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Don Lemon Tonight
Family and Friends Pay Respect to George Floyd's Funeral; People of Color Thirst for Justice. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 04, 2020 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right? And they don't want to deal with the backlash of the blackness that I bring to the table.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Well, I appreciate you joining us here. I wish that we had a better connection. But I think that your message got across. And I think you are very brave. I know that many people don't want to hear what you are having to say. But as we say, you are spitting truth. You are telling the truth, especially when you look at what's happening in the NFL.
Thirty-two NFL teams only four teams have a minority head coach. And then you talk about the owners. People don't want to hear that but these are conversations that we need to have and there's change that needs to be made. And you are on the forefront. I thank you for coming on in this platform and using your voice for change. Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
It is 11 p.m. here on the East Coast. And protestors are still in the streets in spite of curfews in some of the nation's biggest cities. We have seen massive protests all across the country as the memorial for George Floyd was held in Minneapolis today.
Family, friends, community leaders honoring the unarmed black man killed after a police officer kept his knee on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: George Floyd's story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since, 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be in is you kept your knee on our neck. It's time for us to stand up in George's name and say get your knee off our necks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, less than a mile from the memorial three fired police officers charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd's death made their first court appearance. They were granted $1 million bail each, or $750,000 with conditions.
We're going to start off this hour in Los Angeles with CNN's Kyung Lah. She is marching with protesters now. There is no curfew tonight. Kyung, what is going on? What are you seeing?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a little hard to hear you, Don, so I hope you'll bear with me. You can see that we're marching through one tunnel in downtown Los Angeles. So, a really unique scene. And I'm going to have my cameraman pin around with me. You see that cars are moving through the streets here and that there are even more protestors coming this way.
Now this has been a very peaceful protest. But you can see just from this one stretch of this part of -- this march is that it is loud, it is raucous, bit it is also very peaceful. Now we have seen a couple of face offs with the police department. But there haven't been any direct confrontations other than words exchanged, protestors yelling things at the police.
And it's been very much a continuation of everything that we have seen throughout the week. Tonight, there is no curfew. So, the expectation is that they will be able to continue to do this to march to the streets of Los Angeles. And the police tactic today has been to allow them to march.
Last night we saw some people arrested. But overall, most people the thousands who filled the streets of Los Angeles yesterday did go home. There are fewer people in the streets today. But still, you can see for yourself. Sizable crowds. Don?
LEMON: All right. Kyung, we will check back with you. Kyung is out with protestors. It's very loud. I won't ask you any questions but we will check back with her. I want to get now to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz who is out in Manhattan with protesters tonight.
Well, it's a different scene than when we saw you -- when last we saw you, Shimon. Protestors were marching peacefully. Why did the NYPD decided to move in?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: So, I was talking to some law enforcement officials here. And basically, it was just time for them to wrap up the marchers. They extended them. They allowed them to stay an extra two hours on the street. The curfew ended at 8 p.m. And as you saw during the show there during the 10 o'clock hour they just decided that enough was enough.
And there's some strategy -- strategy here obviously and the tactics are that they box in the protestors. So, you know, we were marching with them all along seemingly they were just free to do as they please. We did not see it coming. As we came up to Fifth Avenue here and this 59th Street, police swarmed in from everywhere, Don. And they arrested several of the protestors.
[23:04:52] You know, some of the police officers were pushing people back. There was one officer who was swinging his baton. They gave no warning. And police say they do not, at this point, because there are -- because there is a curfew under the law they could just move in and make arrests. They don't need to make an announcement.
So, it caught a lot of the protestors by surprise. One of the leaders of the protest was trying to diffuse the situation. Was trying to bring the temperature down because when protesters started seeing the police move-in they got agitated and things got, you know, a little out of control.
But more and more police officers kept moving in. And as you saw it, at one point there were more officers here than there were protestors. I mean, they came from everywhere. In the end we're told about 20 arrests were made. Most of them are probably going to get summons and be released for violating the curfew.
And now, Don, as you can see behind me, I mean, the city is virtually empty. This was probably the last protest ongoing here tonight and everything else is very, very quiet here, Don.
LEMON: All right, Shimon. We'll check back. Let's hope it stays quiet. We appreciate it. Now I want to bring in former federal prosecutor Laura Coates and also staff writer for The Atlantic, Adam Serwer, and columnist for USA Today Kirsten Powers.
Good evening to one and all. So, Laura, you know, we've seen way too many emotional and painful memorials for black men killed by police. I keep hearing people say but this time is different. What do you think? Is it?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I certainly hope so. Because what you're seeing here really is a culmination across all 50 states and across the world really that people are recognizing that this is truly systemic. That this is not one offs or anecdotal or things that should be relegated to just, you know, anomalies. That it's actually part of an ongoing and increasingly pervasive problem.
I think that people are looking at this and at I don't mean to be dismissive, but as the straw that broke the camel's back. It' the idea of people believing that there could very well be or has been a George Floyd in every different jurisdiction.
And if past this prologue, people now realize that justice is going to have to be a verb not a fixed moment in time or a noun. It's going to have to be a process. And we're already seeing that process unfold. But there is healthy skepticism for a lot of reasons, Don.
LEMON: Adam, I want to bring you in. Because racism has been a problem in the country since its inception. But that horrific video of this officer kneeling on George Floyd on his neck, it really has shocked, it has shocked not just the U.S. but the world. What's going on, why do you think that is?
ADAM SERWER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: I think that the -- I mean, the invention of the cell phone camera has provided the rest of the United States with a window into the way that a lot of black Americans interact with law enforcement, or law enforcement interacts with black Americans that previously they were not necessarily willing to believe or acknowledge.
And I think the accumu -- what we're seeing right now is the accumulation of just dozens and dozens of these videos. You know, making people who previously were not capable of imagining or understanding how these interactions go. Finally understanding that this is a real thing. That this is not something that people are making up. That this is part of sort of an everyday experience for a lot of black Americans with law enforcement.
LEMON: We had a bit of a technical issue with Kirsten Powers. I hope that she's able to join in just moments.
In the meantime, Laura, I want you to check out this video of a cyclist who assaulted a group of young adults who were posting fliers in support of Black Lives Matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pray for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, leave her alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not touch her. Do not touch her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has nothing. Do not touch her, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave her alone. Sir, just walk away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to walk away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, get off of her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just get out of here. What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Give it to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep taping me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no tape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your signs off. Take it off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would I take it off?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What a mess. I mean, this man's behavior, Laura, is appalling. Why is someone so angered by people putting up a flier about black people's rights?
COATES: You know, I think it's because people don't realize that equality is not like pie. You don't get less of it if I get some too. And the idea of people understanding that saying that black lives matter does not mean that no one else lives matter.
It actually is about focusing on a particular issue. And it's about making people understand that there is an actual crisis and an actual systemic issue related to different groups of people in this world.
And I think that people get so caught up in the idea that you are being dismissive of them waiting for their opportunity to say why they matter as opposed to active listening. And I think now we are at a point in time where you're seeing that if those three words evoke that visceral reaction, imagine what it's like when people are actually fighting for it in a legal way with legal architecture the way Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall have done and so many others including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as part of the great fabric of people who have tried to fight for justice and it to be spread equally spread among people.
If those three words evoke that sentiment then it's no wonder perhaps there's been such a delay in understanding the true systemic issue.
LEMON: Adam, you have a new piece titled "Trump gave police permission to be brutal." And let me remind everyone of what the president said to a group of law enforcement. This was back in 2017.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You just see him thrown in rough. I said please don't be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know. The way you put their hand -- like don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody, don't hit their head. I said you can take the hand away. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Listen, the president didn't create the problems between black people and the police. Words like that didn't help. But in what ways has he made it even worse?
SERWER: Well, first of all he's -- I mean, when you look at that video, it's actually kind of frightening to see police officers, people in uniform clapping and laughing and cheering the president for telling them essentially that they should mistreat suspects in custody.
And remember, these are people who, you know, you don't know if they have committed a crime or not necessarily. You're saying, well, you don't have to respect their rights. And that's not just a matter of presidential rhetoric.
As -- you know, one of the first things that Jeff Sessions did when he became attorney general, he was that, he said the federal government is not going to oversee police departments anymore. After the Rodney King riots, Congress passed a law saying that the civil rights division of Justice Department can look at police departments to determine whether there's a pattern of practice of discrimination.
And the Obama administration was particularly aggressive at looking into police departments and making sure that they were following the rules as part -- you know, we're talking about the rules we're also talking about constitutional rights. That they were respecting the constitutional rights of the residence of their jurisdictions.
And the police union really didn't like that. And one of the things that they did was they saw Donald Trump and they said well, this guy is obviously he's in tune with what we want what we believe and we're going to support him.
And their reward for that was that Jeff Sessions said well, we're not going to look at these problems anymore. If there are problems with police abuse, you know, it lowers moral for the Justice Department to look into these problems. It suggests that, you know, police are mean or racist. So we're not just going to do it.
We're not going to look. We're not going to try and find out whether there are any problems at all. And when you combine that with the president actively encouraging police to mistreat people in their custody, then you can get a situation like this where a man can kneel, a police officer can kneel on another man's neck for nine minutes on camera and not feel like he's going to get in any kind of trouble at all.
LEMON: Thank you, Adam. Thank you, Laura. Up next --
SERWER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: -- I'm going to talk with NBA player Stephen Jackson. He calls George Floyd's -- George Floyd his twin. But first, if you think the protests are just in big cities I want you to take a look at this. Because this is a protest, it's in small town America in Taylorville, Illinois.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Thousands of protestors still out in the streets tonight after a very moving memorial service. It was held for George Floyd in Minneapolis. The sanctuary full of George Floyd's family, his friends, community leaders and celebrities, as well. The family saying that they are moved by the showing of support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: It's crazy. All these people came to see my brother. And that's amazing to me that he touched so many people's hearts. You know, that he has been touching our hearts. Everybody wants justice. We want justice for George. He's going to get it. He's going to get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I'm joined now by George Floyd's friend and he's former NBA player as well. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson. Stephen, thank you. I appreciate you joining.
STEPHEN JACKSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: No problem, Don. Anything for you, man. I'm a big fan.
LEMON: And I just -- I just appreciate you. So, I just want to tell you that. You know, you called -- you called George Floyd your twin. You were at that memorial service today. You know his brother said he was so -- he couldn't believe so many people came out, you know, for his brother. What was it like to see such a beautiful tribute for your friend?
JACKSON: It's a testimony to who he was. He was somebody who always spreading love. He was a protector and provider for everybody. I think this was only right. The way he died for the world to see. He has spread so much love on this earth and had to die from somebody displaying so much hate. It's good to see the world bond and bond around me and him.
And I'm glad I was able to lead this charge for my brother. And you know, I'm embracing this moment.
LEMON: The family all spoke very movingly about how growing up they didn't have much. But they're always willing to share what they did have and about how charismatic George was and what they learned from him.
The brother saying, he taught me how to be a man. I learn from watching him. He said, and even I tried not to -- I emulated him in some things and tried to change and learn from mistakes that he made. I was watching and I thought this is what people need to hear. To see the humanity in this story. What did you think?
JACKSON: I agree. I mean, that's the main reason why I came down here, Don, so they won't try to demean my brother's character. I know who he was. A lot of times when things like this happen in order to protect the police, they dig up dirt and tried to demean the guy's character to make it seem like what the police did was valid.
No, this is not going to happen with George Floyd. He was a great father, a great friend. He was making a turning a corner in his life. He came to Minnesota just to work just to drive trucks and better his life for his daughter. So, we're going to let people know who George Floyd was and we're going to stand on it.
LEMON: You know, Stephen, Reverend Al Sharpton spoke movingly about the knee on the neck of black America. Let's listen to some of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: George Floyd's story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since, 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be in is you kept your knee on our neck. It's time for us to stand up in George's name and say get your knee off our necks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Your friend's death in way has come to exemplify the oppression of black Americans. When you take a step back, I mean, how do you feel about that?
JACKSON: I'm happy. I tell people this all the time, Don. I want the team between me and my brother, my twin, this opportunity. He was a great athlete. He had a lot of talent. I just had more opportunity. And that's what a lot of people where we come from. You know, it's not many opportunities. And we don't get to see different things.
I think when it gets to the point where we get the same opportunity as everybody else and the neighborhoods that we're living in are built up in the right way and people come in and spend money and building businesses in our neighborhoods, things will change. But opportunity is something that is important in our neighborhoods. And hopefully that we can get, we can get to that point.
LEMON: This, I want to put up something you posted a video of George's 6-year-old daughter Gianna on your shoulders. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: That's right. Daddy has changed the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy changed the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: You know, the sad thing is that she'll never know her father from, you know, this moment on. You won't get to -- she won't get to spend the time with him that she deserved and she'll have you and the family. Talk about that. I mean, they're obviously very tight, this family.
JACKSON: Yes. They have a strong family, man. The brothers are strong, his sisters are strong. Like I said there were a lot of people grew up in the house. Actually, their other brother is here with me now, Milton (Ph). He grew up in the house. It was a lot of love in that house, man. They looked out for each other. I talked to his two older sisters today, and someone I talk with (Inaudible) today the first thing she said was we might be twins too because I look just like the older sister too.
So, it's a beautiful family, man. I'm just happy, Don, that I was able to use my voice and to help. We've got a long road to go to get convictions. But I'm glad I was just able to help and came down and stand for my brother.
LEMON: I appreciate you. Thank you so much. And take care of Gianna (Ph) and Roxie and everyone. OK? And the entire family. Thank you so much.
JACKSON: Will do. Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you.
So, there's horrifying video. Witnesses say police officers pushed an elderly man while clearing out protestors in front of Buffalo City Hall. And it's not the only example of excessive force shown by police during protests. More next.
LEMON: So, I want you guys to everyone please, please, watch this entire segment. OK? Remember, you're watching trained professionals. Just watch this.
So, tonight, the union representing the U.S. park police out with a statement about what happened to an Australian TV crew outside of the White House when peaceful protestors were dispersed with force. And I really can't believe what they're trying to do with this statement. Because they are trying to convince you that you didn't see what you saw with your own eyes.
So, let's take a look. After a complaint from the Australian government, the police attack on the crew is under investigation. Look at this. Is there a sound? No. It's a slow mo.
In their statement the union says that the journalist and I quote here, says, "were reporting -- the journalist were reporting from a very dangerous area in the middle of violent protestors that were in the process of being cleared out and may have fallen." The union also says the reporter and her cameraman lacked readily
identifiable journalist markings. And were not readily distinguishable from violent protestors.
OK. So, we like to say facts first. OK? So, police were seen using their shields and batons to punch and hit Channel 7 News U.S. correspondent Amelia Brace and photojournalist Tim Myers.
You can see it for yourself. A journalist has got a camera, right? The pair was against the wall. They were not in the middle of a group of violent protesters. The protesters were at the White House, were not violent. They were peaceful.
And despite the statement that they may have fallen, they were clearly attacked. The guy is sitting on a crate. Look at that. Just comes and hits him. OK? It's on video. Tim Myers's camera is an identifiable journalist marking. You see the camera being smashed by a police shield.
And in what scenario would they have had the opportunity to readily identify themselves from an attack that comes out of nowhere? Seriously? So here is Amelia Brace describing what actually happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMELIA BRACE, CHANNEL 7 NEWS U.S. CORRESPONDENT: All of a sudden with no warning, there were rubber bullets being pelted into the crowds and that line of police just surged forward at a speed that was kind indescribable. There was no possibility of getting out of the way and everyone who crossed paths with them was getting quite brutally attacked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, remember, the scene was peaceful before police decided to forcibly clear the area around the White House moments before the president's photo-op at St. John's -- St. John's Church. OK?
We were live on television. I was live on CNN when it happened. We all saw how the situation escalated and turned violent. And we all saw that video of police attacking the Australian journalists. They did not trip and fall. Give me a break. That was not tripping and falling. They were attacked.
There is shocking video out of Buffalo, New York showing an elderly man being pushed by police in front of city hall. Look at this. Watch. That's him falling to the ground, bleeding from his head. You see all the people helping him and calling for medical assistance? I don't.
Witnesses on the scene say the man was pushed while police were clearing the area. Our affiliate reported that police say he tripped and fell, as another person was being arrested for disorderly conduct. Tripped and fell? Is that what you saw? Can we roll that back, please? Please. Tripped -- thank you, Danny. Tripped and fell? This is him tripping and falling right here. Oops. And he's lying on the ground, bleeding. The Erie County executive is saying the man is in stable but serious condition and that he is sickened by what he saw.
Let's get to Neill Franklin now, former Maryland state police officer. This video, I mean, this is absolutely horrifying. Seventy-five years old. What do you think?
NEILL FRANKLIN, FORMER MARYLAND STATE POLICE OFFICER: It's very alarming.
LEMON: What do you see here?
FRANKLIN: One hundred percent uncalled for, not in a line with training, it's a nonviolent protest, it's an elderly man who seems to be engaged in conversation with them, and he is pushed. You know, one thing you have to realize as a police officer, we may be able to suddenly push someone who is physically fit, but every time you engage someone, you have to assess not just what is occurring, but you have to assess that person you are interacting with.
That push, in my opinion, was deadly force. It was the use of deadly force. As you saw, he stumbled backwards, and he hit his head. We know and we train. We train when we use our tasers that when you use it, you have to know that someone is capable of falling because they have no control over their body.
It's very similar in this situation. If you push him in a backwards motion, he has no way of controlling, he does not know what is behind him, he could trip over something, and as you can see, he fell to the ground and struck his head.
LEMON: He could've died from that.
FRANKLIN: He did not move. Oh, absolutely.
LEMON: He could have died. Did they not -- I know you've had people die from --
FRANKLIN: We've had people die in similar circumstances like that, yes.
LEMON: Did they not realize that these protesters are about the -- use of excessive force and police brutality and cameras are trained on them? This is -- the media is there.
LEMON: What are they not getting?
FRANKLIN: This is why I'm having a difficult time with this. After everything we have been through, not just right now, over the past few days with George Floyd and his murder, but time after time after time, year after year, decade after decade, we've been dealing with this type of excessive force.
And now we have an opportunity to move forward. And this is what we get day after day. In New York City, there was another video that I saw of a young lady who was shoved by a police officer, fell to the curb.
LEMON: I saw that.
FRANKLIN: I mean, you know, Don, I don't know what to say, especially when we have examples of police officers across the country doing what they are supposed to do with peaceful protesting.
FRANKLIN: Art Acevedo in Houston, Sheriff Swanson in Flint, example all over the place for these officers to learn from.
LEMON: I'm just getting this in, not to cut you off, but I want to make sure I get it in. The mayor is releasing a statement tonight.
He says, "Tonight, after a physical alteration between two separate groups of protesters participating in illegal demonstration beyond curfew, two Buffalo police officers knocked down a 75-year-old man. The victim is in stable but serious condition at ECMC."
"I was deeply disturbed by the video as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood. He directed an immediate investigation into the matter, and the two officers have been suspended without pay. After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself and police leadership and members of the community, tonight's event is disheartening."
"I hope to continue to build on the progress we have achieved as we work together to address racial injustice and inequality in the city of Buffalo. My thoughts are with the victims tonight."
What do you make of his response?
FRANKLIN: I mean, come on, we've heard the responses. We know what they are going to be. As soon as we see the incident, we know the responses are not going to be, in my opinion, at the level they should be. They should be much more serious and the people should be held way more accountable than what they are.
And not just the officers who are committing the acts like in this circumstance, we have a leadership void at all levels. All the way at the top, middle management, first line supervision, we have a devastating leadership void. We even saw the one officer in this one where the elderly man was pushed and fell down and hit his head. One officer even attempted to bend down.
LEMON: I think it was the one who pushed him and then the officer behind him just moved him along. I want to get this --
FRANKLIN: Just moved him along.
LEMON: I want to get this one. This is just in. This is from Governor Cuomo regarding the New York event and the woman who is pushed. Governor Cuomo is also coming on this -- sorry, on this incident, sorry, the one in Buffalo.
He said, "This incident is wholly unjustifie, and utterly disgraceful. I've spoken with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and we agree that the officers involved should be immediately suspended pending a formal investigation. Police officers must enforce, not abuse, the law."
How important is it for law enforcement to be on the same page in addressing these issues?
FRANKLIN: They have to be on the same page. You know, law enforcement has the power here. They should be the ones aggressively out in front with solutions to what we are dealing with today. It should not be coming from the citizens. It should not be coming from the protesters. Law enforcement should be the leading.
Law enforcement is the one with the problem here. The shove, this push, you know, what we are seeing, those are assaults. So, in addition to the firings, should come criminal charges.
Again, we are dealing with peaceful protesters. We are not dealing with rioters. We are dealing with protesters, people exercising their First Amendment right. Leadership should also take responsibility here. Those sergeants and lieutenants who are on the scene --
FRANKLIN: -- what's happening with them? Right?
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, Neill Franklin. It was good to have you here --
FRANKLIN: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: -- to help us go through this. We appreciate it. Thanks so much. I can see the disgust in your eyes and your demeanor. Thank you.
FRANKLIN: I'm really disturbed. Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. The former defense secretary, the former joint chief chairman, a retired force army general, former top military official are speaking out against the president behind the unprecedented criticism from former military to the commander-in-chief. That is next.
LEMON: More stunning rebukes from former top military brass over President Trump's protest response. Former Chief of Staff John Kelly defending former Defense Secretary James Mattis after Mattis lit into the president. Past military leaders who served in other administrations are also expressing shock and sadness with the president's actions, including John Allen and Richard Myers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON ALLEN, FORMER COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: I never believed that the Constitution was under threat until recently. And I have concerns about that. We should all be attentive right now to how the rule of law is being administered in this country.
RICHARD MYERS, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That was a peaceful protest that was disturbed by force. And that's not right. That shouldn't happen in America. And so I was sad.
MYERS: I mean, we should all shed tears over that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's discuss now with CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, as well. Gentlemen, it's good to see both of you. Every time I see that video, it is just infuriating and it's just sad all at the same time.
John, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said today that she agrees with Mattis and is struggling to decide whether to support the president in 2020. He, of course, can't take anything less than total submission at his will. To his will, I should say.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's attacked her on Twitter, saying he's going to go find a warm body to campaign against her in 2022. This is par for the course Republican senator criticizes the president or Republican politician really of any kind the president hits back.
I do think it's worth pointing out that Lisa Murkowski's reelection prospect in 2022 looks somewhat better at this moment than President Trump do in November. So I don't know whether he's going to be president by the time she's running in 2022.
But in reality, these criticisms from -- isolated criticism from a Republican senators don't mean all that much unless a few of them get together and decide to do something about it.
Republicans have 53 seats in the Senate. If four Republican senators got together and said they're going to stand with the Democrats to stop things the president is doing, they could stop them. But they haven't been willing to do anything more than words so far.
LEMON: Yeah. Douglas, I want you to listen to what the current army secretary said in a video that he posted on Twitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN MCCARTHY, ARMY SECRETARY: How you carry yourself this evening. You're doing the right thing the right way. We want this tension to ease. We want to take care of our citizens. If they protest peacefully, that's fine. That's what we all support and protect -- that ideal. We don't want things to get violent. We know you'll do the right thing the right way. You'll take care of your teammates and get through this together. I'm proud to be your teammate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What does it say, Douglas, that he has to put this out there and talk about the timing here? I mean, it's unbelievable.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's unbelievable. Look, America is unraveling. People are panicking. The president is misbehaving in the most egregious way. He is basically ripping up the Constitution in an autocratic frenzy that is going on right now.
And I agree with what was just said. I mean, Lisa Murkowski speaking up, Mitt Romney did once. There is got to be a gang of eight to 10 Republican senators that perform a counterweight to Donald Trump run amuck because he -- ever since the tensions of George Floyd and the murder took place, you're just feeling Donald Trump pouring gasoline on the fire.
I never in my life imagined any U.S. president could stay president when they're doing so much damage to the country that all of us love so much. So I hope the U.S. Military and some of these ex-military personnel speaking out will make other Americans brave.
Speak out. Wake up. This is a summer where you can't stay on the sideline. You got to let your voices be heard. You got to register to vote.
LEMON: I appreciate both of you this evening for coming on. Thank you so much. Preliminary hearings in the Ahmaud Arbery case taking place today. The judge is advancing the murder case against all three defendants. As an agent testifies, one of them used the N-word after shooting Arbery. All the details, next.
LEMON: A preliminary hearing in the Ahmaud Arbery case today, a judge ruling Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan will stand trial on all charges. All three are charged with felony murder in Ahmaud Arbery's death. He was killed on February 23rd in Satilla Shores Community near Brunswick, Georgia.
Video recorded by Bryan showed Arbery out for a run when he was confronted by Gregory and Travis McMichael, who were both armed. Ahmaud Arbery died after being shot three times. Here's what Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Richard Dial testified about what Travis McMichael told Brian shortly thereafter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DIAL, SPECIAL AGENT, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Mr. Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement (bleep).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's discuss now. CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson is here. Joey, man, yeah. Those ugly words may have been the last that Ahmaud Arbery heard. Special Agent Dial also testified that Travis McMichael used the N-word many times in text messages. Explain why details like this are relevant in this case.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's so relevant, Don, good to see you, because it goes to the issue of state of mind. Now, understand that in this case, you don't have to establish intent, right? And so you don't have to demonstrate that he was otherwise racist in terms of using that.
We should note, though, that there's a parallel federal prosecution or I shouldn't say prosecution, that's premature, there's an investigation. And in the end that the federal government decides to move forward, they will, of course, be looking at hate crimes.
JACKSON: And to the extent that you used that kind of language, it demonstrates a mind which is hateful and therefore would afford the federal government an opportunity to get involved. But I should point out, Don, even in the absence of such language by nature of what occurred here, I think you get the conviction on felony murder and aggravated assault nonetheless.
LEMON: Mm-hmm. All right, Joey, our time is short, but thank you. It was unbelievable, to watch that. We will have you back. We will discuss more. This is going to continue to go on. Have a good night. Thank you so much.
JACKSON: You, too.
LEMON: And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.