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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
DOJ Press Conference: Baltimore PD Violated Civil Rights; Trump: Media Misinterpreted Second Amendment Comment. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 10, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00:] KEVIN DAVIS, BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: The answer is quite simple for me. I'm very, very concerned by some of the information contained in this detailed report. I have no tolerance for any person who is privileged enough to wear this uniform if they choose to engage in racist, sexist, discriminatory or biased-based policing.
Without a doubt, we will become a model for the rest of this nation. I formally believe that. We haven't just sat back waiting for DOJ to tell us about our shortcomings. We've worked to enact significant changes and reforms before we arrived here before you today. With our agreement in principles, we've worked out with Justice a detailed road map or a path ahead. I'm looking forward to our partnership and moving forward with the Department of Justice.
And as I've said a number of times this isn't something that we're doing "to" police officers in Baltimore, it's something we're doing "for" police officers in Baltimore.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake has been wholehearted supportive of the changes we have been implementing in the BPD. Without her support, we wouldn't have been able to change so many policies and enact so many initiatives. I can't thank her enough.
I had the opportunity to live through a DOJ consent decree in the first police department that I worked for right here in Maryland. That agency served a population with demographics similar to that of the city of Baltimore. What I know is we came out of that consent decree a better and stronger agency. Two immediate additions that I made to the police department were bringing in two high-ranking members who have had experience working through DOJ investigations and consent decrees, Deputy Commissioner, Jason Johnson, a former commander of investigations and the director Bernie Ham (ph), a former director of public safety, have worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Justice during investigations and consent decrees. And they will help us get better faster.
We also stood up a DOJ compliance team under Chief Kanisha Martin (ph) well before the findings. This is something historically done after the findings. This is another unique thing with Baltimore in this DOJ investigation that Baltimore should be proud of. This will position us better to move forward and to address the concerns that have been noted.
We are serious about making meaningful changes. That can't be lost in the details of this report. We are very, very serious and committed.
Change takes time. Change takes commitment. And change takes trust. We will get there. We will get there together. We will be better. We will prove it to the world, to this city, that it can and will be done in Baltimore. And Baltimore will be the model for this nation. It will be hard, but it will happen. This is the moment to get better. It's undoubtedly a tough moment, but a moment we will be able to reflect upon in the future, and know that this was a turning point for better policing. Not just in Baltimore, but in our United States.
I want to close by echoing something that the mayor says routinely. We are going to do whatever it takes, whatever it takes, to have a police department that our citizens in Baltimore deserve.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: Thank you very much for that.
We're going to open it up for a few questions.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John Berman here, along with Kate Bolduan.
You've been watching a press conference out of Baltimore. The Department of Justice issuing its finding on the civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department. A scathing indictment of police practices other the last several decades, systemic racism essentially they're finding, and disproportionate use of justice in that city.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Unconstitutional stops, searching and arrests, they say, kind of, for years at the department.
Let's get to Jean Casarez, in Baltimore, following this.
Jean, you've been there. You've also followed the case that kind of led to this investigation from the very beginning, the death of Freddie Gray. What are you hearing? What's the big headline for you?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, I think the headline is. I've read the majority of this 163-page report. This press conference we've listened to, very factual, but really giving a positive slant to the future, the hope for the future that the city and Department of Justice will have a court ordered agreement that they must follow with retraining and proper protocols that, in a term of years, that resolution can be found. The report itself, all 163 pages, sometimes shocking and blatant examples of what they say is racism and unconstitutional actions toward the African-American community. That there are two communities in Baltimore, the black Baltimore and the white Baltimore. And after talking to those in the white Baltimore, they say the police officers do a great job, they enjoy them, they respect them. The black community, something very different, that there is trust at all. The stops, the searches, the arrests.
[11:05:19] The report finds, from looking through so much documentation, that they are, much of the time, unconstitutionally based, that when officers are trained in the police academy, they are trained, the report says, based on unconstitutional principles. So in a sense, they're saying, that the police officer really don't have a leg to stand on from the beginning, but then goes on to really say, once they are in action, those unconstitutional principles remain.
I have to cite one example of so many in that report. That a sergeant, an officer, was with the Department of Justice investigator, they were driving, doing a ride-along, and the sergeant told him to get the people off the corner, disperse them. Said, well, I don't have a reason to do that. The sergeant said, "Make one up" -- John?
BERMAN: All right, Jean Casarez, just one of the many stories.
We're joined by a panel of legal analysts.
Danny Cevallos, I want to start with you.
We've heard the stories from Jean Casarez. The statistics in the report stunning. This is from "The New York Times." Baltimore, a city that's 63 percent black. The Justice Department found 91 percent of those arrested for discretionary offenses, like failure to obey, were African-American. Blacks make up 60 percent of Baltimore's drivers but account for 82 percent of traffic stops. Of the 410 pedestrian stops, at least 10 times in the five and a half years of data reviewed, 95 percent were black.
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And that's one of the findings of the DOJ. Because of Baltimore's policing practices, their training, that resulted in a disparity. When you compare the rates of arrest against the population of African-Americans in the community, there's a disparity. And that alone is a form of discrimination, in so many words by the DOJ. It really goes back according to the report to the late or mid-1990s when they adopted a zero-tolerance policy, which led to a lot of stops, a lot of investigatory detentions searches, seizures, frisks. According to the DOJ, the modern view is more community oriented policing. This is also pro-active policing but it involves a different approach, one the DOJ says is the better way.
BOLDUAN: They say the way they have been doing this proactive policing not the way.
Let's bring in Laura Coates, our CNN legal analyst.
Laura, one example that stuck out to me, one man was stopped more than 30 times in four years, resulting in no citations with any of those stops. Is anyone held accountable? What happens from here?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Apparently, in Baltimore, you've got the problem of racial profiling as pervasive and the Fourth Amendment and its protections are nonexistent. What the DOJ is trying to do is to say, look, we know there's a problem, the community has told us there's been a problem for cades, now we actually have concrete proof, we're going to go to court and get a consent decree that says you have to make financial changes and training changes to ensure your police department adheres to this very old concept of the fourth amendment. And, you know, one of the things Danny was talking about was spot on. And, John, you mentioned it as well. Look, not only are these discretionary offenses where officers can say you failed to obey, you trespassed, whatever, the police department had templates to charge them. They had pre-populated fields that said "black male." It's profiling at its finest. It's shocking to know that in a city like Baltimore, with over 400,000 black residents alone, have had to endure this level of profiling in an open environment.
BERMAN: I want to bring in CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.
Tom, you've been a police officer. No department -- no office anywhere likes to be told what they've been doing for decades is not just wrong but unconstitutional. However, there was a positive spin on this event, Baltimore welcoming this report as a way to move forward.
How do you think this will be perceived inside the police department?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think the police department, in a lot of ways, might fell scapegoated that there are so many systemic problems in Baltimore that need to be addressed and it always comes down to the police. Miss Gupta cited lack of education, lack of employment opportunities, other problems in the minority community. That's not the police's position to fix that. Until that gets fixed, they're still going to be having a tremendous challenge on the street trying to help or deal with the people in that community. When they cite the statistics of so many more blacks than whites are arrested or there's a black Baltimore and a white Baltimore, does that start with are there black schools and white schools that are vastly different? Are their black services and white services in the communities of Baltimore that are vastly different? So that is way beyond just correcting problems within the police department.
Not that you shouldn't correct them, it has to be done. I'm just saying this is part of a huge problem of lack of resources, lack of attention to a community, and it's surprising given that you have a black mayor, you have many black city council members. Where have they been all these years? They must be aware this is systemic in their communities. Now to have the Department of Justice come in from Washington and slap them upside the head and say, fix this, you have to do something about this, you've ignored it for too long.
[11:10:50] BOLDUAN: Now it's definitely right on their lap right now to fix it.
Let's go right now to Billy Murphy, the attorney for Freddie Gray's family.
Billy, this investigation by DOJ came in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death, the investigation, the riots that happened on the streets of Baltimore in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death. What does this mean for Freddie Gray's family? BILLY MURPHY, ATTORNEY FOR FREDDIE GRAY FAMILY: Well, they're not
shocked. They've had to live through this. What is shocking is how ineffective black leadership has been in addressing the problem or even communicating the gravity of the problem over so many years. One mayor after another mayor has been woefully accommodating to a white community that has a different experience with the police and who we hope will be shocked into a new reality about what needs to be done. This is a genuine emergency in the black community. It isn't something we can cure by incremental steps. All of the officers who participated in these mass arrests can be systemically and statistically identified so they can be removed from this force. What is truly shocking, I say this again, because it can't be said too much, is how many officers are on the police force have participated in these systemic violations of the rights of the African-American community. That can no longer be tolerated.
Now, going forward, we're going to have an easier time if we implement police cameras properly. That means there have to be severe penalties for turning the cameras on after stuff that is critical has already started. And have to be severe penalties for turning them off prematurely and keeping them off. Officers have to be suspended for doing that. They have to be removed for doing that. If we're going to keep this from being a joke about wringing our hands aver the problem and not rolling up our sleeves and getting rid of these problem officers. There are so many of them.
And what goes along with this is massive police perjury. In order to sustain these arrests, the officers have to lie about the grounds for that in order to sustain these searches. They also have to lie to sustain them. And look at that one example that was given. So
So we have a real problem that can't be treated just by counseling and changing the culture. No, these guys who are a part of this culture have to go.
MURPHY: And the quicker we get them gone, the quicker we can reform the police department.
BOLDUAN: And the commissioner in Baltimore saying this is no doubt a tough moment. This is a moment, though, to get better. We'll see if that -- what changes happen, how quickly it happens and how the trust within the community is regained.
Billy Murphy, thank you so much.
Let's turn now to the question dominating political headlines today. Did Donald Trump make a joke about assassinating Hillary Clinton or was he just calling on Second Amendment voters to get out the vote for him to help stop Hillary Clinton. Trump in his own words, coming up.
Plus, new questionings after a new batch of e-mails from Hillary Clinton's State Department come out, including a request for a job referral and a favor for a billionaire donor. So were lines crossed between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton State Department? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[11:18:14] BOLDUAN: Today is a day full of buttons and questions. Did Donald Trump hit the reset button on his campaign? Are Republicans hitting the panic button on his campaign? And did he crack a joke about assassinating Hillary Clinton or was he just calling on Second Amendment supporters to get out the vote? And how many more controversies will we be discussing in the race?
Here is his comment in question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick --
TRUMP: If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you could do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, Donald Trump is set to speak in just a few hours. Will he revise or extent these remarks?
CNN's Jason Carroll in Virginia for the event.
Jason, what can you tell us?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of questions there from both you and Kate, John. Here we go again. Once again, Donald Trump has made another controversy comment, another off-color comment some would say, and once again you've got a number people out here now trying to defend, trying to explain, what Donald Trump said. So as you can imagine the Clinton campaign very quick to move on this. Clinton campaign manager weighing in on the controversy saying, quote, "This is simple. What Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."
Trump, for his part, going on the defense, talking about this last night, giving more of an explanation in terms of what he says he meant and how he says it was perceived.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:20:00] TRUMP: Nobody in that room thought anything other than what you just said. This is a political movement. There's a tremendous power behind the Second Amendment. It's a political power. And there are few things so powerful. I have to say, in terms of politics, there's few things. I happen to think if they actually did even bring this up, I think it's a good thing for me because it's going to tell people more about me with respect to the Second Amendment. Because Hillary Clinton wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Now, despite where folks stand on this issue, a number of Trump's die-hard supporters say they still support him. They like the fact he doesn't stick to a script, that he goes off script. Clearly, at this point, a number of people within the GOP would prefer he stick to the script.
BOLDUAN: I'd say so.
Jason Carroll, great to see you. Thanks, Jason.
BERMAN: I want to go live to Washington now and bring in CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, we heard from Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director. He had deep concerns over what Trump said. You have been talking to security officials also deeply concerned.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, when you speak to people in a security space, I can say this, they're taking these comments seriously. Even accepting the possibility that they're open for interpretation. But the people who work in this space, they're not dismissing this as just another political gaffe.
Let's take the statement from the U.S. Secret Service yesterday. I mean, the simplicity of statements. They said simply, their spokesperson, that, "The U.S. Secret Service is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon." Secret Service is famously apolitical. That's their job. They're protecting both candidates. Of course, they're aware because they're protecting Donald Trump and were in the room. They don't have to say anything. One of the reasons they put out the statement is to say that they took note of those comments.
Beyond that, I've spoken to former Secret Service agents, current Secret Service agents, they're not going to go on the record in public. But saying, listen, if you or I or another member of the public made this comment they would at least be subject to an interview, because Secret Service takes comments like this seriously. They sit down and say, listen, please explain your comment. We know if a member of the public went in that same space, they would, at a minimum, be talked to.
That gets to just how seriously they view these kinds of things. Because, listen, you're a public figure, those comments, they're out there. And even if it's a matter of interpretation, the danger of that some people might interpret that as an invitation, and that is the concern that I hear consistently from people in this space.
BOLDUAN: The big window that it's left open for interpretation with the comments like that.
Jim, it's great to see you. Thank you so much.
Let's continue the discussion. Bill Press is with us, CNN political commentator, the author of "Buyer's Remorse, How Obama Let Progressives Down." Alice Stewart is here, CNN political commentator and former communications director for Ted Cruz; and Carl Higby, Donald Trump supporter and a NAVY Seal; and Jonathan Wackrow, former Secret Service agent, and also the executive director of Rain.
Guys, great to have you here.
Alice, General Michael Hayden, John just mentioned him, he said in an interview with CNN, he said this, "You're not just responsible for what you say but what people hear." Do you agree with that?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Any presidential candidate should know certainly at this stage of the game words matter. He knows what he said. That's something just when we thought we'd have a little more measured campaign, here we have another aisle two clean-up. He needs to be a lot more careful. I understand now what he meant. He understands he may have been off- the-cuff on this. But the fact of --
BOLDUAN: What's your understanding?
STEWART: His understanding based on what the campaign is now saying is this was a way to engage Second Amendment supporters as a rationale people, as they would say, would see this as a call to action by Second Amendment supporters. However, there are irrational people listening that see this as a call to arms and they may take action. After a series of mishaps on the part of Donald Trump, he needs to apologize if need be, but clarify it a little more distinctly. There's things to talk about with Hillary Clinton, gun control, when she's under Secret Service protection. There are things we can hit on. This is something that needs to be avoided.
BERMAN: Bill Press, Thomas Friedman, of "The New York Times" wrote an op-ed essentially saying this is how Rabin was killed in Israel, they created an atmosphere where bad things happened. Do you think it's gone that far, Bill?
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Let me disagree with the idea that Donald Trump was trying to encourage Second Amendment voters to vote. Listen to his words, word for word. He was talking about what happens after Hillary Clinton was elected. That's when he said Second Amendment people should take action, implied either against her or against her judges.
Alice was right. Words have consequences. Violent words have violence consequences. I don't believe Trump was inciting people to violence, but there are some unhinged people out there who are going to hear that and see that as an invitation to pick up their gun and take action because they believe the government or the politicians are not doing their job. This is dangerous stuff. It is way over the line.
And one other thing. I go to the White House almost every day for the briefings. If I made jokes like that walking into the northwest gate of the White House, I'd be in the back of a van with handcuffs on being drilled by Secret Service agents. And so should Donald Trump.
[11:26:06] BOLDUAN: We'll get the take of a Secret Service agent in one second.
But, Carl, your take?
CARL HIGBY, FORMER NAVY SEAL & DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: If words matter, when Hillary Clinton alluded to the potential assassination against Barack against him. Why don't we talk about Joe Biden before he was vice president alluded to that nobody could come and take his guns and if they did they'll have to meet him. These are things that -- there's historical precedence for this. They've never apologized. So it's OK for the rhetoric on their side. But Donald Trump doesn't allude to violence, doesn't allude to assassination, doesn't allude to anything except mobilizing the 100 million-person movement of the Second Amendment people to get engaged in this election. There's no mention of violence. And I think if it went to a court of law --
PRESS: He's talking about after the election, please.
BERMAN: Hold on.
In 2008, when Hillary Clinton made that statement about, you know, RFK was assassinated, the press went after her hard. It was just a response like this. And she ended up apologizing.
HIGBY: She did apologize.
BERMAN: She apologized to the Kennedy family after that. So she had words about it afterwards. Donald Trump hasn't done that at all. You can say he should or shouldn't. I'm just telling you the facts here.
Jonathan Wackrow, former Secret Service agent here, we want your take because now you've heard a lot of people say if a regular person said this, the Secret Service would be talking to them.
JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Carl, you're absolutely right. Those statements were made in the past. But this is a potential threat in current time. We have to address this and we have to look at his statements and understand really what was the intent of his statements and how are his statements going to be interpreted by, you know, his followers. Are they going to interpret it to, you know, a call to arms or are they going to really understand what he's now clarifying as a statement around, you know, the Second Amendment in support of the Second Amendment? I think Donald Trump really has an opportunity here to look presidential. I mean, to your point, get ahead of this. Come out truly explain. Not through your campaign, not through surrogates but Mr. Trump, come out and explain what you meant because this is gaining momentum. He has an opportunity to come out and stop this rhetoric and stop any interpretation of what he meant --
BOLDUAN: But, Jonathan, what happened in the -- what's the conversation? Give us a little window in here. What's the conversation within the Secret Service? Do they need to question him when they come out and the statement is we're aware of the statements he made, what does that mean?
WACKROW: What it means is that, you know, Joe Clancy, the director of the Secret Service, you know, heard those statements and he has a problem that's now sitting on his desk. He has one candidate, potentially, you know, having threatening language towards another protectee of the Secret Service --
BERMAN: He's clarified --
BOLDUAN: He said it's a movement. No one in that room -- let me ask this. Donald Trump last night said no one in this room thought anything but political. As a former Secret Service agent, do you take those words as potentially dangerous?
WACKROW: I do. They have to be -- they have to be run out. We have to --
BOLDUAN: Doesn't that matter, Carl, when a Secret Service agent who's tasked --
WACKROW: The words have consequences --
HIGBY: Do you take the words as the threat or the potential interpretation of a crazy person as a threat?
WACKROW: I'll take the totality of the circumstances as a threat. I'll take the entire thing and I will run through a process.
HIGBY: You know, what about his clarification he's passed the last few days?
WACKROW: The last?
HIGBY: The last few hours, I'm sorry?
WACKROW: You know, the question was at the time that this was evolving, at the time when the Secret Service made that statement, you know, he now has the ability to come out and clarify it. We're sitting here today at 11:00. This is more than 14 hours later. Still debating this. HIGBY: Right.
WACKROW: The issue's not done. It's not going away. Donald Trump as the presidential candidate for the Republican Party has to end it. He has to clarify that statement and move on.
To his point, he can jump on and continue on. Hey, makes me look good with the Second Amendment followers, get that.
STEWART: I say, clearly, the campaign, they're frustrated with the continued media coverage of this. As a communications person, I would recommend certainly have him be the one to come out and put an end to this. I'd have his team and his surrogates come out there and talk about it.