Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Departs White House For Maine; 2 Officers Suspended After Shoving Elderly Man To The Ground; Former Military Leaders Condemn Trump's Protest Response; Gen. John Kelly: I Agree With Mattis On Trump. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello to our viewers in United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing this very busy news day with us.

President Trump about to head to Maine this hour, getting away from the White House and some criticism from members of his own party and members of his one-time inner circle. Earlier, the President making comments in the Rose Garden touting new jobs numbers from the government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was incredible in a couple of ways. Number one, the numbers are great and this leads us onto a long period of growth. We'll have the greatest - we'll go back to having the greatest economy anywhere in the world, nothing close, and I think we're going to have a very good, upcoming few months.

I think you're going to have a very good August, very good July but a spectacular - maybe spectacular September but a spectacular October, November, December.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: As the President touted that good economic news, his former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly now joining a chorus of criticism of the President. Kelly saying, he agrees with the former defense secretary James Mattis and Kelly adding his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOHN KELLY(RET), FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We teach our men and women it's truth to power. Your loyalty is to the constitution, to the countries and the people and you are - you must tell your boss, the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Across the country we continue to see protests including some sad scenes like that one. That's a demonstration in Buffalo where you see the police officers, right they're sending an elderly man tumbling and they left him, bleeding on the sidewalk. The Police Department also initially lied. They said that man tripped and fell. You saw the video right there.

Those officers now suspended because that local news crew was right there to capture the truth. Just moments ago, we heard some reaction from the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It disturbs your basic sense of decency and humanity. Why - why - why was that necessary? Where was the threat?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You heard John Kelly just moments ago. The President's former chief of staff echoing criticism from the former secretary defense James Mattis. Let's begin a conversation on the President now. With us our White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Also Julie Hirschfeld Davis, she's a compressional editor for The New York Times and a veteran Trump watcher.

Kaitlan, I want to start with you. It's just one of those days in the Trump presidency. He's getting out of the White House. He is going to Maine, the Republican incumbent senator who's on the ballot this year won't go with him. He's in the Rose Garden talking about as he should, a strong economic news, a desperately needed strong economic news for a President whose poll numbers are slumping.

Then he goes off on several tangents and now more incoming from the Chief of Staff. We know this is going to wrangle the President, the former chief of staff John Kelly.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the split screen of the President out there talking about this unexpected drop in unemployment, which clearly he was ecstatic about as you so I'm going off about several other things during that press conference. It was supposed to be just about the jobs numbers and then to see John Kelly on the other side of the screen saying that he agrees with that scathing criticism from the former defense secretary is really remarkable.

Because Kelly went on to say, he thinks that people need to think harder about who they elect and who they put in office and look at their character and their ethics. That is obviously him casting doubt on the President's character and the President's ethics.

And he says he agrees with what Mattis said, saying that what happened here on Monday night when they cleared those protesters was a mockery of the constitution and so you've got to square that with the President over here talking about these jobs numbers because what we've seen and what's happened in the last few days is the President's political aides really grasping for good news for the President to look at as he's been dealing with the pandemic and the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and his own issues that he's caused for himself.

And today, that change in the unemployment numbers, it did help those political aides make that argument and the question of course is going to be whether the President can stay focused on that and continue to hope for it to increase.

And as we saw in the Rose Garden you know, he makes several different comments showing that he was on several different tangents, including one reason you believe that George Floyd, of course the man who was killed would be looking down and it would be a great day for everyone, given the jobs numbers today.

That comment is going to draw a lot of scrutiny in the coming days.

KING: It certainly is especially because the President has not joined any conversations about police reform. He's not joined any conversations about improving race relations. He just makes quick comments on events. Julie, the temptation often is to say oh, it's another Trump drama.

It's just another day. By tomorrow we'll move on to something else but what has happened in recent days from former top military commanders including the two who served at the President's side, whether we're talking about admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the joint chiefs back in the previous administration.

Whether we're talking about Jim Mattis, who was a 4-star general, retired, came back to serve this President as Defense Secretary and now John Kelly. To Kaitlan's point, it is very rare for men who wore the uniform for so many decades because they follow a code in the military to criticize the civilian leadership of the country.

[12:05:00]

Let's listen again to more of John Kelly. Jim Mattis says he believes the President is too quick to use the military after the George Floyd death and the protest. He believes the President should respect the constitution. Listen to the point John Kelly wants to make.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: He's quite a man, General Jim Mattis and for him to do that tells you where he is relative to the concern he has for our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you do you agree with him John?

KELLY: I agree with him. I think we need to step back from the politics, I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should start all of us regardless of what our views are in politics, I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them to the filter are they - what is their character like? What is there - what are their ethics?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Remarkable words, anyway Julie but to come from a retired General who served in the West Wing with this President of the United States, questioning his character and his ethics.

JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean look like John, like you said, we've - we've all - can you hear me?

KING: You're good.

COLLINS: We can hear you.

HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS: Hello.

KING: We have some trouble with Julie's shot right there. We'll come back to her.

HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS: Sorry about that John. Can you hear me?

KING: I can hear you now Julie. Go ahead.

HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS: I was just going to say that as you mentioned, there have been so many of these moments that we've wondered whether there was going to be a breaking point and people would start to go public with some of the concerns they had about the President's leadership.

And I think what we've seen certainly from the former Defense Secretary, from John Kelly, and that sound that you just played is that you know, for some people that that week has been this week and we've also seen some initial comments on Capitol Hill from some Republicans indicating that they too feel like this is the time to make public some of their concerns about the President.

You heard at least Lisa Murkowski talk yesterday about how she agreed with Jim Mattis and thought that maybe this was the moment when people would start to talk about what they've been saying internally. I thought that was really interesting she used those words.

I think the difference that we're seeing it that for some of these folks, certainly John Kelly and Jim Mattis as well, the approach seems to be to keep quiet publicly about their concerns and see what they can do internally from the inside to try to affect what the President was doing, the decisions he was making, maybe what he was saying.

But these people are gone from the White House now. They're gone from the administration and it seems that they really feel like this is the moment that they have to sort of come at this in a much more public way.

KING: And one of the contrasts we're seeing again. We saw this throughout the coronavirus crisis early on and we're still in the coronavirus crisis but the social unrest of recent days has taken over more of our time in the news business but Governor Andrew Cuomo sometimes directly, often implicitly contrasted what he thought should be done with what was being done in Washington and just moments ago Kaitlan and Julie, we had another example of that.

This is the daily coronavirus briefing but Governor Cuomo knowing he's getting national attention, brings up the issue of criminal justice reform and police reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Reform works for everyone's interest here. Stopping police abuse vindicates the overwhelming majority. 99.9 percent of police who are there to do the right thing and do, do the right thing every day. It restores the confidence, the respect and the trust that you need to make this relationship work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The contrast Kaitlan is that this President of United States, we've been told there may be listening sessions coming with members of the African-American community but he says George Floyd is looking down from heaven and this is a great day but he has a photo op with the secret service.

They fortify the White House, he releases a letter from his former attorney John Dowd that calls the protesters, terrorists. The President has not tried to lead a conversation about police practices or about race in America in the 12 days since George - George Floyd was killed under the knee of that cop.

COLLINS: No, he hasn't and we actually heard from several White House officials last weekend that they were planning some listening sessions. That's what they were going to do instead of having the President address the nation because they thought that was going to result in actual change and more substance than really what we've seen so far.

And instead you saw the President come out the next day at the Rose Garden after they said he wasn't going to be making an address. He made that address where he said he was an ally of peaceful protest and then of course, we saw what that turned into and those material - those listening sessions never materialized.

The President has not held any of those. We should note the Vice President did have one with several prominent black people yesterday at the White House, where he said, it was basically a time to sit down and talk about the nation moving forward and what it was going to look like.

[12:10:00]

And they had the Heritage Foundation President. They had another author there but there - we should also note they also had Candice Owens there who is a conservative activist, who has been very critical of George Floyd and said he was a horrible human being.

And the Vice President's office hasn't really explained why they thought that was the person that they should invite to that listening session and we should note it also wasn't open to the price. They just later put a photo of it on Twitter and so that is really what we've seen come out of the White House.

Whether or not there are more of those going forward, the Vice President is going to meet with faith leaders today but so far the President himself has not had any planned listening sessions that we've actually seen take place at the White House.

KING: And Julie to the point you were making earlier, you have all these people who are insiders in the Trump administration. Anthony Scaramucci briefly, John Kelly for a longer period of time, Jim Mattis who the President made a great deal when he recruited him to be the defense secretary, called him a great General, one of America's greatest generals.

Now he calls him somethings different. The questions in this campaign environment, now inside five months to Election Day. Do they decide not as surrogates for Joe Biden but do they decide just to keep making their point and the Wallstreet Journal touching on this today.

"Every President has break ups with advisers but Mr. Trump is going through them like an assembly line. His demand for personal loyalty and his thin skin clash with people who care about larger causes and have strong views.

Mr. Trump's habit of blaming others for policy decisions or events that go wrong also builds resentment. This was bound to boomerang as he ran for re-election and so it is."

No question about that. It is boomeranging. I guess the question is will it continue and how significant might the impact be if you have John Kelly, Jim Mattis, a rare voice on Capitol Hill, Lisa Murkowski sending the message, maybe you shouldn't re-elect this President?

HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS: Right, I mean, I think that you just don't know. Obviously, the President has really focused on catering to his face. These are people who will never desert him no matter how many former officials, military officials, other administration officials, no matter how many people in the Republican Party criticize the President.

I think the big question is and - and the worry for the President and for his campaign advisers is whether those Republicans who may have voted for him with some reservations in 2016, whether some of the Democrats that crossed party lines to do that, whether independent who said you know I want something new, I'm going to give this a try, whether they will be turned off enough by what they're seeing with their own eyes and what they're hearing from these former advisors and some of the people on the President's own party.

That they will say you know what, this is just too much. It's a bridge too far and I think that's the big anxiety but it's too early to say whether that's going to materialize or not.

KING: Julie Hirschfield Davis, Kaitlan Collins, appreciate your insights on this very busy news day. When we come back, there is some positive news for the President today. After weeks and weeks of weeks of jobs bleeding away because of coronavirus, a rebound.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Some quite positive and unexpected economic news today. The government's May jobs report is out. The United States economy added 2.5 million jobs last month despite predictions of more losses. This jobs growth coming as states move toward reopening. The unemployment rate, government says now just over 13 percent.

Joining me now to discuss is Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody's analytics. Mark, these numbers are a surprise to everybody. I'm assuming to you as well. What do they tell us and are there any caveats?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Yes. I was surprised. I expected more job losses in May. We got some job gains. I think the story, the message is that the recession is over. The economy is now recovering. This will end up being the shortest recession in history. Three months, March, April and May.

But it'll end up probably being the most severe, John. All in all, we lost 20 million jobs and unemployment peaked at a 15 percent. You know, these numbers feel really good but only in the context of the complete wash out that we saw in the month of April.

And of course, you know, for the millions - tens of millions of people who are still unemployed, this is still not a recovery. This is still very much an economic recession or depression.

KING: So walk us through what these building blocks, if we can call that last month a building block, what do they tell you about the future in the sense that some jobs came back, which is very welcome news, in terms of those other tens of millions of people out there waiting, do you see a consistent growth or are we going to have to go through this month by month and sort it out?

ZANDI: Yes, I think we're going to need a balance here because businesses are reopening and in fact you know, the number we got for May, I expected in June. It's just that it looks like businesses in different parts of the country reopened more quickly and hired back more quickly than anticipated by couple of three weeks.

And so that's why we got that balance in May so we'll get some strong numbers in the month of June, the month of July, the month of August but once businesses reopen as much as they're going to reopen, given all the social distancing roles, I don't think the economy's going anywhere fast.

I mean, I think we're going to be in the bit of quicksand until we get you know a vaccine, a therapy, something that's widely distributed and adopted in making people comfortable that they're not going to get sick if they go out.

And - and really critical on the other side of this business reopenings will be whether there's more support coming from the federal government. If we don't get more support, if there's not another fiscal rescue package then I think the economy's going to struggle and you know, we may even - we'll be talking about double dips at that point.

So you know, good news, we're on our way but the coast is not clear - clear here, we've got - it's going to be a bit of us slog and we got a long way to go.

KING: One of the things you know in your - in the news study you put out every week, I want to put these numbers. The global economy. Red is in recession and if we - if the - if you just look around the world, it is pretty stunning as you look at it there, essentially most of the world is in recession.

So we had a rebound month of sorts last month here in the United States but we are of course dependent on many of those global partners. You just discussed the challenges here of trying to build back and how long it's going to take and the slog it's going to be. How much will all of that, the global developments impact that pro or con?

[12:20:00]

ZANDI: Excellent point. You know typically coming out of recession, you've got one part of the world, a big part of the world that kind of navigated the downturn reasonably well and is leading the global economy out. It's kind of the global engine of growth. I mean China for example, played that role coming out of the financial crisis well over a decade ago.

But if you look at that map you know, we view every single major economy on the planet in recession as of May and that means there's no global engine of growth and it's going to be very difficult, it's a bit of a chicken and egg problem.

There's not - anybody going to be driving the - driving the train forward, coming out of this so that's another reason to expect that the economic recovery on the other side of these business reopenings is going to be - going to be lackluster, it's going to be slow.

We just don't have anyone who's going to be driving the train.

KING: If you're the President of United States, if you're the incumbent up for re-election, you're very happy with this report but you also needed to continue through October and into November. You mentioned perhaps more federal stimulus. If there's one thing that any President should do right now to juice the economy even more to keep this going, what would it be?

ZANDI: State and local government support. I mean look at today's jobs numbers. We got 2.5 million jobs but state and local governments laid off another 600,000 people on top of the million people in the month before and 700,000 in the month before that.

They are in dire straits. I mean the economy is just crushing their tax revenue and unlike the federal government, they can't go out and borrow money to support things so they're cutting. They're cutting programs and they're cutting a lot of people and these people are you know middle income workers.

You know the average wage, the state and local government worker nationwide is $65,000 a year. These are fire, police, teachers, emergency responders, social services workers. I mean these are the kinds of people you need on the job in a crisis like that so job number one, I mean in this next rescue package is to come up with more support for state and local governments.

Let me throw in one another thing. You know because I think unemployment is still going to be pretty close to double digits on the other side of Labor Day, I think that's a lot of unemployed people and they're going to need some more support so I do think we need to figure out how to give more income support to those folks on the other side of Labor Day as well.

So those two things, I think are critical to any additional fiscal rescue package that lawmakers can come up with here.

KING: Mark Zandi, appreciate your insights. Thank you very much.

ZANDI: Sure John.

KING: Up next, two rising stars in the Democratic Party, Lieutenant Governors of Wisconsin and Michigan, both African-American men. Their thoughts on this moment. America's racial reckoning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:25:00]

KING: Protesters demanding justice for George Floyd say marching isn't enough. They want to see real structural change. Here in Washington, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the congressional black caucus will introduce a new bill next week, addressing police brutality.

With me now to discuss this issue, the protests in the moment, the Wisconsin lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes and the Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us. Your voices are critical to this debate. Let me just tee this up and Mr. Barnes, to you first. Governor Barnes, police reform, should it be a state issue? Should it be a federal issue? How do you decide the federal government should do this, state should do that?

Because what Washington DC says or does, if it can get the political will to do it, applies differently in different parts even in a complicated state like yours.

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D) WISCONSIN: Yes, reform has to be implemented at every level. It can't just be one. At our local level where we have our local police departments, chiefs, police chiefs and mayors have to act.

At the state level, there is legislation that should be passed that hands off responsibility to our Attorneys General across the country to respond to these instances and we also need federal oversight so there's not - there's no one way to combat this. We have to approach it at every level because the systemic failures are visible at every level.

KING: Here in Washington, Governor Gilchrist to you, Hakeem Jeffries, a leading voice in the Democratic House leadership has been pushing a bill to have a federal ban on chokeholds for quite some time. That'll be one element of the new House Democratic bill. Listen to him on CNN, earlier this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Every major police department in the country, in New York and Boston and Chicago and Philadelphia and Los Angeles prohibit the chokehold as a matter of policy but we continue to see it deployed as well as other neck restraints such as the knee to the neck that we saw in Minneapolis.

That's why we want to prohibit it as a matter of law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You get flummoxed sometimes when you go through just the names in the last eight to 10 years, whether we're talking about you know Mr. Castile, Mr. Brown. Now Mr. Floyd and you can go on and on and on. Why isn't it already and why would that be critical from a federal standpoint?

LT. GOV. GARLIN GILCHRIST (D) MICHIGAN: Well, the nation needs to respond in a comprehensive way and so certainly in Michigan we're trying to take the lead on that and we've announced some reforms just this week that are starting at the beginning, starting at how our officers are recruited, how they are trained, how you're setting policies on use of force, on de-escalation.

These things need to happen to change a little interaction but even going beyond that you know, the fact that that we have are seeing black communities, communities of color and impoverished communities not being able to breathe, whether it is under the knee or the neck of law enforcement or under the threat of the coronavirus.