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Interview with President of Houston Police Officers' Union Joe Gamaldi; Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Agrees with Jim Mattis That Trump is Threat to Constitution; Interview with Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 14:00   ET



SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- are very clear on this. We are learning as we go along. But in situations where it is possible to physically distance, to wear the mask, to be outside, all those things make a difference.

Nothing has changed about this virus, Brianna. The only thing that's changed is how, I think, we are thinking about it. But the virus is the same. It is still a very contagious virus, and it's out there, as we see in Alabama with these football players, as we see in other places around the country.

So I think what I would say is, this flies in the face of the exact recommendations made by the federal government itself, and we know it is possible to actually separate out reporters. So why wouldn't you make that as safe as possible?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Yes. It is very bizarre, it's very curious. Sanjay, thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

KEILAR: I'm Brianna Keilar, this is the top of the hour. Right now, the nation is watching Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed. Its city council is considering a temporary restraining order to address the use of police force by implementing more consequences for offenses.

The move for reform follows a day of remembrance for the 46-year-old father who died after an officer put a knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. And today, protests are expected to continue throughout the nation in his name.

In Washington, a street that leads straight to the White House now has "Black lives matter" emblazoned on it. This is 16th Street, goes right down, as you can see there, to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Still, the president is once again urging governors to, quote, "dominate the streets."

And his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, is slamming President Trump for using George Floyd's name in a speech from the Rose Garden. First you'll hear the president, then Biden.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all saw what happened last week. We can't let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, This is a great thing that's happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it's a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George Floyd's last words, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe," have echoed all across this nation and, quite frankly, around the world. For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd, I frankly think is despicable.


KEILAR: CNN's Omar Jimenez is joining me live now from Minneapolis. Omar, can you tell us about this city council vote? Because officials say that these are short-term changes, pending the results of an investigation. What are they?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. So these would be short-term changes that go in place while that longer-term Minneapolis Department of Human Rights investigation plays out into the Minneapolis Police Department.

So we did get our hands on the -- on what's being voted on right now. So if his plan passed, significantly, it would ban chokeholds with the Minneapolis Police Department. There's also an added duty with this plan to report any unauthorized use of force, which includes chokeholds and neck restraints; an added duty to intervene if they observe any of those unauthorized use of forces.

And then also crowd control weapons like rubber bullets, flash bangs, things of that nature have to be approved by the chief of police. And if the chief of police isn't available, the deputy chief of police. That is in this plan. And then the last significant one is a civilian body camera review and audit process that would go into place.

Now, if this passes the city council, it would then go before a court and a judge, and then be implemented, again, until that longer-term investigation plays out. And among the main objectives that they put in this, is they want to immediately stop irreparable harm to the public, particularly in communities of color.

And that goes into what we have seen play out over the course of these protests, that it wasn't just about George Floyd and what happened to him, it was about trying to create and put in place -- at the very least, in motion -- practices that could benefit these communities in the long term in regards to relations with police -- Brianna. KEILAR: Yes, there's so much work to be done. Omar, thank you for

outlining that for us.

We're also getting, now, new insight into the legal strategy of some of the officers who were involved in George Floyd's death: the attorney for one of the officers charged, Thomas Lane, on the left there, says he'd only been on the job for four days.

Well, Derek Chauvin, the officer who was seen on that video with his knee on George Floyd's neck, had 19 years of experience and was training his client.


EARL GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR THOMAS LANE: I'm not claiming he was following orders, I'm claiming that he thought what he was doing was right because he asked a training officer, Should we roll him over? Twice. You've got to have criminal intent for second-degree murder. And frankly, this is bull (inaudible).



KEILAR: Another officer is using a similar defense, blaming Officer Chauvin and saying it was only his third shift with the department.

With me now is Joe Gamaldi, he is the president of the Houston Police Officers' Union and national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Joe, thanks for coming on.


KEILAR: So first, I want to get your reaction to these two officers who are blaming Officer Chauvin. What do you think of this?

GAMALDI: Well, I think it's something that all the facts in this case is going to have to come out. We certainly find it interesting that they'd only been in the department for three days, and that they had actually made suggestions to turn that individual, Mr. Floyd, on his side, which is pretty alarming to me, that Officer Chauvin would not listen to officers that are telling him that.

And let's just be honest, everyone agrees that what Office Chauvin did was abhorrent. That entire situation was. But we need to understand something here, that there has been universal condemnation of his actions by law enforcement across this country.

And just as we don't condemn protestors for the actions of violent looters -- certainly we're not going to hold those peaceful protestors -- we shouldn't hold 800,000 officers responsible for the actions of one idiot in Minneapolis, Officer Chauvin.

So I think what we need to do is, we need to slow down a bit, and understand that nobody hates a bad officer more than a good officer, because it makes us all look bad. And believe me, we're paying for it. We've had 30 police officers shot in the last week nationwide. We've had dozens run over, thousands more assaulted by rocks, bricks, everything else. So it's definitely a bad situation.

KEILAR: How important is it, then, for good police officers to intervene? And how are you stressing that to police officers there?

GAMALDI: It's extremely important for good officers to intervene. And what I did was, immediately following the incident in Minneapolis, I put out a notice to our police officers. And what I said was, It is your duty to step up and speak up.

It's not good enough to file a complaint a few days later on that officer, you need to get in the middle of that and stop it before somebody gets hurt, before somebody gets killed. And it could be as simple as, Let's roll him on his side, let's sit him up, let's get him in the car. There's a number of different things they can do, but you can't sit idly by. You have to get involved.

And I know a lot of people say, Well, if there is a complaint on an officer, you all just have a blue wall of silence. But our statistics in Houston don't show that. We have two million citizen contacts last year, we only had 270 complaints from citizens, but we had three to one, officer-on-officer complaints. And that could be something as minor as they didn't go to training, or something as major as use of force.

KEILAR: Can you -- have you seen the video in New York of the elderly man who was knocked down?

GAMALDI: I have seen that video, I just saw it this morning. Obviously --

KEILAR: OK, so --


GAMALDI: -- deeply concerning (ph) -- oh, sorry go ahead.

KEILAR: Yes. But I want to -- no, it's OK. I just want to make sure before I ask you my question, which is, to this -- the point of the conversation we're having, which is, You saw all those officers. I mean, this was the part -- one, it's disturbing he's knocked over, but the part that brought my hand to my mouth, was then how the other officers, even the ones who seemed to want to do something, are kind of moved along by this kind of groupthink.

What do you say to that? And what officers need to consider in their mind about how they just need to be treating people like people?

GAMALDI: Well, I think we've got to do better. And we have to have the mindset, when we go out there, nobody wants to be disrespected, nobody wants to be treated unfairly.

And we have to own that as well, to be able to say, We're going to treat people the way that we expect to be treated, we're going to expect them the way that you would expect someone to treat your grandmother. And in that situation, we've got to do better.

KEILAR: All right, Joe, thank you so much. We really appreciate you joining us.

GAMALDI: Thanks for having me on.

KEILAR: Joe Gamaldi, thank you.

Disturbing video that you just saw there, of an elderly man being pushed to the ground by police even though police reported that he tripped and fell, before they realized there was video showing what actually happened. I'll speak with the person who recorded this.

Plus, a search is under way for a white cyclist who raged at young teens for holding Black Lives Matter signs. See what happened there.

And the president's former chief of staff echoes former military leaders, saying that President Trump is a threat to the Constitution.


This is CNN's special live coverage.


KEILAR: The president's former chief of staff, John Kelly, now says he agrees with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that Trump is a threat to the U.S. Constitution.

Mattis delivered a harsh rebuke of the president, and issued a stark warning this week as nationwide protests have intensified over the death of George Floyd. Mattis says President Trump is, quote, "The first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people."

Today, John Kelly not only defended Mattis, but says that he agrees with him.


JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He's a 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.


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 and politics. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter. Are they -- what is their character like, what is their -- what are their ethics.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Carl Bernstein is a CNN political analyst. And you know, Carl, I wonder what you -- what are you thinking, when you hear John Kelly say that, especially considering, you know, he worked, he took a job as a secretary in the cabinet, and then as chief of staff for the president?


CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the key phrase is "concern for the country." Think how extraordinary it is that the chief of staff to the president of the United States would express concern for the country because of the conduct of the president of the United States.

But as you know from my reporting on this network over the past two years, it goes much deeper than this. All of the top national security aides to this president -- General McMaster, Tillerson, the secretary of state, Mattis -- they all -- and Kelly -- all concluded that the president himself was a grave threat to the national security of the United States. Because of, one, his temperament, his instability, but also that he's playing into the hands of Putin. They all came to that conclusion.

And so now we are at a unique juncture in our history, where the president himself has come under grave, grave questioning about whether he is fit for office -- more than questioning -- by those who served as his key national security aides, and concluded that he is not fit to be the president of the United States.

And that's the understory here that we as journalists need to keep probing. And why did these generals wait so long to say it out loud?

KEILAR: You heard him say there, Carl, that Americans need to look harder at who they elect. Is he telling them not to vote for Trump?

BERNSTEIN: I don't want to interpolate what he's telling people. But what I do know is that all four of these key aides to the president -- as well as others in the national security area -- gave warnings in private years ago, two years ago, a year and a half, a year ago, that the president himself is a danger to our country.

Both because of his hatred that seems to drive him -- the piston of hatred, which is really basic -- to his character and the conduct of his presidency. Also he's not prepared in meetings, he's not prepared in phone calls with Putin, with Erdogan.

There was concern by the four people I just mentioned that Erdogan of Turkey took Trump for a ride, and got everything he wanted out of Trump, including a kind of decimating of Turkey's role in NATO. He got rolled, these four individuals think.

We really ought to have an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee -- a bipartisan investigation -- that calls into an executive session Mattis, Kelly, Tillerson, others and let's find out what the hell happened here. Because we've never had a president of the United States suspected by his closest aides of being a threat to the basic security of the United States. It's extraordinary.

KEILAR: Coming from you, Carl, that is a lot. Carl Bernstein, thank you so much.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

KEILAR: Police in Maryland are asking for help. They want to identify the man in this video, who stopped his bike to assault people who were putting up Black Lives Matter signs.


Plus, a man who has worked on some of Broadway's biggest productions shares the racism that he's faced backstage. He's going to join me, live, just ahead.


KEILAR: Police in Maryland are asking for the public's help. They want to identify a man accused of attacking a group of teens hanging racial justice flyers honoring George Floyd. So this bicyclist began physically and verbally assaulting the teens. And this is on the Capital Crescent Trail. The incident, captured there on cell phone video.

Here is how the disturbing moment played out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, leave her alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not touch her, do not touch her. She has nothing, do not touch her, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave her alone. Sarah (ph), just walk away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to walk away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, get off of her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just get out of here. What?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want it? Give it to me.



UNIDENTIFIED: It's the tape (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take these signs off (INAUDIBLE). Take it off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would I take it off?


KEILAR: Will Jawando is a councilmember in Montgomery County, Maryland where this took place. Will, thank you for joining us. I just -- I mean, I know my reaction to the video about how surprised I am, especially where this took place. What was your reaction?

WILL JAWANDO, COUNCILMEMBER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: Well, obviously, disgusted, scared. You know, as a parent myself -- I know you know this -- just angry that someone would put their hands on someone's child like that. But then also, determined. And I'm glad our -- you know, our police, our Montgomery County Park Police, I spoke to the chief this morning, they are on their way to identifying the suspect and working very hard.


But it was just shocking. I mean, I think in this video, you see both the problem and the solution related to racism, which is a public health crisis in this country. I'm introducing a resolution this week -- next week, saying that, that it's a public health crisis in Montgomery County.

But you see young people who are trying to work, to find systemic solutions to racism and honor George Floyd in his death, and let it not be in vain. And then you have someone displaying their hatred, their anger with so much of what they were posting, that they attacked -- and again, these were non-black young people that were posting it. So it shows how pernicious and how pronounced and how embedded racism is in our culture, that it has that much of a stronghold on people.

KEILAR: You said police are on their way to identifying the suspect. So is that fair, to read into the fact that they have made progress here?

JAWANDO: They've made a lot of progress. We put out and they put out, last night and yesterday, a detective that's working on this, and a number, and a case number, and a lot of people shared that.

And so the response has been -- another hopeful part of this story is the response has been great from the public. The chief said many, many people have called in with tips and with information, so I expect within the next day or so -- if not sooner -- that we will be hearing something, hopefully from law enforcement.

Because this type of activity, as you know, is just unacceptable. And certainly isn't helpful in the moment in time that our country finds itself in right now.

KEILAR: Yes. Well, it's helpful he did it in front of a camera, right? I don't know what the guy was thinking, thinking that he was going to get away with something like that.

JAWANDO: Well, you know, the -- in the George Floyd, you would think that -- eight minutes, 46 seconds, knee's on his neck, and he knows the camera's there. Again, the power and how deeply embedded racism is in this country, it -- people ignore it. But you would think so.

But I'm really happy with the police force. But thank you for covering this. And again, apologies publicly to the parents of those students.

KEILAR: Oh, I know. That -- you could just -- you could hear the fear, you could hear the fear in their voices, you know? And I think that speaks to the fear that so many people, across the country, have for their kids right now.

Will, thank you so much. Will Jawando.

JAWANDO: Good to see you. Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Two police officers in Buffalo, New York have been suspended, and an investigation is under way after video emerged of them shoving an elderly man to the ground, which caused him to hit his head, and rather hard. The man, Martin Gugino, is 75 years old.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is bleeding!


KEILAR: It's stunning, isn't it? This happened yesterday, at a protest against police brutality. And you can see the police there, continuing to move past that man as he -- after he falls. Even police who seemed like they wanted to stop and help, being moved along by other officers. There was one officer who was yanked back, even after the man started bleeding from his ear and is laying there, motionless on the ground.

Initially, police issued a statement. They said that Gugino tripped and fell. Well, clearly, that is not what happened, as you can see in the video. They didn't know at first that there was a video.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke with the man, who is recovering right now in the hospital. The governor says the incident made his sick to his stomach.


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


KEILAR: Governor Cuomo also says the city should look into firing the officers and pursuing criminal charges.

An official says that Gugino is alert and oriented. Still, though, in serious condition.

Joining me now is Martin Davidson. He's a senior associate dean and global chief diversity officer at the University of Virginia. And Martin, just give me your reaction to what you saw in the video in Buffalo.

MARTIN DAVIDSON, GLOBAL CHIEF DIVERSITY OFFICER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Brianna, I mean, the first reaction, of course, is that it's unbelievably painful. I've been sitting here, watching this, and my stomach is churning up. Absolutely the case.

I think that the thing that's important about these situations -- because we can continue to produce pictures of events like this and situations like this -- it's understanding what's driving that, and what's causing that.

Because I'm completely in line with the whole idea of finding out which officers did what and so on and so forth, but we're talking about a bigger problem. We're talking about a way of training, a way of operating that's going to inevitably lead to these kinds of situations. You can't keep picking them out, one by one, you need to change something at the root.


KEILAR: And I think what speaks to that, that sort of root problem, is what happens after they knock the man down, right? So he's knocked down, and instead of --