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CNN NEWSROOM

Retail Sales Surge 17.7% in May as Shoppers Return to Stores; Federal Reserve Chair: No Place for Racism in Our Society or Economy; CA Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, Discusses His Push for Police Reform Plans, Trump's Executive Order on Police Reform, Black Men Found Hanged in CA Cities; Trump Faces Multiple Crises Ahead of 2020 Election. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:33:38]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: A truly stunning economic number this morning. Retail sales in May were up 17.7 percent. That's the biggest one-month jump on record. Shoppers flocking back to newly reopened stores. It's a much bigger number, more than twice the 8 percent economists were predicting.

And it shores up the hope that the reopening of the economy could bring a bounce back investors are looking for. And you can see investors are happy. The market reaction, the Dow now up 531 points, 527 as it moves. Still up over 500.

CNN's Julia Chatterley is in New York and joins us with this.

A stunning number and also a reminder that it's coming back from a ditch.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR, "FIRST MOVE": That's such a great point. This is such a dramatic retail rebound by anybody's standards. It's positive news. It's the strongest month ever.

But context here is key, unfortunately. To your point, it comes from a low base. We've gone through two months of dramatic drops in retail sales. So there was a lot of pent-up demand with people stuck at home waiting to get out there and spend. And as you can see from these numbers, in May, they actually did. And it's happening sooner than we expected.

It's also painting a picture of what people were buying as well, consumer electronics, clothing, things that we weren't buying when we were operating under shutdowns versus groceries that we were buying more of and not going to restaurants and things.

[11:35:58]

We also had the benefit of people receiving stimulus checks in the month of May. We also have the benefits of the bump up, the $600 increase in unemployment benefits. Remember, that ends next month if Congress don't act to extend them.

So while I'm positive and optimistic about this May's numbers, I want to see what happens in July and August before I get more confident.

Now, Jay Powell, at the Federal Reserve, talking today, he said, look, we're beginning to see the starts of a rebound here. But his most poignant message today -- and I want to bring that to you -- is on racism in America. And when we see this recovery kick in it has to be more inclusive.

Listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: I speak for my colleagues throughout the Federal Reserve system when I say there's no place at the Fed for racism, and there should be no place for it in our society. Everyone deserves the opportunity to participate fully in our society and in our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHATTERLEY: A strong message from a central bank governor one hour before the U.S. president speaks on the subject. John, there's a word for this, and we use it too often, unprecedented.

KING: We'll watch this as it plays out. Strong words from the Fed chair, indeed.

CHATTERLEY: Right.

KING: Julia Chatterley, appreciate the update there.

Coming up for us, California's attorney general, the nation's most populous state, he's joining the calls for statewide police reforms. He's with us next.

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[11:41:05]

KING: President Trump just moments away from a speech and his executive order on police reforms. The move comes amidst some unprecedented action, just three weeks and a day after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

More than a dozen big cities already taking action on reforming their police departments, including the two largest, Los Angeles and New York, plus the nation's capital, Denver, Austin, Louisville and, of course, Minneapolis, where Floyd's life was taken.

At least a half a dozen states also now taking measures to improve how officers interact with the public, including Iowa, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and the nation's largest, most-populous state, California. Joining me now is the attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra.

Attorney General Becerra, it's good to see you. Thank you for your time today. I know you are busy.

I want to get to your proposals in a moment. But let's start with what we know. We're waiting for all the final details. But we're told one of the things the president of the United States will do today is announce a new data-sharing, national database of bad cops, if you will, police officers who have repeated use-of-force complaints against them.

How important, how significant might that be in helping and having a national database to help your effort in your state and other states?

XAVIER BECERRA, (D), CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, certainly, we want to make sure we can track those officers that are bad apples. We want to make sure that we can keep them off other forces.

But I hope we're going to go further than that. California has gone much further than that. And I hope that the president is prepared to take the country far further than just that.

KING: How much of this should be federal? Lay out what you think he should do. How much should be federal and how much left to state law enforcement leaders like yourself?

BECERRA: There are some baselines out there. The floors, perhaps you call them.

Those things would include things like making sure that we decertify officers who are proven to be bad apples.

That we can make sure that we have certain levels of use of force that apply across the board so that, whether you're going from one agency in law enforcement to another, you know that you have to try to de- escalate, for example, when it comes to the use of force.

You know that you have to report a fellow officer who may have overused force. You know you have to act to stop an officer from using force that is beyond the policies of your agency.

Things that are pretty basic that we now know can be implemented on not just a statewide basis but across the country.

KING: Because of the size of California, because of the diversity of California, when you get into a big experiment like this, it's often a national leader, a place that you look to see what's working and not working.

Your proposal, when you get to police reforms, include requiring officers to intervene, as you noted, when excessive force is being used. Another officer has to intervene. Banning chokeholds. Requiring de-escalation when possible prior to using force, prohibit shootings from a moving vehicle unless it's absolutely imminent urgent threat, and requiring the use of deadly force only to be used as a last resort.

You go through that, and it seems like common sense, but it is hard to get these practices into the bloodstream, if you will. How important is it that you codify these in California?

BECERRA: Well, that's what we've done. We've put them into California's bloodstream. Last year, a bill, Senate bill, 230, codified many of those policy reforms.

Most of those reforms came from a report that we issued in the Department of Justice here in California with regard to the review of the Sacramento Police Department after the shooting of Stephon Clark. And so here in California we have, as you said, put those recommendations into our state's bloodstream.

And we believe that most of the agencies in California are not only going to be implementing those by January of 2021, but I think many of those law enforcement agencies here in our state will be trying to act before January 1, 2021 to get those in place.

KING: And help me with your practice, if you will. There's resistance sometimes from maybe it's the police unions, who think you're trying to go too far, trying to dictate behavior that sometimes can't be dictated or can't be legislated in an environment.

[11:45:03]

What do you see as the key to breaking down that barrier, to getting the cooperation you need from the force and the unions?

BECERRA: Interestingly enough, earlier this week, several of our largest police unions put out a full-page spread in several newspapers talking about the reforms that they are not only supporting but urging adoption of.

And so I think, in California, we're seeing this trend where our rank- and-file officers are joining with their supervisors, the chiefs, the sheriffs, the California Department of Justice, to say they want to be part of the solution. And so I think that's where we need to go.

Clearly, we have a ways to go. That doesn't mean you'll get rid of all the bad apples. But I would hope we would not paint every law enforcement agency or law enforcement officer with the same broad brush because there are a whole bunch of good men and women who are trying to take us to that next level.

KING: That's a very important point.

Before I let you go, I want to ask you about two horrific cases. You have two black men found hanged 10 days apart in different California cities. What's the latest on what you know? Do you see any connection at all? And where are these investigations going?

BECERRA: First, to the families of these two victims -- and we -- I spoke to the family of Mr. Fuller, Robert fuller, who was found hung, hanging in Palmdale, California. It's just tragic. And the circumstances are awful. It makes you cringe.

I will tell you this this. I believe the authorities will do everything possible to try to investigate and come up with some answers.

I have sent my investigators down working with the Los Angeles County Police Department to be part of that investigation, to assess what's been done, and then to continue to assist in that investigation, to have some independent eyes on this. We're going to try to get to the to the bottom of it.

There's another hanging that occurred in Victorville. We're in communication with the authorities there.

They're difficult situations. But we can try to do is give people a sense that they can have confidence that we'll do a good investigation.

BECERRA: Xavier Becerra, is the attorney general of California.

Sir, thank for your time today.

BECERRA: Thank you.

KING: Appreciate it. Thank you.

Next, a racial reckoning, a global pandemic, a landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay and transgender rights, all at once.

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[11:51:51]

KING: Context is hard when things are moving so quickly. There are protests in the streets. And an important, if uncertain, conversation about race in America. There's also a global pandemic with many, many chapters yet to unfold. In the middle of all that, the Supreme Court drops a landmark ruling on employment rights for gay and transgender Americans. Plus, in 20 weeks, yes, we pick a president.

And moments like this keep historians rather busy. Julian Zelizer is a very good one, historian and professor at Princeton University and, of course, a CNN political analyst.

Julian, I wanted you in today to ask the question -- and in 50 years may be a different answer -- but today, where are we, when you see this swirling at once, a number of different ingredients but all essentially poured into the casserole at once?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we are in the middle of one of those historic moments. We are seeing early stages of a social rights movement that we saw in other periods like the 1960s but layered on a global pandemic that we haven't really experienced since earlier in the 20th century. And that puts aside all of the other issues that we face as a nation beyond these two issues. I think we are going to look back 50 years -- and I don't know where

this is going to go but I think this will be a critical turning point year that we don't forget.

KING: As some of this takes roots, when you have a Supreme Court, within five years, number one, it legalizes same-sex marriage and, five years later, it says you can't discriminate in the work force against gay and transgender Americans. Those are Supreme Court decisions, including written -- the decision yesterday, by a Trump- appointed justice, that have roots.

We are not sure what is happening on the surface the protests, what they look like down the road, as you mentioned.

But where do you see -- is the country moving, even though we're not sure where? Some of this is definitely moving. The rest is a question mark? Is that fair?

ZELIZER: Well, look, it's a question mark. But there are progressive impulses that are clearly there.

The Supreme Court ruling is a result of decades of work by the gay rights movement since the 1960s, which culminates in political leaders and justices changing their opinion of what the status quo is.

Now we are seeing a movement that is also pushing the issue of institutional racism to the forefront of public discussion.

Neither of these are drawing small support. They have a lot of support in the population, which indicates to me that this is not an aberration, that we might be moving into a different kind of political period than we have lived through since the Reagan presidency.

KING: And you have -- I know you write about this, the swinging of the pendulum in history, if you will, the progressive movements and sometimes you get a backlash, whether that is Wallace or Nixon or Reagan.

This president sometimes sounds like a Wallace or Nixon in his rhetoric. Is what we are seeing on the streets a reaction to him or is it a bigger moment? And what -- we don't know what the reaction to it will be. Is that fair?

ZELIZER: Yes. I think it's a bigger moment. I think a lot of the issues on the streets have been brewing a long time. Certainly, the Black Lives Matter movement started before Trump was president. And these questions really have been on the table for decades, not just a few years.

[11:55:06]

But at the same time, having President Trump in office and having the kind of politics that he stands for in Washington certainly accelerated the movement that has been forming.

And at the same time, the pandemic exposed a lot of the flaws in American society, such as the inequality that we have now lived with for a long time.

KING: Right.

ZELIZER: All of this comes together through a video that simply -- of George Floyd's horrendous murder that simply exploded the moment.

KING: Simply exploded the moment. Well put.

Julian Zelizer, we will continue the conversation. That is fascinating, if uncertain, moment. Thank you very much.

Still ahead for us, President Trump is just moments away now from a big executive order on police reform. We will be live at the White House, next.

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