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U.S. Reckoning, How Society Has Changed Over Past Two Weeks; Live P.D. Canceled Amid Police Brutality Protests, Unrest. Aired 1- 1:30p ET
Aired June 11, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we do not know is whether or not these flights actually stole data from those on the ground, and government watch dogs are calling this a major overstep, Congress asking for more answers.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Yes, for sure. Thanks, Pete, good reporting.
Thank you all so much for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduan. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage from here.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar. And I want to welcome viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. You are watching America's reckoning.
The nation is experiencing profound change since the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day. You can look at the transformation underway in policing. At least a dozen cities or states have banned police use of chokeholds or strangleholds. In fact, the Republican leader of the House just announced he supports the ban that is a key Democratic priority.
Some cities have cut police budgets. Polls show more people than ever support Black Lives Matter, both parties in Congress are crafting reform legislation, more cities and states calling for opening of records on officers' past conduct and making them public.
We saw more departments quickly fire officers seen using excessive force and demonstrators say for the first time they've had officers kneel and walked with them in solidarity.
Americans are also experiencing a cultural shift. More companies and brands acknowledging the problem of racial inequality and promising they'll work to end it. NASCAR just banned all confederate symbols. The NFL commissioner apologized, saying the league was wrong not to listen to its players' protests during the national anthem. The CEO of CrossFit resigned after saying he was not mourning for George Floyd.
Social justice groups have received major donations, including a $100 million pledge by Michael Jordan and Nike. And LeBron James has helped form a group focused on protecting voting rights.
Networks are pulling programming, like Gone with the Wind and COPS, that are out of sync with this push for racial justice. Statues of historical figures, including Jefferson Davis and Christopher Columbus, are being toppled.
Sephora promised to dedicate 15 percent of its shelf space to black- owned brands and Americans are showing that they want to know more. 15 of the 20 top selling books in the U.S. right now, they're about race, racism and white supremacy.
And the despite the sea change we are seeing across the nation, the president appears to be digging in on racial, cultural wars, including the refusal to even consider renaming the bases honoring confederate leaders.
And as for the military, it's the second time in a week that he's been rebuked by a Pentagon leader. This morning, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley expressing regret for taking part in President Trump's photo op in front of St. John's Church.
General Milley saying this to the graduating class of the National Defense University.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched, and I am not immune. As many of you saw the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there.
My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.
We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation and we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: No remorse, however, from the president. He took to Twitter to applaud how, quote, easily protesters were handled by the National Guard near the White House.
Milley's comments come just days after Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly broke with the president, saying he does not support using active duty troops to quell protests.
And for more now on this, I'm joined by CNN Political Analyst April Ryan and retired Navy Captain Gail Harris. She is the author of the book, A Woman's War. Captain Harris was also the highest ranking African-American woman in the Navy when she retired in 2001. I'm so grateful to have both of you on here for this discussion.
April, to you first. You have Milley and Esper having gone against President Trump on this, right? What do you think this means for their futures?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that's a good question because any time someone goes against this president, there's an ultimate firing or a separation and just bad words and bad vibes for a while. But at the end of day, we are in a political season and if this president does decide to do anything right now, he's going to distance himself from those two.
He cannot afford to cut off himself off from the chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as well as the head of DOD. He just cannot do that.
KEILAR: Captain, I wonder for you as you watched the chairman of the Joint Chiefs really trying to make amends for the fact that he was in that photo opportunity with the president, what your reaction was?
CAPT. GAIL HARRIS (RET.), NAVAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, I was happy to see it because it's against the military regulations to be at an event perceived as partisan or political in your uniform. So he was supporting it. By apologizing he, is reaffirming the Department of Defense policy.
KEILAR: And so, what does that mean when you have someone like Milley and, look, he's had a little time, right, to think about what that meant for him to be there as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs wearing his uniform at a political event? What does that mean for soldiers, airmen, watching him?
HARRIS: Well, I think the fact that he apologized, and he mentioned he made a mistake reaffirms his capability as a good leader. He did come out and apologize. And the standards are the same for all of us, flag officers to E1, as we call it in the military, the enlisted man. The policy is the same for everyone.
KEILAR: And, Captain, I want to ask you first and then, April, your reaction to this, the president saying that he's not even going to -- his administration is not even going to consider renaming military bases named for confederate military leaders.
We had seen, Captain, that there was a -- the defense secretary and other leaders were open, right? They were open to the bipartisan discussion on potentially closing the bases and then the president really shut that down. What did you think of that?
HARRIS: Well, I was disappointed. And I hope that he changes his mind. If you go back and look at history, General Robert E. Lee himself was against monuments and things about the civil war, saying that by keeping symbols alive, it would keep the division alive. And he was more on healing the nation so that we can move forward.
So my hope is that if President Trump looks into that or listens to people and the reasons for wanting to do that, that he will change his mind. KEILAR: April, what do you think? I think I might know the answer to whether you think he'll change his mind but I wonder what do you think he's trying to do by shutting down even consideration of changing the names of these bases.
RYAN: Well, Brianna, first of all, he is going trying to galvanize his base in the midst of this moment where he does not seem to have strength, showing strength or showing a winning picture. You have to remember, number one, the U.S. Military is one of the first agencies that was integrated in this nation in 1948. President Truman officially integrated the military. That's one.
Two, when you talk about the confederacy, plain and simple, it is about slavery. The civil war was fought on the issue of slavery. And the confederacy wanted to keep slaves. That's end of story.
So in the midst of the racial moments, these racial upsets, unrest, outbreaks, this president is showing that he is defiant about trying to heal this nation. This is a time when people are even talking about reparations for slavery and he is refusing to take down anything that deals with the confederacy.
And we even have NASCAR talking about taking away the confederate flag, and this president is saying he does not want to deal with that moment of taking away the names from Ft. Bragg and other -- about ten other military bases that deal with confederacy at the time when you have black and brown soldiers on those bases.
KEILAR: Many of them and they've been there for decades.
HARRIS: Can I add something to what April said?
KEILAR: Yes, please.
HARRIS: I think people tend to forget that the civil war was over slavery. I got a quote from General Grant, who said, I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who have fought so long and valiantly, for I believe one of the worst for which of people ever fought and one for which there was at the least excuse.
And my personal belief over the years was that I would know that the civil war of modern times, it began with Rosa Parks in 1955, was coming to a successful conclusion when General Robert E. Lee was not seen as an honorable man but as a traitor fighting against his nation.
KEILAR: Captain, thank you so much for those closing thoughts. It's so important. Captain, April, thanks to both of you for the conversation.
So as we're talking about the military, I should also note that the president tweeted this morning that National Guard troops who took care of the area around the White House who joined -- right, they joined Secret Service, they joined police as they were pushing back protesters peacefully there, he called it taking care of area around the White House, could hardly believe how easy it was, a walk in the park, one said. That's in the president's tweet. They handled, quote, protesters, agitators, anarchists very well.
Okay. Well, here's the thing, right? Politico spoke to ten National Guardsmen around the country who have been deployed, employed in -- when it comes to crowds in these protests. And this also includes those who were involved in the president's photo-op. And they said, quote, what I saw was just absolutely wrong. These are the quotes. What I saw goes against my oath. Civil rights were being violated for a photo-op. And this one, what I saw was more or less really effed up.
For the column I write on cnn.com called, Home Front, we also spoke with 11 military spouses, they're married to service members in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines and the Coast Guard, all five of the branches, they are black, white, Hispanic, they are men and women. Some of them are veterans themselves. Many of them have biracial children. And they have organized and marched in support of Black Lives Matter.
One African American Navy spouse told us that she was screaming at the television while watching protesters, peaceful protesters, being forcibly removed from the street a block from the White House. Another said, quote, we don't serve this country to fight our own. A spouse of a chopper pilot thought what would happen if he, her husband, was asked to go patrol against our fellow citizens? An Air Force spouse told me, not everyone in the military thinks the same way and it's important to highlight that so the next generation doesn't believe they have to think one way.
Now, ahead, the president holding his first rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, the site of the 1920s massacre of black Americans. The local NAACP will join me live to respond.
Plus, the reality police show, Live P.D., abruptly canceled. Now, Dan Abrams, the show's host, is frustrated by it. I'll be speaking with him.
And an alarming rise in the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in at least a dozen states. Sean Penn will join me live on what he is seeing on the ground.
This is CNN special live coverage.
KEILAR: The spotlight on police brutality after the killing of George Floyd is creating ripples of change in American culture, including television entertainment. First, COPS was canceled and now A&E is cancelling the reality T.V. show, Live P.D.
Just one month ago, the series was renewed for an additional 160 episodes. The show has been in the news for its involvement in the Texas case of Javier Ambler, who was killed in police custody after saying, save me, and I can't breathe. Live P.D. crews were riding along with sheriff's deputies at the time. And in a statement to CNN, A&E said, in part, going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them.
And now, former host of Live P.D., Dan Abrams, is joining me to discuss this. Dan, I want to talk about this case and Live P.D. being there with the police. But, first, the show has been canceled. What's your reaction?
DAN ABRAMS, FORMER HOST, LIVE P.D.: I'm disappointed, frustrated. I fought very hard to try to keep the show on the air. I thought there was a way to have a national discussion on this show about policing.
You mentioned a moment ago that COPS and Live P.D. were both canceled and yet there's a huge difference between those shows. COPS was like a highlight reel of crazy moments that happened with police officers. Live P.D. actually followed officers real-time as it was happening.
So you get to see the beginning, the middle and the end of the story. And I think it provided important context as there's a call nationally for more police officers to wear body cams. I would think we'd want more Live P.D., not less.
KEILAR: I know what you're saying about sort of the tone of Live P.D. because there are moments that kind of show you just normal traffic stops that are not particularly eventful. Police come off looking good in a lot of these videos. Why was the video in the Javier Ambler case destroyed?
ABRAMS: So police come off looking good in some and come off looking bad in others. The policy at Live P.D. had long been, we keep tapes, we keep video for a few weeks and then we don't retain it any longer.
Why? Because we feared that we were going to be used by law enforcement as a video repository, as a place to just go and grab videos to prosecute citizens with. We didn't want to be that.
So there was a policy in place as to when and how to get rid of videos so that we wouldn't serve in that role.
KEILAR: But, Dan, the reverse is true here, destroying the video actually protected the police.
ABRAMS: No. Exactly, but that's my point. Is that in this particular case it was the reverse, right, which is, it would have been better to be able to still have it.
Let's be clear about something. The tape, the video was retained for three months per the request of Williamson County. They said they were investigating it. They asked Live P.D. to hold on to it while that happened. They did that. They didn't inform Live P.D. the investigation was over. That was a year ago. That was the last anyone from Live P.D. had heard about the video. Now, looking back on it, do I wish that Live P.D. retained it? Yes. Do I wish there's more exceptions to the rule if place? Yes. But the policy was in place for exactly the opposite reason that many people are suggesting now.
KEILAR: So, is all video destroyed? all raw footage is destroyed after 30 days or for -- per the length of the request.
KEILAR: Is that what you're saying?
ABRAMS: Yes. Unless there's a legal request made in that period, which the case here, right? Williamson County did specifically ask, we want you to hold this pending our investigation.
KEILAR: Did Live P.D. consider an exception when people die?
ABRAMS: Yes. Look, there should have been, right? Unfortunately, there had been a number of videos that Live P.D. has had where people have died. We typically don't show -- we don't show people dying on the air. That's another question that we could have re-evaluated.
But the point is that the motivation here wasn't, you know, wasn't a negative one. It wasn't to try to hide things. It was to try to avoid becoming an arm of law enforcement as we were there following them. Again, I think if the show stayed on the air, we were talking about changing the policies so many of us advocating. Saying, look, we have now learned that this policy, while may be motivated for the right reasons, has to have some exceptions.
KEILAR: You think now that the show should have aired this incident. Tell me about that.
ABRAMS: Well so, the show did not air it because per A&E policy, we don't show fatalities. I think one of the great things about Live P.D. was the transparency aspect, showing the good and the bad of policing. And with that in mind, I think, in retrospect we probably should have shown this incident leading up to the fatality. It shows all sides of policing. There was a decision that was made simply based on A&E policy of not showing a fatality.
Again, these are the sorts of things that we were in the process of discussing. How do we move forward? How do we have discussions with people in various communities who aren't happy with certain elements? Let's talk about how we can make changes, how we can make this a better show.
KEILAR: I guess I don't understand how you're -- you say it was transparent. Oh, darn it. We lost Dan Abrams there. We lost his signal. I really wanted to continue that conversation. But these are the days of technical difficulties sometimes, right?
All right. Dan Abrams, thank you so much for joining us from Live P.D.
Coronavirus hospitalizations rising in at least a dozen states across America. Hear where doctors are most concerned about hospitals.
Plus, Sean Penn will join me next on what he is seeing at his testing sites for minority communities.
This is CNN's special live coverage.
KEILAR: And we are back now with Dan Abrams, who is the former Host now of Live P.D., an A&E show that has just canceled.
And, Dan, just to reset for our viewers who didn't see part of our previous conversation you're on, because Live P.D. was really along -- on a ride-along with sheriff's deputies in Williamson County, Texas when the death of Javier Ambler happened last year after police tased him four times. They pursued him 20-some odd minutes after they tried to pull him over because he did not dim his lights as he passed other cars.
Okay. So, to re-continue our conversation, Dan, last night, you tweeted about the cancelation of the show. And you said, please know I, we did everything we could to fight for you and for our continuing effort at transparency in policing. I was convinced the show would go on.