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Protests, Coronavirus, Economy: Voting Issues in Battleground Arizona; Trump: Tulsa Rally Scheduled on Juneteenth Not On Purpose, "Think About It As a Celebration". Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 12, 2020 - 16:30   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our 2020 lead, President Trump has some work to do in the battleground state of Arizona. A recent Fox News poll shows Joe Biden edges him out among registered Arizona voters 46- 42 percent. And in that state some Republicans and independents are saying they are, frankly, turned off by President Trump.

CNN's Kyung Lah found recent events are weighing heavily in those voters' decisions.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Republican stronghold of the North Phoenix suburbs, signs of a party split.

LINDA RAWLES, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: We're not at home in our party. We're not Democrats. We don't have anywhere to go.

LAH: So self-proclaimed independents Linda and Tom Rawles went to a street corner to hold their own small protest. That hasn't exactly been welcomed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every life matters.

L. RAWLES: Yes, have a good night.

LAH: There are frequent obscene gestures.

L. RAWLES: That was a finger there.

LAH: But some supportive ones.

L. RAWLES: Thank you, guys. Have a great night.

TOM RAWLES, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: I think the last three to six weeks have been a turning point.

LAH: The coronavirus pandemic, historic unemployment, and the sustained nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd. L. RAWLES: All of these things together are allowing a few people to

have the moral courage to speak up. We'll support Biden not because we agree with him on issues, most issues I don't agree with him on. I'm not a Democrat philosophically.


But he's a decent, kind, sane man.

LAH: The shift among independents is a warning sign for the president. In 2016, Donald Trump narrowly won independents. A recent series of national polls show him trailing Democrat Joe Biden among that group -- a trend that's mirrored here in Arizona.

These suburbs are the battlefield in the fight for those votes.

Hunter Henderson protesting nightly in Tempe sees an opportunity with independents. He works with Vets Forward, a group that hopes to convince moderates to vote Democratic.

HUNTER HENDERSON, CO-FOUNDER, VETS FORWARD: The problems of our society are right in front of them now. And now is the time to, you know, really capitalize and have those conversations.

CAROL COONS, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: Yes, I voted for Trump in 2016. But many Republicans who did vote for Trump don't feel comfortable even saying that because of this polarization.

LAH: Carol Coons is a self-described moderate and a nurse working the front line of Phoenix's COVID crisis. But it's not her job that's making her think about voting Democratic. It's the protests.

COONS: We have to come together as a people, and we need a leader, a world leader, a national world leader that's going to help us do that, not poke the bear, if you will.

LAH: As far as voting Republican in November?

(on camera): What are you going to do?

COONS: I honestly don't know yet.

LAH: Would you say it's too late for you?

COONS: No, no, I wouldn't.


LAH: So, what can President Trump do in order to win over Cheryl Coons' vote?

Well, she says she wants to see less tweeting. She wants more empathy. She wants more unity in his words. Does he have the time to do that, Jake? There's 144 days until the election.

TAPPER: I think there are some White House staffers who share her prescription as well.

Kyung Lah in Arizona, thank you so much.

A new "New York Times" opinion piece calls it racist trolling, President Trump's decision to restart his rallies in Tulsa where a racist massacre took place 99 years ago. But next, I'm going to talk to the publisher of the oldest black-owned newspaper in the state of Oklahoma who says the president's visit is a good thing.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: President Trump says his first rally since the coronavirus pandemic was not scheduled on Juneteenth on purpose.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a celebration. Don't think about it as an inconvenience. Think about this as a celebration, because this will be --

HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS HOST: No, no, no, it's on the day of African-American emancipation.


TRUMP: That's right. The fact that I'm having a rally on that day, you can really think about that very positively as a celebration.


TAPPER: That rally will be in Tulsa, which is of course the site of the 1921 Tulsa massacre, where scores of black Americans in Tulsa's black Wall Street neighborhoods were slaughtered by whites. When the dust settled two churches and a black-owned newspaper remained that. That newspaper evolved into the "Oklahoma Eagle," which is currently the oldest black-owned newspaper in the state of Oklahoma.

And its publisher joins me today, Jim Goodwin.

Mr. Goodwin, thanks so much for joining us.

You say the president's visit to Tulsa next week is a good thing, it's an opportunity. Tell us what you mean.

JIM GOODWIN, PUBLISHER, THE OKLAHOMA EAGLE: Well, let me say this. The Emancipation Proclamation freed the African-American from bondage. And then evoked a people who embraced American values of faith and hard work, of education, build a community of commerce and succeeded in a thriving community, the likes of which were unheard of, practically, and produced what we now know as black Wall Street.

And so, this is the moment that we'll be celebrating, and our minds will be on that moment, of that freedom, that we are still striving for even today.

TAPPER: And you think there's an opportunity for President Trump to talk about this, to herald this, one that you would welcome. Do you have any concerns about the fact that he's holding this rally on Juneteenth in a city, Tulsa, that has such a tragic history when it comes to racism?

GOODWIN: Well, again, I will say to you that the gravity of the moment we focus on our commemoration of that moment from bondage. I mean, the current events certainly evidenced by the death of George Floyd, look at the outpouring of the world, and there's an outpouring of compassion. And that is what I think is most important. And I think really dominates the moment.

I'm mindful of what Dr. King said that we have before us a glorious opportunity to inject into the veins of our society, into the veins of civilization this law of things that we are experiencing around the world.

So, again, the focus his presence will not detract from the importance of the moment. And we are bound and determined to embrace our moment in history and in the world today with compassion.


And we do not want any kind of negative influences, because the world is now demanding that we, as people, interact as people, not because of color.

I mean, the Black Wall Street came to be not because it was black. It came to be because it embraced the values of the American society. And we benefited from it. And we are bound and determined to continue in that tradition.

TAPPER: You said that the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, the protests, has led to what you call the deconstruction of white privilege.

Tell us what you mean by that.

GOODWIN: Well, here again -- and I have been reflecting on this.

The question that should be asked is, when did white people become white? There was a time in the world that the Irish came to America, the Italians came, the Polacks came, and each of those people, as a group, were depending on the section of the community -- of the country, were not welcomed.

And then, for some reason, over time, all of those (INAUDIBLE) differences disappeared. And whiteness began to be the standard of acceptance.

And along with it, we now have what is called white privilege. Well, it's kind of silly to be judging people by the color of their skin. And, again, the presence of Black Wall Street, the people who built Black Wall Street, proved that color does not -- does not have anything to do with character.

And I think we are -- there has to be a rethinking of the American mind that whiteness is not the criteria for success. I mean, the American values that we embrace are more important.

And the death of Floyd was so impactful. People saw the death of this man, cares nothing about the color of his skin. It was the humanity of it. And that is what we in Greenwood will want to restore. But this is not a black and white thing. We are a people...

TAPPER: Thank you so much.

GOODWIN: ... as quintessential American as anything -- anybody else.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, Jim Goodwin. We really appreciate your time. Best of luck to you.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been investigated five different times for five different issues. Now he claims he knew nothing about the probes that were going on at the State Department.

But coming up next, some proof that that might not be the case after all.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is mired in controversy.

CNN has learned that the State Department watchdog fired by President Trump, at Pompeo's behest, was conducting five investigations into the State Department.

CNN's Kylie Atwood investigates.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER (voice-over): Upheaval inside the State Department raising new questions about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's explanations.

It all stems from the recent firing of inspector general Steve Linick, who was carrying out five investigations into Pompeo, when President Trump let him go at the request of his chief diplomat.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I recommended to the president that Steve Linick be terminated, frankly, should have done it some time ago.

ATWOOD: At the time, Linick was looking into Pompeo's potential misuse of taxpayer funds and the decision to expedite an $8 billion arm sale to Saudi Arabia, both previously known. Now we're learning of three additional ones, an audit of special immigrant visas and review of the International Women of Courage Award, as well as individuals in the Office of Protocol, which handles diplomatic engagements.

They may have failed to report allegations of workplace violence. Pompeo called it crazy to suggest he ousted Linick as retaliation, claiming he's kept in the dark about ongoing I.G. investigations.

POMPEO: I didn't have access to that information, so I couldn't possibly have retaliated. It would have been impossible.

ATWOOD: But Linick's testimony to Congress this month casts doubt on that reasoning. Linick testified, Pompeo's most senior advisers were aware that he was looking into Pompeo and his wife allegedly misusing government resources, including tapping a political appointee to run personal errands, like dog-walking and picking up laundry.

"I wanted to make sure everybody was aware, so that they wouldn't be surprised," Linick testified. "And I didn't tell them not to tell anybody, including Secretary Pompeo, about them."

Pompeo has tried to sow confusion, conflating the different investigations.

POMPEO: I have seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner.

ATWOOD: And his deputy called it entirely false to conclude Pompeo knew about the misuse of government resources probe in a letter to the top Democratic investigator this week.

The secretary did know about the Saudi arms sale probe, because he provided Linick's office with written answers to a series of questions.

Pompeo's decision to fast-track the deal by declaring an emergency to bypass congressional review stunned career diplomats and angered Congress, especially because it came after Saudi Arabia's murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Not only did they do something wrong in declaring an emergency that was a fake emergency, but they undermined the will of Congress.

ATWOOD: Linick's testimony also contradicts Pompeo's claim that he refused to work with the State Department on investigating a potential leak from the I.G. office.


POMPEO: We asked him to investigate it in a certain way. He refused to do that. And that's inappropriate.

ATWOOD: Linick told lawmakers he -- quote -- "followed the procedure in having the Defense Department inspector general conduct a review into his own office."

But Linick admitted he had been wary about sharing that Pentagon I.G. report with the State Department, fearing Pompeo loyalists would use it against his employees, loyalists like Undersecretary Brian Bulatao, who Linick said attempted to bully him on multiple occasions.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Kylie Atwood for that report.

Coming up, CNN will talk to the attorney representing the family of George Floyd.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Tune into CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday.

My guests include Director of the White House Economic Council Larry Kudlow, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Sunday, only on CNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

Thanks for watching. I will see you Sunday morning.