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Trump Threatens Military Action If Unrest Continues; Competing Autopsies Say George Floyd's Death A Homicide; Biden Attends Black Church While Trump Stages Photo Op. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired June 2, 2020 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we'll show it to you again.
It is disturbing though to watch. We're responding to a burglary in progress. And we are told this was likely part of the looting that they were seeing in that part of the city.
And you can see among the officers who were responding, a sergeant who was hit by a car that. That car driver got away. Police still don't know where driver is. That officer though in the hospital this morning with serious injuries, in serious condition, in stable condition, so that's good, but with a head injury and also other injuries. Pretty disturbing.
And this isn't first time, John, this has happened. Just the night before that, we also saw a disturbing video where an officer was struck by a different vehicle. And then, of course, throughout the progress of these protests, it seems like the violence has increased. We know that officers were hit with Molotov cocktails, we know the officers were hit with bricks, with rocks, it's been certainly getting more violent on the streets here in New York City despite the fact that there was a curfew in place last night at 11:00 at night. John?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Violence, again, people, that goes with protesters and police is clearly different than destruction of property.
It seems fewer arrests in New York City overnight, Brynn, but still a great deal of damage to property and just outright theft.
GINGRAS: Yes. And we're standing in front of one of the areas that was pretty damaged. You can see behind me the shattered window of the Sunglass Hut. We're in Herald Square, which is in midtown Manhattan. Of course, the iconic area of Macy's where you see the Thanksgiving parade and you can see Macy's is completely boarded up where we are.
But even still, we're told by police the looters were able to get inside. And, actually, there were several arrests that were done inside. Even outside, you can see the damage in this trash can there clearly was a fire lit at some point. What we are learning from police, john, is that these protests -- there are these protests that are civil, but then there are these pockets of people who sort of break off from these protests that have nothing to do with the cause. And they basically when they break off, of course, police have to follow them.
And they continue to almost break off into smaller groups with police following until there's really no police following them, and then they're able to commit these kind of acts of violence that we're seeing all across the city, the looting and other acts of violence.
So it's really something that police are aware of, they're tracking not only through just what they're seeing on the streets, but they're seeing it as sort of organized with the fact that they're having encrypted organization, encrypted communications, they're able to get supply chains of gasoline and other things to basically combat the police during these riots that really break out that that are separate, of course, separate from the protests. But it's something that's concerning, of course.
And that's why the curfew here in New York City is going to begin at 8:00 tonight. But, again, as we saw, even last night, the looting -- even though the curfew was 11:00, we saw that way before it, like 7:00 that was beginning on 5th Avenue and, really, high profiles areas of the city.
BERMAN: Yes. Curfews have not seemed to make a difference so far. Brynn Gingras on the streets here in New York, thanks so much, Brynn. Alisyn?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: John, in Washington, D.C., military helicopters patrolled the skies overnight after that violent crackdown on peaceful protesters outside the White House.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is live in Washington. What happened, Boris?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Good morning, Alisyn. First, I want to paint a picture for you of what we're seeing right now. I see a couple of FBI agents, as well as Secret Service and local police here too, they are blocking access to traffic at this area just outside Lafayette Park, just steps from the White House.
You see the fence that was actually put up overnight. It's about eight feet tall restricting all access to the park. Sources at the White House tell us that President Trump was angry over reports that he spent part of the weekend in a bunker underground at the White House as protesters were clashing with police right at his front door.
The president yesterday deciding to flex some muscle, to show that he's in control even as the nation is in agony. He walked over to this church, he posed for cameras, and he held up a bible.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: These are not acts of peaceful protests. These are acts of domestic terror. SANCHEZ: Right before President Trump addressed the nation from the rose garden, police dispersed peaceful protesters with teargas, flash grenades and rubber bullets just outside the White House gates. President Trump threatening military force in any city or state that he feels isn't under control.
TRUMP: If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.
SANCHEZ: By most accounts, the protests were peaceful. But moments before Trump's speech, military vehicles were seen near the White House. And as the president spoke, bangs and helicopters could be heard in the distance as police officers in riot gear broke up the demonstrations before the D.C. curfew was to take effect.
The reason, a photo opportunity so the president could walk across the street to St. John's Episcopal Church, which has been damaged by a basement fire the night before. He stood outside the church he held up a bible before posing with administration officials.
The bishop how oversees the diocese outraged by the president's action.
BISHOP MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON: The president just used a bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo- Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my dioceses without permission as a backdrop to a message antithetical to teachings of Jesus, and everything that our churches sand for. I just can't believe what my eyes have seen tonight.
SANCHEZ: Trump threatening to use military troops using the Insurrection Act of 1807. But some governors feel that law does not apply.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): My understanding is that they can't do it without the approval of the governors. And I can also tell you that it's probably not going to happen in a lot of our states.
SANCHEZ: Many governors upset by the president's calls to send military to states and feel his language is just further stoking fears and tensions among Americans. In a heated teleconference Monday, Trump blasting governors, calling them weak.
TRUMP: You're going to arrest all those people and you're going to try them. And the word is dominate. If you don't dominate your city and your state, they're going to walk away with you.
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): He's been a miserable failure. What I talked about on the call today was the fact that his rhetoric is inflaming passions around the nation. He should be calling for calm. He should be calling for -- bringing the temperature down. He's doing the exact opposite. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SANCHEZ: And, John, I just want you to take a look. There are already demonstrators here standing on the street corner, just of a handful of them. A Secret Service official here just a moment ago told me that they were going to handle things differently today. It appears that they are not allowing these protesters to actually stand on the street. They're keeping them on the sidewalks, which is different than the way things have been going the last few days.
A final quick point. A senior administration official has told CNN that what we saw yesterday here outside the church was not an orchestrated photo op but that the president, officials wanted to clear this area before things got out of hand the way they had the past few nights.
Even as the president was saying that he stands with peaceful protesters, what was happening just outside the White House, anything but peaceful. John?
BERMAN: Yes. Things weren't out of hand. Things were totally peaceful. We were all watching as it was going on. And it was before the curfew. The only person out in Lafayette Park after the curfew was the president.
Boris Sanchez in front of the White House, thanks so much.
One effect of this I really should point out what the president did is to make this all about him, this moment in the country all about him. It's not. It's not. The catalyst for this most recent round of unrest and of pain is what happened in Minneapolis. And overnight, there are was relative calm in Minneapolis after an appeal from George Floyd's brother, this is at the memorial for George Floyd who, of course, was killed more than a week ago with the police officer's knee on his neck. His brother has called on the violent protests to stop.
An independent autopsy and a county medical examiner both say that Floyd's death was a homicide, but they do differ on the specifics of what caused the death.
CNN's Omar Jimenez live in Minneapolis with the very latest. Omar?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. So those two autopsy reports, again, ruling these -- this a homicide but they differ on the way that this happened, specifically, the independent report commissioned by the family is pointing to asphyxia as the primary reason for this, while the Hennepin County report saying it was due to heart failure.
Now, those dual reports came out basically as we continue to see protests here in Minneapolis for a seventh day since George Floyd's final moments played out just behind me here in this intersection. And as we continued to see protests across the country, John.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIMENEZ: Protesters continuing to take to the streets, amplifying their anger and frustration over the death of George Floyd. The nationwide calls for justice as Floyd's death was ruled a homicide by both the Hennepin County medical examiner and in an independent autopsy authorized by the family.
DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: The autopsy shows that Mr. Floyd had no underlying medical problem that caused or contributed to his death.
Cause of death, in my opinion, is asphyxia due to compression of the neck.
JIMENEZ: But the Hennepin County medical examiner released its summary saying Floyd died of cardio pulmonary arrest without explaining what caused his heart to stop.
Overnight, curfews enforced in cities and at least 20 states and Washington, D.C. And many stayed out late into the night instead of going home.
Protests were largely peaceful across the nation, and at some marches, police even joining the people in solidarity. Like in Atlanta where some officers were seen taking a knee before renewed violence.
But unrest and clashes between authorities and demonstrators were on display in many cities. Police firing teargas into this crowd of protesters in Philadelphia sending them scrambling off the highway. In Washington, a chaotic scene, as police cleared this peaceful protest outside the White House. As thousands of demonstrators marched together in New York City, others looted some of midtown Manhattan's most iconic stores. Similar scenes playing out in Los Angeles with businesses broken into.
Earlier in Minneapolis, Terrence Floyd, for the first time, visiting the very location his brother took his last breaths overwhelmed with emotion.
JIMENEZ: Before saying this to demonstrators.
TERRENCE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: If I'm not over here well enough (ph), if I'm not over here blowing up stuff, if I'm not over here messing up my community, then what are you all doing? What are you all doing? You are all doing nothing because that's not going to bring my brother back at all.
JIMENEZ: Now, memorial for George Floyd is set for Thursday here in Minneapolis while his funeral is set for Tuesday back in Houston, his hometown.
And more on those dual autopsy reports we were talking about earlier. One thing that the Hennepin County report mentioned was that there was fentanyl and meth use that was a significant factor in this but they say they -- but they did not go into how much actually was in Floyd's system and how that contributed to their conclusion there.
But all of that is likely what is going to be looked into as they consider whether to move toward a conviction for the officer already charged and whether they decide to charge the other officers in this, John.
BERMAN: And, again, we do not know when or if they are charge those other officers. So although the attorney general, Keith Ellison, we had him on the show yesterday, he's this prosecuted, I asked him how long will people have to wait? He quoted Martin Luther King, how long? Not long, he said.
Omar Jimenez in Minneapolis, thank you as always.
BERMAN: So, while the president clutched a bible and posed for a photo op outside a church, his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, was inside a church meeting with community leaders. The impact of all this, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just hard. Don't go away. And when you have somebody in power who breaths oxygen and the (INAUDIBLE).
Everybody is frightened, and everybody is angry. And the first we have to do is bring people together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That's presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden listening to the anguish at a black church in Delaware. It was a starkly different scene in Washington, D.C. where peaceful protesters were dispersed with teargas so President Trump could pose for a photo op with a bible.
Joining us now is Marc Morial, he is the President and CEO of National Urban League, and former mayor of New Orleans. Also with us, CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman, she's the White House Correspondent for The New York Times.
I just want to talk about that split screen, Maggie, for a second because it couldn't be more stark. And you see Joe Biden in Delaware at the church and then you see President Trump in this -- I mean, watching his cadre of aides and cabinet members and the attorney general all, you know, white and his daughter in her high heels and designer bag walking in front of all of these protesters here, the thousands of protesters who had to be cleared out of the way with teargas so the president could make this photo op, and then, you know, going in front of this boarded up church, you know, Mr. 2 Corinthians holds up a bible in the most awkward, uncomfortable, optic way.
I mean, he didn't seem to know what do for a while here with the bible. He looked at it and then hoisted it like a barbell over his shoulder for the photo op. It was just optically really striking. And, in fact, Maggie, the bishop, the Episcopal bishop who runs the dioceses and that church said that she was incredulous that the bible was being used as a prop.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Alisyn, the president did a photo op there where peaceful protesters who were tear-gassed and rushed 25 minutes before a curfew in order for the president to have a clear path. The White House is argument that's not really why that they were told to move because of the curfew. It was a half hour before the curfew. If that was a concern of theirs, that optic, then maybe the president should have made this visit earlier in the day, when it was less likely to get as intense as it did.
And to your point, he did not talk to officials with the dioceses before he did this. He did not open the bible. He did not pray. He wielded the bible in a way that he has literally made fun of other politicians, like Senator Ted Cruz, for doing it before. And you do contrast that with what Joe Biden did, which was go to a church, go inside the church, listen to people, listen to the concerns about their community, about interactions with the police, which is something what the president's advisers, some of them, have urged him to do as well.
He did call the family of George Floyd. That is good to have done, but that is the bare minimum to have done.
And what we are seeing right now from the White House is sort of drilling down into this law and order message that he's hoping to convey. But that tableau of him, you know, rolling in heavy with Secret Service agents and aides and everybody, I understand he did it in part because he was angry that we reported The Times on Saturday that he had been taken to the bunker on Friday night out of security concerns. Not sure this was the way to deal with that news coverage.
BERMAN: Marc Morial, do you want to weigh in on this?
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Yes, well, I agree with Maggie significantly. I mean, it really was a clumsy effort at political theater. And it came across as being hollow, because you go to a church and you don't pray. You go to a church and the cleric, the pastor, you don't even give them a heads up. I thought it was extremely in poor taste in order to do it. And I don't know what he sought to convey. And that's the point. What did you seek to convey?
And it comes on the heels of or in the context of now this call for military force. So, going to church, you would think is a sign of reconciliation, a sign of peace, a sign of dialogue and understanding. But then it's almost, you know, contradicted by this bellicose threat by the president of the United States to call out the military on his own citizens, on his own citizens, something unprecedented, with few precedence in American history.
And so as opposed to de-escalating or seeking to find common ground, to understand what I think is the underlying issue, and that is the concerns about justice, the concerns about structural racism, the anger and the sheer sense that notwithstanding protests in the past, there has been no real change in the police system. No (INAUDIBLE) criminal justice system. And that anger is manifesting itself primarily -- let's say this -- primarily in peaceful protests, which is certainly being hijacked by others.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And, Mayor, if you were still the mayor of New Orleans and the president invoked the Insurrection Act and said he was going to send in active U.S. military to New Orleans to quell protests, what would you do? What are local governors and mayors supposed to do if this happens?
MORIAL: It's a tough hypothetical, but I think that most mayors and governors would say, keep the military out.
Let's look at it this way. The military doesn't want this assignment. The military is not trained to, in effect, provide security within the United States. And think about the message it sends on the economy of the United States. Think about the impact on a country struggling under COVID. It would make a tough situation, and it is a tough situation, with what to expect. It would make it even worse if you were to take this step. And that's what people need to understand.
What do you say to the world that this great arsenal of democracy, this great citadel of opportunity, this nation has called -- its president is calling out its military on its own people? Trust me, the military does not want this assignment. They're not prepared for this assignment. They're not trained for this assignment. Those soldiers, those soldiers were not -- were not -- did not sign up, did not take an oath to go back to the communities from whence they've come to provide security against protesters.
And so maybe it's an empty threat. Maybe it's just to gain some more saber rattling, to demonstrate a level of toughness. But whatever it is, it's not a smart move and it's not the right thing to do in a challenging situation for the nation. I want to simply get back to the underlying issue, and that as we keep an eye on Minneapolis. Those officers there need to be and should have been arrested and charged. And I don't understand the delay to charge the additional officers with it being accessories to murder.
BERMAN: Well, Keith Ellison yesterday, the attorney general, who is the special prosecutor there, told us, I asked him how long will people have to wait for charges to be filed. He quoted Martin Luther King and said how long? Not long. But he said he did want to make sure they have the case completely tied up.
One important phrase you used, Marc Morial, that I want to address. You said, for the nation. This is a national problem in a national moment, in a national crisis. And one of the effects of what the president did yesterday was to make it all about him. Look at me, look at me, look at me, and it's not. It's not. It's bigger than that and it's more important than that. And personalizing it like he did, I don't believe, addresses it. There is another way.
I just want to show people how the former vice president dealt with it inside the church yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It's just hard. Don't go away. And when you have somebody in power who breaths oxygen in the hate under the rocks, it can (INAUDIBLE) through the rocks.
Everybody is frightened, and everybody is angry. And the first we have to do is bring people together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It just is interesting to see that contrast, Maggie. And, again, to the larger point of this --
MORIAL: It's a contract.
BERMAN: Thank you, I didn't mean to interrupt. But I was just going to say, to the point where this isn't necessarily about the president, this is about figuring it out how to address the crisis at hand here, Maggie. What is being done on that front inside the administration? What is being done to address what happened in Minneapolis?
HABERMAN: This is a subject of much debate within the administration, John. There are a number of people who are telling the president that he ought to do something akin to listening sessions with people in the black community to try to show that he is hearing concerns.
But I want to make a point about something you've just said which is also related to what Marc just said. The president was hearing from his advisers that he needed to do more. But what he hears from that and what some of his own advisers hear from that is you're losing support from your conservatives and from other people because of the unrest that we have seen across the country. So you need to put yourself in the middle of it and you need to show that you're tough.
That was what he was attempting to do yesterday. That is not, as I said earlier, dealing with the underlying problem. They're not sure how to address the underlying problem. Again, the president had to be explained to repeatedly over of the weekend these protests were actually not just about him. Some of it was, certainly. But most of it was about longstanding systemic issues of race and police brutality in this country. And that's not his first impulse.
So I think we will see more over the coming days as to how they plan to address that. But until they address that piece, until the president starts to make any display that he is understanding that this is about police brutality -- and I have heard from several people, he really was troubled by the video of George Floyd being killed. And I'm sure he was, it's a terrible video. But until he shows that he understands this was not just an isolated incident, he is going to continue to face protests and they don't quite know how to deal with it.
CAMEROTA: And, Maggie, in terms of his base in trying to gin them up, does he think that standing in front of a boarded up church and hoisting a bible over his head will win over evangelicals if there's been any erosion? Do they think that that works?
HABERMAN: There has been erosion with evangelicals. It doesn't mean that they won't come back. But that certainly is part of what it was aimed at. You know, I think that it probably provided comfort to people who already were predisposed to liking the president. I cannot imagine that it swayed a lot of persuadable voters to see protesters being tear-gassed so that the president could walk through the crowd. But we'll see how it is.
CAMEROTA: Marc Morial -- very quickly, Marc.
MORIAL: Yes. This is not a time for people to hold a public opinion poll in one hand and have the political advisers in the other hand. This is a time for leaders to lead and deal with the underlying issue. It is justice. That's the underlying issue.
CAMEROTA: Thank you, Marc Morial, Maggie Haberman, we appreciate you. Thank you.
How do police walk the line of balancing protests and their rights, protesters' rights, with the safety of their police officers and the need for the community to come together and heal? Well, former Massachusetts Governor Duvall Patrick has some ideas on this. He's going to join us, next.