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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump's Return to the Campaign Trail Goes from Bad to Worse; Rally Attendees Address Coronavirus Risk; Spain Ending COVID-19 State of Emergency; Firing of Powerful New York Prosecutor Appears to Be Latest Move to Protect Trump; Police Killings Spur Debate about Police Reform; Deadly Park Stabbing Declared "Terrorist Incident" by U.K. Police; English Premier League Show Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Movement. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 21, 2020 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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TRUMP: You are warriors.

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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president speaking at his first campaign rally in months. Though the turnout was large, it was not the 60,000 or more that Donald Trump had hoped for and his campaign had planned for.

Plus, the president's comments about coronavirus drawing a lot of controversy. How the administration is backtracking.

He was out, then in, now out again. The powerful attorney who investigated Trump's allies is stepping aside.

Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

It was controversial before it began but Donald Trump's reelection rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was marked by some stunning moments.

First the crowd size; substantial but as you can see not packed to the rafters as the president promised. In just 2 hours, he defended Confederate monuments in a city that saw a massacre of African Americans and tried to position himself as champion of minorities versus his probable opponent in November.

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TRUMP: America should not take lectures on racial justice from Joe Biden. Sleepy Joe. A man who partnered with segregationists, shift millions of African American jobs overseas. Virtually every policy that has hurt black Americans for half a century, Joe Biden has supported or enacted. I've done more for the black community in 4 years then Joe Biden has done in 47 years.

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HOLMES: Mr. Trump also said he told officials to slow down coronavirus testing so they'd find fewer cases. Later an administration official said he was kidding -- because that is something to joke about.

Coronavirus cases are climbing in Oklahoma and some local officials wanted the president to delay the rally altogether.

So were people they're worried?

Let's hear from some of them.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't mind going into the arena with the pandemic and the spikes because that's the beautiful thing about our country. I know I am fully taking on the risk of possibly encountering or being exposed to it. But as an American, that is my right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does not worry me that much because I have my health. So I was never really worried about it in the first place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I think everyone is keeping some hand sanitizer around them a little bit and do this a little bit right here, you know, I think it will be all right. Wear the masks, wear the masks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Our reporters have been covering all angles of this rally. Gary Tuchman was at an overflow viewing area outside. Paul Vercammen was at a protest in Hollywood. First, political correspondent Abby Phillip on why the campaign says the crowd was smaller than expected.

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ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Plans for a blockbuster campaign rally, a campaign kickoff of sorts for President Trump, did not go exactly the way he planned.

The campaign had been saying for days that they expected tens of thousands of people to be here at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, not just inside the arena but also outside. They planned for about 40,000 people in the overflow section. They planned on having an entire agenda for them, including for President Trump and the vice president to prepare remarks at a stage they had set up.

But as the evening wore on, there were so few people here that eventually they canceled those plans. There were just a few dozen people standing outside, most of them being urged to go inside by campaign advisers.

Now inside that arena, it was mostly full and a large rally by any standard. But the 19,000-seat arena was not completely full as President Trump had hoped for.

Instead, it seems like many people decided to stay home or perhaps even stay outside. The campaign said they blamed protesters, saying protesters scared away some rally attendees, also blaming the media, talking so much about the risks of attending a rally during a coronavirus pandemic that many people, including families, chose not to come to the event.

We should note that we had reporters all around the arena, including where we are here.

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PHILLIP: And we saw many people coming into this event freely. There have been protesters throughout the city but none of a significant size that they would have stopped tens of thousands of people from coming into this rally -- Abby Phillip, CNN, Tulsa, Oklahoma,.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Police did break up one group of protesters in Tulsa. It happened several blocks away from where the rally had wrapped up. Officers did fire tear gas and rubber bullets. So far, no reports of violence or destruction.

And as we heard in Abby's report, there was no evidence whatsoever that protesters kept anyone from getting into the arena, despite the president's claim.

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TRUMP: Today, it was like, I've never seen anything like it. I've never seen anything like it. You are warriors, thank you, we had some very bad people outside. We had some bad people outside, they were doing bad things. But I really appreciate it, we have a tremendous group of people in Oklahoma.

Our incredible success in rebuilding America stands in stark contrast to the extremism and destruction and violence of the radical left we just saw outside. We just saw it outside. You saw these thugs that came along. These people call them protesters. Isn't it beautiful?

It's so beautiful. They're so wonderful.

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HOLMES: We are not sure where the president saw but CNN saw no evidence of these "bad people" outside as the president said. Gary Tuchman was one of the reporters outside the arena near the overflow rally that was meant to attract 40,000 people until it didn't. Gary tells us what he saw in this report.

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GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the overflow area outside of the BOK arena. People now streaming out of the arena. It's far more crowded here now than it was during the speech. And the idea was for it to be very crowded during the speech.

The idea was for President Trump to speak on that stage before he went inside the arena, before thousands of people standing on the street. But because the stadium wasn't full, this ended up not being full. And the decision was made to cancel President Trump's speech outdoors.

There was a big screen TV behind me that was on during the speech but there were only about 15 or 20 people there watching the speech.

We can tell you one thing is people did not think that the rally should be held, a lot of people, including the health director here in Tulsa County, because COVID-19 rates are at their highest in this county since this all began.

But it did take place. So that's a victory for the Trump campaign but it's not a victory because they thought there would be a huge turnout. They talked about 1 million people coming and it turned out they couldn't even fill up a 19,100-seat arena.

But it was held. People were checked for their temperatures, they were offered masks. Most people didn't wear the masks. President Trump didn't have a mask, either, but he didn't have to stand around five or six hours around lots of people -- this is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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HOLMES: The rally was President Trump's reelection campaign launch. I asked Ron Brownstein what he meant when he tweeted about the speech, that Trump is running to be president of America in 1968. Here's part of our conversation.

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RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: You talk about flag burning tonight, I believe the first time Congress passed legislation on flag burning was, in fact, in 1968.

There was nothing about this rally tonight that would reassure anxious Republicans or really worry Democrats. What you saw was, after weeks of having time to think about what his message was going to be to relaunch his campaign, Trump showed us again that there is really no second act to him.

The core of his vision of how he gets elected is to foment racial and cultural division and to try to stoke greater turnout among his groups.

But as I said before, his strategy is based on improving his margins, bigger margins among shrinking groups, groups that are shrinking in society at the price of driving away the parts of society that are growing.

I go back to the urban focus tonight. Over and over again, "cities are out of control, they are dangerous, they're being controlled by leftists." He lost 87 of the 100 largest counties in America by a combined 15

million votes in 2016. Given what happened with the pandemic and the post-George Floyd protests, he'll probably lose them by even more.

Are there enough non-voters left in small town America to overcome that?

He will test the proposition.

HOLMES: You also wrote something to me earlier today, we were emailing back and forth about the interview. And I want to quote you because it was so interesting. It refers to what you were talking about there.

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You said, "Whatever you do that's extreme enough to motivate millions of non voters who agree with you is usually also extreme enough to motivate millions of non voters who disagree with you. It is hard to get a turnout surge on one side without provoking it on the other."

Ron, so you see this as the risk in his strategy, doubling down.

BROWNSTEIN: We saw it in 2018, right?

When you saw this enormous suburban turnout that caused Republicans to lose ground in white collar suburbs everywhere across the country.

Before the 2018 election, Republicans had 43 percent of the House seats, where there were more college graduates than average. After the election, they had 25 percent. That is the type of trajectory that Trump has put the party on.

I think what you saw tonight, with kind of a greatest hits of '60s and '70s backlash against all those familiar targets: cities, immigrants, Ilhan Omar and AOC and Mayor Bowser in D.C. and NFL players who protest, you saw his vision of how he stirs up his base.

But what was clear in 2018 and I think is going to be clear again in 2020 is that there are millions of Americans who find that vision deeply offensive. Everything about taxes or regulation or some of the issues that may have normally drawn them to the Republican Party, he is drawing a different line through the electorate.

And he is forcing people to decide which side they belong on. And right now, if you look at the polling, it is pretty clear that he is playing to the short side of that field.

HOLMES: I did want to get your take on the firing of the Southern District of New York attorney Geoffrey Berman. This is a man who leads a team that has been looking into cases that directly impact this president, his allies, his business interests.

Now with his deputy in charge, perhaps the power move failed.

But what were the optics of the attorney general's move of someone looking into the president?

BROWNSTEIN: You can lay this directly at the door of Susan Collins and 51 other Senate Republicans, who decided not to sanction him in any way for his actions when extorting the government of Ukraine to try to help him during the election.

Whatever else you say about Trump, he is a student of people and a student of power. And he took from the impeachment lesson that there is no line that he cannot cross, that Republicans in Congress will feel comfortable constraining or rebuking him.

Everytime he breaks a window, they obediently sweep up the glass. And since the impeachment, we've seen a very steady campaign to undermine any source of independent check and balance that he believes can threaten him.

You can only see this firing in the context of what he has done with inspectors general or what Barr has done to intervene extraordinarily in the cases of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

These are all the actions of a president who believes he cannot -- there is no line he can cross that will cause Congress to impose any consequences. and so it comes up to the voters because if nothing else, he's giving Americans a very clear idea of how he will behave in a second term.

If this is the way he feels he can act when he still has to face the voters in November, what will he be like in the unconstrained environment of a second term?

HOLMES: Yes, and whether Republicans will pay for that obsequiousness to the president. If Barack Obama did any of these things, what would be the reaction?

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BROWNSTEIN: One thing quickly about that, Michael, every Senate election in 2016 for the first time in American history went the same way as the presidential race in that state.

So they are bound to him and you may see some of them like Cory Gardner and Martha McSally in the Southwest going down in pretty solid defeats because they have decided to defend Trump so unequivocally.

HOLMES: Interesting. Ron, always a pleasure, thank you very much. Ron Brownstein, good to see you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Mr. Trump's political rally in Tulsa caused a ripple effect that reached all the way to Hollywood but not in the way the president might want. CNN's Paul Vercammen has more now from Los Angeles.

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PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This refusefascism.org protest started down the street at Hollywood and Vine and came right down here. If you look, the Donald Trump star is right over there.

What this organization has been saying is that they wanted to counter the Trump-Pence demonstration in Tulsa. Very harsh words for the Trump administration, among other things.

They are basically saying that he was going to open his white supremacist mouth. So they gathered here peacefully in Hollywood. And they showed up here in their orange shirts. You can see many of them say "Trump-Pence out now."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With our shirts attacking protesters, intimidating protesters, attacking Refuse Fascism, this is what we are seeing. And it is outrageous.

VERCAMMEN: On Hollywood Boulevard, you can see the giant block letters, if you are up above, it clearly reads out "Black Lives Matter." The City of Los Angeles has preserved this with these concrete K rails.

Then right over here, the protests, "Trump-Pence out now," the Trump star on the Walk of Fame not far from here. All of this put together as a counter demonstration to the Trump-Pence rally in Tulsa-- reporting from Hollywood, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.

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HOLMES: That Trump campaign rally was in a state where COVID-19 cases have been going up and up. Health experts are calling for more testing. But the president sounded like he was undermining them. We will unpack his latest claim when we come back.

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HOLMES: President Trump's rally in Tulsa has been stirring controversy on several levels before it even happened in fact. That might change soon especially after he used a racist term to refer to coronavirus. Here it for yourself.

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TRUMP: I just -- by the way, it's a disease without question, has more names than any disease in history. I can name Kung Flu, I can name 19 different versions of names.

Many call it a virus which it is. Many call it a flu. What difference. I think we have 19 or 20 versions of the name.

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HOLMES: It is not the flu and civil liberties groups are warning that some of those names he is mentioning are leading to actual racist attacks on Asian Americans.

Public health experts also worried that the rally, in a state where COVID-19 cases are already surging, will be a superspreader event, which is where a lot of people get infected at once in the same place.

Coronavirus has not disappeared in the U.S. even if some people are bored with it, far from it. Some states have actually been hitting new case records this week.

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HOLMES: Dr. Jonathan Reiner is a CNN medical analyst, he's also director of a medical laboratory at George Washington University. He joins me now from D.C.

Let's start, Doctor, great to have you, by the way. Let's start with Tulsa. The city had a fifth record in a week for cases. We had several Trump rally organizers testing positive, for goodness sake. And despite that low turnout, what do you think could happen in a few weeks as a result of this gathering?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good evening. So despite the relatively low turnout, there were probably 10,000 people in that arena. And, from looking at the crowd shots, I would say 90 percent of the attendees there were not wearing masks.

So if you think about it, the president had an advance team in Tulsa, probably for about a week and six people on his advance team contracted the virus, probably in Tulsa.

So what does that tell us about the likelihood that quite a few people in the arena unmasked and probably asymptomatic have the virus?

Probably very likely. So you know, I'm very concerned that we will see, in 2 to 3 weeks, a big spike in cases in Oklahoma.

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REINER: It takes about 7 to 10 days for a person to develop symptoms, if they're going to become symptomatic. Usually, people become sick about a week after that.

So we are looking at 2 to 3 weeks for hospitals to start to see a significant rise in cases. I'm worried about it, I think, it's a very real risk. And I think it was reckless. Earlier in the week, I called this rally a criminal endangerment and I stand by that.

HOLMES: For a political rally, the urgency of which is dubious. The U.S. still being criticized for a lack of testing compared to countries that have done it well. There was a remarkable moment at the rally where the president said, he said testing is a double edged sword and then he said this and we will just play it.

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TRUMP: when you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.

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HOLMES: "I said to my people, slow the testing down."

Joking or not, what is the messaging of that?

REINER: Well, it's clearly not funny. Our lack of testing is one of the reasons why the U.S. has 4 percent of the world's population and about 25 percent of its mortality. The first COVID positive patient tested positive in the United States in the state of Washington on January 20th.

And it took 51 days for the United States to test the next 20,000 people -- 51 days. That's 10 days short of 2 months. And during that time, the virus rode airplanes all around this country and in the New York City subways, up and down our highways and now over 2 million people in this country have been infected,120,000 people are dead because for a large part how slow we were to test.

Many must have thought that the lack of speed of ramping up testing in this country as we say not solely incompetence.

We heard the president confirm that tonight. The president has repeatedly mentioned he does not like to see the numbers rise. And to hear him articulate that is disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful. Thousands of people are dead because of that kind of incompetence.

HOLMES: It's like saying the unthinkable out loud. When you compare it to Japan, South Korea and other countries are tested well and have, compared to the U.S., miniscule death rates compared to this country.

One other thing that's been striking and you talk about this as well, Donald Trump has long demonstrated a disdain for science, reason, the advice of experts like you, especially if it conflicts with his political goals.

Tony Fauci this week lamenting that lack of belief in science among a segment of population.

How worrying is that in a societal sense, a portion of the population listens to people like you and thinks, yes, I'm not buying it.

REINER: Right. And a significant part of the population listens to the president.

So when the president says testing is a double edged sword, first of all, it's a single edged sword. The more people we find, the more people we can isolate and the less transmission there will be.

But when the president says things like that or when he doubts the efficacy of masks, he does great harm. And a significant part of the population believes him.

And there was an interesting series of graphs this week, that have shown what has happened in this country, based on whether the states are primarily Republican or Democrat.

What we started to see over the last month is a substantial rise in the number of cases in, you know, what we would call red states. And my concern is that part of that is due to maybe ill-advised early opening. And part of that is due to the fact that the majority of people in those states listen to the president, who has doubted the need and efficacy for masks and who has touted debunked drugs like hydroxychloroquine and also doubts the need and efficacy of testing.

And that's why, throughout Florida and Texas and Oklahoma and now Arizona, we are seeing dramatic rises in the number of cases.

HOLMES: We're almost out of time but I wanted to squeeze this in here. There are now about 25,000 new cases a day in the U.S., hundreds of deaths.

Do you get the sense that the administration, by painting a rosy picture of sorts, is sending the message that that is OK?

It is tolerable, going forward; 2 jumbo jets of people dying every day is somehow an acceptable price.

REINER: You know, the man who once said there were 15 cases and will soon be zero, today, at his rally, he said, oh, if it weren't for him to be millions of deaths. So there is a great deal of revisionist history.

The truth of the matter is, when the truth is finally told years from now, we will see that systematic errors and the president's inability to face reality have resulted in the really needless deaths of tens of thousands of people in this country. And we are not out of the woods yet.

HOLMES: You get the sense history won't be kind on how this was handled in the U.S. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, I really appreciate it. Thanks for your expertise.

REINER: My pleasure, be well.

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HOLMES: Spain ending its state of emergency over the pandemic on Sunday and also opening its borders to most of the Schengen area. Officials hoping this will help the tourism industry. Journalist Al Goodman joins me live from Madrid.

Give us a sense of what this new normal is for Spain.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michael. I'm at the Madrid airport in terminal four. There are 4 terminals in the airport and only one of them is open. The other 3 are all close.

Let me give you an idea of what the new normal looks like. Empty. This is how it has been for the last 3 months of the state of emergency. The confinement measures, which have helped bring down the rate of the virus in Spain, are now being opened up so Spaniards can move around. The first flight arriving came from the Spanish island of Mallorca

here to Madrid. A couple of students got off, said they were picking up their things to go back to Mallorca. That was not possible for 3 months.

We will be receiving an international flight from Paris and another from Milan in a few hours. Slowly they are trying to jumpstart this tourism which is so important for the economy here because you have an issue of the health issue with the coronavirus. The economic issue with so many out of work-- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. And also U.K. tourists are coming in with no restrictions. The U.K. had its own issue with the virus.

GOODMAN: That is a last-minute thing. The Spanish foreign minister, in an interview on Saturday night, saying that finally British travelers can come into Spain without doing a quarantine. No one has to do a quarantine now coming into Spain that had been in place for about a month.

But even though Britain is not allowing people into -- at least not Spaniards-- people coming from Spain into Britain and Spain. Spain had talked about reciprocity. But in the end, because out of respect for the 400,000 Britons who have second homes in Spain, according to the foreign minister in her interview on Saturday night, her televised interview, saying they will make an exception for these Britons.

They will also be able to come in. The first flight from London is expected here in about 2 hours time -- Michael.

HOLMES: Just to squeeze in one more question.

Given all of this sort of restarting of everything, what is the level of concern for another wave?

GOODMAN: There is a lot of concern, that is why I am wearing a mask, everyone is wearing a mask.

[02:25:00]

GOODMAN: Because I came into this nearly empty airport terminal four and was stopped immediately upon entry. I was checked to see why I was here, what I was doing.

So as these passengers -- the luggage area is right behind those doors after you get past police passport and customs. All incoming travelers will have to fill out a contact card to let authorities nowhere to get in touch with them. Where they are going.

They will have visual checks and temperature checks. If they do not look so good, they will have to go off to medical services. Right now, there are 9 small outbreaks according to Spanish officials that affected 90 people around the country.

But the toll from the coronavirus, Michael, more than 28,000 deaths, more than 245,000 people have tested positive since this outbreak began just here in Spain-- Michael.

HOLMES: All fingers crossed and hopefully things will get back to normal in Spain. A few months ago, I was meant to be having tapas with you in Madrid and that was called off. So hopefully things will get back to normal and we will pick up on that one. Good to see you, Al. Thanks, my friend.

We will take a quick break. When we come back on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. president says he was not involved with firing a top federal prosecutor who was investigating his associates. But that is not true. We will talk about it next. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world.

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HOLMES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Michael Holmes.

After a power struggle with White House officials, the top federal prosecutor who has investigated people close to the president, says he is stepping down from his post effective immediately. The saga involving Geoffrey Berman began on Friday.

After failing to push Berman out of office, U.S. general attorney William Barr then asked the president to fire him and the president did. Get this, President Trump denies it.

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TRUMP: I left that up to the attorney general, attorney general Barr is working on that. That is his department, not my department but we have a very capable attorney general so that is really up to him. I am not involved.

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HOLMES: Evan Perez with more details for us.

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EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump fired Geoffrey Berman, the Manhattan U.S. attorney, who refused to resign after Bill Barr, the attorney general, had tried to oust him on Friday.

The attorney general delivered the news in a letter to Berman, saying, quote, "Unfortunately with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service. Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the president to remove you as of today and he has done so."

Berman was overseeing a number of sensitive investigations, including the investigation into Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney. Berman says he is making way for his deputy, Audrey Strauss, who is highly regarded in the U.S. attorney's office and he says will be able to protect all the sensitive investigations that are still ongoing in the U.S. attorneys in Manhattan -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Let's talk more about this with CNN legal and national security analyst Asha Rangappa. She joins me now from White River Junction in Vermont.

Good to have you on. It's been a while. Good to see you.

Asha, Geoffrey Berman is gone from his post but his deputy is in charge, not the man Barr wanted. So perhaps the power move failed.

How does what happened look?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It looks very bad. Precisely because of what Evan just reported that this office is investigating a number of cases where President Trump would have a personal interest and a connection, including his personal attorney.

There's also charges that have been filed against a Turkish bank and we know from Bolton's book that there's allegations that Trump had wanted to intervene in that case as well on behalf of a request from the Turkish president.

So this looks very bad, especially because Barr did not give either on Friday or in his follow-up letter, any reason for firing Berman which only raises questions given Barr's actions in a number of other investigations in other attorneys offices where he has tried to drop cases that would benefit the president by doing so.

HOLMES: You know it is interesting. Not getting into the detail of the president saying I'm not involved in firing Berman and it was up to Bill Barr. Yet of course, Bill Barr in the letter he wrote said it was Trump who did the firing. He literally says I have asked the president to remove you and he has done so.

It does not matter what it is. But what it strikes me is that it speaks to the dysfunction of how things have been run at Justice.

Do you see it that way?

RANGAPPA: Yes. Definitely. Bill Barr has said that the president makes it very hard for him to do his job. I think this is one of those examples, where the president has contradicted and basically thrown Barr under the bus by his public statement.

I think there's also an issue where Trump does not want to be accountable for the actions that are being taken by Barr. I think we have seen this in other areas.

We know that Barr is trying to get the charges against general Michael Flynn dropped. This is for lying about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the Trump transition.

And he is achieving there what Trump could achieve with a pardon but probably does not want to do for political reasons. I think there's a bit of a game here where Barr is kind of being the shield for achieving what Trump would like to do but will not do in person.

HOLMES: It's interesting, you touched on this earlier, it is broader than just this.

[02:35:00]

HOLMES: He had scores of former Justice Department officials already calling for Barr to quit over a string of other things. This, in many ways, it's a continuation of what many see as the administration's concerted attack on the justice system and the rule of law. That has been pervasive during his presidency.

Is that a fair comment?

RANGAPPA: It's a fair comment and I would say what Barr has been doing is even worse than, say, Trump's verbal attacks or tweets on the FBI or any given Justice official. And that is because, when Barr does it he is a giving his actions the veneer of legality and he is obscuring accountability in that process.

So I gave the example of him being able to do, through the courts, what Trump does not want to do with a pardon. And that is because a pardon in that case would be politically inconvenient for Trump. He would have to own it.

But Barr can do these things and make these seem as if though this is just the way the law works. This is the legal system functioning and it really leaves the American public, I think, in kind of a smoke and mirrors position of not really seeing where the accountability lies.

So I think that is incredibly dangerous to the rule of law when you can cloak it under a veneer of legality.

HOLMES: And it's another example of Republicans in Congress enabling behavior that come back to bite them under another administration.

Do you think Geoffrey Berman should give evidence before -- testify in Congress?

RANGAPPA: Yes, I definitely think he should. He will not be able to speak about ongoing cases but in many ways he will have more freedom to testify now that he is no longer an employee. There really nothing the administration can hold over his head.

What are they going to do, fire him?

He is already gone. So he can go in if he wants and testify and speak to, for example, was he pressured in any way to guide investigations to any kind of decision?

Was Barr trying to intervene with any particular cases? He can speak to those kinds of questions. And I think that would shed light because, in the Southern District, which is a highly independent U.S. attorney's office, what was happening there would speak a lot for what might be happening elsewhere as well.

HOLMES: Asha Rangappa, a pleasure. Good to see you.

RANGAPPA: Thank you so much.

HOLMES: Thank you.

Atlanta fire investigators have issued a warrant in the case of a Wendy's restaurant fire. Who the suspect is and how she might be related to the man who was shot dead by police in that same restaurant parking lot. We have more on that when we come back.

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HOLMES: Welcome back.

HOLMES: Atlanta fire investigators have issued an arrest warrant in the case of a Wendy's restaurant fire last Saturday. They say that the woman, there she is on your screen, Natalie White, is wanted for first degree arson.

That Wendy's was set on fire after Rayshard Brooks' fatal encounter in the parking lot with the Atlanta police. In bodycam video, Brooks is heard telling officers that White is his girlfriend. Investigators say more suspects could be involved.

Meanwhile, the interim police chief is reassuring Atlanta residents that police are responding to emergency calls but he says the force has been stretched because of demonstrations and unrest. He also spoke about why there has been an uptick in police not going to work.

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RODNEY BRYANT, INTERIM CHIEF, APD: The explanation for calling out sick vary and include officers questioning their training, officers being challenged and attacked and unease about officers seeing their colleagues criminally charged so quickly.

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HOLMES: Joining me now from Los Angeles is Isaac Bryan, the director of public policy at the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Great to see you. I'm curious, are you heartened by the push for change that has come after the killing of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks?

Or do you think time will pass and actual substantive change will not actually be put into effect?

ISAAC BRYAN, UCLA RALPH J. BUNCHE CENTER FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES: First of all it is great to be with you. Thank you for having me. I am not pessimistic. I am optimistic and hopeful. Millions of people across the United States and millions more around the world are calling for dramatic change.

We are calling for institutional change and it is unlike any moment we have had in recent history, if ever, because of the amplification of social media and these violent videos we keep seeing.

So my resolve is strong, my resolve is still high and I still hold out hope, despite some of the stonewalling from elected officials. I still believe the people's will to demand change will ultimately overcome that.

HOLMES: There certainly does seem to be a public groundswell for change, that is for sure.

When it comes to reform, what do you think that looks like?

Training and body cameras and other tweaks have not brought about the change that supporters want.

What do you want to see change in terms of reform?

BRYAN: I think reform is a complicated question. I think we are past the point of superficial reforms. We could do things that would have a marginal impact on the rate of legal outcomes.

We can ban chokeholds, implement nonlethal tactics, standardize use of force thresholds. We could do a number of things but the sad, cold, racist reality of doing these reforms is nothing will end this crisis of black people dying at the hands of law enforcement.

The reality is baked into the foundational fabric of this institution and we have to dream bigger than reform. We have to think incremental abolition, redesigning and reimagining a system that we know is built on harm.

HOLMES: That comes to that "defund the police," which is a phrase and a hashtag now. But to its proponents, it is not a literal thing, to shut down the police force, it is about diverting funds to social programs to deal with things that police should perhaps not be first responders to, whether it is mental health, homelessness or drug or alcohol abuse And stop issues starting by providing grassroots resources.

[02:45:00]

HOLMES: What do you think of that sort of idea of, quote-unquote, "defund the police"? BRYAN: That is an idea that myself and many others have been calling for, for a long time. I think the phrase defund the police has become a popular moniker during this time.

But the idea of justice reinvestment or divesting from law enforcement and reinvesting in systems of care and opportunity is something many people have been calling for. I'm glad this moment as served as a catalyst for that.

We need to be thinking about that. Our law enforcement agencies eats up over half of the discretionary funds of almost every municipality in the United States. At the same time, people are struggling to live and survive and thrive. We need to be investing in alternative forms of care and emergency response for all of the things you just mentioned. Homelessness, mental health crises and other things that law enforcement could never be trained to adequately handle.

HOLMES: You know, I wanted to ask you about this because it sort of ties in, in a way. I wanted to ask you about your thoughts about what is called the militarization of police and police forces.

I saw an example the other day, I think we have it and can play it for people, it was tweeted out by a local reporter. It's talked about a two with less than 9,000 people in West Virginia that gets a military vehicle. It's called an MRAP. I spent a ton of time in them in Iraq, covering the war.

They are designed specifically withstand roadside bombs. There are a lot of those handed out to police forces, other stuff as well.

What is the imagery of that?

I suppose it is difficult to sort of de-escalate when one side looks like they are going to war.

BRYAN: That's exactly it. We are using surplus and military grade equipment that is often paid for with asset forfeitures and other fines and police collected from the poorest residents in the community.

Out here in Los Angeles, we birthed the SWAT team so we know a lot about the militarization of police. It is not a de-escalation task force. I can also tell you right now, the SWAT team is housed in the metro division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

It is the same division that holds the canine unit, that disproportionately bites black, brown and poor folks. It's the same unit that houses the unarmed mounted unit. That unit has the jurisdiction of the whole city of Los Angeles, 8 percent black.

But their arrests are 46 percent black. So we know the militarization of police exacerbates peaceful protests, it exacerbates tensions in communities and it leads to lethal outcomes and disproportion arrests.

Our communities are not war zones, our communities should be opportunities for to thrive and grow. They should not be met by such a violent reaction by their own governments.

HOLMES: Yes. There are many things that need to be done. As someone who spent a lot of time in the Iraq War, the sight of an MRAP in a small town just is mind-boggling. I appreciate your time, Isaac. Isaac Bryan, thank you so much.

BRYAN: Thank you for having me.

HOLMES: At this time of anti racism protests all over the world, CNN has conducted an extensive poll on attitudes about racism in the U.K. We will have the results and analysis for you starting this coming Monday.

Police in Reading, England, say a 25-year-old man has been detained after a deadly stabbing attack there. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports.

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SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Police have now launched a murder investigation after 3 people were killed and 3 others wounded in a multiple stabbing incident here in Reading on Saturday. Police are not treating the incident as terror-related at this time.

We spoke to an eyewitness who was at the scene. And he says he heard a man shouting unintelligibly in a local park. He then approached a small group of people and began stabbing them in the neck and under the arms, stabbing 3 people in this fashion, according to the eyewitness.

Of course, this caused chaos, people began to flee and the attacker fled the scene as well, according to the eyewitness we spoke to. Shortly after that incident, counter-terrorism police were seen at the building behind me here.

It is unclear how this building is related to the murder investigation of the incident that occurred in the park. But we saw police in there for hours and heard at least one small explosion. So residents were told to evacuate. Take a listen to what one woman told me.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm scrolling on Facebook and saw the attacks. I called my brother and told him to get back to the flat. So he comes back here, we saw all the police outside, I went out and asked, if it is OK?

Do we need to leave?

He said, no, everything is fine. We cannot tell you what is going on but we have seen everyone leaving their property. So we got a bit scared. We've got the kids and left the property.

But now we have been told we cannot go back in there for our own safety and no one can leave. All I have been told is that it is an attack and that someone has been held hostage in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABDELAZIZ: Prime minister Boris Johnson has taken to Twitter to address this incident. He wrote, "My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading.

[02:50:00]

ABDELAZIZ: "And my thanks to the emergency services on the scene."

Now police are still investigating this incident, of course, and it is still very much an ongoing situation -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: I will be back with more after the break. Stay with us.

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HOLMES: Well, it is not a total eclipse but it will do. People in the Eastern Hemisphere will be able to see a solar eclipse today, the kind of where you see a ring of fire around the moon because it is not completely blocking the sun.

It began about 2 hours ago and will end in another couple of hours from now. Scientists say it could still hurt your eyes unless you use solar viewing glasses or special filters. So do not risk it.

It is the first weekend that the English Premier League teams have played since March. And between matches, players are stepping up to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Patrick Snell talks us through the action.

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PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Premier League meeting, an image certain to resonate globally. Nuno Espirito Santo, the only minority manager in the Premier League taking a knee on Saturday.

[02:00:00]

SNELL (voice-over): The Wolverhampton Wanderer is head coach, along with officials, his own team and players from West Ham showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

And moments earlier at London stadium, a minute of silence to honor lives lost due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Premier League matches resumed on Wednesday albeit in empty stadia. This fixture featuring a breathtaking goal from Wolves' youngster Pedro Neto, the 20 year old with an unstoppable volley that sealed his team's 2-0 victory. Earlier, a frenetic finish to Watford-Leicester City and a goal to

savor from the Foxes' Ben Chilwell in the 90th minute. But the Hornets had one of their own to cherish deep into time added on. Craig Dawson with the improvised overhead finish, ensuring a point apiece.

And the stunning goals just kept on coming. Luka Milivojevic's free kick for the ages, setting Crystal Palace on their way to the 2-0 win at Bournemouth.

Meantime, tensions running high at the Brighton-Arsenal match from the moment Brighton's Neal Maupay was involved in an incident with the Gunners' keeper Bernd Leno, who was stretchered off after landing awkwardly.

The challenge clearly incensing both Leno and his hostile teammates.

A stylish Neal Maupay goal put the Londoners ahead but with a score at 1-1, it was Maupay who won it for the Seagulls in 5th minute of stoppage time. The French striker again the center of unwanted attention from Arsenal players at full time. Maupay said he has apologized to Leno but also had this message to spell out.

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NEAL MAUPAY, BRIGHTON FORWARD: Arsenal players need to learn humility maybe sometimes. They have been talking a lot in the first half, second half, when they were 1-0 up. And they got what they deserved.

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SNELL: Maupay also taking to Twitter later to reinforce his apology, expressing sorrow for what happened while also insisting there was no malice intended whatsoever. He's also wishing the German goalkeeper a speedy recovery -- Patrick Snell, CNN, Atlanta.

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HOLMES: Thanks for your company, I'm Michael Holmes, Natalie Allen has another three hours of news after the break.