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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Thirty Two States Show Rising Coronavirus Case Counts; Studies Find Conservative Media Coverage Of Covid-19 Has Caused Confusion; The Impact Of George Floyd's Death; NYT: Russia Offered Afghan Militants Bounties To Kill U.S. Troops. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That was hard to watch. All right. Well, I thank all of you for watching and we'll see you on Monday. Anderson starts now.

[20:00:15]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: It is admittedly hard to say good evening at the end of a week that saw the worst day yet in terms of new coronavirus cases in this country or the worst day ever by far in the State of Florida with nearly 9,000 new infections there.

It is tough to end the day with 32 states now showing rising case counts and just seven, with declining numbers. Harder still, to look at that green line there for new cases in this country and compare it to the European Union in pink.

Late today, E.U. diplomats told us that American travelers are unlikely to be allowed into member countries when they begin to open up. In a larger sense though, the gap between the green and the pink lines on that graph there is what a failed national policy looks like and tens of thousands of preventable deaths. That's right. Deaths that the science shows us were preventable.

Against that backdrop, the President's Taskforce briefed today for the first time since the 27th of April, when the President you may remember suggested injecting disinfectant and shining light inside people's bodies to stop the virus somehow.

He has since taken to flouting his own taskforce's guidelines at every turn, holding mass indoor rallies in hot zones in the country, not wearing a mask, a simple step, modeling behavior that gets people killed.

So, has the Vice President who led that briefing today, as well and as he has on similar occasions, he looked straight into the camera and frankly did not tell the truth.

Here is what he said about that rising U.S. case curve which we will leave on the screen as the Vice President speak so you can make the judgement yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We saved lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Those were his words. We flattened the curve. It's a lie. Plain and simple. The line is not flat. In fact, it's going up.

The Vice President also talked about the skyrocketing cases in states such as Florida, Arizona and Texas. Here they are. And here is the Vice President's disingenuous explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: We want the American people to understand it is almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases. To one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: This is the falsehood that he was caught on tape pushing to State Governors to tell themselves. It is also a very lightly sanitized version of a line which the President uses, perhaps the Vice President, too bright or simply too ashamed to state it as openly as his boss has.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we have more cases because we do the greatest testing. If we didn't do testing, we would have no cases. Other countries they don't test millions. We are up to almost 30 million tests. So, when you do 30 million, you're going to have a kid with the sniffles and they'll say it is coronavirus, whatever you want to call it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Keeping them honest tonight whether said plainly or sprinkled with sneaky phrases such as almost, inarguable, or to one extent or another, the implication, this is all due to more testing simply does not hold water. It belies -- it is belied by the facts in the real world.

For one, positivity rates -- that is the percentage of people who test positive for COVID are also going up which means that more people are getting infected; and crucially, hospitalization rates are also rising.

In Arizona and Texas, especially hospital ICUs are now reaching capacity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE: All along data and evidence have driven our decision making when it comes to our work to contain the spread of this virus, and what the data says is indisputable. Our hospitals, the largest medical center in the world are using a

hundred percent of their base operational capacity right now and are beginning to have to rely on surge contingency plans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That right there is the top elected official in Harris County, Texas, home of Houston, where the situation is now so dire that the city's Children's Hospital this week opened its doors to adult patients -- the Children's Hospital.

ICUs in California today reported a record number of COVID patients. This is not what flattening the curve looks like. It's the opposite. And again, in addition to being dishonest about that, the Vice President today also defended, frankly, the worst possible behavior in the midst of a pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: All of the experts here within the Taskforce are stressing the importance of social distancing and also the threat of crowds, yet your campaign has held two massive rallies, no social distancing, no masks. Can you tell me -- even Dr. Fauci has talked about not gathering in large crowds? Can you tell me how -- why you continue to do this? Why the campaign continues to hold these rallies?

[20:05:27]

PENCE: Well, the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, and we have an election coming up this fall. And President Trump and I believe that taking proper steps as we created screening at recent events and giving people the very best counsel that we have, we still want to give people the freedom to participate in the political process and we respect that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, the Bill of Rights as the late Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, once wrote, is not a suicide pact. It's also a pretty cowardly way of dodging what was a very simple and direct question. Dodged it twice, in fact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: So how can you say that the campaign is not part of the problem that Dr. Fauci laid out?

PENCE: Well, I want to remind you again that the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. And even in a health crisis, the American people don't forfeit our constitutional rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: The Vice President went on for another two minutes and 44 seconds, but did not answer that simple question. Then, he closed the briefing two months since the last one in four months, to this day since this briefing and these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That's a pretty good job we've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: And they're still saying they've done a good job. Four months, nearly 2.5 million cases, nearly 125,000 deaths later. The Vice President today reminded us of someone who denied reality to the point of becoming a punch line, Baghdad Bob, you may remember back in 2003, famously claimed that Iraq was winning the war even as U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad behind him. History overwrites even the best propaganda.

Joining us now is Mark Lotter. He's Director of Strategic Communications for the Trump campaign. Mark, good to have you on tonight. We do appreciate you taking the time.

MARK LOTTER, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So the cases in this country, they're going up. The deaths in this country are going up. The states who have a rising number of cases is going up. It's now most of them. And to be clear, the positivity rate -- that is the percentage of people tested, who test positive for COVID is going up as well.

How can the Vice President and the President claim that the U.S. is beating this virus.

LOTTER: Well, as you heard from Dr. Fauci, you heard from the Vice President and Dr. Birx today, in 34 states, we are seeing a decrease in terms of the positivity rate even as the amount of testing and numbers are going up. It's the positivity rate that's going down.

We have a problem and 16 states, as they identified today.

SCIUTTO: It is not going down nationally. We have the graphic. Let's show the positivity rate nationally in this country that belies that claim right there because, in fact, as the rates go up, I believe we have the graphic nationally.

LOTTER: Well, we can try to add -- you can try to average this out nationally to try to shift the numbers as you wish. But what he was saying is 34 states, those numbers are going down. In 16, states we have the problem of increasing positive testing --

SCIUTTO: What's wrong with averaging the -- what's wrong with averaging out nationally? If you're talking about a response to a pandemic nationally, and the Federal government's national response nationally, the positivity rate is going up. So how can you claim -- and as you know, the death toll is going up

every day. How can you claim to folks listening tonight that that's a win?

LOTTER: Very easily, Jim, because what's going on in Miami is not the same that's going on in Montana. And we need to be honest with the American people in that this is a virus that is very different in different parts of our country and the response by this administration and this President is reflective of that.

So while we are monitoring things in the 34 states --

SCIUTTO: The three most populous states in this country, you mentioned Montana, a relatively sparsely populated state, the most populated states -- Florida, Texas, California -- where most people live, the rates are going up.

LOTTER: Absolutely, and as the President, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci all addressed today, it is something that we need to be cognizant of. It's something that they're very aware of. They have people on the ground, but because what we're seeing going on in some of these states, primarily in the Sunbelt States right now does not mean that we have to do national things that don't necessarily also relate to the other 34 states where the rates are going down.

So this is not a one size fits all situation. You see the administration --

[20:10:10]

SCIUTTO: OK, if you're saying nationally it shouldn't be one size fits all and the states -- grant us this if you can -- in the states where cases are rising, positivity rates is up, should there be statewide then measures, simple ones like wear a mask, which the doctors say will save lives?

LOTTER: Not necessarily because even within those states and you saw in the maps that were being shown today by Dr. Fauci, by Dr. Birx, even the response rates, the positivity rates are differing in various parts of each of these states.

Southern Florida is very different than maybe what's going on in the Panhandle or rural parts of Texas are much different than what's going on in Houston.

So that's why we leave it to the states, to the governors and the mayors, the local executives to make the decisions that are right for their state.

SCIUTTO: It's about lives. Mark, it's about lives. The latest model from the University of Washington says that 33,000 lives in this country -- 33,000 Americans -- their lives could be saved by October if 95 percent of people in America wore masks. If that was a national habit.

What do you say to that data? Is it not worth - is that simple step of wearing a mask not worth saving those lives?

LOTTER: It's a projection and it's an estimate. And I also remember the estimates being that we were going to have 1.5 to 2.2 million people die if we didn't do the initial 45 days to slow the spread. So we've already taken significant steps.

SCIUTTO: The President said two months ago the deaths were going to disappear, since then 125,000 people died. Who got the model wrong?

LOTTER: Well, right now, because what they were saying is that it was going to be 100,000 to 250,000 if we didn't slow the spread, and right now --

SCIUTTO: The President said zero. The President said zero and 125,000 Americans have died since then. Who got it wrong?

LOTTER: What we're talking about is we are we have slowed the spread, we have cut that rate down from two and a half million down to right now to 126,000.

SCIUTTO: We haven't slowed the spread.

LOTTER: And every single one of those lives is a tragic loss and we've got to work together to keep more.

SCIUTTO: You could say it as often as you want. But the numbers -- the numbers don't back you up, Mark. I mean, the graphics behind their heads as they were speaking today contradicted what the Vice President was saying.

I do want to ask you this, because you and the Vice President have said and you've and I spoke about this earlier in the week that, you know, we don't want to get in the way of people's constitutional rights, when for instance, they go to Trump rallies, for instance.

I just want to ask you a question, so don't require masks inside the rallies. As they drive to the rally, should people wear seatbelts?

LOTTER: That is something that most people do, it's a requirement. It's a law in most states.

SCIUTTO: Should they though? OK.

LOTTER: It's a law. I would say they should follow the laws in their state.

SCIUTTO: What if there was no law, would you tell them forget about the seatbelt?

LOTTER: Well, I remember back in the time when there wasn't a law and it still most people chose to wear seatbelts. A lot of people chose not to. It was a safety --

SCIUTTO: I am just asking you if you would ask people -- what stance taking a basic health measure -- why does that stand in the way of people's ability to practice their constitutional rights? It's a mask. They are not being barred from going to the event or shouting President Trump's name. They're just asked to wear a mask. Well, how does that violate their constitutional rights?

LOTTER: Well, what we're saying is that we're telling -- we're having people that are saying that we shouldn't even be holding rallies. And that's the point that the President and the Vice President and you and I were discussing earlier this week about whether it's appropriate to hold rallies or whether people should be able to get together and to gether to celebrate the First Amendment.

We have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and what I would tell you is that we also don't require people to take flu vaccines. It's something that people make. They have to judge what their own health risk is thus far.

SCIUTTO: We do ask them to take their shoes off before they get on airplanes, you know, and they have a free right to travel, again, for their safety and their fellow Americans' safety.

Mark Lotter, I do appreciate you taking the time and the hard questions tonight.

LOTTER: Good to talk to you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Next, the facts from Dr. Sanjay Gupta and a top disease specialist in Houston about what he is seeing up close there.

And later, can where you get your news make you more susceptible to catching the virus? A specialist on misinformation joins us to talk about really a remarkable study. That's ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:20]

SCIUTTO: This number we just learned, truly alarming, 40,173 new cases of coronavirus reported just moments ago, this according to Johns Hopkins University that makes this the worst single day of the entire pandemic.

Right now, we are also talking about a victory lap that the Vice President did at today's first in two months coronavirus briefing and the reality that he danced around.

Joining us now from Houston, Dr. Peter Hotez. He's Dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. Also CNN chief Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay you know, you know, I've heard you today following that briefing. Really exasperated by what you expected, I think quite reasonably to be a moment for the Vice President, the Taskforce to say, look at these numbers, we've got a problem here. And this is what we're going to do about it. But that's not what they did.

They said, there is no problem. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT` Yes, I mean, that's

what I fully expected, you know, the first press conference after two months, and with the numbers going up, as people have seen, you know, and how much the numbers have gone up even since last press briefing. There wasn't even an acknowledgement of the significance of this problem, let alone a path to go forward.

I mean, look, people look at this graph, that is a problem what we're seeing here. We potentially are going into exponential growth, which means you're going to wake up in the morning one day and all of a sudden say, wait, I can't believe the numbers that I'm seeing now as compared to yesterday or the day before.

What strikes me and I just watched the interview you just did. I mean, it's really striking because I remember a month ago, six weeks ago saying hey, look, New York -- you see what's happening in New York, but Florida is fine. Governor DeSantis at the White House, sort of taking a victory lap, we got through this just fine.

And now you're hearing them say, well Montana is fine or this place is fine. We're not even focusing on the problem. We're pointing to a couple of areas around the country that haven't been hit yet.

[20:20:13]

GUPTA: This is the United States. I think what Dr. Fauci was saying, I know you spent a lot of time talking to him, Jim, is that even New York, any place really in the country is still vulnerable because we haven't had a Federal policy and the places that where the virus is still spreading, could still have a significant increase in cases.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Hotez, you're in one of the places that is experiencing an alarming increase, Houston -- Houston, Texas and you were on this program on Wednesday warning of this being on the verge of being apocalyptic. Tell us what you've learned in the last couple of days and is that the direction it's headed there?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, Jim. You know, I was also on with Sanjay this afternoon and you know, you just pointed out today is the single -- the record for the largest number of cases we've had yet in the U.S. Tomorrow, we're going to break that record. The day after that we're going to break that record. The day after that we're going to break that record. We are going to see a significant, dramatic increase in trajectory.

And the reason it's happening is because six of our largest metropolitan areas spread across the southwestern United States, LA, Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Austin are having this incredible level of acceleration of number of cases. They are in exponential growth.

What that means is, after the recovery, it was flat, and now it's going up vertically. In Houston, we've got, you asked about, we have 1,300 cases -- new cases per day. The models indicate that if we continue along the same trajectory,

within a few weeks, we will be at 4,000 cases per day. And all of those major metropolitan areas that I've just mentioned will be the same.

So we are in the middle of a crisis, and unfortunately, the White House Taskforce new briefings gave the impression that they just can't get their arms around of either the scope or magnitude of the situation, what the plan is going to be in how they'll implement.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, it's clear -- pretty clear we're not going to get national leadership here. Right? It appears at the White House, the President is doubling down on this strategy.

Given that sad fact, what do states and metropolitan areas such as Houston have to do now, I mean, to save lives, right? Because that's what we're talking about here. We are talking about saving lives.

GUPTA: Yes. Jim, I'm not sure that we can avoid having to shut down in some of these places again, and I hate to be the one to say that. I mean, I know it's not anybody wants to hear, but the fact of the matter is that we have to get control of this exponential growth that Dr. Hotez is talking about.

If we don't, it's going to be hard to implement the testing and tracing sort of policies that have worked well in other countries. If you've got 40,000 people who are newly diagnosed every day, how do you contact trace that many people in this country? You can't, and therefore, you're going to have people out there who are then continuing to spread the virus.

The reason you wanted a 14-day downward trend before you started opening up was that you could get it to a manageable level before you could start implementing these other strategies.

Obviously masks and physical distancing, things that people have been hearing about for months now that has to be done. I mean, we're trying to put water on a fire here, you know, and we're not sure that we can extinguish this fire the way things are.

So we've got to throw everything we can at it or it's going to become uncontainable.

So yes, look, if it's not the policies, if it's not coming from, you know, our leaders, I think the people have to rise up here and do the right thing.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes, it is on us in effect. Dr. Hotez, in Texas, Governor Abbott making a 180 to some degree. He has paused any further phases to reopen Texas. He is urging people to stay-at-home, but he did say the other day quote, "Closing down Texas, again will always be the last option," and of course, no statewide requirement to wear a mask, no statewide stay-at-home order.

From a public health perspective, set aside the politics for a moment here, is that enough to stop the exponential growth? HOTEZ: Well, we don't know. We've never been in this situation before.

Remember, this is probably the first time in the United States where we've implemented social distancing and a shutdown. We opened it up and now we're starting to put pieces back together again. We've never seen how that actually turns out with this virus. So it's a very unusual situation.

But the Governor, I don't know if he has done a 180, but maybe he's done a 95-degree. He is definitely -- we're in a better position now than we were a few days ago, at least in the metro areas. We've got people wearing masks now. We've got -- the bars are closed. We've got some advocacy coming out of the county judge and the mayor with a red alert that's not enforceable, but at least we can provide the advocacy.

[20:25:22]

HOTEZ: So it's better, but I don't know how much this will really slow this incredibly aggressive rise. It's like trying to stop a train coming down the tracks.

SCIUTTO: Good enough to be this way. Dr. Hotez, Sanjay Gupta, thanks to both of you.

GUPTA: You've got it.

HOTEZ: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Now Florida, which is also seeing a big spike in cases, nearly 9,000 new cases in just one day. We'd like to ask the Governor about it. But that is almost impossible.

Our Randi Kaye, who is in Florida, has been trying to figure out why.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Jim, I tried to catch up with the Governor today. I wanted to ask him about his future plans, I wanted to ask him about whether or not he thinks the State of Florida reopened too soon.

But by the time his office alerted his schedule for today, it was 6:27 p.m. That's when I got the e-mail about his schedule for today, not tomorrow. But today and by that time, about all of his events and scheduled for the day was over.

In fact, his last event had been 90 minutes before that e-mail even went out. And that's how it goes. This Governor seems to just not want to be caught up with. He does not want to answer questions about why he is not mandating masks in this state or about the spike in numbers.

And it's not just me who is getting these very late alerts on his schedule. It's many of my CNN colleagues who I spoke with are finding the same thing as well.

And we also talked, Jim, with a couple of our affiliates here, one in Tampa one in Miami, they also get the schedule alert at the end of the day. So let me show you exactly what I'm talking about here. We have one e-mail here that I received from the Governor's Office at

6:38 p.m. telling me what his schedule was for again, that day, not the next day. And his last event that day was at 4:30. So that's more than two hours after his last event is when his schedule is being alerted via e-mail.

Another example 7:59 p.m. is when I got this e-mail long after the Governor's day and events had ended. And one more, Jim. I got this alert for his schedule at 8:22 p.m. for that day that was more than an hour after his last event of the day.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, it was only a month ago here in Washington, he was happily crowing about how well Florida has done, now apparently, he doesn't want to talk.

Randi Kaye in Florida. Thanks very much.

KAYE: Sure.

SCIUTTO: Next, we're going to tell you about a study on -- and it's a remarkable one on the connection between watching conservative media which has played down this virus and believing things about it that frankly, could get people killed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:32:17]

SCIUTTO: Our breaking news tonight, the U.S. has once again set a single day high for most coronavirus cases. That should come as little surprise to many, it has been heading that way all week. It might go to the viewers on Fox News be something different. In fact, earlier in the program, you saw the President in his happy place on Fox News last night where he did not mention these massive spikes in COVID cases, only how well he is doing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Now when you do test, you have cases. But what they don't say is there are fewer deaths and they have been way, way down. And our mortality rate is among the best countries in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So keeping them honest, that's just not true. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, per capita, the U.S. has the ninth highest mortality rate in the world. Again, you wouldn't necessarily know that watching last night. And a new study suggests that people who watch conservative BD are also more likely to believe, conspiracy theories about the seriousness of the disease being exaggerated or that it was spawned as a weapon in China, we should note, the study only shows correlation, not causation.

Joining me now is the co-editor of that report, Joan Donovan, co- editor of the Misinformation Review at the Harvard Kennedy School. Joan good to have you on tonight, because these numbers are fascinating. So first, let's start with the big picture here. How much does a person's choice of where they get their news affect their broad understanding of COVID-19?

JOAN DONOVAN, CO-EDITOR, MISINFORMATION REVIEW HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Yes, so I've just wanted to say thanks for having me. And the study that we're discussing was produced out of the University of Pennsylvania and it's available on the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review website. But you're right to say that if someone is consuming a bunch of homogenous media are getting there or failing to access a diversity of sources, then they do tend to end up in what we call an echo chamber. And in that echo chamber, there can be polarizing politics as well as bias in the media.

And so, recent studies that have come out related to media bias are showing that people who are tuning into Fox News are getting a different story entirely about the risks posed by COVID-19.

SCIUTTO: OK, let's talk about something specific mask wearing, how that has become political. What does the research show about how Fox News and others contribute to the polarization over wearing masks? How they report the need for that and the effect of that?

DONOVAN: When it comes down to it, the way in which news is created has a lot to do with the leadership and the political leadership right now is not wearing masks in public not advocating that people wear masks. So that when you do watch a program and you are, you know, tuning in and Trump is saying oh a mask, I'm not going to wear that. It does tend to have what we call media effects or trickle down effects where it really isn't necessarily just about the mask. It's really about people's perception of risk, and they perceive risk differently based on the information that they get.

[20:35:29]

SCIUTTO: OK, another issue course the President has repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine, anti-malarial drug which since then has been shown to not have a positive effect in terms of treatment. Did you see people changing their behaviors, is that as they heard from the President and others touting this?

DONOVAN: Yes, I wrote an article about this for Nature. And when I was looking into the problem of early signs of different treatments, hydroxychloroquine was on the list, but it was actually not the leading drug that doctors and physicians and researchers were looking at. So it was surprising to see the first coverage of it on Fox News, as this positive, really blowing it way out of proportion, the ability for this drug to act proactively as a protective agent.

And as a result, people did start changing their behaviors. We saw immediately a spike in searches for hydroxychloroquine and as a result, someone did actually pass away by ingesting chemicals that had it in the list of ingredients. And I'll make one other point, which is that pharmacists and doctors started to become alarmed at the rate by which people were prescribing and hoarding this drug and it really affected the medical supply for people with lupus and other diseases that require this medicine.

SCIUTTO: Yes, there's a big national stockpile of it, but not a lot of use for COVID at this point.

Joan Donovan, fascinating research. Thanks very much.

DONOVAN: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Up ahead, a closer look at social justice reform since the police killing of George Floyd. His family's attorney Ben Crump, he will join us to talk about the protests, what may come to them, and also the prosecution of the officers involved.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:41:01]

SCIUTTO: It has been one month and a day if you can believe it since George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. The city council there today voted to begin the process of replacing its police department. Floyd's death has spurred nationwide action on social justice and racism. Protests still ongoing, not only demanding police reform but toppling and removing statues that memorialize the Confederacy. How far will this all go? Still up for debate as evidenced by the partisan standoff continuing in Congress over passing some sort of police form legislation.

Joining me now to talk about where we stand and all this, George Floyd's lawyer, the family lawyer, Ben Crump. Mr. Crump, good to speak to you again this evening.

BEN CRUMP, FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: Good to speak to you Jim.

SCIUTTO: First things first, if I can, of course spend a month in a day. How's his family doing right now?

CRUMP: You know, as his family often says, they're trying to get through it. It's very difficult because they can't see that video. None of us can.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the country cannot. I'm curious, of course the legal process moving along serious charges including murder, felony murder here. Are you confident that the officers will be convicted of those crimes?

CRUMP: The family and I are very confident of Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has a storied history as championing civil rights in these types of matters. And he also has talked with the family and told them there's ongoing investigation. And if they discover other evidence, he is very much amenable to upgrading the charges.

SCIUTTO: OK, we will watch that closely. You mentioned the trial now set for early next year. I'm sure you've been watching the events here in Washington closely. The house just passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, but mostly along party lines does not appear and I've spoken to senators of both parties to be much overlap here or hope that they come to agreement. I wonder what your reaction is to see that happen here on Capitol Hill.

CRUMP: Where the family was very relieved that the House passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Accountability Act, which really speaks to the systematic reform on that we desperately need to avoid other black people being unnecessarily and then justifiably killed.

Now, this partisan politics is worrisome, because we do believe this is the time Jim, if ever, we're going to have systematic reform in policing to change the culture and the behavior of policing in America. It is now in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and so many others.

SCIUTTO: Do you worry that that moment might pass if they pump this and looks like that's what may happen till after the election that's months away for Congress gets in early next year? Do you worry that the momentum of this moment that the public outrage and outpouring of this moment will be gone?

CRUMP: Well, I think this is different and what I believe all those young people who were marching in the streets, black, white, Hispanic, everybody, multi culture coming together to say, we can't breathe until we get justice for George Floyd, I want to believe that those people will unite and the people who are not trying to do justice, but George Floyd's family and for the country as a whole will be held accountable at election time. So our advice is do something now or you may think by yourself out of a job.

[20:45:15]

SCIUTTO: What's next in the meantime, if the action is not going to happen on Capitol Hill for a number of weeks, months, what needs to be next in your view?

CRUMP: Well, I am encouraged. In the city of Minneapolis, they're trying to do things on the local level. There are several states across the country who have started passing a state legislation, and the name of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, so we can prevent these things from happening in the future. So that's a step in the right direction that things are happening locally. We just have to make sure that they get to the national level, and I believe we can do it, Jim. I really believe people saw that video and they cannot see it. And that's going to motivate them to act.

SCIUTTO: Benjamin Crump, attorney for the George Floyd family. Thanks so much for coming on tonight. Please do pass along our best our thoughts to the family as well.

CRUMP: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: We'll just ahead this hour breaking news from the New York Times about Russian bounties on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, perhaps more shocking. This administration's response or lack of response. Details when we return.

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[20:50:47]

SCIUTTO: Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on "CUOMO PRIMETIME" tonight. Chris, what do you got?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: How you doing Jimmy? So, we're going to take on the politics of what's happening with Texas with a congressman from there, Mike Burgess and, you know, speak truth to power about why things are the way they are, especially in light of what we're hearing from the Vice President. We're also going to take a look at the political implications. Harry Enten, the wizard of odds as I call him on my show, is taking a look at which polls matter and why. And we'll test that a little bit.

And then I want to dive into this McClain case in Colorado about why it's being reopened by the governor. We have a representative from the family to give insight into who Elijah was in the context of whether or not the story police tell makes sense.

And also, I have to tell you watching that interview that you did at the top of the show, on the book that you have coming out in August, about how people feel about the level of rhetoric, and the level of truth and trust in the White House could not come at a better time my brother.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's called the Madman Theory. Listen, it's a consistent response and a consistent description, frankly, from inside this administration, senior administration officials about how this President makes decisions, you know, political interests over national interest. It's disturbing. It's disturbing.

CUOMO: Well I'll tell you --

SCIUTTO: Of course I'm glad you (INAUDIBLE) do.

CUOMO: I'm wowed by your productivity brother, but man, am I happy you work so hard? Because we need to have this book right now.

SCIUTTO: I got a patient wife like you.

CUOMO: Sure we hurried up.

SCIUTTO: All right. Thanks so much, Chris. I'll be watching.

Just ahead, this our new report says that Russia offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. soldiers. The administration's non reaction when 360 returns.

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[20:56:11]

SCIUTTO: We had tonight with an alarming breaking news story from the New York Times about how the Trump administration has not responded in this case to a report from U.S. intelligence that Russian military intelligence units offered Taliban linked militants bounties to kill U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. For more, we're joined by the "Times", Eric Schmidt, who shares the byline. Eric bounties, the President didn't respond.

ERIC SCHMIDT, SENIOR WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That's right, Jim. We've been working on this story for several months. Turns out the U.S. intelligence community has known about these reports of bounties that Russian military intelligence unit an notorious one had provided to Taliban or Taliban linked fighters in Afghanistan to kill U.S., British and other coalition forces. U.S. -- the administration has known about this for months, and yet the most they've done so far according to our reporting is develop options, including possible sanctions against Russia and other things. But for now, the President has been it's been silent on this.

SCIUTTO: And remarkably since learning that he tried to get Russia pack (ph) to the G7, is there any indication we have evidence that these bounties were paid and resulted in the death of any American soldiers?

SCHMIDT: There is evidence that some of the monies have been paid. It's unclear, however, how many of the deaths of any of the 20 or so American deaths last fall last year in Afghanistan may have been attributed to this program. We're still digging into that now.

SCIUTTO: Do we know what options were given to the President to respond to this that he did not take up?

SCHMIDT: Well, again, the options so far is under -- I understand that had been laid out to the President from his advisors are everything from a strong letter of reprimand and condemnation of this, basically urging Moscow to stop an escalatory ladder going up to sanctions, increasing sanctions against Moscow if they don't cease and desist this activity on the ground which is a striking expansion of Russian aggression against American forces, obviously in Afghanistan via this partner the Taliban.

SCIUTTO: And not even a protest. Yes, that's remarkable. I imagine you press White House officials for any explanation as to why even after learning of this, the President continued his outreach to Russia, including the G7 in invitation but also removing US troops in Germany, which benefits Russia.

SCHMIDT: That's right. We started pressing press the administration officials, both at the White House State Department, Defense Department, the intelligence community and got a no comment along all these lines. This has been a very closely held program, understanding that is from these intelligence reports, and the administration obviously is wrestling with how to deal with it, given the President, as you've noted, Jim, and his affinity apparently for President Vladimir Putin.

SCIUTTO: And just to be clear to the White House protest this story, do they have a comment on the story tonight?

SCHMIDT: Not at all. In fact, after we posted this story this afternoon, I went back to the White House and said, do you have anything to say at all? They said, no, we are standing by our no comment for right now. But they did not push that none of the agencies push back on this -- on the information we had in the story.

SCHMIDT: Notable. Eric Schmidt, senior writer of The New York Times, great story, thanks very much.

Well, we mentioned earlier --

SCHMID: Thanks (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTOO: -- I got a book coming out in August called the Madman Theory and I asked several senior Trump administration officials throughout to explain the President's deference to Russia overtime, and the only explanations I can get are one, he does not recognize Russia as a significant threat. And two, he has an affinity for an advert made admiration for the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not particularly comforting. It's out August 11th. Be an honor if you'd have a look at it.

The news continues. So I'm going to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "CUOMO PRIMETIME".