Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
George Floyd Remembered and Honored in First Memorial Service; Now: Protests In Multiple Cities Around The U.S.; White House Fortifies Security Perimeters As Protests Continue; Trump Meets With Campaign Team As His Poll Numbers Fall. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 4, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Athena Jones with a peaceful protest, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm Wolf Blitzer in 'The Situation Room". We're following breaking news, a crisis here in America. The first memorial service for George Floyd has just concluded in Minneapolis where he died nine days ago. He was honored by family, friends and community leaders, and they ended the service by standing in silence for almost nine minutes, the length of time the police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck.
Three other ex-police officers charged with aiding and abetting Floyd's killing have made their first court appearance with a bail now set at a minimum of $750,000. Right now, a 10th day of protest is unfolding across so many cities here in the United States and although some cities have canceled their curfews for tonight, all of this is still very much continuing.
Let's start our coverage this hour in Minneapolis. Our National Correspondent Sara Sidner filed this report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazing race.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the memorial in Minneapolis, George Floyd's family took time to mourn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's amazing to me that he touched so many people's hearts, you know, because he had been such in our hearts, you know. Everybody want justice. We want justice for George. He's going to get it. He's going to get it.
SIDNER (voice-over): Historic national demonstrations in Floyd's name are now well into their 10th day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to Floyd happens every day in new country and in every area of American life. It's time for us to stand up in George's name and say get your knee off our necks. SIDNER (voice-over): Less than a mile from the family memorial, National Guard troops stood watch as three former police officers charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd's death made their first court appearance. All three were granted $1 million bail or $750,000 with conditions.
A potential key witness, the passenger in Floyd's car that fatal afternoon, says his friend did not resist arrest telling "The New York Times", Floyd was, from the beginning, trying in his humblest form to show he was not resisting. "I could hear him pleading, please, officer, what's it all for?"
KEITH ELLISON, ATTORNEY GENERAL, MINNESOTA: We're confident in what we're doing. But history does show that there are clear challenges here.
SIDNER (voice-over): Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says despite the national outcry, it will be an uphill battle to convict the former police officers.
ELLISON: What I do believe is that one successful prosecution can rectify the hurt and loss that so many people feel.
SIDNER (voice-over): Minneapolis police have released 235 pages of highly redacted personnel records for the four officers involved in Floyd's arrest. They show Derek Chauvin, the officer now charged with second-degree murder had at least 17 previous misconduct complaints with the department. He was given a notice of suspension and was also reprimanded for removing a woman from her car in 2007. Alexander Kueng had been an officer less than six months at the time of Floyd's death.
Prior to joining law enforcement, the four men held a variety of jobs including working at McDonalds, Target, Home Depot and service in the United States Army. They now face between 10 and 40 years in prison if convicted in Floyd's killing.
GEORGE FLOYD, BLACK MAN DIED IN MINNESOTA: I can't breathe.
SIDNER (voice-over): This as we learned the kind of neck compression used to hold Floyd to the ground is nothing new.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got your knee on my man's neck, man.
SIDNER (voice-over): Police in Sarasota, Florida are investigating video taken just last month, showing an officer using his knee to pin a black man to the ground. The chief says he was disturbed by the video, but that the suspect was resisting arrest for domestic violence and battery. Similar events also reported in Washington and California in recent months. All the more reasons, some say, to make an example out of Minneapolis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the time we won't stop. We're going to keep going until we change the whole system of justice.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SIDNER: And what's happening here in what we have pretty much seen as the people's memorial, the citizens' memorial, the neighborhood memorial where George Floyd died is a growing memorial and a memorial that has been very peaceful the whole time. This neighborhood not destroyed. The people of this neighborhood made sure that didn't happen because they believe this is a sacred place, Wolf.
And I just want to read you a couple of the signs. You see a lot of, "we can't breathe", "a badge is not license to kill".
But this one struck me. "There comes a time where silence is betrayal". People are saying that if you want to help, you need to speak up. Doesn't matter your color, doesn't matter where you're from or your religion, but that you need to speak up. And that's the message that has been sent from this memorial for the last 10 days.
BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you very much. Sara Sidner in Minneapolis for us.
We're joined now by the Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter. Mayor Carter, thanks so much for joining us. An important day indeed. You've just come from that memorial service for George Floyd, what was it like to witness all of this inside and to hear directly from his family?
MAYOR MELVIN CARTER, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA: You know, it was joyous, it was sad, it was heartbreaking. It was all the things that we know it's going to be because we've been to this funeral. We've seen this funeral so many times. We've seen it so many times, Wolf, and we got -- this has to be the last one.
BLITZER: Reverend Al Sharpton, as you heard, said that what happened to George Floyd happens every day in every aspect of American life. Why do you believe Floyd's death has led to this national reckoning? And you can see these live pictures coming in, in New York over the Brooklyn Bridge, thousands of gathered once again for a very peaceful protest?
CARTER: Wolf, we have, as you know well, seeing the charges filed against all four of those officers as of yesterday. And, you know, I think the fact that we had to sit and wonder, when such a horrific crime was committed, that all of us can look at and say is unacceptable. We have to wonder if charges would even be filed as, let alone a conviction. That says an enormous amount about our American justice system.
You know, it occurs to me, Wolf, that we all care. The world cares about George Floyd because of the way he died. And more people have died before him, this isn't a new story. My grandfather and his grandfather could tell you about this story, and more people will die after him until we start to care about how people live. And that's what I think the challenge is.
We have to, as a society, figure out how to care about how people live. That's the key to stopping these protests, it's not sending troops, it's not force, there's not, you know, overcoming by force the American people. It's about hearing and listening finally why people are protesting. What are the injustices that are calling people to protest? And finally, as a country starting to address those.
BLITZER: You make an important point. And Reverend Sharpton also spoke very powerfully like you about every era fighting for justice. He said each era had to fight various things slavery, Jim Crow, voting rights, this is the era to deal with police and criminal -- policing and criminal justice. He said that he believes this time is different. Do you agree?
CARTER: This time has to be different, you know. As I look at the energy in the streets, as I look at the energy in our community, as I look, you know, all around me, you know, this energy, this passion, this rage that that people have inside of them. You know, my hope is, you know, once the memorial service is over and once the funeral is over, and once we've laid George Floyd to rest, and once this court case is over, once -- we're praying for a conviction so that we can actually see some value in there, you know, that once that's over, our passion for justice, our passion for this fight and our passion to make sure that we actually learn a lesson and prevent this from happening again, will continue.
We cannot stand down. We cannot be satisfied with beautiful memorial services. We cannot be satisfied with beautiful funerals. This has to be about decisive action that's so much bigger than convicting four officers.
BLITZER: You know, Don Lemon, Mayor Carter, he's with us as he has been over these past few days. Don, I know you have a question for the Mayor right now and I know you watch this memorial service very, very closely. What also stood out to you?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I did watch very closely. And what stood out to me was that when everyone and the Reverend Al Sharpton talked about how this will be different, right? And you hear the Mayor saying he hopes this will be different.
Listen, I'm optimistic and I hope, but I'm holding the same hope. And bracing myself just in case it doesn't, just as we do with those officers, just in case a conviction does not happen, just in case there isn't changed. Because I had been sitting here for far too many of these funerals and these conversations with you, Wolf, and other folks from around the country. And on this network saying, well, this time is going to be different. We need to have a conversation about this, we need to change this, we need to do that. And nothing ever changes.
And here we are, you know, year after year with another George Floyd or someone who has lost their lives -- life at the hands of a police officer or some other -- something else that's happened in our society. And so, I am hopeful that this -- some change is going to be here, but what I found was -- my takeaway from this was that the message -- I was OK receiving the message.
I think that people around the country watching, especially some white folk considering who was giving the message of the eulogy may have been uncomfortable with it. And that was on purpose. And if you weren't comfortable with the message, I say good, because that message with Reverend Al Sharpton said, challenged many people in this country to be better, to do better.
And so, again, I say if that message was uncomfortable for you, I've seen people, I've heard people saying, I thought it was a little too political. I thought this or I thought that. I thought it was actually Pitch Perfect. And I thought that was a reason that the Floyd family had someone like Reverend Al Sharpton, deliver this message. It was very powerful. It was very now.
And my biggest takeaway is that what I've been saying, Wolf, and you've heard me say it, at least five or six times, about these young people are out there trying to pull us all folk, us people who are -- we who are stuck in our ways into the future. They want a future in this country that is not like the one where the Mayor just said, where George Floyd lived, how people are living now. They want people to be able to live a better future.
And so I think that we need to listen to these young people. We need to move into the future. Sometimes people get upset and they say my way of life has changed and you're not paying attention to me and I'm the unheard, my voice is not being heard. Well, many times that's for a reason is because you haven't gotten on the train. You're not progressing. You're not moving into the future so the world is going to leave you behind.
So I hope these young people are conducting the train that is going to leave a whole lot of people behind if they don't get on it and get on board without --
BLITZER: That's an important point, Mayor Carter, because yesterday, we heard former President Obama make the point that he's hopeful, he's upbeat, because he sees the crowds. And you're looking at live pictures from Washington, D.C., very diverse crowd gathering. But as Don says, a lot of young people who are out there protesting.
CARTER: Wolf, I think that's exactly right. And I want to just admit something right now that, you know, when we look at this scene, and when we think about the number of times that we've been here before, I agree with you, Don, it's hard to be hopeful sometimes. And it's really easy to be cynical, because we've said never again. We've called for justice. We've, you know, retweeted hashtags, we've done that over and over and over again.
I just had one of the toughest conversations of my life the other day with my 12-year old daughter, who was explaining to me that she couldn't understand why people are surprised that so many people are as angry as they are. But I'll tell you this, the energy that our young people have been in our streets with, the energy that has consumed this country over the last week in particular, that energy channeled correctly, is the same energy that built this country. It's the energy that abolished slavery. It's the energy that carried us through civil rights. And it's the energy as we channel that towards the long term work.
And I'm talking work in city halls. I'm talking about work in state legislatures. I'm talking about work in the courtrooms and I'm definitely talking about work on amending the police union contracts that protect officers who commit egregious murders like this one.
We just saw yesterday, Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis police union, in a letter this week, lamenting that the national press won't refer to George Floyd as a violent criminal. That is emblematic right there of the culture of policing that must stop today.
BLITZER: It's a significant point you make, Mayor. Thank you so much for joining us. The St. Paul Mayor, Melvin Carter, thanks very much. Don, don't go too far away. I've got some questions for you coming up.
But I quickly want to go to CNN's Brian Todd, he is here in Washington, D.C. Brian, tell our viewers where you are, what we're seeing. We see live pictures coming in from New York, also from where you are in Washington.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're just about a block away from the White House. We're on 16th Street and H Street. And I just want to share this moment with you right now. This young man, this protest leader here is sharing a really nice verse of "We Shall Overcome". He's got a great voice and just take a listen here really quick.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): We are not afraid today.
TODD: So this is starting out as a real night of hope but it's also, Wolf, a test of faith here because D.C. city officials, police and National Guard have completely withdrawn from this area in front of the White House. We're still fenced off from Lafayette Park. You can't get in the park. There's about an 8 foot fence there. And -- but it is a marked difference, Wolf, from last night when there were National Guardsmen and D.C. police blocking access to this area to the access from 16th Street over here and from behind us.
You couldn't really -- the movement was so restricted that it really had this look of kind of a militaristic presence. Well today, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she wants all national troops, federal troops from out of these -- from outside D.C. to leave D.C. That means about 4,500 federal National Guardsmen from 10 different states, the Mayor says she wants them out.
They are -- you know, the D.C., the Mayor and D.C. police are testing the faith of protesters. They're trusting the protesters today, tonight to be peaceful. That's why the law enforcement has completely withdrawn. You can't even see them except, Wolf, on the other side of that fence where you see a few officers. So hopes are high for tonight to keep it peaceful. BLITZER: All right, we'll check back with you, Brian Todd, right near the White House. Athena Jones just crossed over with a huge crowd from Brooklyn into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. Athena, tell our viewers what you're seeing right now.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf, you're right. We left what was a memorial prayer service at Brooklyn, Cadman Plaza a long time ago. It's taking a while to cross this bridge considering there are thousands of people who came out for that protest. Many of them join the march across the bridge, a peaceful protest.
But frequently we heard them chanting, peaceful protests, along with no justice, no peace and Black Lives Matter. This protest has actually been escorted by police in cruisers, blocking off the inbound land of the Brooklyn Bridge so that they can cross.
You're seeing some interesting signs, including deep on the police. This is one of the messages that we heard at that prayer memorial service earlier. A lot of talk about the need to turn this energy that we're seeing on the streets now into action, political action, into organizing action.
We heard Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who represents the part of Brooklyn that this memorial service was held in. She said, it's not enough to order, it's not enough to march. It's not enough to protest. It's not enough to protest. It's not enough to march. You have to organize.
And so, we're seeing this larger peaceful protest arriving here now in Foley Square. This is a downtown Manhattan. We're right outside the courthouse, and we expect there to be perhaps a small, more speeches here. We're not clear on what's going to happen next.
But I can tell you that this crowd is fired up. There's a lot of energy here. And it's a very, very diverse crowd.
BLITZER: Clearly, a very, very passionate, very energized but peaceful right now. Athena Jones in New York City for us, thanks very much. We'll check back with you as well.
These protests are still continuing day 10 of what's been going on here in the United States. We're following all the breaking news. We'll have more on the first court appearance and bail for the three ex-police officers charged with aiding and abetting George Floyd's death. And we're also following the protests taking place. Once again, we have -- we'll have updates from all across the country. These are live pictures coming in from Capitol Hill here in Washington.
BLITZER: Looking at live pictures coming in from Capitol Hill here in Washington, D.C. as well as from New York City where large numbers of protesters have gathered to peacefully express their deep concerns of racial injustice here in the United States. Let's discuss all the latest developments.
Our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin is with us and our CNN Anchor Don Lemon is with us still as well. Jeffrey, three of the ex-police officers involved in Floyd's death appeared in court today. Their defense strategy appears to be to lay the blame on the former officer, Derek Chauvin. What do you make of that?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It makes sense for at least two of those defendants because two of the officers are very, very new police officers. One has been on the force for about a year, one less than a year. And it makes sense for them to say, look, Officer Chauvin was on the force for 20 plus years. He looked like he knew what he was doing. And we were following his example.
Now, that's an attempt at a defense. Officers are still responsible for their own behavior. I don't know if the jury would buy it. But certainly, given the big difference in experience between at least two of the officers and Chauvin, that is something that makes sense as a defense strategy.
BLITZER: And we can see on the video that's been publicly released. You know, Jeffrey, it wasn't only Chauvin who physically pinned down George Floyd, two of the other ex-police officers actually also helped restrain him.
TOOBIN: Which will make their defense harder to raise. You know, it's one thing to follow orders to stand around and protect a scene. It's another thing to help smother a man to death. When you don't have to be an experienced cop to know that murder is wrong, and that surely will be one of the prosecution themes if the defense is, you know, we were too young in experience. But certainly, you know, when you have such a vast difference in experience between those officers, that is something that's bound to come up at the trial.
BLITZER: Certainly will. Yes. I spoke yesterday here in "The Situation Room" with the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who felt very confident upgrading the charge against that ex-police officer Derek Chauvin from third-degree to a second-degree murder. What does that tell you? Because these cases against police officers as you well know despite the video and the overwhelming evidence are by no means easy.
TOOBIN: They're not. And there's a big problem hanging on the horizon of this case, which is a change of venue. I could almost guarantee that all four of these defendants, if they go to trial, will say that there was too much pretrial publicity in the Twin Cities, and it has to be moved somewhere else in Minnesota. Where anywhere else in Minnesota is much wider.
There are many fewer people of color outside of the Twin Cities than inside the Twin Cities, which will change the jury pool significantly in this trial. And it's a sad but true fact that white jurors have historically been a lot more sympathetic to white police officers who claim -- who are charged with crimes and that is something that given the magnitude of the publicity in this case, might well happen, in this case, a change of venue.
BLITZER: Well, let me get Don Lemon's thoughts on this. I want you to react to what we just heard, Don, but as you know with the memorial service, which we all watched just a little while ago for George Floyd, the family attorney Ben Crump spoke about striving for one justice system for all Americans. Not for -- not one for black Americans and a separate one for white Americans. So what's your reaction when you hear that and when you see that potentially, as Ben Crump said, there's a third justice system for police officers?
LEMON: Yes, you took the words out of my mouth, I was going to say, and then there's another justice system for police officers. And also during the memorial service, I think it was Al Sharpton, who said that we should have the same system of justice for people who wear blue jeans and people who wear a blue uniform. But just, you know, what Jeffrey just said, that's not always the case.
And my -- the question that I am seeing people raised and I think the attorneys raised in court today and their hearing is that they believe that these officers are overcharged, right? And so they're trying to get some of these charges, I guess, thrown out or either reduced. And I don't know, I mean, Jeffrey's a legal expert here. But, you know, if this had happened to civilians and the same sort of thing, and you help someone kill someone, I think it would be, you know, would be pretty explicit. And it pretty much case closed as to what your fate would be.
I don't really see a lot of people in the court system, civilians, getting off from being overcharged. And we see that quite often when it comes to these police cases. That's why I'm really reticent to say, oh, well, you know, some change is going to come of this because you never know what these things we've sat around and you know, there's been videotape many times all three of us, and then the opposites aren't charged or they get off on charges.
BLITZER: Yes, it's by no means a slam dunk as a lot of the legal experts have pointed out. All right, Don, don't go too far away. Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much. Always good to get your legal analysis.
There's more breaking news we're watching here in "The Situation Room". The White House seeming increasingly like a fortress, new barriers are going up as the protests continue. And we're also following the protests taking place right now from coast to coast. We'll show you what's going on when we come back.
BLITZER: New fortifications are going up around the White House as protests in Washington clearly are continuing. Very peaceful protests underway right now.
Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. Jim, the White House often referred to as the people's house, but tonight the people are being kept further away.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is certainly the case, Wolf. The Trump administration is building what increasingly looks like a fortress around the White House. Early this morning, crews began extending metal fencing, a steel wall, if you will, from Pennsylvania Avenue, virtually all the way down to Constitution Avenue, across the street from the National Mall that is on -- and there's some of that fencing right there -- that is on top of the fencing that's already surrounding the White House.
In addition to that, there remains a militarized and police presence in Lafayette Park around the White House, giving this area the look of something out of an authoritarian country, not the people's house as you described it. And on top of all of that, White House officials say, quote, all options are on the table for dealing with these protesters.
In the meantime, Attorney General William Barr is defending the use of force to clear out Lafayette Square before the President's church photo op on Monday saying authorities had hoped to establish a secured perimeter earlier in the day. This is according to the Attorney General, but ran out of time. Here's more of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It was our hope to be able to do that relatively quickly, before many demonstrators appeared that day. Unfortunately, because of the difficulty in getting appropriate forces, units into place, by the time they were able to move our perimeter up to I.C.E (ph), there had been a number, a large number of protesters had assembled.
I did not know that he was going to do that until later in the day after our plans were well underway to move the perimeter. So there was no correlation between our tactical plan of moving the perimeter up by one block and the President's going over to the church. The President asked members of his Cabinet to go over there with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And that claim from the Attorney General now asked for that stinging statement from former Defense Secretary James Mattis, accusing the President of dividing instead of uniting the U.S. Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is defending the retired general telling "The Washington Post" earlier today that Mattis is, quote, honorable man. He also disputed the President's claim that Mr. Trump fired Mattis. Kelly says Mattis resigned and that the President, quote, has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused, end quote, in response to that statement from Mattis.
Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski told reporters earlier today she agrees with the former Defense Secretary and added she is struggling with whether she will to support the President come this fall for the election, Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta, standby.
Don Lemon is still with us. Don, you know, I was CNN's White House Correspondent in 1995. Right after the Oklahoma City bombing, a truck bombing, the morale (ph) federal office building that resulted in the closing off of Pennsylvania Avenue completely in the aftermath of that. They were afraid of a truck bombing at the White House. That security was bolstered dramatically back then. But now we see it even bolstered more as this line continues to expand beyond the perimeter even of the White House.
LEMON: Just looking at these pictures, Wolf, they are images of fear, images of a President who is desperate and who is afraid and administration desperate and afraid, sealing them off quite literally and physically from the American people. We have to remember, the Trump's, the administration, the advisors, they don't own the White House. They are simply borrowing it because the American people have afforded them the opportunity to live there and work there.
They draw salary from the American people, the American people hired them temporarily to work in these facility, basically public housing. But what it is is the people's house, and now it has become the people's fortress. So America now looks like the most famous house in the world, even more famous in 10 Downing Street is now a fortress of fear.
This President afraid, running down into a bunker, and then pretending a few days later that he was just inspecting it. These photographs are embarrassing. It's embarrassing that they're pushing protesters back. It's understandable what happened during the Oklahoma City bombing that they want to secure the area. But for some protesters on the streets exercising their rights, come on. This is awful.
BLITZER: All right, Don, standby. There's a lot more news that we're following right now. We got live coverage of the protests that are happening across the United States. We'll update you on that when we come back.
BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the very peaceful protests happening coast to coast. You're looking on the left side of your screen in Los Angeles. Folks are marching there, in New York City folks are marching in New York. We'll update you on all these protests that are unfolding right now.
And as we get ready to do so, I want to bring in Ibram Kendi, he's a professor of History and International Relations, the author of the book, "How to Be an Antiracist". Ibram, thanks so much for joining us. In light of this national reckoning, this is day 10, we're seeing right now people are turning to your best-selling book. What does that tell you about this moment and for people who aren't familiar? What does it mean to be antiracist? IBRAM X. KENDI, DIRECTOR, BOSTON UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR ANTIRACIST RESEARCH: Well, it means, first and foremost, that a person has the willingness to look at themselves and admit the times in which they're being racist. They have the willingness to look at their nation, and sees the ways in which it's being racist, and they have the willingness to change themselves and, and change the country. And I think many people are -- have that willingness and have that courage right now.
BLITZER: You point out that people who say they're not racist can still uphold racist systems, even by their inaction. So what would you say to people who are sitting on the sidelines, for example, right now?
KENDI: That there was a time in this country when in 1864, million people were enslaved, and those slaveholders wanted people to sit on the sidelines and do nothing, so that racist institution could continue. And so to do nothing in the face of racial inequity is to allow it to continue.
BLITZER: You've also focused in on tracking the racial disparities unfolding in the coronavirus pandemic, more than 107,000 American have now died and a disproportionate number are minorities, especially African-Americans. At a time when so many people are also out of work, 42 million over the last 11 weeks alone, a lot of families have lost loved ones. They're watching what's going on, they're certainly watching videos of police violence. How do we broaden our understanding of all of these underlying inequities?
KENDI: I think we can think about how we're facing a viral pandemic in COVID 19. We're facing an economic pandemic, obviously, with this recession. And then we're also facing a racial pandemic as the ratio pandemic of people dying as a result of police violence and the color of their skin. And I think people who are resisting on the streets, in many ways are resisting all three pandemics and how policies and how policymakers have refused to put in place mechanisms to prevent those three pandemics.
BLITZER: Last night, and we had it live here in "The Situation Room" the former President Barack Obama said he sees these protests as different, for example, from the civil rights protests that happened in the 1960s. He sees what he calls a broad coalition and a cross section of America out on the streets right now. You're a historian, you're about to begin a new career as a professor at Boston University. You have been teaching at American University here in Washington, what do you think about these protests compared to previous eras?
KENDI: I do see some significant differences. I would agree with President Obama and that the makeup of the protesters are distinct. And then I also think, the demands, how serious these protesters are about transforming this country and how fed up they are, with the injustices that are persisting and how they do not want to live another year with these in justices. They weren't changed now. BLITZER: Ibram Kendi, thanks so much for joining us. You're going to be the director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Good luck in that new challenge. Appreciate you joining us.
KENDI: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And stay with us, we're following all the breaking news much more right after this.
BLITZER: Amidst all of this, there's now growing concern within the Trump team about the President's re-election chances and the impact of the multiple crisis -- crises facing the United States right now. CNN's Ryan Nobles is joining us. Ryan, the President, we're told, is concerned, his campaign is concerned. But what are you finding out?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's no doubt that Donald Trump and his team had hoped that the 2020 campaign would be a choice between the President and his opponent, the former Vice President Joe Biden. But these recent events have increased the likelihood that this campaign will end up being a referendum on the President's performance. And that has some Republicans nervous.
NOBLES (voice-over): President Trump huddling with top campaign lieutenants at the White House today, now less than five months until Election Day, with a combination of crises playing out across the country, and a string of new polls painting a tough path to re- election, the tumble of 2020. Within 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S., more than 42 million Americans filing unemployment claims in the wake of the pandemic merged with the unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have reshaped the political landscape for the fall campaign.
A new round of polls show Trump falling behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, not just nationally, but in key battleground states that Trump carried in 2016. In Wisconsin, a state Trump won by a razor thin margin. A new Fox News poll shows him trailing Biden by nine points. Biden also holds a four-point lead in Arizona, which Trump carried by more than three points in 2016. Another warning sign in Ohio, which Trump won by more than eight points, a Fox News poll showing him in a tight race there with Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump's not always in the line (ph),
NOBLES (voice-over): Looking to shore up his electoral footing, the Trump campaign spent nearly $2 million on television ads in Ohio, Arizona and Iowa since mid-May.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nice Guy won't come. He doesn't his way, not the Washington way.
NOBLES (voice-over): In public. The President is projecting confidence, shrugging off the polling numbers showing him lagging.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just like last time I was losing to Hillary in every state, and I want to restate, OK?
NOBLES (voice-over): And suggesting the view from inside his campaign is much different
TRUMP: Other than two or three polls, which I do use, which I'm doing very well with. But I saw another poll where I'm winning every swing state substantially. And why wouldn't I?
NOBLES: And the President in his campaign about to get more aggressive. For the most part, his field team has been put on the sidelines since the coronavirus pandemic back in March.
We're told that next week, the RNC and the Trump victory team are ready to redeploy those resources and start in-person campaigning. That could mean door to door in-person training. Everything along those lines, Wolf, if they are ready to kick this campaign up as the summer begins. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Ryan, thank you very much. Ryan Nobles reporting.
The breaking news here in "The Situation Room" continues next with more on the very emotional first memorial service for George Floyd. And the protests are underway across the country tonight. We'll update you on the latest.