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White Supremacist Group Poses As "Antifa" On Twitter; Gov. Cuomo "Disappointed," "Outraged" At Looting Overnight; Primary Voting Happening Today Amid Protests, Pandemic. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 2, 2020 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: President Trump is blaming the Antifa Movement for much of the violence we're seeing during these protests across the country. But we are now learning that online calls for action calls for violence attributed to Antifa are in fact coming from elsewhere and the President's family buying into this online to see.

Let's bring in CNN's Donie O'Sullivan. Donie, walk us through what's happening here.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: That's right, John. On Sunday, the President went as far as saying he would label Antifa, a terrorist organization. Now with that in mind, a tweet began circulating on Sunday evening into Sunday night. And I think we can bring it up on the screen.

It came from an account that said they were Antifa America. And it said, alert, tonight's the -- tonight's the night comrades, tonight we say F the city and we move into residential areas, the white hoods and we take what's ours.

Now that is obviously a clear call to violence. But we have learned since over the past 24 hours, Twitter telling us that that account was not actually run by Antifa at all. It was in fact actually run by white nationalists, a known white supremacist group.


Now it's important to say that, you know, that doesn't mean that Antifa isn't involved in any violence here in any way. But what it does confirm is suspicions that white nationalists have been jumping on the Antifa Movement in ways to try and stoke tension.

And that tweet picked up a lot of attraction. In fact, it got picked up by the President's son, Donald Trump Jr., who shared the tweets from Antifa with his 2.8 million Instagram followers, obviously, believing it was real. And he said absolutely insane. This was his commenting on the tweet.

Just remember what Antifa really is, a terrorist organization. They're not even pretending anymore. Now, when we reached out for comment, there was there was no comment from Trump Jr. There's -- he has removed that post from his Instagram this morning. And there is obviously no suggestion whatsoever that he knew who was behind this, you know, like all of us, you know, he probably fell for some online misinformation here.

So it's very important I think that we all know as we see posts from all sides of the political spectrum across all social media platforms to be very critical of what you're looking at, and things may not be what they seem.

KING: Things may not be what they seem. It's not the first time the President's son has either retweet or reposted or comment that is something that turned out to be not what it appeared to be. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate that very much important reporting. Thank you, Sir.

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo saying what's happening in his state is inexcusable, looting and violence resulting in more than 700 arrests last night.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins us from New York. Shimon you see the pictures of the destruction and it is startling.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is startling, John. And I was out there witnessing a lot of the destruction. And it was hard to watch what was going on.

You know, you had looters that completely took over the city. The city was overrun by looters that seemingly were operating in an organized fashion on their own. Police officers were chasing them all around. Of course the Governor very critical today of the way the city responded to all of this.

And having seen what I saw last night, I was out there until 2:00 in the morning. You can't blame him. Take a listen to what he said.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The police must stop the looting and the criminal activity. They are supposed to protect the community, protect the property. They did not do that in New York City last night. And I am disappointed and outraged that what happened in New York City last night.


PROKUPECZ: And as our many police officers obviously, John, I've been talking to some police officers here at the NYPD. They're tired. They're in some ways, overwhelmed now. And they're wondering how this is going to stop.

They're asking, you know, police officers that I've talked to that more resources be brought in. They're not happy. They were running around the entire island of Manhattan trying to stop these looters and for hours. This went on for several hours. It started around 7 o'clock in the evening on 5th Avenue. I saw a store there being broken into looters, trashing, shattering glass, then running away, the police trying to chase them down. They ran to the Upper East Side.

Then there were people around Union Square who were doing the same using metal barricades that police had placed on the street to help with some of the peaceful demonstration -- demonstrators. They use these metal barriers to shatter glass through stores, and they would run into the store.

And the other thing is, police were standing around. They were maybe a few blocks away. The thing is for a lot of these officers, you know, there is some fear, of course, because if you go into one of these situations, you could be overwhelmed by these looters and in some cases they were.

And you heard officers calling for assistance all night across the city to try and get this under control and they just couldn't get it under control. The other thing we saw was, I saw people, after the curfew had ended at 11:00 p.m., there were looters walking around the streets with bats, metal bats.

Why after 11 o'clock or why at any point, someone would need to walk around the streets of Manhattan with a metal bat. They will walk you right past police officers. Police officers weren't asking any questions, weren't stopping anyone.

And it just seemed, I have never witnessed anything like this before. You know, I was in Ferguson, I was in Baltimore, and of course, there was looting in Ferguson. But this was a city last night that was overrun in the hundreds by looters. They were young. There were men. There were women. They were arriving in cars. They were on bicycles on scooters. They had duffel bags.

And one final point, this to me seemed like it was very organized. They knew the locations they were targeting. They knew what locations were targeted -- were being targeted and where they were successful. And then they were going there by the dozens and removing items and removing clothes and shoes.

It was really distressing to see. And I know I've been talking to people who live in New York City and people are scared. And they're trying to figure out how is this going to stop and what is going to happen tonight and in the coming days, John.


KING: Right. Those pictures are of chaos, not in any way a tribute to George Floyd, just flat out chaos.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

KING: Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate the reporting.

Coming up for us, it gets overshadowed by coronavirus and now social unrest but today, it's a big election day.



KING: Today seven states plus Washington D.C. holding presidential primary elections. Those states include South Dakota, New Mexico, four of the states Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island are voting today after moving their contest back because of the coronavirus pandemic, Montana changing its primary to an all mail-in vote.

You see the map right there. Joe Biden's campaign will be watching closely as we count the delegates. Former Vice President, 437 delegates short of the pledged delegates needed to mathematically clinch the Democratic nomination. There are 479 up for grabs today.

Here to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Jeff Zeleny, POLITICO's Laura Barron-Lopez. Laura, let me start with you. The campaign is often forgotten almost because of the first coronavirus pandemic and now this social unrest we see across the country because of the killing of George Floyd. Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee but the math is almost to the finish line.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. Joe Biden is nearly there. And this is the biggest Election Day that we've had since Super Tuesday. The big questions right now today are, what turnout is going to look out given all of that unrest that you mentioned?

So states like Pennsylvania, in cities like Philadelphia, they're very worried. Civil rights advocates are worried about how that's going to impact the ability of some to vote. Of course, all of these states allowed at least temporary absentee voting, some form of mail ballot voting.

But again, whether its coronavirus or the unrest that we're seeing across the country in states where voters are going to vote today, it's unclear what impact that could have on the final turnout.

KING: Right. And Jeff, this is also we're in the middle of this -- it's a big primary day today, but we're in this fight about what Laura just mentioned mail-in balloting. The President repeatedly talking and tweeting in recent days, I can just show you some of it.

The United States cannot have all mail-in ballots will be the greatest rigged election in history. Mail-in ballots substantially increase the risk of fraud. There's no way, zero. Mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Nothing there from the President is actually factual nothing. Mail-in voting increases turnout, and there's very little evidence of fraud, but this has become a giant flashpoint for him.

And you now see reports that some Republicans are getting nervous that this might hurt them because the President is saying this is bad. And if you have mail-in balloting whether it's because of the coronavirus or states just move to do more of it, Republicans may not participate because the President tells them it's bad. JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, it's fascinating. Mail-in voting has been available and in fact used by Republicans and Democrats in states across the country for a long time, primarily in western states. It has been, you know, really it is more unusual now to go to a polling place and vote on election day than it is to mail-in your ballot in a variety of states like Arizona, like in Utah, Montana, for example.

The Republican Secretary of State today, he believes that everyone should have an absentee ballot. So, sent them out, it is happening in states like Iowa as well, where we have our eye on a congressional seat that we'll talk about in a second. So this is something that is going to, the coronavirus pandemic has changed how we do a lot of things in the country. Voting is likely one of them.

But it absolutely creates some mixed messaging here because the President is attacking it, while others, you know, believe it should be used. John, the reality is the Trump campaign is preparing to use mail-in voting and preparing to get up to speed on this even as the President is criticizing it because it is a sign of the times how voting is done here.

We'll see how these results come out tomorrow on this. But this without a doubt is, I would say, one of the bigger stories of today's election since the, you know, the Democratic primary campaign is no longer in doubt. It is how ballots are cast in America here and who has that advantage.

KING: Right. In five months from today is the general election. One of our questions is, what will be the lead issue if we went back to the beginning of March, we would have said it's a strong economy that helps the incumbent. And if we went back two weeks, we would say it's the coronavirus pandemic and the President is suffering because his leadership is being questioned by the American people.

Now we have the social unrest on top of it. Laura, listen to this earlier today from the former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democrat.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The President held up the Bible at St. John's church yesterday. I just wish he opened it once in a while, instead of brandishing. If he opened it, he could have learned something. They're all called love one another as we love ourselves. It's really hard work. But it's the work of America. Donald Trump isn't interested in doing that work.


KING: Race and what you might say the empathy divide between these two gentlemen, now very much in the -- factor in the campaign today.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. I think we can't understate how uncertain as you mentioned, John, heading five months away from the election. We are about what issues are going to be the most important to the American electorate. We do know that coronavirus and the economy are going to be big factors on people's minds, and also this unrest about police brutality.


And again, those very issues are hitting black and brown people the most specifically, black Americans. They were disproportionately impacted in terms of infections and hospitalizations and deaths with coronavirus. They're losing jobs at a higher rate than their white counterparts.

And on top of it now, we see these protests and them impacted by police brutality and killings. So it's unclear whether or not that will translate into anger and into action at the polls by African- Americans.

I've been talking to some organizers on the ground in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania who say that the risk sometimes around this unrest is whether or not voters who African-Americans who don't typically trust the system because they view the system as not having worked for them in many regards across generations, whether or not they're encouraged by the messages we just heard from Biden to actually turn out and vote or if they decide to stay at home because of it.

KING: All right, another uncertainty in a very uncertain time. Jeff Zeleny, Laura Barron-Lopez, appreciate reporting and insights.

Moving on now, some breaking news just into CNN, six Atlanta police officers are facing charges for using excessive force against two college students, this during protests on Saturday. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is following the story for us. Dianne?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, John, I'm sure that people remember the video that we showed yesterday. We're not going to show it today because it is so violent and so difficult to watch so much that when the district attorney was presenting these charges, those two college students, Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, they walked out of the room because they could not watch it.

Those six officers are facing whole list of charges including aggravated assault, simple battery, damage to property. They have until the end of the day on Friday to turn themselves in. The district attorney said that it was easy for them to kind of come to this conclusion after reviewing the evidence.

He said that after the arrests were made, they talked about an officer saying that a gun had been pulled on them. He said during the incident, which is all recorded on tape through body cameras and also local media, there's never any mention of a gun whatsoever and then no weapons were ever recovered.

I want you to listen to something that the young man there, Messiah Young, said when he was speaking at the rink. He said, I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else from this point on. John, he went on to talk about the fact that this is about police accountability, which is what so many of these protests around the country are about.

And said that they hope that these charges lead to convictions there, again, these are six Atlanta police officers. This incident happened on Saturday, who have since been charged with this. Now they're letting them turn themselves in. But the district attorney said that they went through the evidence and they had no choice but to charge these officers, John.


KING: Quick action in Atlanta. We'll see how it plays out. It's a very important story. Dianne Gallagher, appreciate the new reporting. Thank you very much. We'll be right back.


KING: George Floyd's family says it will hold a public memorial and celebration of his life next Monday. And used the city where Mr. Floyd was raised. The professional boxer Floyd Mayweather will pay for the services according to the Floyd family release.

They also say some other notable guests will be in attendance but they have not released any details. Mayweather himself has not commented on that surface just yet.

Reaction today to the President's, again, mixing politics and religion. President went today at Saint John Paul II Shrine in Washington D.C. He was there with the First Lady. You see the pictures right there. The Archbishop of Washington calling it reprehensible and saying that a religious shrine is being manipulated by the President's trip there.

He also said the late Pope himself would not have condoned this. This of course comes on the heels of the President photo-op with the Bible at a church across in the White House yesterday.

In Illinois, a man now in custody for allegedly instigating violence in Minneapolis in videos allegedly posted to his Facebook account. On Friday, the man has seen passing out explosive devices protesters and encouraging them to throw the devices at police. In court Monday, he told the judge they were only fireworks. The man was arrested in Chicago Sunday morning for breaking the curfew there. He'll be transferred to Minneapolis to face charges.

Thanks for joining us today. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow, a very busy News Day. Please stay with CNN. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar. And we begin with a country in desperate need of unity after a solid week of nationwide protests over race in America.

Forty million Americans unemployed and a pandemic that is killed more than 105,000 in the United States. The President today is touting, quote, domination and threatening to use military troops on U.S. soil. This comes as he speaks of being an ally to peaceful protesters.


A short time ago President Trump visiting the Shrine of Pope John Paul II in an effort to appeal to Christian conservatives, less than 24 hours after he offended, multiple religious leaders when he displayed a Bible for this photo-op --