Return to Transcripts main page


Trump's West Point Walk Sparks Questions; U.S. Postal Service Cash Crisis; Ex-Police Chief Talks About Change. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 15, 2020 - 08:30   ET



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And the feet (ph), perhaps a type of neuropathy. Is it just a slippery ramp, as the president said, or slippery shoes. Don't know. And I -- and I think you've got to be very cautious in trying to determine anything. Certainly not diagnose anything or even speculate on this. But I know a lot of people have been asking about it, and there's just nothing obvious. He's looking down at his feet as he goes down. That's the only thing that really sort of struck me even more than his gait, because the gait can be explained by a lot of different things. But I -- I just -- it's a video. It's 20 seconds. I think anybody would have a hard time making anything of it.

The backdrop of it is that, you know, we just don't know a lot about his health overall as well. You know, these letters that were dictated about the president, they didn't even come from the doctors themselves. There was this unannounced visit to Walter Reed last year. So that's the backdrop, lots of unknowns, and then you -- and then you add something like this into the mix.


Maggie Haberman, perhaps no one more sensitive to how his health and stamina is portrayed in public and viewed in public than the president himself. And you saw that in his tweet explaining this over the weekend, trying to explain that slow walk down the ramp. What is the president's level of concern given that he has not been shy about attacking his political opponents as somehow not being up to the job?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, this is never coverage the president wants of anything related to his health, as you note. He certainly invited it responding to these videos. It wasn't just the video of him on a ramp. There was another video of him having trouble lifting a water glass to his mouth. He had to use his left hand to basically finish helping his right arm guide it to his mouth at a speech at West Point.

He never likes coverage like this. As I said, he invited it by tweeting about it. But I think that Sanjay is right, we don't know what the issue is. We don't know from just looking at this video. We know that the president has had issues with stairs before. But as Sanjay also says, there are a lot of questions around the president's physical fitness because he has had -- he has dictated a note to a doctor in 2016 because he had this still unexplained, other than saying that he wanted to get a jump on his physical, abrupt visit to Walter Reed last year.

And, look, it is perfectly legitimate for them to raise questions about Joe Biden's health. He's 77 years old. It's also legitimate to ask about this president's.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president's birthday was yesterday. He's now 74 years old.


CAMEROTA: Sanjay, about that -- the fact that the president, we've seen this before, he drinks -- he drinks water, or any glass, with two hands. Is that anything that you find strange?

GUPTA: I mean it's strange, but I don't -- I don't know that you can make anything of it. Maybe he doesn't want to spill water on himself in the middle of a speech, I don't know. But is it -- is it a shoulder problem? I mean, is it a hand numbness or something? You know, again, these are speculations and I get that because he's the president these types of speculations will rise, but they are just speculations, you know.

And I've noticed that he's done that before. That wasn't just the first time. So I don't know if this is something he does in public because of fear of spilling the water. I don't know.

I will say, again, many people in the -- in the -- I'm a brain doctor, a neurosurgeon. My colleagues in this world, they -- everyone talks about this sort of stuff, but no one has any conclusions as to why, you know, whether it's the drinking of the water, walking down the ramp, why he is doing it that way.

SCIUTTO: So, Maggie Haberman, let's talk about the other 100 percent confirmed health issue, which is, of course, the continuing coronavirus outbreak that the president insisting on restarting his public rallies in Tulsa, in a venue, by the way, we should note, that has canceled all other events out of an abundance of caution due to the outbreak. What advantage does the president see in this? I mean he's now demanded from people attending that they sign a waiver to not sue if they're infected. You have that risk. You have local health officials, the Tulsa State Department -- state director of health saying don't hold this kind of rally, not a good idea.

Is this actually a political advantage for him to do this in the midst of an outbreak?

HABERMAN: I mean I think what the advantage that his advisers anyway see is that they believe that when he's doing rallies that he's likely to tweet less and the tweets have been pretty self-sabotaging of late, more so than normal. And I think that he has been desperate to go back out and get out of the White House and start his rallies, which is a part of the job that he has really loved. He has been running basically nonstop campaign since 2018, as we know.

But, look, there are going to be questions if somebody gets sick, if a number of people get sick. The president has been pretty dismissive of social distancing guidelines. We know this. This is going to further send that message. And then there are a lot of other concerns on the ground in Tulsa, which is the timing of this rally and the fact that it's taking place in a location that was the site of a race massacre.


There are a lot of questions surrounding why this site was chosen and how this is going to play out. The health concern is one of many.

CAMEROTA: And, you know, Sanjay, very quickly, one of the things that the president's supporters point out is, well, people are going out to protest. That's a large crowd. They're not socially distancing. Is there a difference between being shoulder to shoulder indoors at a stadium with 15,000 or 20,000 people and being outdoors at a rally?

GUPTA: Well, you know, with regard to the protests, I mean, that was a concern as well, to be clear, but maybe less of a concern for the reasons you mentioned. You know, being indoors, and I was just looking this up, Bank of Oklahoma Center holds around 20,000 people. So if you were actually going to maintain any physical distance, you'd probably have to have every other or two seats in between everybody, so 10,000 or just a few thousand people if you wanted to do it in any kind of reasonably safe way.

I wouldn't call it safe no matter what. You know, so I think indoors people cluster together, if they're not wearing masks, they're sharing public spaces. That's -- that's the worst case scenario. I mean that is the exact scenario where you'd say this is where you could potentially have a super spreader event and lots of people potentially become infected.

So, yes, there are the differences there, but this -- this sort of venue would be the exact opposite of what you'd want.


CAMEROTA: Sanjay, Maggie, thank you both very much.


GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, the U.S. Postal Service says it is just months away from running out of money. How could that put mail-in voting in jeopardy this November? That's coming up.



CAMEROTA: Mail-in voting could play a critical role in the November election, but the U.S. Postal Service is facing a major cash crunch.

CNN's Jessica Dean is live in Washington with more.

What have you learned, Jessica? JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Alisyn.

We are less than five months away from an election in which millions of Americans are expected to use vote by mail, but the U.S. Postal Service has told Congress that without $75 billion in funding, they will be out of money by September.

All of this as a former Trump ally and fundraiser takes over today as the new postmaster general.


DEAN (voice over): As our nation faces historic crises, another potential one looms, the United States Postal Service recently told Congress it will be out of money by September if it does not receive $75 billion in emergency funding. This as millions of Americans are expected to use mail-in ballots to cast their votes in November's elections.

MARK DIMONDSTEIN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION: If the funding doesn't come through, everything we do, including vote by mail, will be much harder.

DEAN: Mark Dimondstein is the president of the American Postal Workers Union. He says underfunding the U.S. Postal Service could affect access to vote by mail.

Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias says that could significantly impact elections.

MARC ELIAS, DEMOCRATIC VOTING RIGHTS ATTORNEY: There are a lot of alarm bells right now and -- but this is a -- but this is a critical one because the fact is, if we can't have reliable mail service, then we're not going to have reliable democracy in the fall.

DEAN: But it's not just Democrats who are concerned about USPS funding. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, runs the state's elections, which are entirely vote by mail.

KIM WYMAN, SECRETARY OF STATE (R-WA): The Postal Service is the linchpin to all of this working in November. We have states that see, you know, 2 percent of their ballots cast by absentee ballot in a regular election and they're going to see an increase anywhere from 25 percent to 60 percent or 70 percent of their ballots returned by mail. It is essential that the Post Office is able to deal with that increased volume.

DEAN: Elias agrees an underfunded Postal Service could become a chokehold on the ability to process mail-in ballots.

ELIAS: We're on a collision course in the fall because the president is forcing us into a collision course. So it's important to keep in mind that the Postal Service should be funded and it should not be politicized.

DEAN: President Trump, who has himself voted by mail during his time in the White House, has taken aim at the practice, citing a number of unsupported conspiracy theories in recent months, including tweeting, without evidence, mail-in voting has, quote, tremendous potential for voter fraud and for whatever reason doesn't work out well for Republicans.

Trump has often chastised the Postal Service. His administration blocked additional funding for the Postal Service in the CARES Act. Instead, offering $10 billion in loans, but demanded reforms as a condition. The president threatened to withhold any necessary funding if the USPS does not meet his demand to increase its prices.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they don't raise the price, I'm not signing anything.

DEAN: Meantime, as the USPS faces a dire financial future, its board of governors is now filled entirely with Trump allies, all of its members are Trump appointees. Today, Louis DeJoy, a former Republican fundraiser and Trump supporter, will become the new postmaster general.

DIMONDSTEIN: The postal board of governors has tremendous influence in terms of the speed of the mail, the service, keeping post offices open.

DEAN: Dimondstein says the union is hopeful the new leadership will strengthen the Postal Service, not try to hamper or privatize it, but says ultimately time will tell.

DIMONDSTEIN: For the people of this country, it's not a political partisan issue. We should not allow Washington to allow it to become one.


DEAN: As far as where the funding stands, I'm told by a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service they have no comment on any negotiations they may be having with the Treasury Department on those loans.


CAMEROTA: Jessica, thank you very much.

Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET, Supreme Court issues orders and opinions.

10:00 a.m. ET, Rally for hate crimes in Atlanta.

11:00 a.m. ET, World Health Organization briefing.


[08:45:15] CAMEROTA: A former Detroit police chief says he identifies with George

Floyd and he's here to tell us how he tried to change the system from the inside and almost got killed.


SCIUTTO: You'll want to hear this next, very personal story. And a powerful, new op-ed. A black, former police chief recounts his own personal experience of police brutality. He says George Floyd could have been me.

Joining us now is Isaiah McKinnon. He's the former chief of the Detroit Police. He also served as a former deputy mayor of Detroit.

Mr. McKinnon, good to have you on this morning. Thanks so much.


ISAIAH MCKINNON, FORMER DETROIT CHIEF OF POLICE: Good morning. Good morning, Jim. It's good to be here. Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: You know, reading your piece, it is deeply personal. It's shocking. And I wonder if you could share with our viewers your story of being in uniform, returning from shift, stopped by two other police, white police officers, and threatened with a firearm, while you were wearing the same uniform they were wearing from the same precinct.

MCKINNON: Yes, well this was during the 1967 riot. And, of course, we all know that there were so many people that were killed, 43 people were killed. But my second day on long shift at the duty station, I was returning home. It was probably about 1:00 in the morning. And as I was driving home, I came off the freeway, these two officers, who happened to be white, pulled me over. They had their guns out. And I said, police officer. Of course I was in uniform. I had my badge on. And the two men said that too for the precinct I was on. And as they had their guns on me, they said, get out of the car, which I did, and then this one -- the older officer said, tonight you're going die, and used a racial expletive and said, you know, you're going to die.

And I couldn't believe that, you know? And I could literally see him pulling the trigger on the gun as I dove back into my car and he or they both started shooting at me. Thank God I was able to squirrel my car off and get out of there.

SCIUTTO: I wonder, you know, we tend to have this impression that over time things get better, things get better with race relations in the country. This is more than 50 years ago, 1967.

When you see George Floyd, when you see events in Atlanta, and these interactions, violent interactions between white police officers and black men, do you have a sadness that it's not getting better?

MCKINNON: I have a sadness because when I was 14 years old, I was beaten up severely by the police in Detroit. And I was this 14-year- old kid. I was leaving school. And my thoughts are, when I saw George Floyd there on the ground, I was think about myself. And I thought about other people throughout the years that I've seen that there's been very little attempt to stop that kind of systemic racism that we've seen throughout the years. And, unfortunately, because of the field of law enforcement and the lack of what we're doing in terms of recruiting and retaining good people who are there to really serve with protect, that's why we continue to have these kinds of problems.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you this, because what is different now is you've got thousands, tens of thousands of people in the street for, you know, days now getting into weeks. You also have police chiefs, chiefs of police in many communities come out themselves and say this will not stand. Call out, for instance, the officers in Minneapolis, say that's murder.

Given those differences, what do you think needs to change in a concrete way beyond those demonstrations, those statements, change in a concrete way to prevent this kind of violence going forward?

MCKINNON: Well, that's a realization we have over 700,000 law enforcement officers in this country. We have 330 billion people. So the change is going to have to come from us.

Now, there's things that we have to do. We have to require certainly a higher aptitude and fitness standards toward the people that we were recruiting into law enforcement. We have to have regular mental health -- regular mental health, not just one when they join the department, but on a regular basis of officers to see if there's some problems that they're experiencing. We have to require a national database of officers who have had problems with one department and what I call department jumping to make sure that that's not going to continue with them.

And one of the most important things is to stop promoting individuals who have a series of complaints against them, who have been police officers and become supervisors and, you know, they -- they manifest the same ideas as those officers.

And, finally, I think that we have to look at the power of unions because I can recall when I was chief, it was very difficult to not only discipline a person but to fire a person. So this is what I call a transformative approach to law enforcement. It's imperative that we do this, otherwise this continues, because people are saying, look, you don't represent me. You don't serve and protect me. So that's why I'm saying to you, I think that we, in some state, have to (INAUDIBLE) has to be done (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes, you recount in your piece there how when you raised -- you drew attention to bad behavior by police officers.


You were -- you were told by a precinct commander once, yelling at you, don't ruin the lives of these good officers. That kind of resistance there. I guess, just very briefly before we go, are you hopeful? Are you hopeful that this time will be different? It's a question we ask so often. MCKINNON: I hope this -- I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful, Jim. There are a

number of reasons. I, obviously, don't have too much time, but officers have to do like the officer did in I think it was Seattle, who saw an officer put his knee on a person's neck and he said, get your blanking knee off him. Officers have to realize, they don't want to be an accessory to a crime by another officer.


Isaiah McKinnon, we appreciate you telling your story here. I'm sorry with what you had to go through, but we appreciate you putting that voice and that story to good use.

MCKINNON: Thank you so much, Jim.

CAMEROTA: What an incredible life experience and what an incredible story and perspective that he has. That was a really interesting conversation, Jim.

I will see you tomorrow, sir.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And CNN's coverage continues next.