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Ex-Officer Charged in Daunte Wright's Death to Make First Court Appearance; Secretary of State Blinken Arrives in Afghanistan. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 15, 2021 - 07:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEW DAY: In Kabul, Afghanistan.


This comes after President Biden announced that he is ending America's longest war, they're pulling out all U.S. troops by September 11th. Here with us this hour will be the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, in just a moment.

But let's begin with Adrienne Broaddus in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, with our top story. Good morning, Adrienne.

So, a second-degree charge of manslaughter against Officer Potter?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And it is a charge that carries a maximum sentence of up to ten years in prison here in Minnesota or a $20,000 fine. When protesters learned about that manslaughter charge, some of them snapped their fingers and cheered, but the celebration was brief and it was followed up with this is a step in the right direction, but we want more. People in the community saying Daunte is gone, he can't come back. His family will never be able to hold him again. And so the community wants to see a murder charge.

Meanwhile, the officer who spent years building her career here was booked into the Hennepin County Jail, which is about eight miles from here. About six hours after she was taken into custody, she bonded out on a $100,000 bond. Ben Crump, he's one of the attorneys representing the Wright family, echoed their sentiment of the community members, saying, what the family wants more than anything is Daunte back. But because they can't have that, they are calling on accountability.

And, Poppy, as you mentioned, Officer Kim Potter will appear before a judge via Zoom today. This morning, barricades are surrounding her home. Poppy and John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Adrienne Broaddus for us in Brooklyn Center, Adrienne, please keep us posted.

We want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst and former state prosecutor Elie Honig, and Hans Menos, he is the vice president of Law Enforcement Initiatives at the Center for Policing Equity. Elie, I want to start with you on the charge of manslaughter for Kimberly Potter, second-degree manslaughter, which in Minnesota applies when a person causes death by culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another. Why are we seeing this charge, what does it say to you?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, John, at a minimum, this is a starting point for prosecutors. One thing that prosecutors commonly do is you start with the most easily provable charge and then you can add from there. There's no reason to think this is the end of it. In fact, in the Derek Chauvin case, the Minnesota prosecutors started with this exact same charge and third-degree murder charge, later upgraded and added a second-degree murder charge. That could happen here.

But I think this is a fair starting point. Culpable negligence is the key idea here. Did the officer create an undue risk of harm to somebody else?

And I want to stress this. Something can be both accidental and negligent at the same time. To make an example, if somebody drives while heavily under the influence and tragically hits and kills somebody, that may have been an accident. They may not have intended to hit and kill that person, however, by getting behind the wheel in that state, they may have created an undue risk here. So those two things are not necessarily exclusive of one another.

HARLOW: Hans, as someone who focuses so much on police training and policing equity, the fact that Officer Potter not only had 26 years of service but was actually that day training a rookie cop, was out showing, this is how you do it, and had a lot of experience obviously with guns versus tasers, what is your reaction to this charge?

HANS MENOS, VICE PRESIDENT, LAW ENFORCEMENT INTITIATIVES, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: Well, first, I have to say as always, my heart goes out to the Wright family. I can't imagine as a father and as a son what they're going through at this moment.

I think the reality is THAT we're talking about human beings, and the human element that Is involved here can't be ignored. We can't train that away. We can't train a panic or stress reaction away all together. And so the conversation really should shift at some point to when are we going to stop utilizing law enforcement officers trained, armed government officers, to respond to incidents that they don't need to be part of.

So, I don't know Officer Potter. I don't know her skills as a trainer or as an officer, but I can say that, in general, across the country, having armed officers respond to traffic events is clearly incongruent.

HARLOW: Right. Because this was over -- John, this was over an expired tag.

BERMAN: Elie, the video that we've now all seen, which I don't want to play because it's troubling, where you see Officer Potter saying, taser, taser, taser, which you can read being she thought she was using a taser there and then after she did shoot him saying, oh, my god, I shot him, seemingly being surprised that she shot him with a gun, how will that play in a trial?

HONIG: Well, I think that's going to be tricky for prosecutors. To start with, I think that's what's prevented prosecutors thus far from bringing a more serious charge from arguing that the murder was intentional.


Obviously, they'll need to look at all the evidence. But I think she will argue at that trial that that shows that she's acting accidentally.

However, as Hans said, it's kind of hard to understand how that happened. I mean, law enforcement officers, just like they train on their firearms, they have to train on the taser. You don't just get handed one. You have to go through a training process. There are various things in place designed to differentiate the firearm from the taser. Most important, as I'm sure Hans is going to test. you carry the taser on your weak leg, your weak hip, and you carry the gun on your strong, your dominant side hip. How you draw across your body and don't realize the different, just as a layperson for me, is far for to understand.

HARLOW: Hans, this was supposed to change after Oscar Grant was killed by those transit officers back in 2009. Has enough changed in training? I'm not that familiar with the guns or tasers. I haven't actually held either of them. But you have. So, should they look different? Should you have to not be able to fire them, trigger them the same way? Should more change come?

MENOS: Yes. So I think that's a great question, and Elie is right. There's a lot that goes into tasers to try to prevent these human errors, right? So they're a different weight, they're a different color, often very different draw so that you could pull in a different way. And so, so much of this is designed to prevent tragic deaths like Oscar Grant, of course, in BART years ago, and much like Daunte Wright's then.

But the reality is that the conscious response here is a traumatic response from officers who are under an extreme amount of stress and pressure. I don't -- there's 18,000 police departments around the country. Not one of them trains the same exact way or has the same exact operations or procedures.

So we don't know the answer to how Brooklyn Center does this, but, by and large, yes, there's efforts every day to help police officers move away from this. But as I said before, it may be time do what Berkeley is doing, or (INAUDIBLE) is doing, which is eliminating them from activities they don't need to be part of in the first place.

BERMAN: Elie, I want to talk about the Derek Chauvin trial, and we are hearing the defense put up experts, in this case, these were medical experts having to do with what they believe the cause of death was and the view of the people on the stand was diametrically opposed to all the other witnesses. And in some cases the video that we've seen -- I just want to play one of the exchanges here where the prosecution had a chance to clause and talk about their testimony. Watch.


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: You haven't seen any data or test results that shows Mr. Floyd had a single injury from carbon monoxide, is that true?


BLACKWELL: I ask you whether or not it's true, sir. Yes or no?

FOWLER: It's true.


BERMAN: That little exchange there, because this experts says that he thought that it was carbon monoxide that killed George Floyd, not the knee on the neck.

Elie, what's important about -- what do we need to know about expert testimony, in general, and how it might play here?

HONIG: I want everyone to understand this. There is nothing special about expert witnesses legally speak. When the judge instructs the jury next week, he will tell them, you are not to give an expert witness any more or less credibility than you would any other witness. You are to assess them like any other witness.

And that exchange we just saw was so crucial, because Dr. Fowler got on the stand in direct testimony, offers up this carbon monoxide theory. I was thinking and I'm sure the jury was thinking, okay, that's interesting, what is he basing that on?

And then the prosecutor got up on that clip we just watched and dismantled that. He said, do you have any data for this, do you have any science for this? And the answer was no. And so the jury is free at that point to conclude, I don't believe this. I don't credit this expert.

One of the great things about our jury system is jurors are allowed to use their everyday regular common sense, and if it doesn't make sense to them, that the cause of death for George Floyd was everything but Derek Chauvin's knee up to and including carbon monoxide, they can reject that testimony.

HARLOW: I want to get some -- to react, Hans, if you could, to another exchange that we heard on cross-examination. This is about administered medical aid and at what point that should happen. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Do you feel that Mr. Floyd should have been given immediate emergency attention to try to reverse the cardiac arrest?

FOWLER: As a physician, I would agree.

BLACKWELL: Are you critical of the fact that he wasn't given the immediate emergency care when he went into cardiac arrest?

FOWLER: Yes, as a physician, I would agree.


HARLOW: Is it not the case that officers are trained to administer that? In fact, we heard that in the prosecution's case from the EMT a week ago in Minneapolis, that they're trained this way.

MENOS: Well, what I'm hearing is, as a physician, I agree.


And so I want to say, as a human being, I agree. And I want to say that there are many human beings on the ground there who were saying, you are killing this man, get your knee off of his neck, he's dying, he's not breathing, roll him over. So, yes, officers are trained to administer aid.

They're also trained on how lethal that position can be for people when they are placed there for too long. Yes, I appreciate the testimony that says that a medical opinion said this should have happened, but I don't think you need police training or a medical opinion to see that what you are doing on top of a man when he's lifeless requires you to act, to protect him, and to save his life.

BERMAN: Elie Honig, this may be the last chance the defense has a chance to call Derek Chauvin to the stand today. What are the chances that we will see him testify in his own defense?

HONIGH: Very, very low, John. So, I know in T.V., in movies, there's always the dramatic moment when the defendant takes the stand and has to face the prosecutor. In real life, that happens very infrequently. It's so risky to do that.

Look, I guess the argument for would be if Chauvin and his defense feel like they are in a bad spot here and they're going to just throw a Hail Mary and hope that they appeal to one sympathetic juror. On the other hand, if he takes the stand, he's going to get cross-examined, he's going to have to own every second of that 9:29. It's going to be devastating. And the prior complaints against him for inappropriate use of force could also come out if he takes the stand on cross- examination. That could be really, really damaging.

BERMAN: All right. Elie Honig, Hans Menos, thank you both so much for being with us.

HONIGH: Thanks, John. BERMAN: We're following a lot of news developing this morning. Just moments ago, the secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, arrived in Afghanistan as the president prepares to pull all U.S. troops out of that country. We're going to speak to the U.S. national security adviser, next.



BERMAN: New video just in of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Kabul, arriving in the Afghan capital, less than 24 hours after the United States and NATO announced they will withdraw their troops, all troops, from the country after nearly two decades. Blinken met with Afghanistan's president.

Joining me now National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Jake, thank you so much for being with us. So, the secretary of state arriving in Kabul less than 24 hours after the United States says it will be leaving Afghanistan in full, no military presence there. What message does that send to the Afghan people?

JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, what Secretary Blinken will communicate directly to the Afghan people is what President Biden said yesterday, which is that we are ending our military engagement in Afghanistan, but we are not ending our diplomatic and humanitarian support for the Afghan people. We will continue to fund the Afghan National Security Forces. We've trained and equipped 300,000 of them so that they are able to defend their country and take responsibility for protecting their people. That's the message that Secretary Blinken will communicate along with thanking or troops for their bravery and sacrifice.

BERMAN: We will not end our diplomatic efforts, you say, but haven't the diplomatic efforts already either, A, been impaired, or, B, not been improved through this announcement with the Taliban announcing they will not take part in negotiations with Istanbul next week?

SULLIVAN: Well, the logic that keeping American forces in Afghanistan is necessary to produce diplomacy is the logic that has kept us there for 20 years. And the president judged that American forces should not be bargaining chips in a negotiation between warring parties in another country. He believes that the diplomacy should be carried out on a distinct track even as we end the war.

We'll continue to support efforts facilitated by the United Nations. It's not going to be straightforward. It will not be easy. They've been in conflict not just for the last 20 years but for decades before that. But we will stand behind efforts to bring a stable political settlement to that country.

BERMAN: So, the CIA director, William Burns, just testified, one of the concerns has been that if U.S. military presence goes away in Afghanistan, it could create a situation where terrorists could get a toehold again. And he testified yesterday saying his exact words. When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw the U.S. government's ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That's simply a fact, says William Burns. Any reason to think that's not simply a fact?

SULLIVAN: It is simply a fact that our ability to deal with the threat on the ground will change when there aren't U.S. forces and coalition forces there. But we believe that our posture in the region will remain at a level where we can suppress the terrorist threat in Afghanistan.

BERMAN: Change or diminish?

SULLIVAN: It will not be the same by any stretch of imagination. We will not have the same level of daily intelligence, but at a strategic level, in terms of being able to know whether or not Al Qaeda or ISIS is developing an external plotting capability, which they do not currently possess. We have accomplished the objective of degrading Al Qaeda to that point. We have taken out their leader.

At a strategic level, being able to assess whether they, in fact, are gaining that, we will have months of warning, as our intelligence community has told us, and we will have the assets and capabilities to be able deal with that threat as it arises.

BERMAN: He just says -- you don't dispute that it's a fact -- the CIA director says the fact that the capabilities will diminish. Change is one thing. Diminish is another. You agree it's a fact they will diminish?

SULLIVAN: What I'm saying is our ability to protect the American homeland, in my view, will not diminish. Our ability to collect intelligence on a day-to-day basis against the comings and goings of actors within Afghanistan will diminish. That's a big difference.

From our perspective, we can set up the kind of scenario in which we can protect this country without wow remaining at war in Afghanistan for a third decade.

BERMAN: I don't want people to think this is a simple equation, by any stretch of the imagination. We all know we've been here for the last two decade and seen what has happened there and what hasn't happened in Afghanistan. We know there are no easy choices here.


What happens? I assume you have no reason to expect that the Taliban will all of a sudden change their views on the role of women in society. So what happens if they start to encroach on the gains made by women over the last two decades there? What will the United States do?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, as President Biden said yesterday, we intend to support Afghan women and girls through humanitarian and economic assistance, and we intend to send a clear message to the Taliban that if they do not want to be a pariah state cut off from the world, denounced by the international community, isolated, then they will not roll back the progress and gains made over the last 20 years. But the United States is not going to remain on the ground with American forces at war for a third decade to stop the unfolding of political events inside Afghanistan.

BERMAN: So this is a big week in terms of diplomacy, in terms of the United States' role and the world, and you're right in the middle of it all. The United States today announcing a new series of sanctions against Russia for the giant attack, the SolarWinds hack, for bounties for the Taliban to go after U.S. troops there, for attacking the U.S. election, for a range of actions, financial sanctions, expelling some diplomats.

I suppose the question to you is when past sanctions and actions haven't changed Russian behavior, why will these change Russian behavior?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, what President Biden is going to announce today, we believe, are proportionate measures to defend the American interests in response to harmful Russian actions, including cyber intrusions and election interference.

Second, as he said to President Putin earlier this week, his goal is to provide a significant and credible response but not escalate the situation. He believes that the United States and Russia can have a stable and predictable relationship, that there are areas where we can work together, like arms control, and that the U.S. and Russia should sit down together at the leader's level in a summit between President Biden and President Putin to discuss all of the issues facing our relationship.

And we believe that altogether, both the actions we are taking today and that broader diplomacy, can produce a better set of outcomes for U.S./Russia relations --

BERMAN: The first official reaction we've seen comes from a Russian official at the United Nations, who says, if the United States continues to promote its baseless accusations, it will get adequate response and deprive the world of maybe the last opportunity to avoid great powers confrontation instead of solving acute problems, not our choice, shrug emoji. That's from the Russian official there on Twitter. Do you view that as a threat?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, I'm not familiar with the shrug emoji, so I would have to parse the tweet. Look, I think diplomats will say a lot of different things. There can be tit for tat in terms of the words. The key issue here is what do the two leaders intend, and President Biden and President Putin had a phone call in which they were direct with one another, they understood one another. President Biden made no bones about the fact that we will be taking actions this week, but he also indicated that he wants to get to that stability in this relationship. And he believes that if President Putin is prepared to do that as well, we can find a course ahead that does not lead to a cycle of confrontation.

BERMAN: President Putin is putting troops on the Ukrainian border. There are some 75,000 troops there right now. President Zelensky of Ukraine pleaded with our reporter, Matthew Chance, for the United States to help. He wants the United States to push to get Ukraine in NATO right now. What happens if that becomes more of a hot order? What happens if U.S. troops cross that border and invade? What is the U.S. prepared to do?

SULLIVAN: So, first, President Biden spoke with President Zelensky and he pledged America's unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Second, he indicated that we would be prepared to continue to provide defensive support to the Ukraine.

And third, he indicated to President Putin in the call that if Russia, in fact, does take steps, the United States will work with its allies to impose significant costs. We are very concerned about the Russian military buildup on the border of Ukraine. We have seen what's happened there before. We're consulting closely not just with our allies in Europe but directly with Ukrainians to ensure that we stand behind them as they defend their own country.

BERMAN: It's early in the administration, but we are looking at these actions in Afghanistan. We're hearing you talk about Russia with these sanctions. What does this tell us about a possible Biden doctrine in terms of foreign policy?

SULLIVAN: Well, what President Biden wants to do above all is put America in a position of strength, to be able to deal not just with great power and competition from Russia and China but with the significant transnational threats that affect the American way of life, pandemic, some climate change, terrorism, cyber threats.


And to do that, we need to invest at home to build up a strong foundation. We need strong, powerful, capable, allies. We need to be writing the international rules of the road for things like cyber and emerging technologies, not letting autocrats do it. And above all, we need to stop the forever war in Afghanistan. As the president said yesterday, 20 years on after we have achieved the objectives we set out when we went in so that we can focus on the threats of the next 20 years, not the last 20 years.

BERMAN: You mentioned the phone call that President Biden had with Vladimir Putin, before President Biden called the Russian leader a killer, I'm curious if that came up in a conversation they had, and why invite a conversation, a summit, with someone who you think is a killer?

SULLIVAN: Well, first at the height of the cold war, when we had thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at one another, when Ronald Reagan was denouncing the Soviet Union as the evil empire, we had summits. Important countries, important leaders have summits with one another even in the most difficult and testy of times.

President Biden does not believe that we are at that level with the Russians but he does believe that this relationship is in a very difficult place where we face the risk of a downward spiral if these two leaders do not get together in a clear-eyed and credible way and talk through the differences in our relationship.

It's not going to mean we see eye to eye on everything, it's not going to mean that President Biden won't stand up and defend American interests forcefully, as he will do today with the measures he's taking, but it does mean that he is prepared to do his part to generate stability and predictability in this relationship.

BERMAN: Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, we appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you for coming on New Day as part of your new job there. We look forward to speaking to you again.

SULLIVAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Daunte Wright is the latest black man killed during an encounter with police. We're going to speak to the merry of Eric Garner about the shared grief of so many families across the country.