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President Trump Announces His Executive Order On Policing Reforms; Republican Senators Outline Police Reforms Package; President Donald Trump: "Strongly Oppose" Defunding Or Dismantling Police Departments. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello to our viewers in United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Any moment now we expect to see the President in Rose Garden. You see the crowd gathering there socially distancing in place Republican lawmakers and other supporters of the President.

The President will offer his own police reform proposals including national policing standards and a new national database to track officers with repeated abuse complaints. As we wait for the President, to outline his proposal the urgency of the moment reflected here, listen.

As an Attorney for Rayshard Brooks the young man shot and killed Friday after a 27-minute encounter at an Atlanta Wendy's that Attorney saying what happened to his young client could happen to every black man in America.


JUSTIN MILLER, ATTORNEY FOR RAYSHARD BROOKS' FAMILY: It's very much personal. I'm Rayshard Brooks. I'm George Floyd. It's happened to me. It's happened to my friends. It's happened to my father and every other black person I know. So we are all the same. So when we fight these battles, we are fighting them from a place of knowledge and really from the heart.


KING: Let's get straight to CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Kaitlan, what are we expecting from the President today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRRESPONDENT: So he is going to be signing this Executive Order. We have gotten a pretty good overview of what is going to be in here? And I want to emphasize that while these are the first concrete steps you're seeing the President take in the wake of George Floyd's death to address to take it in a successful manner.

This is definitely a modest Executive Order by the most generous description. It's talking about establishing a national database and strengthening it on tracking the excessive use of force among officers. It really incentivizes Police Departments when it comes to funding to use a better set of practices when it comes to the foresight they are using.

They want to try to set this basically a national standard of the use of force that they are going to do but it doesn't threaten to withhold that funding it basically just prioritizes it for certain departments that do follow those practices and encouraging them to do so. And of course it also comes up with this idea of having these co-responders.

Basically social worker type people to go with police officers and others when they are responding to emergencies because they believe that can help when it comes to the mental health capacity, homelessness, drug use, things like that as officers are responding to some of these calls.

But one thing it doesn't address is really you know the chokehold situation. That's been a big decision going on with Democrats and even with Republicans as they're trying to come up with their legislation on Capitol Hill.

And one thing we heard is that White House was working on this Executive Order John. They've been meeting with law enforcement officials, families who have members who have been killed by the police. And really the President was concerned about alienating police officers by going too far in an Executive Order.

So what you're seeing from this is basically they are calling on Congress, the White House, I mean, is calling on Congress to really come up and do the heavy lifting when it comes to this. That is still a big question. We don't know that Congress is actually going to pass anything.

You're seeing some doubt from Republicans that they can even vote on a bill before the July 4th recess holiday that they are going to take. So really, it is turning to Congress with this Executive Order and that is still a really big question and even inside the White House about whether that is actually going to happen?

KING: Interesting point as we wait for the President to see what he proposes today. We know from much easier debates they have gone off the rails when the President doesn't weigh in specifically because of the divides in Congress. We'll see if he does on this one which is much more difficult. Kaitlan Collins, I appreciate the live reporting there.

We will be back to the White House momentarily. Let's go straight up to Capitol Hill now to Manu Raju. Manu, so what is the big debate there? What do Republicans want and what are they hesitant to do?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Senate Republicans and House Democrats are on separate tracks on a police overhaul measure the House Democrats moving faster. They plan to vote on a committee tomorrow and full vote in the House next week. The Senate Republicans have a different plan and different time frame. One question under consideration right now is whether or not they will actually take up and votes on that Senate Republican plan before the 4th of July holiday because afterwards there is a two-week recess that will take place.

That means if they wait until after that recess it wouldn't be until July 20th that week when the Senate would take up its plan. And it's a question whether or not it would even have the votes to get out of the chamber. Now the Senate Republican plan differs in a lot of key ways than this House Democrat plan.

According to the Senate Republican plan it would incentivize states to take a lot of actions. It doesn't explicitly outlaw police chokeholds but the Republicans author of that plan Tim Scott told me that he does want to have a plan that would allow essentially states to be incentivized to outlaw those chokeholds to making federal money contingent on policies to ban such tactics.

It also could - it allows for a review of those so-called no-knock warrants that is different than the House Democratic plan which would ban no-knock warrants in drug cases and House Republicans - the Senate Republican plan also would increase body camera funding.


RAJU: But as far as the House Democratic plan would actually require federal office law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. And also the House Senate Democratic plan calls for changes so-called qualified immunity to make sure that officers and civil court can essentially be sued in civil court if an individual's constitutional rights have been infringed.

The Republican say essentially that is poison pill and they want to go that far so expect this Republican plan to be rolled out in the coming days. The question is will it have enough support? The question is whether the Senate Democrats themselves get behind it?

So far they have not. Tim Scott raised questions to me about whether or not the Senate Democrats are being urged not to sign on to that plan. Democrats are saying they want to see it first but two different plans, John, two different time frames.

Question is can they come together in this key moment and question is whether or not Republicans and Democrats will be satisfied when the President rolls out in just a matter of moments here, John.

KING: Fascinating moment given what is happening on the streets of America and given than election 20 weeks from today. CNNs' Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you. Let's wait for the President.

With me to share their expertise and their insights CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and our Political Commentator Van Jones and Former NYPD Detective Alfred Titus. Van, I want to start with you. We keep hearing the word modest about the President's proposals. Can something be modest and helpful at the same time? VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look absolutely. Look, I'm looking at this with one lens and one lens only. How will this help stop these horrible videos that we are seeing, killings that we are seeing? I've been part of this moment 25 years. I want to hear what actually comes out.

Two things I think you have to be happy about, one, we have been calling for a database for bad cops for 30 years. And the Federal Government tracks everything on earth but bad cops. If you can get that, you give a weapon and a tool to good police chiefs and communities across the country. If that happens today, you got to be excited about that.

Second thing this idea of co-responders. Everybody goes what is that? It blows it off. We have been begging for these 20 years. Send somebody to these incidents that can talk people down and not shoot them down. Quit sending police officers with weapons to people who are having mental health issues, about 20 percent of these cases are mental health issues that we are over policing.

If all we get out of the day is a national registry for bad cops, which we have never is, ever had, and incentive now for co-responders so we can talk people down and not shoot people down? That is real progress. Look, Congress has to do way more. The President may want to do way more.

As somebody who cares about these videos and what is happening in communities, two good things could happen today. I want to see the language but two good things could happen today and we will take what we can get. Ordinary people have forced this and a first step and there is going to be many more. But there could be something good could happen today.

KING: Alfred Titus, you tell do you agree with that, especially in the idea of this registry?

ALFRED TITUS, JR., RETIRED NYPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: Yes, I do absolutely. I feel that what the President is doing is a major step in the right direction. It's something that is long overdue in this country. At John Jay, I teach my students how difficult the criminal justice system is and for one of those - one of the reasons why it's so difficult is because there are different laws and policies and procedures throughout the different states in this country.

The fact that we are heading into the direction of a national reform, some national policies that will cover all law enforcement agencies within the United States is a great step. It's long overdue.

KING: And Dana, as the President does this, you can't ignore the calendar and you can't ignore what is happening on the streets of America today? You cannot ignore whether we are talking about George Floyd or whether you're talking about Rayshard Brooks or whether you are talking about if you want to wind back the tape a little bit more you can't ignore the videos Van keeps talking about.

The protests in the neither streets today nor can you ignore that there is an election 20 weeks from today. The question for this President is always been how far is he willing to go from his constant refrain of law and order? Is he willing to do that?

DANA BASH, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the fact he is signing an Executive Order that has any kind of federal role says that he is willing to do that a bit. It does not mean he is not going to keep going with the rhetoric of law and order. As we know, the rhetoric matters a lot when you're talking about a President - or any President, or any leader, because that is ample amplified down the state and local level.

One thing I want to say and I definitely don't want to be Debbie down here with this Executive Order but I think it's something to keep in mind, that this national registry is incredibly important.


BASH: Van has been talking about this a quarter of a century because that is one of the most important tools for bad cops to be stopped so that you know that if they have a record in city A, they can't be hired in city B because city B didn't know about it.

The issue with this Executive Order is that there is no funding that is directly tied to it. It is encouraged, it is incentivized but it is not mandated and but it is one of the many things that Congress will have to look at if they want this to be done properly. I can defer to your other guest, John, you have a lot of police departments in this country who might say, okay, I know that this is what the President wants, but I don't have to do it because it's not mandated.

KING: So Van, come in on that point. You say this is a positive first step if you get these two things out today a national database for registry of bad cops and an emphasis support for the idea of co- responders having social workers and other people respond with police. So there is somebody is there and trained to deescalate a situation.

If you call that today progress from the White House, what else must the federal government do? We can talk in a moment about every city and every state is going through this debate but what other national standards, national requirements, national prohibitions do you think are necessary at this moment?

JONES: Well, a number of things. The big problem you have is what you call I didn't know impunity too many police officers in too many places can do really bad stuffs and they can't easily be fired because of union rules they can't be sued because of the Supreme Court just reaffirmed you basically can't sue cops individually because of qualified immunity.

And it's very hard to jail cops because prosecutors are reluctant to do that and so our juries. So if you can't discipline the move, fire, sue or jail somebody it's hard to control their behavior. So Congress has got to go beyond what the President is doing. You've got to do something at some point about qualified immunity.

You got to give Chiefs more tools to get rid of bad cops because it's so hard to hack through all of the bubble wrapping of red tape around bad cops or there because of these union rules. So you have got to be able to hack through that stuff.

I do want to say one thing. Dana is 100 percent correct. How you enforce this, how you implement this is going to be really important. One thing that I think I'm looking for today, what is law enforcement's reaction?

With the Obama Administration, it was very hard to bring law enforcement along in the moment of black lives matter and so you kind of had, you know, I think the Obama Administration did some stuff that I wish the Trump Administration would re-implement but we didn't have law enforcement support.

If you could have a situation where Trump can get law enforcement support for some reforms and the Democrats and Congress can bring in the community demands, you could wind up with a pretty interesting buy-in to whatever gets done. You not only do you have to do it; you have to have buy-in.

I'm looking to see what law enforcement will support this first step? Will they oppose it? That is going to key to whether this makes a difference to anybody in the real world.

KING: And we will see some of that reaction at the event you see people gathered on the right side of your screen that's the Rose Garden. You see some law enforcement presented there also you see America's top law enforcement official the Attorney General of the United States right in the middle of your screen there Bill Barr talking as well.

I want to come back to the scene in a minute. But I want to bring in Alfred Titus back for a second to Van's point. Law enforcement buy-in, you hear about the Blue Shield you know the Blue Wall and resistance sometimes to these investigations.

Do you sense that is changing as we have watched this national moment of reckoning, these two recent cases, Rayshard Brooks and George Floyd obviously stirring up the history of so many, way too many other cases? Do you see that moment where law enforcement is willing to come to the table on this? Or is there still resistance?

TITUS: Yes, I do see some changes being made. I feel like for instance in New York where the Commissioner is making some changes with regard to plain clothes and anticrime units, I see change happening and everything that is happening is positive. It is going to take time.

It is going to take everyone coming to the table, law enforcement and administrators and community. But it is change that is positive and that is happening. Although this is just a first step with the President making this national announcement today that these changes need to be spread more into policing.

We need to go back as far as recruitment, background investigations, training. All of these things need to be looked at so that we can have a comprehensive police reform and if it's national and if we can get national acceptance, it's an even better thing.

This time that we are in right now is monumental for these changes to take place and I see them happening.


TITUS: I see them here in New York. Not all of them are going to be welcomed by Police Departments and by Police Administrations, but it's a starting point where we can come to the table and discuss what actually turns out to be the final plan.

KING: The guests are being asked to take their seats in the Rose Garden and we expect the President any second here. Dana Bash, as we wait for the President to come out, we are watching two big national debates at once. There is a big debate about policing and race, relation in the United States that is the centric of the President's announcement.

You also see some of the guests here wearing masks like the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Attorney General not and the Chief of Staff of the President of the United States not. They're standing up here comes the President of the United States. The President himself of course will not wear a mask in public as we go through the Coronavirus pandemic.

So the two major moments of America, if you will, the two major crises of America at the moment on display in the Rose Garden as we wait to hear from President of the United States he walks out through the - passes his aides and will announce now his Executive Order on policing reforms. Let's listen to the President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, please. And thank you all for being here as we take historic action to deliver a future of safety and security for Americans of every race, religion, color, and creed. We are joined today by law enforcement professionals and community leaders.

Though we may all come from different places and different backgrounds, we are united by our desire to ensure peace and dignity and equality for all Americans. I've just concluded a meeting with incredible families, just incredible families that have been through so much. The families of Ahmaud Arbery, Bottom John, Antoine Rose, Jamil Roberson, Eddie Jefferson, Michael Dean, Darius Tarvar, Cameron Lamb and Everett Palmer.

These are incredible people, incredible people. And it's so sad. Many of these families lost their loved ones in deadly interactions with police. To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourned by your side, your loved ones will not have died in vain. We are one nation. We grieve together. And we heal together.

I can never imagine your pain or the depth of your anguish but I can promise to fight for justice for all of our people and I gave a commitment to all of those families today with Senator Tim Scott and Attorney General Bill Barr. We are going to pursue what we said we will be pursuing it and we will be pursuing it strongly, Tim, right? Okay, I want to recognize Attorney General Bill Barr who spent so much time on this and other matters like this. Bill thank you very much for being here. Great job you're doing. Along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Tim Scott and they're going to be working on a Senate bill also that could go hand in hand with this.

And also representatives Kelly Armstrong, Louie Gohmert and Jim Jordan, Guy Reschenthaler and Pete Stauber and thanks also to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. The President of the Fraternal Order of Police Pat Yost, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Steven Cass Stevens and many other law enforcement leaders who are going to be joining me at the signing.

Today is about pursuing common sense and fighting - fighting for a cause like we seldom get the chance to fight for. We have to find common ground. But I strongly oppose the radical endanger and efforts to defend, dismantle and dissolve our police departments especially now when we have achieved the lowest recorded crime rates in recent history.

Americans know the truth. Without police, there is chaos. Without law, there is anarchy and without safety, there is catastrophe.


TRUMP: We need leaders at every level of government that the moral clarity to state these obvious facts. Americans believe we must support the brave men and women in blue who police our streets and keep us safe. Americans also believe we must improve accountability, increase transparency, and invest more resources in police training, recruiting, and community engagement.

Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals, they are not hugely exclusive, they work together, they all work together. That is why today I'm signing an Executive Order encouraging Police Departments nationwide to adopt the highest professional standards to serve their communities.

These standards will be as high and as strong as there is on earth. The vast majority of police officers are self-less and courageous public servants. They're great men and women. When others run away from danger, police run straight into harm's way, often putting their lives at stake to protect someone who they don't know or never even met, great danger.

Police officers run straight toward this incredible harm, take the World Trade Center, they ran straight into the Twin Towers of 9/11. Many of them never returned, never returned. Vast numbers of New York's finest never returned.

Last year, I presented the Medal of Valor to six heroic police officers who ended a murderous rampage in Dayton, Ohio. Hundreds of people would have been killed, surely without them. We ask our police to put on the uniform and risk their lives for us every day. The least we deserve and the least we can do because they deserve it so much. They have to get our gratitude and we have to give them great respect for what they do for the job as one of the most dangerous jobs on earth, one of the most difficult jobs on earth. Last year alone, 89 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. In recent days, two members of law enforcement were killed amid riots and looting and hundreds of police officers were injured just recently.

One officer was shot in the head and is now lying in a hospital almost totally paralyzed. Despite our very good record on crime, law and order must be further restored nationwide and your Federal Government is ready, willing, and able to help as we did in Minneapolis after it got out of control for four days.

We sent in representatives commonly known as the National Guard, and it was all put down very quickly. We are willing to help in Seattle. We are willing to help anywhere you want and we will be there very quickly. It won't take long.

There will be no more looting or arson and the penalty will be very grave for those who get caught. Violence and destruction will not be tolerated. We cannot do that. The looters have no cause this they are fighting for just trouble.

Every day, police officers make great sacrifices to keep our community secure and safe. In 2018, our police arrested nearly 12,000 people for murder, 25,000 people for rape and nearly 1.5 million for assault very dangerous criminals.

In many cases, local law enforcement is underfunded, understaffed, and under support. 47 percent of all murders in Chicago and 68 percent of all murders in Baltimore went without arrests last year. Americans want law and order. They demand law and order.

They may not say it, they may not be talking about it, but that's what they want. Some of them don't know that is what they want but that is what they want.


TRUMP: Some of them don't know that is what they want but that is what they want. They understand that when you remove the police, you hurt those who have the least the most. Nobody needs a strong trustworthy police force more than those who live in distressed areas and no one is more opposed to the small number of bad police officers - and you have them - they are very tiny.

I use the word tiny. It's a very small percentage, but you have them. But nobody wants to get rid of them more than the overwhelming number of really good and great police officers. Some of them are standing with me and with me in the audience today and I appreciate you being here.

Thank you. Thank you, great job. What is needed now is not more stoking of fear and division. We need to bring law enforcement and communities closer together, not to drive them apart. Under the Executive Order I'm signing today, we will prioritize federal grants from the Department of Justice to Police Departments and seek independent credentialing, certifying they meet high standards and in certain cases, the highest standard.

That's where they do the best on the use of force and de-escalation training. For example, many believe that proper training might have prevented the tragic deaths of Antoine Rose and Bothom John. As part of this new credentialing process, chokeholds will be banned except if an officer's life is at risk.

I will say we have dealt with all of the various departments and everybody said it's time. We have to do it. Additionally, we are looking at new advanced and powerful and less lethal weapons to help prevent deadly interactions.

New devices are being developed all the time and we are looking at the best of them and cost is no object, no object. Under this Executive Order, departments will also need a share of information about credible abuses so that officers with significant issues do not simply move from one Police Department to the next.

That's a problem and the Heads of our Police Departments said whatever you can do about that, please let us know. We are letting you know. We are doing a lot about it. In addition my order will direct Federal funding to support officers in dealing with homeless individuals and those who have mental illness and substance abuse problems.

We will provide more resources for co-responders such as social workers who can help officers manage these complex encounters. This is what they have studied and worked on all of their lives. They understand how to do it. We are going to get the best of them put in our Police Departments and working with our police.

We will have reform without undermining our many great and extremely talented law enforcement officers. President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period. The reason they didn't try is because they had no idea how to do it?

And it is a complex situation. Beyond the steps we are taking today, I am committed to working with Congress on additional measures. Congress has started already and they will be having bills coming out of the Senate and possibly out of the House and hopefully, they will all get together and they will come up with a solution that goes even beyond what we are signing today but this is a big, big step, a step that hasn't been taken before.

But in order to make real progress on public safety, we have to break old patterns of failure. Many of the same politicians now presenting themselves as the solution are the same ones who have failed for decades on schools, jobs, justice, and crime.

They are all often, unfortunately, the same politicians running the cities and states where help is most needed. It's an attitude. And it's not working. Today's action is a big part of the solution to restoring, renewing, and rebuilding our communities.

For the last three and a half years, my administration has been--