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The Situation Room
Floyd Prelim Autopsy: "No Physical Findings that Support a Diagnosis of Traumatic Asphyxia or Strangulation"; FBI Asks Public for Photos or Videos Surrounding George Floyd's Death; Minneapolis Imposes 8 p.m. Curfew through the Weekend; Joe Biden Speaks with CNN about George Floyd's Death; Trump Sends New Tweet Trying To Clean Up Earlier Tweet About Looting and Shooting; Now: Protests In Multiple Cities Over George Floyd's Death; Ex-Police Officer Charged With 3rd-Degree Murder And Manslaughter In Death Of George Floyd; CNN Correspondent And Crew Wrongly Arrested Covering Riots Sparked By George Floyd's Death. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These waves will occur over the next 18 to 24 months throughout the U.S., including California and L.A. Not necessarily surprising, Jake, but sobering to see that written. Nearly two years, maybe. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Nick Watt, thank you so much.
Be sure to tune in Sunday morning for "State of the Union." We'll be watching all the developments in Minneapolis. Plus, I'm going to talk to National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and Senator Cory Booker. That's 9:00 a.m. Eastern. And then at noon Sunday East Coast time I'm going to host a CNN special, "We Remember: A National Memorial Honoring the Victims of COVID-19."
Our coverage on CNN continues right now. I'll see you Sunday morning.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." We're following breaking news.
A fired Minneapolis police officer has been arrested and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. According to the criminal complaint, and as captured in a truly horrifying video, Derek Chauvin kneeled down Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes, including almost three minutes after Floyd was unresponsive.
U.S. follows a night of violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul. That's all rioting, arsenal, looting, and the unwarranted arrest on live television of our CNN crew, including our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, which the Minnesota governor later apologized for and said should have never happened. We'll be joined in a few minutes by CNN's Don Lemon who will be interviewing the former vice president, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on these sensitive issues. We're also following the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. death toll which now tops 102,000 people with more than 1.7 million people having confirmed cases.
First, let's go straight to Minneapolis right now. Our national correspondent Miguel Marquez is joining us. Miguel, an arrest following what the Minnesota governor calls 48 hours of anarchy.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, Wolf, that arrest will go somewhere. There is a great level of distrust among the people here in Minneapolis for the authorities. In particular, the police. That arrest will help to some degree. But the authorities here have a long way to go.
GEORGE FLOYD, DIED IN MINNEAPOLIS POLICE CUSTODY: I can't breathe!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?
FLOYD: I can't breathe!
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis police officer who is seen here kneeling on George Floyd's neck, is now under arrest and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
MIKE FREEMAN, HENNEPIN COUNTY PROSECUTOR: He's in custody and have been charged with murder. This is by far the fastest we've ever charged a police officer.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The other three officers involved are still under investigation and prosecutors say will likely face charges. Floyd's families and supporters say it's not nearly enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not satisfied with one officer does crimes. All of them were complicit in his murder and they all need to be held accountable just as if it was four black men that killed somebody. They would be under the jail by now.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): And new tonight, another angle showing Floyd's brutal killing. A warning to our viewers that this video is gruesome and jarring.
The video depicts the moments before the previously known eyewitness video of Floyd's death. Here you can see three officers holding Floyd down, kneeling on his body. Officer Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd pleads to catch his breath.
FLOYD: I can't breathe! Please!
MARQUEZ (voice-over): A preliminary autopsy report showed no physical findings that supported diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. But the combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants likely contributed to his death.
And it indicated officer Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, 2 minutes and 53 seconds of which Floyd was unresponsive. CNN has learned that Chauvin also worked in security at the same Minneapolis nightclub as Floyd and may have known him.
MAYA SANTAMARIA, FORMER NIGHTCLUB OWNER: I don't suspect that they recognized each other even though they may have crossed paths working together with me and my team.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Today, the city began boarding up businesses, prepping for another night of anger spilling into the streets. After the National Guard was called in and police clashed with protesters overnight. Parts of Minneapolis and St. Paul burned, including a local police precinct.
GOV. TIM WALZ (D-MN): Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fire still smoldering in our streets.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Minnesota's governor pleading for calm.
WALZ: I understand that. And I will not patronize you as a white man without living -- those experiences of how very difficult that is. But I'm asking you to help us. Help us use humane way to get the streets to a place where we can restore the justice.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Minnesota state police also arresting CNN's own Omar Jimenez, a black and Latino reporter along with the CNN crew while on the scene early Friday, depicting the morning's chaotic events. Jimenez's press credentials clearly displayed in his hand as his arrest played out live to the nation.
JIMENEZ: I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You're under arrest.
JIMENEZ: OK. Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir?
MARQUEZ: Now, the city of Minneapolis has put into effect a curfew starting tonight at 8:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, the same for Sunday into Monday morning. The message is very clear. The state patrol is here. National Guard is here. They want people off the streets tonight to avoid any more rioting, any more looting, any more protesting, and they want to shut it down in this - in this - in Minneapolis tonight. Wolf?
BLITZER: Miguel Marquez on the scene for us. Miguel, be careful over there. Thank you very much. As you heard, our correspondent Omar Jimenez and his crew, they were in Minneapolis reporting on the rioting this morning when they were arrested while Omar himself was on the air. I want our viewers to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: We've got one person being arrested here. We've got -- hold on. I got you, hold on. They had us here. They had us here. We're speaking with state patrol right now. Give us a second, guys. We can move back to where you would like. We can move back to where you like here. We are live on the air at the moment. This is the four of us. We are one team. Just put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way. So, just let us know.
Wherever you'd want us. We will go. We are just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection. So, just let us know and we got you.
And this is the scene here playing out in Minneapolis. This is part of the advance police presence that we saw come over the course of really minutes when the local police showed up at the fire department or with the fire department, I should say, on the building we showed you that was burning. This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street, saying and scattering the protesters at that point, for people to clear the area. And so, we walked away.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You're under arrest.
JIMENEZ: OK. Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir?
Why am I under arrest, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED CREW: Officers, we're with CNN and he's on the air right now.
He is on the air with CNN.
You are arresting him live on CNN. We told you before that we are with CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back in the direction from which you came.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Awful situation, that should have never happened. Fortunately, the governor of Minnesota later apologized and took personal responsibility and made it clear that that was not what was supposed to happen. We're very grateful. They were in custody, our crew and Omar, for about 90 minutes.
Let's discuss as we await Don Lemon and his interview with the former vice president, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. You know, Joey Jackson, you're our legal analyst. Walk us through what happened, a very disturbing development, around 6:00 a.m. Eastern, 5:00 a.m. Central Time. And all of a sudden, Omar was simply doing his job, our photojournalist, our producer, their security guard who was with them, they were all just doing their job. They were clearly identified as journalists. They showed their CNN I.D.'s. And all of a sudden, Omar inexplicably was arrested.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, Wolf, it's very difficult to tell you what happened or to justify what happened, because it has no justification.
What ends up occurring is, is that, listen, in the event someone is committing a crime and there's reason to believe they're committing a crime, they get arrested. But when you have a reporter who is engaging in professional conduct, who's otherwise reporting to the world for everyone to see and giving commentary as to what's occurring in Minnesota, talking to everyone and filling us in and keeping us informed, he in fact lets the police officers know that he'll move. He is glad to move. He was moving as they were coming. "What do you need us to do?" He indicates that he's from CNN. He shows a badge. So, there is no basis and no authority whatsoever to engage in that arrest.
And now, just think about this. His arrest occurred while the world was watching and he -- in fact there was no reason for it. Think about how many other people who are in a similar position, who get arrested, where there is no one they can tell, there is no one looking in the bright of day, there is no one to otherwise demonstrate that it was unlawful and improper.
And then you have the narrative, well, we released him once we found out that you know he had proper credentials. But he was showing you his credentials there. And so, it further fuels the flames, Wolf, when you look at an issue, where you have a person exercising their First Amendment right and gets arrested, and you have a person who kills someone and there is a delay in the arrest up to today and there are three others, potentially, where they do not get arrested. So that's a problem.
So, at the end of the day, all everybody wants is justice in the case. That's not what Omar got. Certainly, he was released.
And then, finally, Wolf, how many people don't have CNN to call and say, hey, release him? So, this is just troubling all the way around. Ultimately, I'm glad he was released. He was simple doing his job but there's a major disconnect. And we have to fix it and fix it soon.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by. I want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent.
Sanjay, the big news right now, Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer arrested, charged with third-degree murder. The autopsy report specifically says this. I'm going to read to you from the report. It says, the autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. It doesn't necessarily mean he didn't die from asphyxiation, but it clearly makes that statement. You've gone through it. Give us your analysis.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That is the statement. They go ahead and also say in that that there may have been some contributing factors as well, preexisting heart disease and possibly substances, although those lab results probably aren't back yet.
I think the important thing here is that this document is basically saying that even though they didn't find physical signs of asphyxiation, that doesn't mean that didn't occur. That's really what you take away from this. You don't need to have physical signs in order for that sort of asphyxia to occur, strangulation.
BLITZER: Sanjay, hold on for a moment. Hold on for a moment. I want to continue this, all of our analysis of the dramatic developments, but Don Lemon is joining us right now and he has a very special interview. Don?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Wolf, I appreciate that. I want to go to the former vice president of the United States now, Joe Biden, and talk to him for a little bit. Former Vice President Biden, thank you so much. You spoke out earlier today regarding this situation. And I want to talk to you a little bit more about it because earlier today, the officer who is alleged to have killed George Floyd, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder. What is your reaction?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's justified based on -- look, our children are watching. They're not only watching, they're listening. They saw what happened. This man had his knee on a man's neck up against the curb for nine minutes. You know, I don't know what else -- what other conclusion can be reached.
LEMON: The prosecutor in this case also said that they are investigating the other officers. They anticipate that there could be more charges in this case. There is some new video that shows that two of the officers, not only didn't they help Mr. Floyd, Mr. Vice President, they helped hold him down. Are they just as culpable as the officer who has been charged?
BIDEN: I don't know all the facts. I can see what you're showing me now, but I can't see the body. The answer is it warrants a full-blown investigation and a civil rights investigation as well. Were I president now, I would have the Justice Department, Civil Rights investigation going on right now to determine their culpability.
Obviously, they're commenting from an accessory to something more than that. But I don't have the facts to make that judgement. You could see very clearly in the other photograph, you saw Floyd with his face up against the curb, a knee on his neck, being pressed on, him saying "I can't breathe." "I can't breathe."
And so, there's nothing to be denied there. You can look and see it.
LEMON: I'm sure like many Americans, you have watched this pictures that are coming out Minneapolis and St. Paul and other cities, these protests. They're happening all over the country. No one condones this kind of destruction. But what do you say to these protesters, many of whom are outraged, Mr. Vice President. They are sick and they are tired of black men being unjustly killed. What do you say to them?
BIDEN: I say they have a right to be in fact angry and frustrated. And more violence, hurting more people, isn't going to answer the question. But they're totally correct, it is time it stops. We have to -- look, think about this. You and I have talked about this before, Don, in another context.
You know, I used to think that you can defeat bigotry. But it only hides. It only hides. And when it's given oxygen, like it has happened since Charlottesville with this president and in fact brings up the worst and sort of condones activity that is across the board totally inappropriate.
And we must speak out. We must speak out. We must move on this. We must hold people accountable. It is absolutely essential. There is no alternative but to hold perpetrators accountable and keep speaking about it because I believe the vast majority, the vast majority of the American people of all colors, background, race, religion, think what they saw is absolutely wrong and intolerable.
LEMON: What do you think of the president's comments, when he Tweeted, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts"? Do you think the president is stoking racism and inciting violence with those kinds of comments?
BIDEN: I think he's thoroughly irresponsible. Thoroughly irresponsible. I mean, it is just absolutely, he talks like, I don't, I'm afraid I'll say something I'll regret. I just find him thoroughly, totally irresponsible.
LEMON: But you know what, Mr. Vice President, in this moment, people want you --
BIDEN: (INAUDIBLE) -- there is family, pain, a city in pain. And what's he doing?
LEMON: They want to hear from you. They want your honesty and your candor. I know that you are moderating yourself because you said you can get in trouble.
BIDEN: Well, you've got my honesty, my candor. But not my candor, not my characterization of him personally.
He is totally, thoroughly wrong, the way he's handling this. It is not presidential. It is not consistent with what other presidents would do. It's not consistent with our values. It's not consistent with who we are. As a people. This president steps across the line constantly, the way, well, when a looting starts, the shooting starts. Come on.
LEMON: I want to have a real --
BIDEN: The president said that.
LEMON: Well, listen, apparently this one. I want to have just a real conversation with you in the time that we have about race in this country, and if you're the right person to heal that divide in this country. You said earlier today that silence means complicity and that is a message that is so hard, quite honestly, for white people to hear, including those who are sickened by George Floyd's killing and they reject racism. Those people have a hard time understanding how they are complicit. How are you going to deliver that message to them?
BIDEN: I didn't say, because they're not being silent. If you remain silent. Don't take words out of context. Look, here's the deal. I said our silence is complicity.
The American people are not being silent. They're outraged by this. They don't like it. In fact, they're not there in the city protesting doesn't mean they are being complicitous. They are prepared to speak out. They are prepared to say, enough is enough. You've seen it. You've seen how they're responding. You saw they responded when those folks came out of the fields in Charlottesville. You saw how they responded, the American people, the vast majority.
The vast majority of the American people turn their children's eyes away from what they saw. That's wrong. Don't, that cannot happen. They want this. I'll bet if you took a poll today, that you'd have overwhelming support with white America saying, they must be held accountable for that horrendous activity and action and cruelty that they saw.
LEMON: In the time that we have left, can we -
BIDEN: I don't believe they're remaining silent.
LEMON: We have a short time left here, Mr. Vice President, because I know you have to do other interviews. Listen, I know how familiar you are with black community. It is clear that many African Americans, and rightfully so, see you as an ally. Today you showed a level of empathy that African Americans want to see and by contrast, that comment that you made a week ago, that appeared to take black voters for granted. In light of these horrible events of the last week, it's important for black voters to know which leader are you going to be?
BIDEN: The leader I've always been. I apologized immediately for responding to Charlamagne, who was baiting me, and if you looked at that film, you'll see I was smiling at him. I was referring to him. I wasn't referring to all African Americans. But I should have never said it. I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever taking the African American community for granted.
I have been their ally and they have been mine and I've worked hard to earn every single vote I've ever gotten, and that's what I'm trying to do. That's what I'm going to continue to do. No one should be taken for granted based on their race, religion or background at all.
BIDEN: No one.
BIDEN: I do not.
LEMON: We have a little bit more time. I know that you spoke to George Floyd's family today. Can you share what you said to them and how they responded to you, calling them and reaching out to them?
BIDEN: It was a private call. But as I said before, I'm deeply grateful they took the time. I was truly impressed with their courage and their grace and during this unimaginably painful time. And I talked about totally different circumstance, but how I had a sense of understanding how painful the loss was. Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of losing my son. And I've talked about how, and I tried to give them some solace in terms of how the memory, the memory and meaning of George's life would live with them and would in fact be -- the painful thing that he went through, the awful thing that happened, that it had to be dealt with. It had to be met with. It had to be finished.
But that they would always have -- here's what impressed me. This is what I will say about it. Because I don't have permission to discuss their internal conversation. They're a family. They're a family that's close. Cousins are like brothers. The kids. The mom who's passed away. The family, they're all together. They're a unit. They're always together. And I told them about how that's what happens in families that are close, like my family.
It wasn't just, and I'm not saying my family went anything through like that, but my point was that they all are coherent. They're together. And George seemed to be the glue that held so many of them together. And we talked about how everybody, George is everybody's brother in that family. Everybody's --
Even his cousins referred to him as "brother" and how it takes solace from that. And they had --
-- to stay together and find purpose.
LEMON: I spoke to family as well and I know they're very close and listen, and I've been very transparent with this. After my sister died in 2018, you called me up out of the blue and I didn't believe it was a former vice president calling me up. So, I know that from the tragedies that you suffered, you know empathy and I appreciate you for what you did.
Listen, I've been saying that there are two viruses in this country. COVID-19 and what I call "Racism-20" because this is how it is playing out in 2020. It's a very dark time right now, Mr. Vice President, and neither viruses have a cure. Are you worried about how we're going to get through this?
BIDEN: You know, I know you and I have talked about this. My docs referred to me in the past as I'm a congenital optimist. I'm optimistic because I think what's happened is, I think through this COVID crisis and the mishandling by the president in this, the phenomenal negative impact on the black community, how it has increased three times as many people have gotten COVID-19, the disease, the virus.
In addition to that, we found that there are, they're six times as likely to die. People are beginning to realize the systemic inequity that exists, they want to do something about it. These are the same people who have been carrying the rest of the country on their back. They're the grocery clerks, they're the people driving the trucks, they're the people of the First Responders. They're the nurses' aides and the nurses and the docs.
And so, I think that this is sort of, the band-aid's been ripped off. We have to deal with this. This is an opportunity to take something horrible that's happened and remind ourselves who we are and who we say we are. And the vast majority of the American people are decent, honorable and they want to change. Just as the majority of the police officers are not bad cops. But you have to deal with this systemic racism that continues to exist in this country.
And it's overwhelmingly in everybody's interest that it be done. No matter what your background. No matter what your circumstance. You know, paraphrasing Dr. King, you know, the silence of good people, that's the worst thing that can happen. And I don't believe the American people are going to stay silent. I think they're going to make their voices heard. And they're going to make their voices heard about a lot of this systemic injustices that exist that have just been ripped away by watching what happened --
-- in the COVID and seeing this happen as well, in addition to OMAD (ph) and others who have, it just, I just think they're --
-- I think they're ready.
LEMON: We have --
BIDEN: They're ready to act.
LEMON: We have to end it here, Mr. Vice President. And I really appreciate you joining us and having -
BIDEN: Get back another time. Always a pleasure talking to you.
LEMON: I would love to have you come back and continue this kind of conversation. And I think everyone, all Americans around the country should continue to do the same thing. And my appreciation, my thanks to the former Vice President Joe Biden. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: You know, Don, you're not going anywhere, you're going to stick around with me for the next 90 minutes or so, we got a lot to discuss, all the dramatic developments unfolding in Minneapolis today. But let me get your immediate reaction to what we just heard from the former vice president.
LEMON: Well, to be quite honest with you, this is what leadership sounds like, with the former vice president did today. His first words were, "I spoke to the Floyd family." which is something that we have been wanting to hear from this president. I know, and it's just come across the wires, that the current president has said that he has finally reached out to the Floyd family and that he sympathizes with the family. But that is something that as a leader of the free world, as the leader of America, that you should do immediately.
And so, I think this is a message of hope and healing, is what we need right now, all of us. And this has nothing to do with political stripes or being a Democrat or Republican or whatever your political stripes may be. This country is hurting right now. And some of the first words that we heard from the current president, on in at least in his writing, were words of division. It was division, using racist language that he had to clean up and that was even disavowed by very, very conservative groups and other conservatives. And so, listening to Joe Biden, and you know I talked to him about his comments he made a week ago on Charlamagne tha God's radio show, "The Breakfast Club" and on and on.
Listen, people will give you leeway in a conversation. People will forgive you for saying the wrong thing if you apologize. This current president never apologizes for anything. If you explain to people where you're coming from and where your heart is, I think that people have it in this country, they have a forgiving nature. And so, they understand that no one is perfect. Not the former vice president, not even the current president, as long as you are honest with people and you level with them and you meet them at their -- in their particular situations.
So, I was heartened to hear a message of hope and a message of true leadership coming from someone who is at least seeking to be in our government again. And so, I hope that that message spreads across this country and I hope that's where we leave it. No division, we don't need any more division. We've seen enough. We've seen enough division in the last couple of weeks.
If you look at the stories that relate to African Americans in this country especially, if you look at Ahmaud Arbery, if you look at what happened to Mr. Floyd, if you look at what happened to many African Americans in this country, we don't need any more division. If you look at what's happening in Minnesota and the buildings that are burning and the people who are out there yelling, the people who are frustrated and upset, we don't need any more division.
What we need as Americans is to come together. More than anything, we need honesty. We need to be honest about where we are and about who we are and about how we got here. And I see the former vice president as someone who is at least willing to go there and not turn a blind eye to what is happening, not use it as an election tool.
And so, that's where, on this interview, I wanted to talk to him, I'm glad I talked to him because I wanted to hear where a person who wants to be in the highest office of the land, if he was president, what he would be doing in this moment and I think he showed that in that interview and in his talk earlier today.
BLITZER: He certainly showed his pain and the pain all of us are feeling over what happened in Minnesota. Don, stick around. You're not going anywhere. I want to bring in Jim Acosta, our chief White House correspondent.
So, Jim, we heard from the former vice president, the presumptive presidential nominee.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BLITZER: But we - just a few minutes ago we also heard the president say something about what's going on in Minnesota.
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. And as Don just mentioned, the president just told reporters a few moments ago that he did speak with the family of George Floyd and that he passed on his condolences to that family. He also commented on the situation in Minnesota.
And as we've been talking all day long about this, Wolf, he is trying to clean up this tweet that he posted last night. First, just what the president said a few moments ago. He said the looters in Minneapolis should not be able to drown out the voice of so many peaceful protesters. That obviously is a very mild version of what he was trying to say or he claims he was trying to say last night when he said, when he tweeted, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
That obviously is an expression that is steeped in all kinds of ugliness Miami police chief back in 1967, when there was unrest in that city, use that same expression. George Wallace, the segregationist used words to that effect in 1968. So this is an expression that is steeped in a lot of ugliness and hatred from the 1960s.
And Wolf, the President just before a -- what was supposed to be a news conference earlier this afternoon, put out another tweet, saying -- well, he didn't mean when the looting start, the shooting starts, he meant to say -- he says in this tweet, that when looting happens, people can get shot. You know, that's a strange credulity. And I think the President knew it. He did not take questions from reporters, including myself in the Rose Garden. He raced out of there after making some comments about China talking about pulling the U.S. out of working with the World Health Organization and then that was it.
He's talking to reporters right now, but he is not really taking any questions at the moment. And so it seems, Wolf, after playing the arsonist last night, he's trying to play the firefighter today, but he's essentially trying to put out flames that are engulfing his presidency right now. This is a President, and Don and I have talked about this, Wolf, you and I have talked about this so many times, who plays the racial card, who hits racial hot buttons all the time, going back to Charlottesville saying there are very fine people on both sides talking about African American athletes who take a knee on a football field to protest police brutality and calling them sons of bitches, referring to African nations as shithole countries and so on.
This is a President who time and again, throws gasoline on this virus that Don was just talking about racism 20 that has been in this country for too many years. And the President, I think, recognized today that last night he stepped in a big time. Wolf, you and I both know there are very few occasions when the President, you know, dials things back in the way that he did by putting out a tweet clarifying what he said, you know, 12 hours earlier.
Twitter, as we know, posted a label on that original tweet saying it could glorify violence, it glorifies violence, and then just an unspeakable thing that happened here at the White House. Earlier today, the White House Twitter handle, which as we know, does not belong to the President of the United States. It belongs to the American people. The United States government posted the President's tweet as well, sort of daring Twitter to put that same label on it and then Twitter put that same label on the tweet from the White House Twitter account.
And so the President has gone back to his old playbook. We've seen this since 2016. It is about dividing this country along racial lines and I think he recognized -- and Don was just talking about this a few moments ago -- that h is essentially stepped in it. And former Vice President Joe Biden, I think, you know, when he described the President as not being presidential, he is setting up a contrast for the American people heading into this campaign. When it comes to the coronavirus, when it comes to things like Minneapolis, it's going to be a question of who is the most presidential, who can get the country out of things like the coronavirus. And what exploded over the last couple of days in Minneapolis, but no question about it, Wolf.
This President is in cleanup mode right now. But he is doing it in a cowardly way. When he calls a Rose Garden press conference and then doesn't take questions from reporters, when he knows full well we're going to ask about when the looting starts, the shooting starts and hightails it out of there, it's not a profile in courage, it's a profile in cowardice.
BLITZER: And Don, when he did post that that tweet, when the looting starts, the shooting starts at 1:00 a.m. last night, there's a history to that phrase, which is of in American history, going back to the 70s, in the 60s, that has a really ugly, racist history to it.
LEMON: Well, and it just -- I mean, come on, let's be honest. The President says, OK, I didn't mean it that way. Is that a phrase that rolls off any of your tongue? Not mine. Even the shooting starts and the looting starts, the shooting start, is anyone ever really thought of saying that out loud? Is that something that just rolls off the finger at Twitter feed?
That came from somewhere, and he had to have known where that came from. And if he didn't know where it came from, then why on earth as the President of the United States, when we have a powder keg happening in an American city, why would he tweeted, if he didn't know the origin of it? If he didn't know what it means, what does that mean? You don't know what you're doing. That means that you're ignorant of the language that you're posting. And that means that you are not aware, you have no self-awareness and you don't understand the situation that we're in right now.
It means that what you're trying to do is to inflame people, rather than bring people together or appeal to a certain demographic in your base. It's as simple as that. This is not rocket science. This is not something that you can, you know -- I didn't just fall on -- neither of you, and I don't think anybody who's watching this program, we did not just fall off the turnip truck, OK? And so for the President to say, oh, when the looting starts, the shooting start, I didn't know what it is, or maybe he just came up with it. Come on, give me a break. Really?
ACOSTA: And Don, the other issue, I think -- and it has to be said is that the President, I think ran the risk and still runs the risk of the possibility that he could lead people to commit acts of violence when he engages in that kind of rhetoric. We've seen this before. When you refer to the caravan of migrants heading towards the border, as an invasion in 2018. We saw a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, the shooter in that event refer to the President's use of the term invasion.
When the President refers to the press as the enemy of the people, and then there is attempts of violence aimed at the press. That is a cause and effect. And I think that was the other realization over here at the White House, Wolf and Don, and that is the President. When he tweets things like, when the looting starts, the shooting starts, there is the very real risk because we've seen this before, it's happened before. We're not speculating it's happened before. There's a real possibility that when he tweets something like that, somebody could get shot.
And the shooter could potentially say, I heard this from the President. I saw his tweet. He motivated me to do this. And it's not exaggerating things to talk about that possibility because as we, Wolf, it's happened in the past.
LEMON: This President traffics in racist and incendiary language all the times. Not only did he say when the looting starts, a shooting starts, but look at the other tweets that we put up, and I don't know if we have them at the ready now. Thugs. Where he start -- where he called people thugs. Well, guess what, he's calling a whole lot of people thugs, because it was not only African Americans who were in that crowd of protesters. Many of them, if not most of them from the pictures that I've been seeing, are of different ethnicities.
There are a lot of white people in that crowd -- in the crowd as well. So he's calling not only African Americans, which may be a dog whistle for some people in his base. He's calling a whole lot of people thugs. That did not happen when we saw the 99.9 percent of people who were on state houses, protesting, spitting in police officers' faces, burning flags, and wanting to liberate and open up the country.
He didn't -- he said that those were good people who cared about their country. They were good Americans. They were breaking rules, and also putting people's health at risk. And so, I don't understand the difference between those good people who want to liberate because they want a haircut or they're tired of sitting on their couches, and they're armed to the teeth with semi-automatic weapons. So I don't understand the difference between protesters.
Listen, this got out of control in Minneapolis. No doubt about it. No one is condoning the violence. But again, I understand the anger. I don't understand the actions. I'm not going to judge people. Because when you don't have an outlet, when you don't have a platform, when you're upset, and when you're angered, people lash out in ways that you or I may not understand. So I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
But what I will say to them is that enough is enough. This takes away from the massive. Protest, do it smartly. Hold the signs, hold your leaders accountable. Do it in that way. But this President, he knows exactly what he's doing. He is inflaming racial division in this country because he thinks, not only does he think, he knows it works for him in certain circles in his base. That's exactly what has happened.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers some live pictures coming in, protesters in Atlanta. Protests are not only in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but they're developing in many cities all around the United States right now. And you can see police are on the scene. People are protesting. Clearly, they're very, very angry over what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis.
And Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Gupta is still with us. Sanjay, I interrupted you before and you were giving us your analysis on a major development that unfolded today. The arrest of Derek Chauvin, the police -- ex- police officer, third degree murder charges. We were talking about the report that came in from the autopsy report that suggested the autopsy revealed no physical findings that supportive diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation and you were giving us your analysis.
GUPTA: Yes, I think a lot of people are going to read that line and maybe read too much into that line. As part of an autopsy, they're -- it's says, sort of they're looking for all sorts of different things. But in this case, not seeing any physical signs of asphyxia or strangulation, as was mentioned in the report, does not mean that it didn't exist. And I think that's what people probably need to take away.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence as the saying goes. So, you know, they also talked about the fact that he did have underlying evidence of heart disease and question of whether or not there are any intoxicants, but those lab results probably haven't even come back. I think the fact of the matter is, and anybody can probably apply common sense having seen the video that short of him having this significant pressure on his neck, those other things that they talked about in this report would not have led to his death. And I think that's the point that the medical examiner is making. It's not a criminal sort of document, it's anatomical autopsy document.
The other thing, Wolf, is if, you know, and I was just reading the specifics, and I think this is important for a couple of minutes, at least maybe up to three minutes. The gentleman was unresponsive and it was pretty clear. Obviously, to anyone who was there and people -- you could hear people talking about that. And then just again, reading this report, someone checked his pulse and said, I can't find a pulse.
Nobody moved at that point. Paramedics then show up, he's put on a stretcher. You have a person without a pulse now who is unresponsive and, you know, the basic protocol at that point you start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, you start CPR. None of that happened, Wolf, here as, you know, I've been looking through this video. So I -- the medical examiner didn't comment on that part of things. But, you know, a lot of this was documented as you saw, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very important information indeed. Angela Conley is joining us right now. Angela Conley is the Hennepin County Commissioner that represents Minneapolis and St. Paul. Angela, thanks so much for joining us. First of all, give us your reaction to the charges that were filed today against this former police officer Derek Chauvin.
ANGELA CONLEY, HENNEPIN COUNTY COMMISSIONER: It's absolutely not enough. So we have been calling from day one, the community, the area that I represent in Minneapolis have been calling for day one for arrests and murder. And then we have three people who are accomplices to that, who were accessories to that murder. And so community does not feel, I do not feel that this is justice at all.
We think that, you know, according to Minnesota statute, if a person commits a crime, and there are people with them when that crime is committed, then everybody gets the same charge. So what we want to see is that the other three officers involved in this egregious murder of George Floyd are charged, arrested, and they're convicted with the same amount of time. You know, third degree murder brings anywhere from, you know, 12.5 to 15 years, maximum of 25. All four officers need to be arrested and charged.
BLITZER: With third degree murder and manslaughter, is that what you're saying?
CONLEY: Well, I mean, they're part of the crime. So whatever we're charging the person who had his knee on George Floyd's neck, and cutting off his airflow, all three of those officers heard him beg for his life. Heard him say that he could not breathe, hurt him call out to his mother, so they are accessories to murder. So Minnesota statute says that for people who are accessories to a murder, they get the exact same punishment as the person who pulled it off.
BLITZER: You heard the Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman say, you know, Angela, that he did expect charges would be filed at some point against at least one or two, maybe all three of these other police officers. Is that encouraging to you?
CONLEY: He said likely, right? He said he didn't want to speculate and that there is the likelihood that those three officers would be charged. I don't know that community trusts our county attorney enough to say that that could happen, but it's what we consider justice is to see all four of those officers brought in to custody and brought in to -- and receive the same charges. So that's not something that is sufficient to us. We need a definite. We need a -- we need it to happen. Likely is something that we just won't settle for at this point.
BLITZER: Would you expect, you know, Angela, the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, Erica MacDonald to file federal charges, civil rights violations or other federal charges against these four police officers -- I should say for former police officers, they were all fired?
CONLEY: That's right. You know, I understand that there's a process and there's an investigation that needs to happen. And I personally think it's evident from the video that civil rights violations happened. But I'm not a U.S. attorney.
So I really want there to be a thorough investigation, but there is something about time that is not settling well with community. And you've seen it in the streets. Every minute that goes by is a minute lost to bring these people to justice. And so I think that we do need to look at civil rights violations.
We saw surveillance video, we saw the video captured by, you know, a member of our community. So it's very clear what happens here. And I personally believe that George Floyd was denied his civil rights. So I'm hoping that they do the right thing, find the right evidence to make sure that every charge that applies here is applied.
BLITZER: Before I let you go, Angela, I want to get your reaction to what happened very early this morning around 5:00 a.m. your time, 6:00 a.m. our time. People were watching on CNN live. They were watching our correspondent on the scene, Omar Jimenez, do a very excellent report. He was very polite. He was reporting on what was going on.
And people were watching not only the United States and around the world that all of a sudden on live television, we see that Omar Jimenez is being handcuffed and arrested together with a photo journalist who works with them, the producer who works with them, a security guard that CNN had hired to help. Those -- our crew there in Minneapolis, and they spent about an hour and a half in police custody. Eventually they were released and the governor later apologized. What was your reaction though?
CONLEY: My reaction was he looks like me. And that is what happens in our communities daily. We are guilty until proven innocent. Why couldn't they believe that man when he showed his credentials, when he said he is a CNN respondent, a CNN reporter on the scene. Black people, people with skin that looks like mine are profiled. We are assumed to be agitators. And so that's exactly what happens.
We are underneath the boot of a system that is oppressive and a system that is divisive and a system that promotes anti-blackness. So what happened to the reporter? You know, I feel for him because it happens to people in my community every single day, and we're quite frankly very tired of it. We need to see a different model of policing that is inclusive of community.
BLITZER: I know Don Lemon is still with us. He's going to stay with us. Angela, Don has a question for you. He also has a little comment -- he's got some reaction to what happened to Omar Jimenez this morning as well. Enter the conversation, Don.
LEMON: I think Angela set it up perfectly when she said it was just horrifying watching this young man being arrested on television showing his identification and telling people I'm reporting live for CNN with a camera there and a crew. It was just unbelievable. But what I will say, I just wanted to say something about Omar. Omar came to CNN, I think it was eight years ago, OK, as an intern from Northwestern School of Journalism.
I shared him as an intern with the "Newsroom". I just moved back to New York City from Atlanta to work at the CNN bureau here. And Omar was an intern for that first summer, him and another young man, Howard Cohen. And they asked me -- they would come to my office and asked me for stuff to do, right? Don, what can we do? Can we help you on this story? Do you need anything? What can we do for your show? What have you?
And I said, well, why don't you guys help with the guests. Bring the guests in, whatever. They would go and they'd meet the guests and they were just excited about meeting people. And Omar above and beyond, one of the nicest people you ever want to meet. And I remember helping him out with his demo tape and he said, Don, every all the crews who say, you know, they love that you are -- that you think children of the future because you are always helping people out with their tape and you're helping me. And he's very grateful.
And I watched him this morning. And I was furious as I watched him and I thought he handled it perfectly. But then when I saw him, come back on the air for the first time, there was a reticence that I saw, a hesitation. I don't know if he was nervous. I don't know if he felt embarrassed. I don't know.
But I immediately called him up and said, Omar, this is a moment for transparency and I'm not going to tell you how to act or how to be or what to do. But if you are feeling nervous about what happened, it is OK to say that. If you are feeling upset about what happened, it is OK to say that. If you are embarrassed about what happened, it is OK to say that because right now you are the personification of this story.
This is exactly what happens to African American men all the time. And it played out for you in front of the cameras. This is your moment to show the world that this is real. If you are standing there with cameras in front of you, talking live on CNN, showing your identification, and they still arrest you, then what hope does anybody else have. Imagine a young person of color, who has no platform and doesn't have a voice like that.
So I'm here to tell you, he's one of the nicest people I know. I am very proud of him. And one day he will have my job and I welcome him. Bring it on, Omar Jimenez. I love you, brother. And I'm proud of you.
LEMON: That's all I want to say.
BLITZER: And I can only say I know Omar. He's a friend of mine. When he came to CNN, and it wasn't that long ago, he'd been a local reporter in Baltimore. I spent some quality time with him. Got to know him. He's an excellent, excellent journalist. But he's a wonderful human being and he understands what's -- and the way Don, he treated, he dealt with this. He was so polite to the police.
And I think what I'm hearing from you, Don -- and Angela still with us as well, and I want to get her reaction -- I assume both of you think if he had been white, he wouldn't have been handcuffed and arrested. Angela, is that your thought?
CONLEY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that happens every single day. We see it. We see this type of injustice. Like I said, when we are seen, we are automatically considered suspects. Also, Omar could have easily been hit with a rubber bullet. He could have easily been seriously injured. Because often sometimes were picked out of the crowd to, you know, receive this abuse and this treatment from, you know, police officers.
So I'm glad that he's safe now and that he was able to get out. But absolutely, these are situations in where we are looked at as the enemy. I'll even go so far as to say that. There's no other explanation why we would be pulled out of the crowd to be arrested. But we don't see other white journalists, and there were plenty of journalists on the scene over the last five days, who were white journalists, who I didn't see get arrested.
I didn't see them, you know, being put into the precinct or into the jail. You know, so it is people -- like they're looking at us as if we're the perpetrators, and we're the ones who are the enemy and we're the ones who are causing all this problem. Even if you have, you know, a press badge and a camera. We're always going to be assumed, you know, guilty before we can even, you know, document ourselves as being legitimate because, you know, we always have to prove that we're legitimate.
LEMON: And still no explanation, just like many people who are taken into police custody for no reason are still -- have no explanation. I don't think to this moment. We have a real understanding or a true explanation. The governor apologize. But Angela, we don't -- and Wolf, we don't know why.
LEMON: For what reason? What reason?
BLITZER: I know. There was no explanation but fortunately the governor did apologize, saying it was a mistake, should have never happened, and then should have never happened. Angela Conley, thank you so much for joining us. Don, don't go away.
As you can see from these live pictures coming in from Atlanta, demonstrators are protesting what happened in Minneapolis. But demonstrations are occurring elsewhere around the country as well.
Brian Todd is joining us right now. Brian, I know you're in Washington, D.C. Tell us what's going on in the nation's capitol.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a very passionate and boisterous crowd here. We're at the corner of 14th and U Street, Northwest. This crowd has been growing exponentially -- seemingly by the minute. They've been chanting songs, sayings here at the intersection.
What they've just been doing is kind of a ritual that they've been exercising over the past hour or so. Chanting the name of an African American, a young African American who's died at the hands of police and then saying say his name. They've rattled off a series of names Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery, of course, George Floyd, and others. And they are just determined to send that message that they are just utterly frustrated, angry about what has happened that keeps happening at the hands of the police, and that they don't want to take it anymore.
Like this gentleman is saying here. I want to give you a sense of the crowd. Again, it's been growing exponentially over the past few minutes. There is a police presence down here. And they tell us that they do expect to go marching soon down 14th Street for the White House. You can see police cars down that way. The police have told us they are going to maintain a presence here. So far, this has been very peaceful.
The organizers told me they want to keep it that way, Wolf. They do not want any trouble here. One interesting tactic that they use, just two minutes ago, they called some people from a balcony in this apartment complex up here to come down and they successfully recruited them to come. So, very passionate, creative and frustrated crowd here tonight.
BLITZER: And these demonstrations are occurring in Atlanta, Washington elsewhere around the United States as well. There's a lot of anger in the country right now because of the death of George Floyd who was in police custody. A police, ex-police officer now for nine minutes had his knee, had his knee on his neck. We're going to continue with the breaking news coverage on all of this right after a quick break.
BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" with breaking news. An 8:00 p.m. curfew has now been ordered in Minneapolis. Authorities are hoping to avoid yet another explosive night of unrest as protesters are getting some but not all of what they've been demanding.