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Interview with Rep. Mike Braun (R-IN); Colorado to Re-Examine Elijah McClain Chokehold Case; NASA to Rename Headquarters After Mary Jackson. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 25, 2020 - 10:30   ET



SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): No one was talking about tweaking it or reforming it to where it would benefit law enforcement to take this stigma off of their shoulders, and give redress to these individuals and end up losing a life or have their rights trampled.

So it'll be the lynchpin if we get back to it, but Schumer derailed it and the White House maybe could revive it. Otherwise, we'll miss a moment.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. What do you say to folks at home who say, Here we go again? Because we've seen moments like this before. We've seen, for instance after school shootings, you know --


SCIUTTO: -- a momentary burst of public demonstrations and interest. But it fails to move Capitol Hill. What do you say to folks at home who say, Why can't you guys sit down and come to an agreement?

BRAUN: It's a frustration, I think, that confuses and just has people, What is going on here in D.C.?

When I ran, it was to interject into that process. Main Street entrepreneur, running -- building a business from scratch into a national company. You've got to be accountable, you've got to take care of your customers or you're out of business. It's a good analogy.

That doesn't happen here because I think people are so nestled into the current dynamic, you end up having these lack of resolutions on all important issues currently.

SCIUTTO: Yes, you -- listen, you and your family, you turned around a truck body business, so you know what it takes to turn things around.


SCIUTTO: I want to ask you about the broader political environment here. President Trump's poll numbers across the board, not looking particularly good. And yet he continues to double down on fairly divisive strategy here. And even you have said that you'd recommend something of a change in tactics, right, going forward. What adjustments specifically do you want to see from the president?

BRAUN: Number one, he got here because he was a manifestation of frustration that we've just been talking about as an outsider. And in his time here, you know, he comes from the outside. I at least had the benefit of being on a school board 10 years, and a state legislator for three years. So you learn a little bit about how hard you can push and what you can't do. Style is a big deal. I think it did him well when he got here.

And I'm going to look at the merits of the case. The strongest economy we've ever had, a lot of regulations, we're overburdening. He's responsible solely for rolling them back. A lot of issues are actually better than what they might seem, but sometimes it gets lost in the haze when maybe you've got too many things that you're having to talk about in the daily course of trying to navigate this place.

So, yes, I think it's plenty of time to turn it around because the economy was -- he was going to win in a landslide, I really believe it. You never know what's going to come along.

If the economy bounces back and you can still make the case that if we go to the policies that were in place with Obama and Biden -- people will hunker down and regardless of what happens with COVID-19, this economy won't be the same if we go back to the old rules.

But Republicans need to learn new tricks too --


BRAUN: -- don't stick our head in the sand about climate, health care, police reform. So we need to do better, but please don't think that we're going to be better off economically if we go back to what was before President Trump.

SCIUTTO: Just quickly, is the president uniting or dividing the country right now?

BRAUN: You know, I think there's so many different issues out there. I don't know how anybody would navigate through being impeached and all the effort that went into that, having the biggest health care nightmare and disaster that's come along since 1918, and then police reform. I don't know that any politician, where the heat's on you like it is being the president, would have any better way to navigate through it.

It's a time to soul-search, see what you need to do, get back on track. And I think he can still win in November, I really do.

SCIUTTO: Senator Mike Braun, appreciate you joining the broadcast this morning.

BRAUN: You're welcome.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Well, the three most populous states are breaking coronavirus records, and dozens of states are seeing a surge in new cases. Why did the president suggest during an Oval Office meeting yesterday, the pandemic was in the rearview mirror?


HARLOW: This morning, another death of a black man in police custody is now finally coming under renewed scrutiny. The Colorado governor's office says it will re-examine the case of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, who died three days after being put in a chokehold last August.

The new investigation comes after more than 2 million people have signed a petition urging a more thorough examination. Our correspondent Omar Jimenez has the details of this story.

Not -- I mean, the chokehold but also being given ketamine?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There are a lot of details in this case that are drawing (ph) potential criticism and questions, and the motivation for renewing or at the very least re- examining the facts in this case, as we have heard from the governor's office.

This all stems from what happened back on August 24th of 2019. Elijah McClain was stopped by three white police officers as he was leaving (INAUDIBLE). Police say they were responding to a 911 call for a suspicious person, and someone -- a suspicious person who was wearing a ski mask. And this is police body camera footage of what happened next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop, stop. Stop. Stop, I have a right to stop you because you're being suspicious.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around, turn around.

MCCLAIN: No, actually, you're (INAUDIBLE) --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around. Stop, stop tensing up. You're -- stop tensing up, stop tensing up.

MCCLAIN: Let go of me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't going to go well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop tensing up, stop tensing up.

MCCLAIN: No, let go of me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop tensing --


MCCLAIN: No, I am introvert, please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop tensing up, stop tensing up.

MCCLAIN: Stop, stop --


MCCLAIN: -- I'm going home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relax, or I'm going to have to change this situation.

MCCLAIN: Leave me alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, can you please --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- cooperate.

MCCLAIN: Can you leave me alone --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we're going to --

MCCLAIN: First off, you guys started to arrest me and I was stopping my music to listen. Now, let go of me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get over to grass.


JIMENEZ: Now, from there, an officer placed McClain in a chokehold to where he briefly lost consciousness. And then when he came to, apparently, there was another struggle but that's according to the initial report given by police.

When paramedics eventually arrived, McClain was given ketamine, a sedative -- again, according to that report -- but then had a heart attack in the ambulance, and then was declared dead three days later.

And so this is part of why this petition was filed -- was signed by more than 2 million people, again, to reopen this case. The governor's office says they are going to re-examine the facts, but also the city of Aurora, where this happened in Colorado, says they will also be looking into an independent investigation.

And comes as a cluster of cases across the country are now being re- examined in the wake of protests that we have seen, now, for a month in the wake of George Floyd's death and the name of Breonna Taylor and so many more names -- Poppy. HARLOW: I hope people can really read about him and learn more about Elijah the man. And his family, by the way, saying he wore that ski mask because he was anemic, and he would wear it just to stay warm. Thank you, Omar.

NASA, renaming its headquarters after Mary Jackson, the agency's first black female engineer who helped inspire the story -- and did so much of the work behind the story -- that eventually led to the hit book and film "Hidden Figures."

She was hired in 1958, she was part of a small group of black mathematicians and engineers who helped get American astronauts into space. In the film, she was portrayed by singer and actress Janelle Monae. Jackson's family said in a statement, they're honored that NASA continues to celebrate her legacy.

CNN is exploring the past, present and future of women's rights in the U.S. and around the world. For more, go to

We'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: Coronavirus cases are surging in many states across the country. And right now, just like the last several months, is a crucial time for leaders in this country to take action, action that could indeed save lives. But that leadership, based on the facts and the statements, simply not coming from the White House despite an in contradiction to what the nation's top doctors and experts say.

HARLOW: For example, experts say wear masks. The president then (ph) promotes and hosts several rallies with no mask requirements, and doesn't wear a mask himself. With us now to talk about the broader picture here is Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian.

It's great to have you because you know how history judges presidents long after they are not in office any more, and I wonder how you think history will look back at this moment and this leadership or lack of leadership when it comes to a public health crisis, one of the greatest we've seen in a hundred years in this country.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's not going to look very good for Donald Trump. A lack of leadership is being polite. He's been an abomination. Anything he could do to help the country has gone by the wayside. He's denied science, he was slow to react for two months, he refuses to wear a mask, he holds rallies in Arizona and Oklahoma that put people at risk. Marco Rubio today had to say (ph), For gosh sakes, just wear the mask.

Instead, the country has to turn to governors, mayors, other public health officials to try to get some guidance. But as we're seeing, we're losing the COVID-19 fight, we're failing the rest of the world. We haven't had a coherent strategy, we've had no leadership. All of this has been the great inconvenience for Donald Trump. He was trying to put his head in the sand, pretend that this COVID could blow away. He didn't think it would help him politically to get re-elected in 2020, and so alas, we're now looking at the worst president in American history, dealing with one of our worst crises. And it's frightening.

SCIUTTO: You know, Douglas, in past crises, it wasn't just considered duty, it was considered politically smart for presidents to share in sacrifice, right? I mean, during rationing in World War II, right? FDR rationed as well. I mean, you know, that was a badge of honor.

Here, you have Donald Trump reveling in the opposite, right? And kind of encouraging that kind of worst motivations, just -- you know, no one has to do anything, I'm not going to do it myself. What explains that, to you?


BRINKLEY: Well, you know, with Franklin Roosevelt, the very fact that in 1921 he had polio, here was this vigorous man, had a great political career, who suddenly couldn't walk, had to train himself just to kind of move a few feet forward. And so FDR developed this massive amount of empathy.

So when the Great Depression struck and we had, you know, 25 percent unemployment, Roosevelt was feeling the pain of the poor, feeling the people that were afflicted and that lives were dissolving in front of them.

Contrast that to Donald Trump. Trump shows zero empathy, he has an empathy deficit disorder. He lives in a biological bubble as Anderson Cooper's been putting it -- quite aptly -- meaning that he's got testing and anything he needs around him, and he doesn't seem to care about anybody else.

So instead of, "You have nothing to fear but fear itself," he's letting the country live in fear while he's living in this sort of protective cocoon.

HARLOW: Douglas Brinkley, we appreciate the perspective. Thank you.


BRINKLEY: Thank you.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.


HARLOW: The coronavirus pandemic is having, obviously, an enormous impact on the shipping industry. There's been a huge rise in demand for overseas goods throughout the crisis.

SCIUTTO: But we're just now starting to understand its impact on sailors, some of whom have been stuck on huge ships for months because of border closures and flight cancellations. they can't get home.

HARLOW: They can't. Our Ivan Watson looks at how this isolation is affecting the sailors' mental health.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The coronavirus pandemic may have emptied many of the world's airports, but the world's seaports appear as busy as ever. In Hong Kong, colossal cargo ships arrive day and night, each carrying thousands of containers of goods.

WATSON: It's because of ships like this that you can then go to the store or order online and get a new shirt or a bottle of shampoo or a tube of toothpaste. This is what helps the goods of the world move around.

WATSON (voice-over): But these vital arteries of the global economy are under strain.

WATSON: How's everybody doing?

WATSON (voice-over): Because since the pandemic hit, hundreds of thousands of seafarers, the professional mariners who operate these enormous ships, have been stranded on these vessels, unable to go home.

WATSON: Okee Alba, this is Jungle (ph) Jane (ph). You copy?

WATSON (voice-over): I hail the anchored cargo ship Okee Alba.


WATSON (voice-over): The second officer, a Filipino father of three named Merwyn Lagan answers.

WATSON: How long have you been at sea?

LAGAN: Yes, I'm already now 11 months.

WATSON: You've been working for 11 months straight?

LAGAN: Yes, I should be going home last March, but they start already locking down their borders, so we have to stay.

WATSON (voice-over): Governments closed their borders, and airlines cancelled flights when the pandemic struck last winter. That's left seafarers stuck, working on ships.

WATSON: When was the last time you stepped on dry land?


WATSON (voice-over): Priyanka is the first officer aboard an oil tanker now operating in the Gulf of Mexico. She says she was supposed to go back home to India when her contract ended two months ago.

PRIYANKA: Immigration authorities are not working right now, and so many airlines have stopped, so basically there is no access and no passage for the seafarers.

WATSON: Do you have any idea when you will be able to go home again?

PRIYANKA: At present, it is very uncertain. We have no idea.

FRANK COLES, CEO, WALLEM GROUP: I'm worried about their mental welfare, most of all.

WATSON (voice-over): Priyanka's boss is Frank Coles of the shipping company Wallem Group. He says 35 percent of his 7,000 employees' work contracts have expired, and he's struggling to get those people home.

COLES: Well, they feel imprisoned without any reason. They obviously -- their stress becomes heightened, depression sets in.

WATSON (voice-over): The International Maritime Organization estimates there are more than 200,000 seafarers around the world, waiting to be repatriated. People like my new radio friend Merwyn Lagan.

WATSON: What do you want to tell people around the world about your job right now?

LAGAN: That the job of a seafarer is very harsh, and we are also one of the frontliners to keep the economy running.

WATSON (voice-over): After 11 months at sea, he says he still doesn't know when he'll get to go home to see his family again. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


HARLOW: Wow. What an amazing -- I mean, frankly, I hadn't even thought of that, Jim. And what a sacrifice they have all given. Ivan, thank you for that --

SCIUTTO: Forgotten, forgotten --

HARLOW: -- reporting. Yes, you're --

SCIUTTO: -- in the midst of this, yes.

HARLOW: -- totally right.

Thank you for being with us, we'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with our colleague John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody, I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. We'll see President Trump later this hour, here in Washington.