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Interview With Bozoma Saint John; 20 States See Coronavirus Spikes; Interview With Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun; Joint Chiefs Chairman Apologizes For Appearing in Lafayette Park With Trump. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 11, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Today, he is facing sharp criticism for his plans to resume rallies next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of a 1921 massacre, considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history.

When it was over, up to 300 people had been killed and 35 city blocks dubbed Black Wall Street due to the hundreds of thriving black businesses located there were destroyed by an angry white mob.

So, the date of next week's Trump rally in Tulsa, June 19, is also stoking controversy. June 19, known as Juneteenth, it marks the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas found out they were free.

And as statues honoring Confederate leaders who supported slavery are toppled and multiple cities, the debate over whether those monuments and other tributes should be removed is intensifying. For his part, the president has said he is opposed renaming U.S. military bases that bear the names of Confederate generals.

And just one more thing for you as we start the show. The Dow is down, you see there, right around 1,700 points over the cautious words of the Federal Reserve chairman and an uptick in coronavirus cases in the U.S. We will get to that.

But all of that as the nation's top general is now apologizing for taking part in this, a walk with President Trump through Lafayette Park after peaceful protesters were hit with tear gas and rubber bullets, all in an effort to clear the area so that the president could stage a photo-op at a nearby church.

Here now is Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley in his own words:


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: 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 have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.


BALDWIN: It's a lot to sort through.

So with me now, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju.

But, Barbara, I want to begin with you. Why is General Milley speaking out now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he was looking for the right opportunity. And he found it. And this was a graduation address to a military class that he pretaped.

So it was the right venue, because he wanted to make the point to other military personnel, don't accidentally, even inadvertently, get involved in what turns out to be a political event.

Milley, important to say, did not stand in front of the church a few minutes later and have his photo taken. And even Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was pulled into that photo-op, has expressed some regret, if you will, saying he too wants to stay out of politics.

Milley's talking about that image of walking across Lafayette Park in his uniform and the perception that went around the world that this was drawing the U.S. military into acting against peaceful protesters.

And from Milley's point of view, nothing could be further from the truth, because he really led an effort, along with his Esper, to try and convince the president not to activate active-duty military troops, said it could be done by the National Guard and local law enforcement.

But, look, somewhat the damage done, because there is still very a much perception that the entire effort across the country to quell the protests was a militarized effort, if you will. So there's a lot of criticism of all of it.

Milley very much wanting to put the military first. He's the guardian, if you will, of making sure that the military stays out of partisan politics. And that was really the point of what he did today.

BALDWIN: OK, so you have all of this happening on one side.

And, Manu, then you have this move by some Senate Republicans over those Confederate generals that have had put them in direct opposition to the president, who, by the way, just tweeted -- quote -- "Hopefully, our great Republican senators won't fall for this."

What are they doing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans are divided over this issue about whether or not to remove the Confederate names of those Confederate leaders from military installations, from military facilities, military bases, equipment -- bases, equipment and the like.

And this comes in the aftermath of a vote that happened behind closed doors in the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is led by Republicans. An amendment was adopted to a major defense bill that would essentially require within three years' time that those names, those Confederate names, be removed from those different Pentagon facilities.

And this came with the support of some Republicans. One Republican senator who sits on the committee, Mike Rounds, told me he does support this amendment, because he says that this is -- we shouldn't be honoring the names of Confederate generals at these military bases.

But other Republican senators side with the president, including Josh Hawley of Missouri, who sits on that committee, said he had voted against it. He believes that we shouldn't essentially expunge history.


That's the view of a lot of Republicans who do side with the president, including the chairman of that same committee, Jim Inhofe.

Now, the president, as you mentioned, did tweet about that, asked Republicans to side with him. He's been citing American heritage as a reason why he will oppose this and also indicating -- the White House is indicating that the president would veto any piece of legislation that would come across his desk.

So, Brooke, that would raise a major question here, because Republican leaders acknowledge it's going to be difficult to pull this out of the bill now that it's been added to it. This is a major defense bill that's been approved by Congress every single year for the past 59 years.

But with the president veto of the bill setting defense policy over this issue, hot budget button issue, that a lot of people believe their names should -- Confederate generals name should be removed, will they do that in an election year?

A lot of questions about the risks that would have for the president if he were to take that step, but nevertheless Republicans joining Democrats today to take this step just as the president announces his opposition to removing those names, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I want to get some perspective on all of what you just outlined, Manu. Thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss all of the above is Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate and a former U.S. ambassador.

So, Ambassador Moseley Braun, an honor, a privilege. Welcome.

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, it's my privilege to be here. Thank you very much for inviting me.

BALDWIN: Thank you. So let's dive on in.

As the president of the United States is relaunching these in-person rallies of his, he chooses Juneteenth. He chooses June 19 in Tulsa. Your response to this choice?

BRAUN: Well, it's an awful choice, obviously.

But the point is, I think we assume that this president has more -- is more educated than he is, because if you know anything about American history, you would know that Tulsa was the site of a horrific, horrendous riot, in which many black people were killed.

I mean, it was, like, lynchings and whatnot. And a friend of mine, in fact, to tell him a little story, I have a friend whose grandfather owned a bank in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was called the Black Wall Street. And his grandfather, because he dared to fight back, he was run out of town with a threat of his death.

And he came here to Chicago. His daughter, who became an ambassador, by the way, his daughter spent her life getting a pardon for her father. And so that family has worked ever since trying to reclaim some of what was lost in the Tulsa riot?

So, 19 -- that was 1919. So, the fact is, if you know anything about American history, you would know how that resonates with black people, and not just black people, but anybody that knows our history.

BALDWIN: But, Ms. Ambassador, are you saying then that no one in the White House knows their history.

BRAUN: Hello? You think?

I mean, seriously, if they know it, then they're ignoring it. And if they're ignoring it, they're doing that deliberately to be provocative. And I think that may be what is going on here. This is a president who has shown no compunctions about pushing every hot button he can about race to offend black people on the issues of race, having to do with race.

And so, I mean, everything -- not to enlarge the conversation, but he's done everything from calling Africa shithole countries -- excuse my language -- that was his language -- to even using -- invoking George Floyd's name last week, which is just hideous.

And so to go to Tulsa on Juneteenth, of all days, to have a political rally, for a president who's been so backwards on the issues of race, who deliberately goes out of his way to say, I'm a racist, and everybody who's racist can sign on with me, it's just shocking.

So, no, do I think the White House knows about it? I suspect that somebody there does it. If he does, I (AUDIO GAP). But--

BALDWIN: OK, let me move on.

So, despite opposition from this president, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted this morning to remove the names of Confederate officers from U.S. military bases within the course of three years. And then you have Speaker Pelosi. She's calling for the removal of 11 statues of Confederate soldiers and officials from Capitol -- from the U.S. Capitol.

So this is what Speaker Pelosi said just this morning.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They committed treason against the United States of America, and their statues are still here because their states put them here.

You listen to who they are and what they said. And then you had the president make a case as to why a base should be named for them. He seems to be the only person left who doesn't get it.

But, then again--


BALDWIN: Now, Ambassador Moseley Braun, this has been debated for years. Do you think it'll actually happen now?

BRAUN: Oh, I certainly hope so.


By the way, Speaker Pelosi is my hero. I mean, that's who I want to be when I grow up.


BRAUN: So, she's (AUDIO GAP)

But, having said that, 25 -- almost 25 years ago, when I was in the United States Senate, we took on the issue of the Confederate Flag. That was a fight with Jesse Helms.

Not to speak ill of the dead, but the fact is, he was the one who's pushing having a patent for the Confederate Flag. I took him on. We -- I won the battle in committee, and with Joe Biden's help, parenthetically.

And then, when I got to the floor -- then he revived it again on the Senate floor, and, happily, I won it there as well.

And I will make another point about that. I won it with the support and help not just of Joe Biden and the usual suspects, if you will, but the senator from Alabama at the time was Howell Heflin, who stood up and said, my grandfather was a general in the Confederate Army. It's time for us to move on and get -- and put this behind us and rally behind the American flag. This is not -- this is not a debate for this time.

That was 20 years ago. So--

BALDWIN: No. And I hear you.

And despite -- despite opposition you faced 20 years ago, you got it done, and so to that point today in 2020, with regard to all these Confederate statues.

How about just in the wake of that scene outside the White House last week, rubber bullets, tear gas, the whole nine on those peaceful protesters? You were one of nearly 600 former members of the U.S. Diplomatic corps who signed that letter expressing concern about the use of military to suppress peaceful protests.

And so now we were just talking to Barbara Starr about how the nation's top military general, General Milley, has apologized for being part of the photo-op, saying that he shouldn't have been there.

My question to you is, did that apology go far enough?

BRAUN: Well, I thought it did.

I mean, the fact is, we have a great tradition in this country of separating the military from civilian operations. We have got civilian control of military precisely for that reason.

And, again, the fact that our president doesn't get it says to me, among other things, that he just doesn't get what a democracy is supposed to be about. He doesn't understand how this democracy is supposed to work, and, therefore, he's not committed to making it work.

And the result is all the things that we see that this -- can be shocking, if you let it.



BALDWIN: I hear you, I hear you on that. I think a lot of people still, though, all these years in are shocked.

You mentioned Joe Biden a second ago. So, I know you have been on the campaign trail stumping for the former vice president. You told Politico -- quote -- "The only way Joe Biden is going to get the voters energized is to have a black woman candidate, a black woman for vice president."

So, final question. I'm going to put you in the hot seat. I'd love a specific answer. Do you have someone specific in mind?



BRAUN: That was an easy one. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Oh, come on, Ms. Ambassador. You got to have someone.

BRAUN: And I don't. No, I don't. I don't have a favorite among the many names that have been floated out there.

Joe Biden will pick who Joe Biden wants to have as his running mate. And that's the bottom line. We have to support that instinct, because he's a good man, and he will do the best he can buy his own ticket, because he wants to win. He's got to win this election, I think. That's my bias on all of this.

But -- and so he's going to make the strongest ticket that he can make. And I think, of all the people, there are many fine people who are in the running, in contention. But I do think it should be a black woman, given how the fact -- given that black women have been the most loyal Democratic constituency, saved his campaign in South Carolina, have the worst demographics.

If you look at everything from infant mortality, to even the latest unemployment numbers coming out of the Fed about the -- where we are right now in the country, black women are -- lag behind everybody.

And so I think it'll be a really good thing if Joe Biden were to pick a black female as his running mate, not to mention putting a black woman on the Supreme Court.

BALDWIN: We shall wait and see.

Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, thank you.

BRAUN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you.

While the White House denies the existence of systemic racism, some voices in corporate America are filling the leadership void, including one woman inspiring white celebrities to share the mic, let black voices take over their social media accounts. So she will join me live.

And disturbing new trends emerging when it comes to the coronavirus. More states are reporting spikes in cases and hospitalizations, including Texas, by the way, where the president is today.

And the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force deletes a tweet showing his team ignoring his own social distancing guidelines.

Stick around. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Two million cases and counting. As the U.S. faces grim new numbers in the coronavirus pandemic, multiple states are reporting an increase in infections and hospitalizations.

And one of those states there, you see, is Texas, where the president is said to arrive this hour.

So, let's check in with our CNN correspondents, starting with Ed Lavandera in Dallas.

Hey, Ed.



There is a growing concern here in Texas over the spread of coronavirus in this state. If you look at medical data over the course of the last week, even though the number of tests being done daily is going up, the number of new coronavirus cases being reported is going up at a higher rate.

And there is also the highest number of hospitalizations we have seen in this state since this pandemic started. Despite all of those numbers, the governor here in Texas says he hopes to fully reopen the economy by July 4.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kyung Lah near Phoenix, Arizona, where the mayor of Phoenix said her city and her state is not recovering from COVID.

She said -- quote -- "We reopened too much too early."

Now, Arizona did reopen on May 15. And if you look at this graph, it shows, in the weeks since, the numbers have jumped dramatically, the state today announcing more than 1,400 new cases. With restaurants, bars and businesses now open, the state health department is asking hospitals to activate their emergency plans, with about 80 percent of hospital beds, ICU beds being used.


BALDWIN: All right, Kyung and Ed, thank you very much.

Some of the biggest celebrities on the planet are now handing over their social media accounts to black voices. It's largely thanks to one corporate leader who inspired this movement called Share the Mic, and so Bozoma Saint John will join me next.

Plus, the Treasury secretary says, no, the U.S. cannot shut down the economy again, even as concerns over spikes in coronavirus cases worry Wall Street.



BALDWIN: In the wake of George Floyd's death, thousands of Americans have used their voices to call for an overhaul in law enforcement and an end to racism. And for one group of white celebrities and authors and lawmakers, that

meant turning over their entire social media accounts to their black counterparts.

It's all part of a campaign now called Share the Mic Now, their mission, to amplify the voices of black women in an effort to effect change.

And with me now, Bozoma Saint John, the chief marketing officer for Endeavor.

And Bozoma, it is so nice to see you again. You know I chased you off that plane two years ago, and I'm so glad I did, just to say hello and thank you. I'm not shy about that.


BALDWIN: Talk to me about Share the Mic Now, which, in doing my reading, so you helped spearhead this, with Luvvie Jones, on Blackout Tuesday.

And then Glennon Doyle D.M.ed you on Instagram, offering up her platform.

Talk to me just more about what this is about. What do you want to achieve?


So, Stacey Bendet Eisner from Alice + Olivia, she's the CEO there, also was part of our founding group, so two black women, two white women. And we came together really based on our relationships, to find a way to utilize the platforms that black women are not on to diversify feeds of white people.

And that is really the mission. It's about magnifying black voices, of course. But I find that most of us have curated our social media feeds, the content that we get, far more often than any other piece of content. That looks very stark. It doesn't look diverse. It is very much about who looks like us, who talks like us, who thinks like us.

And so we thought, well, let's go ahead and diversify those feeds. And so, yes, white women gave up their platforms. Black women went on there and talked about the things that matter to them.

BALDWIN: And just to pivot to you, you are this powerhouse in the business world. Before becoming the CMO of Endeavor, you held big positions at Apple and at Beats and Uber and Pepsico.

And just, as a black woman, I know you talk a lot about how you have just struggled and how you show up in corporate spaces. I remember being on a panel with you, and you were talking about like you're flying first class a lot, as a woman, as a black woman, and people stare at you.

Just tell me a story of how you mean and how you have overcome that, if you have overcome that.


Well, I don't think an overcoming is actually real. I haven't overcome it. I mean, this is the problem that we have with systemic racism and bias. A lot of times, the kind of videos that we see, like George Floyd's murder, are in stark contrast to videos like the Amy Coopers, who are Central Park, reporting on a black man who is bird-watching.

It's far more often the second-degree example that happens, bias that goes unchecked, that then results in the kind of racist acts that we see, that we all then feel disgusted by.

But those small things, those microaggressions, are what often make us immune to seeing that our own friends, our own family, our own communities actually have issues that we need to address. And that's what I'm trying to do.

So, yes, for sure, I have faced many -- we don't have the time to even go -- in this interview to go over the examples that I have of things that have happened to me. Being asked for my ticket after sitting in my-first class seat is just one of the small ones. There are some more aggressive ones that I could tell you about. But, like I said, we don't even have the time to get into it.

Just knowing that this is not about class, this is not about socioeconomics. This is about the skin color that is being attacked constantly, and that it -- none of us (AUDIO GAP) immune from it, not even me.

BALDWIN: You know, I was -- I was listening to your I.G. Live last night.