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Capitol Rioter Gets Plus Years for Assaulting Police Officer; Stranded, Trapped, Hungry, Frozen: Migrant Crisis at Breaking Point; Black Officer Targeted by White Chief in Racist Prank Speaks Out. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 12, 2021 - 08:30   ET


DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: But especially for higher risk individuals, older people, people with chronic diseases, those breakthroughs can be quite serious. And that's why I think people need boosters, certainly to protect themselves, but also just to prevent getting infected, so they don't give it to other people who are vulnerable. Breakthrough infections are real, they're not rare. And for some people that can be quite serious.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's interesting. So, it sounds like what you're saying is for those of us who are vaccinated breakthroughs, not something we have to worry about. For unvaccinated people who might get sick, this is a choice that they've made at this point. But the people who really are getting shafted for lack of a better word here are people who have been vaccinated but may be immunocompromised, those people long term are the people who will be impacted by the endemic nature of COVID?

JHA: Yeah, people who are immunocompromised, people who are older, people with chronic diseases, there are a lot of them. There are a lot of Americans who are at risk of having a bad outcome if they have a breakthrough infection.

You know, I think we've minimized the costs of breakthrough infections. For young healthy people, it really is breakthrough infections tend to be very, very mild. But for elderly people, for people with chronic diseases, breakthrough infections can be serious. This is why I really think those populations need to get the booster more or less right away.

BERMAN: Dr. Jha, I appreciate it. And of course, the antivirals as they become available to us. They can make a big impact as well. I appreciate you being with us.

JHA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Capital rioter gets three years in prison for punching a police officer. We have live reaction for the lawyer who defended him in court, next.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And a black police officer opens up about the racist prank just one of many he says that were pulled by his boss. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KEILAR: A New Jersey gym owner who went to riot at the Capitol on January 6 was sentenced this week to 41 months in prison with credit for time served. Scott Fairlamb received one of the harshest sentences for rioters so far and he was seen on tape following and yelling at officers during the riot as well as punching a D.C. metropolitan police officer. Prosecutors allege that he was one of the first people inside on the Senate side of the Capitol that day, and he posted this video to his social media.

So Fairlamb said that he was remorseful for his actions. And joining us now is Harley Breite. He is Scott Fairlamb's attorney. Harley, thank you for being with us this morning to talk about your client here. What's he remorseful for?

HARLEY BREITE, ATTORNEY FOR CAPITOL RIOTER SCOTT FAIRLAMB: Well, thank you for having me. He's remorseful for the decisions he made that day, which are not a reflection of the life he had led up to that point.

KEILAR: Is -- has he denounced QAnon?

BREITE: Well, he was never part of that. He was never part of any organized group or anything like that. He went there that day alone. Initially unarmed, he wasn't part of any group or anything else like that.

KEILAR: Well, he was partaking in conspiracy theories.

BREITE: To partake in a conspiracy theories, to take a substantial step or to be part of an agreement to commit a criminal act, he acted alone.

KEILAR: I'm not saying a conspiracy, I'm not saying that he was partaking in a conspiracy in some widely organized thing. I'm saying that he was dabbling, at the very least in conspiracy theories ahead of his actions at the Capitol?

BREITE: Well, his beliefs prior to the incident, whether you want to categorize them as part of any mass conspiracy or anything like that, that's up to you. But these were his own individual beliefs. He doesn't blame his actions on any group, or any other organization. What he did, he did himself.

KEILAR: OK, I'm not trying to say he's part of a conspiracy. I'm trying to say that he believes stuff that wasn't true. And I'm wondering if he's denounced it?

BREITE: He has denounced it, you're correct. He did believe in things that were not true. And he has denounced them, he no longer has those beliefs. You know, the present divisiveness in this country requires that all of us, including Scott Fairlamb, critically reflect upon the basic assumptions of what we believe is true. What we believe is justice. And Mr. Fairlamb has now had that opportunity, that time alone in the jail, to critically reflect and think about what it is that comprise his belief system that led him to that action.

KEILAR: Harley, can you talk a little bit more about that? I mean, how does someone go from believing in things that are not true? What many people would call conspiracy theories and going to the Capitol, storming the Capitol, you know, punching an officer. And now you say he's at a place where he's denounced that he doesn't believe that Trump won the election. How do you get from that first point to where he is, as you describe it now?

BREITE: Well, I mean, this country has a history of learning from its mistakes and understanding George Washington himself pardon to people who were found guilty of treason during the Whiskey Rebellion, and he asked for moderation and tenderness to the misled who have abandoned their errors.

Mr. Fairlamb, having been misled through his own account, through his own fault, but nevertheless misled ideologically has abandoned those errors. And he too, is deserving of tenderness and moderation and forgiveness. This is a country that forgives people when they stand up and say I made a mistake. America is the land of opportunity and forgiveness, he stood up, he quickly claimed responsibility for his actions. He pled guilty, he assumed responsibility for what he did. And now he should be afforded just like all these other people who have been convicted of crimes in the past, they should be given consideration for forgiveness and tolerance.


KEILAR: Look, I think I think there has been some of that certainly when you see with some of these defendants whether they are remorseful or not, and whether they carry that past the moment where they are actually before a judge. I do want to ask you on the length of the sentence here, you've said that if it had not occurred on federal property that this would have just been a simple like trespassing and simple assault case. You know, I'm not really sure that is correct. But just to be clear on this, I mean, this, you know, this wasn't just some store. This was the seat of democracies, it was certifying an election, do you think that this length of sentence is too long for that?

BREITE: Well, if you're asking me if it's too long, inherent in your question is whether or not the federal sentencing guidelines are fair. And just and we know that they're implicitly racist. They are not fair and just towards people of color or people in urban areas. But germane to your question about Mr. Fairlamb, it's true. And lawyers will tell you that the geography of where this event occurred, changes immensely the form of punishment.

If Mr. Fairlamb or any other American citizen had punched a gentleman in the face, in the face shield --

KEILAR: A police officer.

BREITE: A police officer, even a police officer, he would not be doing three and a half years in prison, however, because it occurred where it did. And we, of course, we recognize it's the Capitol building. The penalties are as such. Do I think it was a fair and just punishment? I think it's excessive, but nevertheless, I think a message has to be sent to the people in this country and around the world that America is a democracy. And there's a place and a forum for its citizens to express their discontent. And that was certainly not the place nor the manner of action to do it.

KEILAR: Harley Breite, I really appreciate the conversation. Thank you so much for being with us.

BREITE: Thank you, ma'am, for having me.

KEILAR: And Harley, of course, is the attorney for Scott Fairlamb.

BERMAN: Developing this morning, 1000s of people stranded at the border between Belarus and Poland caught in the middle of an intensifying geopolitical dispute. Many of the migrants tried to travel deeper into Europe. Matthew Chance is in Belarus watching some of this happen. What a dramatic sight there Matthew, why don't you explain what's going on?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, look, I mean, first of all, John, it's a feat in itself, getting to Belarus. I mean, you know, there's only a handful of television crews that have been permitted access at this extraordinary moment to come to three. And as far as I'm aware of what have been assured by Belarusian officials were the only international crew that have been allowed to come to this migrant camp on the border of Belarus, and Poland. And I don't know whether I'm sitting on my cell phone so everybody can get a sense of the sort of depth of the camp, there are 2000 people that have come here from various parts of the world, mainly the Middle East, Iraq, Kurdistan and Iraq. You know, other places in the Arab world as well. That's probably a lot of people from Kurdistan.

And at least 200 of them, I'm told our children, some of them just Babes in Arms. He said, a lot of people here, I think spin around here look, chopping wood, getting ready to make fires, to get them through the very cold nights here on the border. That 600 of them are women, the other 1200 are said to be young men.

I'm going to flip the camera around so I can show you some interesting scenes there, a better look there at the sort of scenes that are playing out unfolding here on the border between Belarus and Poland. And if you just allow me to sort of walk you down here, we can actually see the razor fence, you don't need to show your face. I won't do that. The Razor fence that's been erected by the Polish side to try and prevent the migrants that have flooded into Belarus from moving across into Poland, which is of course a member of the European Union.

Now you can see, I think the actual Polish police and border forces who are standing there on guard all the way down this razor wire barrier to prevent migrants from breaking through and you get a sense of how long this campus as it stretches down into the distance into the forest out of sight. Here's an interesting scene for you. Somebody I came across earlier, this a lot of the migrants are from Iraq, from Kurdistan, they're building these makeshift shelters because the temperatures as you can imagine this part of the world in the winter are dropping down. Let me drop inside they built a polythene shelter look. Hi, hi, how are you? How are you?


CHANCE: Where are you from?



CHANCE: From Iraq, from Kurdistan. Excellent, all right thank you, good luck.

All right, so just a little sense of the scenes were witnessing here, I should tell you that, you know, both sides blame each other for this crisis. The Western countries, including United States, the European Union, of course, Poland, say that Belarus is using these refugees as propaganda, it's actually encouraging them to come in, and then essentially directing them, forcing them towards this border, to put pressure on the European Union. And to punish it perhaps for some of the support that the E.U. has given to Belarusian dissidents. And for the sanctions that it's put on Belarus for its various crackdowns on its own opposition figures here in the country.

What the Belarusian say, though, as well as some international aid agencies have to say is that the polls are not doing everything they can either to protect the rights of migrants, and in some ways, they're not living up to their obligations under international law. But clearly, it is a very difficult situation. I've got some news for you from the migrant services of 2000 people in this camp at the moment by the end of the week, that could be as many as 5000. And there are 1000s more according to Belarusian officials, who are on their way. John.

BERMAN: Matthew Chance, I have to say remarkable images, extraordinary work that you're doing there right now. I understand it's technically challenging, stay safe. We're going to let you go do some reporting and talk to people. And we're going to get back to you just as soon as we can. Thank you to you and your team for everything you're doing.

Right today, CNN Hero became a successful personal trainer after spending a decade behind bars. Now he's helping other people just out of prison follow his path to reshape their lives.


HECTOR GUADALUPE: After surviving prison, you come home thinking you're able to start over, you want to be part of the society, but there's just so many layers of discrimination, boxes, you have to get through just to get an opportunity. Society thinks oh, you should just go get a job and it's not that easy. Once you have a record, nothing is set up for them to win.

At Second U Foundation we get formerly incarcerated men and women national certifications in job placements in boutique gyms and corporate health clubs throughout New York City. You got to be thinking outside the box. You can't give someone a mop and say this is your future, take minimum wage and deal with it.

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BERMAN: Hector has helped more than 200 former prisoners get certified and Build Fitness Careers. Go to to vote for him or your favorite among our top 10 heroes. The black police officer who was given a KKK sign by the chief breaks his silence in a CNN interview.

KEILAR: Plus, just in Travis Scott's attorney says the warning there were mass casualties of the concert never got to him.


KEILAR: Now until a new day exclusive interview, the Sheffield Lake Ohio police officer who was targeted by his own police chief in a racist incident over the summer is telling his story now.

In this video which you may remember seeing you can see the now former police chief Anthony Campo placing a KKK sign on officer Keith Pool's jacket. Now later, Campo put on a makeshift KKK hat, telling a CNN affiliate at the time that it was just a joke that got out of hand.

CNN has made several attempts to reach out to Campo, should say he could not immediately be reached for comment. The City of Sheffield Lake did not respond to requests for comment either.

And joining us now is the target of that attack that you saw on camera, Officer Keith Pool and his lawyer Ashlie Sletvold as well.


Officer, thank you so much for being with us this morning to talk about this. I know a lot of people are eager to hear what you have to say. They've seen this video. And you say that it wasn't just what we see on camera. It was part of a pattern. Can you tell us about the other incidents?

OFFICER KEITH POOL, TARGETED BY POLICE CHIEF IN RACIST INCIDENT: Yes. Before I started working there, I told Mr. Campo that I needed a new car. And he sent me a car of a -- it was a blue car. It wasn't a police car, but it was on -- it was on large rims. And the windows were tented.

KEILAR: A picture of this.

POOL: Excuse me? KEILAR: He sent you a picture of a car, right?

POOL: No. They have my name on it. Keith Pool, SRO. I actually read a school resource officer at another school.

KEILAR: And that was before you even started on the force. There's the first full black police officer. And then once you were there, there was also, I understand your face on a picture of a grim reaper with a racist slur on it?

POOL: Yes, Raccoon Reaper. That was the next month. So, I started September the ninth. They got to my birthday, 2020. And then next month, he posted that on the board as the Raccoon Reaper.

KEILAR: And another time you had mentioned you were sitting in a squad car with another black officer who was hired after you. Can you tell us about what happened then?

POOL: That day, he was -- chief capital's arriving with another officer who had Senate windows. So, he was very adamant about the officers writing for the tents. So, I asked him, I said, would you like me to write that car too? And he said, well, I thought jaw windows were tinted. My window was down.

KEILAR: So, you know, it's unbelievable, sort of what you talk about enduring here, over and over. And I wonder when you saw this KKK sign on your desk? What did you think?

POOL: At the moment, you couldn't think you just like, I reacted like, are you serious. And it was shocking, especially coming from a police chief, who had mentioning going back before I started there, he told one of the workers there that he as long as he is the chief of police, he would never hire the inward. Then when he did hire me, he told the worker that I can't believe the city does hire their first inward and she hadn't repeated. And he said it again. I cannot believe that this city this hire their first inward.

KEILAR: I know Ashlie, you want documents from the city? What are you asking for? And how do you see the city's role in this?

ASHLIE CASE SLETVOLD, ATTORNEY FOR OFFICER KEITH POOL: Well, the fact that the ex-chief could cast what he did to Officer pool is merely a joke tells us a lot about the type of workplace in which Officer Pool was expected to operate and perform his duty protecting his community. Because Officer Pool began at the department only a year ago, we have a lot of work to do and peeling back the layers of this onion to determine where exactly blame belongs. And so, the documents we've requested relate to prior acts of misconduct and harassment in which the chief engaged as well as whether there was any training conducted in this department which thus far, we've seen no indication of.

KEILAR: Officer Pool, I'm so sorry for what you've endured, and I really appreciate you talking with us about it and describing it. Thank you so much to you as well as to Ashlie.

POOL: Yeah, thank you. SLETVOLD: Thank you for having us.

BERMAN: To this morning, Congressman Dean Phillips, he never met his father. Artie Pfefer was killed in Vietnam when the congressman was only six months old. But discovery in boxes of family heirlooms has let the Congressman hear his father's voice, a recording of a call to his mother when he was just a baby. Listen to this.


ARTIE PFEFER, CALLS HOME TO HIS WIFE DEANA, 1969: I thought I would get on the horn here and say a few choice comments. (Singing) We got to get out of this place. If it's the last thing we do. We got to get of this place, go make a better life for me and you.


Yeah, that's what they sang tonight, honey. And boy, those words fit the situation to the tee. I really love you so much and our little baby Dean. Awww, I'm just getting a feeling for him. Those pictures and his voice and everything. I'd really like to give him a great big fat kiss."


BERMAN: And joining me now is Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota.

Congressman, it's so moving to hear that recording of your father, a man you never met. And you only heard it a couple years ago for the first time. What was it like to hear that?

REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): Amazing, John, one of the great blessings of my life, my mom held on to these old reel to reel tapes that she collected, that they exchanged when he was in Vietnam.

To hear his voice so many years later, is both a miracle, and an amazing blessing and a reminder of - there are 20,000 Gold Star children from Vietnam, 5.000 from Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts -- to know a parent through their voice or their photos or the stories is a great blessing that very few get to have.

So, I feel quite blessed. And I'm just glad I didn't inherit my dad's singing voice.

BERMAN: Well, you inherited his looks. We -- we put the picture up on the screen here again, so people can see it. I mean, you know, you look exactly like him, which is remarkable.

But to hear him say -- again, I can't imagine what it was like to grow up knowing that your father had died in Vietnam before you ever had a chance to meet him -- but to hear him say he wanted to give you a big fat kiss, even decades later, I mean, it would have just melted my heart.

PHILLIPS: It melts mine. It's -- like I said, it's a great blessing. And, you know, John, he was killed just days after the moon landing in 1969. And I think about the fact that he got to know the America at its very best, at a time fighting a war that reflected some of our very worst, that's a blessing.

And his service and sacrifice in no small part illuminate my path in Congress, I think about him every day, all those who served, and I keep those recordings, the one you just played plus many more on my phone to remind me every day of my responsibilities.

BERMAN: So, you've had these recordings, this one you're releasing just for the first time now, why -- you did for Veterans Day, which was yesterday, we should note. Why did you want the public to hear this? Why is this meaningful not just for you, but for the work that you're doing?

PHILLIPS: You know, John, as I reflected earlier, there are thousands of Gold Star families. You might not know their names, you might not know their faces, but thousands of grieving families from even the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, children who have lost their parents.

And I think sharing that is a reminder of the cost of war. We all too often forget the sacrifices being made by our veterans, their families, for generations. And on Veterans Day, in particular, of course, I think about my father, and so many others.

And I think it's also important that we reflect on the United States. Unfortunately, my father knew an America that was quite divided at that time, serving in Vietnam, he was aware of the protests back home, I'm sure there was a conflict for many who served in Vietnam.

You know, 50 years later, we find ourselves once again in very divisive times. And I think a reminder for all of us to reflect on the past, consider the future, and recognize that if we don't stick together, we've got a lot to lose, including a lot more lives, and I want to make my service in Congress about reconciliation and bridge building -- and coming back together. I think that's what my dad would have wanted. I think all who have served want the same thing.

BERMAN: And you've worked tirelessly on mental health issues for veterans, correct?

PHILLIPS: Yeah, John, we're losing thousands of veterans a year to suicide. In my estimation, preventable, if we afford the resources. You know, we are a country that always finds the resources to send young men and women off to war. And somehow, we can't find the resources to take care of them all when they come back.

I think it's a responsibility of me, everybody in Congress to ensure that we provide those services, and if they exist, to ensure that there are connections to those, because too many veterans simply don't know what they've earned. And we have that responsibility to support them.

And I encourage everybody watching to reach out an arm and to give a hug to a veteran because many are struggling.

BERMAN: Or a big fat kiss, which is what your father - PHILLIPS: Or a big fat kiss.

BERMAN: -- wanted to send you.

Congressman Dean Phillips, thank you for sharing that recording with us. Your father would be so proud of what you've become.

PHILLIPS: Thank you, John. Keep the faith.

BERMAN: You too.

KEILAR: I think the big fat kiss that is what the sacrifices Berman, you know, for his family it's giving up that forever and for other families it's giving it up for a long period of time when normally you don't have to.

BERMAN: I'm so glad you got to hear that.


BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues right now.