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Erin Burnett Outfront

George Floyd Is Laid to Rest; Trump Focuses Ire On 75-Year-Old Protester Shoved By Police; Republicans Dodge Questions After Trump Tweets Conspiracy Theory About 75-Year-Old Protester; Videos Released In Fatal Police Shooting Of Black Man In NJ; Protests Underway For 15th Night As Floyd Is Laid To Rest; Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) Is Interviewed on His Advice and Warning to Biden on V.P. Pick. Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired June 09, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, as George Floyd is laid to rest next to his mother, the President of the United States pushes a conspiracy theory about a 75-year-old protester. A protester who's still in the hospital after police pushed him down on the street.

Plus, protests growing around the country as more deadly police incidents are caught on tape. The family of a black man fatally shot six times by a New Jersey State Trooper wants answers and the family attorney is OUTFRONT.

And Congressman Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement of Joe Biden helped seal his path to the nomination, OUTFRONT tonight with strong advice and a warning for the former Vice President.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, it's not OK. On the day when the nation said a final goodbye to George Floyd whose death has sparked a national movement and international movement on racism and police brutality. The President of the United States chose not to mention George Floyd. Instead, he chose to smear this man, 75-year-old protester, a peaceful protester in Buffalo who was shoved to the ground by police last week.

The President of the United States tweeting without any evidence whatsoever that that protester could be in ANTIFA agitator and quote, "I watched he felt harder than was pushed. Could be a setup?"

A setup? I want to play the incident that Trump is suggesting isn't a setup. It is difficult to watch, Martin Gugino, you see him there. Interacts with police, he's pushed, he falls. Then, he has blood coming out of his ear and I want to just note to you that this was five days ago. Gugino was still in the hospital. He's in the intensive care unit. He's still in the hospital. The two officers have been charged with assault. So where does the

President of the United States come up with an absurd conspiracy theory about that 75-year-old man being a member of ANTIFA and purposely falling? Well, he was watching the far right pro Trump network which aired a so called report. A report based on a blog, which absolutely no evidence.

And here's the thing. This isn't just an absurd thing and it's disturbing, and it can't be dismissed or normalized anymore that this is how the President of the United States spends his time. It should not be partisan to say that this is not OK and it's inappropriate. But while critics and Democrats called Trump's accusation dark, dangerous, untrue, their words, most Republicans went into the now familiar dodge dance.

Sen. Marco Rubio said, "I didn't see it. You're telling me about it. I don't read Twitter, I only write on it." Or Sen. John Cornyn, "I'm not going to comment on the President's tweets." Here are three more for good measure.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What about the President's tweet though, was that appropriate, sir?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): As I said we are discussing in a Senate Republican conference, what response we think is appropriate to the events of the last two weeks.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): I just saw the tweet and I know nothing of the episode, so I don't know. I'm not as fixated, I guess, as some people said.

RAJU: You saw the President's tweet this morning where he talked about this Buffalo protest.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS): I haven't read the damn thing, I don't want to hear it.

RAJU: Well, we have it for you here --

ROBERTS: I know.


BURNETT: He says he doesn't want to hear it and nor do most of his Republican colleagues. They just want to move on and not talk about it. And on the one hand, we get it, right? They don't want to let President Trump's tweets to find them. Anybody would understand that, right?

But at this point, President Trump's tweets are the main way that he speaks to all Americans and to the world and they do define him. His tweets therefore matter and it isn't OK anymore for people of good conscience to avoid them when they want to. So there were some exceptions to the dodges and the claims of ignorance. Sen. Mitt Romney nailed it.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I saw that tweet. It was a shocking thing to say and I won't dignify it with any further comment.


BURNETT: And Sen. Lisa Murkowski called it out, "It just makes no sense that we're fanning the flames right at this time." All of this tonight coming as the protests around the country continue. Shimon Prokupecz is OUTFRONT among protesters here in New York City. And Shimon, what is happening tonight?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So, Erin, these are several hundred protesters, marchers who set off from Washington Square Park. We're now walking across East 42nd Street off of 3rd Ave. And again, we are heading towards Gracie Mansion that is where the Mayor resides. And as you can see here, we are at the front line.

Much of the conversation here today with the demonstrators has been about police reform and what they want and what they would like to see, of course, the names of all of the different people over the course of several years that have died at the hands of police.


Those names have been chanted. You see a sign here with the different names of people who have died and encounters with police. And so this continues every night here as protesters take to the streets here in Manhattan and really marching, Erin, for hours. This will go on for several more hours.

BURNETT: All right. Shimon, thank you very much as you said you're in the heart of New York City.

I want to go to Kaitlan Collins now but White House. Kaitlan, any reaction behind the scenes on what the President chose to tweet about today, of course, which is the 75-year-old man who fell and is still in the hospital?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we asked the White House for comment on it. They haven't commented on it so far. And as you saw, the President stayed behind closed doors today. We did see his Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill and he said he learned a long time ago not to comment on the President's tweets.

That's clearly a feeling that you saw a lot of Republicans had, though people behind the scenes are talking about it because they have not felt like what the President has said so far in response to George Floyd's death and the unrest that you've seen across the nation has really helped him politically.

You saw that CNN poll that said over 60 percent of adults that were surveyed said they believe actually what he said so far has been more harmful than helpful. And so White House aides had been trying to plan maybe for a speech the President was going to give on unifying the nation, some police reform proposals that they wanted to put forward as you're seeing lawmakers talk about it on Capitol Hill. And so they don't view a tweet like this from the President as helpful to them, of course.

But you haven't seen any of the White House officials say that on the record, but it does make their days harder given that the President is floating this conspiracy theory and we should note that Gugino's attorney said that the law enforcement has not ever suggested anything sinister about what happened there on his behalf, of course.

And I even spoke with a friend of his earlier who said he wanted to make clear that people knew that Martin Gugino is a real person with a real name. He's not some faceless person and that's who the President is choosing to attack on Twitter to his 80 million followers.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. And I want to go OUTFRONT now two Mark Poloncarz, the Democratic Erie County Executive which, of course, is home to Buffalo, New York, where this incident with Mr. Gugino happened where the President tweeted.

So look, you have the President accusing a 75-year-old man, Martin Gugino, of possibly being an ANTIFA provocateur. He claimed Mr. Gugino 'fell harder than was pushed, could be a setup of'. Then, we saw blood coming from Mr. Gugino's head who was still in the hospital. What's your response to the President, Mark?

MARK POLONCARZ, (D) ERIE COUNTY EXECUTIVE, WHERE BUFFALO IS LOCATED: Well, first, Erin, it's good to be with you tonight. I mean, the President's tweets were unconscionable. The tweet was unconscionable, it's reprehensible. Today should have been a day about George Floyd and his funeral. Instead, the President was coming up with a wild conspiracy theory that has no merit whatsoever about Mr. Gugino.

As you noted, Mr. Gugino is still at the Erie County Medical Center. He did announce earlier today through local media that he has moved out of the intensive care unit and I can confirm that. And he also has been confirmed to me through the Erie County Medical Center that he has been down - I should say, upgraded from a serious to fair condition, so he is doing better and I think we're all very pleased to hear that.

But what the President did today was to put out a baseless conspiracy theory that has no merit whatsoever and I know that because I was getting reports from law enforcement that night and it's never been accused that Mr. Gugino was a member of ANTIFA. He is a well known peace activist in this era (inaudible) protest for environmental justice, of social justice and to smear his name like the President did without any basis, in fact, is reprehensible.

BURNETT: I mean, and I know you mentioned it there that he's well known and obviously was peacefully protesting. But just to be clear here, have you seen any indication that he did anything wrong or he had any intentions of doing anything other than peacefully protesting?

POLONCARZ: We have no indications of that. As you could see from the video, he approached the line by himself. There was a line of police officers. Now, while it may have been post curfew, he did not pose any threat to the officers and we're all very sorry about the incident that happened. Charges have been alleged against two officers and the judicial process will go through now.

But the problem is we had that incident and then we had an incident last Monday in which a police officer following a protest was run over by (inaudible) a New York State Trooper, Ronald Ensminger Jr., who's also in hospital and recovering. So we had these multiple instances, our community was a tinderbox. We've had in a number of days a very peaceful protests and it has been peaceful on all sides.

There are some that are protesting for law enforcement, others that are protesting against racial injustice and police brutality. And they've been peaceful.

And then the President issues a tweet today, which is basically like throwing a match on a tinderbox trying to make an allegation (inaudible) no matter whatsoever. Our community is trying to heal from the incident of last Thursday as well as the incident of last Monday.


We are doing it peacefully and then the President comes out with a tweet that has no merit whatsoever and I know that from - I have the direct communications from law enforcement and it makes no sense especially when we should be honoring the life of George Floyd today, not further sowing the divisions that exist in our country.

BURNETT: So what do you think happen there at that moment? I mean, I know the two officers involved have been suspended, charged with assault. They've pleaded not guilty. They have been released, obviously, the 57 members of the buffalo emergency response team, right, had resigned from the unit sort of in support of those officers. What should happen here? Was there any mal-intent?

POLONCARZ: I don't know if there was mal-intent. I can't imagine the officers wanted to push him down. There is another video from across Niagara Square in which you can actually see Mr. Floyd or not, excuse me, Mr. Floyd, Mr. Gugino's head snap back and hit the ground. You can hear his head at the ground.

I can't imagine officers were intended (inaudible) --

BURNETT: Yes. It certainly doesn't seem --

POLONCARZ: -- talking about a 75-year-old man.


POLONCARZ: And so it's very important that we realize that while there may not have been intent to cause that serious injury, they did push him. And under the law that is a potential assault. Now, it is before the district attorney now. It is going to go before the courts and the judicial process needs to move forward. They're entitled to due process. They are, of course, presumed

innocent until proven guilty. And I think our community is going to be working to ensure that the right thing is done, not only in the situation here so that they get their due process but also that we addressed police brutality and injustice not just in Erie County in the City of Buffalo, but across our country.

Thousands have come out protesting that. I was part of a peaceful protest that marched from downtown to another part of the City of Buffalo where there were 5,000 of us and I think each of us are just looking to change what has been unfortunately a bad system.

We know that being a police officer is very difficult. Many of them serve well. Most of them serve well, but for the ones that are not we need to move.

BURNETT: All right. Mark, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

POLONCARZ: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, a 28-year-old black man pulled over for speeding moments later dead. Shot by an officer after a struggle, so what happened? Plus, a final goodbye to George Floyd. One of Floyd's close friends who pointed to Floyd as a role model for her young students is going to come OUTFRONT and tell you about it.

And Trump's base has been with him since the beginning. Is it strong enough now to win when polls are showing - losing support among both women and independents?



BURNETT: Tonight, echoes of George Floyd. Newly released video showing a black man telling officers I can't breathe. He was tased multiple times during a fatal arrest in Texas. It's one of several videos revealing deadly encounters between police and people of color.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT. And I want to warn you in this piece, some of the videos are disturbing.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice over): It is all too horribly familiar.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop resisting.


SAVIDGE (voice over): Even the dying words of the victim sound the same, but if you think you know these cases, you probably don't. March 28, 2019 Austin, Texas, Sheriff's deputies pursuing 40-year-old

Javier Ambler. Police say Ambler had not dimmed his headlights as he drove past a deputy and that Ambler led them on a 22 minute chase when they tried to pull them over. Body camera footage captures what happens during his arrest.

Documents obtained by CNN reveal Ambler exited his car with his hands up. He was not intoxicated or armed, according to the incident report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands behind your back.


SAVIDGE (voice over): Officer say Ambler resisted police attempts to restrain him and refused their commands. Amber can be heard telling deputies he has a heart condition.


JAVIER AMBLER: Sir. Sir, I have congestive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see your hands or I'm going to tase you again. Other hand, I'm going to tase you again.


SAVIDGE (voice over): The officers tase Ambler multiple times and the body camera video shows him going into distress. He's heard saying I can't breathe in the video.


AMBLER: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.


SAVIDGE (voice over): Shortly afterwards, officers realize Ambler is no longer responsive. They removed his handcuffs and administer CPR. Javier Ambler is pronounced dead less than an hour later.

A District Attorney investigation into the incidents ongoing. The Office of Professional Standards in the Sheriff's Office says the officers acted in accordance with department guidelines.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.


SAVIDGE (voice over): February 29th of this year Las Cruces, New Mexico. It begins as a traffic stop. Police say they learned after they stopped him that Antonio Valenzuela has an open warrant for parole violation. According to the local district attorney's office which is investigating Valenzuela runs away. Officers tased him twice.

According to the District Attorney on the ground, Valenzuela continues to struggle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to f--king choke you out, bro.


SAVIDGE (voice over): One of the officers applies a chokehold referred to as a vascular neck restraint or VNR. EMS (ph) is called to the scene and begin life saving measures, but are unsuccessful. The officer who used the neck restraint has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. His lawyer did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

May 23, Garden State Parkway, New Jersey, 28-year-old Maurice Gordon is pulled over for speeding according to the State Attorney General's office, which just released this video.

When Gordon's car won't restart, State Trooper Sgt. Randall Wetzel tells him to sit in the police cruiser to stay out of traffic. The officer offers Gordon a mask and the dashcam footage seems routine. Then Gordon unfastened his seatbelt and appears to attempt to get out of the car. The officer orders him back and his struggle begins.

According to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office which is reviewing the case, Gordon twice, tried to get into the driver's seat of Trooper Wetzel's cruiser. The first time the officer uses pepper spray on Gordon, then for a second attempt another struggle and eventually six gunshots.

Gordon collapses to the road and dies.


SAVIDGE: And we reached out to Trooper Wetzel, but so far we have not heard an answer back. Meanwhile, the Governor of New Jersey says that case will go to a grand jury to determine whether or not charges will be filed against the State Trooper.


And, Erin, of course, we'll continue to follow that case and many others like it, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Martin, thank you very much and I want to go OUTFRONT now to William Wagstaff, the Attorney for Maurice Gordon's family and Shavar Jeffries, a civil rights attorney and community leader who's trying to help the family get answers about Maurice's death.

So William, let me start with you. That video just released yesterday, 16 days after Gordon's death. What do you want everyone to know about what happened? WILLIAM WAGSTAFF, MAURICE GORDON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, I think it's

very interesting that at the outset, the Attorney General's Office stonewalled the family. I had to insist for multiple days up until the week after he had passed to try to even see the video, to try to give the family some comfort. The only information that the family had was that their son was dead. They had no problem with releasing biographical information about Mr. Gordon to the public, however, would give the family no information.

Who was his killer? Did he die on the scene? Did he die in the hospital? Did he die in an ambulance?

And then when they finally allow me access to see the video, they don't show me the entire encounter. There was no conversation about restrictions to the amount that I would see. I get there, my colleague and I and then they stopped the video with 15 minutes left and it becomes hostile where they tell me, well, if you keep pushing to see any more of the video, that's going to be the end of this meeting.

So they convincingly try to tell people that this was justified and I think that this is at this point, another institutional cover up. They have done nothing from the beginning to even reach out to the family.

The Governor has not called the mother, has not called the father and then to add insult to injury, yesterday over my written objection to them releasing the video for public consumption before the family has the opportunity to review it in private so that they can process the video, get the opportunity to deal with their emotions. It's on YouTube before the family even learns about it.

The mother and his sister are sitting, doing preparations for the funeral and they get text messages saying the video was on YouTube. So the New Jersey State Attorney General's Office found it appropriate for the world at large to see his last moments before his family was able to.

BURNETT: So Shavar, what do you make of that and also to the point that William is saying that you believe there's about 15 minutes of the video that are missing? Where is that video and what do you think is on there? Why do you think that - you haven't seen it, that it hasn't been released, Shavar?

SHAVAR JEFFRIES, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY AND COMMUNITY LEADER: Those are questions for the state attorney general. I mean, all of the information and evidence relevant to what happened to Mr. Gordon should be released and should be released properly. I think is also very important to understand what happened to Mr. Gordon on larger context of issues by the New Jersey State Troopers in terms of racial profiling.

I mean, the New Jersey State Troopers were under federal monitoring for racial profiling. They were under a significant lawsuit and litigation action for discriminating against black and brown. Officers within the State Troopers New Jersey in fact has the worst black to white incarceration rate in the country, 12 to one, and 30 to one for children. So there's a long standing issue in terms of racial profiling both by

the New Jersey State Police as well as local law enforcement in the State of New Jersey. And this is part of what the context within which we have to understand what happened to Mr. Gordon. All evidence should be released and released properly so that this family can know what happened to Mr. Gordon so that the people can know whether or not the officers conduct was appropriate here as well.

BURNETT: All right. Certainly seems clear if they're going to put out any, you put it all out. That appears, I mean, it seems to me pretty obvious.

I mean, William, parts of the video that we do have and again I emphasize it's the only parts that we do have. They're difficult to watch, but it is important as people try to understand what happened here. This video starts after the officer hands Gordon a mask. Obviously, this happened just a couple weeks ago, so presumably because of coronavirus and then here's what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) get in the car. (Inaudible). Get in the f--king car.


BURNETT: So they appear to scuffle the officers repeatedly telling Maurice Gordon to get back in the car. According to the Attorney General's Office, Gordon appears to try to get into the driver's seat twice before he is fatally shot, again, with those six shots. Do you have any knowledge at this point as to what happened, why Gordon got out of the car, what he might have been trying to do?

WAGSTAFF: If you look at the context of the entire stop, at the time that he exited the vehicle, he had been detained for probably 40 to 45 minutes. He was first in his own vehicle for 20 to 30 minutes. There was no information coming about where the tow truck was, whether or not he was going to actually receive a summons and he exited his vehicle to try to find out what was happening.


The trooper got out of his vehicle and met him halfway and then invited him to sit in his own car. Notwithstanding him requiring to submit to a pat-down, which I don't believe that if it was a 40-year- old white businessman that he would have had to submit to a pat-down before sitting in the back of the cruiser while waiting for a tow truck. He wasn't under arrest.

But setting that aside, he gets in the back of the cruiser and now he tries to take your seatbelt off. The trooper says put your seatbelt back on which he complies with. At the 45 to 50 minute mark, it appears to me that Mr. Gordon is no longer comfortable.

If you're a black man in America and you've watched the way that people of color interact with police, after 50 minutes not being told that you're under arrest, not having any meaningful communication with the officer, he appeared to me that he was trying to leave to go back to his vehicle, which the officers should have allowed him to go back to his vehicle.

If you did not want him to leave the vehicle, then engage him verbally don't engage him physically. Before you get to the point where you use deadly force, there should be steps along that continuum before you get to shoot this man in cold blood on the side of the Garden State Parkway.

BURNETT: I mean, I think it is important to when you add the 40 to 50 minutes the pat-down. I think this gives people the context they really need to understand this better, because we just have these clips, right? And when you look at them on their own, you don't have all of that information.

Shavar, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, they released the audio and video of what they call five episodes. Again, so they've got a lot of video missing, but they have released what they want people to see with Gordon over the course of about 30 hours. The first episode of a 911 call from a friend of Gordon's who called 911 to express concern about him. He said he looked panic. That he had said something about a paranormal experience. He was acting totally different.

As you try to understand what happened here, the state of mind, how this could have possibly - whether it was even relevant in this case of what happened, do you feel you know at this point all of the information?

JEFFRIES: We absolutely don't know all the information, which is why we need to State to release the evidence properly so that again, the family and the public can evaluate what happened. I mean, what's very important to understand here too is the overwhelming amount of interactions that police have with civilians involved non-violent civilians, and oftentimes, frankly, relatively minor infractions.

We heard a report about someone didn't dim their lights enough. This was speeding. People are speeding constantly on the New Jersey Turnpike. Officers have to understand that and in this situation officer confirm that the individual was on armed and he frisked and knew he was unarmed. Officers have to be able to use a variety of tactics that are non-violent to deal with non-violent situations.

We have officers too quick to become authoritative and they use physicality which causes these situations to happen again and again with black people who are viewed as a threat in ways that white people are not. I'm very confident if this was that officer's white brother, he would have dealt with him in a different sort of way. But he just took a seatbelt off, which is all that happened here.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate both of your time very much, William, Shavar, thank you. As we'll continue to follow Mr. Gordon's case.

And next, Joe Biden today honoring George Floyd at today's emotional funeral. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And unlike most, you must grieve in public. A burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd.


BURNETT: And a new report on how close President Trump came to firing his Defense Secretary the other day.



BURNETT: You're looking at live pictures from New York. A large group of protesters taking to the streets near city hall just hours after George Floyd was laid to rest, buried next to his mother who he called out for as he was pinned down by police in Minnesota. Hundred of friends and family members filling a church in Houston today to demand justice and honor his legacy.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fourth and final farewell for George Floyd, a man whose death has sparked new life into a movement.

His family members breaking down in front of the casket just before his body was sealed inside forever.

REV. GUSTA BOOKER, GREATER ST. MATTHEW BAPTIST CHURCH: Let justice run down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, and I thank god for giving me my own personal Superman.


BROOKE WILLIAMS, FLOYD'S NIECE: No more hate crimes, please. Someone said make America great again, but when has America ever been great?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: We must commit to this family all of these families, all five of his children, grandchildren, and all, that until these people pay for what they did, that we're going to be there with them because lives like George will not matter until somebody pays the cost for taking their lives.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Unlike most, you must grieve in public and it's a burden, a burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd. .

SIDNER: Among the 500 family and friends of Floyd inside the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston, the black American families who know their pain all too well, their children killed by police too. The family of Ferguson's Michael Brown, New York's Eric Garner, and Dallas' Botham Jean attended the services, offering their support.

Protests around the country pushing cities around the nation to consider police reform after two weeks of nationwide demonstrations. The Houston police chief himself demanding reform from the inside out.

CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE: The community recognizing bad policing when they see it, and there are still too many instances where bad policing is tolerated. So, we need to -- we need to say no.

SIDNER: The Houston mayor going further, announcing at Floyd's funeral an executive order to ban chokeholds among other reforms.


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON, TX: In this city, we will ban chokeholds and strangleholds. In this city, we will require de- escalation.

SIDNER: In Minneapolis, a judge approved a restraining order to stop police there from using neck restraints and chokeholds. In Los Angeles, official announcing a moratorium on one type of chokehold. In New York, a promise by the mayor to cut some police funds and move them to youth and social services.

Back in Texas, a procession following Floyd's casket to its final resting place. His body to be laid to rest next to his mother whom he cried out for in his final moments.


SIDNER: The family has been a three-city sojourn and had to hold their -- the family has been a three-city sojourn and had to hold their heads up high in four memorials. They are now going to that final resting place for George Floyd where he will be buried next to his mother and he will be in the last mile of that taken in a horse-drawn carriage so that the public can line the streets and say their final good-byes as well -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sara, thank you very much.

And I want to go to Tiffany Cofield now, one of George Floyd's close friends.

Tiffany, I know you were a teacher in Houston's third ward where George Floyd grew up. You had him mentor your students. I know you were at the funeral today and hard day. We're looking at pictures of you all together.

What was it like being in that room with so many people honoring a person that you held so dear?

TIFFANY COFIELD, FRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: It was so good to be surrounded by the love for him and people from all different walks of life, people that knew him (AUDIO GAP) coming together and getting a small peek at the man that we all cherished and loved and knew and had to hang out with and spent time with. And so, you know, it was -- it was -- it was really nice to have that much support and love for him overall.

BURNETT: So, Tiffany, you know, now, to all of us, you know, he -- he is a symbol of something happening in this country and around the world, of people -- people standing up and protesting for justice. But, you know, on a personal level, tell us about him.

I mean, I know you would ask George to come speak to your students, students who lived in the projects in the third ward because he grew up there as well. He was a role model for them. I mean, tell us about that. Tell us what he did, what kind of a role model he was.

COFIELD: Well, he would never ask me to do something he wouldn't do himself. And we would do various community events with (AUDIO GAP) and different people, a community aspect. And then when to my students, some of them didn't have a father figure in their home. And I was looking at an alternative charter school (INAUDIBLE). And that's actually how I met him.

There was an incident that occurred in the city at the time and we were having discussion in the classroom about it. And couple of the young men, (AUDIO GAP) and why do I need to leave. Oh, man, (AUDIO GAP) he could help them. He could help them (AUDIO GAP).

And so, when I first met him, we just had a lot of dialogue, a lot of conversation simply about where these young men come from, just gave me a better insight and ideology to why they responded the way they did, you know, when they would come to school sometimes just different character at times (AUDIO GAP) but they endured while living (INAUDIBLE). And sometimes, you know, it would be a little more difficult to get to do certain things. (AUDIO GAP)

But he never -- he was always very genuine and very concerned. He loved his community. He loved third ward, he loved (INAUDIBLE).

Everyone knew anytime, every time he would be around, I could you just felt -- we felt like everything was OK because his presence made a difference.


And so, you know, it's such a loss. It's a loss. His presence is not being here is a real loss.

BURNETT: Well, Tiffany, I am so sorry for your loss, you know, your personal loss, your real deep personal loss. But I appreciate you sharing this with everybody because it's important that someone be known for who they were on that deep personal level, even though, of course, he is -- he is now a symbol to so many of something so big. Thank you, Tiffany.

COFIELD: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Congressman James Clyburn has some advice and a warning for his friend Joe Biden. Congressman Clyburn is OUTFRONT.

Plus, we travel to where Trump's base to find out what they think of the president's handling of two crises.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes you look at him and you go, OK, that may have been crossing a line, but he means well. He loves our country.




BURNETT: New tonight, House Majority Leader Hoyer says he hopes to hold a vote on Democrats sweeping police reform bill in just two weeks. It is the most expansive effort for police reform in recent history. And the reforms include banning the use of chokeholds, that would be nationally done, creating a national police misconduct registry, and requiring federal uniformed officers to wear body cameras.

OUTFRONT now, House majority whip and Democratic congressman from South Carolina, James Clyburn, who has also endorsed Joe Biden for president.

And, Congressman, it's good to have you with me tonight.

So, I mentioned a few specifics of the bill. And, obviously, you know, I talked to the chief of police in Houston just the other day. You know, there's a lot of agreement in many police departments on things like those chokeholds.

But the Senate is working on its own version. As of now, their proposal does not include a ban on chokeholds.

Is any proposal that doesn't include that a non-starter for you and for Democrats?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you very much for having me, Erin.

And I -- I hate to ever call anything a non-starter because if you get 90 percent of what you want and that's one little thing, 10 percent, you might go ahead and fight another day. I'm a great believer in Lyndon Johnson's old adage, a half loaf is better than no loaf at all. So, I never call anything a non-starter.

BURNETT: And, you know, you had ten days of protests. And then some Democrats started to, you know, much more loudly call to defund or dismantle police departments in the wake of George Floyd's death. And, you know, we even heard that as a chant on the streets of New York yesterday.

Here's what a few of your colleagues are saying. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): What are you willing to sacrifice to make sure that overfunded police departments are defunded?

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): The Minneapolis Police Department is rotten to the root. So, when we dismantle it, we get rid of that cancer.


BURNETT: That was Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

And, look, you have warned, Congressman, that language like this could hijack police reform efforts. President Trump has already seized on it. You know, he tweeted: Law and order, not defund and abolish the police. The radical left Democrats have gone crazy.

What do you say to Democrats who are -- who are raising this, who are saying police departments should be defunded and dismantled?

CLYBURN: Well, if you've got a rotten police department, treat it like you treat a rotten apple. Get rid of it.

Police departments are needed. Police departments are wanted. We want good police departments and good police.

Now everybody keeps telling me about what happened in Camden, New Jersey. I know what happened in Camden, New Jersey. They got rid of a rotten police department and they turned over the policing to the county, even hired some private people to do the policing.

They did not defund policing. They defunded a rotten department. There's a difference.

And so, I will say to all of my friends, I'd seen to be -- to me, history is instructive. I was there the moment John Lewis back in the '60s and early '70s. We saw how our movement got hijacked. We did a lot back then that led to where we are today. We would have done even more if we had not got overtaken by sloganeering, burn baby burn, took off in this country.

That was not John Lewis. He never struck a match. That was not Jim Clyburn. I never threw a brick.

We were trying to get things so that our children and grandchildren can have a better life in these United States of America. And I will say to all of those people who are benefitting from those efforts, be careful that we don't get hijacked this time like we got the last time.

BURNETT: Powerfully said.

You know, there are -- as you know because you've endorsed Joe Biden and I remember talking to you about that down, obviously, in South Carolina. There are several African-American women on his short list for vice president. And he, of course, has said he is going to pick a woman.

Does he need to pick an African-American woman? Do you think that this is -- is now something he must do?

CLYBURN: I will never tell anybody what they must do, and I don't want anybody telling me what I must do. Let's share what I should do and maybe what you should do.

And I will say this, I will be very proud -- I'm the father of three African-American women. I would love to see an African-American woman. That would be a plus, but it would not be a must.

BURNETT: And do you think given the crossroads we're in when it comes to race, that Biden could pick, you know, really anyone who is not African American?


You know, before what happened here with Mr. Floyd, he -- he was looking at -- you know, a wide variety of women, right? Some white, some African-American women. Do you think that now he must pick someone who is African-American?

Again, I used the word "must", so I'll use your word "should". But do you think that is changing the way he should look at this decision?

CLYBURN: I don't know. I said from the beginning, we must do the vetting, we must do the polling, and then I would say to the vice president, after your committee, he has a committee doing this, finish it with the vetting and the polling, then you take a look with your head and your heart.

I feel very strongly that we ought not fly in the face of history. I saw what happened with Sarah Palin. She was a great choice, everybody thought. But she wasn't vetted properly.

The same thing with Geraldine Ferrero, she was a great choice for Mondale, and all of a sudden, the vetting wasn't done of her husband, and that was a big problem. So, let's just calm down, do the vetting, do the polling, and then let the vice president sit down with those results and let his head and heart be his guide.

BURNETT: Well, we know he listens so much to everything you say as his long time friend and confidant. Thank you so much, Congressman. I appreciate your time tonight.

CLYBURN: Thank you.

And next, what Trump voters are saying about forcefully clearing protesters for the photo op in front of the church.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought he was displaying support for the Christian church and that historic church. But I thought he was very, very brave to walk there. (END VIDEO CLIP)



BURNETT: Tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting President Trump nearly fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper over their disagreement about using American troops to stop protests. It is the kind of turmoil the voters in the crucial state of Florida can overlook and support Trump in November.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From front yards to a store front campaign office, signs of the president's reelection are blossoming in Trump country, which more than ever these days feels like a world away from Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes you look at them and go, OK, that may have been crossing a line. But he means well. He loves our country.

ZELENY: Here in Jacksonville and northern Florida, the Trump army is mobilizing for November, promoting the president's record and not dwelling on his rhetoric.

STEVE ADAMS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: For me, specifically, it's the judiciary.

ZELENY: Steve Adams (ph), a retired naval aviator, believes Trump's most important legacy is building a conservative federal bench. That alone he said warrants a second term.

It's not that Trump supporters are not watching events unfold across the country, they simply view them through a different lens than many Americans. From the photo-op outside St. John's Church last week.

BEVERLY SLOUGH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I thought he was displaying support for the Christian church and that historic church, but I thought he was very, very brave to walk there.

ZELENY: To the blistering criticism from decorated military leaders like former Defense Secretary James Mattis and Colin Powell.

BOB DICKSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Mattis has his opinion. Powell has his. But they are so many Republican leaders solidly behind the president that he's going to continue to have a large base of support.

ZELENY: The question is whether that base is enough to win, with one poll after another showing an erosion for Trump among independents and women.

Dean Black, the local Republican chairman, said he doesn't believe those polls. DEAN BLACK, CHAIRMAN, DUVAL COUNTY, REPUBLICAN PARTY: I don't think

independent voters are going to be turned off in a way that is damaging to President Trump and the Republican Party.

ZELENY: In 2016, Trump carried Duval County which includes all of Jacksonville by slightly more than one point and neighboring St. John's County by more than 30 points. It's that combination he'll need to win to Florida again.

TRUMP: I love Jacksonville.

ZELENY: Jacksonville is now being considered by the Trump campaign for the party's August convention, which prompted cries of outrage today.


ZELENY: Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, removed the Confederate statue overnight and marched along peaceful protesters.

(on camera): One of the issues facing your city is President Trump's reelection. Does his rhetoric make it more difficult for you to do your job?

MAYOR LENNY CURRY (R), JACKSONVILLE, FL: I have no problem with doing my job. I signed up for this.

ZELENY: The Trump campaign's TV ads here address the president's style head on.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN TV AD: President Trump's not always polite. Mr. Nice Guy won't cut it.

ZELENY: And that sentiment is echoed in conversations with one Trump voter after another here.

KAREN DEETER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I have issues with his approach to things. But I don't feel the Democratic candidate right now is very strong or would be able to take the nation further. So, come November, I probably will support him again. Unless there's just total collapse.


BURNETT: So, Jeff joins me now, you know, from Jacksonville.

So, Jeff, to Trump supporters, you know, what do they see about his political standing right now?

ZELENY: Well, Erin, there's no question that through the years, President Trump, Donald Trump, the traditional rules of presidential politics don't apply to him, so the voters we talked to believe that he absolutely will be re-elected. In fact they're more confident of that than some of Trump's own advisers are.

But, Erin, this is the question here. Even as Republican officials are deciding whether to hold the national convention right here in Jacksonville, which, of course, would excite Trump supporters, how does that affect the rest of the electorate? Independent voters and Democrats say they're exhausted by all of this.

So, as we go forward over the next four and a half months or so, the exhaustion factor versus the excitement factor, that is the balance -- Erin.

BURNETT: Right, right. The excited ones are going to vote for him regardless. It's the others that he needs to make end roads with.

Thank you so much, Zeleny.

Appreciate your time and all of yours.

Anderson starts now.