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CNN NEWSROOM

Tulsa Health Director Recommends Trump Rally be Postponed, Warns Attendees "Face Increased Risk" of COVID Infection; Juneteenth Rallies Nationwide Amid America's Social Unrest; Trump Flagged for Manipulated Video Involving Toddlers; Georgia GOP Speaker, Rep. David Ralston, (R-GA) and House Speaker, Discusses Pushing for Hate Crimes Law in Georgia & Mail-In Ballots. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 19, 2020 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:00:00]

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It eclipses yesterday's record of 120. And now it is 125 today. Every single day it seems that there has been increased concern about the pandemic in this community.

But you wouldn't know it by anybody here. In fact, there are face masks that are for sale at some of these stalls, but it doesn't appear that anybody is taking them.

And the worry is by the Health Department and by the city officials you will have at least 20,000 people packing inside of the center. That's the venue for the president's rally.

Even though they will be handing our masks and sanitizer, it's expected that many people, those who support this protest are going to adhere to the policy, definitely not social distancing.

And so those packed inside for hours on end in the middle of a pandemic spike in this city, is just a recipe for disaster, according to medical officials, Brianna. And right, now they don't know how far it will spread after this event.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Even the president admits that some people will get the virus from his event.

Martin, thank you, from Tulsa.

Across the country right now, marches, rallies and celebrations are under way marking the historic Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America.

And it now comes amid growing demands for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.

CNN is on the scene coast to coast as people of all races, all ages, from all walks of life, are demanding change.

Let's go first to CNN's Pete Muntean at a rally in Washington.

Pete, tell us what you're seeing. PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is just one of a dozen

marches going on here in the District of Columbia today. This group is gathering in the shadow of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

They will march down Constitution Avenue, past the Washington Monument, all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Of course, it was President Lincoln who signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

But it was two years before the slaves in Texas found out about their freedom.

This whole conversation about Juneteenth has really become a major part of this narrative about changing racial injustice in the country, changing police brutality in the country.

And we saw another march earlier with pro athletes, from the Wizards and the Mystics. We heard from Natasha Cloud, who is on that championship NBA, and she said that this is such an important time for the country, making a specific jab at President Trump, saying that folks here in the district need to get out and vote.

More pro athletes saying that they need to use their platform as players but really people first.

Cloud said they can remove her jersey, but she can't remove the fact that she is black. And she's trying to get more people involved in this conversation, more people out and marching.

This is the confluence of a weekend of events in Washington, D.C. They'll be marches on Saturday, marches on Sunday.

And one really powerful moment that happened, in that pervious march, everyone marched down to the Martin Luther King Jr memorial and said the names, said Breonna Taylor, said George Floyd, said Rayshard Brooks, in a somber moment, moment of silence that has really become crucially important in the center of power in the United States -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Pete, thank you so much. Pete Muntean.

I want to go now to Chicago and bring in CNN's Omar Jimenez.

You were at a Juneteenth rally there. Tell us good tell us about it, Omar.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna. Yes, we're right on the scene of a Juneteenth rally her. I want to walk you up right to the front. You can see this line of the march that is about to happen right here.

As you see, right front and center, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Senator Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth as well, all front and center for this march that is about to walk through downtown Chicago, right now, starting basically where the Columbus statue was, the one that was defaced over the course of the past few days. But again, this is a line for Juneteenth that the governor, J.B.

Pritzker, just told me, moments ago, is going to -- we'll move off to the side here -- the governor said moments ago he wants to make Juneteenth a state holiday. As even we've seen many companies who have made Juneteenth a holiday over the over the course of this to give people the day off here in the city of Chicago.

But as we turn back around, again, I want to give you a glimpse of as they start marching, to the right, you see them. And if you turn the other way as well, you can see basically how far they are going to march. It will be about a long three or four block march through Chicago's Grant Park.

Again, people on the scene here, there are hundreds behind just the notable public figures that you see in front there.

And it is very clear, they wanted to make a statement both at the state level and at the city level that their leadership is very much in line with this movement, that their leadership very much cares about the issues at play right now.

And you look no further than the actual signs they are holding. George Floyd on one side, George Floyd on the other. His name is a spark point for what has been a movement generations in the making.

[13:35:06]

You look at the signs, "No justice, not peace," "Black Lives Matter." Even white people showing up as well with signs that say, "White silence is violence."

It strikes me, in the words that Senator Tammy Duckworth said before this, it's one of the first times that we've seen people of all communities and colors acknowledging for the first time and agreeing that there's racism in this system. And we're seeing the manifestation of that now.

KEILAR: Thank you so much, Omar, for taking us there to this rally for Juneteenth in Chicago as it just gets under way there near Grant Park.

It was an innocent moment, white and black toddlers hugging each other. But now this beautiful moment has become politicized as the president shares a manipulated video of it. Hear the story behind this original video.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:40:56]

KEILAR: A presidential tweet running into trouble with Twitter for the third time in a month. This a portion of the Trump post that Twitter is labeling manipulated media. The video shows these two toddlers and presents it incorrectly as CNN coverage. It is not.

Going so far as to use a fake CNN graphic and misspelling, there as you see. It read, "Terrified toddler runs from racist baby." So the banner changes to racist baby probably a Trump voter.

Here is the thing, though, this was actually a really sweet beautiful story, two toddlers, best friends, one white, one black. Just so happy to see each other, hugging.

CNN and several media outlets covered the full version of the video last year. You can see for yourself.

Here is a version that CNN ran from our New York affiliate that originally aired the story, WPIX.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-six-month Maxwell and 27-month old Finnegan, pure joy at the sight of one another, running to hug each other much bigger than their size. The innocence of it all is why it is going viral.

MICHAEL CISNEROS, FATHER OF ONE OF THE BOYS: They just took off toward each other and I got my phone out as quickly as possible and I tried to record it. And they are just too cute together.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cute is an understatement. Michael Cisneros, Maxwell's dad, shot the video. He says he's not normally one to post private things but explains why he decided to in this case.

CISNEROS: With all the racism and hate going on, I just think that it is a beautiful video.

And the reason that it is getting attention, it is a little black boy and a little white boy. But if it can change someone's mind or just change their view on things, then it is totally worth it.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: At last check, it has gotten over 300 shares and 6500 views. The comments are mostly positive. But there are some naysayers.

CISNEROS: Definitely not staged. It was just a lucky moment that I got on camera. And now with all the attention, it will be a great story when he is older.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: The point-sized best friends have known each other for over a year now. It's a special relationship. And their parents are good friends as well.

(CROSSTALK)

CISNEROS: There's not anyone that comes close to Finnegan's status in Maxwell's eyes. Great to spread the love and show people that kind of love and beauty in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And I want to discuss this now with CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, who is with us.

It is such a sweet moment. I think especially as we need so many sweet moments right now during these hard times.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

KEILAR: It almost brings a sweet little tear to your eye.

And the president just took this and he made it so nasty. This is not the way the dad intended this. And he sort of stole this moment.

What do you think of this?

BORGER: Yes. Well, I think this is a president -- first of all, I think it is ridiculous and I think that it is sad actually because it was a sweet video of which the parents were so happy to present.

And this is a president who somehow finds it OK to retweet doctored videos without stopping to think, wait a minute, I'm the president of the United States here. Don't I have to confirm this? This is archived for example. Brianna, you know that.

And you know that he has retweeted doctored videos of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. And even though Twitter is now call willing him out on it, he doesn't seem to care.

KEILAR: And when I saw this, one of the things that I thought was it is not like he doesn't have someone very close to someone close to him talking about why this online nastiness is terrible.

Melania Trump has made this a cornerstone of her agenda as first lady. She said, at one point, let's face it, most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults.

"In today's global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children's daily lives. It can be used in many positive ways but can also be harmful when used incorrectly."

[13:45:08]

I mean, this is -she's saying this. She seems to get it. Her husband doesn't get it. They are parents of one boy together. He is the parent of -- and has grandkids who are little.

I mean, the idea that if something like this were used when it came to their kids in a justified way how much an uproar there would be. There seems to be no irony lost for the president.

BORGER: No, no irony lost.

Just this morning, OK, it is Juneteenth, just this morning the president is getting ready for his rally tomorrow. And what does he do? He delivers threats to people who intend to protest and says you won't be treated as gently as you were in New York or Seattle.

And what is that, Brianna? Telling people who -- you know, you said if you are looters or anarchists. But a lot of people there who want to protest peacefully, which is their constitutional right.

And instead of saying, you know, it is your constitutional right to protest, I hope you don't get violent, instead, he pours fuel on the entire situation and starts threatening them that they won't be treated well.

And that -- I don't know, is that bullying? What is that? Is that the kind of behavior you expect from a president?

KEILAR: No, no, it is not.

I will say, Gloria, I don't know how, but I totally miss that had video last year. So what I'm taking away from this, for the first time, I got to see this beautiful video of the two little boys and it warmed my heart.

BORGER: Exactly.

KEILAR: So that is what I'm walking away from this with.

BORGER: Me, too. Me, too.

KEILAR: Thank you for joining me.

Thanks, Gloria.

BORGER: Sure.

KEILAR: We have more on breaking news. Florida and Arizona setting records for the largest coronavirus surges. We'll take you there as the culture war over masks is boiling over.

Plus, the president reveals what he says is the greatest threat to his re-election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:51:39]

KEILAR: Time is running out for Georgia state lawmakers to pass a hate crimes bill. There are bipartisan calls for the legislation. But a bill already passed in the House has stalled in the Senate.

Georgia is one of four states in the nation that does not have a hate crimes bill.

And the bipartisan calls come in the middle of the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black jogger in south Georgia, who was chased down by a trio of white men and shot to death.

The Arbery family attorney said they believe the killing was motivated by hate. All three men in the case have been criminally charged. And the DOJ is looking at a possible federal hate crime charge as well.

One of the loudest supporters of the law in Georgia is Republican state House speaker, David Ralston, and he's joining me now. Thank you, sir, for being with us.

STATE REP. DAVID RALSTON, (R-GA): Thank you, Brianna. Good to be with you.

KEILAR: As I mentioned, Georgia is one of just less than a handful of states that doesn't have a hate crime law. It used to have one, but then it was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2004. Then there hasn't been one since.

Why has it been so difficult to move this along?

RALSTON: Well, I can't speak to that. I don't think there was a sufficiently strong effort made until 2019. And we decided at that point that, you know, this was really something we needed to join the rest of the nation in bringing into our law.

And I supported the efforts to pass a bipartisan bill. We passed that bill in March of 2019. And it's been in the state Senate now, for 469 days, hasn't had a committee hearing. We're running out of days.

But I'm still optimistic. I'm hopeful the Senate will choose to do the right thing and to pass this bill.

KEILAR: OK. So you're optimistic. And you're trying to get some of your Republican colleagues to move along on this, too. How can they still be opposing this when we've seen what's happened recently with George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and other examples that show the need for something like this?

RALSTON: I can't speak for the state Senate. But I can tell you that many of the Republicans who were concerned about the bill in 2019 looked at it now in a much different light.

I expect that, you know, if we voted on that bill today in the House, that the Republican vote would be even stronger.

I think that, you know, no one can look at the Arbery video and to read the investigative reports of what happened in Brunswick that day and not come to the conclusion that this was hate when you have that kind of cold-blooded point-blank killing.

And then you have the shooter stand over the body of Ahmaud Arbery as he lay on the street dying and utter one of the most viral racial epithets you can imagine. And, to me, it's very, very clear that it's hate.

[13:55:04]

And that makes it very, very clear why we need to pass this bill.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about the upcoming election. The president said in an interview with "Politico," out today, that mail-in voting would endanger his re-election and that it is the biggest threat to his candidacy. Back in April, you said, in reference to widespread absentee voting,

quote, "The president said it best. This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia."

I wonder now that you've seen what was really quite a debacle when it came to Georgia voting for the primary, and now you've seen the death toll from coronavirus and, obviously the, implications of that for standing in line for hours, if you've changed your mind?

RALSTON: Well, what I was getting at when I made those comments was the potential for fraud --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: But what fraud?

RALSTON: Well, I'll give you an example. One of the employees in my law office got a ballot addressed to her address, but it had another person's name on it. You know, she could have voted that had she decided to.

KEILAR: Did she?

RALSTON: It's like -- excuse me?

KEILAR: I said did she. Because the reason I ask, and I take your point. But the Heritage Foundation, which is a conservative think tank, has done extensive voter fraud research. And what they found was just 10 cases of absentee ballot fraud in Georgia in the course of 22 years.

So there's really zero evidence of any sort of widespread voter fraud in this country like you say you're worried about.

RALSTON: Well, I don't know what they looked at. But I have heard anecdotally of many instances. That was one of them. She, by the way, did not vote that ballot. She did the right thing --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Well, they're looking at data, Mr. Speaker. So you're not looking at the data.

RALSTON: Well, you can make the data do anything you kind of want to.

I am concerned, I am still concerned about the potential for fraud with wide scale mail-in voting. And I'm going to remain that way until I'm convinced otherwise.

KEILAR: But you know that I'm citing a conservative think tank when I tell you about that data.

RALSTON: I know you're citing the Heritage Foundation. I don't disagree that their tradition has been conservative.

KEILAR: OK. But you don't believe their data? Is that fair? RALSTON: I have not reviewed their data. I have looked at other data.

I can't tell you the exact sources of that today. But I also know what I hear from people in my community, and what I hear from people around the state of Georgia, who are concerned about this.

So it's not a partisan issue. I think it's more on issue of the possibility of fraud occurring and tainting our election process.

Now, you mentioned --

KEILAR: OK.

RALSTON: You mentioned the debacle in the primary. What we have done in the House of Representatives is I have instructed the Governmental Affairs Committee to conduct an independent investigation, not one that's run by the secretary of state or one that's run by the counties, to drill down in and bring back not finger pointing but facts.

Because there were many issues with that election, notwithstanding that we had a lot of mail-in voting, and there were problems with mail-in voting in that election.

And we have got to determine where they are. Frankly, at this point in time, you know, I'm not pre-judging where they are.

KEILAR: But we've heard accounts of people struggling to get absentee ballots, requesting them multiple times, for instance, in the Atlanta area, the Augusta area as well, not being able to get their absentee ballots.

I guess I just wonder. you saw the lines. You saw the lines of people waiting for hours. And we saw this in some predominantly black areas of Georgia.

I guess I wonder, because we have you on here talking about hate crimes. You talk convincingly about wanting to protect black Georgians from hate crimes. Why not want to protect them from the coronavirus, a disease that is disproportionately killing African-Americans?

RALSTON: Well, I do want to protect them from that. That's why we've taken measures during this session to do that. My desire to protect Georgians from the COVID-19 is not based on or influenced in any way by racial considerations.

[14:00:04]