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U.S. To Retaliate Against Iran With New Sanctions Tomorrow; Trump On Border: We're Doing "Fantastic Job" Under Circumstances; Bolton: Do Not Mistake America's "Discretion For Weakness"; Iranian FM: Bolton Part Of Trump's "B-Team" Pushing For War; Secretary Pompeo Head To Saudi Arabia And UAE Amidst Iran Crisis; Candidates Forced To Address Racial Issues On Campaign Trail; Buttigieg Holds Town Hall After Police Shooting. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 23, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump initially ordered the retaliation strike, but then called it off just minutes before it was set to happen. Here's how he is characterizing the United States response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the response should be -- well, first of all, as you know, we've done very massive sanctions. We're increasing the sanctions now. But the response is always going to be very strong. I built up a lot of capital.
I've had a lot of people that aren't Trump fan saying I can't believe. You know, a lot of them said we're going to be in World War III the first week. It didn't work out that way. We're doing great in North Korea. We're doing great in a lot of different places. We knocked out the caliphate in Syria. We knocked out 100 percent. Remember, I was going to leave it?
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: It's not 100 percent. Not everybody says it's 100 percent even --
TRUMP: No, no, no, the caliphate.
TRUMP: No, the caliphate, which is the land.
TODD: The land.
TRUMP: The area --
TODD: Fair enough.
TRUMP: -- is 100 percent. You never knock these people out.
TODD: No, you won't. TRUMP: These people are stone cold crazy and they'll walk into a store and they'll be wired up for bombs and they'll blow. It's a horrible thing. So I never say that. I don't want to do what other presidents have done or other people have done saying we won because you don't win so conclusively. I would love to have the day where we can win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The President also talked about the southern border and facilities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But I ended separation. I inherited separation from President Obama. President Obama built -- they call them jail cells. They were built by the Obama.
TODD: Let's talk about what's happening now?
TRUMP: I'm just telling you --
TODD: Your administration -- you're not doing the recreation. You're not even schooling these kids anymore. You've gotten rid of all of that stuff.
TRUMP: We were doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. The Democrats aren't even approving giving us money. Where is the money? You know what, the Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez is at the White House of us. So, Boris, the President placing lots of blame, but not necessarily giving any new details on what this administration's approach will be to Iran or even the U.S. southern border.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. President Trump making a rare appearance on one of the Sunday morning talk shows. As you said, he suggested that new sanctions on Iran would be coming tomorrow. He suggested that some of them would be enacted slowly. Some of them would be put in place very rapidly.
The President bragged about how Iran's economy is deteriorated under U.S. sanctions. He says he believes that has made them ready to negotiate and he says he is ready to talk. The big question ultimately is what the administration hopes to accomplish.
The President and others in the administration have laid out effectively that they want a new nuclear deal that it narrow rise (ph) more effectively deters Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The Vice President Mike Pence was asked about that on "State of the Union" earlier today by Jake Tapper. Listen to his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President's message to Iran is very clear that we are not going to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and we're not going to standby while Iran continues to saw malign influence across the region. That's why tomorrow the President will announce additional sanctions against Iran.
The President has made it clear that we are not going to tolerate any threats against American forces, American interests, America's allies in the region and we'll never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: As for the southern border, Fred, as you know, late yesterday the President essentially said that he would be delaying a decision to move forward with ICE raids on some 2,000 undocumented immigrants in 10 cities across the country.
The President effectively giving Congress an additional two weeks to try to negotiate some sort of deal on immigration, something that for the duration of his presidency they have not been able to do.
There's no sign that a breakthrough is eminent, but we know officials in the administration were hesitant about carrying out these raids because they believe they could hurt the ongoing negotiations, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And I understand that -- reportedly that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually issued a phone call to the President on Friday urging him not to carry out the raids. And so now we know from the President that at least he's going to it for two weeks, but then still unclear how it would be executed and if indeed, you know, Democrats or Republicans on the Hill can do anything to circumvent things. All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
All right, National Security Adviser John Bolton issuing a strong warning to Iran today just days after the President called off that retaliatory strike on Iran for shooting down that military drone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness. No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East. As President Trump said on Friday, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Bolton speaking there from Jerusalem during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said military options against Iran remain on the table.
[15:05:03] A top Iranian quickly firing back calling Bolton part of Trump's B-team that is pushing the President towards war. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now on his way to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the growing crisis. For more on that, let's bring in now CNN's Sam Kiley in Abu Dhabi. So, Sam, how concerning is this crisis between the U.S. and Iran for allies in the region?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's very worrying indeed. Just today, Anwar Gargash, the foreign minister here of the United Arab Emirates, issued another tweet calling for caution, prudence, wisdom, and above all for local partners of the Americans to be part of this discussion over Iran.
And that's precisely what we're anticipating will be undergoing tomorrow when Mike Pompeo comes on a (INAUDDIBLE) stop through the Middle East first to Saudi Arabia and then he's coming on to the Emirates here and then going on to India, all of which will be top of the agenda, of course, will be the U.S./Iranian relations.
But up until now there's been lock step, really, between the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, United States and indeed Israel in seeing the JCPOA, the original deal that the Americans walked away from last year. Donald Trump walked out of that deal to suspend Iraq's nuclear program imposing further sanctions.
They have been supportive of that because they are very worried indeed about a nuclear Iran. But they're also worried about Iran's capability to saw discord and chaos here in the Middle East through the middle issues that influenced -- heavily influenced in Iraq, in Syria and in the Yemen.
And it is the Emiratis, of course, that look straight across what they would call the Arabian Gulf, the Iranian School of Persian Gulf onto Iranian territory. So they're vulnerable not just to economic results of any kind of increase, any kind of violent conflict, but also of course directly physically vulnerable.
So they, I think, will be sending a message to Mike Pompeo that there really has to be some kind of diplomatic route out of this. I think the Iranians, too, will be quite pleased to hear that there's no preconditions to talks with the Americans but, of course, their preconditions are, Fred, that they want to see a lifting of the American sanctions and to return to the deal that the Americans have torn up, but that the European, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China have not. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Sam Kiley, thank you so much.
All right, Vali Nasr is a Middle East scholar and a foreign policy adviser as well as the dean for the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and joining me right now. All right, good to see you, Vali.
VALI NASR, MIDDLE EAST SCHOLAR AND FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: So, if the U.S. strategy is to provoke Iran to go back to the negotiating table by imposing more sanctions, do you see that as ultimately leading to the U.S. and Iran talking? NASR: Not easily. I think Iran has been escalating in order to get the United States to release some pressure and it's made release of pressure as a precondition for going to talks. But I think President Trump has put himself in a bind. It's become public that he almost ordered strikes then he back track and now he's trying to do certain things with Iran which would be face savings.
I think the Iranians may construe that he needs to do something, a cyber attack, against Iran, adding more sanctions so that he doesn't look weak. But he doesn't help the Iranians come to the table.
WHITFIELD: And the President did call off these military strikes. He still says, however, that military options remain on the table, but say he's much rather talk. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm not looking for war and if there is, it will be obliteration like you've never seen before. But I'm not looking to do that, but you can't have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk good, otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years.
TODD: No preconditions?
TRUMP: Not as far as I'm concerned. No preconditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Iran, what is the incentive for Iran to have negotiations with this administration when this administration either didn't believe or didn't want to acknowledge that Iran was compliant for a year, and this administration walked away from that nuclear deal?
NASR: Well, you know, Iranians have been surprised by how effective the sanctions has been on them and the fact that Europe, China and Russia were not able to push back or not willing to stand in the way of the U.S. as it scuttles the deal and it puts pressure on Iran.
So Iranians ultimately cannot live under these draconian sanctions forever. So either they have to fight their way out, which is not really realistic, even though they're escalating, they don't want to go to war. So alternatively, how are they going to get the sanctions lifted or eased, and that has to come through negotiations.
[15:10:03] That doesn't mean that we're going to get to a, you know, perfect deal with Iran on the nuclear issue anytime soon, but at least engagement in a diplomatic conversation could provide a way for Iran to at least get some more sanctions relief.
WHITFIELD: So there would likely have to be a third party, another country, involved. It wouldn't necessarily just be, you know, bilateral U.S. and Iran. Oman has been -- has played that role before. Do you see Oman playing that role again or someone else, some other country? NASR: Well, there are countries that are just basically messengers, Switzerland or Oman. More recently, the prime of minister of Japan were carrying messages back and forth. But there is room for another country to essentially become part of the negotiation. For instance, the European Union, China and Russia, and that's necessary because I think President Trump lacks credibility with Iran.
He walked away from the previous deal. He says he wants to talk, but his team, National Security Bolton, Secretary of State Pompeo, people who actually would have to do the nitty-gritty of the negotiations are not diplomats. They're not interested in diplomacy. They want to undermine Trump. They want to go to war. They want regime change.
So the Iranians don't trust getting in a room with the Americans, because when Trump leaves, they have to deal with Bolton and Pompeo. So they would want the Europeans involved so there would be somebody else to guarantee that what they agree to with Trump would actually get implemented.
WHITFIELD: So does Iran feel emboldened at all by calling Bolton and others part of the B-team for the President?
NASR: Well, I think they're signaling the fact that they do understand that Trump wants to talk, but that his team does not want to talk. And I think they're hammering this issue. They're sending Trump a signal that, "OK, we're hearing you. We hear that you want to talk. But here's your team, the one who are in-charge of running your foreign policy on a day to day basis who want war."
So you have to actually deal with this problem and I think the recent escalations have brought this out even further. Even Trump himself is admitting that he's not on the same page with his team, that his team wants war and he didn't want to go there.
WHITFIELD: So the President said that he loves the Iranian people and that he didn't want to see 150 Iranians, you know, who would die from that potential military strike. You immigrated to the U.S. after the 1979 revolution in Iran. How do you think this crisis right now unfolding is playing with the Iranian people?
NASR: I think they're upset. They're worried. They're angry. They're angry at Trump for having scuttled a nuclear deal, put the pressure on them. They're also worried about war. They're also worried about war. They're worried about, you know, that what's happening to their economy and to their livelihoods.
They would want to see some way out of this. They're not willing to, you know, give up on their national interests and they don't like to be bullied into a deal. They're very nationalistic. But I think they would like to see now some kind of a peaceful resolution to this, some kind of a conversation that the last economic pressure could be lifted and the threat of war averted.
WHITFIELD: Do you believe that the Iranian people feel like the President loves the Iranian people just not necessarily the leadership? NASR: You know, that's talk and they're not naive. End of the day, Trump is looking after America's interests and his own interests. And ultimately he's been -- shown perfectly willing to put enormous amount of pressure on them, cause them to lose their jobs, deny them medicine, deny them food, put them under a lot of hardship in order to get what he wants.
So, you know, they're not impressed with crocodile tears, but they do accept the fact that Trump perhaps does not want war and that to them is at least something very positive that they would like to work with.
WHITFIELD: Vali Nasr, thank you so much for your insight. Appreciate it.
NASR: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is off the campaign trail right now, focusing instead on critical matters at home. A special town hall over a controversial police shooting in South Bend is just moments away. We'll take you there live.
[15:18:01] WHITFIELD: All right, now to more on the tensions between the U.S. and Iran. New sanctions against Iran are set to go into effect tomorrow. President Trump says they're in response to Iran shooting down an unmanned multimillion dollar U.S. drone. President Trump initially ordered a retaliation strike but then called it off just minutes before it was set to happen.
With me now to discuss, former Democratic congressman for Illinois, Luis Gutierrez. He is also a CNN Political Commentator. So, good to see you.
LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Well, if -- do you see that these -- more sanctions will bring Iran to the negotiating table with the U.S.?
GUTIERREZ: I hope they do. I think it's the course we should take. If there is one thing that I think we all agree on and that is that Iran should never have nuclear weapons, Democrats, Republicans, those that believe in peace no matter where you live in the world. We all agree on that.
WHITFIELD: Well, that's what the nuke agreement was all about.
GUTIERREZ: Right. And that's what the nuke was all about, right --
WHITFIELD: But the nuke agreement -- right, but the U.S. has walked away from that now.
GUTIERREZ: -- which was broken. But even -- I understand that. But even now, Fredricka, even now in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, everybody agrees on that moving forward. And I would hope going to the issue that you're raising, I would hope that especially our candidates for president of the United States would all be very clear that war is not an option, right, that that is not the first course of action that we should be taking.
WHITFIELD: And the President said he does not want --
GUTIERREZ: Bernie Sanders say it.
WHITFIELD: -- war, but then he also said that if --
GUTIERREZ: Excuse me?
WHITFIELD: The President said he doesn't want war, but then he also said --
WHITFIELD: -- you know, if the U.S. is, you know, provoked then, you know, that country would be obliterated.
WHITFIELD: How does that set the tone or the stage for negotiating?
GUTIERREZ: How does it set the tone? Exactly. How does it set the tone when he says I'm going to obliterate you, I'm going to annihilate you and with North Korea it's fury and fire, right? So that's the rhetoric on the one hand, right, and then the goal -- which is opposite to the goal.
[15:20:04] But let's understand something that this President of the United States once again is unable to speak truth to the American people. Fredricka, come on. Now, how does the President of the United States take an action, right, and order an action, unless he knows the casualties it is likely to cause. And the unintended --
WHITFIELD: So you don't buy that that was an after thought that he'd -- if he'd ask later?
GUTIERREZ: No, I would -- look, I was a member of the intelligence committee for eight years. One of the first things that happens by our intelligence services and our military services is to tell you what the direct casualties will be as a military -- militarily, right, or the unintended casualties. You need to do that. He knows these 10 minutes before and then he put -- no, he's not telling the American people the truth and then he says, oh, well, you know, he has a work also there.
WHITFIELD: So, what do you think the truth is? What do you think the truth is?
GUTIERREZ: Here's what I think the truth is. I think in the end he said I don't want to go to war with Iran. I think in the end he talks a mean Bella Coast (ph) game and I'm happy that he walked away from it. But that doesn't mean that we can't tripwire ourselves into a war when you're giving these confusing messages.
WHITFIELD: OK. So then --
GUTIERREZ: And, again, let's remember, we had a peace agreement. And you don't make peace with your friends. You make it with your enemies. We had a peace agreement. He broke that agreement with Iran.
WHITFIELD: OK. So, perhaps a similar pattern is this ICE raid. The President said, you know, in a matter of days there will be a raid and, you know, everyone who has received notifications about deportation, they are going to be rounded up and taken back, you know, to their respective countries.
And then just yesterday he said, well, it's going to be off. I'll postpone that for about two weeks and he's putting it on the Dems, Democratic leadership to come up with some solutions to potentially avert all of this. What are you interpreting from the President when he says that?
GUTIERREZ: Yes. Well, first of all, I want to say that, again, let's look at the language, "Fire and Fury", annihilation, right? He says his first words were last Sunday millions of people. We will begin the deportation of millions of people.
GUTIERREZ: Number one, the hyperbole of the millions of people. Look, Barack Obama, who was coined deporter-in-chief, 400,000 maximum number of deportation in a year, number one. So there isn't going to be millions, number one.
WHITFIELD: So this President say that's going to happen starting Sunday, which would have been, but then yesterday he said no, two weeks.
GUTIERREZ: Right. He's going to do it. He's going to -- he said last Sunday that it's going to begin today, right? And then the next day he went back to Florida, one of the states in which he called upon the deportation, to announce his candidacy for reelection as President of the United States.
I just want to say a couple of things, Fredricka. Look, I am really happy that he called it out, that he tweeted it out, because it gave an opportunity, for example, in Chicago --
WHITFIELD: That he tweeted out which, that it was going to happen or tweet it out that it's not going to happen?
GUTIERREZ: That it was going to happen, because it gave -- no, that it was going to happen. Let me make, that it was going. I'm happy for both, but I'm happy for the first that it was going, because why? It gave an opportunity for the community to organize itself and then to prepare its defense of itself.
GUTIERREZ: And we saw Americans come together, right, and say, we are going to do whether it was in LA or Chicago or New York and then cities, municipalities, villages, and towns across this country, people came together to defend.
In my city of Chicago, we saw the newly elected Mayor Lightfoot and Congressman Garcia walking around saying, you have civil rights. You have constitutional rights. Here they are. We're going to help to protect you. And that did not been only in Chicago, it happen across country.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Except, the President isn't saying it's off. He's just saying there are two more weeks for something to happen that could change the time.
GUTIERREZ: Sure. And I just want to say the community now has been able to prepare itself because of the President's action.
WHITFIELD: All right.
GUTIERREZ: And number two, just because he called it off doesn't mean as we speak, Fredricka, as you and I speak, there aren't thousands of children suffering in jails, basically in jails incarcerated.
GUTIERREZ: In some even worst condition.
WHITFIELD: It certainly been established with that.
GUTIERREZ: Because, can I tell you something -- can I tell you, what --
GUTIERREZ: There are two reports this week. Congressman Deutch has a report in which there are hundreds of cases of physical and sexual abuse of the children separated from their children. And then we know from the lawyers that they're not even getting to space.
WHITFIELD: And that has not been disputed.
GUTIERREZ: So, look, I say to the --
GUTIERREZ: And, you know, none of this is being disputed, so I say to the immigrant community, prepare yourself but understand that there are still -- there's still a lot of pain and suffering that this administration is submitting the community to.
[15:25:01] WHITFIELD: Former Congressman Luis Gutierrez, thank you so much. We got it all then. We got a lot in there. GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you. Appreciate it.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, Mayor Pete Buttigieg facing top questions in his hometown following a deadly police shooting. He's holding a town hall to address community concerns. We'll take you there live to South Bend.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. It's been a tough week off the campaign trail for Mayor Pete Buttigieg. At any moment now, he'll address the South Bend community just hours after a deadly bar shooting when person was killed and 10 others injured. But the focus of this town hall is actually community attentions after a white police officer fatally shot a black man last week.
The Mayor just tweeting moments ago, "We've got a lot to talk about as a city. I hope community members will join us at Washington High School for the town hall beginning shortly."
CNN's Jason Carroll is in South Bend and CNN Political Reporter Dan Merica is also following the Buttigieg presidential campaign. Let me begin with you, Jason, where folks are beginning to assemble there for the scheduled town hall. And, you know, being preceded by the tweet now from the mayor.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And speaking to some of the folks who have gathered outside here, they've talked about what they want to hear from the mayor. They want more transparency.
[15:30:02] That was first and foremost on the minds of a number of people that I spoke to, transparency about what happened in this most recent incident, and more transparency about what's been going on they say in the past.
When you speak to a number of people here in the community, Fredricka, both black and white, this is a mixed crowd that we're seeing here, both black and white residents, there seems to be a lot of distrust between the community and the department. And we've seen this not just here in South Bend but in other urban centers around the country.
But here, specifically, there have been allegations that this department has used racially insensitive language, that they've used excessive force, and also that this is a department that doesn't accurately reflect the community that it serves. I mean, this is a community that some 40 percent of people of color, but you've got a department that's predominantly white.
And so, one local pastor I think, Fredricka, put it something is up in a way that I think a lot of people here sort of relate to. This local pastor said, Buttigieg, what he's doing is he's straddling two different courses here. You know, running for president but also what he's trying to do is trying to do damage control here in his community. We're going to see how effective he is at damage control when this town hall gets underway in just a few minutes.
WHITFIELD: The same kind of, you know, challenge that any, you know, member of Congress or, you know, Senate might be facing when they decide to run for president as well.
Dan Merica, let me bring you into this. Let's turn to you. You've been following the Buttigieg campaign. And this town hall really could be pivotal, a pivotal moment for him on so many levels.
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. I mean, the Buttigieg rise has been some what lore in Democratic politics over the last few months. He caught some momentum early this year after a launch that frankly largely went unnoticed when he announced to Exploratory Committee he got in the race. He hit some momentum and took off, and really rose in the polls, largely unabated by anything national issue or anything kind of pasturing his campaign that held him back.
This has really been the first that time that there's been a national test to his candidacy, and it's coming in the way of a familiar test that we've seen past mayors who have run for president or run for different offices face. And there's a number of things that I think voters will be looking for not only in South Bend but nationally.
You know, how can he handle a crisis? How does he handle an emotional situation where he both has to chart a path forward, but also say here's how we heal, here's how we soothe this tension?
The issue for Buttigieg is that the police department has been a long festering issue for him, the racial tension especially around the police department has been a long festering issue for him ever since he took office in 2012.
He actually wrote in his recent memoir that he knew this was going to be an issue when he took office, and he's been right. It has been an issue that his -- you know, kind of loomed over his mayoral term for the last eight years.
And as Jason as mentioned, one of the biggest issues the community expresses is that the police department does not represent the community in South Bend. In 2014, based on numbers we received in local reports, 10 percent of the department was African-American. That number is now down to 5 percent, which is something that is -- that the community in South Bend is well aware of.
Now, I think in this town hall, what you're going to hear is people asking questions about that, about use of force, and about this recent shooting, and all of that will certainly impact his presidential campaign as well.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dan Merica, thank you so much, and Jason Caroll as well. And, of course, that town hall about to get under way, and of course when it does we'll take you there live.
[15:37:12] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Live pictures right now out of South Bend, Indiana where at any moment now the mayor there, who is also presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, will address race relations between his police department and community following a fatal shooting involving a white police officer and a black man.
The mayor is being -- you know, he's being dotted with a lot of questions in the community about how he's handled it, and how the police department has handled a number of issues over the last eight years as he has been mayor of that city.
On the campaign trail to the White House overall, race issues have been sparking very powerful, pivotal moments for so many of the candidates. Most recently, former Vice President Joe Biden, he is still taking heat about his word choice when talking about working with segregationist senators during his early years in Washington, D.C. Biden acknowledged that he didn't mean to use one word in a derogatory way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do understand the consequence of the word boy, but it wasn't said in any of that context at all. To the extent that anybody thought that I meant something different, that is not what I intended. It is -- and it would be wrong for anybody to intend that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me now to discuss, Michael Eric Dyson, author of "What Truth Sounds Like." Good to see you, Michael.
So, is the former vice president handling this well? Is he, you know, cleaning it up, so to speak, after many people interpreted his word choice as very hurtful, and even, you know, fellow candidate Cory Booker in particular calling him to task on it?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE": Yes. Fred, it's always great to see you. It was right that he what taken to a strong test. What he said was deeply and profoundly insensitive and it is more than a trip of tongue. It's more than a phrase that was toss out that was inappropriate.
What you're basically saying is, Senators Talmadge and Eastland who were rabid segregationists, who are archenemies of African-American progress are the very examples you adduce to suggest to us that you're capable of being bipartisan.
Well, guess what, with that kind of bipartisanship, we don't need you as a representative of the people. When President Trump said there's good people on both sides, we were taken aback by the inability to make moral distinctions.
Is this the moment where we ask Senator Biden to say, look, sir, working with Talmadge and Eastland, the very senators who caused Fannie Lou Hamer to say "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired," that very arch segregationist who stood metaphorically in the doorway to block racial progress? No.
And then to take this long of a time to get it, to figure out that, hey, even in a shrewd calculation, let me see, that one that's worth fighting for. That one, no, let me just say I'm wrong.
[15:40:08] This is a simply thing. Most of black people are political pragmatists. We don't want a long song and dance about how wrong it has been. We know you've been on the right side of many of these issues, but you also have to have your record, you know, examined and scrutinized.
And the inability to admit that this is wrong, if it took all of this time to say you're wrong about this, then we don't have much faith that you'll be able to handle some of the more complicated and complex issues of race.
So, I think that Senator Biden needs to take a sharp look at his own progress around this issue and then it doesn't square with the kinds of valiant things he's done in the past to suggest that he's racially sensitive and progressive in these matters.
WHITFIELD: And, Michael, we want to continue talking about this, but now South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is taking to the stage there. And then, let's see when I talk again after we've heard something of what he said.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- hosting and moderating. Thank you to Washington High School for having us. Thank you to everybody for caring enough to be part of this.
We are here for several reasons. We're here first and foremost because the city is hurting, because the city is in pain, because someone among our number died at the hands of another person in this city.
We're here to share information. We're here to respond to questions, and we're here to make progress. Not because we think we can solve everything here or solve everything at all, but because we know that we'll be one step closer if people have the right information and if people are heard.
A couple things, I should admit that I cannot speak to you today. First of all, I cannot speak to whether any of the actions on Sunday by Mr. Logan or by any of the officers involved were legal or illegal because that is being investigated separately.
Similarly, I cannot speak to whether any actions by any officers at that time were in accordance with policy or against policy, because that is going to be reviewed in a separate investigation.
Those investigations have to be impartial and just and transparent. I will do nothing to prejudice them. I will say that we will deal with the findings when they come. I know how much concern there is in this city over the police involved shooting that happened last Sunday. There's also a lot of concern around this city over the lost of life that took place early this morning in our city. Ten people were shot. At least one life has been lost.
Every time a civilian dies at the hands of an officer, every time a civilian dies at the hands of another civilian, and anytime an officer comes to harm at the hands of a civilian, they are all disasters, is a disaster for the family every single time.
We were actually on track as a city to have less shootings than last year, and last year had less shootings than the year before. I don't know if that's true anymore. Certainly not true as of this moment.
We can't bring that number down without all of us doing something about that and I know this is part of that. We're bringing together people who care about safety and justice, and believe that we can and must have both.
I want to share very briefly the process that is going on. There will be more to discuss as the questions come in. That there is one process for reviewing whether any laws were broken on Sunday, that is in the hands of the Metro Homicide Unit. That another process will take place, that is for whether any discipline of any officer is called for, that will be in the hands of the department and will then go to the Board of Safety.
I've heard the community expressed two things about the process that I just want to make clear right away where our administration is. The first is a desire for an outside look at what has taken place here by the U.S. Department of Justice. I recognize that request. I respect it. I will send a letter to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division expressing that the city agrees. I cannot promise that they will act on it.
Secondly, the community has expressed concern about the review under way by Metro Homicide, because even though it is separate from the South Bend Police Department, it of course involves local law enforcement.
[15:45:04] Some in the community have asked for an independent investigator to be appointed by the prosecutor to take over. And I want to let you know that I agree with this recommendation as well and that I notified the prosecutors that I would like him to take that step.
It is his decision, but I have let him know that I would like that to happen and shared some of the reasons why.
We're not only here because of what happened in Sunday, even though that is obviously what has brought us to this point. There is a lot beneath the surface when it comes to trust and legitimacy around policing and race in our city.
There's a lot of things we've done and I just want to make sure I've named them, the institution of bias training, civil rights training, community policing efforts that have been going on for years, transparency online. And if you're not familiar with it, I would urge you to consult the South Bend Police Transparency Hub online. It's a website with information policies data.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nothing there.
BUTTIGIEG: And if anyone has any suggestions about additional data sets to add, those will be taken seriously.
We've acted to have a more professional promotions process and to raise discipline standards which as you may know have included officers being removed from the force for misconduct. We've also taken efforts for diversity recruiting to make sure that the department resembles the community it serves and is more diverse and have implemented body cameras.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not enough.
BUTTIGIEG: As the mayor of the city, I want to acknowledge that those last two lines of effort, the effort to recruit more minority officers to the police department and the effort to introduce body cameras have not succeeded and I accept responsibility for that.
We have tried but not succeeded to increase diversity in the police department and we need help. And while body cameras were implemented across the department, obviously there is enormous frustration which I share that they were not there when we needed the most, and there will be action on that, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Question and answer.
BUTTIGIEG: So, I'll keep this brief so we can get to the questions. I just want you to know that we're not running from this. We're going to have a conversation that I hope will be respectful. I hope that everyone who speaks may speak without interruption. And I know that -- I know that people aren't going to walk out of this room satisfied. I understand that.
We are here to have tough conversations, but I want everyone here at least to be empowered and I want to make sure voices are heard. That's why we're here. And so, I'm going to stop talking and go over there.
Our moderator will ask some questions and then we will move to audience questions after that. And, again, I thank you for being here and I thank everyone who is here to respectfully participate in this conversation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mayor Pete, for giving us the overview. I want to ask that we would be respectful to this process. We have a lot of information and content to share. And so as we respect you from this area, please respect us as well.
We're going to do our very best to get your questions answered and share information with you that I believe will be empowering on today. And so, let's walk in love one towards another.
Can you look at your neighbor and say, "Let's walk in love one to another". Thank you so much. I appreciate the respect that you are giving me at this time.
The Bible says love never fails and love will cover a multitude of sin, and so let's walk in love one to another so that we can have a healthy engagement. This is a time that we can communicate one to another. We're all hurting, including myself. Are you feeling me? We're all hurting, including myself.
I've got questions myself that need to be answered. And I'm here to help facilitate those questions that we have pre-made and then those questions that will come from the audience. And so, we're looking forward to your participation as well.
[15:49:59] As the NAACP president, I think it's important for you all to know that we are an advocacy organization. And we are at the table because we believe in fair and equitable processes and we are believing that justice will come out of this.
As you give us time through the process, I'm emphasizing that for a reason, because nothing is going to happen in the next 36 hours, but there's a process to this and we want to give it time to unfold so that we can address the challenges that are before us.
All right, with that being said, let's get started with the questions to our mayor and to our chief of police. First question is, what happens after an officer-involved -- what happens after an officer- involved shooting? Chief Scott?
SCOTT RUSZKOWSKI, POLICE CHIEF, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: Well, that's kind of a vague question, but from the scene itself, Metro Homicide is immediately called. They come to the scene and we relinquish the scene. Those officers that are on scene, whoever the commanders or supervisors are relinquish that scene to Metro Homicide.
Metro Homicide does what they do with any investigation, which is to transport witnesses down and whoever may be involved and take statements at the Metro Homicide Unit. Immediately, our South Bend officers, unless they're involved in an actual incident, will not be part of the investigation. Metro Homicide, its mission --
WHITFIELD: All right, the South Bend police chief there taking the first question really about the sequence of events, you know, following a police-involved shooting. We're anxious to hear what the mayor has to say.
We're going to take a short break for now. We'll come back and listen to more of this town hall meeting involving the South Bend Mayor Pete Buttiegieg and also presidential candidate.
[15:55:51] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. You're looking at live pictures right now of a town hall meeting taking place in South Bend, Indiana. And to the right is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttiegieg, who is also a presidential candidate.
And right now, there are just some generic questions being asked about the procedures of police-involved shootings. The reason why they have this town hall meeting is because there was a police-involved shooting one week ago. A white police officer, a black man, the black man died.
And then in addition, separately, a shooting that took place at a bar earlier this morning. Ten people have been shot, one died. And so the mayor opened up by saying, you know, this is a city that is hurting. This is a city in pain. He said someone died at the hands of another person, that being the nucleus of what this town hall meeting is all about.
But, the mayor just days ago had been confronted by people in South Bend who said they want more. They want more detail about the police- involved shooting. And it goes to the core of racial tensions in that city.
I was joined earlier by Michael Eric Dyson. He's back with me now, author of "What Truth Sounds Like."
And so I wonder, Michael, if it is -- even though it's the beginning stages, we have yet to hear from the audience who is fired up. We heard people, you know, chiming in with demands of when, you know, when will there be change to some of the points that he was making about police body cam program and diversity recruitment, which he admits he has not done well and the city has not succeeded in that and he says, "I take full responsibility for that."
But then I'm wondering, is it glaring to you that absent from the fact when he talked about someone died at the hands of another person. He avoided mentioning that this is a white police officer and a black man.
And, you know, that is interesting because when you have had that dynamic historically, it certainly goes to intent. It goes to questions of prejudice, lack of value of life. Those are some of the things that come to mind. Those are some of the things that he heard from his constituents just a few days ago in South Bend.
WHITFIELD: What are you anxious to hear from him in terms of detail? He said he can't talk in detail about the investigations, but those are the glaring things at the nucleus of racial tensions here.
DYSON: Right, absolutely. Stop punting the ball. Stop saying, look, I can't speak about this, I don't want to put my thumb on the scales of justice to weigh it. We get that. We understand that. That ain't what we're asking you.
We're asking you to take a politically, publicly, moralistic stand here. And that stand says that, look, we don't want our citizens being victimized by people who are ostensibly committed to helping them, to serve and protect.
If we have a disproportionate number of people of color in this case, especially black people who are victims of police-involved shootings where law enforcement is, again, involved with lethal intensity in the erasure of another black life, we have to address that.
To be this sanguine, to be this neutral, to be this objective by one person was, you know, killed by another person, that's not the issue, sir, because one of them has a badge and a gun. The imprimatur of the state rest upon him. That badge, that shield suggests that he works for the city, for the state, for the government. That means that he has an extra special responsibility to be careful in the dispensation of justice.
He is not to be judge and jury. He is not to take the law into his own hands, and to execute another human being. All of these things are at play here. And beyond that, we do know that Mayor Pete fired the black police chief there.
Now, why was the black police chief fired? He was fired because he was "illegally wiretapping" other police people that the federal government was concerned about, the FBI in particular. What was he recording them for, because they were making racist statements?
So now the very police chief who took the law into his own hands, some will say, and as a result of that was fired, the real issue that the police chief was trying to address is not being dealt with. So Mayor Pete, again, is avoiding doing a kind of wiggle free from the central issue here.