Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Slams Governors, Tells Them to 'Dominate' Protesters; Unrest in America; Local Officials Suspect White Supremacists, Far- Left Extremists are Behind Violence at Nationwide Protests; Barr Escalates Federal Response, Deploying Riot Squads. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 1, 2020 - 16:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Forgive me. I have got to jump in. I'm up against the next show. I appreciate you.

You wrote a powerful piece in "The Washington Post." Encourage everyone to go find that.

Marilyn Mosby, thank you.

Dr. Carter, thank you.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.

"THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin today with a ton of breaking news in our national lead.

Just moments ago, the Floyd family attorney and medical experts presenting the findings of their independent autopsy, an autopsy that concluded that police were the reason for George Floyd's death, that Floyd was asphyxiated.

This comes after the medical examiner found that there was no physical finding to support strangulation or asphyxiation.

Also a short time ago, a remarkable and emotional scene in Minneapolis, the Floyd family gathering at the site of George Floyd's killing for the first time.

It's now a memorial site, the family praying, and the crowd on its knees to pray with the family.

The murder of Floyd has, of course, sparked days of protests about not just his death, but racial injustice in the United States in general, and cities and states across the country are now preparing for what could be another night of chaos. Sources tell me that the White House has told some staff, staffers who

do not need to be there, to leave by 4:00 p.m. Eastern, which we just reached, due to planned protests in Washington, D.C., this evening. I'm told that senior staff will continue working.

This all comes as we have seen protests which began peacefully descending into destruction in Washington, D.C. Large groups marched down the streets, chanting outside the White House. And, later, fires were set, including at the historic St. John's Church, where Abraham Lincoln, among others, would pray, though, thankfully, the rector reported the church survived the fire.

In total, just in D.C. there were 88 arrests, among the charges, felony rioting and burglary. In Los Angeles, stores are being cleaned up today after many were destroyed and looted. Chicago's mayor is calling last night nothing short of devastating for small businesses in the Windy City.

The city's 911 operators got 50,000 more calls than they would receive in a typical day. Today, President Trump, instead of speaking to the nation to try to calm tensions, as some of his allies have called for, he instead held a conference call with governors, during which he called them weak and encouraged more aggressive tactics against violent protesters, telling governors they needed to dominate.

We will bring you the audio of that call in minutes.

But, first, let's go right now to CNN's Miguel Marquez, who will take us inside the moving vigil this afternoon, where the Floyd family mourned with protesters, called for an end to the violence that we have seen in the streets and pleaded for justice.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An emotional afternoon here in Minneapolis.

For the first time, the brother of George Floyd coming to his big brother's memorial, urging protesters everywhere to stop the violence.

TERRENCE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: My family is a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing. Let's switch it up. Do this peacefully, please.

MARQUEZ: The Minnesota attorney general now taking over in prosecuting the case.

KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are moving as expeditiously, as quickly and as effectively as we can. But I need to protect this prosecution.

MARQUEZ: Asking for patience unlikely to quell sometimes violent protests.

In a rare moment of candor for an official investigating his own officers,the Minneapolis police chief speaking to the Floyd family online CNN suggested indifference of the other three uncharged officers present at Floyd's death could itself be criminal.

MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, POLICE CHIEF: Being silent or not intervening, to me, you're complicit. So I don't see a level of distinction any different.

MARQUEZ: Officer Chauvin's first court appearance delayed by a week to next Monday. He remains in custody, charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for holding his knee to the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds, says the complaint, as the 46- year-old father of two begged him to stop, at times calling out for his mother.

The video igniting protests in the U.S. and beyond, demands for justice and equality in London, Berlin, Italy, and Montreal.

Across the U.S., protests, mostly peaceful, in at least 130 cities and towns. Now nearly half the states calling up the National Guard to help keep the peace. In New York, peace turned to violence, as thousands of protesters challenged police, some lighting enormous fires in the streets of Manhattan.


In Washington, D.C., Lafayette Park across the street from the White House, fires burned there and in historic St. John's Church, the mayor extending a curfew for two days starting at 7:00 p.m.

MURIEL BOWSER (D), MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: We do not and we will not allow the continued destruction of our hometown.

MARQUEZ: In Minneapolis, terrifying moments, after thousands of protesters moved onto a freeway, a semi-truck nearly barreling into them. No one was injured, except for the 35-year-old driver, who was beaten by protesters, then arrested and charged with assault.

The video of Floyd's death prompting a deep shock to the nation's soul.

In New York City, some police officers knelt before protesters, in a sign of how Floyd's cruel death has affected them. And in Flint, Michigan, the sheriff joined protesters.

CHRIS SWANSON, GENESEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN, SHERIFF: We want to be with you all for real. So I took the helmet off. They laid the batons down.

I want to make this a parade, not a protest. Come on. Come on.


MARQUEZ: For America's children, race and equality now front-page news.


MARQUEZ: So, this is the very spot where George Floyd had that knee to his neck. It has now become a place of reflection, a place of contemplation, a

place of prayer, people wrestling with race, injustice in this country.

Can tell you, here on the ground in Minneapolis, it feels a bit less heavy today. It feels as though that things might be on the downward trend. The state reduced the time that the curfew will go into effect from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. today.

And it feels, at least for now, that perhaps the worst that Minneapolis has seen is behind it -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Miguel Marquez in Minneapolis, let's hope that you're right.

Some real moments of grace from the Floyd family.

Today, President Trump angrily chastised the nation's governors for what he called a weak response to protests that have turned violent.

And, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports for us now, he also told governors it was their responsibility, not his, to crack down harshly on the continued unrest, while at least one governor told the president that his inflammatory rhetoric was only making matters worse.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to get much tougher. Most of you are weak.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an extraordinary phone call today, President Trump berated the nation's governors and urged them to crack down on unruly protesters, or risk looking like jerks.

TRUMP: You have to dominate. If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. They're going to run all over you, and you will look like a bunch of jerks.

COLLINS: Trump vented that not enough governors were using military force, though 17,000 National Guardsmen have been sitting out to deal with the unrest across the nation.

TRUMP: What happened in the state of Minnesota, they were a laughingstock all over the world. They took over the police department. The police were running down the streets, sirens blazing, the rest of them running. It was on camera.

And then they wiped out -- you would probably have to build a new one. But I have never seen anything like it. And the whole world was laughing.

COLLINS: The president called for those arrested at protests to be jailed. TRUMP: You have to arrest people. And you have to try people. And they have to go to jail for long periods of time. These are terrorists.

COLLINS: Some governors have had issues with the president's rhetoric, like Illinois' J.B. Pritzker, who said this to the president on the call today:

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): The rhetoric that's coming out of the White House is making it worse. We've got to have national leadership in calling for calm.

TRUMP: I don't like your rhetoric either.

COLLINS: A fierce internal divide has emerged inside the West Wing over whether the president needs to address the nation directly.

Some advisers have urged him to speak out from the Oval and call for unity, but others are hesitant, because his last address on coronavirus was widely criticized for being filled with inaccuracies.

The president's most extensive remarks on George Floyd's death were after the rocket launch on Saturday.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has delivered multiple statements on this. But what I would note is continual statements, as he's made day in day and day and day again, they don't stop anarchy. What stops anarchy is action. And that's what the president is working on right now.

COLLINS: The president and his aides have blamed the protests on Antifa, a radical left group that he said he will designate as a terrorist organization.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, the president also said on that call with governors today that he's putting the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, in charge. He said that in quotes.

It's not clear what that means exactly. And the White House declined to really specify during that briefing later today, though he did not say either if he is going to deploy more of the military out to help with these protests that you're seeing happening across the nation.


TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much.

Just in right now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing a citywide curfew will go into effect tonight beginning at 11:00 p.m. in New York City.

Let's go straight to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz live for us in Manhattan.

Shimon, what are you hearing?


And the governor and the mayor just moments ago announcing this curfew that is going to take effect at 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. This is a significant move for the city. It's not something that they have done recent -- in recent time.

The governor and the mayor, after what's happened here the last several nights, have decided that a curfew is appropriate. Last night was one of the worst nights in terms of looting in the city. Many stores in SoHo were looted, windows were broken.

And so the mayor and the governor, along with the police department, have gotten together, and they have decided to put this curfew into effect.

The other thing, Jake, I want to point out is police presence. That is going to double in size. And we're told that from 4,000 to 8,000 officers will now be on patrol out on the streets and respond -- and responding to the demonstrations and the protests.

This is a peaceful protest here. But, as we know, at night, what happens here, things change. And after what we saw last night on the streets, the governor and the mayor here deciding that -- to put this curfew into effect.

And the other thing is, more officers will be on the street, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, a curfew for the city that doesn't sleep.

Shimon Prokupecz in New York, thank you so much.

Moments ago, the attorney for George Floyd's family released results of an independent autopsy that found that the cause of death for Mr. Floyd was asphyxia due to compression of the neck and the back. This, of course, comes after the local medical examiner put out a preliminary autopsy on Friday that said Floyd likely died from a -- quote -- "compilation of police restraint, underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system."

Let's bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, a copy of the independent autopsy will not be released, we're told, until a toxicology analysis is done. What what's your big takeaway from what you heard?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, they were not equivocal at all.

They said this was clearly homicide, it was clearly due to mechanical asphyxiation. So that part was not equivocal. There was a couple of things that I think were important. One is, they said that the problem was caused by both pressure to the neck and pressure to the back, so, two separate pressure points and two separate people. The pressure to the neck blocking oxygen, as well as blood flow to the brain, and the pressure to the back and on his lungs making it very difficult for him to breathe, and they say both those things were contributing causes, Jake.

The other thing they said that, as you may have heard -- and it's tough to talk about this, and I know I have heard that the Floyd family is watching as well. But they say that he -- Mr. Floyd became pulseless, essentially, three minutes and 50 seconds into the amount of pressure that was being placed.

That was, again, according to the -- Dr. Baden and Dr. Wilson, who conducted this forensic examination. They looked at the scene, they looked at the video, and they obviously performed the autopsy.

So, three minutes and 50 seconds, and, again, from those two pressure points. And, finally, Jake, they said there was no evidence of the underlying conditions such as heart disease. As you mentioned, it takes time for the final toxicology to come back. But they said, based on everything right now, they could say it was a homicide and there was nothing else that caused or contributed to his death, other than the pressure on his neck and pressure on his back.

TAPPER: Is this idea about the cause of death, is it something that can be definitively proven?

GUPTA: You know, as much as most things in medicine, it's tough to be 100 percent certain, but this idea that was there something else that happened.

Did he at the same time, coincidentally, have a heart attack or something like that? And what they're saying is that's not -- they didn't see any evidence of that at all. They gave the but-for argument's, Jake. But for the pressure on his neck and on his back, Mr. Floyd would still be alive.

So, that's a fairly high degree of certainty. It's -- you want the final reports, obviously, to come back, but they did not equivocate here, Jake.

And I should point out, Dr. Baden, most people know he does a lot of forensic examinations. Dr. Wilson is the director of autopsy at the University of Michigan, so they apparently came together for this particular autopsy.

TAPPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

The nation is preparing for what could be -- but we hope it's not, of course -- another night of chaos. And now Attorney General Barr has just given an extraordinary order. That story is next.


Plus, protests and the coronavirus pandemic. The new warning from the World Health Organization.

Stay with us.



MICHELLE SHEFFIELD, PROTESTER: If you're not here to march and you're not here to send a clear message to our leaders, then you don't need to be out here.


TAPPER: While peaceful protesters across the United States are urging those who seek to wreak havoc to stay home, President Trump continues to push the claim that the violence in the streets is entirely because of leftist radicals, specifically Antifa which he is then trying to link to Democrats.

As of now, the Trump administration has not provided evidence that any one single group is responsible for turning peaceful protests into violent riots. And while Antifa seems certainly to be involved, some law enforcement officials have also noted the possible involvement of domestic terrorist groups from both the far right and far left to sow chaos.


Joining us now, Evan Perez, senior justice correspondent.

Evan, local officials believe there are many different organized groups that could be behind the violence.

Tell us more about that.


And we're also hearing the same thing from federal law enforcement. They say that there is a -- everyone from the far left to the far right that seems to be involved. One official said it was like sort of the Olympics of radical groups that have come to try to play in all of these protests around the country.

Now, you know, we have seen some indications of Antifa presence, as you pointed out, sort of an ideology that's on the left. But we've also seen some of the Boogaloo boys, which is more on the right- leaning ideology, which promotes the idea of a race war. So, again, it appears that there's still a lot of investigating to do to try to pinpoint exactly who these people are that are carrying out some of the mayhem in the cities.

TAPPER: And Attorney General Barr has deployed federal riot teams to Washington, D.C. and to Miami to try to tamp down protests in those cities. What are you hearing about that?

PEREZ: That's right. The Bureau of Prisons is sending riot teams here in Washington and in Miami. We know that over the weekend, the FBI's SWAT team was out late last night as things got out of control near Lafayette Park. We've also seen DEA and the U.S. Marshals out. The Justice Department says that they're going to send at many federal resources as they can where they're needed, Jake.

TAPPER: And I'm told in New York City, one in seven of protesters arrested as of Thursday were not from New York City. Protesters, some of them, were using encrypted communications. It does seem suspicious, even organized.

But by whom?

PEREZ: Yes, that's the big question. And I think even New York City is struggling to answer the question. It appears at least some of this communication is being done with people who are riding bikes, trying to be lookout scouts, trying to make sure they can keep ahead of what the police are doing.

It doesn't look right now, Jake, that -- certainly in New York City, that they can answer the question whether there's any specific groups. They do believe that there are some anarchists that are involved because of some of the people that they have arrested. But again, trying to pinpoint which of these groups is behind which parts of this mayhem is still very much a work in progress.

TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Protests are building right now, in fact, with some parts of the country already under curfew. We're going to check in with our reporters across the nation. That's next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: These are live pictures from New York City that you're looking at. Large groups of people, protesters already gathering for their demonstrations. There is a new curfew scheduled to take effect at 11:00 p.m. Eastern in New York.

In Atlanta, Georgia, demonstrators this afternoon marched down part of a highway, chanting "no justice, no peace," and "hands up, don't shoot," before they were redirected by police. The city government there has just extended a curfew for a third night after hundreds were arrested during weekend protests.

CNN's Martin Savidge joins me now live from downtown Atlanta.

Martin, tell us what's happening there right now.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we're right outside CNN Center. This has been the epicenter for the tensions at least for the past nights since Friday. And you're seeing, again, the crowd that begins to build.

I won't say it's routine but it is falling into a pattern, and we know there are more protests going on. You just mentioned the one that took over I-75, not only one of the busiest in Atlanta, but one of the busiest in the country. And then also, we have the protest that's taking place out of the state capital. And on top of that, there's another protest that will be coming starting at 5:00, coming from the King Center, coming on down here to -- right at CNN.

So, again, it's been peaceful all day. These protesters have been peaceful. They took over the intersection for a time. They took a knee with police, observed a moment of silence, and then went back to the sidewalks -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Martin Savidge in Atlanta, Georgia, thank you so much.

As of the top of the hour, parts of California are already under curfew, just after 1:00 p.m. California time. And all of Los Angeles County will be under curfew at 6:00 p.m., after days of chaos, images of looters and fires reminiscent of the Los Angeles riots in 1992.

CNN's Kyung Lah joins me now from downtown Los Angeles where the National Guard is preparing for potentially another night of violence, Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, after everything you just played, all that video, all of that widespread violence that we saw over the weekend, this is what the governor hopes to prevent, as well as the mayor --