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New York Judge Today Recommending Police Officer, Daniel Pantaleo Should Be Fired For His Role In The 2014 Death Of Eric Garner; United States Is Pulling Out Of A Decades' Long Nuclear Treaty With Russia; President Trump's Pick For The Next Director Of National Intelligence Is No Longer Rep. John Ratcliffe. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here on this Friday afternoon. Let's get right into it. The breaking news in this controversial police brutality case, a New York judge today recommending police officer, Daniel Pantaleo should be fired for his role in the 2014 death of Eric Garner. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill must make the final decision, but is expected to follow the judge's recommendation.

Garner died five years ago when being pulled to the ground during an arrest. Disturbing video capturing that arrest went viral, and when you watch it, Garner can be heard pleading with the arresting officers repeatedly saying, "I can't breathe." And that phrase really became a national rallying cry for activists battling police brutality.

Garner's daughter who will be joining me next hour reacting to the judge's recommendation just a few moments ago.


EMERALD GARNER, ERIC GARNER'S DAUGHTER: This has been a long battle -- five years too long, and finally, somebody has said that there is some information that this cop has done something wrong.

We've waited five years. CCRB has made the recommendation. Commissioner O'Neill, fire Pantaleo, that's all we're asking.


BALDWIN: Shimon Prokupecz is CNN's crime and justice reporter; Joey Jackson is a criminal defense attorney and a CNN legal analyst and you know, Shimon, first to you, and we're talking to Emerald next hour, like before we get into what de Blasio could or couldn't have done, will this officer be fired?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I think it's highly expected that that he will get fired. you know, most folks that I've been talking to don't see how the Police Commissioner wouldn't recommend it.

Look, anything can happen. The Union, the lawyers for the police officer obviously are going to fight like hell to make sure he doesn't get fired. They've already done that. They're going to make their appeal -- their final appeal -- to the Police Commissioner eventually, and then he is going to have to make the decision.

It's interesting, the judge, the NYPD judge, she had an issue with a very specific part of the video where the officer she says, kind of what he does is he puts his arm around Garner, but then he clasps into like a chokehold and that is where he violated the procedures and protocol of the NYPD. And that is how and why she found that he should be recommended -- it's not so much in the beginning --

BALDWIN: To be fired.

PROKUPECZ: To be fired.

BALDWIN: It was that moment for her.

PROKUPECZ: It was that moment for her it seems that sort of brought her to where her thinking.

BALDWIN: Now all along, the New York Mayor has said, "No, I'm precluded to acting by the Department of Justice." He reiterated that on our debate stage in Detroit just the other night. But did he basically admit when he was talking earlier today that that actually wasn't the case?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, listen, I don't know what he admitted, politics is what it is. I can tell you here that this is justice delayed, but finally justice has arrived. This family has suffered through a lot. There are many believing including myself that this should have been an initial indictment.

Listen, as a former prosecutor, I can tell you, Brooke, grand jurors are instructed by what you tell them by the information you lay out. We've heard many times a grand jury could indict a ham sandwich.

The fact is, is that why the Staten Island grand jury did not get an indictment in this case is because it didn't want one, and as a result of it, led the jury that way. It later went to Congress, he was then serving one term, he then lost. Why do I mention that? Because that was a measure of justice that the family thought was a missed opportunity.

I would hasten to add that many in the community believe he deserves to be in jail, forgetting about being fired. Now, we have the opportunity, of course, the Federal government as it relates to their Department of Justice investigation, I'm one that believes that that's an outrage. The Department of Justice, certainly could issue charges.

BALDWIN: But they had declined to prosecute.

JACKSON: Yes, they did. And I believe that was a -- that was a choice that they made that was not properly founded upon adequate facts.

There was a dissent in the Justice Department and you don't make a decision based upon whether we're going to win. The decision is, let a jury decide. If you believe there's enough evidence to move forward, let them do that. The fact is, this was an administrative hearing. The judge rendered a

conclusion. The final analysis lies with the Police Commissioner. He needs to make the decision to terminate him because certainly -- and lose his pension -- certainly, he could be and should be in jail.

BALDWIN: Did you want to jump in on the D.O.J.?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, there -- I think what the whole delay in a lot of this was because there was disagreement within the Department of Justice on how to proceed on this. There were F.B.I. agents who were investigating this in New York, who felt they could improve, right, there's a different standard here, but from what we saw at the administrative hearing, too, obviously in a criminal case.

So, they felt that they couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this in any way violated Eric Garner's Civil Rights. That was the issue, but they were attorneys, prosecutors at the Department of Justice for years, who said he needed to be prosecuted, that Daniel Pantaleo needed to be prosecuted.

And really, it was the delay and this disagreement that I think kind of helped Daniel Pantaleo in the end. It's what prevented the Justice Department from bringing charges; change of administration, from the Obama and Loretta Lynch when she was the Attorney General to the new administration helped that.

And so there was a lot of disagreement and there still is going to be disagreement about it. And there's disagreement within the Police Department on how to proceed.

[14:05:20] BALDWIN: Is there --

PROKUPECZ: And rank and file don't think this officer should be fired.

BALDWIN: I just know that -- hang on one second -- I had Emerald Garner sitting in that seat just yesterday, because she was trying to get all these signatures for her petition. And she said to me, and she was saying to everyone watching that every single, you know, New York taxpayer has been paying to keep this man employed by the New York Police Department.

And so she basically said to me, "I have been paying for my father's murderer for five years."

JACKSON: I cannot disagree with that. I mean, that's an accurate statement, and going back to what accurately Shimon was mentioning, which is disagreement, this disagreement is every day.

When you stand up before jury, the jurors disagree. That's why we have verdict watches. That's why jurors go back in deliberation rooms. That's why they disagree with evidence and other things. And I don't think the standard needs to be, "Well, we disagree. Should we get a conviction?" I think the standard needs to be, is there sufficient evidence? Do we believe here? Could we prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt? Not, are we going to win? Federal government has over 95 percent conviction rate. Are you

worried about that record? Are you worried about doing justice for members of the community? If you're worried about that, let a jury decide, put the facts before them. They can all agree or disagree, but render a verdict and that's just exactly what happened.

PROKUPECZ: I just want to make a quick point here. I think -- and the mayor said this, I think there has been a lot of change, certainly at the NYPD as a result of the Eric Garner death. And I think people should remember that that this -- his death -- did lead to a lot of change. Training change, interaction with community change.

The NYPD really looked at some of the issues and is there anything they could have done better in this situation? And as a result, they did change training, they did change some of their training, and they did change how they interacted with the community.

So, I think there is some good that did come of this. Unfortunately, it's just tough for the family, obviously, for the community. But I think people should remember there has been some change and that the NYPD has done retraining. They've done certain things to try and make things better.

BALDWIN: I appreciate that.

JACKSON: Look, I'll make the quick point, and that's this. We have an NYPD that protects and serves us every day, and I respect what they do, and they keep us here safe and CNN and HLN and all over.

But the fact is when someone does wrong, they need to be called out on it. They need to be held accountable. The fact that he was not held criminally accountable is problematic to me and so many others.

BALDWIN: Gentlemen, thank you so much. And as I mentioned, we'll talk to members of the Garner family coming up, next hour. Thank you.

JACKSON: Thanks.

BALDWIN: The Trump administration making it official today, the United States is pulling out of a decades' long nuclear treaty with Russia by formally withdrawing from the landmark Arms Control Pact, this is known as the INF.

It brings an end to this historic treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev back in 1987, as they sought to bring an end to the Cold War between the two nuclear powers.

And so this latest move is now sparking renewed fears of a new arms race. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo putting the blame squarely on the Russians. Here's part of his tweet. "Russia bears sole responsibility." A senior official says the U.S. already has plans to test a missile banned under that treaty.

Clarissa Ward is our chief International Correspondent. She is with me now from London. And so my first question is, how concerned are U.S. allies that this decision to pull out of a treaty will spark a new arms race? And how much of this really is actually about China?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, two really interesting questions, Brooke. I think, certainly the Europeans specifically are concerned because this is what we're really talking about here. We're talking about Europe. We're talking about the deployment of missiles in Europe to be used potentially against Russia or to act as a deterrent or defense against Russia.

And so the real concern becomes is that Europe then is sort of in the middle as it were. Now that said, the U.K. and NATO have both come out in strong support of the U.S.'s decision to leave this treaty, for the exact same reason that you heard or you saw Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying there in that tweet that essentially, the treaty is already redundant, because for years, the Russians have not been acting in compliance with it.

And therefore, if it is already redundant, despite the best efforts of allied leaders to try to get the Russians to cooperate and hold up their end of the bargain, then what is the point of continuing it?

Now the backstory, which you just alluded to, Brooke, is indeed China in all of this. Because China is not a member of the treaty. They're not an inherent to the treaty. And they have been building up over the years amassing intermediate range missiles.

And so essentially, a lot of analysts are saying that the real reason the U.S. wants to pull out of this treaty, while Russia is the kind of official reason, the real reason is that the U.S. wants to be able to start testing their own intermediate range missiles.

And in order to do that, they need to leave the treaty. But the bottom line, is no matter what the reasoning, there are fears, of course, that this could once again ignite the sort of arms race that many had thought was consigned to the history books, at least for the last few decades -- Brooke.

[14:10:05] BALDWIN: So all right, so then on Russia, we know that President Trump calls Vladimir Putin this past Wednesday, which is great, because obviously they have a lot to talk about.

But specifically, you know, obviously, election meddling and that kind of thing, the INF Treaty, but they didn't talk about any of that. And instead, they're on the phone, apparently, you know, talking about fires in Siberia caused by a climate crisis that this U.S. President doesn't even believe it.

WARD: Yes, it's hard to know exactly what the reason behind the call was. It is possible that President Trump was trying to kind of reach across the aisle, if you will, in a gesture of goodwill.

I mean, these forest fires in Siberia have been horrendous. And there are, of course, real concerns that they are going to sort of contribute even more to climate change. It's an odd choice, perhaps for the President to reach out on this specific issue.

But I think what we've often seen with the Trump administration, Brooke is this kind of simultaneous good cop, bad cop. So on the one hand, I'm pulling out of this INF Missile Treaty, but on the other hand, I'm calling you to say how sorry I am to hear about these fires and ask whether I can help you out with them at all.


WARD: And we see this a lot in U.S. foreign policy at the moment. Some people call it mixed messages. Some people call it chaos. Other people, supporters of the Trump administration say that it's actually kind of a clever tactic designed to sort of keep your adversary off guard and sort of prevent your own moves from being seen as predictable.

BALDWIN: Okay, Clarissa, thank you very much. I'm going to finish there because I want to pivot to some breaking news now out of Washington involving President Trump's pick for the next Director of National Intelligence.

He had wanted Congressman John Ratcliffe. That's what we've been reporting. Let's go to Alex Marquardt, who is live with the news. Alex, what's the latest?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, this had been a highly controversial naming for the Director of National Intelligence. The President had made this announcement last Sunday via tweet and in the same medium now, just five days later, the President announcing that he is recalling that in essence, saying that John Ratcliffe, Congressman of Texas will no longer be named the Director of National Intelligence, Brooke.

Let me just read to you this series of two tweets that just came out moments ago from the President. He writes, "Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream media. Rather than going through months of slander and libel, I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people. John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas and our country. I will be announcing my nomination for D.N.I. shortly."

Now, Brooke, this was such a controversial choice because Ratcliffe has a very thin resume when it comes to foreign policy and intelligence, when you compare what he has done in his career, both in Congress and before, it pales in comparison to predecessors, like Dan Coats who is stepping down in a few days, as well as James Clapper.

And more than that, when we started digging into his bio, into his past, what he claimed as a national security expertise was his time as a U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Texas, right on his congressional page. He writes in his bio that he put terrorists in prison.

We here at CNN have done a search of terrorism cases that were prosecuted in Eastern Texas, we didn't find any examples of him being a prosecutor. His office couldn't give us any examples of him being a prosecutor. And then on top of all that, he has spent years both behind closed doors and congressional interviews with intelligence officials as well as repeated appearances on Fox News, blasting the Intelligence Community that he intended to lead.

So for all sorts of reasons, it was a highly questionable choice that was not only being slammed by Democrats on Capitol Hill, but was met with very tepid response at best by Republicans as well, Brooke, and this is clear -- and clearly the President saw that and heard that and knew that he was going to have a real uphill battle in getting Ratcliffe confirmed.

BALDWIN: Okay, thin resume is one way to put it. Alex, thank you so much. We're working on some of our sources to understand a little bit more of the context to all of this. Our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown, is also joining us. What are you hearing more about why he did this, and why he did it now?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Brooke, I think that the bigger story here is once again, the President pulls a nomination for an official. This is -- this is coming after he has pulled the nominations for several other officials. You'll recall Ronny Jackson, Heather Nauert, Stephen Moore, Herman Cain, and now John Ratcliffe, the Congressman from Texas.

And we are told that Republicans had been reaching out, they had been making their concerns about the Congressman known to the White House about his lack of national security experience, the concern that he just simply wasn't confirmable.

[14:15:15] BROWN: But normally, before you nominate someone, that work would be done on the front end before making the announcement, making sure that you lay the groundwork and make sure that your allies, those on Capitol Hill, Republicans on Capitol Hill --

BALDWIN: Vetting homework.

BROWN: Exactly -- would be in line and that they would be receptive to a nominee. But clearly Republican, and many Republican senators were not happy with the pick.

Now, I was told that for a time the White House had brushed off Ratcliffe's lack of national security experience because what the President was really looking for, in his D.N.I. Chief to replace Dan Coats was someone who he really meld with personality wise.

He never really clicked with Dan Coats, and he felt like that was one of the more important aspects in whoever will lead the agency, not necessarily someone who had been a career intelligence official, but someone who could be a credible interlocutor with the Hill, with the administration, with foreign countries, and that is what he saw in Ratcliffe.

But clearly, there was a miscalculation made because both sides of the aisle shortly after he announced the nomination came out and expressed their concerns, and now we have seen headline after headline of Ratcliffe exaggerating his bio of prosecuting terrorism suspects and so forth as Alex --

BALDWIN: That's exactly what Alex was pointing out.

BROWN: Yes, exactly what Alex pointed out, but that should have been done through the vetting process.

BALDWIN: Ahead of time.

BROWN: Before any announcement had been made, and this just raises more questions about the White House's vetting process.

BALDWIN: It's like, again, the question we've been asking over and over, is there even a vetting process? And I think for people watching, let's just back up three steps.

If you're not as familiar with the Congressman's name, apparently, President Trump was looking -- according to our reporting, was looking at him potentially, as D.N.I. pre-Mueller testimony, right? But it was that moment when the Congressman was really trying to take the former Special Counsel to task, Alex and Pamela, when he thought, "Huh, you know, this could be my guy." Is that correct? Like it was basically a TV audition?

BROWN: Well, I will say, and I don't want to -- I don't want to interrupt, Alex, but I was told that the President -- that basically Ratcliffe was already their front runner, so he was already being discussed in the White House even before the Mueller hearing, and I was told that it was his to lose at that point.

But clearly, the Congressman knew that the President was watching and he wanted to be, you know, wanted to impress the President. So we are told that even though his name had been floated out there before for Attorney General, some of his allies have been pushing for him, he wasn't really taken seriously as someone who would have a position in the administration until more recently, when it was clear, the President wanted to replace Dan Coats.

So, he was one of the few names that they were looking at. And then of course, the Mueller hearing came along. And I think that just sealed the deal for Ratcliffe -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. And what else just from you, Alex, on giving people perspective on this position of Director of National Intelligence, can you just underscore how significant a role this is? How sensitive in terms of intelligence it is, you know, in the government and how it requires a thick resume?

MARQUARDT: Yes, to say the least. I mean, this is an incredibly important role. This is the senior most position in the government when it comes to Intelligence. This was a position that was created after 9/11 because of this horrific terror attack, the likes of which we have never seen in this country.

So the five men who have held this position since then, have been -- have had lengthy military experience, lengthy ambassadorial and diplomatic experience. A guy like Dan Coats who is just about to step down. He had been Ambassador to Germany. He was a senator from Indiana. He was a Republican. He is close to the Vice President, Mike Pence, but he knew in this job, that he had to be apolitical.

That the job of the Intelligence Community is to give unvarnished truth and speak that truth to power. You have people at the heads of the Intelligence agencies like Gina Haspel at the C.I.A., Paul Nakasone the head of the N.S.A., they know that their jobs are to give intelligence, give assessments pass that up the chain in a completely apolitical way, so that policy -- so that the policymakers and the President can make those decisions.

And what so many people in the Intelligence Community and on Capitol Hill took issue with when it comes to Ratcliffe, it was that it was clear that he has not been behaving in an apolitical way and there are questions over whether he would actually be able to.

From what we understand, when you look at that audition, just to Pam's point -- sorry, Pam.


MARQUARDT: When he was grilling Mueller, that was kind of like the cherry on top because we know that --

BALDWIN: It solidifies as Pamela said.

MARQUARDT: He has been out there on Fox News blasting the Mueller probe, raising questions about the Intelligence Community and their role in investigating that link between -- that possible link between Russia and the Trump campaign.

[14:20:10] MARQUARDT: He was in lockstep with the President every step of the way when it came to the Russia probe, that's clearly something that the President liked, both on Fox News and during the Mueller hearing.

And so that's why we keep saying that this was an audition. But at that very, very political stance that he took for so long was something that rubbed a lot of people in the Intelligence Committee the wrong way.

BALDWIN: I appreciate both of you -- you can make it really quickly, Pamela, go ahead. Really quick.

BROWN: I was just going to say now you have a situation where now, we don't know who's going to be the nominee to replace Dan Coats, and they still haven't announced the acting position. And so there are no two positions open, very important positions in the administration.

BALDWIN: Yes. Pamela and Alex, thank you so, so much. Thanks for all your reporting, to both of you.

Let's move on because we've got some other breaking news involving rapper ASAP Rocky. Here's the deal. He can now return to the U.S. A judge in Sweden has decided the rapper's fates, and now even the President of the United States has weighed in. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:26:02] BALDWIN: More breaking news this afternoon. American rapper, ASAP Rocky will soon be released from custody and is free to come home as he waits for the verdict in his assault case from a Swedish judge. That ruling is expected to happen in the next couple of weeks.

CNN's Nina dos Santos is following this for us. And so just remind us -- remind us how he got there and what do we know about this latest development?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Hi, there, Brooke. Well, all of this dates back to a street brawl that took place on the streets of Stockholm, the Swedish capital on June the 30th, involving a 19-year- old Afghan man who had recently moved to Sweden. ASAP Rocky was on the same street passing by a burger joint with about five other members of his entourage and three of them including ASAP Rocky appeared to get involved in this altercation with this 19-year-old individual after they claimed that they were provoked and followed.

Well, that individual sustained cuts and bruises, at one point, a witness suggested that she had seen ASAP Rocky, himself attacking this man with a glass bottle. There was also plenty of video footage that emerged online.

While at one point throughout the course of the three-day hearing in Stockholm this week, that witness who claimed she had seen this man be attacked with a glass bottle dramatically withdrew that evidence. ASAP Rocky and two members of his entourage who are co-defendants have all pled not guilty to these charges of serious assault.

The prosecutors asked for six months in jail and the man who claims he was attacked is 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari has asked for about $14,500.00 worth of compensation to compensate him for injuries that he claims he had sustained.

Now, this is obviously a case that as you pointed out, in your introduction, Brooke has really captured the interest of the U.S. President Donald Trump. He has tweeted about it on various occasions. He has also lobbied the Swedish Prime Minister on the subject and he sent his own hostage negotiator who has sat in the courtroom over the course of the last week.

Now about 10 minutes after the verdict was released -- not the verdict -- excuse me, the latest decision pending the verdict on August the 14th, Donald Trump tweeted this as you can see that "ASAP Rocky released from prison and on his way home to the United States from Sweden. It was a rocky week. Get home ASAP, ASAP."

We don't know yet whether ASAP Rocky will be returning to the United States. You thought it may be likely, but either way, he hasn't been found guilty or not guilty yet. The verdict will come on August the 14th. But he can go for now.

BALDWIN: Look, there are tweets and they were tweets. Nina dos Santos, thank you for the breaking update. Thanks.

More on two other stories here, the President's choice for Director of National Intelligence has just withdrawn his name, where the President has recalled it as the scrutiny from both sides of the aisle has really piled on.

Plus, a majority of House Democrats now are in support of an impeachment inquiry. So how will Speaker Nancy Pelosi react?