Return to Transcripts main page


President Obama Meets with Police and Community Activists; Baton Rouge Officers Foil Plot Targeting Cops; California AG Harris Discusses Racial Tension In U.S.; Theresa May Becomes Second British Female Prime Minister. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 13, 2016 - 16:30   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back.

Topping our national lead today: Right now, President Obama is behind closed doors with police and members of the community, including some Black Lives Matter activists, for a big meeting after this week of violence and racial tension, this as three of the five murdered police officers were laid to rest in Dallas today.

Sergeant Michael Smith, Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens and Officer Brent Thompson were not only memorialized today as heroes, but also of course as fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers.

Let's bring in CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah, who is standing at Dallas police headquarters.

Kyung, it seems almost as though the entire city of Dallas has become a memorial for these fallen officers.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is certainly what it feels like.

And it feels as if the entire city wished it could be inside those three churches as those funerals were happening today. Three funerals were broadcast on local television stations here. And it seemed as if the entire city was watching as they said farewell to its sons.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Katrina, you were his co-worker. You were his best friend and his dedicated wife.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My heart is broken and I am full of rage. He was taken so senselessly, violently, unjustly. I hear my brother in my head telling me to conquer my fear. And I will do that.

EMILY THOMPSON, WIDOW OF BRENT THOMPSON: Though I'm heartbroken and hurt, I'm going to put on my badge and my uniform and return to the street, along with all of my brothers and sisters in blue.

To the coward that tried to break me and my brothers and sisters, know your hate made us stronger.


LAH: And that sense that will be made stronger being sensed all over the city.

In this memorial, this is a note left by a child that says do not be afraid or discouraged. We're seeing these notes throughout this memorial.

This is a memorial outside of the Dallas Police Department. Notes, flowers, stuffed animals being left behind. A police car that when we first started here, Jake, you can could see, but you can see that it is virtually covered with badges of police departments from across the city. Many of those law enforcement agencies were inside those funerals today -- Jake.

TAPPER: Heartbreaking. Kyung Lah, thank you so much.

Grief and fear are gripping police departments all over the country after those vicious attacks in Dallas. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a statewide manhunt is under way now after an alleged plot to kill police officers was thankfully foiled.

So far, three men have been arrested for breaking into a store to steal firearms with the alleged goal of killing police officers.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent Boris Sanchez, who has been digging into the story.

Boris, the suspects are all young African-American males, including a 13-year-old, 13. Do we know if these are copycats inspired by the domestic terrorist in Dallas?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there is no indication that this was any kind of copycat plan so far.

In fact, the only evidence we have gotten from police that there was any kind of plot at all came from an interrogation of a 17-year-old, Antonio Thomas, who was caught shortly after breaking into the Cash America pawnshop to steal those weapons.

He told investigators they were there to -- quote -- "get bullets" to target police officers during protests, during protests in response to the death of Alton Sterling. It is important to point out that none of those three that are arrested have been charged with any kind of conspiracy or making terrorist threats or anything of the sort

We're still waiting for law enforcement to provide us more evidence to find out just exactly how expansive this plot was. Either way, it comes at a time where, as you said, things are very tense for law enforcement all over the country.


CAMERON STERLING, SON OF ALTON STERLING: Everybody needs to protest in the right way, with peace, no violence.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Alton Sterling's 15-year-old son speaking out for the first time today just steps from where his father was killed by police last week.

STERLING: My father was a good man. That was his sacrifice to show everyone what has been going on in life.

SANCHEZ: His plea for peace comes as Baton Rouge police say they were the target of a violent plot believed to be made in retaliation for Sterling's death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was substantial, credible information that we received.

SANCHEZ: Three African-Americans, including a 13-year-old, were arrested for stealing eight guns from a pawnshop early Saturday morning. Afterwards, police say at least one described their plan.

CARL DABADIE, BATON ROUGE POLICE CHIEF: We learned from that suspect that was taken into custody that the reason the burglary was being done was to harm police officers. Their goal and objective in the burglary was to get bullets.

SANCHEZ: Police have raided a home and arrested another person in connection with the alleged plot.

One other is still missing, along with two guns. All this as police defend their response to recent protests.

SID GAUTREAUX III, EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SHERIFF: I think the threat speaks for itself. We can't take anything for granted anymore.

SANCHEZ: A thousand miles away, new details are emerging about the shooting death of Philando Castile.

DIAMOND REYNOLDS, GIRLFRIEND: Oh, my God. Please don't tell me he's dead.

SANCHEZ: An African-American man killed by a police officer during a traffic stop near Minneapolis one week ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand off it!


SANCHEZ: Castile has told the officer he was carrying a gun before he was shot.

A document provided to CNN by Castile's family shows he was licensed to carry that weapon. And there are conflicting reports about what happened after Castile was shot. REYNOLDS: Nobody checked his pulse, nothing.

SANCHEZ: His fiancee, Diamond Reynolds, who streamed the shooting aftermath live on Facebook, says no one came to Castile's aide as he lay dying. But the police chief tells CNN officers did respond.

RICK MATHWIG, ROSEVILLE POLICE CHIEF: Roseville performed professional caring CPR on Mr. Castile and tried to save his life started three minutes after they arrived.

SANCHEZ: Protesters took to the highways in Minnesota this morning. Crowds linked arms to block the road during rush hour.

Tensions are high, as the country seeks to better protect citizens and police officers alike. One day after memorializing the five police officers killed in Dallas, President Obama met with community leaders, activists, and law enforcement, a discussion about solutions for a nation at a turning point.


SANCHEZ: Now, Jake, an update on that manhunt that you mentioned.

A law enforcement source tells us there is every indication that there is a fourth suspect out there. They're still actively looking for that person. There are still two guns that were taken from the pawnshop that are missing.

We should also tell you this is just one of two credible threats against police officers here in Baton Rouge. Yesterday, officials told us that one of their officers reported having been followed by someone suspicious. We don't have too many details about how that incident specifically unfolded. We're still waiting to hear from law enforcement on that.

But obviously it is credible enough that they're dedicating resources to it, so it is something they're clearly worried about, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Boris Sanchez, a nation on edge. Thank you.

She understands the racial tension in America, but she is not apologizing for her support for the police. The top law enforcement official in the state of California, Kamala Harris, will join us next.

Then, the U.K. has a new prime minister, Theresa May. So, what does that mean for America's relationship with our longest-held ally?

Stay with us.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back. Continuing with our National Lead, President Obama, the nation's first African-American president proclaimed to the nation, quote, "We are not as divided as we seem" during his speech at the Dallas police memorial service yesterday. But it's hard to take his word for it entirely when we see protests continuing to erupt all across the nation. Is the U.S. facing a new era of racial tension and division?

Let's bring in California Attorney General Kamala Harris who is also running for the U.S. Senate. Madame Attorney General, thanks so much for joining us.

KAMALA HARRIS, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Great to be with you, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: So you said what happened in Baton Rouge, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and in Dallas is personal to you for two reasons. I want to play a little tape of what you said the day after the Dallas sniper attack.


HARRIS: I have to tell you, my heart is breaking. As a prosecutor, my heart is breaking, as the top law enforcement officer of the state, and as a black woman.


TAPPER: Very moving and candid moment, what was going through your mind when you made those remarks?

HARRIS: So the occasion was a meeting that had been scheduled for months, convening law enforcement and community groups and professors to initiate a new plan that we have in California to gather everyone around to basically be an advisory board to me on what we need to start collecting racial profiling data.

So the meeting had been scheduled for months and happened to take place within 72 hours of Baton Rouge, and Minnesota, and Dallas, and it was actually the day after Dallas. I didn't expect to be so emotional, but it is an emotional topic for me.

I'm a career prosecutor. I started my career at the Alameda County DA's Office that Earl Warn (ph) once ran. I personally prosecuted everything from low level offenses to homicides. I was the elected district attorney at San Francisco for two terms and I'm now the top law enforcement officer at the state of California.

So the tragedy, the massacre frankly in Dallas, it hit me very hard. And I mean, not nearly as hard as the families of those police officers, but it was difficult for all of us who have worked side by side with police officers.

And know that when they take that oath, they take it seriously and it's an oath to protect other people. Often people they'll never meet and they protect people who for the most part will never know their names.

So I was feeling that emotion and I was feeling the emotion as a black woman knowing the history and experience of, in particular black men in this country. And I was just speaking very candidly that there is not a black men I know and be he is a family member, friend, or colleague, who has not been a subject of racial profiling or an unfair or unreasonable stop.

And so Jake, all of that is to say that I believe very strongly that we're at a moment in our country where people are experiencing an incredible amount of pain. They are the family of all those in the last week who have died and we need to heal.

And I think this is a moment in our country that calls upon all of us as Americans, and all of us as leaders in our own way and our own right to do what we can to help our country heal. And I believe necessary -- yes.

TAPPER: I was just going to say Philando Castile talking about black men being pulled over or experiencing racial profiling, Philando Castille in Minnesota, he had been pulled over at least 52 separate times before he was killed.

[16:50:07]The governor of Minnesota said right after his death that he believes Castille would be alive if he were white. Do you agree with that?

HARRIS: I think that there is no question that he was -- that based on the facts as I know it that he would not be dead. If that police officer perceived him differently. You know, this gets back, Jake, to the occasion for the video that you shared and some of the work we are doing in California that I think is ground breaking and should be a national model.

TAPPER: That's what I want to ask you also, yes, your state of California saw intense racial tensions all over the state following the Rodney King beating and verdict, violent riots in the early 90s. Are there lessons that California learned after that horror that worked that the rest of the nation should learn from?

HARRIS: Absolutely, yes, absolutely. And we are still learning those lessons. We have not reached a moment of perfection yet, but we are striving to do that. And so part of it is that we have implemented community policing protocols throughout the police departments in California.

Most recently through the Department of Justice, we have created the first in the nation training on implicit bias and policing, where we are training law enforcement officers to understand that we all carry bias.

But when you are charged by law with the ability to enforce that law, it is important that you recognize those biases and that you do everything you can to not let them interfere with decisions you make about who you will stop, who you will arrest, and who ultimately maybe shot or prosecuted.

So that is some of the work we have done. Some of the other work we are doing in California is we've created first in the nation open data initiative around the criminal justice data that we collect. I run the California Department of Justice. We have an extraordinarily large amount of information about who was arrested and who was prosecuted. And we have that information that is based on geographical location and also race and gender.

I decided to bust open California's criminal data and for the first ever, we are now sharing with the public, with the press information about who was arrested. We are sharing information about deaths in custody.

We are sharing information about police officers killed in the line of duty. All with the idea that if we're going to heal and if we are going to improve what we are doing in the criminal justice system, we have to be transparent and we have to speak truth.

And we have speak truth and one great way to do that is to share the data. So that we can show that all of those people protesting, they're correct when they are upset because they believe and know that there are racial disparities.

They are actually correct. The data bears that out. If we're going to be better, we have to speak and acknowledge truth and opening up the systems of data that we have in this country around criminal justice, I think it will allow us to do that better.

I frankly think we should be doing that with the United States Department of Justice just like we've done that in California.

TAPPER: As they say sunlight is the best disinfectant. Attorney General Kamala Harris, it's been an honor having you on the show. Good luck on the campaign trail. Hope to see you again soon.

HARRIS: Thank you.

TAPPER: Tonight, make sure you tune in to a special CNN town hall, "Black, White and Blue: America 2016." That's in just a few hours at 10:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, the new British prime minister sounds like Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump promising to make the U.K. work for everyone, not just a privileged few. So who exactly is Theresa May? That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Today's World Lead, that was fast, less than a month after voting to leave the European Union in the so- called Brexit vote, the United Kingdom has a new prime minister.

Theresa May officially became the country's second ever female prime minister after visiting with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace today and after all of her competitors dropped out of the race.

May, of course, replaces David Cameron, who had served as prime minister since 2010. Let's get right to CNN Nic Robertson. He is live in London. Nic, what did May address when she talked about the recent Brexit referendum?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, she's talked about a new climate, a new place where Britain is going to negotiate a better position and better status with the European Union. She talked about wanting to be close, but access to the single market. What she said today was that she wants a better life for Britain's underprivileged and a brave new Britain. This is what she said.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We face a time of great national change and I know because we are Great Britain that we will rise to the challenge. As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.


ROBERTSON: And this is a prime minister now who has friends and allies that when they say something they deliver on it. A tough challenge in this country given the new economic climate here post- Brexit vote. But when she says it, she delivers on it. That is her reputation -- Jake.

TAPPER: Nic, what might this mean, this new government for the U.S.- U.K. relationship?

ROBERTSON: Yes, I think this is going to be continuity. This is going to be what we've seen in the past. She voted to support the invasion of Iraq in 2003. She voted in 2013 for Britain to support the United States in the air strikes over Syria. That vote didn't win. In 2015, she voted for it again.

She will be a strong ally of the United States. I interviewed her five years ago. She was then home secretary, her opposite number, Janet Napolitano, homeland security back then, she told me how important that relationship was and I think that is what we will hear from her going forward -- Jake.

TAPPER: Nic Robertson live for us in London. Thanks so much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper turning you over right now to Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the apprentice, tonight Donald Trump is closing in on choosing --