Return to Transcripts main page


Louisville Police Chief Fired After Business Owner Killed; Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed For President Donald Trump Church Photo-op; President Donald Trump Allies In Congress React To President's Handling Of Protests; Former Minneapolis Mayor: I Know Our Cops Have A Problem; World Health Organization: 133 Potential Coronavirus Vaccines In The Works. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 2, 2020 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The Mayor call it a "Institutional Failure" He was shot as police and the National Guard attempted to clear protesters Sunday, that shooting now rebuke state and federal investigation.

Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thanks for sharing your day with us. President Trump today taking what you might call a bit of a victory lap visiting a religious shrine today you see there with the First Lady that a day after doing this, posing with a bible in front of a Church.

And after peaceful protesters being pushed back with tear gas and flash bangs, being moved away from the President's doorstep so that he could act out. And action to cry by Washington's Mayor and the Bishop and the archdiocese who I spoke to just moment ago.


BISHOP MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON: If the President had come to pray, if the President had come to offer words of consolation to give people hope for a better day in this country, he would have been welcomed.


KING: All this with the backdrop of a nation in crisis, hurting, mourning, and waiting for leadership. Today thousands are expected to take to the streets the Democrat looking to replace the incumbent also taking issue.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield with old resemblances and fresh fears. He thinks division helps him. His narcissism has become more important than the nation's well-being that he leads.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Today thousands expected to take to the streets of Houston members of George Floyd's family among them to honor the man killed by police eight days ago. The President now threatening to take matters into his own hands, he is calling Governors weak for not putting an end to the looting and chaos of recent nights. He's vowing to send in the military if the continues.

Joining me now to discuss CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins and Rear Admiral John Kirby our CNN Military Analyst. Kaitlan, I want to start with you. The President out at the John Paul II Shrine today in front of St. Johns Church waiving a bible yesterday, calling Governors weak and promising to get tougher, but his definition of tough includes having protesters who were peacefully exercising their first amendment right across the street from his house forcibly removed.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you couldn't ignore that. The President came out to the Rose Garden yesterday John and said he's an ally of peaceful protesters when just moments, minutes before, we watched these protesters in front of the White House being cleared out with smoke, with flash bangs, with several lines of officers who had their shields, batons, and some of them were on foot, some were on horseback.

They cleared the protesters out about half an hour before the curfew actually went into effect here in Washington after giving just three abrupt warnings within minutes of each other. And of course then you saw the President in a large security detail and several aides including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump as well joining him to walk over to St. Johns Church for the photo opportunity which he's now being criticized for by some local leaders here in Washington for that.

And it comes as the President is saying that if Governors aren't getting tougher on these protesters, these riots that are happening in their states and he says, he is going to come in and take care of it, by that he means the military.

So John the question of how that's going to play out over the next few days is you continue to see this unrest throughout the nation over George Floyd's death still remains to be seen. But it was a really striking moment yesterday, as you saw the split screen of what the President was saying in the Rose Garden and his actions of course and how these protesters were treated by officers just out here in front of the White House.

And we should note there is now a pretty large about an eight-foot tall black fence set up around Lafayette Square if you're familiar with White House that is right in front of the White House. And yesterday it just has been barricades that were set up, the protesters were standing there now it is an eight-foot tall black fence surrounding that far away from the White House.

KING: Our National Security Analyst Shawn Turner also joins the conversation. Shawn, I want to come to you in the sense that having worked inside and understanding how the process works, a President of the United States told federal authorities yesterday to clear Lafayette Park, to move and use tear gas and to use batons and to use flash grenades against American citizens who maybe they're being loud and the President didn't like it, but they were exercising their constitutional right.

They were being peaceful. This was not looting or this was not violent. Walk me through how that would be handled inside of a White House if a President says go across the street and move those people out of my neighborhood, even though they're obeying the law.

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: John, you know, when I worked in the White House under the previous administration, anytime the President had an idea where he would like to do something that involved the military or involved National Guard, the President was surrounded by competent, well-informed advisers who were empowered to sit down with the President and talk him through the ramifications of what he's doing?

This President does not have that. What the President's decision to use the National Guard, to use a police force to go into Lafayette Park and to push peaceful protesters out so that he could have this photo op yesterday, it serious ramifications for the future of the relationship between not only law enforcement and the public, but also for our military and the public.


TURNER: Let's just think for a minute about what the President is asking the military to do in this sense. He's basically saying to military leaders and to military troops, look, you either stand with me against the American citizens, or you stand against me.

That's a horrible position for the President to put our U.S. military in. I will tell you that in the previous administration I never saw anything like this. John, you know I served 21 years in the Marine Corps and it's not just about what I saw in the previous administration, I have not seen this under any president that I served proudly well I was United States Marine.

KING: Well, to that point Admiral Kirby, you also served this country proudly and with distinction as Shawn did. One of the strange things yesterday is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Generally Mark Milley, walked across with the President from the White House to St. John's Church.

He was there surprising - wave the bible. He joined the President and then later that night he went out on patrol if you will and he went out and said he wanted to take a look at some of the National Guard activity around Washington, D.C. Listen here to the perspective of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.


GENERAL MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Just allow freedom to assemble and freedom of speech, that's perfectly fine. We support that. We took an oath to the constitution of the United States of America to do that and to protect everyone's rights. And that's what we do we've got the D.C. National Guard out here and I'm just checking to see how well they're doing, that's all.


KING: He's not the Commander of the D.C. National Guard. He is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff an adviser to the President, the nation's top, if you will policy-maker on military matters. Is that inappropriate role for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET) CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I don't think it was the best use of his time last night for him to be out there among the troops. I think you're looking at 40 years of leadership of army soldiers, many of those years in combat.

I think that was just coming out in Milley's personality that he felt he needed to be out there to show the troops that he supported them and that - and to try to put their mission into a bigger context sort of in line of what Shawn was saying. That's where his heart was, but I don't think it was the appropriate use of his time last night, particularly given the photos done at St. John's Church, which unfortunately he got wrapped up into as well.

KING: Kaitlan, one of the issues here is we've heard the President many, many times before try to assert authority that he does not have about whether it's about the Coronavirus, now about these protests. I want you to listen here to Democratic Governors. The President says they are being weak. He berated them on a call saying they need to dominate their streets as he will send in the military if they do not. Here are several Democratic Governors saying no, thank you sir.


GOV. J. B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I reject the notion that the Federal Government can send troops in the State of Illinois.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I say thank you, but no thank you. The President wants to recreate reality here, right?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): If it ever came to that, to that moment, it would be because they've just thrown a lot more gas on a fire that is burning.


KING: It's just a fascinating moment Kaitlan where the President is trying to assert authority and many of the big state Governors were saying, sir, this is our responsibility, and under no circumstances do we want the military on our streets?

COLLINS: Yes. And he's telling them how to run their state, which like you noted, that was something we saw with Coronavirus where there was this struggle between the Federal Government's role and the state government's role.

And the President made clear on a call yesterday where he berated Governors saying that many of them were weak, not just a few of them. Many of them he said he believed are being weak because they were being run over by these protesters and that he wanted to send the military in.

And you heard the Defense Secretary even echo that saying that he also believed that not enough National Guard have been sent out. And he was urging them to use more of the National Guard. And it's not just Democratic Governors who were saying that they don't need that.

We are also seeing Republican Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland saying that they don't want that right now because their concern is it will escalate things. You heard what a Governor say yesterday he believed there needed to be a PR aspect to this because when people see the National Guard being mobilized, it escalates things and raises concerns.

And so they were saying they needed to a better way to frame it if they were going to start doing that. So the President is making this insistence about sending in the military. Of course the U.S. military doesn't go out to do law enforcement in the streets of this nation unless the President himself made a special order. And so he threatened that yesterday. We'll see if he actually uses that going forward over the next few days.

KING: We'll watch it over the next few days and the next few hours. Kaitlan Collins, Shawn Turner and Admiral Kirby, thank you so much for your insights. For the President's Republican supporters in Congress, their reaction to his handling of the protests is a difficult balancing act most expressing support for the cause of peaceful protests, yet also backing the President's law and order rhetoric. Senator Tim Scott the GOP soul African-American Senator says the President struck the right tone yesterday.



SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I would say that the President's comments in the Rose Garden were important, they were significant, they were heartfelt and they led us in the right direction. We need to hear more like that from the President because, frankly, the country rallies around our Chief Executive when he speaks about bringing the American family together.


KING: Checking in with our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju, he is live up on Capitol Hill. Manu, is this another case of Republicans privately cringe a bit put publicly say they support the President?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, publicly by and large Republicans are not saying they have any concerns about what the President has done. A number of top Republican Senators including Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the Senate Republican Leadership, told me that it was a "Necessary Security Measure" to clear out those protesters, including by using tear gas because of the President's movement.

I said what about the fact that the President even had that photo op, was that necessary in order to clear out those protesters by force? He said, well, you know, the media is always going to criticize whatever the President does and he thought it was a simple gesture for the President to go forward with that photo op.

Now, another top Republican Senator, Chuck Grassley, I asked him about these peaceful protesters, and he said it's all assumed to be peaceful until someone that's got a terrorist activity or rioting activity, you don't know that until it happens.

So I don't know if they could have known that, referring to the police. Now, another one of the President's top allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned why they needed the photo op?

He said I don't know what the point was of that photo op, he told me. He also said, I guess he's trying to say we're reclaiming the church, referring to the fire that occurred the night before at St. John's Church.

But the point is we need to focus on what happened to Mr. Floyd. It's a systematic problem, but you can't do that until you get order. John, some Republican Senators are being more critical, Ben Sass from Nebraska issued a statement saying that he is supporting the peaceful protesters and what was occurring there, but for the most part we are not - that's not the sense from most of the Senate Republican Conference who realized the situation we're in, as they've seen time and again they get cross-wise with the President, they get criticized by this same President.

The number two Senate Republican John Thune told me earlier that he didn't have - he didn't raise any concerns with the President's actions, but he appealed for calm from the White House.

KING: Appealing for calm from the White House. Manu Raju live on Capitol Hill, appreciate the reporting there. Up next for us the Former Mayor of Minneapolis joins us. He says he tried and failed to change the culture of the city's police department.



KING: Philadelphia today doing something that might seem a little counterintuitive, pushing back its curfew time later time 8:30 pm tonight is when that curfew starts. They're doing it so that voters in the state can vote in the primary. CNN's Brian Todd is on the ground for us in Philadelphia. Brian, what's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the tension that has been boiling over for the past three days in Philadelphia still evident this afternoon in the city. We can give you some new figures from city officials. They say that nearly 700 people total have been arrested over the past three days for everything from protests to looting to violating curfew and other things.

And in a new development overnight we can tell you that this information coming from the Mayor's office that several ATMs were attacked overnight. We're in a neighborhood in North Philadelphia. That was one of them. According to the Mayor's office here, someone tried to blow up that ATM and was killed there in the early morning hours of today.

We also have word that a looter was shot and killed by a store owner in the early morning hours today. So pockets of looting still going on in Philadelphia we came upon several of the last night. And you know the Police are trying to get their arms around this stuff. They have been patrolling around the streets with reinforcements from state police and National Guard.

But last night we came upon some people looting on the street in North Philadelphia where police were just down the street and the police were kind of sweeping up and down. But the looters were just brazenly going in and out of a beauty shop taking things right under the noses of police.

They seemed confident that they could go ahead and go into a store when police were moving down the street. We can also show you some video from yesterday when the tensions got very high between police and protesters at Interstate 676, the protesters went down onto the interstate and police confirming to us last night that they fired several rounds of tear gas, pallets and other things at protesters because the protesters wouldn't heed the calls for protesters to back off of a patrol car that they were apparently bouncing on and pounding on.

So that just incited a very chaotic scene where people climbing over each other trying to get over a fence. They were falling on each other, tear gas all over the place we got caught up in that. So the tension from yesterday over the past three days Saturday was, of course, very bad here still very evident this morning, John police trying to get their arms around some of this.

KING: We'll see if it continues into the evening today and again as the curfew a little bit later so people can vote in the primary Brian Todd on the ground for us in Philadelphia. Thank you so much. Let's shift now to Minneapolis where of course this all began.

A Former Mayor says he knows his city's cops had a problem. In an op- ed essay he writes "We have a majority of officers let a minority of officers create an, us versus them culture that overtime dehumanizes the people and neighborhoods, the officers are supposed to protect and serve. Right now nothing matters more in Minneapolis than reforming the city's police".

The Former Mayor, R.T. Rybak joins us now. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being with us. Let's start with the headline. You say you tried and you failed. How does the other side win? Why did you fail?

R.T. RYBAK (D), FORMER MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR: I did fail. But first we got to get our focus back. The focus is not riots. The focus is not looting.


R.T. RYBAK: Those are really important, protest is especially important. Bible waving photo stunts is not the key is a knee on the neck. When one human being does that to another, when they are a police officer with a gun who we ask to protect and serve, we have to first stand up and take responsibility.

12 years as a Mayor, I replayed every one of the four chiefs and their requirement agendas; every one of the individual conversations with cops, every one of the community meetings, and all of it has to be re- examined.

But I do think we have tools to move forward. If we get the focus back on police reform, we should implement the 21st Century Policing Program. That was a playbook for doing this. We should look at the research coming out of the University of Chicago about what makes a cop go on and building the systems to make them go right.

We have got to ask the good officers that we know and say to them you cannot be a good officer unless right now you stand up and kneel down and take that knee and show exactly what a knee did to a person's neck. It is time to ask the police officers of this country to recognize that we can reform their department, but it's got to start with them.

KING: Well, to that point, you write in your piece, to the many good officers I know exists I say this. You know in your heart that George Floyd should not be dead. Your silence is deafening and this city and this country cannot move forward until we hear your voices.

As you know, one officer, the officer we all saw committing a heinous act of violence against a fellow citizen who was not resisting has been charged. Three other officers stood by silently, did not intervene. What are you looking for? The Chief has spoken out.

The Chief has said he believes the department especially those men standing were complicit. What are you looking for from the department at this moment from the rank-and-file officers to try to show the citizens of the community they get it, and they will change?

R.T. RYBAK: We have a good Chief, who I believe has the capacity to get this done. But if we still have leaders of the Police Federation, the Union Leader in our town wrote a two-page letter that didn't mention the murder of a person at the hands of a Minneapolis Police Department once.

When that gets cover to that, when a President of the United States stands up and gives cover to people who killed someone in my city, then we really have to ask ourselves whether the people who elect that person and in the case of the Federation President, it is the police officers. As long as they take comfort from a person who gives them comfort for doing the wrong thing, then we cannot move forward.

KING: Former Mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, thank you for your time today.

R.T. RYBAK: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Coming up an update on the global race for the COVID- 19 vaccine.



KING: To new developments now in the global rush to find a vaccine for the Coronavirus. The World Health Organization says there are now 133 COVID-19 vaccines in the works around the world right now. CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with an update. Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, let's break down exactly where all of those vaccines are because they're in very different places. Let's take a look. So there are ten vaccines that are in human clinical trials. In other words, they're actually being experimented on in humans in various stages, five are Chinese, four are in the U.S. and one is based in the U.K.

In addition, there are 123 vaccines that are in earlier stages that are being studied in animals, there are being studied in the lab. It's not clear when those will get to this final stage where you actually study first in dozens then in hundreds, and then thousands, if not tens of thousands of humans.

Now sill we don't know when we're going to get a vaccine? The ones that are in human clinical trials now are likely going to be the first what Tony Fauci has been saying for a long is basically January till June of next year. John?

KING: Elizabeth, the Surgeon General today saying he believes there potentially could be new outbreaks and new Coronavirus clusters. Explain what he means.

COHEN: Right. So you just have to watch that video for just even a few minutes, and you can see that people are in a small area, outside, which is good, but still they're in a relatively small area, not wearing masks, often not wearing masks, and that can definitely spread the virus.

And so what the Surgeon General is saying that is a ripe situation for the spread of the virus. He is concerned not now, not tomorrow, not the next day but that as days go forward, we could see new outbreaks.

KING: That is something to watch in the data couple of weeks from now. Elizabeth Cohen, appreciate those important updates. And just ahead for us, the New York Governor has a message for police officers confronting protesters.