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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Protests Underway as Key Officer Now Faces Upgraded Second- Degree Murder Charge; Three Other Officers Charged; Former Defense Secy. Mattis Slams Trump as a Threat to Constitution; Esper Contradicts Trump on Insurrection Act, Distances Himself from Photo- op; Didn't Give WH Heads-Up on Remarks. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 3, 2020 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MALCOLM JENKINS, TWO-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: Thank you for having me.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. We're going to continue our special coverage here on CNN. Lots more coming up. You can see the protests unfolding here in Washington, D.C. Our special coverage continues right now with Erin Burnett OUTFRONT.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the protests underway across this country, curfews starting to take effect as all four fired police officers are now charged in George Floyd's death. How hard will it be to prosecute them?

Plus, Trump's former Defense Secretary James Mattis just out with the searing rebuke of the President calling on the country to unite without President Trump. This as Trump's current Defense Secretary Mark Esper breaks publicly with him today.

And former President Obama with a message of hope in the face of anger.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, protests are underway at this moment from coast to coast. All four officers have now been charged in the death of George Floyd and they are in custody as I speak. The officer seen kneeling on Floyd's neck as had those charges up, they are now second-degree murder charges.

He was originally charged with third degree murder and manslaughter. Second-degree, of course, adds intent. And the other officers involved also charged aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The State's Attorney General Keith Ellison, telling reporters that winning a conviction will be tough, but he believes the law is on his side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEITH ELLISON, (D) MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We gathered all of the facts that we could. We review the criminal statutes. We looked at case law. We consulted with each other and we arrived at these charges.

I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community and our state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And this is the scene across the country as I said peaceful protesters gathering from coast to coast in cities. Just moments ago, what we saw just moments ago in Minneapolis, we saw a protest and the President defending his claim that he has the power to send in the military to crack down on protesters. Speaking to his former Press Secretary in an interview, Sean Spicer, just moments ago.

President Trump said, "I don't think we'll have to," talking about the military. He appears to be cowering. It comes as the President's former Defense Secretary James Mattis just leveled a scathing rebuke of the President.

We're going to have much more on this, but this is an incredible moment. Secretary Mattis saying in part, "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people - does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership."

He also refers to that photo op as bizarre saying the President of the United States violated the U.S. Constitution and we're going to have much more of Mattis' incredible statement in just a moment.

First, as all of this is happening, the nation is at this hour with protests gathering again on edge, curfew starting to go into effect, Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT in Los Angeles where a large group has gathered. Kyung, what are you seeing?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: The reason why I'm standing here, Erin, and the crowd is back there is because our live view, the technology we use to get live fails, because there's so many people in this crowd. You can really see it from the affiliate aerial pictures.

This is a massive crowd that has descended on Downtown Los Angeles. You can see for yourselves to try to guess how many people are down here and they were down a block or so away from us, and they have continued to fill up the streets here in Los Angeles, block by block.

And if you can take a look over to your left, to give you a sense of why they are here, this is the Hall of Justice. This is where you see the L.A. Sheriff's Department. This is where you see the district attorney check in for the day, the court system and they are all, these protesters, ringing the Hall of Justice here in Los Angeles.

And when you talk to the people who are here, you mentioned all four of the Minneapolis police officers have indeed been charged. They say it doesn't make a difference, that they are here not to protest but to be part of a movement and that's really what I've noticed in the last couple of days. That they are bigger crowds, there is a change in sentiment and a determination that more and more of them want to come out. And one other protester said that what she feels here is she feels a

sense of hope that the tide has turned in the last couple of days and that the charges in Minneapolis make them feel that they may be taking a step forward. Others in the crowd say that what they are also learning is that there are so many names. When you hear them chant, say her name or say his name, there are so many names to choose from.

[19:05:06]

And so that's why they are all out here and so this is really an extraordinary scene. I have not seen this number of people coming out peacefully, filling Downtown Los Angeles since the Women's March. Since the Women's March when Donald Trump was inaugurated, that's the last time I saw a crowd, of this size of this sentiment start to gather in Los Angeles.

So I think what we're looking at here is something that's changed in the last week or so in the last days or so. And what we're also seeing from the police here, the Sheriff's Department here in Los Angeles is we're sensing that they're taking a step back. The curfew here has been pushed back to 9 pm Pacific time, that's midnight eastern time.

We're not seeing the police or the Sheriff's Department immediately moving in or using the tactics that we saw over the weekend so quickly. They're giving them a bit more space.

And in West Hollywood where I was just a short time ago, Erin, what the protesters were doing is they were asking to push beyond the police line and the Sheriff's Department and the police were allowing them to do so. And if you think that this is ending at all, I want - Jordan (ph), if you take a look around, there are more people coming.

So if you think that this crowd is going down at anytime soon, Erin, that is not the case by all - everything that I'm saying, it looks like this crowd is just going to continue to grow, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung, thank you very much. It's a pretty incredible. Those aerials are stunning as you see all those people are filing by Kyung, almost all of them masked heading into that rally. But those areas are pretty stunning, so we're going to keep watching that.

As this nation is reacting to the charges against the four officers, you heard what Kyung just said, some people are happy about that, but this is now so much bigger than just that.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT in Minneapolis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the world is watching.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Calls for justice met with an answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: We got all four. We got all four.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): Charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who kneeled on George Floyd's neck killing him will be increased to second-degree murder and the three other officers involved are also being charged.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLISON: George Floyd mattered. He was loved. His family was important. His life had value and we will see justice for him and for you and we will find it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: The announcement came just hours after George Floyd's family paid an emotional visit to the spot where Floyd took his last breaths.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUINCY MASON FLOYD, GEROGE FLOYD'S SON: 1905 [00:02:48] my father and man or woman should be without their fathers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): At the center of this, a family's grief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLOYD: My father should hadn't been killed like this. We want justice.

SIDNER: Plain and simple.

FLOYD: Plain and simple.

SIDNER: Justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): The family and their attorney responded to the charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN CRUMP, FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: I saw I believe what everybody in the world saw, a man being tortured to death while he asked for them to take the knee off the neck because I can't breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): The mother of Floyd's young daughter said she is still struggling to explain to their child how he died.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROXIE WASHINGTON, MOTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD'S DAUGHTER: She wants to know how he died and the only thing that I can tell is he couldn't breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): Other signs of solidarity today ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM WALZ (D) MINNESOTA: I have to personally and viscerally feel this (inaudible) ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz paying his respects at Floyd's Memorial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALZ: I think the biggest thing where this just candidly mean, I don't think we get another chance to fix this in the country, I really don't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): And in New York City, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, meeting with Floyd's brother, Terrence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERMOT SHEA, NYPD COMMISSIONER: It should be a wakeup call for this entire country, for justice, to look in the mirror, to work together about what we could do together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): In New York last night, protesters were mostly peaceful after nights of violence and looting caused some businesses to take extra precautions. A senior NYPD official tells CNN more than 500 people were arrested last night.

Across the country, protests were mostly peaceful from Seattle to Boston and even outside the Capitol in Washington, DC.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: And this just coming to us as we were just finishing that report, Erin, we have now the mug shots, pictures of the three officers who have been arrested. I will show them to you as best I can. This is J. Alexander Kueng. He has been arrested and you will see that picture there.

[19:10:01]

And then I'm going to show you a picture of Mr. Thomas Lane, Officer Lane. Now, all of these officers, of course, have been fired already. So they are former officers.

And then someone you will recognize from the video, he was prominent in the video Tou Thao. All three of them arrested. Their mug shots sent out for everyone to see, just like in any case, in any criminal case. We will see those normally and people expect that the police be treated no differently.

But I do want to give you just a quick view of the scene right now. This has grown exponentially since I've been here over the past few days. You will see all sorts of signs and, of course, as you heard from Kyung there, say their names is the rallying cry and there are dozens of names and dozens and dozens and dozens of people here who are saying them. So it is quite a scene here still very emotional just because this is the area where George Floyd lost his life, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much. And I want to go now to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the former Mayor of Baltimore, Paul Martin, Criminal Defense Attorney and former prosecutor, and Ben Jealous President elect of People For the American Way and the American way Foundation, also the former President, CEO of the NAACP.

OK. I'm glad to have all three of you back with me. So Mayos Rawlings- Blake, you obviously dealt with the police brutality case when you were the Mayor of Baltimore with the killing of Freddie Gray. You're also a lawyer. The Minnesota Attorney General, Keith Ellison, we just saw him there in the piece said, "We made these decisions based on the facts we have gathered since this matter occurred." And he added, "Winning a conviction will be hard." How hard?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, (D) FORMER MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: I think any case against a police officer is difficult and the expectation of anyone when there's a case involving a police officer is that it is an uphill climb. I'm glad that Ellison is being honest with the public about the charges, but also about the fight ahead and I know that he would not have charged if he did not believe he had sound evidence to be able to go forward and I'm confident that he will - I'm very hopeful that he will prevail.

BURNETT: So Ben, you know the Minnesota Atty. Gen. Ellison personally. He said this is going to take months. Obviously, this is going to be a long process. He said, "I feel a tremendous sense of weight." Do you think he is the best person to get a conviction here?

BENJAMIN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT-ELECT, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY AND FOUNDATION: Thank you. Thank you. He's generally excellent in all that he does. He's a very strong criminal (inaudible) vision. He's also probably the only person in the entire state government who could have gotten such a broad consensus, a broad sigh of relief, a real sense that the state is going to take this absolutely serious and that's part of the legacy of these cases is top prosecutors who are in league with the cops, top prosecutors you want to go leniently, top prosecutors who do not represent the full interest of all of the people.

Keith Ellison is a uniting figure in our country and in that state's politics. I was with him as recently as two months ago, visiting America Capitol where his office is right across from the Governor. He's exactly the right person.

BURNETT: So Paul, look, originally these charges here were third- degree murder and manslaughter. Now, they're saying second-degree murder, while committing a felony. Usually, we would describe second- degree murder as intentional but without premeditation, which would, of course, become first. They're adding the homicide listed as unintentional. Does that all make sense to you in terms of what they're doing? And what do you make of upping this charge?

PAUL MARTIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, it does make sense. If you look at the facts and circumstances of this case, this officer and I'd rather call him the defendant, in making the decision by keeping his body on Mr. Floyd's neck and being told over and over again that he was in distress, knowing that his body had turned limb and he had no pulse and continue to stay on this man's body, what else on his actions other than the causes of death?

So I thought when the case was originally brought that the prosecutors that brought forth that case weren't charging the highest charges for the facts as we knew them.

BURNETT: So you're comfortable with this? I mean, the Floyd family lawyer, Ben Crump, he's still saying that he thinks it should be first-degree murder which, of course, would be both intentional and premeditated. And I suppose he's basing that premeditation on you hear no pulse and in about two minutes later, you still are holding your knee down, whether that would count as premeditation in the context of first-degree murder or not. Do you think they could have gone for more?

Well, I don't think right now, under the facts as we know them. It would be appropriate to charge him with premeditated.

[19:15:01]

I don't believe the police officers when they went to that location or the defendants when they went to that location were intended to cause the death of Mr. Floyd. But during the circumstances of holding him down, they intentionally acted in a manner which caused his death. Therefore, murder in the second degree is the appropriate charge and which should have been charged initially.

BURNETT: So Mayor Rawlings, like the other three officers, former, obviously, have now all been charged with aiding and abetting second- degree murder. They were standing there. They did nothing to intervene. According to the charging complaint, they say, "At 8:25:31 the video appears to show Mr. Floyd ceasing to breathe or speak. Lane said, 'want to roll him on his side.' Kueng checked Mr. Floyd's right wrist for a pulse and said, 'I couldn't find one.' None of the officers moved from their positions." Time goes by, 8:27:24, two minutes later, Officer Chauvin removes his

knee from Mr. Floyd's neck. Of course, he's dead. The complaint notes Floyd was unresponsive for two minutes and 53 seconds, so they all knew no pulse keeps his knee. None of them do anything.

As an attorney, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, how strong do you see this case against these other officers?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I think the case against the other officers is strong, but it's still challenging. There are so many unknowns when it comes to charging police officers. We know for sure what we were able to see with our own eyes with the first officer who had his knee against Mr. Floyd draining the life out of him.

But it's really shameful the actions or the inactions of the other officers. I think it is symbolic of the shame that I feel the National Fraternal Order of the Police is with their silence as well. I think we should be expecting them to call out officers who are bad actors like the four officers involved and I really wish we would hear more from them, we need to.

BURNETT: And Ben, you have here, obviously, these charges. But this now is bigger than that when you when you hear them saying, say the names. This is as it should be much bigger than that. It also just raises the point that originally here that they weren't sure they were going to charge at all and then it was third-degree, and then as protest rose, then it became second-degree, and they rose more and now we're going to charge other officers.

It doesn't seem like this would have happened at all had we not seen what we're seeing across the country, which is pretty incredible to say.

JEALOUS: This is all a reminder that we are a democracy where the people's expectations matter and quite frankly that we have a rising generation in this country that is eager to see us make real advancements to racial justice, real advancement and finally reforming law and order in this country so that we truly all experience that, we all experience justice.

And I think great things will come from this. We are at the apex, certainly, in my lifetime of public consensus that we have to create a future in which our police departments can be counted on to respect the safety of all of our lives.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time.

And next, the President meantime is now trying to rewrite history after CNN reported he was taken to an underground bunker last Friday when protests started to escalate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I was there for a tiny little short period of time. It was much more for an inspection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Plus, more on the incredible statement that I mentioned from Trump's first Defense Secretary James Mattis, unleashing on the President tonight in an unprecedented manner.

And protests growing up this hour in Washington, D.C. Now, the city has pushed back that curfew and the District Attorney is OUTFRONT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:22:44]

BURNETT: All right. These are live pictures out of Denver. Large crowd outside of the State Capitol building. More breaking news out of Washington as I speak.

The former Trump Defense Secretary, James Mattis, has just come out with a jaw-dropping statement. This is pretty stunning. This is a person who had come into this administration at the beginning, stood by him and his words will stop you in your tracks.

Let me read some of the real meat here. He says, "When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens - much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief with military leadership standing alongside. We must reject any thinking of our cities as a 'battlespace' that our uniformed military is called upon to 'dominate'. At home we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions by state governors.

Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C. sets up a conflict - a false conflict - between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part."

And Mattis then goes on to say, "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime, who does not try to unite the American people - does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children."

And he concludes, "We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln's 'better angels' and listen to them, as we work to unite. Only by adopting a new path which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals, will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad." [19:25:12]

It is a pretty stunning thing that the President's former Defense Secretary calling for the rejection of the President. And it isn't just Mattis. Over the past couple of days, two former Joint Chiefs of Staff have criticized the President's threat of using the military and overruling governors to put U.S. Military troops in American cities. Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, Retired General Martin Dempsey both saying, "Our fellow citizens are not the enemy."

And it comes as the current Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, split with the President today saying he does not believe that at the moment the military should be intervening to stop the protests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, SECREATARY OF DEFENSE: The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Again, stunning. He did appear with the President, of course, by St. John's Episcopal Church, but President didn't know he was going to hold that press conference.

I want to go to Barbara Starr, a Pentagon Correspondent on the phone. Barbara, it is hard to overstate how significant this moment is when you look at this leadership from the defense in this country standing up to this president starting with this incredible statement from Mattis.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is, Erin. I suspect Mattis will face criticism now from the President because, of course, no active duty troops in deployed but that is, of course, not the point. What Mattis is actually saying here is Americans in uniform serve the American people. They do not serve a political agenda.

And him saying we can unite without the President, without the commander-in-chief is an extraordinary development. Jim Mattis more than anybody has had a military career based on military discipline, on obeying orders, on deferring to a commander-in-chief, whoever that commander in chief is. And he tonight is sending all of the troops around the world and Americans a message that this country can unite without its commander-in-chief.

That's an extraordinary thing. He has not wanted to speak out, because he didn't want to send any message to the troops that might make the job of the Pentagon harder. Well, that apparently has changed. His words couldn't be no more blunt. He just could not be more blunt.

And this is a Defense Secretary and a retired four-star general, of course, Marine Corps who is absolutely idolized by young troops, even those who have never met him. They are so enthusiastic about him. He is someone who is known to them, who they admire and respect.

And tonight, he is saying that this country can unite without the commander-in-chief. We've had plenty of retired four stars be critical in the past, they will talk about what they don't like that a current administration may be doing. This tonight is something quite different. It is something the President may be very critical of, but I'm not sure that that criticism is going to stick with the troops and with the American people.

Mattis very much saying if you're in uniform, you serve the American people. You do not serve the politicians.

BURNETT: And it is a pretty incredible, an abuse of executive authority that the President violating the Constitution lacks maturity, three years of trying to divide America.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT near the White House. So Kaitlan, have you heard anything yet from the President or his team responding to Sec. Mattis' incredible statement? And also what about Sec. Esper who went ahead without the President's say so and went against him on this idea of using U.S. troops in American cities?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We haven't heard anything from the White House yet, Erin, on Mattis' statement. I think Barbara is right that we're likely going to hear from the President on this. We are hearing from plenty of former officials one telling me this is going to leave a mark. It is stunning to see the President's own former Defense Secretary saying this. And, of course, the timing of this is another matter, because the current defense secretary is on thin ice right now.

He already was before that press conference today where he came out, broke with the President, tried to distance himself from that photo op that we saw happen on Monday night outside St. John's Church. And now, of course, he had been at the White House, Defense Secretary Esper, the current Defense Secretary for a few hours today, we had not gotten any word on really the indication of his job after that.

[19:30:06]

The press secretary would not even say that the president had confidence in him. That was really striking in an administration where you've often seen the president have these tense relationships with officials and now they won't even say they have confidence in Mark Esper.

And now, this statement from Mattis made it a whole worse because now, the focus is going to be on that and this statement from Mattis also not only criticizes the president, but by saying what happened in Lafayette Park the other night was an abuse of executive authority, he's also criticizing Mark Esper in the statement. Maybe that can help save his job because the president is going to be so distracted by this criticism from General Mattis, but it is really, really striking to see him say something like this on the record about the current president.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan.

And I want to go now to Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland. He is the vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and a 30-year Army veteran.

Congressman, this is a stunning moment. Obviously, two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs criticized. You've now had Secretary of Defense Esper step up and go against the president and this from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis just incredible. I wanted to read you one other line from it.

He says, Mattis: We do not need to militarize our response to protest. We need to unite around a common purpose and it starts by guaranteeing us, that all of us are equal before the law. Instructions given by the military department to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that the Nazi slogan for destroying us was divide and conquer. Our American answer is "in union, there is strength". We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis, confident that we are better than our politics.

He then continues, Congressman, to say, Donald Trump is the first president in my life time who does not try to unite the American people. He tries to divide us.

That is in the very next paragraph after he uses the Nazi slogan, divide and conquer.

He is very careful with his words and that is a clear likening of President Trump acting like the Nazis.

REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): Erin, I think also in that letter, Secretary Mattis, General Mattis may also be characterizing President Trump as a danger to the Constitution. Secretary Mattis is well- regarded on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, in academia. He studies history. He knows warriors. He knows the use of force that's proper and improper, and he spoke truth today to the president.

I've always respected him, the fact that he resigned because he had a fundamental disagreement with the way that President Trump made decisions regarding our troops, regarding national security in a haphazard way, the way that President Trump sent our military to the border to solve a problem that was better served with better policy and not with troops, the fact that the president wants to put our military on parade literally in Washington, D.C., I respect -- we all respected Secretary Mattis saying enough is enough and we certainly respect this letter calling out the president's abuse of authority, both his authority in office and the moral authority of the presidency.

BURNETT: Yes, and he certainly did, violating the Constitution, abusing executive authority and calling out his leadership. This comes, of course, Congressman, as the current Secretary of Defense Mark Esper split with the president. He now says he didn't know that trip to St. John's Episcopal Church was going to be a photo-op, came out and said, point blank, that he thinks it's wrong to use the Insurrection Act and deploy American troops on U.S. soil against U.S. protesters.

So, what happens here to Secretary Esper? You know, he is obviously criticized as well -- Secretary Mattis who criticizes military leadership for standing alongside the president at what Mattis calls that bizarre photo-op.

Should Secretary Esper resign?

BROWN: Look, I made (ph) a letter, Erin, signed by 18 of my colleagues in Congress, many if not all on the House Armed Services Committee to Secretary Esper, and we essentially called him out. We said you fumbled and stumbled throughout the last week in response to what's happening across this country, using language like we have to dominate the battlespace. That's militarizing the response to peaceful protests and an expression of anger and frustration by people who had been aggrieved, the African-American community aggrieved by law enforcement and local government throughout this country and for decades.

So I was very disturbed with Secretary Esper. The fact that he appeared with the president in a photo-op, he should have known better. His staff should have known better. It was avoidable. It was a mistake.

Now, I am pleased that he has clearly pointed out that the Insurrection Act does not apply, cannot be invoked.

[19:35:01]

This is not an insurrection. It's not a rebellion. It's not the kind of civil unrest contemplated when that law was passed and I'm glad that he made that point.

But I am equally, though, disturbed that while he was sending soldiers back home and active duty military he's now since reversed that decision, keeping them on standby at Joint Base Andrews, that's problematic. That is escalating tension in this country, not de- escalating, not unifying, not preserving the important relationship between the military and civil society.

BURNETT: Congressman Brown, I appreciate your time. Thank you so very much.

BROWN: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, huge protests in Washington, D.C., the city has pushed back that curfew and we will take you live to see the situation at this hour.

And President Trump speaking out tonight with a message for the thousands who have taken to the streets.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news, live pictures right now. This is Minneapolis. You see people there standing just hours after three more officers were charged in George Floyd's death. The primary charge against Derek Chauvin was upgraded to second-degree murder.

Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT in Washington. The curfew has been pushed back there to 11:00 p.m. which is more reflective of the reality obviously on the ground, Alex, that you see night after night.

Have you noticed any change after these new charges in Minneapolis and the later curfew?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, first of all, I'll keep my voice down because there's a moment of silence going on right now. The speaker up there is listing the names of the African-Americans who were killed by police officers.

If anything, there is a lot of happiness about those new charges against those three other officers. It is something that protesters out here have been asking me about. It is certainly something that has been at the forefront of their minds during these protests and this moment right here with everyone sitting on the ground, Erin, is really emblematic of how peaceful the protests have been over the past few days here in Washington, D.C.

Now, I'm asking my cameraman Jamie Michael to pan down. You can see the sea of protesters that stretches back three city blocks. So, it's really an immense crowd.

Erin, as you note last night, we were past the curfew. Tonight, the curfew has been extended to 11:00 because of how peaceful these protesters have been.

Erin, this is as close as protesters can get to the White House. Over the past few days, law enforcement has pushed the crowd back from the White House. First, protesters were in the park and then they put up a fence at the edge of the park and now the protesters have been pushed back here to this line. You can see right there, that is St. John's Church, that, of course, is where the president staged that photo-op after law enforcement forcibly removed all of the protesters from that area.

Erin, I was speaking to the rector of St. John's just a short time ago. He was saying that worshippers are not allowed at the church and the last time that happened was 9/11.

And I just want to highlight something else, about the law enforcement that we see right here. Most of these forces here in the riot gear, they're from the bureau of prisons. A number of them are all of the way from Texas and that is the same on that other street over there, H Street.

So, in essence, Erin, the White House is now being guarded by prison guards, many of them from Texas. Now this is setting up. This patchwork of federal agencies and different law enforcement authorities that have descended on Washington is really setting up a showdown and a confrontation with the city government of D.C. which it should be controlling these streets through their local police force.

And I was speaking with the mayor of Washington earlier today. She told me that that is just another reason that D.C. has to be a state, and she said also, that they are looking into the legality of the president being able to call up National Guard and the military to come here. She said, Erin, that it was unconscionable.

BURNETT: All right, Alex, thank you very much. You need to see the size of those crowds growing night after night.

OUTFRONT now, the Democratic attorney general of Washington, D.C., Karl Racine.

Attorney General, I'm glad to see you again.

KARL RACINE (D), ATTORNEY GENERAL, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Good to see you, Erin.

BURNETT: As we understand here, the curfew in your city now pushed back by four hours. You had less than two dozen arrests made last night during the protests, obviously, and there were other nights when the unrest were much more significant. What do you expect now that you have moved the curfew?

RACINE: I think we expect another overwhelmingly peaceful night in the District of Columbia. As you indicated the protests have been strong, consistent and heavy ever since the unjustified killing of Mr. Floyd.

And I want to tell you, having gone down to be with the protester, they are overwhelmingly peaceful, multi-generational, multi-racial, and as you see, the protests are happening throughout this country, and protesters want change. There's another way of policing that America should embrace and that's the de-escalation that your presenters have been talking about earlier today.

BURNETT: So you've said you will prosecute criminal conduct, you will prosecute assault, and you will prosecute destruction of property and not people who violate curfew.

What is the message, just to be loud and clear that you're sending with that policy?

RACINE: Well, I think the message is really clear. Folks who are out there expressing their First Amendment rights should go about doing that in a peaceable way. To the extent that people active and are aggressive with each other or damage property and look to steal thing, that's when you're going to be prosecuted. I don't think it's a good use of prosecutorial resources to prosecute people for simply being out in the street in a peaceful way minutes after a curfew and we're not going to spend our resources that way.

BURNETT: So, President Trump tonight, as you know, says he no longer believes he will have to follow through on his threat to send the military to cities to stop violent protests. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you send in the military to any cities in particular to restore that law and order?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it depends. I don't think we'll have to. We have very strong powers to do it. The National Guard is customary and we have a very powerful National Guard, over 300,000 me and women and we can do pretty much whatever we want as far as that. But as far as going beyond that, sure, if it was necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Of course, the governors beg to differ. And, you know, he's saying oh, he doesn't think he has to. This comes as even his own secretary of defense came out today and said he thinks the president is dead wrong.

Do you think the president thinks he doesn't have to or do you think he's trying to back off of this because he's lost the support of his own military?

RACINE: I think it's the latter point. I think you have a president who has got a really large bark, whose bite is actually quite timid and he's heard from his secretary of defense that he doesn't believe the military should be utilized in our cities and counties where protesters are and General Mattis spoke very clearly as General Mattis did after Charlottesville. He made clear that racism had no role, no part in his armed forces and he made clear again that what we're dealing with is an immature leader who acts by fiat and this is a country that instead respects the rule of law.

I also want to tell you that the District of Columbia is looking very carefully at the federal government's actions. We have grave concerns about the legality of it. We don't appreciate being used as a stage for the president to act tough. There's a real problem when you have Texas Bureau of Prison folks guarding the White House. They're not as well trained as the Metropolitan Police Department is.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

RACINE: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Attorney General Racine.

And next, President Obama calling for action in the wake of George Floyd's death.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: To bring about real change, we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:51:22] BURNETT: You're looking at live pictures from Los Angeles where a large crowd is marching through the street.

President Obama striking a hopeful tone a short time ago as these protests are taking place tonight across this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There is a change in mind-set that's taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better. That's a direct result of the activities and organizing and mobilization and engagement of so many young people across the country, who put themselves out on the line to make a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Philipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Council member who participated in the event, and Valerie Jarrett, she's the former senior advisor to President Obama, who, of course, was his point person on so many things, including criminal justice reform.

Councilmember Cunningham, let me start with you. The president -- President Obama -- chose you as the only representative from Minnesota to speak on this panel. What did it mean to you to be that voice to be the person that he selected, to be the voice of the community and to speak to the president?

PHILIPE CUNNINGHAM, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, PARTICIPATED IN OBAMA TOWN HALL: Erin, thank you for having me. I'll just say that it truly was an honor to be able to speak on behalf of my community here in Minneapolis and Minnesota. I've been doing a lot of work for sometime around expanding what public health, what public safety looks like from a public health approach. And so, I was really grateful to be able to have that platform to inject that hope in the conversation we're having as a nation right now.

BURNETT: So, President Obama talked about how change on race is so difficult to achieve, which, of course, we have seen time and time again. Here's part of what he said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We don't have the capacity to eradicate 400 years of racism in one fell swoop. I've been known to, quote, Dr. King -- I've said frequently, the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We bend it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Obviously, Philipe, the protests have shined a bright light on these issues. Today, we saw Derek Chauvin's charge upgraded to second degree murder, the three other officers are now facing charges as well.

How do you see this? Certainly, that's a good thing, but that thing is only happening because you have mass protests across this country. And I think on one level, everybody would say that should not be what it took to get to this point on justice.

CUNNINGHAM: The reality is that while it should not be what it took for us to get here, it is what got us here. And so, as we are holding this space, what really we need in this country is to be able to develop language around being able to talk about race, about our history as a country, race relations.

We as a country do not have the skill set to be able to have productive conversations around race, and that is because we are also a country that forgets our history. So as we are navigating through this time of big social upheaval, let's use that as an opportunity to really learn, learn how to talk about race, learn about our history, and learn how to do better.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Philipe.

And I want to turn now to Valerie Jarrett.

So, Valerie, you know, President Obama has been very careful about what he says since he left office. He's been, you know, quite reticent at times, many people were surprised, right, but he's been very careful.

He chose this moment.

[19:55:01]

This is obviously about a cause where he's dedicated his foundation and his time, so we would expect he would speak out. But yet he was -- he's very careful in how he chose to do so.

You know, what sort of went through his mind -- and I know you've been in communication with him -- as he prepared to do this?

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOAR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: We think (ph) that it was important to use the platform that he has to try to bring people together, to try to excite people about the possibilities of change, recognizing that this is an inflection point, and hopefully a turning point in our nation's history. To give a little context to say that change has only happened when people disrupt the status quo and that makes everyone a little uncomfortable, but that's how change happens.

And then the question is, what are the constructive solutions, evidence-based strategies to bridge this gulf between police and communities of color. He thought today was the platform to layout those concrete suggestions. He asked me earlier in the day to call around to many of our nation's mayors to see if they would be willing to take a pledge to work with their community on the use of force.

And the mayors of San Francisco, Minnesota, my hometown Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, and Atlanta, all the mayors I reached today said absolutely. And many of them are already implementing the recommendations that were in the 20th century task force that was created under President Obama. And so, I think it's important that everybody add their voice to this

equation. And given the respect and the popularity that President Obama has in the country, and that he has been the unifying force, a voice of reason, a voice of inspiration and hope, what better person to speak today than he.

BURNETT: So, you know, he, of course, was not the only one who spoke today. The current president, President Trump, spoke as well. And these were two very, very different tones, Valerie.

Let me just play them side by side. First, President Obama, then President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This country was founded on protests. Every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that right now the nation needs you to express that same sort of comfort and healing that some people need to heal?

TRUMP: Right now, I think the nation needs law and order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Loud and clear, that was stark. Right now, this country needs law and order from President Trump.

And President Obama, this country was founded on protest every step of progress has made our -- has been, you know, made the status quo uncomfortable.

What's your reaction to that? I mean, these could not be more starkly different.

JARRETT: Well, obviously, I agree with President Obama. Law and order only works if the justice system is just. And what we have is concrete evidence of ways in which it is not just. It is not fair. It is not meted out equally and that's really the pillar.

And I think you spoke earlier, Erin, about the comments that came from the former defense secretary, the current defense secretary.

So it is unprecedented for military leaders to speak out. And what it shows is their commitment to our Constitution, their commitment to protecting the American people, their questioning of President Trump's strategy of law and order.

I've never in my lifetime seen the government of the United States come after law-abiding citizens who are exercising their First Amendment right to protest the way that was done in Lafayette Park, and clearly now, our military leaders are very uncomfortable with that. And so, it is an inflection point. And it is -- it is a time for us to not be silent. It is a time for us to all do our jobs just as the media is doing. And I should pause to thank you, Erin, you and all of your colleagues in the press who are putting your life in harms way, going out onto the streets, taking the risk as you have been confronted with law and order, arrested, your own reporters who have been arrested.

BURNETT: Yes.

JARRETT: This is what we have to do in order to have change in our country. It should be law-abiding, it should be peaceful. I do not support the rare examples that we've seen where there has been looting and arson. And I'm heartened to see that that is dying down.

But the voices of thousands and thousands of people around our country and now around the world are only getting louder.

BURNETT: And before we go, will we hear more from President Obama on this topic?

JARRETT: Well, I'm sure we will. His ongoing work at the foundation, through My Brother's Keeper, is right in the space -- you mentioned in the importance of, this in the context of a broader criminal justice reform that has been a passion for him, and part of what we want to do is change the trajectory of lives of boys and young men of color and give them an equal footing and equal opportunity in this country.

And that commitment is one he's had for as long be as I've known him, nearly 30 years, and certainly will continue.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Valerie Jarrett. Thanks very much for being with us tonight.

JARRETT: Of course.

BURNETT: And thanks very much to all of you for being with us as always, as our breaking news coverage of these protests across the country continues now with Anderson.