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City of Louisville Reaches $12 Million Settlement with Breonna Taylor's Family; Heartbroken Window of COVID-19 Victim Warns Americans of Deadly Virus; NFL Free Agent Calls League's Racial Justice Efforts Half Hearted; DOJ Opens Criminal Investigation into Bolton's Book. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 15, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And moments ago Taylor's mother spoke about the next steps she hopes those fighting for justice for her daughter will take.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TANIKA PALMER, MOTHER OF BREONNA TAYLOR: As significant as today is, it's only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna. We must not lose focus on what the real drive is.

And with that being said, it's time to move forward with the criminal charges. Because she deserves that and much more. Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground. So please continue to say her name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN's Alexandra Field is with me now. And we know this $12 million, it involves monetary damages plus police reforms. What more can you tell us?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, this is incredibly significant. The family of Breonna Taylor was there as well as her family's attorneys. Now one of the attorneys, Ben Crump, is saying that this payout, $12 million, is the largest he believes in the history of this country following the death of a black woman by police.

He goes on to say it may, in fact, be the largest amount of money awarded following the death of any black person by police in the history of this country. We're working to verify those claims. There's certainly a very significant development.

But this is not just about the monetary settlement, Brooke. The family was very clear in saying that they wanted to see this monetary settlement accompanied by police reforms. Reforms that will go beyond Breonna's Law which has already been passed, that bans no-knock warrants in Louisville, Kentucky.

The family and their attorneys are now saying they want to see those kind of laws extended across country. They also want to see charges dropped against the protesters who have taken to the streets in her name for the past six months demanding justice.

And most importantly they now want to see federal charges for what they say are civil rights violations and of course they want to see criminal charges against the three officers who were involved.

BALDWIN: Listening to Mrs. Palmer saying this is just the beginning, the real focus now is the criminal charges. Alex Field, thank you so much for the update there out of Kentucky.

Coming up, the President admitted it on tape, downplaying the coronavirus to you, the American people. While telling Bob Woodward it was more than deadly than the flu. I'll talk about that with a heartbroken widow who just lost her husband to coronavirus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:35:00]

BALDWIN: Strength, confidence, no fear. That is the image President Trump wanted to show the rest of the world as the coronavirus pandemic began to grip this country back in the spring. And now he is defending his decision to downplay the virus publicly as more of these tapes from his conversations with veteran journalist Bob Woodward reveal the President had a very different outlook in private. So this is what the President said in mid-April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This thing is a killer. If it gets you. If you're the wrong person, you don't have a chance.

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR "RAGE": Yes, yes, exactly.

TRUMP: So this rips you apart.

WOODWARD: It's a monster -- this is a scourge.

TRUMP: It is the plague.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: You just heard the President call the coronavirus a killer and a plaque. And yet just last month he told Woodward this in their final phone call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODWARD: You and I --

TRUMP: Nothing more could have been done. Nothing more can have been done. I acted early. WOODWARD: Well ...

TRUMP: I acted early. I acted early so we'll see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Nearly 200,000 American lives have been lost over the course of this pandemic including the husband of my next guest, Mike Wolfe was 66 years of age when he lost his battle with COVID-19 just last month. He left behind five children, 17 grandchildren and his beloved wife Sondra.

And Sondra is now doing her part to spread the word about how dangerous this virus is. And Sondra is joining me now. Sondra, I am so, so sorry for your loss and I know you wear that mask in honor of your late husband. This is what your whole family called him so again my sincerest condolences and welcome.

SONDRA WOLFE, HUSBAND MIKE DIED OF COVID-19: Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: I would like to start with the photo that you sent us that no one in my 21 years of journalism have ever sent me. It's a photo of a urn which will hold your late husband. Why did you want all of us to see this?

WOLFE: Well, I thought it was very powerful to see. That's Mike's chair. He snuggled with the kids in that chair. You know, they played tickle monster in that chair. So many happy memories for our grandkids and his urn and his chair, I mean his -- that will be his final resting place, where he'll be forever. And never again. I sit here with this empty chair every day.

BALDWIN: Why do you want us to see it?

BALDWIN: I want to -- people see the numbers. And so many of them don't care. I want to put a human face on a family, what a family is going through, the grief that this has caused. And maybe change some minds that this is a real thing. It's not going away. In November, it's not political. It's a health crisis.

[15:40:00]

And we need to do what we can to take care of each other.

BALDWIN: I know that both you and your husband got sick last month from COVID. You obviously recovered, your husband did not. But to learn months before you both got sick that President Trump purposefully downplayed this virus to the American public, telling them that it is not as serious as the flu, when you have been forced to learn otherwise. What do you think of that?

WOLFE: It is so frustrating, and it makes me angry. You know, the leader of our country who should have acted. You know, other countries have this under control and are protecting their citizens. And that they've made this political and about an election and about ratings, just makes me angry. This is about our people and lives. BALDWIN: And to the people who don't wear masks and don't social

distance, and don't believe it's real, to them you say what?

WOLFE: I say, the mask doesn't protect you. The mask protects other people. Please take care of each other. Please have some empathy. If you would pass this on to somebody else, how would it make you feel? If you're selfishness was responsible for somebody's death?

BALDWIN: What do you want us to know about Mike? What will you miss the most?

WOLFE: Mike was an awesome poppa. A great father. A wonderful husband. He was, he was -- he took care of all of us. He was just an all-around great guy. He played Santa for many years. And people around here know him as the best Santa ever. He's leaving some big shoes to fill.

BALDWIN: Several children, 17 grandchildren.

WOLFE: Personally --

BALDWIN: Forgive me, forgive me for interrupting you, go ahead.

WOLFE: That's OK. You know personally, the big shoes, personally in our own family and in the community. He's leaving a big, big hole.

BALDWIN: Sondra Wolfe, I admire you for coming on and speaking your truth and your heartache with regard to your husband. Be well. We'll be thinking about you and your family and thank you for speaking up.

We'll be right back.

WOLFE: Thank you so much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:45:00]

BALDWIN: Halfhearted and diabolical. Probably not the reaction but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league executives were hoping for as the league shines a spotlight on social justice in its new season.

But that is exactly how Eric Reid the NFL free agent who is also a close friend of Colin Kaepernick's reacted to this video being played by the league this week.

It features "Lift Every Voice and Sing" known as the black national anthem along with a close-up of Kaepernick and Reed who knelt with Kaepernick is blasting the action in a series of tweets. Saying that Goodell used, quote, video of Colin courageously kneeling to legitimize their disingenuous P.R. while knowing that Kaepernick still has not been offered a spot on a team four years after his first protest against police brutality. So, with me now, Ephraim Salaam who played in the NFL for 13 years. Welcome friend, welcome back.

EPHRAIM SALAAM, PLAYED IN THE NFL FOR 13 YEARS: Thank you, of course, it's good to be back. BALDWIN: So you talked to my friend Brianna Keilar recently that, you know, saying that you feel the league is trying to make the country better with regard to race. So how would you respond to Eric Reid?

SALAAM: I understand what -- where he comes from. Because in a lot of people's mind and especially Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick, the league hasn't made amends for that situation that took place and it's still taking place. This started four years ago when Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee.

Roger Goodell came, and he was being interviewed by Acho a former player who has a podcast and he said he would love to tell Collin and have these conversations. They've offered for him to come in and talk, but Colin Kaepernick has always been a player. He's still listed as a free agent.

Roger Goodell is the Commissioners of the NFL. If the Commissioner tells you to come to the office, then you come to the office. That's what -- he doesn't ask you, he sends out a request and he tells you to come to the office. None of that has happened.

BALDWIN: So you see this more on Kap and less on Goodell and using the video and not calling and not having a conversation with him. Because the offer is out there?

SALAAM: Both parties, I think both parties share some fault. I thought it was in poor taste for the NFL to use Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid in the video and neither one of those players are playing or on a current roster right now.

They have been the most outspoken players starting four years ago. And for the NFL to use that, in their messaging, I just thought it was in poor taste.

[15:50:00]

BALDWIN: Ephraim, what about the playing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" during this first week of games, you know, the ability of coaches to wear decals or even some of the stickers with names of victims of police brutality and systemic racism. These gestures are unquestionably meaningful to a lot of people. Does it go far enough for you?

SALAAM: Well, it doesn't go far enough. But I'll tell you this, any progress is a step in the right direction. Think about four years ago when this was such a, you know, oh, I can't believe they're doing that. The NFL at that time had failed to recognize what the players were trying to say in their protest. Now they've embraced it, they've had to embrace it.

So, I think allowing players to express themselves -- like yesterday some players kneeled all through the NFL, some players kneeled, some players still with the fist in the air. The playing of "Lift Every Voice." All of these are movements in the right direction. But we have to continue this. We can't all of a sudden say, hey, we did our part.

BALDWIN: Right.

SALAAM: As the NFL you have to put more action into what you're trying to do and really initiate change in this country.

BALDWIN: So let's talk about possible action. In a video the Miami Dolphin players urge team owners to actually get in the fight, you know, saying that they had bigger paychecks, they can flex their political power.

Several of those team owners including the Dolphins' Stephen Ross are donors or friends of President Trump who has totally disparaged NFL players a bunch of times. Do you think these team owners will step up and accept the challenge?

SALAAM: Well, I think they have to. And to take a page of what the NBA is doing, which I think is amazing. The solidarity we're seeing happening in the NBA in that bubble with the coaches, with the owners, you know, players demanding that owners make their stadiums, their arenas readily available for voting next month or coming up in November.

Those type of things, that type of action, the NFL players need to demand that type of action for these owners because they do have deep pockets. They can put political pressures on certain law enforcement agencies around the country to do better policing, to have better standards, to create better laws.

That's what players are talking about. That's what the people are talking about in terms of using your power. Most of the owners are billionaires, and they all have political ties and political power.

BALDWIN: It has been incredible to watch the NBA, hasn't it?

SALAAM: Yes, it has.

BALDWIN: Ephraim Salaam, thank you. Good to have you on.

SALAAM: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Coming up, President Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton is facing new scrutiny over his book. What the Justice Department is reportedly doing now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:55:00]

BALDWIN: The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into former National Security Adviser John Bolton's memoir. This is all according to the "New York Times." They are investigating if Bolton illegally disclosed classified information in his book in which he paints quite a damning picture of his time working in President Trump's White House.

CNN's justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is with me now. Jessica, what do you know about the investigation so far? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we know

the DOJ has launched this criminal investigation also issuing subpoenas to the publisher of John Bolton's memoir Simon & Schuster.

Now this is all coming, this is the latest escalation in what has been a long battle between Bolton and the Trump administration. It was just that this past summer that the DOJ actually sued Bolton to try to block his book from being published and released.

The DOJ said that he hadn't completed that proper pre-publication review where they would have scrubbed any classified information. It's interesting in that case the federal judge right here in Washington, D.C. essentially said that the lawsuit came too late, that the damage had already been done, that the book had already gone to bookstores around the country and to journalists covering this.

So the book, in fact, was released. But the judge in that case opened up the possibility that John Bolton can be criminally prosecuted. And the "New York Times" is reporting that the Director of National Intelligence John Radcliff actually referred this to the DOJ last month and that it was the department's national security division that opened up this criminal inquiry.

Now, John Bolton has repeatedly said that he did not disclose any classified information in his memoir, "The Room Where It Happened." And just hours ago his attorney responded to these reports saying this, saying ...

Ambassador Bolton emphatically rejects any claim that he acted improperly, let alone criminally in connection with the publication of his book. And he will continue to cooperate fully as he has throughout with any official inquiry into his conduct.

Now, Brooke, of course, John Bolton really painting a damaging picture of the President and the Trump White House in this memoir. And the President punched back in mid-June when this was about to be released. The President saying that he has called John Bolton a low life saying that he should serve jail time for releasing highly classified information, as the President put it.

And now, Brooke, the Department of Justice launching this criminal investigation into the former National Security Adviser -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jess, thank you. We'll watch that investigation as it unfolds. Jessica Schneider for me in Washington. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks so much for being with me. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

THE LEAD with Jake Tapper starts right now.