Return to Transcripts main page


Eighth Night of Protests Over George Floyd's Death; Religious Leaders Express Outrage, Slam Tear Gassing; What Will the Protests Mean to Trump in November; Trudeau Hesitant to Criticize Trump Over Protests; Broncos' Head Coach Says, I Don't See Racism in the NFL; Facebook CEO Tries to Explain Stance on Trump Posts; Stimulus Measures, Economic Reopening Boost U.S. Stocks; Washington Man Shelters Dozens of Protesters. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 3, 2020 - 04:30   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: What started out as a peaceful demonstration turned relatively tense as the National Guard use pepper spray on protestors not far from the White House.

Also in Seattle, protesters there used umbrellas to try and block chemicals which are being sprayed as a form of crowd control by security officials. And crowds of people dressed in black stood on the steps of the state capitol in Boise, Idaho. They held a candle vigil for George Floyd, whose tragic death triggered all of these nationwide protests.

More details now on what happened on Monday night, when there was an event just -- oh, good. Here we are. This is what happened Monday night, not far from the White House. The Attorney General, turns out, Bill Barr, ordered the security forces there, the police, other law enforcement, to use tear gas to clear these, what were peaceful protesters, away from a church so that the President, Donald Trump, could actually hold a photo op at that church. A sign that he was actually getting out of the White House and was not cooped up inside and was not scared in any way, I guess, of being amongst the protesters. Now, it was all for a TV moment at the end of the day. And a former minister of the church was among the crowd that night. She spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper.


REV. GINI GERBASI, RECTOR, ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF GEORGETOWN: I was already stunned and shocked and deeply, deeply offended that they had taken what had become holy ground and had been holy ground for 200 years and literally desecrated it. Turned it into not a metaphorical battleground but a literal battleground with those officers and those heavy, heavily armed and just the aggression and the hostility and the innocent protesters, driving them off of church property, for whatever reason. At the time, I didn't even know why.

That already desecrated that, already turned holy ground into a literal battleground. I could not believe, literally, what people were texting me as I was going back to my car, saying, is the President really there? And I could still hear the flashbangs and people were texting me saying, he's walking across the park. I could not believe it. I was saying, no, no, that must be sort of stock photos. No, I'm sure that's not happening. I couldn't believe it. And when I realized that people had been hurt and terrified for a political stunt. I like, offended hardly begins to describe how I feel.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Strong criticism also coming from the bishop of the D.C. Episcopal diocese, who said the President's actions appeared to be a stunt.


BISHOP MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON D.C.: It didn't seem to be an expression of faith or of solidarity with faith. It seemed to be, as we've said before, an opportunity to clothe himself in the mantle of spiritual symbols and locations to, in some way, bolster or reinforce his own authority and message.


ALLEN: And harsh words from the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, former Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke on Tuesday.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 it. If he opened it, he could have learned something. We're all called to love one another as we love ourselves.


VAUSE: And CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joins me now this hour from Los Angeles. Ron, good to see you.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Another busy day, John. Good to see you.

VAUSE: They're all busy days. OK, the President seemed to frame the way he wants to run for re-election during that national address on Monday. Here's part of it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters, but in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others.


VAUSE: An ally of peaceful protesters, unless they get in the way of a photo op. But nonetheless, Nixon, he ran and won on a law and order agenda. That was in 1968, a period of unrest. Nixon though was not the incumbent. Trump is. And after a disastrous response to the pandemic, the economic collapse, we've got a country which is more vulnerable than at any time in living memory. Has Trump got anything else to run on, apart from the imaginary American carnage out there?


BROWNSTEIN: Well you know, I was thinking last night that there isn't a lot of Nixon nostalgia in America, but certainly, the President is one of the Americans who is expressing a kind of nostalgia for 1968, as you suggest. In fact, kind of underlining the point this morning when he just tweeted out to words -- silent majority -- which was the phrase Nixon used for his political coalition in 1968 that was meant to kind of portray white mid-America.

This is a very different country than it was in 1968. For one thing, as you mentioned, the President is the incumbent, and so, it's kind of hard for him to run against the forces of chaos that have emerged during his presidency. But even more fundamentally, it is a demographically and culturally very different place.

When Nixon ran on the silent majority and law and order in 1968, 80 percent of our voters were white people without a college degree, who were the core audience for the Trumpian messages. Today they're about half as big a share of the vote. They're about 40 percent. And the President is suffering from significant, you know, alienation among both minority voters and white-collar white voters in the big metro areas that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and also by the protests over the murder in Minneapolis.

VAUSE: Yes. "The New York Times" asked Trump on Sunday about his plans to deal with the unrest, which has paralyzed parts of the country. Here's his answer.

I'm going to win the election easily. The economy is going to start to get good and then great, better than ever before. I'm getting more judges appointed by the week, including two Supreme Court justices, close to 300 judges by the end of the year.

You know, among other things, it would indicate he either does not want or does not have, or probably both, any clue about how to end the unrest because he just doesn't want to.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I also think, as I've said to you before, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And every time the President gets under pressure politically, he returns to kind of the core tool in his toolbox, which is cultural and racial polarization. You know, there were some notes early on of sympathy toward Mr. Floyd. And occasionally, he still kind of mouths some of those words, but the core of it is I am your law and order president, I am going to crack down on thugs.

Very different message from when right-wing protesters were mobbing the Michigan state capitol with automatic weapons and he was telling the Democratic governor to make a deal with them. Now he is saying Democrats are weak, the cities are being overrun. That is his message, you know, to his voters, that he, I alone can protect you against all of these dangerous and dark forces that are collecting in the cities and also against the elites who he says looks down on you.

So, he always comes back to this place. But when you see the real- world consequences of this politics, both in the extraordinary price we are paying on the pandemic and then in the violence that he has kind of put gasoline on the fire, I think the audience for it shrinks somewhat. It's not that there's no audience for it, but it's clear that he's having trouble moving his support above 45 percent of the country.

VAUSE: Because the other part of this law and order strategy, is trying to shore up his supporters -- religious supporters, but I think using tear gas and flashbangs to move hundreds of peaceful protesters away from a church to take a photo op, that's not seen favorably by many religious leaders. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President? I know you stood right here and held the bible in your hand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it is clear you don't have the bible in your heart.

CROWD: In your heart.

GERBASI: For him to turn that book into a prop, for him to turn that holy ground into a battleground, for him to turn that holy ground into a photo op is a sacrilege.


VAUSE: Trump was already losing support among evangelicals but is this one incident that he lost significant support or is it just sort of part of a toxic build-up?

BROWNSTEIN: No, I don't think he loses any of his support amongst white Evangelicals, because he is kind of their sword against all of the changes in American life that they feel are marginalizing their position. But what I do think this incident exemplifies is what I called a few months ago the Trump treadmill. And I wrote that when he told the four Democratic women of color in Congress to go back where they came from, even though they were all, you know, American citizens.

And what I mean by that is that he constantly feels the need, as I said, to stir up these cultural confrontations to energize and mobilize his base, but he's on a treadmill, because each time he does this, he reinforces the doubts among many previously Republican- leaning white-collar voters about whether he is personally fit to be president. And you know, I think there's -- I'm sure there's going to be polling

coming out in the next few days reaffirming what we've seen in earlier polls, that a majority of Americans believe he is a racist, particularly a majority of college-educated white voters. As an extraordinary statement about an American president, and one I think, again, the consequences of which are becoming more tangible to voters.


That does not mean there's infinite tolerance for disorder in cities and breaking windows and looting, and there is, you know, the potential of a backlash if that goes on for very long. Americans want order. But I don't think that most Americans at this point believe that Trump is making the situation better. In fact, I think most think he's making it worse.

VAUSE: Just been told to wrap, Ron, but just to your point that most Americans believe he's a racist, but yet still has, what, a 40 percent approval rating. Which says a lot itself.

BROWNSTEIN: 45, yes, right absolutely. Look, there is a coalition that is open to his message that the changes in American life, economic, cultural, and demographic, are marginalizing them, but it is not a majority of the country. And if he wins, he's going to have to find a way to squeeze through, despite that again.

VAUSE: We've got to go. Ron, good to see you. Thanks so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.

ALLEN: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared lost for words during a news conference when asked about President Trump's handling of the U.S. protests. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have Donald Trump now calling for military action against protesters. We saw protesters tear-gassed yesterday to make way for a Presidential photo op. I'd like to ask you what you think about that? And if you don't want to comment, what message do you think you're sending?


We all watch in horror, in consternation, what's going on in the United States. It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen. It is a time to learn what injustices continue, despite progress over years and decades. But it is a time for us, as Canadians, to recognize that we, too, have our challenges.


ALLEN: Several Canadian cities have staged demonstrations over the last several days, chanting "Black Lives Matter" and calling on leaders to acknowledge that racism is still a problem in Canada.

VAUSE: As it is in so many other places. Well we'll take a short break.

Coming up, we'll hear from the NFL coach who says, when it comes to the National Football League, there's no discrimination. That's ahead.



VAUSE: Well the head coach of the Denver Broncos says he does not believe racism is a problem in the NFL.


VIC FRANGIO, HEAD COACH, DENVER BRONCOS: I think our problems in the NFL, along those lines, are minimal. We're a league of meritocracy. You earn what you get. You get what you earn. I don't see racism at all in the NFL. I don't see discrimination in the NFL. You know, we live in a great atmosphere, like I alluded to earlier. We're lucky. We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. You know, if society reflected an NFL team, we'd all be great.


ALLEN: Just four teams in the NFL have nonwhite head coaches. Last month, the organization announced an expansion of the Rooney Rule, intended to address racial disparities in hiring. And as many in the NFL call for unity amid the protests, the debate over Colin Kaepernick has resurfaced. He is the San Francisco quarterback, right there, who knelt to raise awareness of police brutality back in 2016. Many argue his silent campaign led him to lose his NFL career.

Facebook's CEO is now trying to ease outrage among his own employees. Mark Zuckerberg held a companywide town hall Tuesday to defend his decision not to take down President Trump's inflammatory posts. Zuckerberg said he's committed to free expression. One employee told CNN that Zuckerberg's remarks were, quote, lacking, and that he risked alienating more of his staff, rather than addressing their concerns.

CNN's John Defterios is with me now from Abu Dhabi, looking at this story for us. You know, Zuckerberg is trying to strike a balance to protect free speech and also be proactive against posts that incite violence, but apparently, some Facebook employees just aren't having his stance.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, this is a heck of a global story as well, Natalie, because of the 2.6 billion active users on Facebook. Zuckerberg called this town hall to try to create some unity amongst the 48,000 staff members. Nearly half tuned into this town hall. And you heard some of the comments here.

Zuckerberg said he took a tough decision after being pretty thorough about the process going forward, why not to take down the content, in particular from President Trump, even though he thought it incited violence. This is particularly sensitive, because six months ago, Zuckerberg was on Capitol Hill and said that Facebook would take a much more stern stance against these sort of postings and something that crosses the line in the future.

And also, there's the perception of influence from the President, because Zuckerberg had a call with President Trump on Friday. We didn't get a readout from that call, but again, the employees are saying, OK, you had the call Friday. We had a blackout on Monday. And on Tuesday, you made your case. But it wasn't crystal clear. And they have a stark contrast again here with another Silicon Valley company, Twitter, which the President uses regularly, of course, with his 80 million followers. And he is suggesting now, Jack Dorsey, that he wants to fact-check the President. He didn't back down from that position, and Mark Zuckerberg's saying I'm doing this in the case of free expression, as you noted here. But it's not going down well with all his employees, that's for sure.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely. Let's talk about the market, John. That's one area of your expertise as well. We're seeing nationwide protests in this country, record unemployment with 40 million people filing for claims during this pandemic, but Wall Street keeps moving higher. How so?

DEFTERIOS: Well, investors try to put these buckets of riots and protests and unrest into a certain category of short-term risk. They don't think it's going to derail growth going forward in the United States or hurt its standing internationally. And people here are watching that closely, obviously, in India and China at the same time.

This may be different, though, Natalie, because of that unemployment could rise to 20 percent in the next month with 40 million people filing for benefits.


But all of the forecasts, whether it's in the United States or China, India, in Europe, they see a v-shaped recovery. I'm not so clear that's going to come to the fore. So if you look at U.S. futures, again, we're on the upside here. Three days of gains. We're at a three-month high for the S&P 500. If you look at Asian markets here, Seoul hitting a three-month high as well. There's a belief here that the stimulus that's on the table worldwide of $7 trillion, $3 trillion of that coming from the United States, will be enough.

By the way, before we go, we should point out a case study for the work-from-home attitude here from one company, Zoom. It put out its first-quarter results. It had, get this, net income of $200,000 in the first quarter of 2019. That zoomed up to $27 million, and they were suggesting in the month of April to have a common platform of 300 million participants in a single day. That's not the traffic of Facebook, but it's growing pretty rapidly -- Natalie.

ALLEN: My goodness, yes. We're all zooming these days, aren't we? You and I aren't right now, but that's where. All right, John Defterios, always a pleasure. Thank you, John.

OK, one man in Washington, D.C., opened his home to dozens of protesters to shield them from arrests as police swarmed outside. We'll have this remarkable story, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: OK, one more for you, and we like this one. It's the story of one man doing some good for his fellow Americans.

VAUSE : Dozens of protesters in Washington they spent Monday night hanging out at Rahui Dubey's. He took them in so they would not be arrested by police for curfew violations.

ALLEN: This is how many people he took in, about 70 protesters --

VAUSE: Rahui' s place!

ALLEN: -- as police swarmed the streets outside, they were hold up for hours. Dubey tells CNN he was just trying to help his community.


RAHUI DUBEY, OPENED HIS HOME TO PROTESTERS: They're not strangers. They're my community members. They're my brothers and sisters, and they were getting brutalized out there on the street in front of me and my neighbors and everyone else. And they had nowhere to go. They were pinned in. And it wasn't -- it's not something I thought of, OK. I appreciate the question very much, but you know, opening up my house to strangers, I truly feel that there is a moment in this country where I know that 95 percent of the people in that situation would absolutely have done exactly what I did and wouldn't have questioned it and would be beaming all day from the love that's been pouring in, coming out of a very awful situation of just police attacking innocent protesters.


VAUSE: Many, many hours later, as the sun was rising, they all safely left. There they are. Bye-bye. Applauding the man who took them in,

ALLEN: How about that one.

VAUSE: It's like the end of the night when you were younger and you were leaving the bars and the sun was up.

ALLEN: That's the difference between me and John.

VAUSE: Thank you. I'm John Vause.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. "NEW DAY" is next. We'll see you around.