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Acting Philly Police Commissioner Apologizes for LAPD Shirt; White House Directly Involved in Pressing Scientific Agency to Repudiate Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump; Trump Heads to Baltimore After Disparaging City; Trump Warns Taliban During 9/11 Ceremony After Scrapped Talks. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 15:30   ET




BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Pressure is growing today for the acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner to step down. Christine Coulter is apologizing after this photo surfaced of her. This is from 1994, where she is wearing a shirt that says "LAPD, we treat you like a king." That is, of course, believed to be a reference to the 1991 police beatings of Rodney King. Coulter said that although she did not recognize at the time it could have been perceived as a reference to King that she was quote, unquote, profoundly sorry for having worn it. And at last night's city council meeting, emotions were high.


CINDY BASS, PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCILWOMAN: I implore you to ask Ms. Coulter to step down immediately and replace her.



BALDWIN: Solomon Jones is a radio host and award-winning columnist for "The Philadelphia Daily News." He was at that meeting last night. Solomon, nice to have you back, sir, you know --


BALDWIN: In her apologize she said that she didn't realize sort of the significance of the shirt at the time. Your reaction?

JONES: I don't believe it. I'm sorry. I just can't, because it was in the news, it was the biggest thing in the news during that time. I have told her this. Told the Mayor this. Told my listeners and my readers this. I don't believe it. The Rodney King beating spurred a riot. Spurred three trials. Was the biggest news at the time, and so it's impossible to believe that anybody especially someone in policing would not know what that shirt referred to.

BALDWIN: And if people, just to add to the context of this, you know this, but this is the latest in what's been a really turbulent summer for the Philadelphia Police Department. In June, we spoke about this, you organized a protest after a number of officers were accused of posting hateful or racist content on social media. But here's the "but", right, so the other side of this was from the '90s. Aren't people allowed to change? Is there, Solomon, any room for forgiveness decades later?

BALDWIN: Yes, there is room for forgiveness for initially wearing the shirt. There is room for forgiveness for making that mistake, but telling us that you did not know, that this was a reference to Rodney King is just not believable. Nobody believes that because of how big that news was at the time, and I think the other thing is, the response to it.

Now, she was quoted in an article saying that she didn't know and some other things that did not make sense. She said that she did not -- they did not say everything that she said and that's fine. But then if that was a mistake, if you were misquoted, you come out immediately and say, you know what, I was misquoted. This is what I really mean about this. Rather than waiting to see how the community would respond. And now I think that people are so angry, it might just be too late.

BALDWIN: OK. We'll watch what's happening in Philadelphia, Solomon Jones, we'll keep this conversation rolling. Thank you very much for coming on. I appreciate you.

JONES: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, President Trump insisting that his administration never pressured scientists to corroborate his doctored Hurricane Dorian path, the latest twist in a bizarre White House drama. And the President is headed to Baltimore tomorrow. Weeks after he said people there were living in hell. We will talk to April Ryan about what his reception may be like.



BALDWIN: President Trump is reacting to the latest "New York Times" report that acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is the one who told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to pressure NOAA officials about that tweet from the National Weather Service's Birmingham office. "The Post" contradicted Trump's false claims about Hurricane Dorian coming to Alabama and this is how President Trump responded moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did you tell your chief of staff to have NOAA disavow those forecasters who said that Alabama was not in the path of the storm?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I never did that. I never did that. That's a whole hoax by the fake news media when they talk about the hurricane and when they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama. That's just fake news. It was right from the beginning it was a fake story.


BALDWIN: April Ryan is our CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and she is with me in Baltimore where the President will be tomorrow, and I'll ask you about that in a second. But you know you hear the President saying it's fake, but what are you hearing? Did this directive come from the White House?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Brooke, I want to you this. We've heard over and over again that what the President denies something the White House stands by it. There's always something that come out saying, well, it actually happened the way the President said it didn't happen. So, well, I don't know. I'm a bit confused. It's the President confusing me on all this.

But bottom line is we always hear the President say, it didn't happen and somebody else comes out and said, it did happen the way that the President says it didn't happen. So bottom line is that I was in the Oval Office the day of that big hurricane briefing. There was a Sharpie on the resolute desk. There was a Sharpie on the resolute desk. With an outdated, again --

BALDWIN: Hurricane map.

RYAN: You call it map, hurricane map. And the bottom line is this President is not known to be someone who can be honest in his attempts to tell America what's going on, and it's unfortunate. But the bottom line, the President just needs to come clean with this. You know, if he told NOAA to stand behind him or told Mick Mulvaney to stand by them that is bad because this is about life and death.

This isn't about ego, this isn't about poll numbers, this is about people, people being hurt or being afraid. People trying to make sure that their loved ones and things that concern them are OK. So Brooke, bottom line is we cannot trust what the President says about this, and it's unfortunate.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about where you are. Your hometown. President is coming to talk to House Republicans holding a retreat. But the last time Trump talked about charm city. He wasn't so charming. Here's a reminder.


TRUMP: Those people are living in hell in Baltimore. They're largely African-American. You have a large African-American population, and they really appreciate what I'm doing, and they've let me know it.


BALDWIN: April, does he say anything, will he say anything addressing this?

[15:45:00] RYAN: Those people who are largely African-American, those people who are largely African-American just miles from the Oval Office are people who look to you to protect and serve. Bottom line. Tomorrow we're hearing that there's still this back and forth and we won't know until it actually happens. But from what I'm told is that there is a faction in the White House that said, Mr. President, do not take a tour. Mr. President, this trip, period, is problematic. There are people who have told him, do not come.

Now where the GOP retreat is, it's a beautiful part of Baltimore. Down at the harbor. Harbor East. Wealthy, they put a lot of money in it. What the President needs to see, he needs to see that part of Baltimore, but he also needs to see the part of Baltimore just blocks away, just blocks away, Brooke, where he says it's infested by rodents. Not far from where the President will be going, Elijah Cummings, Congressman Elijah Cummings lives not too far from downtown Baltimore.

The President needs to take a tour. Now will the residents be happy? No. A lot of them don't want him and I am sure there will be protests. But the bottom line is, is that this trip is problematic either way for the President. If he comes and just gives as speech, what we are understanding at dinnertime and he doesn't take a tour, he will be viewed as someone who is taking a blind eye and talking about the city and not doing anything. But if he does -- he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, bottom line. Come and take a look.

BALDWIN: Yes, yes, yes.

RYAN: He needs to come and take a look.

BALDWIN: He's getting into Baltimore tomorrow night and we'll watch and listen to see what he does and if he says anything. April Ryan, I know you'll be paying extra, extra attention.

RYAN: You know it. From Baltimore. The home of my heart.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much. Good to see you.

Coming up next, he was once America's Mayor, but today 18 years after September 11, 2001, Rudy Giuliani's image has drastically changed. An inside look at how the evolution happened.


BALDWIN: The tribute started early this morning to recognize 18 years since September 11th. New York's Mayor on that day, Rudy Giuliani, became known as America's Mayor for carrying his city through the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil. But today instead of admiration Giuliani has drawn anger for tweeting this video profiling a police officer who saw the Twin Towers fall as a child growing up to take a stand against protesters on the streets.

Critics say the clip makes protesters look anti-American and my next guest wrote, the just released book, "The Only Plane in The Sky, An Oral History of 9/11." Garrett Graff is a CNN contributor, one of our favorite guests. Your book is number one on Amazon, so congratulations my friend on just a beautiful book full of stories. Why did you write this?

GARRET GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So this is the 18th anniversary. We're beginning to see 9/11 slip from memory to history. We now have people who were born after 9/11, old enough to vote as of today. We have American service men and women deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. The wars spawned by 9/11 who were born after the attacks. And my goal with this book, it's 480 Americans talking about that day, coast to coast, morning to night. And the goal is to capture not the facts of 9/11, which is what we sort of remember and boiled down our memories to.

BALDWIN: But the feelings.

GRAFF: But the feelings. What it was like as an American to experience that day and the fear and the trauma and the chaos and the confusion that we all lived.

BALDWIN: Tell me a story.

GRAFF: One of the things that sort of really stands out for me in the book is the way that the random life choices that we make a thousand times a day without thinking meant the literal difference between life and death that day. Michael Lomonaco, the chef at Windows on The World, the restaurant atop of the north tower, who would have normally been in his kitchen by 8:30 that morning stopped that day to pick up a new set of glasses at LensCrafters and instead missed the last elevator up to his restaurant, 72 of his colleagues died that day and he lived.

Joseph Lott, an attendee at a conference that was supposed to be at Windows on The World that day was given a new tie at breakfast by one of his colleagues. She had seen it and thought he would like it and bought it and gave it to him. And he was like, I'm going to put this tie on, I'm going to go back to my hotel room and change my shirt and put on this tie, this is such a nice gift. And his colleagues went on to the conference, they all perished in the tower and he lived just because he decided to change his tie that day.

BALDWIN: One more quote from you, Anthony Whitaker, Port Authority Police who was in one of the towers, quote, I saw two people out of the corner of my left eye, they were on fire. They ran toward me and they ran right past me, they issued no sound. All of their clothes were burned off and they were smoldering.

I mean all of these stories. It is also about feeling. It is extraordinary to just think of kids voting, not having lived through 9/11 but that is what 18 years does. Again, your book "The Only Plane in The Sky, An Oral History Of 9/11", Garrett, thank you so much for sharing.

GRAFF: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you. We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: New today, Publix has become the latest retailer to ask customers not to carry guns in its stores. The supermarket chain says law enforcement officials can be the only ones to openly carry firearms while shopping there. Last week five retailers, Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens made similar announcements. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.