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14 Minneapolis Officers Condemn Chauvin, This Is Not Who We Are; Trump Calls Protesters Domestic Terrorists In No-Cop Zone; CDC Warns Of Increase In Cases In Coming Weeks Amid Reopening. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired June 12, 2020 - 13:00   ET

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


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Still well below average when compared to the 2.7 million that were screened on the same day last year.

[13:00:05]

The uptick comes as airlines begin to operate more flights and, of course, states across the country continue to reopen.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduan. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: I'm Brianna Keilar and I want to welcome viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

After another week of heartbreak and uncertainty in America, we have some breaking news in George Floyd's death directly from the colleagues of the fired officers at the center of it all. 14 Minneapolis officers openly condemning Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd's neck and extending an olive branch to the community. The officers most of whom are in leadership positions, such as lieutenants, sergeant or commander penned an open letter to express what they say the vast majority of police officers feel.

I want to read this to you in full. It says, dear, everyone, but especially Minneapolis citizens. We wholeheartedly condemn Derek Chauvin. We are with you in the denouncement of Derek Chauvin's actions on Memorial Day 2020.

Like us, Derek Chauvin took an oath to hold the sanctity of life most precious. Derek Chauvin failed as a human and stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life. This is not who we are.

We are with you and want to communicate a sentiment that is broad within our ranks, we ask that our voices be heard.

We are leaders, formal and informal and from all ranks within the Minneapolis Police Department. We are not union. We are not the union or the administration. We are officers who represent the voices of hundreds of other Minneapolis police officers, hundreds.

We acknowledge that Chief Arradondo needs each of us to dutifully follow him while he shows us the way. We stand ready to listen and embrace the calls for change, reform and rebuilding. We are with you moving forward. We want to work with you and for you to regain your trust.

And this was a letter obtained by CNN's Josh Campbell. He is joining me now to talk about this. I wonder, Josh, how significant this is and how far does this go. Is it far enough?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, Brianna, this is obviously newsworthy. We have heard so many different voices since that incident where George Floyd was killed at the hands of the police officers, voices from members of the community, voices from the family, voices from the police union and city officials. But the voices that we haven't heard yet at least on the record in such a public way are the rank and file police officers and what they think.

And what's so interesting in looking at this letter is that that seems to mirror much of what I heard on the ground there in Minneapolis in covering this and talking to police officers. And, obviously, this is anecdotal but so many were telling us that the actions of Derek Chauvin and those other three officers don't represent the entire department.

So, here, you have officers coming out and actually saying that they don't agree with what he did. I can also tell you that I spoke with a representative, a spokesperson for this group who told me that were many more officers that wanted to sign this letter but they chose to choose a number of officers that were representative across different races, different sexual orientations, different ranks across the department. But, again, we are seeing not from the brass, the chief but from the rank and file, the sergeants and lieutenants and some of the line officers.

What they believe and the last thing I'll say is that these are words, obviously. And I can tell you that those of us who watched this incident, we know that the incident involving George Floyd started with an action. It was the action of a police officer, compounded by the action of other police officers.

And if there's anything that that community there, especially people of color in Minneapolis, the last thing they want to hear right now are words. They want to see actions. So it's yet to be seen whether this will actually move into a greater movement for reform, not just the beliefs of the police officers but what they're going to do going forward, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. Josh, thank you so much and for obtaining that letter. It was so important to read.

And in the meantime, confederate statues are going down, Black Lives Matter banners going up and policing in the U.S. appears to be on the verge of major reform.

As the nation moves forward in reckoning with the racism that many Americans face every day, one person digging in and resisting change is President Trump. He just defended his tweet, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. He said it's not a threat but, quote, really just a fact because that's what happens. Even though, of course, that phrase traces its origins to a threat of violence from a Miami police chief in the 1960s.

And while Trump is promising executive action on law enforcement, he continues to make threats to use the military against protesters. He also quashed moves by top Defense Department officials to consider renaming U.S. Army bases named after confederate generals.

And now, we're learning what many have suspected, it's all a concerted strategy. Sources say President Trump is convinced the racially-tinged cultural wars stoked in 2016 are still a winner for him in 2020.

[13:05:06]

Citing one outside adviser, quote, Trump's instincts as a culture warrior have been proven correct politically. Combine that with his unwillingness to apologize or back down and it should come as no surprise that he is sticking to his guns on the monuments, base names and kneeling during the national anthem. So even though this feels like a national moment, unlike anything we've experienced before, I still wouldn't bet against his political instincts.

Multiple other advisers have urged the president to unify the nation with warnings that he risks erasing support that he has gained from a small fraction of black voters. But sources say the president does not want to appear conciliatory or weak.

David Chalian is our CNN Political Director here with us now, Francesca Chambers is a White House Correspondent for McClatchy News outlets.

And, Francesca, he's okay if he appears racist if it's in the name of winning. It's pretty outrageous.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: So, people who support the president have told me that they do think that his law and order message is something to help lead him to success in November and that painting Joe Biden as someone who is against police, who is against law and order for rioters and looters and the others things that the Trump campaign has claimed is something that they believe will help propel Donald Trump back in the office. And that's why you are seeing him push that message so hard.

Yesterday, we heard the president offer some things that he would be willing to do. He says that he would be willing to give police better training, better equipment. But Democrats want to go significantly further than that on Capitol Hill with legislation that they have. And I have an article, Brianna, that's just out saying that the White House is open to talking about the things that are in Democrats' bill.

However, they will not, will not talk about qualified immunity, which is a provision in the law but -- not law but it's a provision that's made through the courts that has essentially become what the standard is that allows police officers to not be held liable for actions they take in the line of duty. KEILAR: And, you know, obviously, he thinks this works for him, David. The question is does it work well enough? Does it work broadly enough? Is this strategy a winner for the president?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we won't know the real answer to that, right, until November, Brianna. But it's clearly -- it's not working for him right now. And you don't have to just look at the polls for that. It's not the usual sort of script that gets followed in these culture wars that he's had success with before.

Just take a look at some of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill. They're not with him on this notion of being opposed to changing military base names from names from the confederacy. That's something that several Republicans on Capitol Hill just took a completely different point of view from with the president.

The way in which Donald Trump sort of finds what the adviser that you quoted is talking about, that gut of his that has served him well, it seems right now that he is missing a bit on that, that he is not quite where the country is.

And not just making a base play that we talk about all the time, Brianna, but I think what you see that is happening here is twofold. One, we're in a zone of issues dominating our screen that Donald Trump is clearly, clearly not comfortable with, just not a comfort zone for him. It's not about the pure battle back and forth and taking down an enemy or aggrandizing himself. There's something else going on, and he doesn't know where to quite fit himself in.

But there's also -- members of his team, Brianna, believe this may not be as swift change as being suggested, that perhaps companies or Hollywood and the media are talking about a lot of the data points that is exist out there about change we are seeing but that it is not happening as robustly, as swiftly as perhaps being projected, and that is Donald Trump's political sensibility, as well.

That is what making America great again was all about, right, returning to a time where he thinks his supporters would enter into these social, economic cultural wars all knowing the foregone conclusion that it would benefit them in some way through history. That may not be the case right now. We're not sure about that.

KEILAR: Francesca, does the president have any plan to try to attract minority voters or does he think he doesn't need them?

CHAMBERS: So the president laid out a four-pronged strategy for minorities yesterday. And by laid out, I mean, he listed four things that he plans to do. This is something though that the White House has been working on over the past few months directly in response to COVID-19, and they put Ben Carson, the housing and urban -- the HUD secretary in charge of this plan.

[13:10:08]

Now, Ben Carson, notably, has said that there are underlying conditions and racial disparities here that are taking place here that are absolutely part of why these things are happening, but there is a division within this administration on that.

And you've seen White House advisers say that they do not believe that there is systemic racism. And everything that the president has done to this point would underline that fact that that is not something he sees as a problem here.

What he has responded to with that is providing economic opportunity, those opportunity zones, by giving money to historically black colleges and universities, those are the things that President Trump thinks will help propel people in the black community into having better options so that they can succeed versus this idea that systemic racism is the problem and a barrier to success.

KEILAR: Francesca and David, always great to see you guys. I do miss seeing you in person though. Thanks for being with us.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Protesters in Jacksonville attacking the mayor's decision to host the Republican convention despite the safety risks.

Plus, what's going on in Seattle? Protesters blocking off their own part of the city without any police presence there. I'll be speaking with the councilwoman leading the charge.

The search is underway for a white woman caught on video harassing a Filipino woman and it's apparently not the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the (BLEEP) out of this world. Get the (BLEEP) out of this state. Go back to whatever (BLEEP) Asian country you belong in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay, racist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not your place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:15:00]

KEILAR: Seattle's mayor is defending her city and her police after President Trump doubled down on his threats to intervene there, saying that he's not going to let, quote, anarchists and domestic terrorists take over Seattle streets.

Mayor Jenny Durkan says the atmosphere in the four blocks known as the Capitol Hill autonomous zone is more like a block party. She says there is no threat to public safety despite the fact that the police precinct in the area has been evacuated. And she says the decision to pull police from demonstrations there de-escalated what had been days of tension.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JENNY DURKAN (D-SEATTLE, WA): I think the president, number one, there is no threat right now to the public. And we're looking -- we're taking that very seriously, we're meeting with businesses and residents. But what the president threatened is illegal and unconstitutional. And the fact that he can think he can just tweet that and not have ramifications is just wrong.

We take public safety very seriously. We met with businesses and residents today. We don't have to sacrifice public safety for First Amendment rights. Both can exist and we'll make sure that both exist in Seattle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And with us now is Kshama Sawant, a Seattle council member whose district includes that autonomous zone we were just talking about. Thank you so much for being with us.

KSHAMA SAWANT, SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: So there are local reports about earlier this week how you opened the doors of city hall to protesters. We have some video showing. I think it was almost 1,000 people or so who were inside of city hall. The president, as I know you're aware, has threatened to intervene in your city and he's called actually protesters domestic terrorists, anarchists, as well. Can you give me your reaction to that?

SAWANT: I think what's happening is this incredible movement, this uprising, this rebellion, that's not just in Seattle but nationwide, including cities like Boise, Idaho, is incredibly inspiring to the vast majority of American people. But it is also threatening to the right wing and the reactionary agenda of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a coward and it is absolutely -- it's not surprising but it is horrific for him to threaten entire cities like Seattle and working people and ordinary people and our black and brown community members who are courageously protesting against police violence, threatening them with further escalation and military targets. I think it is a -- we have to absolutely reject this idea.

And, in fact, in that spirit on Monday, I will be bringing in legislation to vote to ban the use of all chemical weapons and crowd- control, so-called crowd-control weapons against protest movements and to ban chokeholds. It's extremely important that we take this historic moment to win a real victory against police violence, defund by at least 50 percent and fight for an independently elected oversight board over the police.

KEILAR: And this autonomous zone, Council Member, is -- I mean, that's in your area. So just tell us for, I think, curious people outside certainly of the city, they want to know what it is. How do you define it?

SAWANT: The autonomous zone, as it's been called by the protest movement, is an incredible area of peace and friendship and dignity and to take the movement forward. So it is full of hundreds of ordinary people, young people, children, families, and this is a movement obviously led by black and brown community members but it is welcoming to people from all over the city and the region who want to join in the struggle against police violence.

We have to move forward building our movement further. But the autonomous zone provides an inspiring and just a positive example of how we can have a vision for a society that is, you know, equal and that provides a peaceful avenue for everybody to have a political and frank discussion without the presence of the police.

[13:20:07]

And I have to say what we have now in the autonomous zone, which is a completely peaceful and friendly environment is a stark contrast for what it was for eight days. Just very recently with every night, Seattle police inflicting incredible brutality and violence, horrific against the peaceful protest movement led by black and brown people.

I was myself there on Sunday night alongside hundreds of others. I was tear gassed and maced. And you can see this incredible violence and the whole community of Seattle and the region and the country actually coming together and rejecting this violence, rejecting a status quo of murders by the police of black and brown people and demanding a change.

And I have to say Donald Trump is a coward. We have to fight against the reactionary agenda. At the same time we have to hold the establishments in various cities accountable. This violence against the peaceful protest movement on Capitol Hill was carried out by Mayor Jenny Durkan. And that's why it's no surprise that tens of thousands of people in Seattle are calling for her resignation because they reject police violence, they reject police brutality and we want a society that is based on equality and cooperation.

KEILAR: I do want to ask you -- I mean, you said, look, we were looking at even so many people going into city hall. It was peaceful. What if something happens where things go awry, if there is violence? Then who steps in then?

SAWANT: Well, absolutely, we are all united in wanting a society based on public safety but the statistics, you know -- if I might speak as an economist for a moment, the statistics show unfortunately that it is not by continuing to have a bloated police budget and by having police armed to the teeth that you can have peace. It's actually the exact opposite. It's when you have a society that is free of that kind of oppressive and repressive policing that it's possible.

I mean, as far as things going awry, I can tell you the only thing that went awry day after day after day since the first protest on May 30th was the police under orders by the Democratic Party establishment and the Mayor Durkan, it was the police making things going awry.

They were the ones who were armed to the teeth with a riot gear and came there with their rubber bullets, with their chemical weapons, with their tear gas, with their mace canisters and their rifles. And they were the ones who were, you know, shooting flash bang grenades at ordinary people.

A 7-year-old girl, a child, got maced by the police. So you can imagine the kind of clarity that is developing among people that we don't want this kind of policing actually. They are the ones who are responsible, not only for this violence against protest movement but let's keep in perspective this movement, this justice for George Floyd movement, has come up.

This rebellion happened in the first place because police departments in city after city after city have been murdering black and brown people, exacting systematic violence against people with impunity. This has happened with impunity. Not a single police officer so far has been prosecuted under Mayor Durkan, for example, in Seattle.

Eight black and brown community members have been murdered at the hands of the police. Not one police officer has been prosecuted. We need to change the status quo. That is why our movement is demanding that we defund the police by at least 50 percent and divert those funds for community programs, for restorative justice so we begin to address this systematic racism, what we need beyond that.

So, as I said, we need an independently elected community oversight board which full powers over the police.

KEILAR: Council Member Kshama Sawant, thank you for joining us from Seattle.

SAWANT: Thank you so much.

KEILAR: The number of people who are being fired or are resigning over racial remarks or views is growing. We are going to go through them.

Plus, Starbucks told employees they cannot wear Black Lives Matter attire. Hear what happened today after the backlash.

And just in, some breaking news from the CDC, including new warnings about a surge coming and warnings about travel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:25:00]

KEILAR: Public health experts are stepping up their warning that the U.S. is not ready for a second wave of coronavirus. Yet cities and states are moving forward with plans to reopen and lifting restrictions.

When you look at the map here, you see spikes there in 19 states. The latest coronavirus model predicting that this situation is going to get worse, much worse unless the country changes course.

And just in, the CDC released new guidelines for everyday life. CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joining me now to talk about this.

All right, so what are they?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the CDC came out very clearly saying, hey, you know, this is bad as it is. I mean, this is my commentary. We don't have to wait for the second wave, it is already bad. The CDC saying the pandemic is not over.