Return to Transcripts main page
Democrats Propose Policing Bill as Trump Poll Numbers Fall; Live Coverage of Democrats' Justice in Policing Act. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired June 8, 2020 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: -- what else is in this bill? And crucially, does it have any shot in the Republican-controlled Senate?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the moment, it does not. This is an expansive measure that Democrats do plan to push through the House in the coming days and weeks.
TEXT: Dems Set to Unveil Police Reform Bill: Reform qualified immunity; Mandate that state and local law enforcement agencies report use of force data; Ban no-knock warrants in drug cases; Ban chokeholds and carotid holds; Require federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras; Make lynching a federal crime
One of the most aggressive efforts to set national standards on policing that Congress has undertook in years, dealing with everything from improving and changing how training is done for police, trying to limit racial profiling, creating a national police registry so if an officer has a problem in one jurisdiction, he or she can't go to another jurisdiction. And that jurisdiction would not be aware of those problems, it would be a database o track that.
But it also has other measures as well. You mentioned reforming qualified immunity, ensuring that police officers could essentially be sued in civil court if an individual's rights -- constitutional rights -- are allegedly violated. It increases the amount of reporting that state and local law enforcement agencies have to issue if use of force is actually done by police officers. It bans no-knock warrants in drug cases.
Has other measures as well. You mentioned the ban on chokeholds, that's one of the key aspects of this legislation. And it requires uniformed federal police officers to wear body cameras.
Now, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate have been working behind the scenes to collaborate on this effort. It's being led by the Congressional Black Caucus. It is expected to have most of the support of Democrats, but the Republicans don't believe there needs to be a national standard at the moment, they are pushing back. So expect this to be a flashpoint in the days and weeks ahead, as Democrats get set here to unveil this expansive proposal -- guys.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: OK, we will watch, Manu. Thanks very much.
The new action on Capitol Hill comes as the president's approval rating is taking a big hit.
SCIUTTO: A new CNN poll, released just this morning, shows the president's approval rate has fallen to 38 percent, a seven-point drop in just the last month. Joining now to speak about this, CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip.
Dana, the last time in CNN polling that President Trump dropped before 40 percent threshold was during impeachment, I believe, in late 2019, but also during the shutdown in January 2019. How significant is that and do you see this as a lasting -- or a moment in time?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, all polls are a moment in time. So it's very, very hard to predict. But one predictive measure that we do have, based on history, is that the only two presidents to be at this low point at this time in their first term, were two presidents who lost their re-election bids: Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.
And so that is something that could be looked at as a tell-tale sign for President Trump. This is the point where I say -- and we all should always say -- President Trump has been known to defy history in so many steps of the way, of his political career. So we should really keep that in mind.
But, look, there is no question, they understand very well inside the Trump campaign, the numbers that they're seeing internally are bad and now this latest poll that we have, which is really, really stark on a whole number of levels, is also bad.
HARLOW: And Abby, to that point, let's talk about this in the context of the White House. And the president's even considering whether or not he should give a speech on race and on national unity. What does this poll tell us about the American public's perception right now of how the president is doing on those fronts, and the reaction of the protests?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it feels like the public sentiment on this actually is quite set in, in a way that even I'm a little surprised by. Dana and I this weekend were talking about the protests. I went down to now-Black Lives Matter Plaza in front of the White House, to see just what the dynamic was over the weekend. And you see this massive sort of multiracial, multigenerational movement. And that is showing up in these poll numbers.
You know, more than 80 percent in our poll say that they believe that the protests have been largely peaceful, and that they are justified. And I do think that that is really notable, considering that at the same time that this is happening, you have more than two-thirds of the country saying they believe these protests are justified.
The president seems to want to prosecute this law-and-order message, in which the protests are being painted as largely violent, as -- being painted as, you know, thugs rioting in the streets. Obviously, the American public does not agree with that.
And so I don't know that a speech on race is going to undo the perception that the president is completely out of step with the public on what is happening all over the country.
SCIUTTO: Dana, does the president's dwindling popularity move Republican lawmakers at all? You have Democrats introducing legislation to address some of these issues today. But, as Manu Raju said, really, no shot in the Senate. I mean, are there elements of it, individual elements that might get Republican support in the Senate, particularly when you have a lot of Republican senators fighting for their lives in November as well?
BASH: It's such a hard question to answer, it's a really good one. As you heard Manu say -- and I've talked to some Republicans as well -- they argue, you know, that this is a local issue, it should be handled on the state and local level, not on the federal level.
But the pressure could mount as we see Republicans in this poll -- and others -- wanting a more national response to the problems with race relations in this country.
If I may, there's one other really, really notable part of this poll -- there are lots of them, but one that I want to point out to you and our viewers -- and that is about enthusiasm for Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
And Republicans have said for a while that the enthusiasm that Joe Biden was lacking was good for Donald Trump. It has -- that gap has shrunk in this latest poll. You see there, it's 60 percent who support Biden and oppose Trump, and 70 percent who support Trump, there for Trump.
That's one of the factors. But the other is that people who are saying, rah-rah, I'm really enthusiastic for Joe Biden, just last month, was only 50 percent. Now it's 69 percent, and that's just about four points lower than those who are saying, rah-rah, I'm for Donald Trump.
So what that means is that the gap is shrinking when you're looking at people who are really, really wanting to get out to the polls and vote for Joe Biden, even if it really is a vote against Donald Trump. That is something Republicans were looking at before, saying, OK, this is giving us a little bit of solace on where Donald Trump is really standing. And that has changed in this poll.
HARLOW: Abby, we saw Republican Senator Mitt Romney march along with one of the Black Lives Matter groups yesterday for an hour and a half. We heard Lisa Murkowski acknowledge her white privilege on the Senate floor last week. And I -- it's notable from two Republican senators, from the two of them.
And I just want your take on that, as we look at these numbers, as we look at this moment in this country. And as Manu just told us, what House and Senate Democrats are proposing now in terms of reform has no chance of getting through the Republican-controlled Senate.
PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, it is telling that President Trump spent time attacking Mitt Romney for marching with protestors over the weekend. And this is after the president has claimed that he is an ally of peaceful protests. It's after the White House has claimed that they support equal justice under the law. The president chose to attack someone who decided to march for those very things.
But I also think that this is a moment where a lot of people are realizing that in this country, it is -- it should not be a partisan thing to say that people of all races should be treated fairly under the law. And there are still some people who want to continue to make this a partisan issue, and they are losing support among even Republicans like Mitt Romney and, like you said, Lisa Murkowski.
And there are many others. Former President George W. Bush --
PHILLIP: -- issued a clear statement, saying that he believed that systemic racism is something that needs to be dealt with in this country.
It is, I think, a sign, a signal to Republicans who want to make this into some kind of political wedge issue, the time has passed for that. And I think a lot of Republicans are finally standing up and saying, you know, it is not a Democratic or Republican think to believe in equal justice under the law, and to believe that we need to take a look at systemic racism in this country.
SCIUTTO: These are Democrats on the Hill, getting ready to unveil their proposed legislation to help address some of these issues in policing, including a ban on chokeholds.
Of course, as we've noted, support in the Democratic-controlled House does not appear to be support in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Dana, before we go, given these numbers, as the president watches events here, is there anyone pushing him, within his inner circle, to go away from the base strategy? Play the base.
BASH: You know, it's his instinct. It's -- you know, people are looking at these numbers, saying, Well, maybe will he change his approach that he has been focused on this entire presidency? And the issue is that it's not just a political calculation, it's who he is. So you're going to have to do more --
BASH: -- than just kind of help convince him, you're going to have to change him a bit. That's hard. SCIUTTO: Hold that thought, Dana. Let's listen in to Democrats
unveiling this legislation.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): -- people marching to demand not just change, but transformative change that ends police brutality, that ends racial profiling, and ends the practice of denying Americans the right to have the ability to sue when they have been injured by an officer that denies local jurisdictions the power to fire or prosecute offending officers.
Black communities have sadly been marching for over 100 years against police abuse, but for the police to protect and serve our communities like they do elsewhere. In the 1950s, news cameras exposed the brutalized horror of legalized racism in the form of segregation. The news cameras of the 1950s exposed the brutal treatment of people who dared to challenge the system.
News cameras exposed to the world that black people did not have the same constitutional protections: that freedom of speech, the right to assemble and protest were not rights extended to African-Americans.
Seventy years later, it is the cell phone camera that has exposed the continuation of violence directed at African-Americans by the police, and exposed the reality that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not guaranteed to all African-Americans at all times.
Now, the movement for police accountability has become a rainbow movement, reflecting the wonderful diversity of our nation and the world. The power of this movement will help move Congress to act to pass legislation that not only holds police accountable and increases transparency, but assists police departments to change the culture.
Now, I know that change is difficult, but I am certain that police officers, professionals who risk their lives every day, are deeply concerned about their profession and do not want to work in an environment that requires their silence, when they know a fellow officer's abusing the public.
I am certain police officers would like to be free to intervene and stop an officer from using deadly force when it is not necessary, and I am certain that police officers want to make sure they are trained in the best practices in policing. A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public.
Embarking on a journey toward a new vision for policing in America is only possible because of the incredible leadership in the House of Representatives. We now have over 200 co-sponsors in the House and the Senate. Speaker Pelosi says she wants to see a bold transformative effort, and that is exactly what Justice in Policing will do.
Join me in welcoming the most powerful woman in Congress and the nation, Madam Speaker Pelosi.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Karen Bass, for your tremendous leadership. Under the leadership of Karen Bass, many of us had the privilege last year of going to Ghana to observe the 400th anniversary of the first slaves going across the Atlantic. America really was -- there was no United States, but going across the Atlantic.
It was a horrible -- the kidnapping, the purchase of those slaves, the dungeons in which they were kept. And if they survived that, to be on a slave ship; and if they survived that, to be sold into slavery. And then everything that came from that.
When we were in Selma, only just -- in March, we saw at Bryan Stevenson's -- one of his museums, a beautiful display -- heartbreaking display, but children, little children, saying, Mama, mama, has anyone seen our mother? These children, separated from their mothers. The cruelty of that.
And that's why, when George Floyd called out for his mother, when he was subjected to that knee in the neck, it was just a continuation of some horror that has existed in our country for a very long time.
So Mr. Clyburn, Mr. Hoyer, our distinguished leader; Mr. Clyburn, our whip, join Karen Bass, Leader Schumer, two senators, leaders on this issue, Mr. -- Congresswoman Harris -- Senator, did I say Senator? -- Senator Harris, Senator Booker, in the Emancipation Hall, aptly named for those who built the Capitol of the United States, in their honor.
We knelt (ph) there for eight minutes and 46 seconds, on our knees. My members will attest, it's a very long time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
PELOSI: It's a very long time. And I graciously led them in falling over when it was over, so that they could do the same thing.
But here we are. The martyrdom of George Floyd gave (ph) Americans experience (ph) a moment of national anguish as we grieve for the black Americans killed by police brutality. Today, this movement of -- moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action, as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice.
Today, with the Justice in Policing Act, the Congress is standing with those fighting to justice and taking action. Let us, my colleagues, just go over some of those names of martyrdom: George Floyd, Jackson Davis, Oscar Grant -- so sad -- Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin. My colleagues, any other names you want to add? (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Emmett Till.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean Bell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amadou Diallo
PELOSI: Thank you.
We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change, which is why the Justice in Policing Act will remove barriers to prosecuting police misconduct and covering damages by addressing the quality immunity doctrine.
It will end -- it will demilitarize the police by limiting the transfer of military weaponry to state and local police departments. It will combat police brutality by requiring body and dashboard cameras, banning chokeholds, no-knock warrants in drug cases and end racial profiling.
It will finally make lynching -- Mr. Hoyer -- a federal hate crime. And I support Chairman Bass and Representative Bobby Smith and our two distinguished senators, Harris and Booker, and others for their working in helping to pass H.R. 35 this year.
Police brutality is a heartbreaking reflection of an entrenched system of racial injustice in America. True justice can only be achieved with full, comprehensive action. That's what we are doing today. This is a first step. There is more to come.
In the coming weeks, the House will hold hearings, mark up the bill. Once the House passes it, the Justice in Policing Act, Leader McConnell will hopefully -- he must -- swiftly take it up. Leader in the Congress, the president must not stand in the way of justice. The Congress and the country will not relent until this legislation is made into law.
My colleague Mr. Clyburn is always getting awards for liberty and justice for all. That's what this is about, that's what our distinguished leader, Mr. Schumer, talked about in Emancipation Hall. I'm pleased to yield to the distinguished leader of the United States Senate -- Democratic leader, Mr. Schumer.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, thank you, Speaker Pelosi. And I'm so proud to be joined by so many of my colleagues: Leader Hoyer, Senators Booker and Harris, Representatives Bass, Clyburn, Nadler and Jeffries, for joining us and speaking this morning. And all the support that we have from so many wonderful people behind us. Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of Americans have engaged in
peaceful demonstrations against police violence and systemic racism. This large, diverse group -- so many of them young -- gives us hope that Americans are prepared to march and fight to make this a more perfect union, once and for all. And so today, we are taking the first of many steps -- many necessary steps -- to respond to this national pain with bold action.
As my colleagues will explain, the Justice in Policing Act proposes crucial reforms to combat racial violence and excessive force by law enforcement through strong accountability measures, increased data (ph) transparency (ph), and important modifications to police training and practices. This has never been done before at the federal level. In the Senate, Democrats are going to fight like hell to make this a reality.
Americans who took to the streets this week have demanded change. With this legislation, Democrats are heeding their calls. Now, we must collectively -- all Americans -- raise our voices and call on Leader McConnell to put this reform bill on the floor of the Senate before July, to be debated and voted on.
Now, some Senate Republicans have acknowledged egregious wrongs, but few have expressed a need for floor action. Too many have remained silent. Maybe they're hoping the issue goes away. I promise them, it will not. Democrats will not let this go away, and we will not rest until we achieve real reforms.
Leader McConnell, let's have the debate, not just on TV and Twitter, but on the floor of the United States Senate. A divided nation cannot wait for healing, for solutions.
The poison of racism affects more than our criminal justice system. It runs much deeper than that. There are racial disparities in housing and health care, education, the economy, jobs, income, wealth. And COVID has only placed a magnifying glass on them.
It is our job -- our job as representatives of an imperfect union -- to right those wrongs, bring the reality and promise of America into closer alignment. Equal justice under law is one such promise. That's what this morning and the Justice in Policing Act is all about. The centuries-long struggle to make those words actually true for black Americans and every American.
Senator Hoyer -- Congressman Hoyer?
SCHUMER: Leader Hoyer.
HARLOW: You just heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. We're going to continue to monitor this as we bring back in our Dana Bash and Abby Phillip.
Abby, to you first, you know, you just heard Schumer remark at how unprecedented this was, saying it never happened before. I think the question for everyone in both parties is, why not? Because these deaths have been happening for so long. You heard the speaker list just some of them.
PHILLIP: I mean, something clearly has changed, just in the last few years. I mean, a lot of the polling is showing just a massive shift in how people in this country -- but particularly white Americans -- view the criminal justice system, whether they believe that it is unfair to black people and to people of color in general.
And that is a shift that we're starting to see permeating to the Capitol. And I think the big question as we go forward is, what happens now? So there are a couple of people in the Senate in particular, Republicans who have expressed interest in some individual reforms or, like Mitt Romney, marched with the Black Lives Matter protestors.
You know, I'm talking about actually Rand Paul, who, in response to Breonna Taylor's death, has talked about no-knock warrants, and whether those need to be looked at and that ability repealed. You have other senators talking about qualified immunity and wanting to reform that.
Does that lead to a bipartisan effort in the Senate? I think we still have to ask that question, because we don't quite know whether these senators in particular will be willing to reach across the aisle and move some of these reforms forward.
SCIUTTO: I mean, think, Dana Bash, Black Lives Matter moved from something of a fringe hashtag, it's now printed in giant letters in yellow on 16th Street, at the doorstep of the White House.
Are there pieces of this legislation -- again, because folks at home, they're used to seeing a whole host of bills passed out of a Democratic House that go nowhere in a Republican-led Senate. Are there pieces of this that could be taken out and get a number of Republican senators to support it?
BASH: There certainly could be. I'll just give you one example. There is a proposal in this sweeping legislation for a national registry of police officers who are offenders. That doesn't exist right now. There is a voluntary database, and I would say a little bit more than a handful of the 50 states contribute to that.
And what that means is that if a police officer is reprimanded or even fired for misconduct, then that officer can go to another state and get hired in that -- that state is not even required to know -- can't know that information. It's not easy for them to find it, I should say. A national registry would allow that to end, and allow people to be able to look and see a record of somebody who has misconduct.
Now, for the Republicans who say there's no national role for that, it's hard to argue against that.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, the national-local thing, we should note, I mean, it's all local except, for instance, when the president wants to put in national uniformed military in response, right? I mean, it's -- sometimes it's hard to find a consistent argument in that principle -- Poppy.
HARLOW: A hundred percent.
Ladies, thank you both very much for being with us today.
We're going to continue to monitor the major announcement there by Senate and House Democrats. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.
SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with our colleague Kate Bolduan will start right after a quick break.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining us this hour. Right now, we are watching three major stories, and big developments following the death of George Floyd.
This afternoon, fired Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is appearing in court for the first time. He faces a second-degree murder charge for, of course, kneeling on George Floyd's neck for those eight minutes and 46 seconds.