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Interview with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) of California; NYPD Eric Garner Decision Due Today; Trump Attacks Fox News Over 2020 Election Poll Findings. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 10:30   ET


M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- plus months of Warren running for (ph) campaign, this is not a campaign that has had sort of major blunders or missteps. But the issue of her family ancestry has been a major exception to that.

When she put out her DNA test results last fall, she drew a ton of criticism, a lot of backlash including from tribal groups. And she had to apologize, saying that she didn't handle that in a sensitive way and she recognizes that she offended people by doing things that way.

And now, the campaign is telling us that they really would like to focus on policy. This is why you saw last week, she put out a major policy proposal, including the draft legislation with Congresswoman Deb Haaland. She now is focusing on trying to aid Native Americans and their specific needs.

And then the organizers that we have spoken to, of this conference, they say that they also would like to largely stick to substance. If you look behind me on the stage over my left shoulder, you can see that the conference is already under way. Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson is speaking.

But the context and sort of the way that this forum is going to be handled is important because you see, there are multiple chairs on stage. This is not going to be just Elizabeth Warren, taking the stage and giving a speech. She's actually going to have a dialogue and a Q&A with tribal leaders, so we will see whether questions about her family ancestry come up when she speaks in about half an hour or so -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: And how she handles them, of course. M.J. Lee, on the scene there. Thanks very much.

A major change for police in California coming, the bill that will limit when police officers can use deadly force.


[10:36:10] SCIUTTO: In a matter of hours, California's governor will sign a controversial bill that would set a new standard for when police can use deadly force. The measure was prompted by outrage over the 2018 fatal shooting of Stephon Clark. Police shot the unarmed black man in his grandparents' backyard, when they mistook his cell phone for a weapon. Prosecutors decided not to file charges against the two officers involved.

Now, California's new law would allow police officers to use deadly force, but only when necessary. Joining me now, host of "THE VAN JONES SHOW" and CNN political commentator, Van Jones.

Van, help folks understand, in layman's terms, what the actual change is here.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this is a huge, huge deal. You think about all those videos that you see of people being shot, unarmed. Later on, no police officer goes to jail, the lawsuit doesn't work, nothing happens.

This is finally California, saying, "Listen, only shoot somebody if you need to." Seems very technical, from reasonable to necessary. But what's happening is, police officers would shoot people. They say, "Well, look, I was afraid for my life." Somebody says, "Well, is it reasonable that you were afraid?" "Yes." And there's no consequence.

So what California is saying is, "Officers, only kill someone if it's necessary, if you absolutely have to." That seems technical (ph) -- is a massive change in the law, and it actually brings, I think, law enforcement in line with what most people think is already the law. You shouldn't kill somebody unless you have to.


JONES: Governor, I want to give you a chance to explain why you're signing this legislation, why it's important to you.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: It's important because we can't accept the status quo. I mean, the idea that over a hundred people -- 162 people in 2017, were killed in police shootings in the state of California, is unacceptable.

It's not good for law enforcement, and it's certainly not good for individuals in the communities that have been disproportionately impacted. That's substantially higher rate of excessive forces, deadly force cases than most states in this nation. And that's happening on our watch. We own that, and we've got to fix it.

JONES: Changing the legal standard seems very technical. So you're going to go from "reasonable" force to "necessary" force --


JONES: -- in a deadly situation. Why is that a big deal?

NEWSOM: It's profoundly significant. Since 19 -- excuse me, 1872, we've been running by the same playbook. We have not updated our statute since, you know, I guess President Grant was president of the United States.

We had, of course, this tragic incident just a stone's throw away from where we're sitting right here -- JONES: Stephon --

NEWSOM: That was Stephon Clark. That just ignited a new resolve with a new administration, a fresh set of eyes and a desire to say, "You know what, we're better than this."

JONES: Why was the Stephon Clark shooting so powerful and so important, so galvanizing?

NEWSOM: Because it was so unnecessary from the perspective, I think, of the vast majority of objective observers because people just felt the -- you know, we had enough.

JONES: If there had been more justice in that case, would that have then allowed this bill to sort of die a natural death?

NEWSOM: I think that's the case. I mean, I got a lot of blowback when I said, "Look, that won't happen if you look like me." I was a candidate for governor when I said that. I stand by that. It's a fact.

JONES: Yes, it is a fact.

NEWSOM: And it's a stubborn one.


NEWSOM: Law enforcement wasn't appreciative of that. But you know what? I just can't sit by and watch another hundred human beings, 150 human beings lose their lives to excessive force -- I mean, look, there are circumstances where it's completely justifiable. And I deeply respect law enforcement. This is not about, you know, trying to just roll one point of view over.

But the fact is, I've been a mayor of a city in San Francisco. I've seen this firsthand. I've been to too many funerals. I -- you know, I saw what happened to Mario Woods in San Francisco, that was caught on, you know, everybody's video recorders and tapes and smartphones. Enough. We just have to do more and do better.

[10:40:16] JONES: Talk to the police officers in California. You're going to sign a piece of paper that says that if they use deadly force, it has to be, not a reasonable use, but necessary.


JONES: Shouldn't they be very worried tomorrow morning, going to work, that they're going to get in trouble --


JONES: -- in a tough situation?

NEWSOM: No. They should only be worried if we don't, commensurate with this legislation, support the training of those officers. JONES: What kind of training? What is the difference in a training

environment, when you're training an officer to use deadly force only when it's necessary as opposed to when it might be reasonable? What's the difference?

NEWSOM: Well, we're about to explore that because we're going to invest an unprecedented amount of money, tens of millions of dollars, to move through a process of going, step by step, through de- escalization and focusing, now, with much more specificity, on changing the culture of policing.

But what's happened, with all due respect, in the past, is that we have been forcing a lot of expectations on our officers without providing the support and resources to train those officers. The world of policing is radically changing, particularly in a state like California where you're becoming, often, a social worker --


NEWSOM: -- and you're dealing with issues of behavioral health and substance abuse, but we're not funding, we're not training programs to help those officers, particularly new officers, deal with those circumstances.


SCIUTTO: So -- so, Van, this passed through both houses in California with overwhelming support. But police, police unions oppose it. And you asked the governor directly there, you know, "Are they supposed to be afraid when they go to work?" How are they receiving this move?

JONES: Well, it's split. You know, the police officers' unions are very concerned that their officers are going to now be in impossible situations, kind of no-win situations. But what's key is that training officers now to de-escalate is what's going to be key.

Usually, you go up the ladder of force until you get compliance. There are situations where you can talk somebody down rather than shooting them down, and yet officers are not trained to do that. So there's going to be a big training component here that going to make this work.

Look, all these protests, all this has been going on for five years, six years. This is the first big, big breakthrough at the level of changing the law to reflect this new reality.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And, listen, 50 million people in California, right? It's a big -- lots of consequences. Van Jones, thanks very much.

JONES: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: This week, the New York police officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner -- certainly relevant to the conversation we just had -- could find out if he's going to keep his job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:47:32] SCIUTTO: New York City's police commissioner could decide as early as today if the officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner will lose his job. Earlier this month, an NYPD judge recommended that Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired. That came just weeks after Attorney General William Barr had declined to bring federal charges against him. Joining me now, criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Commissioner O'Neill, the NYPD, he's been very sensitive to these kinds of cases. Based on what you're hearing, what step is he likely to take?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look I hope it's -- forgetting about what we're hearing, I hope he bases it, Jim, on what he has to do, and that's follow the legal standards.

Now, backing up, you have a seven-day administrative hearing wherein a judge evaluates all the facts, the evidence, the information, and she draws a conclusion. In drawing that conclusion, she found that this particular officer, Pantaleo, acted with criminal recklessness.

And as a result of that, pending anything that would be dire, to overwhelm, otherwise override that, I can't see the commissioner acting unilaterally to do it. She listened to everything, factually determined everything, felt that Pantaleo was also untruthful and rendered her conclusions.

So from a procedural perspective, it's the right call. I think the bigger question is why he isn't in jail, and why he wasn't prosecuted from the state or the feds.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And that's a question I want to get to. Because in so many of these cases, the police officers will face administrative penalties, not legal penalties. You now have the state of California, passing a new law here, which will raise the standard for using deadly force.

JACKSON: Correct (ph).

SCIUTTO: Does that help address things like this?

JACKSON: Well, listen, every state, to be clear, is a sovereign unto itself. So California does what California does, New York does what New York does, Georgia does what they do.

But ultimately, I think the whole premise is clear. And that is that you have to de-escalate a situation. To be clear in California, what they're doing is saying, "Police, do not use that lethal force unless it's necessary," right? The standard now is, "Are you acting reasonably? Would a reasonable officer in your position have done the same thing?"

By increasing that to "necessary," what they're saying is, "Take a time-out. In the event -- and we get that they're acting with split seconds, we get, sometimes, circumstances on the street can be very chaotic. But use that judgment. Instead of shooting first, right, and acting later or otherwise assessing" --


JACKSON: -- let's re-evaluate and then act.

SCIUTTO: So beyond that being an attempt to address the issue of this kind of violence, from a legal perspective, does it make it easier to prosecute police officers who violate that standard?

[10:50:06] JACKSON: It absolutely will.


JACKSON: Because ultimately, what you're saying is, is that we're not basing it on what a reasonable officer would do in your situation, we're basing it on whether it was necessary that you engage in that final act.

You know, I'll say this, relating it back to Eric Garner. His dad's funeral was last Friday. I attended that funeral, spoke with Ms. Garner. And in the front row -- because they all support each other -- were all the mothers who had lost sons. And it was so sickening and sad, to go down the list, say hello and speak to them when so many were unnecessary.

if California's law --


JACKSON: -- protects the lives of innocent men or men who were acting who didn't deserve to die, then I think it's a step in the proper direction.

SCIUTTO: Well, once state, 40 million people there, though, a big one. Joey Jackson, always good to have your wisdom.

JACKSON: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: The president is apparently not pleased with what he's seen lately on "Fox News."


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now.


SCIUTTO: So what did Fox do or say that seems to have angered the president?


[10:56:35] SCIUTTO: President Trump seems to be souring on his favorite television news channel. Or, if you listen to him tell it, the "Fox News" channel is souring on him.


TRUMP: Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.

I think Fox is making a big mistake because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots on that -- on the really big debates. I guess we're probably planning on three of them, and I --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You (ph) might not be --

TRUMP: -- well, I'm very -- I'm not happy with Fox.


SCIUTTO: That seemed to be a threat, there, to Fox, saying he won't let them have a debate. But the president, not happy with this "Fox News" poll, apparently shows him losing in head-to-head matchups to the top four Democratic candidates by pretty wide margins in 2020.

TEXT: August 11-13, Fox News Poll: 2020 Matchups Among Registered Voters: Biden, 50 percent; Trump, 38 percent. Sanders, 48 percent; Trump, 39 percent. Warren, 46 percent; Trump, 39 percent. Harris, 45 percent; Trump, 39 percent.

SCIUTTO: Joining me to talk about this, CNN's senior media reporter Oliver Darcy here.

So this is a pattern with this president. If you're not on his team, you're either disloyal or wrong or both.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SERNIOS MEDIA REPORTER: Right. And he's done this to some extent before with Fox, but he's making it very clear that he expects 100 percent total devotion to him. Any criticism of him, he's going to slam.

And then, of course, he does still like the primetime hosts, who do, you know, support his policies. But he's making it very clear that he's not a fan of the more straight news division at Fox: the Fox polling division, the anchors like Shepard Smith, and then also the liberal commentators that they've been recently hiring.

SCIUTTO: Sure. Juan Williams, he was going after him pretty --

DARCY: Right, right.

SCIUTTO: -- aggressively this weekend. So how is Fox responding to this criticism? Fox as a network, but also Fox as the colleagues of these people that the president is taking aim at.

DARCY: Yeah. "Fox News" has remained silent for a long time on Trump's criticism of the network. They -- I checked in with them last night, and they just didn't even reply to my e-mails. They're not commenting. What's also interesting, though, is the silence of some of the "Fox

News" primetime hosts, the colleagues of the news division. I would expect that they would maybe eventually -- or at least I would hope they they would -- stand up for their colleagues.

You know, where is Tucker Carlson? Where is Sean Hannity? Where is Laura Ingraham, to tell the president, "you know, our job is to give our opinion on this network. But it's my colleagues' job to report the news. And they're going to report the news as it happens. And our 'Fox News' polling division has a very good reputation in the industry --


DARCY: -- "it's consistently proven to be accurate." So, you know, you can lash out because you don't like the numbers, but they are doing their jobs. And you don't hear this from the "Fox News" primetime hosts. They've been basically silent.

And in fact, if you look at some of the things they've said, they've actually sometimes taken the side of the president over their colleagues. And they've worked together with some of these people for decades.

SCIUTTO: Just to be clear, the president, there, said, "I call the shots on this," speaking --

DARCY: Correct.

SCIUTTO: -- about the debates. I mean, was that an explicit threat? To say, "If you don't cover me better, you're not going to get a debate"?

DARCY: It seems like he is making some sort of threat there. But I can't imagine, at the end of the day, when this happens, you know, Fox is still the friendliest turf he has to go on. So I think at the end of the day, he will end up on Fox.

But he's making a threat, and he's really trying to whip the news division into shape and make it more difficult for these anchors to report anything slightly critical to the president because they know that if they do, the president's going to get on that bully pulpit, he's going to go on his Twitter feed and he's going to lash out at the network --


DARCY: -- which also does not help with Fox's core audience --


DARCY: -- which is generally supportive of this president.

SCIUTTO: President has targeted other networks before, as we know, Oliver Darcy --

DARCY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much. Good to have you on.

[10:59:57] Thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.