences that the scientists -- the Vice President was having the press conferences, but he did defer to the scientists so that Americans could get the information that they needed.

Once he saw that that was a show with great ratings, he wanted to be the star until that moment that it all fell apart because of his ridiculous comment.

And you're right, it was the poll numbers internally that they saw plummeting because of that that made him change course in a big way and try to stay as far away from this pandemic as he could as he gets closer to reelection.

Never mind the fact that America needs leadership right now in a very big way, and he is not interested. He's more interested in focusing on reelection, and that is clear with his comments on masks. That is clear with everything that he is saying right now because the wartime President playbook didn't work for him. He couldn't do it.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Doug, I mean, the President declared himself a wartime President. If you declare that and then you don't follow through on it and you have a huge death toll, I mean, do you think his legacy will be defined by his response to COVID?

BRINKLEY: I think it really will be. I mean, the big bell rang. We had the big crisis, one of the worst ever, and he basically went AWOL.

He got in a denial mode and then he worried about himself only. And we look at Presidents that we want to feel the empathy of an FDR telling Depression people, we have nothing to fear but fear itself, and pulling the country together.

Or Ronald Regan after the Challenger disaster in 1986. Or Bill Clinton in Oklahoma City, on and on. There are all these great moments. Today should be a day of national mourning that we hit the 100,000 mark.

He should be leading that, showing the open heartedness of America, that there were mistakes, there were blunders. But instead he refuses to have a heart, and that's the part that makes me most sad about what's happening here.

It's not just the bungled policies, bad decision making, but it's a President who doesn't seem to ever be able to express love to people unless they are ardent Trump supporters and it makes him sort of a pathetic figure.

COOPER: And, Sanjay, I mean, almost every single epidemiologist and medical expert agrees one of the first steps that needed to be taken was a testing system, a robust national testing system. Here we are, one doesn't really exist. The Trump administration points the finger and says it's the state's responsibility for contact tracing as well.

I don't know of any other country that has had such a lack of centralized Federal response.

GUPTA: No, I mean, it's quite striking. I mean, a country that typically is a leader in these areas -- I mean, there has been some legitimate criticism about the C.D.C.'s initial test that was flawed, but the C.D.C. is typically the organization that many other countries look to. Our C.D.C. is, for guidance on these types of things.

They're some of the best public health doctors and officials in the world here in this country. Many of whom were telling the President and telling others that this was going to be a problem.

I mean, you had the C.D.C. Head of Respiratory Diseases saying at the end of February, it's no longer a question of if, it's a question of when this will be a pandemic in the United States and sweep throughout the world. And it didn't seem like anybody wanted to hear it.

So, you know, as far as legacies go, this testing thing I think is going to be really something that, again, hopefully we can learn the lesson quickly because this is not over. We're still very much in this.

But the idea that we got stymied by nasal swabs, the greatest country on earth got stymied by simple things that ended up leading to so many preventable deaths, I think it's -- that's a real tragedy.

COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, thank you. Jim, Dana Bash, Doug Brinkley, thank you, appreciate it. Coming up next, a leading public health expert's take on what happens next.

New optimism today from Dr. Anthony Fauci about a vaccine. Also, as we view this milestone, why it didn't have to come to this and how to keep the virus in check with or without a vaccine.

Later Minneapolis, the death of an African-American man at the hands of police, their firing. The family calling for charges against the officers and how the community is reacting. That and more as 360 continues.



COOPER: More than 100,000 lives lost in this country, all 50 states lifting outbreak related restrictions in some shape or form. An unhealthy percentage of people choosing not to cover their faces in public and the President, all but cheering them on.

In all of this, the traditional voice of caution and reason has been Dr. Anthony Fauci who said today he was concerned about reopening too suddenly in some places.

Speaking with CNN's Jim Sciutto, he also sounded optimistic on a vaccine.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, Jim, it is possible. I still think that we have a good chance, if all the things fall in the right place, that we might have a vaccine that would be deployable by the end of the year, by December -- November-December. I believe, we can. Yes.


COOPER: That wasn't the only headline. Jim Sciutto also asked Dr. Fauci about the French government's decision to ban the drug, hydroxychloroquine for use against coronavirus. Fauci said that although he is not sure the President's favorite medicine should also be banned here, he did point out that the scientific data now was quite evidenced, those are his words, quite evident that the drug was not effective and potentially harmful.

Joining us now is William Haseltine formerly of Harvard University's Medical School and School of Public Health, pioneering researcher and was with Dr. Fauci in the fight against HIV-AIDS.


COOPER: Professor Haseltine, thank you for being back with us. When we spoke on Monday, you said we didn't need a vaccine to stop the virus, we need behavior to stop the virus. And I think people really need to hear that.

When Dr. Fauci says, you know, if everything goes in the right place, we could have a vaccine by the end of this year. A, what do you think of that? And how often in creating vaccines does everything go -- fall into the right place?

DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Well, those are two questions and I'll address both of them. But first let me say looking at the toll today, it's extremely sad. It's something that didn't have to happen for two reasons.

We could have prevented it by behavior. And had we been prepared, only a handful of people in the whole world needed to have died.

And from my point of view of seeing what's happened to my friends -- I have friends who have died, I know other people have friends who died, and looking at it where we stand today, it could be 200,000 people or more in the foreseeable future. And that's a tragedy.

Now, why do I say --

COOPER: When you say it didn't have to happen -- when you say it didn't have to happen, it could have only been a few people, how can you say that? Why?

HASELTINE: Well, let me tell you. It didn't have to happen if we had been prepared. For example, I worked very hard with the U.S. Department of Defense and Homeland Security to help save us and protect us from bioterrorism.

The mechanism exists, the stockpile, the drugs that we think are going to come -- the infectious disease, we don't know they're coming, but we think they might.

There was a hole in our safety net because that legislation also allowed us to look at nature as a terrorist. Nature is sending viruses our way which we knew were coming.

And it was totally predictable that another coronavirus was on its way. All we had to do was stockpile those drugs, whether it's United States or China or South Korea, and we could have treated people and stopped the infection lickety-split.

We know the viruses that are working for SARS and MERS, the precedent of this virus, work against this virus, too. So we could have been prepared and we could have stopped it.

Once it got started, we have a good recipe for how to stop it. We look at New Zealand. We look at Australia. We look at Thailand. We look at Vietnam. We look at -- not Vietnam, but we look at South Korea. We look at China. We see with serious epidemics they've gone to zero for days. It's in the single digits --

COOPER: Right.

HASELTINE: It can be stopped without a vaccine and without a drug if we change our behavior. That was true in HIV-AIDS, too, and over time, people learned to change their behavior. It was pretty simple. Use condoms for casual sex. And it worked. Big behavior change. People can change their behavior, not overnight, but they can.

COOPER: So, getting back to my first question which I interrupted you on, the vaccine, the idea of it being by November-December, and things falling into place.

HASELTINE: Well, it rarely falls into place. I listened to Ken Frazier of Merck, the company that brought more wonderful vaccines to the world than any other. And he was cautiously optimistic with an emphasis on both words, caution and optimism.

He said it was not possible for him at Merck, the biggest vaccine company in the world, to bring a vaccine to the market this year. That's his words.

However, he is optimistic that they can solve the problem. They can solve it on a massive scale.

There's a problem you and I haven't discussed which just came up in an Associated Press poll. If there were a vaccine, how many people would take it? The answer? Fifty one percent say yes. That isn't enough to protect the population.

COOPER: Incredible.

HASELTINE: So there are a lot of issues with vaccines. Will people accept them? Will they be ready? When we already know how to control the virus in a big population, it can be done through human behavior.

COOPER: Professor, I appreciate your time again, and you're right, that poll of 50 percent of people saying they wouldn't take a vaccine is just stunning, stunning --

HASELTINE: It's stunning and shocking.

COOPER: A pleasure. Thank you.

HASELTINE: It is sad, but thank you very much.

COOPER: Yes. Thank you. Up next, Senator Kamala Harris joins us to continue this discussion. We'll talk about the President's lack of response today.

Also the speed at which her state is reopening which some have suggested may be happening too quickly. We'll get her thoughts.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I mentioned earlier the President is yet to acknowledge today the fact that 100,000 Americans have died through the coronavirus. He stayed silent today but his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden issued this statement to commemorate the lives lost.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is a fateful milestone we should have never reached with could have been avoided. According to a study done by Columbia University, if the administration is actually just one week early to implement social distancing, and do what it had to do, just one week sooner, as many as 36,000 of these deaths (INAUDIBLE).


COOPER: That same report said at the country had been locked down two weeks earlier 84% of the deaths could have been prevented.


Joining me now, California senator, Kamala Harris. Senator Harris, thanks for being with us.

Obviously a very sad sobering day for this country with more than 100,000 American lives lost because of this virus. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this on this difficult day.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): It is tragic Anderson, 100,000 lives, 100,000 souls just within the last less than 100 days. And these are the parents, the grandparents, the brothers, sisters, relatives of people who are mourning their loss, and in many ways the number, it's senseless. And it's tragic. And to the point that Joe Biden made also, to some extent, it was avoidable. And I do fear that we have not really had in our commander in chief any display of understanding about the devastation and any moment of real public mourning.

You know, normally, sadly, normally in these types of tragedies we witness or attend funerals, we see the caskets. But we've not really seen that. And I think that that is the sad part in addition to the numbers is that families are, in many ways isolated in their suffering. And this should be a moment that we as a nation understand and mourn the loss.

COOPER: I've never seen just a leadership of anybody in this country running this country on the one -- I mean, people make mistakes people, you know, don't do things fast enough that of course happens that people are human. But to on the one hand, you know, at one time of the day, push a message of yes, you should wear masks, here are stages that states can use to reopen it should be a certain amount of weeks of declining numbers of new cases and deaths and social distancing is important. And yes, listen to the scientists.

And then that same day, maybe later that day on Twitter or late at night, or whatever it may be, to undercut that message and mock those who were mask and say, look, we got to liberate these states and, and take things over. I've never seen a leadership like that. And it just, I mean, for a wartime President, it's essentially having troops fight each other.

HARRIS: Anderson, Donald Trump is not a leader. He's not a leader. And he has proven that over and over and over again, real leadership that this moment of crisis would be to have genuine sympathy and empathy and, and, and compassion for the loss. It would be the act, doing things like let's just start from today, putting in place a national testing strategy, today, saying that that the almost 40 million people who lost their jobs within the last hundred days should have recurrent monthly payments or till we get through the pandemic.

Leadership would be about saying that over half of America's workforce works for small businesses, which are closed many of which may not be able to open and we must save them by doing things like what I and Ayanna Pressley are proposing, save those smallest of the small businesses, with loans and with grants so they can keep their doors open because they the bodegas and the barber shops and the beauty salons are part of the heartbeat of those communities. That's what real leadership would be about.

You know, I'm sick, frankly of mourning, the failure of Donald Trump's leadership because we never had it so we really don't have much to mourn because we've never had it. So we've not lost much. There's just been a vacancy there in terms of leadership frankly.

COOPER: Your home state of California became the fourth state with more than 100,000 coronavirus cases -- do you -- has the state. I mean, are things moving too quickly to reopen in California. What's your take?

HARRIS: I -- you know, I'm very proud of California's leadership. From the beginning it was a California mayor and London Breed, it was a California Governor and Gavin Newsome. It was a California leader and Eric, our city and I could go down the line of the folks who took on the political courage, even when it was unpopular to say things should shut down. Let's take this seriously. Let's listen to the public health professionals, the scientists, that the physicians, and that's how California has actually, I think, been a model.

And similarly in the decisions that are being made about reopening, it is the public health professionals that are helping to lead the ideas and the plans about what reopening should look like. And I think California in that way has been a leader because it is about public health, not about politics, but understanding that we need to have leadership that understands that when we pay attention to the public health issue, consumers will also have the confidence to go back to those businesses and in that way, support those businesses that we obviously want to keep open and allow them to get through the pandemic and not perish.


COOPER: Senator Harris, I appreciate your time (INAUDIBLE) difficult day. Thank you.

HARRIS: Of course, thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, the second day protests in Minneapolis happening as we speak over the death an unarmed African-American man with a police officers knee on his neck. The man was saying he couldn't breathe and he died. We'll take you there when we return.


COOPER: More breaking news now. A second day of clashes between protesters and police in Minneapolis as residents demand justice after the death of George Floyd. The FBI is already investigating.

Today, the city's mayor says the police officer who was caught on tape with his knee on Floyd's neck should be charged in the death of the 46 year old African-American male. And the other three officers who were present have already been fired.

Randi Kaye tonight has the story and we want to warn you some of the video you're about to see is unsettling. It's disturbing. It's necessary to understand why the death of George Floyd has provoked such a national outrage.


GEORGE FLOYD, VICTIM: Please, please. Please, I can't breather, please man. Please I'm dying.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the scene in Minneapolis Monday evening. That police officer has his knee buried in the neck of a man named George Floyd.

FLOYD: There's water or something, please, please. I think we all (INAUDIBLE)



FLOYD: And kill me. And kill me man.

KAYE: Officers have responded to an alleged forgery call and found Floyd sitting in his car. This surveillance video from a nearby restaurant shows officers making contact with Floyd then handcuffing him. Police would later say he physically resisted, though that is not apparent from this portion of the video. Nor does the video capture the incident leading up to the arrest. After police escort Floyd away, bystanders captured this video of Floyd face down on the ground still handcuffed. The officers' knee forcing his face into the pavement.

Listen closely as the officer simply tells him to relax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well you got him down man.


FLOYD: I can't breath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been trying to help out --


FLOYD: Why don't you try to see?


FLOYD: Man I can't, my face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

FLOYD: I can't breathe. Please your knee in my neck. I can't breathe here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well get up and get in the car man.

FLOYD: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car. FLOYD: I can't move.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: Mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up, you got to get in the car right.

FLOYD: Mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could have tase him, they could have mace him.

KAYE (voice-over): Floyd struggles on the ground for five minutes


KAYE (voice-over): Witnesses on the street plead with the officers to back off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long I'm going to hold him down?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's stop and he's breathing right there bro.

KAYE (voice-over): The officer does not remove his knee from Floyd's neck nor do the other officers do anything to help him. Soon, George Floyd lay motionless on the ground, his eyes closed. Police say Floyd appeared to be suffering from medical distress and that he died at the hospital. The four officers involved have been fired. Their chief pointing out the knee in the neck technique is not approved.

JACOB FREY, MAYOR MINNEAPOLIS: What we saw was horrible, completely and utterly messed up. We watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man.

KAYE (voice-over): In response protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis clashing with police, who resorted to tear gas and non lethal projectiles. In the pouring rain protesters echoed some of George Floyd's final words.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): I can't breathe.

KAYE (voice-over): The FBI in Minneapolis has launched a full investigation, though George Floyd's family is calling for the officers to be charged with murder. And they want justice.

FLOYD: Please, I can't breathe. Please man, please, I'm dying.

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


COOPER: Well the union representing the four officers the Police Officers Federation Minneapolis has issued a statement, they said the officers are cooperating in the investigation. They also say this quote, now is not the time to time rush to judgment and immediately condemn our officers, officers actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements.

Joining us with more in the protest, Sara Sidner in Minneapolis. So Sara, what's the latest?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can hear the alarm going off in the wine and spirits or just behind me there that is because people have broken into that store. There are a bunch of people that have gone into that store and are throwing things out. They're taking things out. It's mostly beer.

But you're also seeing people besides Black Lives Matter signs. You're seeing a lot of folks standing across from the police department, the police department, the precinct is here, it's precinct three. And what we saw earlier Anderson was that oh the police officers had pushed out of this flanked by officers, there was tear gas being spewed everywhere. There were lots of flashbangs, water bottles and rocks being thrown. And at the same time, they were pushing people down the street and then all of a sudden, the officers began retreating back to precinct three.

And so when they started retreating back to precinct three, the crowd as a gathered and gathered and gathered, and what you are really seeing here in some parts of the streets, is you are seeing absolute anger. But it began with sorrow. It began with a great deal of pain after people saw that video, saw the video of an officer sticking his knee in the neck of a black man, a 46 year old father saw that knee sitting there for minutes upon minutes upon minutes more than 10 minutes and then saw his body go leave. People were so outraged by that their initial reaction was pain.


SIDNER: Their second reaction was anger. And that is being exploded out into the streets at this point in time, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Sara, what's the latest from the county, the county attorney's office?


SIDNER: Yes, so we heard from the mayor, the mayor has said he believes that the Hennepin County attorney needs to charge at least the officer who put his knee on the back of the neck of George Floyd.

Now the Hennepin County attorney has responded and said they're going to do the best job they can that they were horrified by the video themselves and that they are going to do the best that they can in this case. But they stopped short of saying whether or not charges were coming. And as you know, Anderson, that usually takes a bit of time there has to be legal documents --


SIDNER: -- brought up if they are going to charge any of these officers. But remember, this is probably the fastest thing you and I have seen officers fire that happened within 48 hours of the incident.

COOPER: Yes. Sara Sidner, thank you for being there. Appreciate it.

Up next, we remember an icon. We'll be right back.



COOPER: I want to take a moment to remember the life of Larry Kramer, a writer and playwright who became a hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Larry Kramer died today at the age of 84.

When gay men began dying of what was then referred to as a mysterious gay cancer in 1981, Larry Kramer was one of the first to take notice and take action. He was a founder of GMHC, Gay Men's Health Crisis which took care of those who are being discriminated against, kicked out of their jobs, their homes, treated poorly in hospitals. The organization still exist today. They were -- they were HIV positive or had AIDS and they were treated terribly for it and GMHC work to try to help them.

Larry went on to help form Act Up which demonstrated and demanded funding and changes in drug trials to speed up treatments. Larry Kramer dedicated his life to the fight against HIV/AIDS and the bigotry and indifference and murderous silence that surrounded it. At times, he was a voice screaming seemingly alone in the wilderness. But he was right more than he was wrong. And he forced others to take notice. Other gay people, other straight people, politicians and scientists and doctors.

He wasn't easy. He alienated people who didn't want to hear what he had to say or how he said it, but he was relentless and righteous. In 1983, Larry wrote an essay in the advocate calling on gay men to wake up and work together to help find a cure. If this article doesn't rouse you to anger, fury, rage and action, gay men may have no future on this earth, he wrote. Our continued existence depends on just how angry you can get how many of us must die, he asked before all of us living fight back.

Years later he was in a meeting of act of trying to get other activists to stop fighting each other and focus on fighting the bigotry and ignorance in silence which was killing so many gay people. Take a look. This is classic Larry Kramer.


LARRY KRAMER, HIV/AIDS ADVOCATE: Plague, we are in the middle of a plague and you'll be held like this. Plague, 14 million infected people is a plague. We are in the worst shape we have ever, ever, ever been in. All those pills were shoveling down our throats forget it. Act Up has been taken over a lunatic fringe, they can't get together, nobody agrees with anything. All we can do is field, a couple hundred people in a demonstration. That's not going to make anybody pay attention.

Now until we get millions out there, we can't do that. All we do is pick at each other and yell at each other.

And I say to you in year 10, the same thing I said to you in 1981 when there were 41 cases, until we get our acts together, all of us. We are as good as dead.


COOPER: Those words ring true today. In this moment, we're now facing. That -- by the way that videos from How To Survive A Plague an extraordinary documentary I urge you to watch.

With Larry Kramer and other HIV activists did save countless lives and it's helped every human being on earth, because they actually managed to change the approval process for new treatments and got the medical establishment to allow patients more of a voice in clinical trials, activists did that. Not just for HIV, HIV but for other drugs being worked on today.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face the wrath and the respect of Larry Kramer once said, there are two errors in American medicine one before Larry, and one after Larry Kramer. He called Larry or Larry Kramer once called me a useless homosexual. I'd never met him, but it really hurt because I admired him so much. A short time after he said it, I went to see a play that he'd written and he heard I was coming and he waited after the performance to see me. He came up to me. I expected him to yell at me, but he shook my hand and smile shyly and said, I've said some terrible things about you, Anderson. And I said, I know Larry, but that's OK. And I want to thank you.

Thirty-two million people around died of AIDS so far, there's no vaccine yet but there is incredibly effective treatment for those who can get it and prevention. And Larry Kramer played a big part of that. You may not have heard of him or liked him if he did, but to me he's a hero. And now he's gone.

The news continues. I hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris?