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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview with Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota; Minnesota Governor: Black Shooting Victim Would Be Alive If He Were White; Minnesota Governor: Shooting "Absolutely Appalling On All Levels"; FBI Director Defends Decision Not To Recommend Charges; Trump Tries To Tame Skeptical GOP Lawmakers. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired July 7, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GOV. MARK DAYTON (D), MINNESOTA: You have to consult to the attorney general. I don't know what qualifications her office has.
[16:30:03] I don't mean that pejoratively. I just don't know that they have this kind of investigative capability.
I believe we have highly professional Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as, that -- the commissioner said, their job is to uncover and present all the facts. They don't make a judgment as to if something should be prosecuted or not, or so how or not. They present facts to county attorney. That's the separation that exists.
I don't believe -- I believe they're well-qualified, capable, and they know this is absolutely urgent situation when they're getting their highest priority and I believe they are doing utmost to bring all the facts and relevant information to bear and to light and to present that to the county attorney.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We have been listening to Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota, really a remarkable press conference. Remarkable comments on this shooting of a black man.
Let me just briefly reiterate, he said it is a terrible tragedy for the state of Minnesota. He went further though. He said in his words nobody should be shot and killed for a tail light that was out of function. Keep in mind, that's our understanding of why he was originally stopped in this.
He went on to say, the governor, that this would not have happened if he was a white man. Very remarkable thing for the governor to say as this investigation in the early stages.
He also added detail on the police response after the shooting, describing it, in his words, as appalling that the police officers attended to their fellow officer who was not wounded but he was frantic after the shooting, they attended to him and administered no first aid to this man as he was bleeding to death in that car after the shooting.
I want to go back to Representative Keith Ellison. He joins us earlier. He, of course, represents the fifth district in the state of Minnesota. I want you to react. I know you were able to listen there to Governor
Dayton's words to react to what he said there that this would not have happened to a white man.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: You know, what the governor and so many of us are reacting to is this whole history. Of course, every case has to be judged on its own merits. I'm sure that the BCA and the law enforcement authorities will evaluate this case and that the officer will be accorded full due process rights, but this case is not an isolated event.
It takes place within a very horrible history and it's not just going back as far as Mike Brown or Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin. This goes back to the '60s, the '50s. It's old phenomenon.
I don't know if you remember the Kerner commission report. It was a report issued in the 1960s after those riots which identified and studied causes and perhaps solutions to the riots of the 1960s. And in that report it said that nearly every major American disturbance is a -- was sparked by a negative interaction between police and community.
This is a long standing problem that has been racialized during this time. So, for the governor to just identify the basic truth of the matter which is that this is a long standing problem, it is often highly racialized I don't think is a remarkable thing. In fact, I commend the governor knowing full well that the officer will get accorded his due process rights.
In fact, it is very rare for officers no matter what the circumstances are to ever be held accountable for their conduct. I mean, even in the Eric Garner case where the man was clearly choked out in front of the camera and as he was yelling, "I can't breathe", no accountability. This seems like almost no case, very few.
Walter Scott I think a case where there was some accountability. Not too many. Probably name them on one hand.
SCIUTTO: Representative Ellison, just as we're speaking to you, we are showing pictures on the right side of the screen here, that's outside the governor's mansion where a protest has been growing there, as we watched it and keep in mind, we have noticed this. It is a mixed race crowd.
SCIUTTO: Whites and blacks who are protesting there.
But I want to ask you because this is intensely personal issue for Black Americans today. We have heard it after each of these shootings, difficult conversations between parents and children about what to do when they have encounters with police. Yet in this case, Castile's case, he seemed to do what parents said to do, which is, yes, officer, I'm reaching for my permit, I have the permit in the glove compartment, et cetera, and yet he ended up dead. ELLISON: Well, let me just say this about Minnesota. I mean, in
Minnesota, certainly, you know, we have the same problems other communities have, but we do also have this tradition where we have multiracial movements for justice.
[16:35:01] I mean, Hubert H. Humphrey in 1947 was speaking in terms of the need for integration and to abandon segregation. This is part of the legacy of our state. So, it's not surprising to me that you have blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, people with disabilities, straight, gay, Muslim, Christian, Jew, everybody has this sort of -- that is an important strain in our state.
But to answer your question, yes, it's an unfortunate conversation that every parent has with their black kids. I mean, I have it with my children. My father had it with me.
My father told me when I was a teenager, maybe the pre-teen, "Keith, the police under the wrong circumstances will kill you, son." My father told me this. He told me, "If they tell you to do something you do it. You leave your hands on the steering wheel. You put your hands out of the window perhaps. You don't do anything quick. They will shoot you and little or nothing can be done about it."
Now, that might be disturbing for people to hear, but it is a conversation we have. I'm sad to tell you that it's common. I mean, think about what Philando's mother was saying today that my son is not a thug. Imagine a mom having to say that her son's not a thug. I mean, that's really sad when there is some stereotypical presumption that the black guy who gets shot and killed by the police may have been a thug or at least we have to clear up that he is not one.
I mean, this is a startling commentary on the world that we live in. Now, we all have to dedicate ourselves to equal justice before the law, equality, social, solidarity. This is what we are fighting for.
You know, I'm proud of the governor today standing up and trying to speak eloquently about how we have to have a fair and equal justice system and society.
SCIUTTO: Keith, I got to tell you. I'm a father, I've got three kids and imagining that same conversation with my own kids, difficult but I hear from so many people like you, necessary today. And that's a sad fact.
Thank you for taking the time with us today. We appreciate your sincere thoughts on this.
ELLISON: Appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: Still a lot of important questions about the horrific deaths of both these men at the hands of police in less than 48 hours. We're going to discuss those questions right after this.
[16:41:53] SCIUTTO: We are back with breaking news. New information just in about the officer involved in the death of a black man in Minnesota. I want to get right to Rosa Flores.
Rosa, what's the news?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, the governor revealing that investigators are talking to the officer involved in the case right now as we speak. Here is what we know. Investigators are going through evidence. Some of that evidence, of course, the video evidence that we have already seen. They are also talking to witnesses.
One of those witnesses, of course, the police officer involved. As you mentioned a little while ago, the governor going through some of those details that we had not learned before, that some of its fellow officers tended to the police officer rather than the man that had been shot. Details we didn't know and now, of course, the governor revealing that investigators are talking to the officer involved in many cases we know more about the person shot than the actual officer who fired the shots.
In this case, it is no different. In this particular, case we are expecting the governor to reveal the name of this police officer as soon as those interviews are concluded -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: And we will bring that news to you as soon as we have it.
Rosa, thanks very much.
The Minnesota governor just speaking emotionally with conviction about police conduct in the shooting death of Philando Castile. The governor did not equivocate. He said that Castile would still be alive today if he was white.
I want to bring in CNN political commentator Van Jones. He is the cofounder of justice advocacy group Rebuild a Dream. Also with me, Marq Claxton, he's a retired NYPD officer. He's now director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance.
Van, if I could begin with you. Sadly, we have been here before. We have talked about it, talked about changes, ways to address it, et cetera. Will this shooting make a difference?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I don't know, but I know that people have almost got numb to these videos, almost numb and then you talk about that straw that breaks a camel's back.
This shooting is the straw that has shattered the backs of people all across the country. People are just absolutely devastated. As a parent listening, as a parent what can you tell your child now? Black parents have been talking to our children saying, hey, listen, if you have a firearm make sure it is registered. It was registered. When the officer comes up, be polite. Do what they say.
Even the woman was saying, "sir, sir, sir", the entire time while her boyfriend is dying. White parents are going to have to start talking to their children now. This can no longer be, if you do what the cops say, you get shot. If you don't do what they say, you get shot. What can we tell our children?
White parents have to tell their children that black people's lives matter, and you can't just assume that black skin is a sin and that black skin is a threat. This man never had a criminal record. I got a criminal record. This guy didn't owe (ph) library book and he's dead.
SCIUTTO: As a father I almost teared up imagining that same conversation. Keith was describing that you're describing as a necessity to save a life, to save life of your children.
JONES: My father had it with me. I have a 12-year-old son, just turned 12 this past week. I have had it with him. He is 12. He is a straight A student, but it doesn't matter because we live in that world now. Listen, every white preacher on Sunday talks about this. We can't be the only ones preaching.
SCIUTTO: We all have a responsibility. Marq Claxton, let me talk to you. You are an experienced police officer. I watched these videos particularly this one with Philando Castile and wonder what is the police officer thinking and specifically what was his training? What are police officers trained to believe it is a justified use of deadly force? How do they make that judgment? Because I don't see in this incident what could lead him to use his weapon.
MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD OFFICE: Well, we have different training models, different police departments train differently. But there is a set standard and that is if there is significant threat of serious physical injury or death to you being the officer or others, someone else, someone around you or surrounding you that's the standard.
But I think too often and this is another case of that. Too often what we do is we focus on whether the shooting is justified or not justified. We can go back from case to case, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, et cetera, you know, Eric Garner being choked out.
Justification always becomes the lead conversation when in fact I think we need to focus on what happens before the actual interaction. What were the opportunities for police officers to de-escalate the situation, to disengage, to minimize the possibility or probability of any physical contact whatsoever?
We have to be honest about it. We have to examine whether or not this is a matter of training, a matter of hiring and retention, a matter of prejudice, whether it is bias. What is it? Is it deficiencies current construct of policing and law enforcement in this nation?
I would tell you, yes, there needs to be a wholesale restructuring and policing in this nation. We can't avoid, can't get around it. We to have honest discussions and dialogue about the role that race plays in policing.
And that has significant impact on these incidents, these fatal encounters are not incidental. It is only happening to black folk. We have to have a discussion dialogue and address it affirmatively instead of trying to figure out whether or not it is justified or not. It should never have happened. Many of these shootings are quite avoidable.
SCIUTTO: The thing is we do have that open discussion. The fact is we have it too often. But I wonder, Van, do you need a legislative answer? As Marq made the point, individual police departments have their own training schedules. Do you need regulatory legislative changes to actually make a difference? We have done the open conversation. What we haven't done is a remedy.
JONES: Exactly. I think part of what we have to recognize no major laws have been changed at the scale of this problem. You have a young generation being squeezed between a street crime and police crime.
Mostly African-Americans going to funerals are being killed by each other. That's a problem. But then when you go to the police, the police may also be against you and so you can't go on like that. This country we either to come together or come apart.
SCIUTTO: Van Jones, Marq Claxton, thanks very much. Really difficult subject.
Coming up, two big stories on Capitol Hill. The FBI director explaining to Congress why he did not recommend charging Hillary Clinton.
And fireworks erupting in a closed door meeting between Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto in for Jake. Sticking with our Politics Lead, GOP lawmakers summoned FBI Director James Comey to Capitol Hill today to defend his decision not to recommend charges against former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton for using private e-mail servers.
While Comey did described Clinton's e-mail use as quote, "reckless" and found the she and her staff sent and received classified information, he testified that the presumptive Democratic nominee did not break the law and did not lie to the FBI.
CNN senior White House -- Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, with me now. So Jeff, the FBI has now cleared Hillary Clinton on criminal front, but I have to assume this is not the last hearing we are going to see on Capitol Hill about this.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's probably not the last hearing. I mean, the legal case is over. You are right, but the political one is still absolutely going forward here. And the questions from Capitol Hill today from these House Republicans were so intense about what exactly the truth was over all the various hearings.
But I was so struck, Jim, by one comment from James Comey when he was accused of coordinating his decision with the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Look me in the eye and listen to what I'm about to say. I did not coordinate that with anyone, the White House, the Department of Justice, nobody outside the FBI family had any idea what I was about to say. I say that under oath. I stand by that.
There was no coordination. There was an insinuation on what you're saying that I don't mean to get strong in responding, but I want to make sure I was definitive about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Now Republicans trying to build the case here that Hillary Clinton has misled the American public and Congress. Some members of Congress even calling for new inquiry on whether she lied to Congress.
[16:55:00]But the reality here is the legal case, Jim, is over. This is simply in the political realm now. But we are (inaudible) months exactly and one day before the Election Day so of course, politics will play a role in this.
SCIUTTO: Bernie Sanders, is he getting ready to endorse Hillary Clinton?
ZELENY: I'm told that if talks go well this weekend in Orlando, he will appear with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in New Hampshire to finally get behind her some three weeks after the last votes were cast. Some people's patience are running out here.
SCIUTTO: Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much. A lot more on that story. FBI James Comey e-mails at the top of the hour in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
The other big event on the Hill today, Donald Trump met with nearly every GOP lawmaker to try to convince them to back him, but things didn't go so well. In fact, they got openly confrontational with the presumptive Republican nominee.
Sunlen Serfaty is here with me in Washington. Trump also met I understand one-on-one with Senator Ted Cruz and he is going to speak at the convention?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONENT: That's right. This is a big news that Donald Trump asked and Senator Cruz accepted the invitation to speak at the convention, but Cruz did not make an endorsement, which breaks with what Donald Trump has said in the past that he would not give anyone a speaking slot who did not endorse him first.
Trump's stay here in Washington again highlighting his struggle to unify the party less than two weeks before the convention. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SERFATY (voice-over): Donald Trump coming to Capitol Hill to try to reassure skeptical Republicans. But the presumptive GOP nominee's meeting with Senate Republicans today was punctuated by contentious exchanges.
Sources tell CNN Trump called on members to rally around his campaign warning of consequences if they don't get in line. Among Trump's targets, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, a Trump critic.
Trump saying Flake that he would work against the senator's reelection if he didn't change his tune. Flake responding that his seat isn't up until 2018.
Trump also reportedly going after Illinois Senator Mark Kirk who recently revoked his endorsement of Trump and did not attend the meeting. Kirk telling reporters later, quote, "I guess he lit me up."
But Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, a Trump backer, insisting Trump won over some members.
SENATOR BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't think there was question, but there were a massive number of converts.
SERFATY: And how Speaker Paul Ryan also giving Trump positive reviews for his session with more than 200 House Republicans.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I thought he did a great job engaging with our members. I think our members appreciated it.
SERFATY: Trump also met privately with former rival, Ted Cruz, and RNC Chair Reince Priebus.
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: There was no discussion of any endorsement. He asked me if I would speak at the convention and I said I would be very glad to do so.
SERFATY: After it all, Trump tweeting, quote, "Just leaving D.C., had great meetings with Republicans in House and Senate, very interesting day. These are people who love our country."
All this as the never Trump Movement is still maneuvering behind the scenes plotting to stage a convention coup in Cleveland in less than two weeks, looking to powerful Rules Committee to introduce a measure to untie delegates vote for whomever they want.
On the campaign trail, Trump slamming Hillary Clinton's e-mail controversy, unifying line of attack for Republicans.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are all lies. We say lie, lie, lie, lies. Dirty rotten liar.
SERFATY: But not staying on message, Trump defending the controversial graphic he tweeted featuring an image of Clinton with $100 bills and six pointed star that resembles the Star of David. TRUMP: They took the star down. I said too bad. You should have left it up. I would rather defended it. Just leave it up.
SERFATY: Trump tweeting a picture of a book from the Disney movie "Frozen" used a similar looking star saying, quote, "Where is the outrage for this Disney book? Is this the Star of David also?" As he also continues to praise former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.
TRUMP: I don't love Saddam Hussein. I hate Saddam Hussein, but he was damn good at killing terrorists.
SERFATY: The Trump campaign is supposed to be releasing a full lineup of convention speakers at some point today although they have not yet. This is so late in the game to be putting out formal program with less than two weeks to go really indicating, Jim, the trouble that they have really had in lining up speakers.
SCIUTTO: And couldn't have been the meeting he wanted to have in Washington today to be openly challenged by people from his own party.
SERFATY: That's right, very openly challenged, a lot of attention, contentious moments. Certainly Trump trying to cast this as something positive as he is watching. But again two weeks before the convention not the kind of day he wanted to have here.
SCIUTTO: Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington in again for Jake Tapper today. I turn now over to the very capable hands of Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, facing Congress, grille for hours, the FBI director defends his recommendation not to charge Hillary Clinton with --