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Second Day of Jury Deliberations in Derek Chauvin Trial; Biden Reached Out to George Floyd Family; U.S. Rocked by Multiple Mass Shootings; Families of Emmett Till, George Floyd Unite to Fight for Justice. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 20, 2021 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Watching this, including we know the president paying close attention.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus, she is in Minneapolis. Tell us, Adrienne, what is the feeling there. We've been reporting a lot about the enormous security presence including many hundreds National Guardsmen and women. What kind of show of force are you seeing there?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, the mood here is cautious. But the anxiety level here is real. If you look around downtown Minneapolis, you'll see the beauty here is hidden. The buildings are boarded up behind me. You'll notice barricades and barbed wire in front of the police station here in the downtown area. All of this as people wait to hear what the verdict will be.

But from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center, I wanted to hear from students. I asked them, are you worried about the outcome of the trial? Here's what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of. I've been kind of watching bits of it for the past few weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can't we just all you equal in terms of respect and rights?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe that we will have some people coming in this community to try to cause ruckus.

BROADDUS: Do you think you'll be targeted because of the color of your skin?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a possibility.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: So those students have some real concerns. Some of them have some real fears. On Wednesday, Minneapolis public schools will return to remote learning as they wait for the verdict to be released -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: The country waits as well. Adrianne Broaddus, thanks very much.

As the jury continues to deliberate, they're on day two now, and do it, the brother of George Floyd says his family received a call from President Biden on Monday wishing them well during this time of uncertainty and heightened racial tension.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Our John Harwood is live at the White House with more.

John, what more do we know about how the administration is preparing for whatever might happen when this verdict comes down?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, anyone who paid attention to developments last year after George Floyd was killed, the unrest that was unleashed by that, who's been following this excruciating drama of this trial in Minnesota with the videotaping played over and over again knows that the situation is as a senior White House official says a tinder box.

The White House is more as alert to that as anyone. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, yesterday said the administration has been in touch with state, local officials to try to prepare for what could happen depending on which way this verdict goes. The Army has approved the use of the D.C. National Guard to assist here in Washington. And the president himself reached out yesterday to Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, and had a message. Here's what that was about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE P. FLOYD: He was just calling. He knows how it is to lose a family member. And he knows that the process of what we're going through. So he was just letting them -- letting us know that he was praying for us and hoping that everything would come out to be OK.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HARWOOD: But, guys, no matter how much preparation you do, this is a situation that has the potential to pose an extremely severe test of presidential leadership. I was covering the White House almost 30 years ago when the Rodney King verdicts came down. Police officers were acquitted in that case. Horrendous unrest was unleashed by that. The White House is bracing for what could happen after we get a verdict which could, of course, come as early as today but we don't know.

SCIUTTO: John, I wonder, was there any concern in the White House that the president calling the Floyd family could be interpreted as him tipping his hand as to a preferred outcome?

HARWOOD: I don't think so. This is a president who as Philonise Floyd said in that call is familiar with losing family members. He was consoling the -- Philonise floyd and the Floyd family and saying he was thinking of them. Jen Psaki would not indicate yesterday what verdict the president was expecting or if he would be disappointed if there was an acquittal. So, no. I think they thought that that was a family-to-family kind of communication about grief and empathy and not so much about the verdict per se.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, John, at the White House for us.

Well, there have been numerous mass shootings across U.S. in just the last week. And at least 157 mass shootings since the start of the year. Yet, as has been the case, over and over again, the Capitol Hill, not a lot of action there on it. What will it take?

[10:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: This morning we're learning new and frankly disturbing information about the gunman who killed eight people at FedEx facility in Indianapolis last week. According to a new police report, the suspect's own mother told police a year ago that her son spoke of suicide by cop. And when police went to his home, they saw he'd recently visited white supremacist Web sites as well. Still, months later and despite concerns by the FBI, the 19-year-old was able to legally purchase the two assault rifles he used in last week's attack.

And round around we go, another mass shooting, condolences, lowered flags, nothing happens on Capitol Hill. Will that happen again?

Joining me now to discuss, former U.S. senator Jeff Lake from Arizona.

Senator, thank you for taking the time this morning.

JEFF FLAKE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: You have said that seeing a colleague, Congressman Steve Scalise, get shot by a gunman in 2017, this is during an annual congressional softball or baseball game, rather, you called his wife afterwards, that shifted your views on gun control.

[10:40:07]

I just wonder why hasn't the combination of that moment which Scalise and others bring up frequently and this continuing epidemic of gun violence moved the two parties to do something together? Why hasn't it changed?

FLAKE: You know, every time there are one of these shootings, you think that this will be the thing that does it. Certainly when I was in the Senate and you had the Vegas shooting, I think it was the largest number of casualties that we had, there was some movement at that time and did it prompt at least the administration to impose a ban on bump stocks which make a semiautomatic fire like an automatic weapons.

That, I'm convinced, had the president not acted, that Congress likely would have. So you have seen a little movement. But not enough in my view.

SCIUTTO: Why is that? Right? Because here you have something that's been considered now for dog years, right? Universal background checks widely supported by the way by huge margins from gun owners. This is not an issue where they're fighting this. Right? They see the wisdom of it. But it can't get through. I mean, it just seems that the political incentives here, particularly for Republicans, but not limited to Republicans, right, they're just concerned if they make a vote for something like this, they'll become the target of the NRA and get primaried.

I mean, how do you do anything about that when that's what the political incentives are?

FLAKE: There is some of that. But there's also, you know, the devil in the details with regard to background checks. I am convinced that we could broaden background checks. And I attempted a number of times to do that. There are issues whether it's as broad, for example, the House bill that has been passed, but the Senate hasn't taken up yet, would even require background checks, FBI background checks, among family members transferring guns.

And most senators believe that that's going too far. In fact, I think some Democrats think that that goes too far. So I think if you can get into the details and create the right exemptions that could go into it, you could broaden background checks in a meaningful way. And I do hope that that happens because, you know, broadly speaking, if you ask the American public, 90 percent will say, yes, of course. You know, beef up the background check system. But the devil is in the details there.

SCIUTTO: Isn't it more than the details though? I agree that you have differences between the House and the Senate bill. And that makes a difference. And I can see families objecting to have to go through this when, I don't know, father passes a weapon to the son, for instance. But you know the politics of this. You know how those 100 percent NRA ratings are practically, you know, required admission, you know, for Republican nominations and House races and elsewhere.

I just wonder how you get over that. Because on each of these things, even red flag laws, you know, that's one thing you'll hear bipartisan support for. But by the way, this kid in Indianapolis was red-flagged and still was able to buy two assault rifles. I mean, it's crazy.

FLAKE: It is. And I think that, you know, the concern about the NRA is somewhat lessened now. I certainly hope it is. They're having all kinds of trouble, you know, that organization. So it shouldn't be as big of a concern to Republicans in terms of re-election. But it is still very real. And the Republican primary, you don't want to be on the other side of the NRA. But the NRA, really, is, I wouldn't say a paper tiger. But it's certainly less of an influence than it has been in the past. So I think the time is right to do something.

And you have people in the Senate, people like Pat Toomey who are ready and willing to move ahead. Not sure if you have 60 votes, however. SCIUTTO: Yes. That's the question. Raises again the issue of the

filibuster. OK. Police reform, this is, of course, top of the agenda for many in light of the events we're watching. And I know you're watching as well closely in Minneapolis with the Chauvin trial. Last month Democrats in the House, party line vote, pushed through the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. And you remember, last year following Floyd's killing there was a moment when it seemed like bipartisan action was within reach. And it failed.

I just wonder, where do you see potential agreement between Democrats and Republicans on police reform?

FLAKE: Well, I think it's happening across the country. I think since George Floyd killing, you've seen 140 laws passed at the state level. And that's where most of the policing obviously happens. So I think it is happening across the country. Federal action, you know, I think that some can happen there as well. But you have had bipartisan action gratefully at the state level. And I think that that will continue.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You're right. And that's something not to be dismissed and oftentimes that can make the real difference, right, in those local or state regulations.

FLAKE: Right.

[10:45:03]

SCIUTTO: Senator Jeff Flake, always appreciate having you on the program.

FLAKE: You bet. Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: As the country, as the world waits for a jury to decide the fate of former police officer Derek Chauvin, the family of the victim George Floyd is bonding with another family who knows all too well their pain.

HARLOW: This is such a touching story. And an important story. Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy, of course you know that name, he was lynched, tortured in Mississippi in 1955. Well, now his cousin and George Floyd's brother are uniting in a fight for justice and our Sara Sidner brings us that reporting.

[10:50:09]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

P. FLOYD: We're out here. We're thriving.

DEBORAH WATTS, COUSIN OF EMMETT TILL: That's right.

P. FLOYD: We're going to be on a mission. WATTS: That's right.

P. FLOYD: And we're all here for justice, man.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The moment they met in Minneapolis, a bond was formed. A bond born of the deepest sorrow.

P. FLOYD: Do you know how hard that is for somebody to look at their child, beaten to death? Do you know how hard it is for people to look at a person who has been tortured to death over nine minutes? It's not right.

SIDNER: Each experienced a violent death in the family that became a catalyst for civil rights in America. Philonise Floyd is the brother of George floyd, Deborah Watts is the cousin of Emmett Till. They met because Watts lives in Minneapolis and took to the streets after George Floyd was killed.

WATTS: Oh, my god.

P. FLOYD: You look at it, man. I think about that all the time. I think about Emmitt and I am like.

WATTS: Appreciate that.

P. FLOYD: Emmitt was like, to me, like one of the first George Floyds that people just recognized like they put him in a spotlight. He didn't get justice.

WATTS: Didn't. Still hasn't.

P. FLOYD: He still hasn't.

WATTS: But we're still fighting.

P. FLOYD: I mean, we're fighting.

WATTS: I don't want you to have the 66-year journey. I really don't.

SIDNER: For Watts, the pain spanned generations. Her 14-year-old cousin Emmett Till was murdered in 1955 by white supremacists. Till's mother opened the casket at his funeral so the world could see the horror done to her child at the hands of hateful adults.

WATTS: And by making those efforts, opening Emmett's casket, showing the world what his 14-year-old body looked like with a 75-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barb wire after being thrown into the Tallahatchie River, she exposed to the world. And I think the world stood up. The world spoke out. The world was enraged.

SIDNER: Sixty-five years later, the world spoke up again from Minneapolis to London.

GEORGE FLOYD, KILLED IN POLICE CUSTODY: Please. Please, I can't breathe. SIDNER: After watching Philonise Floyd's brother George gasping for

air, his neck pinned down under the knee of an officer who refused his pleas for help.

P. P. FLOYD: People should die of natural causes, not because you get an overdose of a knee to someone's neck. Not because you beat somebody to death and dumping them in a river.

SIDNER: Both families' pain playing out in the spotlight. Both creating a wave of change and demands for justice for all in America. In Floyd's case, cell phones and body cameras captured the incident of the white police officer kneeling on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. He is awaiting his fate from a jury of his peers. But the people who disfigured and murdered Emmett Till were acquitted by an all-white jury. They confessed to their crime a year later. Watts is still fighting for justice.

WATTS: This is what you're going to do. It does carry some disappointments. But it also carries a lot of hope.

P. P. FLOYD: Yes.

WATTS: Justice is going to be served in George Floyd's case. Whether it's in the courtroom or outside of the courtroom. Justice is going to be served.

SIDNER: The tragedies in their lives propelled both Watts and Floyd into lifelong work they didn't intend to take on. Both have started foundations to create healing and change through policy.

WATTS: The Emmett Lewis Till Victim's Recovery program is something that we're fighting for that affects the family.

P. P. FLOYD: I'm the big brother now.

SIDNER: Philonise testified in front of Congress right after his brother's funeral. At this very moment the Floyds are trying to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act pushed through Congress. Both families say this is the fight of their lives for a better, more just America.

WATTS: Thank you for your strength.

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Tied together through history. Well, jury deliberations have resumed in the trial of Derek Chauvin. We're on day two now. Please stay with CNN for our live special coverage.

[10:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Well, former vice president and former Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale has died at the age of 93. Known as Fritz, Mondale was the son of a Methodist minister and a music teacher. He was Minnesota's attorney general in the early 1960s. He spent 12 years in the U.S. Senate. He was elected vice president alongside Jimmy Carter who honored his vice president overnight writing, quote, "During our administration, Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice-presidency into a dynamic policy driving force that had never been seen before. And still exists today."

HARLOW: In 1984, he won the Democratic presidential nomination and then made history by being the first presidential nominee to name a woman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. His last political race was in 2002 when he once again ran for the U.S. Senate and he showed class and grace even after defeat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTER MONDALE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We kept the faith. We stayed the course. We fought the good fight. And every one of us should feel good about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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