Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Military Leaders Condemn Trump; Minnesota Elevates Charge against Ex-Officer; Court Hearing in Arbery Case; Fauci Comments on Schools for the Fall; New Video of Sarasota Officer Kneeling on Man's Neck in May. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 4, 2020 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Defense secretary in conflict with the commander in chief on a key issue of national security. Have you seen that before? How significant is that?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That's very significant. And people have watched this. They've -- people have known Secretary Esper. They say he's a really good guy. He came into the position from the secretary of the Army's position. He knew the inside of the administration. But he didn't know what it was like to be in a hot seat like this. And so he realized, I think, as soon as he could understand what had happened in Lafayette Park, that there was -- he had no business being there. Neither did General Milley. That was purely political theater. And he's trying to maintain the integrity, the credibility of the United States Defense Department.

He got a lot of grief, both of them did, behind the scenes, for that action on Monday night. And I think he realized he had to put the interests of the department above his own personal relationships there with some people in the White House. He stepped out on a limb. He's out there. It was acknowledged yesterday. There's been a lot of pushing and shoving, as there always is inside White Houses about who stands where and who's in trouble and who isn't. And Mark Esper definitely moved himself out on a limb further.

But we're glad he did it. He did it for the country. And I think it's the right move.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What's your reaction to Republican Senator Tom Cotton's op-ed in "The New York Times," the headline, "send in the troops." He calls for an overwhelming show of force in the face of what he calls delusional local leaders.

CLARK: He just couldn't be more wrong. He just doesn't see it.

Now, he's my senator from my state, and I've spoken with him. I've been to his office and we've talked about things. In this case, he just doesn't understand what the situation is.

People of our generation have seen real civil disobedience. We've seen what happens abroad. We've seen dictatorships use their armed forces. What Tom Cotton is proposing is way out of line with the situation. It totally misunderstands the American political system, our heritage and the role of the armed forces. I was very sorry to see him say that. But I think it's fine that "The New York Times" published it because, let's get it out there. Let's talk about it and let's understand why that view is so misplaced at this point.

HARLOW: General Wesley Clark, we're glad you're with us this morning. Thanks for the time.

CLARK: Thank you.

HARLOW: A Florida police officer is now being investigated after this video surfaced showing him kneeling on a suspect's neck. We'll have a live update on that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:37:04]

HARLOW: Welcome back.

In just a few hours, three former Minneapolis police officers that are now charged with aiding and abetting in George Floyd's murder will appear in court for the first time. This as their former colleague whose knee was on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, he now faces an elevated charge for second degree murder.

Joey Jackson, Elie Honig are both here with us, our great legal minds on all of this.

Elie, let me just begin with you and the significance of Minnesota Attorney General Ellison raising the charge against Chauvin to second degree. But the way he did it, he did it with intentional assault, not intentional murder. Why does that matter?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right, Poppy. So I think the upgrading of the charges from third to second degree murder was the right thing to do. And the attorney general did it in a smart way. There's two ways you can prove a second degree murder in Minnesota. One is showing an intentional killing, that's the harder way, that's not the way he went. The second way is, all you have to prove is an intentional assault that resulted in murder. That's easier to show and that's the way he's charged it. I think it was a smart move.

HARLOW: Joey, the three other officers aiding and abetting with second degree murder, what does that actually mean? How high is the bar to prove that? And what's the punishment if they are charged -- if convicted?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, I think, you know, as it relates to convicting officers in general, it's a very high bar. We know that historically if you look at what has happened.

But with regard to this case, what he's establishing or is attempting to establish is the aiding abetting. That means that you encouraged, that you participated, that you counseled, that you importune, that you were an active participant, essentially, with regard to what went on. And so to Elie's point, what happens is, is he's tying that, that is the aiding and abetting to second degree murder, establishing that they were participating in the assault, that's the underlying felony. You establish the assault. The death, even though it's unintentional occurs. And as a result of that, you get your conviction as to the other parties. So, again, I do think it was a wise move.

HARLOW: Joey, I think it's important to note that we have not seen any, you know, defense laid out here, from any of the officers. And I just want to ask you, since you are a criminal defense attorney, what even could a defense be?

JACKSON: I think there will be a number of things challenged. I think there's always something called mere presence, right? So I think that's one thing. They'll say, my clients were not actively involved in the nature of the statute in aiding and abetting. They were present. However, they didn't take any substantial step really as it related to engaging in this. Again, I'm stretching, but that's what you'll see.

You'll also see attacks on the autopsy. There's going to be the argument made as to causation. Be careful, though, because we know the autopsy speaks about other contributing factors. Attorneys will bring that up to suggest that there were these other factors. They were not the factors there.

And then, of course, as it relates to the officer who was not involved on the back, otherwise holding him down, he will say that I had really nothing to do with it, other than being there and not stopping it.

Again, I'm giving a defense perspective, Poppy, not suggesting that will be successful, but you will hear it.

[09:40:00]

HARLOW: Building on that, though, Elie, I was struck reading your opinion piece over the weekend about some holes you think you saw from the prosecutor side in the charging documents.

HONIG: Yes, Poppy, so I had some real doubts about the ability of the county attorney in Hennepin County. I thought he left things, important details, out of the original charging document, including the fact that Mr. Floyd said, don't kill me and I can't breathe. Now, I think that's largely been remedied by putting the attorney general on the case. He's doing a much better job.

But one point I think our viewers need to understand, there's no such thing as an easy trial. Anyone who tells you this is a foregone conclusion has not tried enough cases.

HARLOW: Yes.

HONIG: Every one of these defendants is going to have a good defense lawyer, like a Joey Jackson. They won't be as good as Joey Jackson, but like Joey Jackson, making spirited defenses and challenging every piece of this case. This trial is going to be a tough one. HARLOW: Elie, where does it go then from here? Walk us through the

process.

HONIG: Yes.

HARLOW: Because, you know, there is a lot of talk now about, you know, justice delayed, justice deferred. How long is this process? What happens next?

HONIG: So the next big step is grand jury. That's a one sided process where the prosecution gives the evidence to the grand jury. In the vast majority of cases, grand juries then vote to indict. Then you're into the trial process. You'll have pretrial motions. That will take a few weeks or months. And then a trial. I think everyone involved here has to understand that time is of the essence. If I had to guess when we'll see a trial, it won't be this summer. But I would put it end of 2020, early 2021.

HARLOW: OK.

I want to show you guys live -- a live streaming video right now. This is coming from a different case. This is the courtroom in Georgia, where those three men are appearing in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. This is a preliminary hearing, Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William Bryan Jr.

Can you talk about, Joey, what is happening today? They're appearing virtually because of Covid. But, you know, where are we on this case?

JACKSON: So what happens, Poppy, is a preliminary hearing simply establishes that there's reasonable cause to believe that there's probable cause that the charges can move forward to trial. And so there will be no determination by a judge as to guilt. There will be no jury empaneled. A judge will simply preside. And then the prosecution will just lay it -- lay forward a bare bones case to establish that there's enough evidence to determine whether or not they actually committed these offenses. Whether they committed them will be left for another day.

And so, generally speaking, it's good for defense attorneys because you get discovery that is information as to witness statements, reports, 911 calls, everything else, but I do suspect that they will sustain the charges, that is not guilt or innocence, but find that there's enough to move forward and now you determine guilt or innocence at another day and time.

HARLOW: Remember, they were not arrested until the video surfaced. I would be remiss not to mention the critical role of video in that case and in the killing of George Floyd.

Thank you, Joey.

Thanks, Elie.

HONIG: Thanks, Poppy.

JACKSON: Thank you very much, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Fascinating questions to be answered there.

Many parents still unsure if their children will be back in classrooms when the new school year begins in the fall. But the nation's top infectious disease expert tells CNN that keeping some schools closed this fall might be a bit of a reach. A sign of hope there perhaps? We'll have more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)\

[09:47:39]

HARLOW: Well, this morning, growing concerns over a potential spike in coronavirus cases as people march in large protests, as you've been watching, across the country. The U.S. is reporting nearly 20,000 new cases and a thousand deaths just yesterday.

SCIUTTO: In total, more than 107,000 Americans have now been killed by this virus. Despite that, looking ahead, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it is time to discuss the pros and cons of possibly reopening schools this fall.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now to discuss.

Dr. Gupta, it's always good to have you on.

I know we want to get to schools. There are a lot of parents out there eager to hear and Poppy and -- Poppy and I are among them about what happens with school.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: But I want to ask a big picture question first, if I can.

As we learn more about this virus and as we look at the data and where it's spread, given the vastly different infection rates that we saw between, say, New York and New Jersey and other states, Missouri, even a Florida, is it too early to say? I mean is it possible to make the argument that the nationwide stay-at-home order was too comprehensive, too far reaching, it could have been tailored more geographically to certain age groups?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think -- I think perhaps, you know. I think the issue, Jim, keep in mind, when the stay-at-home orders first went into place, this is middle of March now, there were 80 people roughly who had died in this country and about 4,000 people -- between 4,000 and 5,000 people who had become infected. The concern at that time was that you could start to go into significant exponential growth. You wanted to try and tamp things down so as to not get significant, exponential growth.

That was the goal. It, obviously, was not achieved, as you look at the numbers on the right side of your screen. It was better than -- the worst case scenario was obviously much worse. I think now, going forward, there's going to be two issues. If you do

do this geographically, are you also going to cordon off those areas then? If people say, hey, we're not going to, you know, have stay-at- home orders, are other people from other states going to be allowed to come in or not? We're the United States. You can't -- you know, it's hard to cordon off specific areas.

And, you know, going into the fall now, I think these same issues are going to rise again. Are there going to be some areas that should be treated differently than other areas? Maybe with stay at home, maybe with schools, maybe with other businesses.

[09:50:00]

I think, you know, we've learned a little bit here. But I think that initial decision, if it hadn't been made, it would have involved sort of parshoning (ph) off parts of the United States as well.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Now to the school question, because we, as parents, have had to make a lot of decisions for our children about next year. And I was struck reading the headlines from Dr. Fauci. What is he now saying about school for like elementary, middle, high school?

GUPTA: Yes, I think that, you know, Dr. Fauci, who we've been talking to for several months now, has always, I think, drawn a bit of a distinction between colleges, universities and K-12 schools, for a couple of reasons. One is that we know while kids can certainly become infected, they're less likely to become severely ill. It can still happen. We know that. But it's far less likely.

I think the question has been can you -- can you open up these schools in a way that may be safer. You know, kids are less likely to get sick. They may still transmit the virus. So how do you actually address that part of things?

I think the big difference, and this goes back to the first question, is, again, the -- in a -- in a school district where the -- in a community where the virus is circulating significantly, those schools may have a harder time opening in the fall. In areas where the virus in the community itself is now spreading as well, that -- those school districts may be able to open.

I think some schools may make this decision later on even. I know some schools are forced into the decision now, but some schools may make the decision later on. And you've also got to keep in mind, you may have a stutter start. Kids may go back to school. If there's a significant outbreak, kids may have to go home again.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You know, Dr. Fauci said to me last week, he said, not a one size fits all approach to this.

GUPTA: Right.

SCIUTTO: Final -- final question before we leave you, is there any reliable data yet that shows, if not a spike, an increase in cases, infections due, not only to reopening, but also now to protests on the streets of many American cities, or is it too early to say?

GUPTA: I think it's too early still. You know, the sort of period between exposure to the time people may get tested, may get sick, if they do get sick, it's still, you know, a couple -- three weeks.

One thing that may happen, Jim, is that you may have, you know, if you had 10, 15 people within a particular protest who became ill, it may not be a significant enough number to actually notice it, really, given the high numbers of infections. If those people then go home and infect people in their homes, and then you start to see significant clusters, you may notice that, but it may be harder then to trace it back to the protests. You know, that's what the whole contact tracing is all about.

So, you know, I think it's obviously a real balance. People have the understandable need to protest. Do it as safely as possible, which, you know, I think a lot of what we're seeing, a lot of people I've seen at least wearing masks and being outside is helpful as well.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, always good to have you on. We know we're going to stay on top of this story because it's still with us.

GUPTA: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much.

GUPTA: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Well, we're learning new details this morning about the moments leading up to George Floyd's death. This as the first memorial service for Floyd will happen today in Minneapolis, and we're going to take you there live.

HARLOW: And just a programming note, our "Sesame Street" friend are back on CNN. Parents, listen up. These are amazing town halls to speak directly to your kids. The one this weekend is about racism and the nationwide protests and embracing diversity. Parents, submit your questions to cnn.com/sesamestreet. "Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism," a CNN and "Sesame Street" town hall airs this Saturday, 10 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:57:48]

HARLOW: So you're going to want to watch this video. It's just in to CNN. And it has surfaced out of Sarasota, Florida. What it shows is a police officer kneeling on a man's neck. This happened in mid-May. Sarasota Police have now launched an interior investigation.

SCIUTTO: CNN correspondent Victor Blackwell has been following this story. He joins us now with more details.

Walk us through this as we show this, Victor, and what we know so far. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR, "WEEKEND NEW DAY": Yes, Jim and Poppy,

so many similarities between what we saw in Minneapolis and what's happening in Sarasota. The important distinction here is the man who was underneath the knee of that officer lived to tell the story. This was May 18th. And you see on the ground there Patrick Carroll under an officer's knee. In fact, the department says that his knee was on the head and neck of Carroll. It happened in Sarasota.

Police say that they received a call about a domestic violence in this community. And as they tried to arrest Patrick Carroll, according to the police incident report that we have, they say that he tried to pull away from officers. And their description of what they did was that they tried minor force and to secure him long enough to calm him down. And you see him kind of writhing on the ground there. This video is almost about 90 seconds.

Police called that resisting arrest in the report. Carroll says that he has asthma and scoliosis, he told a CNN affiliate there in Florida, and he was just trying to get enough air into his lungs to breathe. And you can also, in the video, hear people standing on the sidewalk shouting for them to get off of his neck.

This was actually posted on June 1st at the height of the protests across the country for the death of George Floyd. And when the department was tagged in that video on social media, this is the statement that we received from the chief of police there in Sarasota. Chief DePino was disturbed to see an officer kneeling on the head and neck of an individual in the video. While it appears the officer eventually moves his leg to the individual's back, this tactic is not taught, used or advocated by our agency.

[10:00:03]

A couple of important things. No complaint or call from medical help from Mr. Carroll that day.