Return to Transcripts main page
Live Coverage of Philonise Floyd's Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee; President Considering Police Reform Options; House Republicans Push Back Against Trump's Troop Withdrawal from Germany. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired June 10, 2020 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take you now to a very important House Judiciary Committee on reforming police in American, Racism in America.
You're going to hear from George Floyd's brother in just a moment. Let's listen.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIR, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you and please be seated.
Please note that each of your written statements will be entered into the record in its entirety. Accordingly, I ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. To help you stay within that time, for those witnesses testifying in person, there is a timing light on your table. When the light switches from green to yellow, you have one minute to conclude your testimony. When the light turns red, it signals your five minutes have expired.
For our remote participants, there is a timer on your screen to help you keep track of time. Given the large number of witnesses, I will introduce each witness and then invite him or her to give his or her testimony before introducing the next witness.
We will begin with Mr. Floyd. Philonise Floyd is the brother of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officers on May 25th. Mr. Floyd has spoken eloquently about his brother's life, and we appreciate his being with us today, having flown to Washington to testify before us today, directly from his brother's funeral in Houston yesterday.
We are all so sorry for your loss. Mr. Floyd, you may begin.
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: Thank you.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler and members of the committee -- Chairman Jerrold Nadler and members of the committee, thank you for the invitation here today to talk about my big brother, George.
The world knows him as George, but I called him Perry. Yesterday, we laid him to rest. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I'm the big brother now, so it's my job to comfort my brothers and my sisters, Perry's kids, and everyone who loved him. And that's a lot of people. I have to be the strong one now because George is gone.
And me being the big brother now is why I'm here today, to do what Perry always would have done: to take care of the family and others. I couldn't take care of George that day he was killed, but maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death will not be in vain.
To make sure that he is more than another face on a T-shirt, more than another name on a list that won't stop growing, George always made sacrifices for our family and he made sacrifices for complete strangers. He gave the little that he had to help others. He was our gentle giant.
I was reminded of that when I watched the video of his murder. He called all the officers, "sir." He was mild-mannered, he didn't fight back. He listened to all the officers. The man who took his life, who suffocated him for eight minutes and 46 seconds, he still called him "sir," as he begged for his life.
I can't tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch something like that. When you watch your big brother, who you looked up to your whole entire life, die? Die, begging for his mom? I'm tired. I'm tired of pain, pain you feel when you watch something like that.
When you watch your big brother, who you looked up to for your whole life, die? Die, begging for his mom? I'm tired. I'm tired of pain, pain you feel when you watch something like that.
When you watch your big brother, who you looked up to for your whole life, die? Die, begging for his mom?
I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain, stop us from being tired. George called for help, and he was ignored. Please listen to the call I'm making to you now, to the calls of our family and the calls, ringing out the streets across the world.
People of all backgrounds, genders and races have come together to demand change. Honor them. Honor George, and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution, and not the problem.
Hold them accountable when they do something wrong, teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect. Teach them what necessary force is, teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk.
George wasn't hurting anyone that day. He didn't deserve to die over $20. I'm asking you, is that what a black man is worth, $20? This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. By the leaders that in (ph) our (ph) country, the world needs the
right thing. The people elected you to speak for them, to make positive change. George's name means something. You have the opportunity here today to make your names mean something too.
If his death ends up changing the world for the better -- and I think it will -- then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain. I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to Perry while he was here. I was robbed of that. But I know he's looking down at us now.
Perry, look up at what you did, Big Brother. You changed the world. Thank you for everything, for taking care of when on earth, for taking care of us now. I hope you found Mama, and you can rest in peace with power.
NADLER: Thank you, Mr. Floyd.
Vanita Gupta is the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Ms. Gupta previously served as acting assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, and led the department's Civil Rights Division. She received her J.D. from New York University's School of Law, and her B.A. from Yale University.
Ms. Gupta, you may begin.
VANITA GUPTA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Thank you, Chairman Nadler.
Mr. Floyd, thank you for being here today, and for those incredibly powerful words. And we are so sorry.
Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Collins and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. And thank you, Chairman Nadler, for calling this hearing on policing practices and the need for transformative policies that promote accountability, begin to reimagine public safety and respect the dignity of all people.
While the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of --
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Powerful words there, from George Floyd's brother. Just the emotion of him saying, I hope you found Mama, I hope you found Mama and can rest in peace and power.
But also notable, Poppy, that he is asking for changes to police departments, "Make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution and not the problem." "Hold them accountable," "teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect."
He's not calling to disband -- defund them, but to change them. Notable.
HARLOW: Yes, he shouldn't have to be the one to have to be asking for these changes, after so long --
HARLOW: -- I cannot imagine going to testify, as one of our colleagues just said to us, on Capitol Hill, the day after burying my own brother. But that is how urgent this call is, you're so right, Jim.
Let's bring in our colleague Abby Phillip, she joins us now. Your thoughts on where we are as a country in terms of enacting real change?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy and Jim, it's so emotional to hear that testimony because I think we can all empathize with just the thought of losing your brother that way, and then -- and then having to find your voice on the national stage on these issues.
What he said about just being tired of having to plead for the humanity of people like George Floyd, his brother, and other black men across the country, I think, is -- it really encapsulates the moment that we are in right now.
What black Americans are saying and what thousands of people of all races and ethnicities all across the country are also saying, is exactly what Philonise Floyd just said, which is that in the year 2020, people are tired of having this conversation. They want things to change, they are fed up with the system as it currently stands.
And that is a different kind of urgency than we have seen in many years in this country. Something has changed. And it is a credit, perhaps, to this family, to George Floyd, that people were moved by this moment, finally, to act. The question is, on Capitol Hill, will people be willing to put partisanship aside and heed these calls?
I think this is a call for people to look at our shared humanity, and realize that no one deserves to die over a $20 bill, in an interactions with police officers. No one deserves to beg for their lives while bystanders cried out to help him. I think that's -- it is a moral call right now for this country, I think, is what we just heard.
SCIUTTO: Yes. He called out for his mother, while that officer's knee was on his neck.
Boris Sanchez, we've seen situations like this before, following national tragedies. I think a notable applicable one is following school shootings, and discussions of gun legislation that don't get anywhere, in part because the president makes a political calculation, it's not in his interest.
Where is the president's political calculation on police reform right now? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the simple answer -- or rather question -- that we have to ask is, where is the president? We know that for the last two weeks or so, there's been deliberation in the White House about him potentially delivering an address to the nation about racial unity, about some of these issues that Philonise Floyd was just discussing a moment ago.
But the president has been hearing from aides about their personal experiences when it comes to racism. He's apparently, according to sources, been receptive to those stories. He's open, according to sources, to some measure, some kind of police reform legislation, though the details of that remain murky.
Remember that President Trump has remained steadfast in his position of law and order, and defending police officers and law enforcement throughout the country, saying that 99.9 percent of them are good people who do their work in a good way. Here, we're hearing something very different from George Floyd's brother, effectively saying to these lawmakers that they should listen to the thousands of voices that are in the streets calling for change.
He visibly became emotional when he talked about not being able to help his brother when he was in that -- in his final moments, in that eight minutes and 46 seconds, where that officer held his knee to his neck. He said that he wanted to honor his brother by coming here and pushing for change, and speaking directly to these lawmakers.
He says remembering his brother, going through this process is the hardest thing that he has ever had to do -- Jim and Poppy.
HARLOW: Boris, Abby, thank you both very much.
We're going to take a quick break, we'll be right back.
SCIUTTO: Opposition from the president's own party, nearly two dozen Republicans are pushing back against the White House's plan to draw down troops in Germany, widely seen as a victory for Russia in Europe.
HARLOW: Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with more. How many troops are we talking about here, and how significant that there is Republican, you know, opposition to this?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's very significant. This is about two dozen Republicans, the House Armed Services Committee -- these should be the president's biggest supporters on the military and national defense. But instead ,they are writing to the president, asking him to reconsider this potential move to withdraw about nine or 10,000 U.S. troops from Germany. There are about 34,000 there right now. This is a pretty mysterious decision because nobody here at the Pentagon is willing to acknowledge that they know anything about it, that they knew the president was even going to put this on the table. It's not at all clear that the Pentagon has really been doing any significant military planning for this.
So you're talking about withdrawing nine, 10,000 troops from a force of about 34,000. Who benefits by that? Well, Vladimir Putin does because he doesn't want as many U.S. troops in Europe. The U.S. has -- Trump administration, the president has a very poor relationship with the German leader, Angela Merkel. He might be trying to punish her, some people speculate -- not at all clear. Now, some of those troops could wind up going to Poland, that is undecided as well.
But these Republican lawmakers are making very clear that they think there still needs to be a significant U.S. military deterrence presence in Europe, and specifically deterrence against the Russians -- Jim, Poppy.
HARLOW: Barbara, thank you for that reporting.
We also have breaking news. The ousted inspector general at the State Department was apparently conducting five different probes into potential wrongdoing, three more -- Jim -- than previously known when he was just abruptly fired last month.
SCIUTTO: You might say that makes the case for having independent inspectors general. CNN national security correspondent Kylie Atwood joins us now.
What are we learning about his firing, and has -- critically -- has the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, been truthful about those reasons in his public statements?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the secretary just held a press conference here at the State Department. He was asked about the revelations in this interview that the ousted inspector general of the State Department, Steve Linick, provided to the Hill in the transcript that we have received this morning.
Secretary Pompeo simply said -- doubled down, saying that Linick is a bad actor. He reiterated what he has previously said in that he should have fired Linick from his position before he did. He said he wasn't doing things that were in the best interest of the State Department. Now, it's important to note, however, he said he hadn't seen the transcript, released this morning.
But a lot of what is in this transcript is really important here. Because what we are learning -- as you said -- is that there were three additional investigations, which have not been previously reported, that focused in on the Office of the Secretary of States. That is, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself. So there were additional ongoing investigations that this ousted State Department inspector general was looking into that focused on Pompeo.
Now, the other thing that we are learning from this transcript is that Steve Linick was not only a shock that he was ousted, but that he had also told senior State Department officials who are close with Secretary Pompeo, of some of the ongoing investigations into Pompeo's potential misuse of political appointees.
Now, Secretary Pompeo has said he would have no way of knowing about those investigations, he has used that justification to say that he did not suggest that President Trump fire Linick in retaliation. But the fact that his two top aides were told about that investigation and were told that they didn't have to keep that investigation from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, raises new questions about the secretary claiming that he didn't know about them.
SCIUTTO: Just very quickly, Kylie, do those investigations end with his departure? Or no? Just yes or no, do they go on?
ATWOOD: It's a key question. We don't know the answer yet.
SCIUTTO: We know you'll stay on top of it. Kylie Atwood at State, thanks very much.
HARLOW: Thanks, Kylie.
We are of course following very closely the House Judiciary Committee hearing on police reform on Capitol Hill, the brother of George Floyd just gave a powerful opening statement, and he will answer questions from lawmakers as well. You'll see it here, stay with us.