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Trump Administrations Asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Obamacare Amid Pandemic; Colorado Governor Appoints Special Prosecutor to Investigate 2019 Death of Elijah McClain While in Police Custody; CNN's Jake Tapper's Film, "The Outpost," Hitting the Big Screen. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Under the cover of darkness and in one of its late-night moves, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act last night.

This move would take away health care coverage from millions of Americans, who are, as we all are, in the middle of a pandemic.

I want to bring Tami Luhby. She who covers the Affordable Care act and health care policy for CNN.

Tami, this is important because signups for Obamacare actually doubled in April and they were up significantly in May as well, which shows people are out of work and they need this coverage.

TAMI LUHBY, CNN SENIOR WRITER: Yes. More than one in 50 million people currently get their coverage through their job. It's an important part of the system.

You have millions of people losing their jobs in recent months, they're also at risk of losing insurance, which isn't a good thing at any time, but a particularly bad thing during a pandemic.

Now while people can always buy coverage on their own, before Obamacare, the individual market was known as the Wild, Wild West. It was difficult to find policies. They were excluded if they had preexisting conditions. It was often very expensive.

Obamacare made it be easier for people to buy coverage on their own if they couldn't have work-based coverage.


So, we're seeing a lot of people -- as you mentioned, there 154,000 people who lost their coverage who signed up in April. This is more than double the April pool. And the May numbers also spiked as well. These numbers show that people losing their jobs don't have another place to go.

KEILAR: One of the most recent polls on Obamacare was on FOX News in June. If we can put that up.

So 56 percent favorable, 38 percent unfavorable. These are numbers that show Americans like Obamacare.

So why do this and why do this in the middle of a pandemic?

LUHBY: We would have to ask the Trump administration. But as we know, this have been President Trump's position throughout the campaign, before the campaign, and it was one of his top priorities during the election, and during his first time.

But we know that, in 2017, Congress was unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act. So now the administration and the Republican attorneys general are trying to do it through the courts.

KEILAR: Tami, as always, thank you. You break it down into such a digestible way. We really enjoy it. Thank you.

LUHBY: Thank you.

KEILAR: Here's a look at what else to watch for today.


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KEILAR: In Colorado, the governor appoints a special prosecutor to look into the death of this young man right here, Elijah McClain, who died in police custody. I'm going to talk with the McClain family attorney straight ahead.



KEILAR: Colorado's governor has just reopened an investigation into a 2019 deadly police shooting of an unarmed black man, Elijah McClain, 23, who was walking home from a convenience store while wearing a ski mask. His family says he routinely wore the mask because of his blood

condition, anemia, which left him feeling cold very easily.

Three white police officers stopped him. And when an officer touched McClain, he resisted contact, saying, quote, "I'm an introvert, please respect my boundaries" and, quote, "I'm different." This is what he said to them.

Then a struggle ensued. Officers wrestled him to the ground. They put him in a chokehold and he's injected with Ketamine. Elijah McClain, suffered a heart attack and, three days later, he died.

The D.A. declined to file charges against the officers. Police say they were responding to a 911 call about a man wearing a mask, which, looked, quote, " sketchy."

Mari Newman, the family's attorney, joining me now.

And I think I characterize that as, pardon me, a shooting. But this was obviously special circumstances that led to his death but very questionable judgment in the case of Elijah's death.

Mari, millions of people have signed a petition demanding officials reopen this case. The governor has said Elijah McClain should be alive today.

Tell us how the family is responding now that, a year later, they're getting renewed attention on the case.


It's a bittersweet response. On the one hand, the family is very happy people are finally saying their son's Elijah's name and the legacy is the changes in law coming.

A new law was recently passed in Colorado, a sweeping police reform bill. And the House passed a sweeping reform bill too, although, I'm told it might not make it through to the Senate.

But it's also difficult because it shouldn't take international media attention and it shouldn't take a petition signed by millions of people to do what's right in the first place.

Back last fall, we called for an independent investigation into the murder of Elijah McClain. And what did we hear then? Crickets.

On the one hand, they're very happy people are paying attention to now. But this is what should have happened in the beginning, not just in the police killing of Elijah McClain, but in the killings of so many young black and brown people across the United States.

KEILAR: So, we hear Elijah trying to explain he does not want to be touched. Almost like he can't be touched, right? He's having resistance to this. He's pleading with officers to respect his boundaries. He says, I'm just different. Tell us more about Elijah and the medical conditions he was

experiencing. We know he had anemia. Was he sensitive to touch? Tell us about him. And why, clearly, in your view, these are things that should have signaled to police officers that they needed to approach this with sensitivity.

NEWMAN: At the outset, the police actually had no legal reason to contact him, much less, tough him, tackle him, apply two chokeholds and multiples of other type of force and the other things that ensued.

The 911 call was simply they thought there was somebody sketchy walking down the street.

He was wearing a mask, although, we all wear a mask these days. He was listening to his ear buds and walking home from the corner store with iced tea. He went to get iced tea. There's no reason they should have contacted him in the first place.


And to be clear, the 911 caller said, I don't believe he's committed a crime. I don't believe he has a weapon. And no one is in danger. There's no probable cause that would have justified a police stop in the first instance.

But the first thing Elijah McClain says is, I'm on my way home. I'm an introvert. Please respect my boundaries. And yet, the officers immediately grabbed him, and all three of them.

And throughout the course of the next 15 minutes where they're inflicting all kinds of force on him, you hear him saying things like, I'm a vegetarian, I don't hurt flies, I don't have a gun, I don't do those things. My name's Elijah McClain. I'm just trying to go home.

I mean, this is a peaceful man who is just trying to go about his business and just have an everyday life, go to the store and get my tea without being assaulted by police.

And then the Ketamine is another store.

KEILAR: I want to -- let me ask about this. He's like 140 pounds. The officers have a height and weight advantages on him. He vomits several times while on the ground. Then they inject him with Ketamine, and the dosage is ridiculous, given what his weight is. Tell us about that.

NEWMAN: You're right. So, he's on the ground, having suffered from two corroded chokeholds, multiple officers on him, each of which greatly out sizes him.

And even though they have him cuffed on the ground and holding him in his own vomit, you can hear one saying jokingly, don't get that on me. And another who doesn't think Elijah lies still enough if as he is vomiting, and says, quit messing around or I'm going to bring in a dog to bite you.

I mean, talk about cruel and inhumane. It's petrifying to imagine that's a man carrying a badge and a gun.

But even while he's cuffed, totally passive on the ground just struggling to breathe and saying those horrible words we've heard so many men saying, I can't breathe, before they die, Elijah is injected with a massive dose of Ketamine by two Aurora paramedics.

And as you say, the dosage they gave him was a dosage appropriate if, for anybody -- and certainly not for Elijah because he wasn't doing anything to justify any kind of chemical being injected involuntarily into his veins.

But it would be for somebody who was something like 300 pounds. And Elijah, as you said, was about 140 pounds. It was a massive overdose of a totally unnecessary drug for a peaceful man that wasn't even suspected of doing anything wrong. It's as tragic as it gets.

KEILAR: The D.A. refused to file charges against the officer. One officer said, quote, he just grabbed your gun, dude. I wonder what your reaction is to that. Because that's something the officers will say, look, not only was he resisting, he was trying to grab our weapon. That is their defense.

NEWMAN: And if there were any evidence of it, I suppose it would be a defense.

But what we have is three officer who each intentionally knock off their body cameras as they're tackling Elijah McClain.

And I know that because you can hear at three different points in the video, when their cameras are recovered, different officers saying, move that camera away, dude, turn off the camera. We hear they're intentionally avoiding accountability with the cameras.

We hear he tried to grab your gun, but not with the kind of urgency you expect if somebody is grabbing a gun. No fingerprints were recovered from any gun. And I don't think they tried to because they full fell it never happens. And Elijah is a person who would never do such a thing.

But it's easy for three officers, who knock off their cameras intentionally, to create a false narrative by saying he tried to grab your gun. And by the way, the officer whose gun he reportedly tried to grab says I never felt that. So, I don't believe for a moment it even happened.

But it doesn't surprise me one bit that Aurora police officers tried to create that false narrative.

I've, unfortunately, been suing the Aurora police for two past decades. It's a very problematic department with a long and sorted history of brutality and racism.

KEILAR: Mari, we will be following this case of Elijah McClain, the 140-pound massage therapist who died walking home from the corner store.

Mari Newman, thank you so much for coming on.

NEWMAN: Thank you so much for having me.


KEILAR: And we'll be right back.


KEILAR: Our own Jake Tapper's film is about to hit the big screen. "The Outpost" is based on the true story of a team of American soldiers who fought off Taliban fighters at a remote outpost in Afghanistan. And the film of Tapper's national best-selling book, "The Outpost" is now available to watch.

Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I go home and all I end up doing is lying. So what is the point of that?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: How about you, sir, are you calling home?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All in good time.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What about you, Carter?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Nobody wants to hear from me, sir.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You don't know my ex-wife.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm proud to be here. We see it. We're going to win by winning hearts and minds.



KEILAR: The film hits theaters next Friday and also available on demand.

And Jake Tapper joins me now.

Jake, that was one of the more, I would say, calm moments in this movie. Because the book is action-packed.


KEILAR: And so is the movie. It is very intense. I don't want to ruin the storyline for anyone. It is very intense though. Just like in your book, the movie captures the Taliban, who are

targeting this outpost daily. And it turns out they've been testing the vulnerabilities of it. And it sort of culminated in a battle that -- it is pretty complex for what the Taliban carry out here.

I want to ask you about the movie. But before that, just talk to us about why it was so important for you to tell this story.

TAPPER: Well, it goes back to my son was born on October 2nd, 2009, And the Combat Outpost Keating was attacked like that on October 3rd. And some time during that week, sitting in the hospital room with my -- holding my little newborn son, there was just -- I heard about this attack and eight other sons taken from this world.

It was the deadliest day for the U.S. in Afghanistan that year. And there was just something poignant in the moment of holding my son, hearing about eight other sons taken. And I just wanted to know more.

It just set me on this journey of wanting to know who the eight men were who were killed and why was an outpost put there at the bottom of three steep mountains.

I covered the war in Afghanistan but remotely from the White House North Lawn, as a White House correspondent. I had never been there. And so I dove into this. I wanted to know more about these people and it opened up a whole world.

And the book ends up being an exploration of the war in Afghanistan by just looking at this one outpost. And all of the men and women who served there and all of the lives lost trying to construct it, trying to serve there. And then, ultimately, on October 3rd, 2009 trying to defend it.

And the director, Rod Lurie, had a good feel for the material. And the cast and crew did such a compelling job. It is such a powerful movie and I'm so proud and honored to be even remotely associated with it.

KEILAR: And I wonder, I was looking through your book as I was watching the movie and one of the things that struck me was how almost exactly alike the picture of Combat Outpost Keating was to what is portrayed in the film. Where was this filmed?

TAPPER: It was filmed outside of Sofia, Bulgaria, which is where Millennium Films is headquartered, Bulgaria.

It was weird. I took my wife and kids to visit the set. Now I never got to visit the actual combat outpost because it was destroyed after the battle. And even when embedded with troops in Afghanistan, I got as forward as I could. By then, they were out of the province so I never got to the actual base.

Here I was at this recreation in Bulgaria that was life-like and incredibly realistic and there are three troops, three veterans, who served at Combat Outpost Keating, who were consultants and acted in the film. Henry Hughes, Ty Carter, who was awarded the Medal of Honor, and Dan Rodriguez, who played himself in the movie. They said it was eerie, it was weird because it was so similar. And

the guy who commanded the base, Stony Portis, he visited, too, and he couldn't believe it. So they really did an amazing job in recreating the base.

And as a viewer, when you watch the movie, they immerse you in it so you almost feel like your serving at Camp Keating.

And it reminds me the way Spielberg did in "Saving Private Ryan," the beginning when you feel like your landing on Omaha Beach in D-Day. You feel like you're there with the soldiers. And that is what Rob Lurie does so well with the outpost.

KEILAR: That is exactly how I would describe it. You felt like you were in the middle of it with them. And I think also to describe what you're in the middle of, it is almost you can't believe the battle they went through. It is almost something that you think is almost made up for television.

But it was -- it is intense, I'll tell you that, Jake. It is exceptional. I enjoyed watching it. It is a great follow on to your book.

And we appreciate you coming on to talk about it.

Jake, thank you.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, Brianna. I appreciate it.


KEILAR: And our special coverage continues now with Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here we go. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Friday. You're watching CNN.