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Senate & House Clash Over Police Reform Amid U.S. Unrest; Interview With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Official: Trump Administration "In Denial," Ignoring Containment Efforts As Coronavirus Cases Spike In 21 States. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: House Democrats and Senator Republicans are at odds over how to reform policing in this country after weeks of outrage and protests. Neither party wants to be seen as unresponsive. But finding common ground, easier said than done.

The House Democrats' plan, which is being marked up today proposes federal mandates for a change, like a ban on chokeholds, ending qualified immunity for police officers.


While the Republican proposal instead incentivizes police departments to enforce changes. Their plan was written by the only Republican African-American Republican in the Senate.

This is Tim Scott and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this morning.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): The George Floyd incident certainly accelerated this conversation. And we find ourselves in a place with a package that I think speaks to the families that I think speaks to the family that I spoke with yesterday who lost loved ones. We hear you.

I think this package speaks very clearly to the young person who's concerned when stopped by the law enforcement officers. We see you.

If we don't have the votes on a motion to proceed, that means that politics is more important than restoring confidence in communities of color and the institutions of authority.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Are Democratic friends, if we want to make and not just make a point, I hope they'll join us and get on the bill and trying to move forward in the way the Senate moves forward when actually trying to get an outcome rather than just sparring back and forth with --


KEILAR: And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is joining me live now from Capitol Hill.

Speaker, thank you so much for being with us.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Thank you.


PELOSI: My pleasure to be with you, Brianna.

KEILAR: You've seen the Republican plan now. What is your reaction to it?

PELOSI: My reaction is the same as the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which there are 55 in the House and Senate. Congresswoman Karen Bass is the chair of the caucus. She reacted to this plan along with Jerry Nadler, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, and other members today by saying it was inadequate.

We don't need a study about chokeholds. We don't need a study about a warrant -- no-knock warrants and the rest. We know what we need to do. She is determined that we will act in a bipartisan -- Congresswoman Bass, determined to act as much as possible in a bipartisan way.

But we don't need a window dressing toothless bill. We need to take action that is real.

And as mentioned in our legislation, we have strong provisions that ban chokeholds, that ban racial profiling, that ban a no-knock warrant, that have real data collection that is accessible and transparent from one department to the next. So it isn't about just recognizing.

As she said, they have taken their lead from some of our pointers. But they have pulled their punch when it came to getting the job done.

But it's a -- again, we never have seen hundreds of thousands of people day in and day out on the streets of our country and spread throughout the world to say, we need justice in policing.

We want to recognize those who do their jobs well, but we cannot tolerate the brutality of some. And so this legislation is very important.

And I would hope rather than name-calling, as Senator -- well, he calls himself, so I can reference it, Grim Reaper, Senator McConnell, who never really wants to get legislation done but just wants to have a bill out there that recognizes the concern, but does not act upon it in a way that will make a difference.

KEILAR: So suffice to say you really do not like the Senate Republican bill.

But I wonder, and I want to ask you a question about process. The reason I'm asking it is because it may speak to whether something actually gets done here in terms of a compromise. Would you encourage Senate Democrats to start a debate on this

Republican bill, even though you do not like it, just so that this process can get started and you can move towards a compromise with provisions that do you like?

PELOSI: Well, that's up to the Senate Democrats. Senator Booker and Senate Harris very much a part of putting together the legislation we all stood behind under leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus, House and Senate by caucus. So I take my lead from them in the Senate.

In the House, we will be passing this bill very soon. It is being marked up today. It may go over until tomorrow. I'm not sure. Depends on the committee work. And voter rules. And then we will bring it to the floor.

Really, how much study do you have to do about a chokehold? Or racial profiling? Or no-knock warrants in the case of drug cases and the rest?


It's one -- it's great. I love what the president said about data collection. If you're not sharing it, it's not transparent from one department to the next or to the public, then it's --

KEILAR: But --

PELOSI: -- what good is it if it isn't available for accountability?

KEILAR: But with the aim of taking that, which obviously you do not like, and so clearly laid out the reasons you don't like it. And I know you don't want to tell other Democrats in the other chamber how to do their job.

But the difference is moving forward on the Senate bill, or not moving forward on the Senate bill, and essentially killing all chances to get a compromise. You know, how do you see that? Which way would you want to go?

PELOSI: What is the compromise? Is it a compromise that you can have chokeholds, no-knock warrants, that you can do racial profiles? You can collect data but can't share it? I don't see that as a compromise.

But I'll leave it up to Karen Bass, chairman of the Black Caucus. She's put together a package and also chairs the crime committee of the Judiciary Committee. She knows of what she speaks and how she writes legislation. I'll leave it up to them to go.

We always want to have bipartisanship on an issue of this magnitude, but it has to be, it has to be real.

This is about injustice. And we have another injustice at the same time, which is disparity and the impact of the coronavirus on communities of color in our country.

We see, also, a resistance to passing legislation that would address that disparity, which would record those differences, and which would act upon it, testing, tracing, treating, social distancing, to get the job done. But, again, to address the injustice of it all to communities of color.

Senator Mitch McConnell has said we don't want any of that. We don't want any of this and we don't want any of that. Well, let's see if we can't work together to get the job done for the American people.

It's an important -- there's so many injustices, whether it's health care, whether it's the economy, whether it's environmental injustice. The list goes on and on.

But in terms of the coronavirus, we have to defeat that virus, and one place to do so is in communities of color.

KEILAR: You know, anyone who knows your legislative record knows you know how to negotiate. You know how to whip votes. You know how to compromise. We saw it recently with the USMCA.

I want to go back to this, because there are people in your caucus who don't want to see a compromise. It's only a few months here before the election. I know they're thinking on why not allow -- they do want, some of them do want an issue, not the compromise.

Why give the president perhaps a victory when they could hope that a Democrat is in the White House and this might be something the Democrats can champion?

I will ask you


KEILAR: -- the Senator Tim -- OK. So Senator Tim Scott --


PELOSI: I don't know if you have an example of one person or two, but that is not the case. We're talking about life and death. We're talking about, you know, there were people that said, why did you give them the Mexico/U.S. trade agreement? Give him that victory?

I said, well, it's a victory for the American people. Collateral benefit to him. But why would we, when it came to jobs, the environment and prescription drugs and other issues we dealt with there? We'd rather have legislation that creates jobs and is go for the American people than at issue with Republicans.

We're talking about life and death, chokeholds, we're talking about 8:46 on a person's neck. We're talking about getting the job done.

I completely disagree with the characterization that people would rather have other people die so that we would have a political issue, and it simply is not true.

KEILAR: I just want to be clear, Speaker --


PELOSI: It's certainly not true of Karen Bass, who's been working her whole life for 47 years working on criminal justice issues. We couldn't be better served than by that.

So somebody has said that to you, I grant, you may have heard that. I haven't.

KEILAR: OK. I want to be clear that the characterization of what I was saying was not about you mentioned people dying, I just want to be clear. That wasn't my characterization, And I will say to you


KEILAR: -- people are not, Democrats are not saying that in public.

I want to talk to you about something else.


KEILAR: Sorry, speaker?


PELOSI: No. I haven't heard anybody say that at all. If they did say


PELOSI: -- say about U.S./Mexico trade agreement but I haven't heard them say it about this. No.

KEILAR: OK, I want to talk about something else. The past weeks, we've seen renewed debate over Confederate statues.


KEILAR: You were speaker back in 2006. I wonder, with hindsight, do you wish that you would have removed them from the capitol then?

PELOSI: Well, I removed Robert E. Lee. I put him down in the -- into the crypt. Right now, the mood in the country is so completely different, and the desire to rid ourselves of any of these symbols of bigotry and hatred is much stronger.

Legislation will come forward and, hopefully, can could pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president. I have announcements tomorrow about all of this as well.

But, no, Robert E. Lee was a big one. There are, I think, it's 11 statues in the capitol. Now, they were sent there by their states. So their states determine who that represents them in the capitol.

But I think now with the mood in the country, it is such that these states are going to have to rethink. They can send them, but I don't know that we have to display them. That's the discussion we'll be involved in. I decided we weren't displaying Robert E. Lee when I was speaker. And

that we put Rosa Parks and we put many more sojourner truth. We tried to, shall we say, diversify the manifestations of the American people that are in the capitol just to name two.

KEILAR: Let's talk about masks now. If Republicans do refuse to wear them in committee meetings if they go on the floor, and they're not wearing a mask, refusing to wear one, will they be refused entry to those meetings and on the floor?

PELOSI: Well, the floor and the meetings are two different things. The floor is a place we have regulations put forth by the sergeant-at-arms and the capitol physician's office of just a limited number of people on the floor at any given time for a short period of time to come off and on to vote.

In the committee meetings, we're talking about meetings where you come and you stay, and you discuss and the rest. And that is the memo that this -- capitol physician put out yesterday to say, and in those meetings, members must wear a mask. It went pretty well today because this is about stopping the spread of the virus.

It's also not only to protect yourself, but to protect others. And people are very -- members are very concerned.

I've heard from many members who say, how can I go into that room where other people are not wearing a mask and then go home to my home where my children are or my parents are, and have a risk to them, because somebody didn't want to wear a mask. I think it's going well here.

What I am concerned about is the attitude of the president and the vice president of the United States. For the president to have this ego trip he wants to take to Tulsa, to have a mass rally of people coming together endangering their own health and the people that they go home to.

For the vice president of the United States to talk about, to go visiting places without a mask is a bad example to the public.

Today is June 17th. On March 17th, there were 100 known deaths from the coronavirus in the United States. Today, on June 17th, there are over 117,000 deaths from the coronavirus. A complete failure on the part of this administration for calling it a hoax, it's going to go away magically, there's going to be a miracle.

For the vice president to have an op-ed in the paper today saying what the foundation that they laid is cause for celebration, 117,000 deaths to two million infections a cause for celebration. I don't think so.

We have in our HEROES Act --


PELOSI: -- the initiative for massive testing, tracing, and social distance to defeat the virus. We don't have a vaccine. We don't have a cure. Hopefully, soon. But we do have testing.


KEILAR: Do you worry the president going to Tulsa people can die as a result of going to his rally?

PELOSI: I worry they can become infected. We don't know how it would go from there. But the -- all of the science is there. But the -- all of the science have spoken out, from the leading health experts and academic institutions that people should be tested, that say they should wear masks, that we're way behind testing in our country.

And the rate of death in our country -- we're among the worst in the world because we didn't pay serious attention to this.

I'm a mom and a grandmother and I just can't even tolerate the thought that the leadership in our country -- we're putting important money, giving them important money for all of these things, and they're ignoring the need we have for increased testing, treatment, and separation, wearing masks and the rest.

It's a danger to the president himself. And he's our president. We don't want him to be endangered. But we don't want --


KEILAR: Well, I want to --


KEILAR: I want to ask you about the president and his health. You have seen the video of him at West Point. He was walking unsteadily. He said he wanted to make sure he didn't slip down that ramp. There was an image of him trying to drink a cup of water, where he needed sort of an extra hand to help.

Do you have any concerns about his health?

PELOSI: I have concerns about the health of the American people. I have concerns about the statements the president has made, minimizing the risk the coronavirus has made to their good health. That's what I'm concerned about.

Of course, we always are concerned about the health and safety of the president and vice president of the United States and their families.

But they should reciprocate in kind and have some concern about the health of the American people and not blame it on the press. They're blaming this concern about the virus on the press, that it's something you all cooked up.

In terms of what they have done, it's cause for celebration, I don't think so.

But we really have to -- this -- we have to get this under control. And 103 months ago, 117,000 now calls for celebration. No, Mr. Vice President, you make me sad because you're a person of faith.

We're prayerful about praying for a cure and a vaccine and praying for the good health of the American people, not to minimize the risk they are taking because the president doesn't want to wear a mask and he wants an ego trip in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

KEILAR: Madam Speaker, thank you so much for coming on CNN. We're very grateful --


PELOSI: Thank you. I wish it were under different circumstances. But hopefully, we'll have bipartisanship and pass the HEROES Act, as well as the Justice and Policing Act as well.

Thank you.

KEILAR: Speaker Pelosi, thanks again.

Sixteen friends warning Americans after they tested positive for coronavirus following a night out at a bar.

Plus, the feds say he targeted officers during the Black Lives Matter protests. And now a suspected anti-government extremist is charged with murder.

And we're awaiting the announcement by Georgia prosecutors on whether the officers in Rayshard Brooks' killing will be charged. Stand by for that.



KEILAR: Just as coronavirus cases are spiking in 21 states, an official in the Trump administration tells CNN that the president has largely tuned out of the efforts to contain the virus and that he and his closest aides are in denial.

CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, has this reporting.

What are you hearing, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, along with my colleague, Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond, we're reporting on -- and this is something we've been tracking for some time now, how the president has turned his attention away from the coronavirus.

I talked to an administration official last night, administration exposed to the task force who said the president, the vice president, other top officials at the White House are in denial and they're not dealing with the reality of the situation when it comes to the pandemic.

Other sources close to the president say that's not the case but that he's tuned to the economy right now and the development of the vaccine. But that he's essentially moved on. We saw some of that play out, I think, in the campaign, setting up the rally for this Saturday in Tulsa.

I tried a few months ago to press the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, on whether the White House and the president will take responsibility if people who go to the rally on Saturday, somehow get sick from the coronavirus. She would not answer the question.

She tried to draw an equivalency between people going to the rally this Saturday and protesters demonstrating in the streets the last couple of weeks after the death of George Floyd. So, they just, Brianna, don't want to deal with these questions.

Quite often, you'll see officials in the White House, including president and vice president, not wearing masks, and so on.

And you know, one of the things we've seen in our reporting, my colleagues, Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond reporting this, some members of the task force are holding side meetings to have these kinds of discussions about pertinent issues on their own, away from the daily coronavirus -- or we should say, regular Coronavirus Task Force meetings.


They don't have them on a daily basis anymore. There's one today. But they don't have them as often anymore.