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Navy Upholds Firing of Captain Crozier; Bolton Allegations Crystalize Trump's Respect for Dictators; Juneteenth Rallies Nationwide Amid America's Racial Unrest; Garland Pruitt, President, Tulsa NAACP, Discusses Trump Rally in Oklahoma Amid Pandemic and Amid Social Unrest; Federal Judge Hears Arguments to Block John Bolton's Book. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 19, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: He is going to be held responsible for poor judgment by all accounts, that he did not respond to this crisis appropriately in the eyes of the Navy.

But that's not all. A two-star admiral also on the ship, who was senior to him, obviously -- a one star, pardon me -- his promotion to two-star, will also be put on hold as the Navy looks at what role that admiral may have played and what has to be done about him. This all coming to congressional officials.

The Navy has not spoken publicly. We do in all candor expect them to potentially speak about this in the coming hours.

But this was a case that was seen around the world, that was seen by so many people as a Navy captain sending an email that went viral, that went public for which he was roundly criticized. Many people around the world saw it as a Navy captain trying to save his crew from the virus that he was doing the very best he could. That certainly was a narrative out there.

But now the Navy we are told from Congressional officials will say that he simply did not perform to the standards of command and he will be removed as the commander of the "Teddy Roosevelt" -- Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: What was it, like, a quarter of the crew tested positive? There was one death, right, Barbara? And that was with them offloading so many of the sailors from the carrier.

STARR: That's right. Just to remind people, a carrier carries 4,000- plus crew members. They tried to do a quarantine. They tried to get sailors off the ship as much as they could to hotel spaces in Guam where they were finally able to dock.

But this was a ship where the virus somewhat mysteriously at the time spread wildly amongst hundreds of crew members. And there was a -- for weeks, the Navy struggled to get a handle on it.

Even the Centers for Disease Control conducted a blood and serology study on some of the sailors to try and get a fix on why on this one ship it spread so massively through so many hundreds of crew members.

Because it was really important to figure out if this ship told them something specific about the spread of coronavirus that was important, of course, to the rest of the world to know about medically how it spread.

So the question now is, if we learn more in the coming hours about the report, will there be some logical explanations here that perhaps the military does bear some responsibility.

If they were not able to get a handle on it quick enough, if they weren't able to isolate people, test people, get them into quarantine, the virus spread like wildfire through that ship by all accounts.

And that, itself, Brianna, may be a telling lesson to the rest of us.


Barbara Starr, thank you so much, live from the Pentagon.

STARR: Thanks.

KEILAR: Just this week, Facebook has removed a Trump campaign ad containing imagery similar to a Nazi symbol.

And excerpts from a new book by former national security advisor, John Bolton, alleges President Trump told China that locking up Muslims in camps was fine, in fact continue building them, he encouraged.

The president also allegedly told the president and leader of the Communist Party in China that Americans want to change the Constitution so he can serve more than two terms. He also again questions whether he'd accept the results of the upcoming election.

Does that feel weird to you? Kind of foreign, maybe? That's because it is foreign. This doesn't happen in America. Or it didn't. This is the stuff of dictatorships. It is un-American.

I want to bring in CNN Espinol's Andres Oppenheimer. He's an author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated journalist of the "Miami Herald."

Andres, this only crystallizes the president's respect for dictators.

ANDRES OPPENHEIMER, CNN ESPINOL ANCHOR: Yes. It may be news for many Americans. But for many of us who have been covering Latin America for decades, this is a movie we've seen many, many times.

I wrote, Brianna, as far back in 2015 a column in the "Miami Herald" when Trump was just starting his campaign saying that Trump had many things in common with Hugo Chavez, the late dictator, whatever you want to call it.

There's several things they have in common. First, often times, populist demagogues, like Chaves, they always need to create an enemy. In Chavez's case, it was the evil U.S. empire. In Trump's case, it was Mexico. The Mexicans who allegedly were

invading the U.S. Well, in fact, every serious study shows that Mexico's illegal immigration had gone down for the previous 10 years.

Second, demagogues, in addition to needing to create enemies constantly to wrap themselves around the flag, they play the victimization game. In Hugo Chavez's case, he said he's a victim of the U.S. empire and they wanted to kill him, et cetera, et cetera.


In Trump's case, it's the deep state rf the Supreme Court or whoever is the villain of the day. It's always he's a victim of bigger powers they want to undo his presidency.

Then populist demagogues like Chavez always use the word "I." I once counted Chavez speech, in which he said the words "I" and "me" 489 times in one speech.

I haven't done it with Trump except when I wrote that column in 2015. But in Trump's acceptance speech, he mentioned the word "I" 220 times. Not as bad as Chavez.

But finally, Brianna --


KEILAR: But a lot.

OPPENHEIMER: Finally, populist authoritarian leaders, demagogues, whatever you want to call them, they always have another thing in common, which is blaming the media, calling the media the enemy of the people.

In a nutshell, it may be a new phenomenon in America, maybe Americans are not used to having a populist president. But those of us covering Latin America for decades, it's the same playbook, the same sentences, the same tone.

KEILAR: Yes. There's a playbook. It's just not an American one. It is now.

Andres Oppenheimer, thank you so much.

OPPENHEIMER: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Across the country, right now, marches and celebrations are underway marking Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America. This comes amid growing demands nationwide for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.

What you're looking at here are live pictures coming to us from Oakland, California, there on the left. Washington, D.C., on the right at the Lincoln Memorial there only National Mall.

These are pictures of rallies that are taking place across the country. Several of them taking place across the country.

I want to bring in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, you are at a rally in Atlanta, right? Tell us about this. Tell us what protesters are saying.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To be honest, this feels more like I'm at church than at a protest with the music playing. This is Christian contemporary music. Several churches from the Atlanta area have gotten together and have joined here in one big service. You can hear the music they're playing.

There's been a lot of dancing, a lot of praising. And also I have to say talk of justice and social healing, healing throughout the country.

The group here -- there were several thousand at one point. Some still lingering. They marched, actually, from here, downtown Atlanta, over to the capitol. Then they returned here. And they've all been here as you can see dancing, talking about social justice, talking about healing. Bringing all sorts of different churches together.

You can see a very diverse crowd. Many of them just lingering now and sort of just given this moment spending time together here at Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Shimon. Thank you so much. Shimon Prokupecz, in Atlanta.

Next, as Tulsa braces for the president's rally despite serious health warning from experts, the president is now threatening protesters who may show up.



KEILAR: Tulsa, Oklahoma, is getting ready to host President Trump's first campaign rally since the pandemic shut down the nation. Tomorrow's rally is expected to draw tens of thousands of people raising concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Oklahoma is among eight states currently experiencing their highly weekly spike in infections. Tulsa County has more infections than any other county in the state as well.

And attendees, it's worth noting, will have the undergo temperature checks. They will also be given masks but are not required to wear them. And they will not be social distancing. But they will sign a waiver.

Garland Pruitt is president of the Oklahoma City branch of the NAACP.

Tell us about your concerns with this rally, sir.

GARLAND PRUITT, PRESIDENT, OKLAHOMA BRANCH, NAACP: It's amazing in this day and time we can see, know, and hear of the things going on as far as the deaths are concerned and the increase in those particular numbers. And we still choose to get out there.

When you're following someone who has told it it'll be gone on its own in a few days and now we're 100,000-plus, when are we going to deal with reality and accept this thing is not what you think it is and it's beyond.

He's been saying it's a normal flu. Ain't no flu in America killed over 100,000 in less than a few months.

We have a major problem out there. If you keep listening to someone who's not scientific, who won't read, won't listen, and won't hear the professionals, that that's what they do on a regular ongoing basis, these are their professions, we have a major problem.


KEILAR: You know city leaders -- sorry. Go on.

PRUITT: You were saying Oklahoma is on the increase and we cannot ignore those numbers. The numbers are real. Matter of fact, the numbers are problem beyond because they're not doing the proper testing.


KEILAR: And city leaders, as you know, are expecting tens of thousands of people. They're going to be flooding the city. The campaign says that over a million have RSVP'd. There are warnings of civil unrest. This has prompted the city to impose a curfew ahead of the rally.

And the president, Garland, tweeted this today: "Any protesters, anarchists, looters or low lifes going to Oklahoma, please understand you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene."

I wonder what you think of that tweet especially where he's lumping in peaceful protesters with Anarchists and lowlifes.

PRUITT: The name calling, the name calling. He can turn that right back at his self. When you put people's lives on the line for you to be re-elected, that's what he's actually doing.

He doesn't care anything about those that are out there supporting him. He's only, only concerned about being re-elected.

We're living in a sad situation right now. When we have to lean and depend on someone like that leading the country, leading the country. The sickness is running rampant.

This is just like back during Jim Jones. They forced him to take the Kool-Aid. Now they're running to the Kool-Aid. That's the sadness and the sickness we're living in right now. Led by someone who is only, only concerned about being re-elected. Don't make sense. Here, every country in the world has been able to reduce their numbers

by following the protocol of those that are professionals in that area as far as epidemiology is concerned.

Wear the mask, social distancing, and you live. Now he's promoting just the opposite for those that die following that Kool-Aid, God bless. That's all I could say.

This rally and demonstration that is taking place across the country has everything to do with injustice. Everything to do with systemic racism. It's alive and well.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, most recently just a very few years ago car break down and in a few minutes I'm dead. Car break down, in a few minutes, I'm dead. Hands up, walking away, killed.

And the person that ended up killing him is out teaching police training right now. Those are the kind of things that we cannot tolerate, we cannot put up with, we cannot accept.

Bottom line is, Ms. Taylor, a first responder killed. George killed on TV. Arbery killed on TV. Most recently, Brooks killed on TV. And we still don't get justice. That's a problem.

And everybody standing up, speaking up, and saying something about it needs to be done. It's long overdue.

But beyond charges, beyond -- I mean arrests and charges, we got to get a conviction. We got to get them locked up. You cannot continue to do those things. Oklahoma has killed, what, 48 folks since 2013.

KEILAR: Garland Pruitt, thank you so much for joining --


PRUITT: Oklahoma City.

KEILAR: Garland Pruitt

PRUITT: Oklahoma City.

KEILAR: Garland Pruitt, I wish I could have you on. -- I wish I could have you on so much longer. I've enjoyed this discussion and getting your feedback on what we're going to be seeing in Tulsa this weekend.

Thank you, sir.

PRUITT: Call me back. I'm ready. Thank you.

KEILAR: All right. I know you are. I know you are.

Thank you.


Right now, Justice Department lawyers are in court arguing to stop the release of John Bolton's book. This is just before its official release. We will have some details on what's happening inside the courtroom, next.



KEILAR: Just into CNN, a federal judge has heard now an argument from the Justice Department to stop the publication of John Bolton's book before its official release next Tuesday.

The main narrative is that President Trump was willing to give away just about anything to foreign leaders if they would help his re- election.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin among the administration officials claiming today that the book is full of lies. Pompeo went so far as to call Bolton a traitor.

I want to bring in CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez, and CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Evan, tell us what happened inside this hearing.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, one of the things that's developed here is it's clear that the judge that's hearing this case doesn't really see much -- what much he can do to try to stop publication of this book on Tuesday.

He says the horse, as we used to say in Texas, seems to be out of the barn. Pointing to the fact that there are reporters all over the city who already have copies of the book. The book has already been distributed overseas. It is probably already en route in Amazon shipments to bookstores around the country.


He's asking the government, what do you want me to do here because the book, for all intents and purposes, is already being published.

The government is saying that John Bolton could at least prevent the audio book from being published. The judge doesn't seem to be buying that.

So what this turns into now, Brianna, it appears that the judge is going to look at whether or not John Bolton will have to surrender the earnings from the book because that's another part of the government's case here against John Bolton.

We'll see whether or not he'll be able to keep the millions of dollars that he is being paid to publish this book.

KEILAR: Yes. Only becoming more and more, right, as this becomes such a big deal which makes people want to buy the book.

PEREZ: Right. KEILAR: Jeffrey, you have firsthand experience with a rigorous review

process. You even had to go to court to get your first book published about your time as a prosecutor in the Iran-Contra affair. What do you think is going to happen here?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I think Evan is clearly right that, you know, the -- the chance of stopping the book is impossible. Simon & Schuster sent me my publicity copy today. And, you know, they're not going to pry it from my cold, dead hands or anyone else's.

I mean, you just can't stop the book at this point.

However, John Bolton has a very serious problem about the money issue because, as I remember from my own experience, the whole reason Penguin Press, which is my publisher, and I went to court is that there's very clear Supreme Court precedent going back to the 1970s that says if you violate a prepublication review requirement, even if the book turns out not to have classified information, if you jump the process, if you don't get clearance and publish the book anyway, they'll take away your money.

And that's clearly it seems to me what Bolton did. He did not get the clearance he was supposed to get. I think he is in serious jeopardy of losing the money.

Just one point, you know, Matt Bissonnette, a member of SEAL Team Six, who published a very successful book, he wound up giving back has money because he did not submit the book for review.

This is not an obscure point of law. John Bolton has a real problem.

KEILAR: Let's hope he didn't spend the advance, right, guys?

Evan Perez, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much.

We are back in a moment.



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin.