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Attorney for Family of Rayshard Brooks Interviewed on District Attorney's Charges against Police Officer Who Killed Him; Cases of Coronavirus Rise in Florida and Arizona; Bolton: Trump's Not "Fit For Office," Lacks Competence. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 18, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And fighting for his life in a Wendy's parking lot.

And we're hearing from Rayshard Brooks himself in his own words just four months before he was killed. Brooks talks about trying to turn his life around after incarceration.


RAYSHARD BROOKS: I just feel like some of the system could look at us as individuals. We do have lives. It's just a mistake we made. And not just do us as if we are animals, lock us away.



Also this morning, coronavirus cases are surging now in 23 states. Ten states have set records for the highest seven-day average of new cases, despite those facts, and they are facts, President Trump remains in denial. He is insisting that the virus is, quote, dying out. It's not true. But he's moving ahead with his planned campaign rally this weekend in a crowded indoor arena.

CAMEROTA: But to our top story, joining us now is Justin Miller, one of the attorneys representing the family of Rayshard Brooks. Mr. Miller, thanks so much for being here.


CAMEROTA: I know that yesterday was very hard for the family. It was very emotional for them to hear the prosecutors lay out their case. What was -- what was the hardest part? What was particularly hard for the family?

MILLER: I think just hearing the different things that they didn't know about, like Mr. Brooks being kicked when he was down and them standing on him. I think that kind of thing was difficult. Tomika, Mr. Brooks' wife, she walked out a couple of times. She just couldn't take it.

CAMEROTA: The attorney for the -- the attorneys for the police officers who have now been charged, say that the prosecutors are misrepresenting what happened, that that's not true. And in fact, Officer Rolfe's attorney says the fact that they took a still frame of the video instead of playing the video is suspicious to him, and that his client never kicked Mr. Brooks. Let me just play for you what that attorney says.


LANCE LORUSSO, ATTORNEY FOR GARRETT ROLFE: My client never kicked Mr. Brooks. If there was a video of my client kicking Mr. Brooks, you would have seen it. He shows a still, and one leg is planted and the other is bent. He could be leaning down to give him first aid. It could have been when he was trying to evaluate whether he needed handcuffs. And this officer gave him CPR, monitored his pulse prior to that, talked to him to try to keep him breathing, and called for EMS and coordinated other efforts on the scene.


CAMEROTA: How about all of that? What's your response?

MILLER: Well, I think it's great that there's a video, so at some point we're going to see the video and we'll know exactly what happened. I think that the D.A.'s office wouldn't have charged something that they knew they couldn't prove and that they'd be embarrassed by if it was a lie. So we'll see the video, but I'm pretty sure -- I'm believe that there was a kick if they say there was a kick. No other reason to really put that out there for them.

CAMEROTA: But how about the rendering aid and the calling the emergency services? Do you have evidence that they didn't do that for those two minutes?

MILLER: We just have what we have been told by the D.A.'s office, and so they told us the same thing they have told you guys, that that didn't occur, and that the kicks and the standing did occur. So we're going off that now just like everybody else, and when the video comes out, everybody will get to see exactly what's going on and what happened.

CAMEROTA: Did you think it was strange that there was confusion between whether or not the other officer had turned state's evidence or not? The prosecutor made that declaration that that second officer, Brosnan, would be cooperating, and then his attorney said no, he's not.

MILLER: Yes, I think it was a little strange, but that's what people can hire attorneys for, so that they can represent them. That officer, he is not a lawyer, and the D.A.'s office, I don't know what really went on them in the D.A.'s office, so I can't really speak on it.

CAMEROTA: I want to play for you another clip of Rayshard Brooks in his own words. And this is from -- he was speaking to a criminal justice organization called Reconnect that I believe tries to help people who had been in jail find a way back to life. And he talks about how hard it is to rebuild after something like that. So let me play a portion of this.


RAYSHARD BROOKS: Oh, I have to have my guard up because the world is cruel. It took me through seeing different things in the system. It just makes you hardened to a point.


CAMEROTA: What do you think when you hear him speak like that, Mr. Miller?

MILLER: I think it's really sad. Mr. Brooks was clearly trying to get his life together, and by all accounts he was on the right path to doing that.


That documentary, and I watched the documentary, it shows that he was a person who was kind of understanding life and kind of putting it all together. So for him to be taken away at this time is just really heartbreaking.

CAMEROTA: Was he struggling to turn his life around?

MILLER: I think so. I think he had turned it around at that point. He was working, he had great relationships with his family. I think he had it together. At that time when that was made, he was just expressing how he felt trying to get it together. So like I said, it's really heartbreaking that he had to die over a DUI stop.

CAMEROTA: Were you surprised or was the Brooks family surprised at the charges, at the fact that there were 11 charges filed against one of the officers, the officer who shot Mr. Brooks, and that one of them is felony murder that carries the death penalty? I don't think you often see that against police officers involved in these kinds of crimes.

MILLER: I can't say if the family was surprised. I know I was surprised, but I was happy, because that's a good first step towards justice.

CAMEROTA: Ddo you think that will make it more tough to get a conviction? We have already heard from Attorney General Ellison in Minneapolis that it will be a challenge there to get a conviction in that case. Do you worry about that here now particularly with these charges?

MILLER: It is always a challenge in these cases every single time. It doesn't matter what is charged. So this time, hopefully justice prevails. And it's going to be hard, but we're waiting -- we're waiting optimistically, and we hope justice does prevail this time. Let me just say that. CAMEROTA: I understand, but do you think the felony murder charge

will make it harder?

MILLER: It will be difficult. I don't know specifically if that specific charge will make it harder though. I can't say.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Miller, we really appreciate you coming on NEW DAY. It's always great to talk to you.

MILLER: No problem, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

Van Jones will bring us more from that February interview with Rayshard Brooks coming up in just a few minutes.

SCIUTTO: We have this breaking news on the coronavirus. The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, sounding a major alarm about the future of professional sports this fall. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he spoke to Dr. Fauci. Tell us what he's telling you.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there was concern, as you guys know about and have been reporting, regarding baseball and when that season, if it was going to happen, when it should likely end given a possible resurgence of this virus in the fall. So that brings up the question about other sports. And I talked to Dr. Fauci and asked specifically about football, because obviously a later season. I'll show you a little bit of what he said.

He obviously has concerns, but bringing up this idea that in order for this to work properly, in order for a team to be able to do this, players would essentially have to be inside a bubble, not really having significant interaction from the community. They'd need to be tested nearly every day. It would be hard to see how football, he said, would be able to be played, given that there's likely going to be a second wave and a predictable flu season. If you start to add in all these various things, you can see the last line there, football may not happen this year.

So unfortunately, the season starts, the training camps start at the end of July, the season starts in September. This is the exact time, I think as many people know, where two things could be happening at the same time. You could get an uptick. I won't call it a second wave because that would imply that a first wave has come and gone. We're not there yet by any means. But you could still see an uptick in the September and the fall months. And then flu season, which begins end of September, early October on top of that, could really worsen things as well. So legitimate concerns that Dr. Fauci is raising there.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, let me put up for you and our viewers what's happening in Florida right now. We have a graph of the cases and how they have developed over the past months so you can see a big spike in cases in the past week.

GUPTA: Yes. CAMEROTA: So some scientists and modelers have suggested that Florida

is the new epicenter for coronavirus. What do you think?

GUPTA: Yes, I think we're starting to see -- the big concern always has been when you start to reopen you knew there was going to be an increase in the number of people infected. So the question, is the line going to go from here to here like that, and then stay at that higher level of plateau. I think the concern has always been does that then turn into exponential growth.

Think of it like a big steamship. The big steamship is plodding along slowly, but now it's gaining speed. And if it gains significant speed, it becomes really hard to slow down, it becomes a runaway ship.


So that is the concern I think in Florida, amplified by this idea that we have identified who the vulnerable populations are to this disease. A lot of people are going to get the infection and have very minimal symptoms. They may not even know they had it. They say some 80 percent of people will be like that. The problem is you start to superimpose that on vulnerable populations, elderly populations, people with preexisting conditions, and it turns into a real problem. Then it's not just cases. It's hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths. So there's always a lag period here. We have been watching the numbers in Florida very, very carefully. We have been watching numbers in many states carefully. You talk about new epicenters. Arizona within the next couple of days may surpass where New York was at its highest level with regard to hospitalizations. Arizona is a state that is one-third the size in terms of population of New York. So not only could this be as bad, it could be worse in some of the other states.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, we know who's not doing it right, a state like Arizona, for instance, Florida, and that's based on the White House's own standards for this. Show two weeks of a downward trend in cases and then you can reopen. So we know who is violating those standards, and you're know seeing the results of that. Who, if anyone, is doing reopening well in your view? Which states are following the guidelines, contact tracing when they have outbreaks, et cetera?

GUPTA: There's been a few states that have -- Washington state I think was an example. They had the first confirmed diagnosis. And I think part of the issue is that contact tracing can be done right if you don't have explosive growth. If you're able to do this early, get testing done early, and contact tracing done early, then I think it makes a big difference.

The problem is that we are the United States, so people are still moving around. If you have a particular community or a particular state where things are going well, but then you have an influx of people from other states, it can be a real problem. If a state opens early and then other people start to visit that state, it can be a real problem. So it's hard to hold up a particular model here.

It doesn't mean that it can't be done. We know there's places around the world where you've had successful implementation of these basic public health policies, and they have been able to really reduce the explosive rate of infections and explosive rate of hospitalizations. I hope that we can still do that here. I think we're going to have other chances to do that here. The problem is it's kind of like we got partway through the treatment. The patient started to feel better, this treatment is working, I feel better, I'm going to stop the treatment and just go back to things as normal. That's like stopping antibiotics early, stopping chemotherapy early. What happens? The disease comes back.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, we know that Dr. Fauci hasn't, he said he hadn't met with President Trump for weeks, but that yesterday he was going to be briefing Vice President Pence. Did you get any scoop out of him about that?

GUPTA: It sounded like it was a routine meeting. I don't know if they were going to talk about the increased levels of rates on infection in many states, talk about making sure there was enough supply chain issues, talk about potential new treatments. But the idea of the disconnect between testing and levels of infection, I don't know how much of that came up. There was not a lot of insight into this meeting. It was a private meeting. A lot of these meetings are being done via phone nowadays.

So it's tough. This is a separate group that banded together, the doctors' group that came together, to basically try and provide as much input as they can. I think what it's tough to get a sense of for me and a lot of other people who are digging into this is just how much are they being listened to?

SCIUTTO: Well, if you base it on the president's comments, denying the data, does not appear that they're listened to. Dr. Gupta, thanks very much.

Be sure to join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for an all-new Coronavirus Town Hall, that is tonight, 8:00, only on CNN.

John Bolton is certainly not holding back. He's calling President Trump incompetent, unfit for office. Will there be fallout from these allegations? Will anybody ask him to testify under oath? What does it all mean?




JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think he's fit for office. I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job. There really isn't any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what's good for Donald Trump's re-election.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Keep in mind who that is. That is President Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, appointed by the president, a life-long Republican, painting a devastating, alarming picture of President Trump in his new book.

Joining me now is CNN political analyst Josh Dawsey. He's read the Bolton book and, of course, the president covered the president for some time.

Listen, Josh, you and I have talked a lot and you and I have covered incidents, decisions, events, in this presidency. The scope of malfeasance that John Bolton describes here as a first hand witness we should note is truly remarkable, getting not just to fitness but the president repeatedly making decisions purely in his own interests and not in the country's interests.

One of them being -- asking the president of China for help in Trump's re-election this year. Please put this into context for some degree for viewers.

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what John Bolton depicts in the book is an extensive array of considerations from the president that are all about his political interest as you said, a president who is kind of unmoored from foreign policy. He says he's stunningly uninformed and erratic. He goes through a litany of countries where he says the president was waffling (AUDIO GAP) just on what he needed to do to get re-elected, from Venezuela to Iran to North Korea.

And one of the more astonishing claims, as you said, is the allegation that he asked Chinese President Xi to help him win re-election by buying more agricultural products. He said that will help him politically and he should do that.

SCIUTTO: There's more.


Vladimir Putin, in particular, of course the president has described him as strong -- stronger than any previous president a number of times. Let's listen for a moment to how John Bolton describes Putin's effect, his hold over Trump. Have a listen.


BOLTON: I think Putin thinks he can play him like a fiddle. I think Putin is smart, tough. I think he sees that he's not faced with a serious adversary here. I don't think he's worried about Donald Trump.


SCIUTTO: That contradicts the whole aura that Trump tries to create for himself, not just around Putin but world leaders, America's position in the world.

Did the White House have a response, a substantive response to that description?

DAWSEY: Well, they have not yet, but we have been told to expect an onslaught of attacks against John Bolton. You saw the president's tweets after midnight calling him a wacko and a dope, and they're both curiously saying that the book is classified and he could be subject to criminal charges by he's saying it's false. So, it would be an interesting delineation to see from the White House on which parts are, quote/unquote, false, and which parts are, quote/unquote, false.

SCIUTTO: And that would fit with the pattern, which is, of course, attack the person, not the substance often of the allegations. We saw that throughout the impeachment inquiry. Regardless of who that person, the trouble for the White House here is this is a consistent picture of him and his presidency by a number of people who served him and were appointed by him and many of them life-long Republicans if you're talking about Jim Mattis, John Kelly and John Bolton here, you know, first hand witnesses to this.

I just wonder do you hear -- and you speak to people on the Hill who are Republicans and Democrats, do you hear any Republicans who in private will say, yes, this is a problem? Because in public, we saw them reverting to the normal attacks as well.

DAWSEY: Of course, in private, they say it's a problem, Jim. I mean, if you talk to senators or Republican congressmen on the Hill who have been watching for a long time, they see the erraticism of this. Some of them, at least.

But the president remains broadly popular in his party. You know, approval ratings north of 80, 90 percent, and there's not much to be gained in their mind for attacking him. And they also -- you know, a lot of folks are frustrated with Bolton here because he didn't testify during the impeachment and he's held these accusations for so long that I think you'll see some criticism of what he's done in the book from folks on the Hill.

Even though John Bolton has been a stalwart of the Republican at a foreign policy firmament, he's been a Fox News contributor for decades, he's been, you know, close to a lot of Republicans and he's seen as kind of a wise old man on Republican traditional foreign policy, I think you're going to see criticisms from him, chiefly, that, you know, he waited and made all these accusations in a very lucrative book deal. He didn't make them at the time of the impeachment and that, you know, he could have divulged some material that people don't think how about public.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, listen, another one too, he says that President Trump gave Chinese President Xi Jinping a pass, his approval, to build concentration camps in the 21st century for a million Muslims, concentration camps. It's truly remarkable here.

So, they will attack Bolton. He doesn't work for this president anymore. Bolton describes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who's been a very public defender of the president as considering resigning himself, as at one point passing a note to Bolton during North Korea discussions that the president is full of shit. What happens with Pompeo now?

DAWSEY: Well, one of the main characters in the book is Mike Pompeo. He's mentioned dozens and dozens of times, and what Bolton depicts here is a secretary of state who is also concerned about the president's temperament, his ability to make decisions, his view of the world, and he says -- Bolton says that Pompeo, he's kind of aligned with him on a lot of the different fronts.

Last night, obviously, the president expressed confidence in Mike Pompeo. You are seeing folks around Pompeo deny allegations in the book. You saw AG Barr's people denying part of the accusations in the book. So you're going to see some fierce push back from Mike Pompeo.

What's interesting though, Jim, he kept such copious notes. If you look through the book, there are entire scenes that are quoted word for word for word. He describes what day they were, where they were, who was in the room.

So, even if you think John Bolton is a faulty person or you don't agree with him ideologically, in some of the places, he appears to really have the receipts because he wrote down everything he saw and heard.

SCIUTTO: By the way, contemporaneous notes are admissible in court proceedings, for instance. I mean, they have weight even in legal proceedings.

Josh Dawsey, great to have you on.


DAWSEY: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: The killing of Rayshard Brooks has added to the nationwide outcry for racial justice. Will Congress reach an agreement to reform police departments? There's a disagreement now between the Republicans and Democrats. We will ask the third ranking Democrat in the House, Congressman James Clyburn. That is next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The House Judiciary Committee advanced their sweeping police reform bill, which is expected to go to the House floor next week, as two former police officers in Atlanta face multiple charges for the killing of Rayshard Brooks.

Joining us now is House majority whip, Congressman James Clyburn.

Good morning, congressman.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: Good morning. Good morning. Thanks for having for me.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

So, you and the Congressional Black Caucus came up with your ideas for police reform and the Democrats got behind those. And then Senator Tim Scott came up with his ideas for police reform and Republicans have gotten behind those. But they're quite -- I don't know if they're quite different but they're markedly different in that yours have mandates for reform and the Republicans have kind of incentives for reform.