Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

More Cities Ban Chokeholds After George Floyd Killing; Trump Declines To Engage With Press As Calls For Action Escalate; U.S. To Fund And Conduct Key Studies On Three Coronavirus Vaccines. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired June 10, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good Morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Happening right now, the brother of George Floyd, Philonise Floyd, is on Capitol Hill. Less than 24 hours ago, George Floyd was laid to rest outside his hometown of Houston, Texas. His brother, Philonise, will testify as the House weighs an unprecedented police reform bill following two weeks of national unrest. Of course, the question is will there be Republican support for measures.

HARLOW: The federal response moving slower than what we are seeing in at least a dozen cities across the country, they have banned or are in the process of banning the police use of chokeholds. As those changes gain momentum, so are efforts to get rid imagery nationwide that promotes racism and slavery, more on that in a moment.

But, first, our Manu Raju and Boris Sanchez are both this morning for us on Capitol Hill.

Boris, let's begin with you, and what can we expect in this hearing. A lot of attention, obviously, on George Floyd's brother today, what are we expecting to hear from him and who else is testifying?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the short answer is grief and anger from Philonise Floyd. He's expected to tell the story of his brother, George, and share his thoughts on policing in the United States, which he's already said he does not believe that African-Americans are treated fairly by police in this country.

We are also expecting to hear from Benjamin Crump. He's the attorney from the Floyd family, someone who has a lot of experience with these issues. He's represented the families of Michael Brown, of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery. These are the Democrats' witnesses.

And we actually just heard from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, on what he is expecting moving forward. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): There's going to be a very, very heavy pressure from the American people. I hope the Republicans will be responsive to that pressure. But we must have real reform and real change and, frankly, anybody who stands in the way of it is going to get bowled over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now, Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP also one of the Democrats' witnesses. On the Republican side, a couple of controversial names, one is Dan Bonngino. He's a former Secret Service agent, a frequent supporter of President Trump on cable news, someone who espouses deep state conspiracy theories, also Pastor Darrell Scott, one of the president's earliest and most vocal African-American supporters.

The line of questioning here will detail whether systemic racism is a problem in the American justice system, in police institutions throughout the country and how to address it. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: We also have Manu Raju on the Hill. So it shouldn't be underestimated that you do have some Republicans saying that they might back measures on police reform. But, of course, when you look at those measures, different at this stage from what Democrats are proposing. Manu is there overlap? Where is that overlap and is it likely to get the president's support?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is some overlap, but there are also some significant differences under a draft proposal being circulated on Capitol Hill, drafted by Republican Senator Tim Scott along with a handful of other Republicans. Their plan is mostly focused on state efforts while the Democrats' plan is trying to push for a national effort and a national standard.

And that overall arching disagreement is something that they're going to have to resolve. For instance, under the Democratic plan, there is a national registry that tracks police misconduct, that would allow different jurisdictions to understand whether a police officer has been engaged in any misconduct in the past. Republicans focus more on states, try to get states to have those kind of databases in place and conditioned federal grant money based on putting in place those systems.

Democrats' push have mandates for federal uniformed officers to wear body cameras, for instance. The Republican plan instead says that existing body cameras need to be put in place and says that there should be policies that states should put in place for body cameras.

So those are overall some of the differences that are in this plan. One major difference too is that Democrats want to make it easier for individuals to sue officers in civil court if their constitutional rights have been violated. That is not in the Republican draft plan. Nevertheless, the fact that this discussion is taking place underscores how much the dynamics have shifted since the death of George Floyd. This was not on Congress' agenda just a few weeks ago. Democrats have now put together their plan that they plan to have voted on in the House Judiciary Committee next week on the floor, the week after in the House.

And Senate Republicans, as soon as last week, were saying they believe this is a local issue, not a federal issue, and now they are pushing forward on legislation.

[10:05:00]

So the dynamics have changed, but the question though is can the two sides resolve the differences and will president sign it into law. Guys?

SCIUTTO: Well, it wasn't a local issue when they were pushing for the use federal forces to respond to the protest, but looking for consistency on Capitol Hill perhaps a difficult thing. Boris Sanchez, Manu Raju, thanks very much.

Now, to the changes in police in cities across the country, including the nation's largest, Brynn Gingras joins us now with more. And you have, Brynn, seen police departments in the wake of this really be some of the most aggressive, right, in policing abuse of power here. Tell us what's happening in New York and elsewhere.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Really, across the country, Jim, there is some significant change since the murder of George Floyd. I want to show you the map of the country. There are 12 states or cities within certain states that are outright banning the chokehold maneuver or some sort of form of neck restraint maneuver that police departments across this country have been using, even the entire country of France. So, internationally, we're seeing some of that change.

More locally here in New York, they're taking it even a step further. So there's not only a ban on chokeholds that's been now passed by the New York General Assembly, but it criminalizes it. So this particular law becomes a law. The governor has said he does plan to sign it. It is named after Eric Garner. Of course, he is the man who died in a police chokehold back in 2014. And it essentially means that if someone dies or is injured by a police chokehold, that police officer could face a felony and 15 years in prison.

Now, that is just one of the bills that was considered in the general assembly. There is a total of 11 just within the last few weeks that have gotten new light. And I want to tick through some of them that have already passed the assembly and, again, just waiting for the governor's signature.

One of the big ones that we've seen in protests is the reversal of Statute 50A. This is the decades-old statute that essentially made police disciplinary records confidential. It's going to reverse that and essentially put police officers and their disciplinary records on the same plane as other state workers, like teachers.

Another one, criminalizing false race-based 911 calls. Now, this was swift action, of course, coming after that incident that happened just a few weeks ago in Central Park where a white woman called 911 on a black man who was bird watching because he asked her to leash her dog. So that was swift action there, again, passed by the assembly.

And then that third one, New York State Police will be mandated to wear body cameras and there are specific situations where those cameras have to be turned on.

So these, again, are some just passed the assembly. They're waiting for the governor's signature. There's a whole host of other ones that are still being considered. But the governor here in New York really, in just the last few days, has said he wants New York to be sort of the pioneer in all of this, to have reform so he does have intention to sign many of these measures possibly as soon as this week, guys.

HARLOW: Okay. Brynn, thank you very much.

Protesters around the country working to tear down symbols of racism, slavery and injustice.

SCIUTTO: It's remarkable how quickly some of this has happened in the wake of George Floyd. Last night in Richmond, Virginia, protesters tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus, threw that statue in a lake. CNN Correspondent Alexandra Field joins us now.

And, Alexandra, many of the protests have been focused on statues honoring confederate generals, this one, of course, Christopher Columbus. Tell us how broadly this is happening.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Really, Jim, this is emblematic of the conversation that's happening around the country and really that's stretching almost across the world. This statute in particular, as you point out, Christopher Columbus, taken down, but it's part of the long conversation our country has been having for some time now about whether to remove these statues, these monuments that are perceived as symbols of racism, or oppression or are offensive.

In Richmond, you had a group of demonstrators taking that statue down. And it's something that's been vandalized before. It's had words like lies and genocide painted on it.

An affiliate of CNN spoke to the demonstrators there who said that, yes, there are people in communities across the country who have attachments to these monuments but that taking them down is the first step to unity, to bringing people together.

There was a similar scene that unfolded in Boston and, of course, we have seen over the last week or two weeks now a major push to move forward with the removal of these statues and monuments just a few days ago in Richmond. Protesters took down another confederate symbol.

We know, of course, that the governor of Virginia had ordered the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. That has been temporarily paused as a result of a court order. But we are seeing action to take monuments in states across the country, including Kentucky, Florida and Alabama. And now you are seeing these conversations about removing offensive symbols unfolding like places like the U.S. military and even NASCAR, where you have got driver Bubba Wallace pushing now to have confederate flags banned from racetracks.

HARLOW: Yes, that's big. Alex, thanks very much.

[10:10:00]

We are waiting to hear testimony from the brother of George Floyd. He is set to testify this hour on Capitol Hill. This is all happening in front of the Judiciary Committee. You will hear his opening statement live in just a few minutes.

Also, the president is doing something he rarely does. He is, you know, not talking really much at all. You've seen him a lot on Twitter. Avoiding reporter questions as debates over police reform and race relations continue.

SCIUTTO: And to stop racism, the basketball hall of famer, Lisa Leslie, says we need action and we need everybody. She wrote a powerful essay on this. We're going to her about it live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:00]

SCIUTTO: As there is debate and progress about police reform, race relations around the nation, President Trump is doing something you don't normally see from him, and that is not engaging at all with reporters.

HARLOW: That's right. Our White House Correspondent, John Harwood, joins us again from Washington. Good morning to you, John.

But you do know a lot of reporter questions aren't getting answers, you do have reporting on what's happening behind the scenes and where the president's head is right now.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know after a very, very difficult ten days, the president and his aides are trying to figure out a different path to take. The president so far, of course, has taken that very tough law and order tactic. Yesterday, the outrageous tweet about the 75-year-old protester who was injured by police in Buffalo suggesting he was part of Antifa.

But now, we've seen movement from Republicans on Capitol Hill in the Senate toward joining a debate with Democrats on police reforms. They are in different places, but some common territory there. Meanwhile, local law enforcement is banning chokeholds in some cases. That's one of the elements of the House bill, though not the Senate bill.

And so you have a president in reactive mode. He is going to be guided by what Senate Republicans want to do because, of course, they are affected not just -- it's not just the president's re-election that's been hurt by the events of the last few days, it's also been the Senate Republican prospects for preserving their majority.

So the president is going to react to that. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law were on the Hill yesterday consulting with Republicans and we expect in the next few days to get some more sense of what Republicans are willing to do and what the president is willing to accept.

SCIUTTO: John Harwood, I hate to say, we've been here before on issues such as gun legislation, back and forth, little disagreement between the parties. The president ultimately making a decision, it's not in his political interest here. Is that different now and what are the possibilities if the president chooses to go via executive action as opposed to negotiation with Congress?

HARWOOD: Well, he could do something by executive order, but I think, Jim, it would be mostly symbolic. It's a significant exertion of authority even for the Congress to legislate using the carrot of federal funding to try to get local police departments to do what they want. Local police departments, states and localities have a considerable amount of say in the matter, but the president could, with the stroke of a pen, make a statement, in effect, and certainly, that's possible.

But you're right. We have seen in the past impetus for reform on say, gun legislation, simply fall apart. But this is a moment when the president, in our polling, is down to 14 points to Joe Biden for re- election. New Gallup poll out today showed his approval rating has dropped ten points in the last months. His approval doesn't change very much. That's very significant and it shows the impact of recent events.

HARLOW: Before you go, can you also talk about his polling in terms of specific things, like the handling of the economy, the COVID pandemic, as we learn more about how people feel about reopening and going back to sort of life as normal for some?

HARLOW: Yes, Poppy. We've got new CNN polling showing the president breaking even, 48-48 in public perceptions on his handling of the economy. The economy is in terrible shape. It has traditionally been his strongest suit in terms of issues, but the reopening is in the jobs numbers we got the last few days are an indication that there's some activity going on that's positive. Jobs added last month. So you have big disparities among whites who are much more favorable, 54 percent in favor of his performance on the economy, less so for blacks and Hispanics.

On coronavirus, it's still a solidly negative rating, 41 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove. And, of course, those two things are related because we've got the economy opening up and we have the pandemic persisting at a rate of 20,000 new cases a day nationally. Deaths are going down. That's good. But we're all going to have to watch and see how much this persists over the summer, whether we get a spike in the fall and that would have a fresh, negative effect on the economy if it happens. HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: John Harwood at the White House, thanks very much.

As John noted, several states seeing a rise in coronavirus hospitalizations. There is news that researchers could be closer to a vaccine. Three major trials coming this summer, what that means for you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:20:00]

SCIUTTO: New this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci tells us the effort to create a coronavirus vaccine is progressing very well. He says the U.S. will fund and conduct studies on three separate vaccines and he expects more than one candidate to be in advanced clinical testing by early summer.

[10:25:07]

Welcome news as cases, unfortunately, in 19 states are going up now.

Joining me now to discuss, Dr. Richard Besser, former Acting Director of the CDC. Dr. Besser, always good to have you on.

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Nice to be here, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So you hear the news there, I'm sure you read it too, Dr. Fauci, three studies underway on vaccines, one by Moderna in conjunction with the NIHS, another by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. He adds that, in his view, having a vaccine in wide availability by the end of this year or early next year, if that's possible at this point, I wonder if you're equally optimistic.

BESSER: Well, I would love to see that happen. I think we can't count on that. That would be faster than any vaccine in history has been developed. And there are a number of things about developing vaccines. You want to know that they're safe before you administer them to large numbers of people, and that requires trials much bigger than we've seen so far. And then you want to make sure that they're effective. And vaccines vary in how effective they are.

And I worry that people have in their mind things like the measles vaccine, which is incredibly effective, 95 percent effective. Flu vaccines, as we know, are much less effective than that. So even with the vaccine, there may be other steps that we have to continue to take to control coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: That's a good point. I think folks who get their flu vaccines every year might remember that they're told that this will affect a lot of them, a lot of the bugs out there, and not all of them.

Let's talk about resurgence, because when you look at the data, we can put that map up on the screen again, 19 states reporting an increase in COVID cases. This, of course, coincides with reopening around the country that began largely around Labor Day. How concerned are you by these numbers and is this the spike, the post-reopening spike that some had worried about?

BESSER: Well, Jim, a rise in cases, in and of itself, doesn't concern me. It's expected. As people are coming out of their households, there's more economic activity, you will see an increase in cases. What concerns me is do we have the systems in place to ensure that a case in a community doesn't lead to a cluster, it doesn't lead to an outbreak, it doesn't lead to a healthcare system once again getting overwhelmed.

And I worry that the same communities that have been hit so hard so far, black Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, low-income Americans, groups that will be coming back in the workforce at much higher rates, that the protections aren't in place. And that we're not gathering the information to ensure that we can see what's happening in each of those populations so that they're not hit in the same way they've been hit so far during this pandemic.

SCIUTTO: There's been some anecdotal evidence of new infections resulting from the mass public demonstrations we've seen around the country, including among members of the D.C. National Guard. It's early for wide data, but how concerned are you that these public protests can contribute to a resurgence?

BESSER: Yes. I mean, the structural racism, the interpersonal racism that's being protested is also manifest in terms of how the coronavirus pandemic is hitting America. The reason that we're seeing such disparate impact in communities of color, many aspects of structural racism that come to play.

And so it's important that these protests continue but in ways that are as safe as possible, so that people that come out are wearing masks, they have alcohol and sanitizer, they're trying to keep distance. If they're sick people, don't come out. And that public health is ramping up and saying in communities that are having protests, we're going to make sure that there's more testing available, so that if there are increases cases, we can jump on that, we can ensure that people are able to isolate safely away from their families and communities are protected.

Clearly, mass gatherings aren't something you like to see, but these protests are absolutely essential to raise these issues and to see change in our country.

SCIUTTO: Well, you heard the doctor, of course, take precautions if you do choose to participate. Dr. Richard Besser, always good to have you on the program.

BESSER: Thank you, Jim.

HARLOW: Well, current and former athletes turning activism into action amid protests over police brutality and racism, you're going to hear next from basketball hall of famer, Olympian, activist, Lisa Leslie. Her incredible letter to America, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:30:00]

END