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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Seven Officers In Rochester, NY, Suspended As Daniel Prude Death Rules A Homicide; Russian Efforts To Show Doubt About Mail-In Voting Mirror Those Of Trump; Update: Americans Trying To Help Evicted Houston Families After Report On 360; New Reporting On Russian Interference In The Election Dovetails With President Trump's Own Efforts To Sow Distrust In Mail-In Voting; Trump Pressuring F.D.A., Other Agencies For Positive News; Biden Visits With Jacob Blake Family And Visits Kenosha. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 03, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: In for Anderson. We have more new reporting on this Russian interference in the election that dovetails almost perfectly with President Trump's own efforts to sow distrust in mail- in voting. Yes, 2016 is calling asking for its alleged collusion back.
First, though, another reason to be worried. Very, very worried that the public health officials we all count on for potentially life or death information in a pandemic are facing growing pressure from the president to deliver politically for him.
Breaking CNN reporting with government officials and experts now outlining what they see as a full on rush to deliver a silver bullet to end the crisis and rescue the President's reelection bid.
Now, we've seen bits and pieces of it for months whether it's pressure from the top to approve unproven drugs like hydroxychloroquine, or the President openly and without evidence, accusing the F.D.A. of deliberately delaying a vaccine until after the election.
So it's not like some of this hasn't been plain to see already, but tonight's reporting pulls it all together and draws on inside sourcing to capture the full scope of this injection of politics into the realm of public health, and this effort to deliver or perhaps only seemed to deliver the positive lives alongside something else the President has been drawn to from the beginning, downplaying or denying the negative.
The words and phrases have changed as one death became a thousand, then a hundred thousand. Now, an estimated 200,000 or more by the end of the month, that's according to a brand new forecast from the C.D.C.
Through it all, the President has said and done whatever he can to gaslight the public on the single biggest threat facing the country and the world.
It's at the point now that he is even latching on to bogus notions that most COVID deaths aren't really COVID deaths. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, I saw a statistic came out the other day talking about only six percent of the people actually died from COVID, which is very interesting -- that they from other reasons.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, THE INGRAHAM ANGLE: They had comorbidities. But the COVID might ultimately have been the key morbidity to hit them, but the bottom line --
TRUMP: It could be, but it's an interesting statistic.
INGRAHAM: Mr. President, are you still having fun doing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So before we go any further, that notion which is circulating widely on social media and among the President's supporters, is false. Dr. Anthony Fauci, remember him? America's longest serving and most highly regarded public health official? The one on the President's own Taskforce. He has debunked it.
And yesterday, the C.D.C.'s own head of Mortality Statistics put out a detailed statement backing Dr. Fauci up. Among all the details here is the bottom line, quote: "The underlying cause of death in this case, COVID is the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person's death." That's no matter what other conditions the patient has.
So, again, what the President and his supporters are spreading is false. It's a lie. And the idea that at this late date, this is taking up even one iota of bandwidth is simply nuts.
Not only does it divert time and energy from the whole of government effort, the White House likes to tout, it also insults each and every family member who could not hold a loved one's hand, comfort them, or simply look into their eyes one last time. That's how they know their father or wife or child actually died of COVID. And to say otherwise is grotesque.
Then again, the President isn't exactly new to saying such things. A month ago today, the President said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Under the --
QUESTION: It is giving them a false sense of security.
TRUMP: Right now, I think it's under control. I'll tell you what.
QUESTION: How? A thousand Americans are dying a day.
TRUMP: They are dying. That's true. And you have -- it is what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It is what it is. So, when he said that, 156,082 Americans had died. Tonight, we have 30,000 more lives lost, 30,000 in just four weeks, the President now seems to be saying it is not what it is.
More now on the breaking news from CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Kaitlan, what are you learning about the kind of pressure that President Trump is putting on administration health officials.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's high. There is a lot of pressure coming from the President to achieve not just a vaccine, but some kind of viable treatment for coronavirus. And of course, what he wants ultimately with that is to be able to signal to voters before November 3rd that there's a light at the end of the tunnel here.
And of course, this is what everyone wants. Everyone wants a vaccine or some kind of treatment for this. But the reason the President is increasing the pressure so much on the officials who work in this administration, not just political appointees, but career officials, career scientists, as well is because he wants to have some kind of signal because he thinks it will help him before the election.
And right now, the focus of that pressure from the President that's come into sharp view is the F.D.A. and the F.D.A. Commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, because of course, that's the point where we've gotten to where they are hoping for a vaccine and of course, the F.D.A. is at the center of that.
BERMAN: So vaccine development takes time, something that President Trump doesn't have a ton of before Election Day. So how is he dealing with a process that is sometimes slow and for good reason slow?
COLLINS: Well, here a new thing that the President has learned about and has focused on during this pandemic and that's an Emergency Use Authorization and that's what we've seen happen with the F.D.A. over the summer when it came to hydroxychloroquine, which of course, we know how much the President pushed that, and he pushed the FDA along with aides like Peter Navarro to approve that Emergency Use Authorization because they believed it could help.
COLLINS: Of course, we saw how that ended, John. They ended up reversing that approval because the data found that it did not have any net benefit in that and so the F.D.A. said it needed to be studied more.
Their second one was on convalescent plasma, and we watched that pressure play out in public view where officials were telling us they did not think the F.D.A. was moving quickly enough on that and we saw the botched announcement where you later had the F.D.A. Commissioner have to walk back his statement because medical experts were incredibly critical of him and said basically he had overstated the lifesaving benefits of it. And so that is the concern here with the vaccine because we know an
EUA way for a vaccine is on the table which would not mean full approval, it would just mean maybe potentially for frontline workers, for elderly people, just on a limited basis.
But the concern, of course, is if they go forward that before there's a consensus that it's ready. People believe that they've seen politics have its play in hand with these other EUAs. They fear it could be that way with a vaccine.
Though, we should note, Commissioner Hahn and other health officials have said they're basing these decisions on the data, not on politics.
BERMAN: You just mentioned, Kaitlan, concern in the scientific community, about F.D.A. Commissioner Stephen Hahn and how he has handled things, but I understand in this new reporting, there is also some concern, I guess of a different kind from within the administration, about Dr. Hahn. Can you tell us about that?
COLLINS: Yes. And it depends on who you're looking at. There are career scientists at the F.D.A. who have not been on board with everything Dr. Hahn has said including what he said about convalescent plasma. They believe you overstated it, but also political officials.
West Wing officials who were not happy that he apologized for what he said. They said he didn't clear that statement with the West Wing beforehand. They did not think he had anything to really apologize for, so West Wing aides did not think that was something that he should have done.
So basically, he's been in this zone where he doesn't want to hurt his reputation or damage his reputation with the career officials at F.D.A., but also he doesn't want to be on the wrong end of the White House.
And at times, you know, he has found himself like that, just in the last week where we've seen at F.D.A., they had to walk back that statement. He had to apologize.
He fired and removed a top political appointee that the White House had put at the F.D.A. from her role as chief spokesperson. So now she just works there, but she doesn't actually have a clearly defined role.
So we've seen just how much pressure you're seeing, not only just on the Commissioner at the F.D.A., but also really, we've been described this work environment that's like a pressure cooker at the F.D.A. because of course they want this to go right. They want it to go well, but they are also are on the receiving end of this pressure from President Trump and from top West Wing officials who want them to speed it up.
And they've got to, you know, respond to these accusations from people like the President saying they believe career scientists at the F.D.A. are deliberately delaying progress here because the President thinks they want to be able to hurt his election chances. BERMAN: What a mess, and these are the people charged with saving our
lives. Kaitlan, stick around. I want to bring in CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also Kathleen Sebelius, former Governor of Kansas who served as H.H.S. Secretary during the Obama administration and Secretary Sebelius, clearly, this is not how things are supposed to work.
So I wonder as someone who ran Health and Human Services, what kind of impact does pressure from the President of the United States like this have?
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER SECRETARY OF HEALTH UNDER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, I fortunately didn't have to live with this kind of pressure or reach in from the White House. We had a President at the time and a Vice President who believed in science.
And President Obama and Vice President Biden made it very clear that while we wanted to keep Americans safe and secure, the only way to do that is build public trust and let the scientists tell the people what they knew and what they didn't know.
They did this in both the H1N1 outbreak and mass vaccination campaign and they did it again during Ebola, both very scary situations, but it was led by the public health officials and by the scientists.
This is a total mess. What Kaitlan talked about within the F.D.A., as an additional chapter, two days ago, the National Institutes of Health again under the umbrella of H.H.S., put out a statement about convalescent plasma saying they think it needs to be studied more. They also agree that it is not ready for primetime. That there need to be clinical trials run in an objective fashion before it is widely recommended for treatment.
So not only did the F.D.A. walk back a statement, but you have another, a sort of brother agency and that's very, very unusual, I think to have, if you will contradictory statements coming out. But it's a mess and we need the public to be able to trust that when a vaccine is safe and efficacious and ready to roll that they will step up and get the vaccine.
And nothing that this administration is doing, discounting COVID deaths, you know, having political reach into agencies then have to walk back the statements, nothing will give the public any confidence that when an announcement is made, we have a good vaccine.
BERMAN: One of the key ingredients to public health, maybe the key ingredient to public health is public trust. Sanjay, along those lines, what happens to the science? What happens to the research if scientists start to cut corners because they're feeling political pressure?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think you do lose that. You do have that erosion of trust, which I think affects you know, so many things going forward, you know. There's going to be lots of different developments and progress that
we want to make with regard to COVID. And if you lose that trust, and some of that trust has already been eroded candidly, it makes it much harder to get these things done.
And when it comes to this vaccine, obviously, you know, when you cut corners, the concern is that the vaccine may not be as safe or as effective as you'd want. I mean, those, those are the criteria.
Now, when you think about applying the scientific method to this, I think oftentimes, John, people think about this like Math, two plus two equals four. It's very, very clear.
There is always some degree of subjectivity to this. What is going to be acceptable? How efficacious does it have to be to actually warrant an authorization or an approval ultimately?
Some of these things are subjective decisions that get made usually in conjunction with other scientists, but there is a subjectivity in this entire process.
BERMAN: Kaitlan, you also have some new reporting on how the President views any efforts to slow down the approval that he so clearly wants. So what can you tell us about that?
COLLINS: Oh, basically, he thinks that it's just a political play that it's actually not based on science, and that's how he has viewed so many things.
Hydroxychloroquine is one of the clearest examples, but also with convalescent plasma where it doesn't seem like they know for sure, given what N.I.H. has said since then about it needs to be studied more.
And we were actually told that the N.I.H. Director and Dr. Anthony Fauci were not completely on board with the decision to grant the EUA on convalescent plasma.
Now, as someone at the F.D.A. pointed out, it's not up to them, to N.I.H. or to Dr. Fauci to make that decision. That's a decision that rests with the Commissioner and the F.D.A.
And so they pushed back. They said we are not making these decisions based on politics, but you really do see how just how immense that pressure is, because they already feel that pressure.
The pandemic is sweeping the nation killing, you know, over six figures in Americans, but also from the President himself, who has gotten his eye on the calendar, and on November 3rd.
And so what we heard as we were reporting this out with my colleague, Kevin Liptak is that there was a concern basically that Dr. Hahn could bend to the pressure of the White House and of the West Wing, which has been obvious. They're not even really trying to hide that pressure. They argue it's for different reasons, but it's been obvious. And so Commissioner Hahn has said in multiple statements, he will not
bend to pressure. He will make a decision based off of that, but you know, when you are in the West Wing on a regular basis meeting with the President, meeting with the Vice President talking about this, you certainly feel that pressure, not just while you're at the F.D.A., but even when you're here at the White House.
And so that is why so many people have talked about what they're feeling from people at the White House, of course, starting with the President.
BERMAN: So Secretary Sebelius, one of the things about vaccines is that among some parts of the community, there's already an inherent distrust. There are people who are reluctant to take it already.
Obviously when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, it will be imperative that people feel comfortable taking it. So, what does all this do to that level of comfort that people are going to need?
SEBELIUS: Well, it's back to the issue of trust. Do I believe this is some sort of political ploy being jammed out the door? What we know or what we think we know is that the vaccine is likely to require two doses, more complicated than most vaccines that people get. Only shingles in my knowledge right now, which requires that two doses and that's difficult for people to do. They don't follow up.
But as you say, a portion of the population, understandably, has real reservations about being used as experiments in science.
We had a big vaccination campaign in the Gerald Ford re-election era that that went very wrong. More people got Guillain-Barre syndrome then got the flu that they were vaccinating against. So we know that that there can be issues and problems.
What we need to be able to assure the American public is that this is being done scientifically. That we know from widespread clinical trials, and they're in Phase 3. Phase 3 is you actually vaccinate a lot of people with a lot of different, you know, body types and underlying conditions and ages, and you need to see that it's safe and effective with all the different groups.
And then you're able to give that information to the public and say, we've tested it, we tried it. We believe this is how we're best going to fight the virus and encourage people as much as possible to step up and be willing to be vaccinated, vaccinate their kids, vaccinate their parents, because if that doesn't happen, we will continue to see this virus raging in our country and we'll see deaths continuing at the rate that they are.
BERMAN: Sanjay, very quickly, one of the things that this article and reporting highlights is this panel of scientists and researchers that are going to review the data that is available and there's actually like a date circled on the calendar, apparently, inside the administration of October 22nd when that review will happen? What do we know about the power this panel will have and what influence they might be subjected to?
GUPTA: Well, they don't really have any power, you know, and they ultimately are going to be the first to look at this data. They're not the ones who are going to, you know, submit for a EUA. They're going to then basically say, yes, we think this is good to go. Send it over to the F.D.A.
F.D.A. is still the one that -- F.D.A. is still the organization that decides on this. But this is an influential panel. It's usually made up of people who are scientists, ethicists, people who are looking at the epidemiology of a particular area.
So it's a very important, you know, group of people and that will be a very important date. I do hope that they share this data with the broad public. I mean, I'd like to look at the data. I know a lot of other people would as well,
BERMAN: I'd like you to look at the data. I'd feel much more comfortable if you get a good look at this data and other scientists do as well.
Dr. Gupta, Kathleen Sebelius, and Kaitlan Collins, thank you all very much for being with us.
Next up, what Joe Biden said after speaking with Jacob Blake during his visit to Wisconsin. Blake family attorney Benjamin Crump joins us.
And later, more breaking news on Kremlin campaign interference that looks and sounds a lot like a central focus of President Trump's campaign.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:20:31]
BERMAN: Joe Biden traveled to Wisconsin today. His visit, a striking contrast to the President's this week. Unlike the President who focused almost exclusively on what he calls law and order in Kenosha, and didn't even say Jacob Blake's name, the former Vice President met with the Blake family and spoke by phone with Jacob Blake himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up. We talked about some in my church father and based on a 23rd Psalm, he will raise you up in Eagle's wings and bury you on the breath of dawn and hold you in the palm of his hand, we meet again.
Well, I think, all the time we spend on least on a lot of people is, they understand that fear doesn't solve problems, only hope does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joining us now is Blake family attorney, Benjamin Crump. Mr. Crump, thank you for being with us. You were on the phone during the meeting that Vice President Biden had with the Blake family earlier today. How did it go? And in your view, what did it accomplish?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY TO JACOB BLAKE'S FAMILY: Well, John, it was very uplifting. Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden was the embodiment of leadership. The meeting was hopeful, spiritual and at times, very substantive.
His mother, Julia Jackson prayed for everybody. His father, Jacob Blake, Sr., got into a lot of questions about how do we deal with the systematic racism? And Vice President Biden talked about his plan, talked about Senator Kamala Harris's proposed legislation with the George Floyd Justice and Accountability Policing Act.
And so it was real deep on that level, but then, when Jacob, Jr. got on the phone, that really was, you know, encore to the conversation because you had him and Vice President Biden have a very deep conversation with Jacob Blake, Jr. saying, he is not going to give up.
He said whether he walks or not, he is going to believe in the best in life because he has to, because he has three little boys that's counting on their daddy and it was deep because Vice President Biden was really -- he offered him -- he reminded him of hope in those conversations.
BERMAN: You say there was a lot of substance in the conversation. What specific pledges, if any, did the Vice President make about what he would do if elected either about Jacob Blake's case specifically or about issues surrounding policing in general?
CRUMP: Yes, a part of it, he was listening because Letetra, Jacob's sister, had a lot of insight, but he talked about having a national registry of police shootings.
He also talked about having the background checks. He talked about trying to ban the choke holds, having mandatory body cameras that you had to have those cameras on and then he talked about also getting back into having partners in the community, whether that's business leaders, law enforcement, and education.
He thought the whole solution was we had to come together to work against this systematic racism.
BERMAN: Obviously, President Trump went to Kenosha earlier this week, did not mention Jacob Blake's name. I'm not sure he ever has. What was the impact of his visit?
CRUMP: Vice President Biden or --
BERMAN: President Trump?
CRUMP: Well, he never spoke with the family and never said Jacob Blake's name. So therefore, you know, the family didn't focus on that very much. They just focused on, you know, Jacob getting better.
They focused on what Vice President Biden was talking about, because he did reach out to them, and I think it was a really about Vice President Biden said, we, in America we all have to work together on this issue.
BERMAN: So Attorney General William Barr spoke with Wolf Blitzer yesterday and talked about specifics in the case. Now, we're willing to stipulate. It's odd for the Attorney General of the United States to weigh in with specifics of a case that's under investigation.
But one of the things that he said is that Jacob Blake was in the midst of committing a felony and that he was armed when he was shot seven times by police. What's your response to that? And at this point, specifically, can you say what, if anything, was in Jacob Blake's hands at the time of the shooting?
CRUMP: Well, when my co-counsels Pat Salvi, B'Ivory LaMarr and myself believe is that the Attorney General was grossly misinformed.
The fact that the police were the aggressors from beginning to end, and this is by way of the video evidence, as well as witness accounts and never was Jacob Blake, Jr. posing a threat to them as he was going away from them to get into the car to get his three little boys out of a volatile situation.
They were never know life or death situation, so Attorney General Barr is just mistaken.
BERMAN: Was he armed at the time?
CRUMP: Based on everything we know, he was not armed at the time, and we have not been given any facts by the Wisconsin Attorney General, anything to contradict what those witness accounts, who was there on the scene told us.
Now Attorney General Barr, he cannot go put his finger on the scales of justice to try to do what Jacob Blake, Sr. say justify the unjustifiable.
His son had been shot seven times in the back while the police is holding his t-shirt, and when you look at that video, John, you see that there are women and children in the line of fire.
And so William Barr can't perpetuate two justice systems in America where they would try to condone a young man going to kill two people and then walking down the street with an assault weapon by a National Guard and law enforcement where he is uninjured when he gets home, but they're trying to justify the shooting of a black man who didn't kill anybody.
BERMAN: Benjamin Crump, as you said, Wisconsin local officials have not given any specifics about the investigation. So it was odd to have the U.S. Attorney General offer up something like that without any specific evidence.
We do appreciate your time tonight, Benjamin Crump. Thank you very much for being with us.
CRUMP: Thank you, John.
BERMAN: All right, we do a breaking news straight ahead. The Mayor of Rochester, New York has suspended seven police officers for their involvement in the death of a black man who was pinned to the ground and whose head was placed under a hood. This happened last March. We have details when 360 continues.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So breaking news now the mayor of Rochester New York has suspended a total of seven police officers for their involvement in the death of a black man who was pinned to the ground and whose head was placed under a hood for several minutes last March. Videotape of the incident surface in early August and was released by the man's family earlier in the week.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was quote extremely disturbing. The police Union in Rochester said that while it's still in the process of gathering information, it does have concerns about the incident. CNN's Brian Todd has the details.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The police body cam video shows that when police fine tune at about 3:15a.m., Daniel Prude is naked on the street as a light snowfall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground. Put your hands behind your back. Behind your back. Don't move. Don't move.
TODD (voice-over): This incident occurred in Rochester, New York on March 23rd, two months before the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Attorneys for Prudes family provided CNN with body cam footage showing several angles and the confrontation is getting new scrutiny tonight
LOVELY WARREN, MAYOR ROCHESTER NY: experiencing and ultimately dying from a drug overdose in police custody, as I was told by the chief is entirely different than what are ultimately witness and video.
TODD (voice-over): The New York Attorney General is investigating. Prudes family is demanding justice.
JOE PRUDE, BROTHER OF DANIEL PRUDE: They treated my brother like a piece of garbage. And what do you do the garbage you throw it out? So that's basically what they done to my brother.
TODD (voice-over): Daniel Prude's brother called police that morning saying Prude was experiencing a mental health episode and may have been on drugs. When on officers arrived Prude complies with them and is handcuffed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Daniel?
DANIEL PRUDE, VICTIM: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniel Prude,
D. PRUDE: Please let me give (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniel Prude.
TODD (voice-over): Moments later. The footage shows Prude visibly agitated for several minutes yelling at officers squirming on the pavement.
D. PRUDE: (INAUDIBLE), let me go.
TODD (voice-over); Three minutes after first confronting him, police put what's called a spit sock over Prudes head to minimize exposure after they say he was spitting. But Prude becomes more agitated. The officers demand that he lie still.
D. PRUDE: Give me the gun, give me the gun, give me the hand gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay down, stay down.
D. PRUDE: Give me the hand gun.
TODD (voice-over): When Prude doesn't comply and appears to try to stand, three officers physically restrain him and hold him to the ground.
TODD (voice-over): One officer has his knee on Prude's back and the other is holding his head to the pavement while the spit sock remains on his head. Another officer can be seen putting his weight on Prude's head. Prude seems to be struggling to breathe.
At one point the officers realize Prude is spitting and appears to have vomited. Paramedics arrive and begin assisting instructing the officers to roll him over.
TODD (voice-over): CPR is performed for about two minutes. Prude is then placed on a gurney and put into an ambulance. He was pronounced brain dead when he arrived at the hospital and died a week later. Prude's family is demanding the officers involved be fired and charged with murder. Rochester police chief said this week he didn't have evidence to indicate that anything criminal might have occurred, but said if there was something more obvious immediate action would have been taken. The mayor has announced that all seven officers involved have been suspended. The investigations are continuing. J. PRUDE: The man is defenseless, butt naked on the ground. He's cuffed up already. I mean, come on. How many more brothers got to die for society to understand that. This needs to stop.
TODD (on-camera): The police Union in Rochester setting had concerns about the incident involving its members. CNN was not able to reach the Union or the suspended officers for further comment on the case. The autopsy report rules Daniel Prude's death a homicide caused by quote, complications of asphyxia in the setting of a physical restraints. The medical examiner's office also cites quote, excited delirium and acute intoxication from the drug PCP as the cause of death.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
BERMAN: Our thanks to Brian for that report. CNN is reaching out to the suspended officers and to the Union for additional comment.
Joining us now is Charles Ramsey, CNN law enforcement analyst and former top cop in Washington and Philadelphia. Chief Ramsey, looking at it with your expert eyes. What's your reaction to that video of Daniel Prude's arrest?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, obviously it is disturbing to watch, but if I may just kind of walk you through it very carefully. Obviously he's in mental distress. I mean, it's winter time, you can see the snow falling and he's naked. That tells you right there that he wasn't in his normal state of mind. He was compliant initially. He put his hands behind his back as requested, he's sitting on the ground, and then you do see him begin to spit. Now they use what's called a spit hood. Some call it spit mask, and put over his head. Some departments use that some don't. It's a little on the controversial side, primarily because of the optics of it, as you can clearly see from the video, but you can breathe through it, it's mesh, basically. But it does protect an officer against being bitten or being spat upon. Once they put that hood on, though, he becomes more agitated, and that's when he's he tries to get up, they start to apply pressure to keep him on the ground.
Now the autopsy showed, of course asphyxia. But it also shows he had a high level of PCP in his bloodstream. I don't know if you've ever seen a person or had do a person high on PCP. They are very difficult to control, they can be incredibly strong. It is not a pretty sight to see somebody being taken into custody so on PCP. I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not, not trying to justify this, that'll all come out as part of the investigation. But I do know that having drugs in his system, I don't know what his mental state is normally. But all those things combined, that was a very difficult situation.
BERMAN: I get it. What you're laying out is that this was a complicated situation with different factors here. But looking at the video, did you see anything that was done that you think could have or should have been done differently? RAMSEY: Well, it's hard to tell, but the pressure on the back for a sustained period of time could cause positional asphyxia. According to what I read, he was still spitting well had the hood on plus he may have vomited, that of course could get in the airway and cause problems as well. Obviously if they had released some pressure, roll them over earlier, maybe things would have been different. Who knows whether or not that would have been the case? But it's not like a George Floyd situation where it's obvious that that is totally inappropriate. This is a little different situation here. So, it'll be interesting as the evidence starts to come out during the course of the investigation. Exactly what's found.
BERMAN: Charles Ramsey, as always, we do appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
RAMSEY: Thank you.
BERMAN: We have more breaking news just ahead on a campaign theme for President Trump and now we're learning the Russians too.
BERMAN: More breaking news. A new report on Russian attempts to sow doubt among Americans about the integrity of elections. It's a message that appears to be a virtual copy of the one preached by President Trump. CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with the details. Evan, tell us about this warning from the Department of Homeland Security. What does it say?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this was an intelligence bulletin that the Homeland Security Department has now sent to local and state law enforcement. And it basically warns that the Russians are trying to sow doubt into the integrity of the 2020 election by amplifying these stories, that there could be vote fraud simply because there's going to be more mail-in balloting it come November. Now, as you pointed out, this is the exact same message that we've been hearing from President Trump, from some of his allies on the campaign trail in the last few months, especially in the last few weeks, as some states have decided that they're going to expand access to mail-in ballot.
Now, the facts are this, that there are a number of states that already do voting entirely by mail, and the evidence shows that there's very little to hardly any fraud at all in those days. And so, what President Trump has been saying is that some states are simply not prepared to expand the mail-in ballot. And also, he's raising concerns about whether the postal service can handle the volume of increase balance that it can be sent by mail. So, that's what you're hearing now from the Russians as well, in the last few weeks.
BERMAN: So you didn't misspeak? This was the Russians. This wasn't the Trump campaign, even though it sounds like they're doing exactly the same thing. Do we have any information about how U.S. intelligence agencies plan to fight this? I guess if at all? PEREZ: Yes, I mean, look, this puts them in a really, really tough place. And we've been hearing from officials in the intelligence community about exactly this. Look, they know they know what to do when it's a foreign country doing disinformation. They try to point it out. What they were not really prepared to do was when the disinformation is coming from the President, it's coming from his campaign, coming from his supporters here in this country, because that's First Amendment protected.
And so, what you see that the Homeland Security Department doing is sort of, you know, finding a way to parse this by pointing out what the Russians are doing, what is left unsaid in this intelligence bulletin is that the President and his campaign are responsible for these exact same messages that the Russians are trying to amplify, to sow doubt into the integrity of the 2020 vote.
BERMAN: Evan Perez, thank you very much for the reporting.
BERMAN: Perspective now from CNN, senior political commentator, and former Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod, also CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, Team Bashlrod (ph) with us here on this Thursday night.
David, what do you make of this reporting?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAN COMMENTATOR: Well, look, it's we know that the President's been on this project for some time, it's not surprising that the Russians are engaging in this because the Russians have looked for ways to create doubts among citizens in all the western democracies and particularly here in the U.S. And so, the fact that they're doing this isn't a surprise, the fact that they're doing it and working the same side of the street as the President of the United States is what makes it so insidious? You know, the President has been for months and months and months, assaulting without any evidence or justification, the integrity of mail-in voting. Tens of millions of people voted by mail in the last election. And the President impaneled a vote fraud commission after that election because he didn't like the fact that he had lost by 3 million votes. And they could find nothing.
So, we know this system has been tested. We know that. But, you know, there, there was a poll in the Wall Street Journal recently that showed that 45% of Americans had doubts about the integrity of the account. That's going to happen on November 3rd, that is a direct result of all of these combined efforts of the Russians, the President. And by the way, the Attorney General of the United States who appeared on CNN last night and echoed all of these conspiracy theories.
BERMAN: Yes. You mean you have the President, the Attorney General and the Russians, all saying the same thing. And Dana, I'm not suggesting coordination, but this has a Russia are you listening feel to it, which we heard in 2016, the Russians doing exactly what the President is doing. And it's not only on this right. ABC News broke the story a couple days ago, that there was a DHS bulletin that was going to be circulated that said, the Russians were sowing doubts about Joe Biden's mental acuity at the exact same time the Trump campaign was.
So again, we're seeing this mesh between the Russians messaging and the President's messaging,
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: In large part because the President is very open, always and consistently, about the kind of discord that he is trying to sow. I mean, remember the days when we used to try to scoop out some things that were going behind -- going on behind the scenes and in political campaigns. It's almost not necessary anymore because the President says it out loud all the time. And saying that mail-in voting is full of fraud. Is one of the most vivid examples in 2020?
And so, it doesn't take really deep rooted intelligence by the Russians to try to figure out how to help the President, if they want to do that. They just have to look at his Twitter feed or listen to what he says every day on this issue.
BERMAN: David, bigger picture, what's the impact of a President of the United States attacking the integrity of the elections, let alone the Russians doing it?
AXELROD: Yes, well I think it's enormous. And he has, you know, he has a following. He has a base. That base takes what he says seriously, and here's the dangerous part of this, John. It is -- maybe likely, but it's certainly possible that because a lot of people will avail themselves of mail-in voting, more Democrats and the Republican -- than Republicans opposed. So because of what the President's been saying, we may not get a verdict on November 3rd, because you have to count those ballots if they're postmarked before election day. So, the election could drag on.
If -- and what Trump is setting up is, and he said it, either I'm going to win or the election will be rigged. There's no third option here. And this is, you know, so he's laying the foundation for a really, really traumatic experience for this country. And the Russians love this. This is the Russian project.
BERMAN: What he should be telling, I'm sorry, Dana. What he should be telling Americans that we're going to wait till all the votes are counted, that it's OK, if not all the votes are counted.
Dana, away with whatever you want. But let me just point out that I'm sure that members of the Senate and House would have tons of questions about this from the Director of National Intelligence, when ODNI briefs them in person and takes questions. Oh, wait, that's not happening anymore.
BERMAN: The director of national intelligence says he's not going to have in-person briefings, right? [20:50:01]
BASH: Right, and that -- and we've already heard from Democrats today reiterating their concern their outrage about how much this really does fly in the face of their ability to do their constitutional duty of oversight, particularly the intelligence committees, where they really have a special responsibility, because they do have the ability to get classified information that that those of us who are the public or even in the press, are we -- it is our job sometimes to, you know, to ferret out things that are going wrong in government, we can't really do that, because it's classified, it is their job to do that.
And one last thing that I was going to say is that, even to this minute, as we're getting ready for early voting, despite the Russian disinformation, the President saying mail-in voting is that really, this is the attempt by the Trump campaign to get this done as much as possible because they know that ultimately it will help them to get more votes.
BERMAN: Dana Bash, David Axelrod, thanks very much for being with us. Appreciate it.
Next, an update from our report about families in Houston facing eviction and the court officers making it happen. The story really resonated across the country and the response as you will see has been remarkable.
BERMAN: Last night we brought you a poignant and remarkable story of families in Houston being evicted from their homes. In part due to financial strains caused by the pandemic. Here's a portion of that report by CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah.
DEP. BENNIE GANT, HARRIS COUNTY CONSTABLES: Hello. Constable, you need to come out of the door.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From one Houston home to the next. Deputy Bennie Gant with the Harris County Constable's Office executes judge's orders to evict.
GANT: Hello, Constables.
ISRAEL RODRIGUEZ, FAMILY EVICTED FROM APARTMENT: We got nowhere to go.
LAH (voice-over): Israel Rodriguez is a tenant at this apartment, but he's not alone. 20-month-old (ph) Israel, his brother four-year-old Fabian and their mother are some of the estimated 40 million Americans facing eviction and the downward spiral of the COVID economy.
RODRIGUEZ: (INAUDIBLE) but they will not get everything you need.
LAH (voice-over): Rodriguez admits he hasn't been paying rent behind thousands of dollars.
RODRIGUEZ: (INAUDIBLE) when hit I lost my job. So it took me like a month to get it another job. This is my check, but I am making it with $300, is literally $300.
LAH (voice-over): Their stroller now carries their possessions.
RODRIGUEZ: Is mainly the kids clothes because me and her does wear the same clothes almost every day. Make sure we got, you know, toilet paper a little bit of snacks for the kids.
LAH (on-camera): What are you going to do with all of your stuff?
RODRIGUEZ: This -- that's trash. They could throw it in the trash? Because we don't have a car, we don't have help. We don't have nobody that can come, you know, help us out right now. Nobody. We've got ourselves me and the kids and her we see it.
BERMAN: So, since that report aired here on 360 then rebroadcast several times after the response for Americans who want to help has been both touching and widespread. Taking many of those calls and messages has been the Office of the Harris County Constable whose officers were responsible for evicting or serving those eviction notices.
Joining me now is Alan Rosen, Constable of Harris County Precinct 1. Constable, thank you so much for being with us. That story really is just heartbreaking. Do you have any updates on that young family?
ALAN ROSEN, CONSTABLE, HARRIS COUNTY PRECINT 1: Yes, we just as you have mentioned, the overwhelming giving spirit of Americans has kicked in at a time when this pandemic is, is hurting so many families. And there have been numerous people that have come forward and offered to help both people that were evicted. And, you know, of course, the city of Houston and Harris County has a $60 million cash Rental Assistance Program, that they're also helping people. So, the giving spirit of Americans, this is what we are about. And so, they are getting help, and we're trying to help other people. And the CDC helped with that.
BERMAN: Right, the CDC stepped in and I know -- I think you've as suspended if I'm correct evictions at least for now. And the plan is to suspend them for the rest of the year. So, what we saw in this piece a couple days ago, is no longer happening. I want to talk about the feelings of your officers as they are doing this. I know no one wants to put people out of their homes, and you want to point out that they're just carrying out their law, the law.
ROSEN: No, we don't make the laws, we merely are the people that enforce them and have to go out and do this is the worst part of my job. You know, it's heartbreaking. And, you know, it's so important that we put together a sheet that we give people that we have to unfortunately evict resources like rental assistance programs, mental health programs, all kinds of different social services programs to ensure that they are not just left out in the cold. And it's just -- it's something that's not required that we do. But we do it because we're human beings and we desperately care about the people in our community all over.
BERMAN: We have about 35 seconds left, I wanted to give you a chance because I know you've been getting a lot of calls and messages, people asking what they can do to help the people in Houston, who have faced evictions, what can they do?
ROSEN: Well, they can give, we've created a GoFundMe account which is through our foundation here. And if anybody wants to give, we will ensure that we are partnering with the agency that is helping with the Rental Assistance Program here in Harris County, and ensure that those dollars get to those people. And it's just tremendous, the outpouring of support and love that has come to these people and other people that have been impacted by the pandemic.
BERMAN: OK, Constable Alan Rosen, we do appreciate your time. We appreciate the efforts you're doing to reach out to the entire community. Thanks so much for being with us.
ROSEN: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, the news continues. So time for me to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris?