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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter; Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Interview With Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Interview With U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien; Interview With Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 31, 2020 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:19]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Boiling over. Protesters and police clash on American streets.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: This is not a protest. This is chaos.

TAPPER: Have local leaders lost control? I will speak to the mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter, the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan next.

And:"I can't breathe" -- the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, sparking grief and anger across America, another injustice in a string of so many lives unjustly cut short, as Americans wonder, what will it take to make things better?

Senator Cory Booker joins me exclusively next.

Plus: laying blame. As America reels from two deadly crises, President Trump again uses inflammatory language at a moment of chaos.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: MAGA loves the black people.

TAPPER: With the country in turmoil, is he fanning the flames?

I will speak to the White House national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, in moments.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is downright dystopian.

This morning, the images are disturbing, as clashes between protesters and police roil cities across the nation for a fifth night, violence from coast to coast, a state of emergency in Los Angeles, chaos in the streets of New York, at least one person killed in Indianapolis, another in Oakland. The protests originally focused on George Floyd, the unarmed black man

who was killed while pressed under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer. That officer is now in custody and charged with third- degree murder.

But the pleas of George Floyd's family have been ignored, and protests have devolved into chaos and violence. The United States of America is in crisis.

This unrest, not seen in decades to this degree, comes as the nation is still suffering under the weight of a pandemic that has now killed more than 103,000 Americans and left more than 40 million without jobs.

Perhaps it's an obvious point, but the unemployment crisis and pandemic crisis that the nation is already going through are going to be much worse now, with the destruction of businesses and mass crowds gathering.

With the apocalyptic scenes that played out live on television last night, some in the White House, have been discussing whether the president of the United States should say something in a national address to try to unite the country and calm tensions.

Frankly, after tweets threatening protesters with vicious dogs and ominous weapons and, frankly, years of the politics of division, even many of the president's allies are not confident that he is up to that task.

I want to begin at the center of the outrage, Minnesota, where the law enforcement presence in the Twin Cities tripled in size.

Joining me now is the mayor of St. Paul, Melvin Carter.

But we're first going to take a quick break, and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:07:46]

TAPPER: OK, our technical difficulties have been fixed.

Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

And I want to begin this morning at the center of the outrage gripping our nation, Minnesota, where the law enforcement presence in the Twin Cities tripled in size.

Joining me now is the mayor of St. Paul, Melvin Carter.

Mayor Carter, thanks so much for joining us.

I want to clarify something. You originally said that every single person arrested on Friday night in your city was from out of state. Local news investigations suggest that's not true. You have conceded that.

But a larger question here, do you have a better idea of who the people rioting and looting are?

MELVIN CARTER, MAYOR OF ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA: Well, good morning, and thanks for having me on.

I'll tell you this. What we know is, there's some people in our community, there's some people in our streets who are driven there by a passion for our community, by a love for our community, and by a deep desire to never see the painful loss of life, like the killing -- like the video of the killing of George Floyd that we all saw this week.

And then there's folks in our streets who are there to burn down our black-owned barbershops, to burn down our family-owned businesses, our immigrant-owned restaurants. And it is very clear to me that those people are not driven by a love for our community.

And there's no way you can argue that those actions are designed to produce a better future for our community. Quite the opposite.

TAPPER: More than 170 businesses have been looted. The governor of your state says that your city is on fire.

The National Guard has already been deployed in Minnesota. And now the secretary -- secretary of defense is offering military support to help keep the peace in Minnesota. Will that be necessary?

CARTER: You know, you're -- you're right.

Right in St. Paul, we have had over 170 businesses damaged. We are seeing in St. Paul and obviously around the country, Jake, this level of rage and anger that, frankly, is legitimate.

As we see this just horrific video of George Floyd being just suffocated to death, the fact that we have to say, if I tell you about the unarmed African-American man who pleaded for his breath as he was killed by law enforcement, I have to clarify for you whether I'm talking about George Floyd or Eric Garner, that speaks volumes about the state of where we are in America right now.

[09:10:08]

The rage out there is predictable, it's understandable, and it's legitimate. Unfortunately, it's being expressed right now, over the past week, in ways that are destructive and unacceptable.

We are working with our law enforcement partners, we are working with our community partners to not only restore a sense of order right now, but to build a sense of confidence that we are building our way towards a better future.

TAPPER: Do you need the military help that Secretary of Defense Esper is offering?

CARTER: You know, look, I will tell you this.

The one thing that would help us ease some of this rage, ease some of this energy in our community right now is some level of assurance -- and this is what makes all of this so much worse, as we know that George Floyd is not just a single, solitary name, but he's a man.

He's an unarmed African-American man who, unfortunately, has had his name this past week join a list of names that is just far too long.

And I want to be clear. This -- this killing did not start 10 years ago, when we started seeing these videos. The only thing that's changed is, all of a sudden, we have cameras everywhere. So, this is the same thing that my grandfather and my parents and my aunts and uncles have told me about for generations.

And the thing that I think would help us, more than military support, is some assurance across our country that we possess a legal and judicial system that has the capacity and the capability to hold someone accountable when something this blatant, something this disgusting, something this well-documented happens in plain view for all of us to see.

TAPPER: I think it was Will Smith who said, racism isn't getting worse; it's getting filmed.

Speaking about accountability, the Hennepin County prosecutor has charged former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with third- degree murder. Prosecutors are considering charges for the other three officers.

Based on what you have seen, do you think those other three officers should be facing charges as well, including potentially murder?

CARTER: Jake, my father is a retired St. Paul police officer. We were walking through a local store when I was a child one day, and somebody was caught for shoplifting, and he went to help.

And I said, "Dad, why don't you just tell them you're not on duty right now?"

And he looked at me and laughed and said, "I'm always on duty."

Our officers have a duty to intervene. They have a duty. We all know that the basic charge of a police officer is to help when people are hurt. So, when all of humanity can look at this video and say, that's disgusting, that's unacceptable, and yet somehow we have four officers in the video who -- three of whom sat there and either helped hold Mr. Floyd down or stood guard over the scene while it happened, that is an incredible insult to humanity.

It's an insult to our officers. Our St. Paul officers are just as distraught over this as I am.

And it points to, unmistakably -- if it was just one, you might be able to say, rogue officer, bad apple. But when you have four officers in the video all responsible for the taking of George Floyd's life, it points to a culture of normalized -- a culture that's accepted, that's been accepted, and that cannot be a part of our culture moving forward.

What we're calling for right now is peace. We're asking our folks to protest peacefully, to scream from the top of their lungs that this can never happen again, and that, not just one, but all four of those officers must be held accountable.

We're -- but we're not -- so, we are asking for peace. We're not asking for patience. I'm not asking people to wait patiently while we slowly stem the tide of unarmed black men killed by police.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

CARTER: You know, as an African-American man in America, I know very well that, too often, never really means later.

But this energy that we have seen consume our country this week is like an atomic energy. It could either be -- it could either tear us apart at the seams, or it could bring us together, frankly, in a way that we have never been together.

TAPPER: Yes.

CARTER: So, we're not asking for patience. We're asking our young people, we're asking everybody who's outraged by that to channel this impatience, to channel this frustration, to channel this anger toward not destroying our communities, but destroying the laws, destroying the legal precedents, destroying the police union contracts, destroying all of those forces that make it so difficult to hold someone accountable when the loss -- when one of our African-American men's lives is taken in an unacceptable way.

TAPPER: Yes.

All right, Mayor Carter, thank you so much for your time today. And we're praying for peace for the people of Minneapolis-St. Paul as well.

Thank you so much.

Seventy people were arrested in Atlanta last night, with the city under curfew, as Georgia's governor activates the National Guard statewide.

[09:15:01]

And, on Friday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms made an emotional plea to the residents of her city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOTTOMS: What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta.

This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Mayor Bottoms joins me now.

Thanks so much for joining us, Mayor Bottoms.

On Friday night, you talked about a lot of things, including raising four black children in America today.

How do you talk to your kids about what we have seen this week?

BOTTOMS: It's difficult, Jake.

My kids have so many emotions, like so many of us have. It ranges from anger to fear. And the thing that I tell my children is what I have to remind myself, is that we are -- we're better than this.

And this country has faced the ugliness of racism for over 400 years. But what I know is that, as a people and as a country, we can do better, we will do better.

And I'm reminded of the words of Audre Lorde, revolution is not a one- time event.

And so I appreciated what Melvin just said. It's -- we're asking for peace, not patience.

TAPPER: President Trump has been tweeting about the violent protests across the country.

He vowed to step in and use -- quote -- "the unlimited power of our military," and he suggested the local officials should -- quote -- "get tough and fight."

He's also talked about threatening "the most vicious dogs and most ominous weapons I have ever seen" to use against protesters in Washington, D.C.

What do you make of the way the president has handled this crisis?

BOTTOMS: He should just stop talking. This is like Charlottesville all over again. He speaks, and he makes it worse.

There are times when you should just be quiet. And I wish that he would just be quiet. Or, if he can't be silent, if there's somebody of good sense and good conscience in the White House, put him in front of a teleprompter and pray that he reads it, and at least says the right things, because he is making it worse.

TAPPER: You pointed out that more than half of the business owners in metro Atlanta are not white, saying -- quote -- "When you burn the city down, you're burning down our community."

Rapper and activist Killer Mike was with you on Friday. I want to play a little bit of what he said as well. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KILLER MIKE, RAPPER AND ACTIVIST: We don't want to see Targets burning. We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: When you see these protests turn into vandalism of businesses, many of them owned by blacks or other minorities, what goes through your mind?

BOTTOMS: What goes through my mind is what I have thought -- I thought yesterday.

We weren't talking about George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor. We were talking about police cars burning in our street.

And what happens when we have these violent protests and uprisings in our city, we get distracted from what the real issue is. And we need to get back to what the problem is. And that's the killing of unarmed black people in America.

And there is a history lesson that we find right here in Atlanta from the civil rights movement on how you effectuate change. And what I saw happening and what we have seen happening over the past few days in America is not the way that things will change in this country.

TAPPER: All of this, of course, is happening while we're in the middle of a pandemic, with the economic hardship, and then obviously people gathering in large groups. You encouraged protesters to go get a coronavirus test last night.

How worried are you that these protests could be serving as a way that the virus spreads? And what might that mean for Atlanta in two, four, six weeks?

BOTTOMS: Well, it's interesting, Jake.

Yesterday, around 11:30 last night, I realized that I hadn't looked at our coronavirus numbers in two days. And that's frightening, because it's a pandemic, and people of color are getting hit harder.

It -- I am extremely concerned when we are seeing mass gatherings. And we know what's already happening in our community with this virus, if we're going to see -- we're going to -- we're going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks.

And so, again, we are losing sight of so many things right now, losing sight of the fact that there has to be change in this country as it comes -- as it relates to race relations in this country. There has to be change in this country when it comes to leadership in this country.

[09:20:10]

There has to be change as it relates to our health care system and how our communities of color are receiving health care in this country.

But, right now, we're talking about cars being burned and businesses being vandalized. And there are still so many issues that are right before us that we have lost sight of.

TAPPER: All right, Mayor Bottoms, thank you so much for your time.

And our thoughts and prayers go to the people of Atlanta today. We appreciate your time today.

My next guest is a former presidential candidate and former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who has for decades been discussing and looking for ways to try to improve many of the problems we're discussing today.

Joining me now, New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker.

Senator Booker, thanks for joining us.

I know you have personal experience trying to both combat racism in the police force in Newark and also address some of the underlying issues of poverty and crime and hopelessness being brought to light.

What goes through your mind at a time of crisis like this?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I think you can't help but have your heart wrenched when you witness what we're witnessing.

We are a nation -- we're really one nation. This is not a quaint ideal. It's an inescapable fact. And when you see the horrible, horrific murder of George Floyd, you know the history from which it springs. You know the depth of the pain and anguish, where black people in communities all across this country live in fear of the police.

And you understand that this -- what we see manifesting right now is not just the reaction to a live or caught-on-tape murder, but to deep wounds within our society, within our body politic that are festering in our country and must be addressed.

And we do not -- we are not manifesting the conviction, as a society, to heal ourselves. And, right now, you're seeing the consequences of that.

TAPPER: You criticized President Trump this week when he tweeted -- quote -- "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Obviously, it's an infamous quote from a racist sheriff in the late '60s. The president later said he wasn't calling for shooting and he wasn't trying to echo that racist Miami police chief, who notoriously used police brutality against black Americans during the civil rights movement.

What do you make of his explanation?

BOOKER: You know, from Donald Trump, even before he was president, this full-page ad condemning to death the Central Park 5 exonerated people, to his calling entire cities in our country rat-infested, rodent-filled places of filth, to his not -- ability to condemn Nazis, every time I respond to Donald Trump, I do it from a place where I realize he doesn't deserve a response.

He doesn't deserve my attention or my emotion. Our people do.

I -- Donald Trump has -- no longer has the capacity to break my heart, to surprise me.

But I say this all the time. If America, though, as a whole, if America hasn't broken your heart, you don't love her enough. And if you still love this country, then remember the words of Martin Luther King about people like Bull Connor and people like George Wallace.

He said, what we have to repent for is not simply the vitriolic words and violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of the good people.

The good people of this country, that's where my love goes, and that's where my heart hurts for, because what folks -- and I see it all over social media right now -- what folks are saying and hurting and this emotion, where is that emotion when we don't capture vicious violence and murder on tape, when so many Americans are dying at the hands of the police, and we don't even collect the data on it as a federal government, as a society?

Where is the response to the everyday violence, that we live in a nation with such toxicity, from Cancer Alley to Duplin County, that is killing disproportionately black people, because race is still the greatest indicator of whether you live around a toxic site?

Where is the outrage and the anguish in the hearts of Americans, when we claim to be the home of the free, but our jails and our prisons have a quarter of the globe's incarcerated people, overwhelmingly, disproportionately black people for nonviolent crimes that others do with a cavalier disregard because they know they will not be tried for that?

And so this is a moment in America that can't just lead to a momentary outrage. We have to begin to do the concerted things that so many of our great heroes, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Fred Shuttlesworth, tried to demand that the conscience of this country remain disturbed and uncomfortable, until actual laws are changed that bring more justice to our country.

[09:25:14]

TAPPER: Like what? Like what laws need to be changed to bring more justice?

BOOKER: So, I will be very specific.

My team right now is currently drafting legislation, obvious legislation, number one, to change Section 242 that governs misconduct for police in this country. That needs to be changed, to create a national police registry for misconduct, which will help us to stop officers who accrue such large actions of misconduct, and then have nothing happen to them.

I'm -- we are drafting legislation around the use of force incidents and how we have to create greater transparency and accountability for them.

We're drafting legislation that bans racial and religious profiling. I could continue. This is not like we don't know what to do, Jake. It's that we have not manifested a collective will to get it done.

We come from a nation that it seems to take these spasms of protest and discord to get people who are comfortable on the sidelines witnessing history, to get them onto the field and began to make history, to make us to be who we say we are, a nation of liberty and justice for all.

And so we know what to do. There are things we can do. We are not helpless. We are not weak. We are strong. But as a guy who always says that you can't lead the people if you don't love the people, we need to be a society of great brotherly and sisterly love, a beloved community.

Well, what does love look like in public, as one of my heroes says? It looks like justice. And we have a -- we have steps, concerted steps that we have to take.

And my worry right now, amidst this time of pain and hurt and rage, is that, in a month or two, people will go back to normal. Well, normal -- normal is to see so much of our nation hurting and in pain. And, again, we are one country.

You can no more take one -- a knife in one hand and stab the other arm and think that that's not going to hurt your entire body, than to be a nation right now to have so much environmental injustice, economic injustice, racial injustice, criminal injustice, and not think the entire body is going to suffer. We are all weaker because we have allowed so much injustice to last so long.

And so now it's a time to take this energy and this anger and this focus and keep it, until we actually change laws and systems of accountability that can raise standards in our country.

TAPPER: Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, thank you so much. Appreciate your time this morning, as always.

Thanks so much.

There are now two crises causing pain and death in America. What is President Trump doing to help?

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien will join me next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:05]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump says he could quickly deploy U.S. military police to try to quell violence in Minnesota, as cities across the nation deal with protests that, in many cases, have gotten out of hand.

And joining me now, the national security adviser, Ambassador Robert O'Brien.

Ambassador O'Brien, thanks for joining us today.

First off, does President Trump have any plans to address the nation during this time of crisis?

ROBERT O'BRIEN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think he made a very eloquent speech last night at NASA, as we celebrated the launch of two heroic American astronauts to space.

But, before, as he prefaced those remarks, I think he made very eloquent comments and expressed our condolences and our sympathy to George Floyd's family. Our prayers are with Mr. Floyd and his family for that horrifying event that took place. And so we're with him.

The president also said, we're with the protesters, who are -- who are demanding answers, just like we are, the peaceful protesters. But we have got to stop the mob violence that is taking place in the country.

TAPPER: OK, but no -- no other plans right now to address the country beyond that?

O'BRIEN: Well, the -- look, the president addresses the country almost every day. He's been very accessible to them.

And I think he's made it very clear in his initial Twitter responses to the terrible killing and death of Mr. Floyd and his common sense that he's -- he's accessible the country every day.

So, whether he has an address from the Oval or he speaks to the press, he's accessible and will continue to be accessible to the country and give his views on these events, which are -- which are tragic for the country.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the violence that we're seeing from coast to coast.

Attorney General Bill Barr is blaming -- quote -- "far left extremist groups" for using Antifa-like tactics for the violence that we're seeing.

A top Minnesota official says that investigators are looking into whether white supremacists and far right groups are involved.

The acting Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Senator Marco Rubio, says that social media accounts linked to at least three foreign adversaries are stoking violence.

As the national security adviser, what can you tell us about who is perpetrating and promoting this violence?

O'BRIEN: Well, first of all, I want to separate the violence from the peaceful protesters.

One of the things that makes this country great, as you know, Jake, is the fact that, when something horrific happens like the killing of George Floyd, Americans can go to the street and protest and petition their government for redress.

And we want to know why that officer, who had so many complaints against him, was allowed to stay on the force, why local prosecutors and the mayor and police commissioner didn't do anything about it, and how this happened.

And so peaceful protesters are -- are part of a great American tradition.

What we don't want to see are the armed protesters, the -- those committing violence, those who were throwing bricks at Secret Service officers and Park Police last night in front of the White House, those who have been burning down our cities and attacking the most vulnerable minority communities.

[09:35:03]

And we're going to get to the bottom of it. And I think we're going to -- the president and the attorney general want to know from Director Wray what the FBI has been doing to track and dismantle and surveil and prosecute Antifa.

And if that hasn't been happening, we want to know what the plan is going forward. These Antifa militant radicals who come into our cities and cross state lines, and they're organized, and use Molotov cocktails and fireworks and gas to burn down our cities, especially businesses in minority neighborhoods, it's got to be stopped.

And we expect law enforcement to get to the bottom of it, for sure.

TAPPER: OK.

And what can you tell us about any of the far right groups that might be trying to use this as a predicate to prompt a race war, as VICE News reported, that they are also part of some of the unrest, some of the violence we're seeing, and then, of course, Senator Rubio saying that foreign adversaries, through social media, are trying to stoke violence as well?

O'BRIEN: Well, I -- I have not seen those reports.

And I haven't read -- I generally don't read VICE, so I haven't seen the reports on far right groups.

This is being driven by Antifa. And they did it in Seattle. They have done it in Portland. They have done it in Berkeley. This is a destructive force of radical -- I don't even know if we want to call them leftists. Whatever they are, they're -- they're militants who are -- are coming in and burning our cities, and we're going to get to the bottom of it.

And as far as our foreign adversaries, look, we always have foreign adversaries who are on Twitter and Facebook and other places trying to sow discord among Americans.

And the difference between us and our foreign adversaries -- and I want to send a message to the Chinese or whoever else are taking satisfaction of this.

When we have an event like -- like happened to George Floyd, which was just horrifying -- and -- and, again, our hearts go out to his family -- we mourn and grieve with them -- we're going to investigate it. We're going to get to the bottom of it. We're going to prosecute him. And we're going to get to the bottom of what those other officers who were standing around while George Floyd was killed, what they were doing.

And, if necessary, they will be prosecuted. And we're going to follow that very closely.

That's the difference between us and our foreign adversaries. When this happens in America, those -- those -- those bad apples who give all of our law enforcement, who are great Americans, a bad name, they're going to be prosecuted.

We're going to allow people to protest, and we're going to get to the bottom of it. And that's the difference between us and between the authoritarian countries around the world.

TAPPER: You talked about the president's response to this and his comments standing with the family of George Floyd.

The president has also been on Twitter quite a bit, as you know. He tweeted overnight Thursday night, in part -- quote -- "These thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

That's a comment that Senator Cory Booker called racist.

The governor of Minnesota, Governor Walz, and the governor of Maryland, Governor Hogan, suggested that the president's language was inflammatory.

The president had also invoked vicious dogs and ominous weapons being wielded against protesters outside the White House.

Do you think messages like that are helping to unite the country and calm fears?

O'BRIEN: Well, I think what the president said -- and he -- and he spoke about that tweet when some of those comments were made, and he said, look, I don't want -- he was trying to de-escalate. He didn't -- he didn't want violence. He's trying to stop the violence that we saw that took place overnight.

And the message to -- and it's a strong message, that we want law and order in this country. We want peaceful protesters who have real concerns about brutality and racism, they need to be able to go to the city hall. They need to be able to petition their government and let their voices be heard.

And they can't be hijacked by these -- these left-wing Antifa militants who are burning down primarily communities in the African- American sections and the Hispanic sections of our city, where immigrants and hardworking folks are trying to get a leg up.

And they're having their businesses burned by these radicals, many of whom are imported from Seattle or Portland or who knows where they come from, and cross state lines, and they're hurting our people.

So, the president is going to take a strong stand for law and order.

TAPPER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I can tell you, I was with the president on Air Force One when we watched that -- that horrific video of what happened to George Floyd. He was moved by it. He was disturbed by it. It's awful.

And, look, he stands with the family.And we want to get to the bottom. That's why he ordered the FBI and the DOJ Civil Rights Division to get involved immediately. We're going to get to the bottom of what happened there.

TAPPER: But he's out there also talking about how protesters outside -- outside the White House, how the Secret Service is going to sic vicious dogs on them, has ominous weapons, how the young Secret Service agents want to get out there for practice.

This is not calming language. I don't doubt that President Trump was disturbed by the video of George Floyd. It's horrific and obscene, frankly. But the president, his passion has not been about the way you're speaking this morning, about what happened to George Floyd, and the indecency of that, but about the protesters and the violence that some of them are causing.

[09:40:00]

And we have government officials, Democrats and Republicans, saying that the president is using inflammatory language.

O'BRIEN: Well, I think that passion comes from the fact that we have got great law enforcement officers, not -- not the few bad apples, like the officer that killed George Floyd.

But we got a few bad apples that have given -- given law enforcement a bad name; 99.9 percent of these guys are heroes. They're the ones who are running towards the danger, who are saving our lives. And a bunch of them were outside the White House last night, Park

Policemen on horseback, and uniformed Secret Service officers who are having bricks thrown at him.

There was a Federal Protective Service officer in Oakland, Patrick Underwood, who was shot and killed.

TAPPER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And our hearts go out, and we mourn with his family, just like we do with George Floyd's family.

So, these -- these -- these protesters -- and the president is very passionate about it.

TAPPER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: The legitimate protesters have a right to be on the streets, and the president defends that.

But these Antifa radical militants, who are using military tactics to kill and hurt and maim our police officers...

TAPPER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: ... they need to be stopped. And I think that's where the passion from the president is coming.

TAPPER: OK.

I mean, just for the record, he made the comment about the ominous weapons and the vicious dogs before last night.

But let me ask you a question, because you're talking about police. George Floyd is...

O'BRIEN: Well, Patrick Underwood was killed -- Patrick Underwood was killed before last night as well.

TAPPER: I understand that. Right, but he was talking about -- when he talked about vicious dogs and ominous weapons, that was at the White House.

But I want to ask you about the police, because George Floyd is hardly the only unarmed black American killed recently by police.

Do you think systemic racism is a problem in law enforcement agencies in the United States?

O'BRIEN: No, I -- I don't think there's systemic racism.

I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans. And many of them are African-American, Hispanic, Asian. They're working in the toughest neighborhoods. They have got the hardest jobs to do in this country.

And I think they're amazing, great Americans, and they're my heroes.

But you know what? There are some bad apples in there. And there -- there are some bad cops that are racist. And there are cops that are -- maybe don't have the right training. And there are some that are just bad cops. And they need to be rooted out, because there's a few bad apples that are giving law enforcement a terrible name.

And there's no doubt that there's some racist police. I think they're the minority. I think they're the few bad apples. And we need to root them out.

But I will tell you, I'm just so proud of the way our law enforcement professionals are protecting us and handling this situation with restraint. And we love our law enforcement.

But we do have to get rid of those that are like -- like the dirty cop that killed George Floyd. I mean, we need to get rid of those people.

TAPPER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: By the way, where were the local prosecutors and where was the police commissioner?

That guy, apparently -- I'm told he had a long record of this sort of conduct.

TAPPER: It's a good question. It's a good question.

O'BRIEN: Why was he still on the force?

TAPPER: It's a good question. And I'd like to have you back to talk more about the issue of systemic racism vs. bad apples, because I think that there's a lot we could talk about there.

But I do want to ask you about the president's announcement to terminate the United States' relationship with the World Health Organization. The president has repeatedly criticized the Chinese government, saying officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the WHO to mislead the world.

But I have to say, WHO leaders claimed they were -- they were listening to Chinese authorities. And that's what they were doing, which is, by the way, exactly what President Trump was doing during that same time, January and February.

Take a -- take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you trust that we're going to know everything we need to know from China?

TRUMP: I do. I do.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that China is covering up the full extent of coronavirus?

TRUMP: No. China is working very hard.

They're working very, very hard. And I think it's going to all work out fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Why should the World Health Organization be criticized for taking President Xi's word for it, when President Trump did the exact same thing?

O'BRIEN: Well, there's a big difference between the health experts, who are supposed to be in on the ground and have the expertise to figure out what's happening with this pandemic, and world leaders, who are being told one thing.

So, the World Health Organizations should have been on the ground. They should have been -- they should have found out what happened.

They were repeating not just information, like the president said, that things will be OK, but that there's no human-to-human transmission. They criticized the travel ban that probably saved a million Americans, when President Trump courageously banned travel from China early on in the crisis, when many people were against it, and he was called a racist for doing it.

But that's not the -- where it starts with the WHO.

TAPPER: It wasn't a full travel ban, of course.

O'BRIEN: Well, no, we let Americans come home. So, you're right. We did let Americans come home. And I think -- I think everyone agrees with that.

But -- but, look, this is not the first time the WHO has bungled a pandemic response. They have bungled things going all the way back to AIDS/HIV in Africa.

And that's why the United States has spent over the past 20 years $142 billion on public health, especially the PEPFAR program that's literally saving the lives, with antiretroviral drugs, of millions of people in Africa.

TAPPER: Yes. It's...

O'BRIEN: And we're going to do the same thing.

We're just not going to run that money through the corrupt WHO. We're going to make sure it goes to the Red Cross, to front-line hospitals all over the world.

[09:45:00]

So, we're going to spend the same amount of money on public health.

TAPPER: So...

O'BRIEN: We're just not doing it through the corrupt WHO for now.

TAPPER: The Republican senator who runs the Health Committee in the Senate, Lamar Alexander, said in a statement that withdrawing from the WHO could potentially lethal consequences for the American people, saying -- quote -- "I disagree with the president's decision. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States, as well as others in the world, need."

Couldn't this decision hurt the American people?

O'BRIEN: No. Listen, we're going to spend the same amount of money.

And the clinical trials that are going on for the vaccine for COVID are not being done under the auspices of WHO here in America. They're being done by great American companies and great American researchers.

And we're going to get a vaccine. We're going to go therapeutic. And we're going to beat this COVID disease that was unleashed on us and came from China.

But the WHO needs to reform. And what the president said is, the WHO reforms and ends the corruption and ends the reliance on China, the U.S. will very seriously consider coming back.

But, in the meantime, we're going to take that $440 million that the U.S. spends, compared to the $40 million that the Chinese spends on the WHO, and we're going to make sure it gets to front-line health care workers, just like we're doing with PEPFAR in Africa.

The WHO isn't saving lives for -- for AIDS and HIV victims in Africa. It's the United States and our generous taxpayers who are saving those lives in Africa.

TAPPER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And we're not doing it through the WHO. We're doing it as the United States of America.

We're going to take that same money and make sure it gets to the Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross and the hospitals all over the world that need it, and doesn't go through a corrupt international organization that's controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. That's for sure.

TAPPER: OK, PEPFAR, a wonderful program started by President George W. Bush.

Ambassador O'Brien, thank you so much for your time this morning. We really appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: My next guest is a Republican governor who led his state during racial tensions after the death of Freddie Gray.

What Maryland Governor Larry Hogan thinks of President Trump's leadership during this period of crisis -- that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:50:50]

TAPPER: Welcome back the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis is just the latest in a sad history in this nation.

Joining me now, Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan.

Governor Hogan, President Trump has responded to the events we have seen in the last few days by calling those responsible for the looting and arson -- quote -- "thugs" and saying, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

You have suggested that his rhetoric was -- quote -- "inflammatory" and not helpful.

Explain why.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Look, I think the -- one of the most important things that a leader can do right now -- and I went through this in 2015 during the riots in Baltimore -- my -- one of my primary focuses was to try to lower the temperature.

And that's not helpful. It's not lowering the temperature. It's sort of -- it's sort of continuing to escalate the rhetoric. And I think it's just the opposite of the message that should have been coming out of the White House.

TAPPER: What lessons could you teach Minnesota and the nation, having dealt with the Freddie Gray crisis?

And for those who don't remember, Freddie Gray was picked up. He was in a police vehicle that -- and he was in a coma after that. It was a rough ride, people said. And the police officers ultimately were not convicted.

HOGAN: Well, I think we dealt with this crisis in Baltimore really decisively and quickly. We acted quickly.

I -- within a couple of hours, we sent in 4,000 members of the National Guard and 1,000 extra police officers to try to maintain peace and to protect the citizens of Baltimore, the vast majority of whom were protesting peacefully, which is what I think we're seeing in many cities across America.

But we had a smaller element who was burning and looting. And we were trying to stop that violence. And we did it very successfully. After the first few hours, there was no more burning or looting or violence. Nobody else got hurt. But we let the people protests go on for a solid week in Baltimore.

And I immediately went to the city. I walked the streets of Baltimore for a week, talked with leaders in the community.

And I think my advice to these leaders in other states would be to not let the situation get out of control. We -- our theory was kind of peace through strength. We did not let it escalate to violence, where crowds were overpowering police.

But we separated the violent acts and the destructive acts from the peaceful protesting. And we tried to get in there and communicate with the with the citizens. And, frankly, many of the people in the community are also trying to stop the violence and all of the bad activity that's taking place.

They don't want to see it. And it's not -- it's not really helpful to any -- any part of the situation.

TAPPER: So, just a few minutes ago, I was talking with the White House national security adviser, Robert O'Brien.

And he told me that, while, in his view, there might be a few bad apples, as he put it, he does not think that systemic racism is a problem in law enforcement agencies in the United States.

What do you think? Is systemic racism a problem?

HOGAN: Well, look, we have got a consent decree in the city of Baltimore that came out of the situation with Freddie Gray in 2015 to try to get to the root causes and problems.

I think we have got issues that have to be addressed, and it's a conversation we need to continue to have. There certainly are some issues and problems.

This one case obviously is a -- this was a -- this was a murderer in a police uniform. There's no question about that. This -- this is totally unacceptable. And it's not the only case of a bad cop.

But, no, I also -- I believe that the vast majority of cops are good and do a wonderful job protecting the community. But we have got to have these conversations and figure out what the issues are that we have to address.

[09:55:00]

TAPPER: Just two weeks ago, the state of Maryland was under a stay- at-home order.

And now we have seen residents of your state taking to the streets, obviously, in large groups. It's hard to describe these protests, even if they are righteous, as in a line with the ideals of social distancing.

Are you concerned, as a health matter, that these protests could be spreading the virus? And what might that mean for your state in June or July?

HOGAN: Well, we're a little bit concerned about that.

Right now, the immediate concern is to lower the temperature, stop the looting, and potentially keep our citizens safe from the riots that are going on.

But the next step is to worry about this, what we have been focused on for the past couple of months, is the safety -- dealing with this coronavirus. And there's no question that, when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets, is -- it's not healthy.

There's about a 14-day incubation period. So, two weeks from now across America, we're going to find out whether or not this gives us a spike and drives the numbers back up again or not.

But we went from a stay-at-home order. Most states in America had rules about no crowds of 10 or more. And now we're seeing thousands of people jammed in together in close proximity.

TAPPER: So, you are concerned?

HOGAN: I am. I think most of my colleagues are as well.

TAPPER: One last question, quickly, if you can.

The president continues to insist that mail-in voting will lead to rampant voter fraud. I know you have mail-in voting in Maryland. What's your take on the president's continued campaign against it?

HOGAN: Well, I -- we haven't had any experiences so far in Maryland that would cause me any great concern.

We did that in a special election. We're doing it in a primary on Tuesday here in our state. And during the pandemic, it was the only way to really have safe voting. We wanted to make sure everybody had the opportunity to vote without putting themselves in danger by going out to polling places.

But, look, I think we want to make sure we get the opportunity for every single person to vote. We ought to make sure that no voter fraud is taking place, whether we're doing it by mail or any other way. But I'm not concerned about that here in our state. And we have been doing it for a long time.

TAPPER: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, thank you so much for your time today.

God bless the people of Maryland today. We hope everything goes OK.

Today at noon Eastern we're going to try to pay tribute to the lives that have been lost in this coronavirus pandemic, with a special program. It's called WE REMEMBER: A NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO HONOR THE VICTIMS OF COVID-19. We hope that you will tune in.

Fareed Zakaria starts next.