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Decision Imminent On Additional Charges In Floyd's Death; Trump "Not Happy" With Esper's Attempt To Distance Himself; Trump Claims Tear Gas Wasn't Deployed For Photo Op, Despite Eyewitness Video. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired June 3, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Back now to our breaking news. We're told that the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is going to be making an announcement related to possible additional charges in the killing of George Floyd.
Right now fired Officer Derek Chauvin faces charges of third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. But the other three officers who are standing by including two who also restrained, Mr. Floyd, as they stood by as Mr. Floyd was killed, they have not yet as of this hour been charged, so we're waiting to see what happens there.
I want to bring in Rashad Robinson. He is the president of the group, Color of Change. Rashad, this news of more charges. What's your reaction?
RASHAD ROBINSON, PRESIDENT, COLOR OF CHANGE: Well, I think this is an important step forward. I think that you know a CNN reporter was arrested before these police officers were arrested. And so we've been waiting and wondering why they weren't arrested. And, and I think it was important that this case was taken away from the Hennepin County District Attorney who, unfortunately, you know, has had a horrible track record when it comes to holding police accountable.
And we will see what happens. I do think that it's important for all of us to recognize as this sort of process moves forward, that there is a deeply challenging and problematic threshold that you have to reach in order to ensure that there's justice served when police officers kill or harm someone.
And that threshold is going to be something that we're going to have to fight to change because we are continue to run up against it all around the country. But it's important that these police officers are arrested and charged. It's important that we move this next step forward for justice, and that we ensure that the George Floyd's family gets the justice that they deserve.
And we continue to build the momentum to change the rules that allow us to have happened far too often without justice at all. KEILAR: I want to ask you, Rashad, about a meeting that you and other civil rights leaders had with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, about his decision to lead President Trump's inflammatory posts about the shootings, the looting starts, the shooting starts, for instance, leaving those up on Facebook. Tell us what he said in this call, and what you thought about what he said.
ROBINSON: Yeah, it was a video call with him and some of his staff. This is not the first time we've met with him. In fact, some of the policies that we are demanding that he enforces our policies that we thought to put up to foot for them to actually put implement in the first place.
You know, Mark Zuckerberg kind of gave this answer that, in some ways did not land for us at all because he was sort of speaking to this idea that President Trump is the -- as a person who controls the sort of military that maybe he was making a demand from the state.
We also in that same meeting talked about the ways in which President Trump is sort of pushing voter suppression by spreading lies about vote by mail. As we push a Mark Zuckerberg it remain very clear that this is just a person who may be good intention, but no single person should control a platform that has 2.3 billion users more followers than Christianity without any rules or regulation.
Sixty percent of the shares can make unilateral decisions. It's why private people shouldn't own public squares in our country. And it's in and be able to make these unilateral decisions as I sat on the meeting and looked at the faces of Facebook leadership that was looking back at me. I was just surprised that a platform this large in this powerful in this day and age could have no one with civil rights expertise, racial justice expertise in their leadership.
I spoke at their shareholders meeting last week. And push for more civil rights and racial justice, expertise, human rights expertise on their board. And of course, because Mark Zuckerberg was against that proposal, it doesn't even matter what the other shareholders believe. Because once again, he owns 60 percent of the shares his Chairman and CEO. This is the problem with consolidated corporate power in this country. And it does do damage to all of us when he can just sort of decide whether or not he thinks of something.
KEILAR: You said that you had to explain things to him, or that you and others had to explain things to him when it came to things about race. I think these were things that you communicated. You thought he would already have a grasp of what kind -- like give us an example. What did you have to explain to him?
ROBINSON: Well, we really had to try to walk him through what how voter suppression operates. You know, he's giving an exception and exemption to Donald Trump to suppress the vote is sort of like a political exemption. He may say that he's not but in practice he actually is.
[13:35:07] And we had to sort of help him understand that voter suppression is not just something that is about whether or not you like Trump or not, right? When you open up this sort of avenues for politicians to lie about voting and lie about the census online, you're not just open it up to whether or not people are debating back and forth about what the President says on Twitter, which we may be able to push back on your platform and others.
But it's about that sort of local sheriff in a town that may be targeting immigrants. It may be the local city council person that tells people that don't show up to the polls, if you think you owe back taxes, because we will arrest you.
All the ways in which we have seen for literally generations, since we've gotten the franchise in this country that powerful forces have sought to suppress the vote. He simply did not have a grasp on it. You know, to be clear, I probably don't have deep grasp on the intricacies of a back end of a of a Facebook's platform. I probably -- I definitely couldn't help you with the coding. But -- and that is why when people are in leadership they need people in positions that can actually --
KEILAR: I have a question though, do you think understanding sort of basic history about how voter suppression has been carried out is as difficult to a non-coder as understanding coding?
ROBINSON: It shouldn't be but as a person who continues to have to show up to these meetings, continues to engage, continues to push. I also want to say that we are also seeing an uprising of Facebook employees who are speaking out on Twitter --
ROBINSON: -- on Facebook themselves, who are outraged. We're not just on the outside pushing, but we are seeing folks on the inside. And I want to say to the Facebook employees that are pushing up and standing up for our democracy that we see you and we appreciate you because part of how change is not just on the outside, but folks on the inside pushing and fighting and demanding for change.
Right now, we only have so many levers because the rules of the road for big social media platforms were written before there were big social media platforms.
ROBINSON: And so we dealt with this sort of interesting thing where sometimes Facebook has argued that they're a media platform like you all. And then when the rules of media platforms have to apply to them, they go to Capitol Hill and say, you know what, we're not a media platform.
And so being able to have it all different ways means that they can keep moving the ball on what's acceptable or not acceptable on their platform. There are probably people who are watching right now who have had their content taken down or flagged, but the most powerful person, you know, in the world can get on the platform, attack, target, harass, folks can -- but also use the power to actually create problems in our democracy by telling lies about voting, which can actually suppress the vote and have real harm.
ROBINSON: Those are things that Facebook has to make a decision about. Twitter has made some good steps, not enough in our opinion at all. But actually he, Mark Zuckerberg on the record now criticizing Twitter for the steps that they took. There's a lot that has to change. Facebook has such a huge platform, such a huge reach 2.3 billion users.
ROBINSON: And we need to ensure that this platform has to operate by some set of rules.
KEILAR: No, it is someone -- I mean, it is the reach is extraordinary. Rashad Robinson, thank you so much.
We have some breaking news that we're waiting here, an imminent announcement on possible additional charges and George Floyd's death, involving the officers who were seen on that tape standing around as Floyd died. Plus, we're expecting Floyd's family to meet with the NYPD Commissioner any moment standby for that.
KEILAR: Back to our breaking news, we told you how sources say CNN Defense Secretary Mark Esper is on shaky ground with the White House after he attempted to distance himself from the President's much criticized photo-op Monday at St. John's Episcopal Church.
I want to bring in former CIA director and former NSA Director General Michael Hayden. And we just heard from our Caitlin Collins, General that the White House is not happy with Esper's press conference. Are you surprised by that? And what do you think that means?
GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: No, I'm not surprised at all. And I'm glad he said some things that, you know, he didn't do enough. OK. Two days ago, he was there with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. And well, it was very, very political.
KEILAR: You had a very visceral reaction to seeing Secretary Esper, and General Milley walking over to St. John's Church.
HAYDEN: He was in the picture. He should not have been there at all.
KEILAR: Secretary Esper directly contradicted the President today. He said he does not support the use of the Insurrection Act, which is of course using military force inside the United States to quell these protests. How significant is that to you?
HAYDEN: That's very important. And I watched him and I said, OK, that's good. But you know, there's so much going on, you know? Well, for example, two days ago, I thought maybe he should resign.
KEILAR: Do you still think he should resign?
HAYDEN: Yes, I do.
KEILAR: You tweeted that General Milley should not have walked over to the church in his uniform.
HAYDEN: Absolutely. That's exactly right. OK. And I've been many times to the White House, OK. And, but I didn't wore that uniform. I wore a different uniform. OK. He shouldn't have been there either.
KEILAR: Do you think he's making a political, I guess, statement when he wears his uniform like that?
HAYDEN: Absolutely. Right when he walked out to the church or to the park, OK, that was wrong. I was watching TV. And I saw that and said, oh my God, he's going there, and that's not good.
KEILAR: So yesterday, a former top Pentagon official, resigned from the advisory board over Esper's perceived support of using pepper balls to clear out protesters there in front of the White House. He said that Esper violated his oath of office. Do you agree with that?
HAYDEN: Well, I think he should resign.
KEILAR: A former CIA analyst who told The Washington Post that they've seen this kind of violence before while tracking developments in China and South Asia. This is what autocrats do. That's what they said. And they said, this is what happens in countries before a collapse. What do you -- obviously, you agree with that?
HAYDEN: Absolutely. And I said before, OK, if one term for President Trump is OK, but two terms, and I think we'll be another country.
KEILAR: General, thank you so much. General Michael Hayden.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
KEILAR: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo now addressing his criticism of police after stores were vandalized in the city. This after the New York Police Department chief says Cuomo apologized.
Plus, President Trump says he went to the bunker during the peak of Friday's protest to "inspected." We're going to fact check his remarks today.
KEILAR: The President, his White House, the U.S. Park police are engaging in revisionist history. They are not telling the truth when it comes to that photo op stunt that they pulled at St. John's Church.
First off, they claimed that protesters were throwing things that's why they had to bump them back so forcibly. They said, well, our CNN team was on the ground -- teams, I should say, we had many of them. They did not see any projectiles, then officials from the administration claim that they did not use tear gas. All right, well, they use pepper balls and smoke flash bangs which cause these images that you're seeing right now.
So all right, if you want to split hairs there, it's a distinction without a difference right? Pepper balls and flash bangs share many similar effects of tear gas, including excessive tearing, lack formation, which CNN team on the ground witnessed. They experienced this you can see the folks here in front of you experiencing it.
The President wants a correction from the media that tear gas was not used. But in fact, by his own CDC classification, it was tear gas. The CDC notes the term tear gas is often used to describe different substances that are used for crowd control.
"Riot control agents sometimes referred to as tear gas or chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin." So all of this leads to the question. If you can't be honest about your tactics that are verifiable they're on camera. How the hell do you expect people to trust law enforcement?
With me now CNN Daniel Dale, the President, Daniel, gave an interview to Fox News radio host, Brian Kilmeade today, and he was also asked about the photo op at the center of this incident. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said go to the church. I didn't know protesters or not. Nobody tells me that they say, yes, sir. We'll go to the church. So we walked over the church. It was very fast. I think it was very symbolic. I did hold up a Bible. I think that's a good thing. Not a bad thing. And many religious leaders loved it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TRUMP: Take a look at Franklin Graham, so respected and so many others. Take a look at Robert Jeffress. He's a real people, you know. They thought it was a great symbol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear you.
TRUMP: And I thought it was a great symbol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right, Daniel, over to you. Give us give us the straight deal here.
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: This country has a whole lot of religious leaders. So I've no doubt that there were many who loved it. But many prominent religious leaders in the Washington area and elsewhere denounced it strongly. The Catholic Archbishop in Washington, Wilton Gregory was sharply critical, isn't the way Pope John Paul II would not condone a stunt like this.
Speaking to Anderson Cooper of CNN, the Episcopal Bishop for Washington says she was outraged that her church had been used as a prop and even the Southern Baptist Convention, you know, not raising liberals issue statements as leaders issue statements ranging from sharply critical to more veiled but certainly not strongly in favor, Brianna.
KEILAR: OK, so in this interview that the President had here, I mean, he took what seemed like a number of liberties here. He was asked about the reporting that he was taken to a secure bunker during the heat of the protests are reporting indicating that that was really what stuck in his craw that kind of led to him going across the street from this photo op. But here is what the President said about his time in the bunker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It was a false report. I was down, I went down during the day, and I was there for a tiny, little, short period of time. It was much more for an inspection. There was no problem during the day. And these problems are during the night, not during the day.
And I go down, I've gone down two or three times, all for inspection. And you go there someday you may need it. But you go there and I went down. I looked at it, it was during the day, it was not a problem. And I read about it like a big thing, there was never a problem. We never had a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I think it's almost like the repeating of we never had a problem. Put it through the translator box. Actually, we had a problem. Is that fair, Daniel?
DALE: Yeah, I mean, obviously, I wasn't in the bunker in the White House. So I'll be more cautious here and asserting the President was false than I am with stuff that we can see with our own eyes. But what he said here contradicts news accounts not only from CNN, but from "The New York Times."
And from Fox News that the very outlet that employs the host he was speaking to here, all of us reported that the President was rushed to the bunker by secret service on Friday night, not during the day and not from inspection. But because there were real concerns for his safety.
KEILAR: All right, thank you so much for the fact Daniel, we appreciate it. And we're waiting right now, an imminent announcement on possible additional charges in George Floyd's death. This involves the officers who are seen on that tape standing around, not intervening as Floyd died.