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Continuing Coverage of Derek Chauvin Trial; Biden to Launch Sweeping Infrastructure Plan. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 31, 2021 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: He was cool as a cucumber.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is Brooke, the way I would phrase it to the jury is cold-blooded. I mean you're allowed to say things like that. And I think it's apt.

This man, you saw it, was cold-blooded and even police officers, by the way, when they're involved in use of force, and commissioner Ramsey I think can attest to this, it's traumatic for them as well.


HONIG: They go through counseling. They struggle with issues for years. Yet look at Derek Chauvin, he's cold-blooded right there.

BALDWIN: Would you say he's cold-blooded, commissioner? What is it to be in someone like that shoes?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean I've been involved in shootings, a couple of shootings, unfortunately. And Elie is right. I mean it does impact you, especially if there's a death associated with it. It definitely -- it doesn't matter what the circumstances are. I mean, you don't become a cop to take a life. You become a cop to save lives. And so it does have an impact, there's no question about that. And, you know, to show some kind of emotion, maybe he showed it later in the day or what have you, but I think it's going to work against him.

And when you look at the body -- and I keep going back to body-worn camera footage. That is dramatic stuff because it puts you right there on the scene. It's not from across the street or, you know, a silent video from somewhere else. This is right on top of the situation. You hear and you see everything. And believe me, I've watched a lot of those Axon videos, and it's pretty dramatic.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about that for people who are just jumping in and out of this trial, who missed as we all sat and watched it live, the body camera video from these officers as you feel like you're in it and, you know, on top of George Floyd.

Your assessment from the moment we see George Floyd resisting being placed in the -- as you called it the cage car, the police car, saying he was claustrophobic all the way to him being on the ground. Your read.

RAMSEY: Well, I mean when you look at the video, clearly you see he's not getting in the car. I mean he's reluctant. He's like half in, half out. It's not unusual for somebody to go around on the other side and try to pull the person in from the other side.

What I don't really understand is, you know, once they got him in, why they pulled him back out. That's one thing. And once they get him out, you can see that his legs, he's kind of flailing a little bit, and I think the last witness mentioned something about hog tie. There's something called a hobble, which is basically restrain the legs as well as the hand -- being in handcuffs if you have a person who's kicking and so forth. And that may be what he's referring to. I don't know.

But it's also very clear in the video that the resistance does stop. It does stop. And at that point, that's when the force should stop. So again, I go back to that. You can be justified in one part of the encounter and not justified in the other once the resistance stops, the force has to stop.

BALDWIN: Elie, if you're the defense, how do you defend that?

HONIG: I wouldn't go there. I think commissioner Ramsey is exactly right. One of the most important things, difficult things for a criminal defense lawyer to do is pick your battles. You don't have to fight back against every little thing here. I think the defense's best arguments are going to be the technical ones, the causation. That's yet to come, the arguments that we'll see between different medical examiners over the autopsies and the cause of death.

I think it's a losing battle, really if you think about it common- sense wise, who cares if George Floyd was resisting five minutes, ten minutes, 15 minutes before Derek Chauvin put his knee in George Floyd's neck. It's really not relevant. And I think when you make arguments like that, that just don't resonate in common sense, you undermine your own credibility with the jury. So if I'm defending this case, I'm not making that argument.

BALDWIN: Gentlemen, stand by. Any moment now the Chauvin murder trial is about to resume. We will see more witnesses testify. We'll take you back to Minneapolis live to the courthouse when that happens.

Also ahead, President Biden will soon deliver a speech on his major infrastructure plan. We have those details next.



BALDWIN: We will get you back to Minneapolis momentarily. But shortly President Joe Biden will be unveiling this historic effort to overall the country's crumbling infrastructure. A senior official tells CNN the White House wants to see progress on the plan by Memorial Day. That is just two months away. The president is proposing to fund this $2 trillion package by reversing the Trump corporate tax cuts, but of course there are critics, some members of his own party.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is in Pittsburgh where the president is set to present this plan next hour. Tell us what's in it, Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, I think there's no question about it, the scale is ambitious. And that's by design. It's going to be something you are going to hear the president talk about, according to officials, when he makes his remarks to the nation unveiling the first of what is going to be a sweeping two-part north of $4 trillion proposal.

And yes, there will be a significant component of this related to physical infrastructure. You're talking about 20,000 miles of roads that could be repaired, 10,000 bridges that could be repaired, about $620 billion in total towards physical infrastructure.

But I think the interesting element when you actually dig into the details here is just how wide-ranging it is beyond that. You've got hundreds of billions of dollars for things like education infrastructure, water infrastructure as well, climate elements of the Biden administration agenda are inside this proposal.


You're talking about the electric grid, talking about a fleet of electric vehicles as well that will be financed by this, kind of underscoring that this isn't just roads and bridges, it is bigger than that. And there's a reason for it. And I think when you talk to White House officials, they make clear, they believe there is a moment of urgency and this is also a moment of opportunity.

And far from what you've seen from predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, who have always talked about infrastructure as something they could believe they could do, the Biden administration not only thinks they can do the physical elements of this but feel like the moment is now to really show government can work. Obviously, that has Republican critics. Take a listen to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It's like a Trojan horse. It's called infrastructure but inside the Trojan horse is going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And I think what you're going to hear a lot from Republicans even before this proposal was released is obviously the tax increases are something they are deeply opposed to. The way the administration will finance this plan over the course of

15 years is through reversing key elements of former President Trump's tax policy proposal. Increasing the corporate rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. A global minimum tax, bumping that up from 13 percent to 21 percent. Taking away fossil fuel subsidies as well. That will be the financing mechanism of this.

I think the big question right now, Brooke, and you kind of hit on this, it's not just Republicans that are opposed, you have some progressive Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one that want to go bigger, want to go bolder.

And so how the administration threads this needle with just the barest minimum of majorities in the House and Senate is the big question going forward.

One thing I would note, you talk to administration officials, they understand this isn't the COVID Relief Package that passed with just Democrats just a few weeks ago. This is something that's going to take time. It's going to take months.

And trying to thread that needle will largely be comprised of trying to keep Democrats together. I don't think they expect Republicans to come on board. They will reach out. We'll see what happens. But just brace yourselves. This is going to be months of covering this process. Not be something that happens overnight.

BALDWIN: Braced, done. Phil Mattingly, thank you. We'll look for the president to speak within the hour. Thank you, friend.

Again, just a reminder to all of you, we are expecting the Derek Chauvin murder trial to return from this brief break any moment now, so we'll take you live to Minneapolis next.



BALDWIN: Getting back to the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. It has been another emotional day with one witness just totally breaking down during his recollection of the conversation he had had with George Floyd, as Mr. Floyd was pinned under that officer's knee and really even before that point.

So, Sara Sidner is our correspondent there, she is outside the courthouse, and Sara, we're talking about this witness Charles McMillian. And he is essentially the last person to have ever had a conversation with George Floyd. And before we even get to the point where Mr. Floyd is pinned down on the ground, what did you make of the testimony about the conversation they had prior to that?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, mark my words, this is the most powerful, effective testimony that we have seen in court to this date. Charles McMillian was soft-spoken, he was funny in the beginning, he was -- he came off as very honest, very true to himself. He's 61 years old. Made clear that he had a third grade education but that he cares about

his community. And that he is a person that goes around talking to people in the community. So, it would not be unusual for him to have intervened, to have said something.

And then you hear him begging George Floyd to just let them take him. I want you to listen to that first. Because what you're seeing is also the body camera video of officers and Floyd struggling. And you're hearing the words from Charles McMillian to Floyd saying, just let -- you can't win, you can't win. Here's him describing those moments after he's watched that body camera video.


CHARLES MCMILLIAN, WITNESS TO GEORGE FLOYD BEGGING POLICE: I'm watching, you know, Mr. Floyd, struggling. He (INAUDIBLE) over here the backseat of the police car and I'm trying to get him to understand that when you make a mistake, once they get you a car, it's no certain thing that your (INAUDIBLE) -- you're going to go with them. And I was trying to get him to go.

ERIN ELDRIDGE, MINNESOTA ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: OK. And you were saying -- is it your voice saying things like, you can't win?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: Why were you saying that?

MCMILLIAN: Because I have had interaction with officers myself. And I understand once you get in the car, you can't win. You're done.


MCMILLIAN: That's just the way I have looked at it.


SIDNER (on camera): He's a 61-year-old black man who made clear, he has been here before himself and he knew this was not going to end well. He is sort of talking George Floyd through, trying to get him through so that he's alive.

Now, here's the part -- there are two parts that broke everyone's heart. And we do know that George Floyd's brother, Rodney Floyd was inside the court listening to this when McMillian completely broke down in sobs after seeing the body camera video of George Floyd on the ground, begging for his mother.

And you hear McMillian say, I know what that feels like. I understood him. My mother died. I understand what was happening. He was watching a man die and he could not hold that in. And ended up sobbing so that they had to actually stop court for a break because he just could not get the words out.

[15:50:00] And what he lastly said, Brooke, really shook the courtroom, at least those of us who were all watching. He said, five days ago he actually had an interaction with then-officer Derek Chauvin. He pulled his car up to Chauvin and he had a conversation with Chauvin. Five days before seeing this happen there on 38th and Chicago with George Floyd. And he said to him, you know what, you go home to your family and be safe. And let the other man go home to his family.

And he looked Derek Chauvin in the eye and then he said to him on the stand, you know what, I looked at you as a man five days ago. I looked at you as a man, but now I look at you as a maggot -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We have that sound, Sara, let's all listen.


ELDRIDGE: What was it that you were saying to Mr. Chauvin at that time?

MCMILLIAN: I can't recall, but in my mind that I said to Mr. Chauvin, and I actually think it was like five days ago. I'm not all sure. I know in my mind what I did say to him. I think I said to him five days ago I told you the other day to go home to your family safe, that the next person go make family safe, but today I've got to look at you as a maggot.



SIDNER: I don't think stronger more painful words have been spoken, not only to this man to stand up in front of the world and really just break down in sobs because he just felt helpless, that he couldn't save George Floyd.

But he told you a little bit about himself, and then he told you exactly what he thought of the man who was on trial for killing George Floyd. We should also mention that he was one of three people that testified. His testimony though, I would say if you looked overall at all the testimony, devastating to the idea that this crowd was unruly, that it was dangerous.

He was clearly calm and trying -- and really, Brooke, he was the last person who shared a kind word with George Floyd before George Floyd took his last breaths.

BALDWIN: He was. He was. Sara, thank you, and I agree with you. You know, every day we say that was the most powerful testimony. That was the most powerful testimony we have seen over the course of the last three days. Thank you very much.

And commissioner Ramsey, let me go to you on just the point about Mr. McMillian, the witness' interaction with Derek Chauvin five days prior, just happens to have seen him in the community. You know, five days prior and just what he says to him about you go back to your family, I go back to mine, and then the juxtaposition of, you know, calling him a maggot. I mean, just to me that speaks to how he views police in Minneapolis. What do you think of that?

RAMSEY: Well, I hope it doesn't reflect how he views police in Minneapolis because I think it's important throughout this trial, as bad as it is, Derek Chauvin does not represent every man and woman in the Minnesota police department, Minneapolis police department nor does he represent the profession of policing.

I know we see a lot of viral video with bad acts committed by police officers, but there are 800,000 cops in the United States. I've had the honor of serving for 47 years of active service with police officers, and I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

I know what they are made of. I know what they are all about, and I can tell you now Derek Chauvin is not one of them.

BALDWIN: I appreciate you saying that, and Elie to you. Do you think Mr. McMillian's testimony is the most impactful thus far?

HONIG: I do. I agree with Sara what she just said. Mr. McMillian is a real community leader. You can see that because he has this ability to talk and communicate with anybody, from George Floyd to pulling up next to Derek Chauvin five days before and having an exchange with him.

And I think the way that Mr. McMillian phrased it, is sort of a different way of phrasing a common discussion in the world of policing which is police ought to be protectors of their communities, not occupiers of their communities, and I think that's what Mr. McMillian was trying to express to Derek Chauvin five days before and then again at scene.

BALDWIN: I'm being told that they just called the next witness. Shall we go back to Minneapolis? Let's go.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: Please raise your right hand. Do you swear or affirm under the penalty of perjury that the testimony you're about to give is the truth and nothing but the truth?


CAHILL: Have a seat. And before you begin if you could give us your full name spelling each of your names.


RUGEL: James Jeffrey Rugel. J-a-m-e-s, J-e-f-f-r-e-y R-u-g-e-l.

CAHILL: Is this your social?


CAHILL: Thank you.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, MINNESOTA SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, where your honor. Good afternoon. Is it Officer Rugel? RUGEL: Lieutenant Rugel.

SCHLEICHER: Lieutenant Rugel. And what law enforcement agency are you with?

RUGEL: Minneapolis Police Department.

SCHLEICHER: And how long have you been employed by the Minneapolis Police Department?

RUGEL: Just under 32 years.

SCHLEICHER: And you indicated that you're a Lieutenant, how long have you held that rank?

RUGEL: Since 2000.

SCHLEICHER: Now before you talk a little bit about yourself you understand you've been called here today as sort of a foundational witness. Is that right?

RUGEL: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: Your personal involvement in this case is somewhat limited, and we're going to be offering various video evidence through you. Do you understand that?


SCHLEICHER: And so what are your present duties with the Minneapolis Police Department, Lieutenant?

RUGEL: I manage the police business technology unit.

SCHLEICHER: And what is that?

RUGEL: Myself and my staff basically manage the technology equipment, software, systems that officers use on patrol and investigations, anywhere they are doing their job.

SCHLEICHER: Tell the jury a little bit about some of these systems and software and tools that you use.

RUGEL: For example, we have a records management system where all of our police reports are kept and so my staff manages that system along with a software vendor.

We use surveillance video, for example, surveillance cameras around the city. We manage accounts for that, advise on where cameras should be and make sure that the system is working.

We -- the city uses body cameras for patrol officers and investigators. We manage the body camera programming including the video storage which is through a cloud-based vendor, but all of the policies and stuff are enforced through our system administrators which are part of my staff. SCHLEICHER: Fair to say as a police department the department

generates a lot of data?

RUGEL: Very much, yes.

SCHLEICHER: Both written documents, video, audio and all of these things need to be collected and stored and be able to be retrieved in a way that can be associated with a case number. Is that right?

RUGEL: Correct.

SCHLEICHER: Before stepping into the business technology unit I would like you to share with the jury a little bit about your career at the Minneapolis Police Department. When did you begin?

RUGEL: I started in 1989 as a patrol officer, worked as patrol officer for several years, was promoted to sergeant and worked as an investigator doing gang cases, gun trafficking and narcotics.

Was promoted to Lieutenant in 2000 and as a Lieutenant I've served as a Patrol Lieutenant supervising a shift of officers on the street at a couple of postings, served in this business technology job, and I also was the manager of our Strategic Information Center for about eight years.

SCHLEICHER: And I would like to for purposes of starting here focus on that assignment with the Strategic Information Center. So could you please describe for the jury what the Strategic Information Center is.

RUGEL: It's what we call our realtime crime center, so it's a facility where both sworn law enforcement officers and non-sworn analysts work doing -- I mean, they are monitoring the police radio. They are monitoring cameras.

They are looking at calls for service and looking for ways to assist patrol officers in their job. So that could be anything from, you know, hearing that a patrol officer is on the way to an address, you know, on particularly had a high priority call, looking up the history that have address and being able to send information to an officer, so they know more about it before they even arrive.

They also do a lot of assistance to investigations, looking for link analysis, trying to, you know, find suspects based on nicknames, all sorts of stuff, but they do that seven days a week, twenty hours a day.

SCHLEICHER: Fair to say like any other business, things have changed a lot since 1989 when you started in law enforcement.

RUGEL: Yes, quite a bit.

SCHLEICHER: We have much more sophisticated surveillance tools and data storage tools, is that right?


SCHLEICHER: When did the Strategic Information Center open?

RUGEL: October of 2010.

SCHLEICHER: And what was your involvement in the Strategic Information Center at that point?

RUGEL: I was on the design team that helped to configure the way it was going to work. I was the initial and first manager of the center. So I wrote the standard operating procedures, the policies, sort of created it from the ground up.

BALDWIN: All right. You've been listening to the prosecution, this Minneapolis Police Lieutenant in this Derek Chauvin trial. I'm and Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. Let's going to Washington. THE LEAD with Jake Tapper starts now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD I'm Jake Tapper.