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A.G. to Announce Investigation into Louisville Police Department Practices; McCarthy, After Denouncing Trump, Defends Trump's Riot Response; A.G. Announces Investigation into Louisville Police Department Practices; Andrew Brown Jr Death Certificate: Died From Wound to the Head; Biden Offers India Help as Its Hospitals are Overwhelmed Amid New COVID Crisis. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 26, 2021 - 13:30   ET



EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It was simply because of endangerment of some of the neighbors that one detective was charged in that case.

And so clearly the Justice Department believes that there's a bigger problem in the Louisville Police Department.

And we saw last week there was an announcement similarly from the attorney general to do a pattern-and-practice investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Again, this is the second one in two weeks of police departments being investigated by the Justice Department. We anticipate there's going to be several more to come -- Ana?

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Evan Perez, stand by.

We will take those remarks live from the attorney general as soon as that happens. Again, expected to announce an investigation into the Louisville police department following the death of Breonna Taylor.

Meantime, House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, doing an about face, a full about face. Now defending President Trump's response to the insurrection at the capitol on January 6th.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): When I talked to President Trump about -- I was the first person to contact him when the riot was going on, he didn't see. He ended the call, telling me he'll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that's what he did. He put a video out later.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Quite a lot later, and it was a pretty weak video. But I'm asking you specifically, did he say to you --


WALLACE: -- I guess some people are more concerned about the election than you are?

MCCARTHY: Listen, my conversations with the president are my conversations with the president. I engaged in the idea of making sure we could stop what was going on inside the capitol at that moment in time. The president said he would help.


PEREZ: That is McCarthy trying to rewrite history, even contradicting himself.

Here's what he said one week after the capitol attack.


MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters.

He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump.


CABRERA: And then, that all changed a week later, saying this.


MCCARTHY: I don't believe he provoked, if you listen to what he said at the rally.


CABRERA: CNN political director, David Chalian, is joining us now.

I hear these remarks, David, and I just think, does McCarthy really think we are that dumb, that we didn't see what we all saw with our own eyes or didn't hear what we all heard with our own ears previously.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I don't think it's about whether he thinks the public at large isn't paying attention.

I think what you saw, when you played that clip -- and I'm so glad you played it, Ana -- of a week after the insurrection where he said Donald Trump bears responsibility for the attack on the capitol.

He thought that his party was perhaps going to be in a different place than it ended up being, which is somehow separating from Trump, and he realized very quickly that that was not the case.

And he has set his sights on winning back the House majority for Republicans so that he can then attempt to be speaker of the House. And he sees the only way to do that is to actually embrace the support of the former president for the Republican Party because that's where the energy inside the Republican Party is.

And so that's why when you played the Chris Wallace interview from the weekend, this is where Kevin McCarthy is now.

Because you just have to follow him to see where he has his sort of finger in the wind, to see where the party base is.

That's not necessarily the definition of a party leader, who's trying to lead their party to a place. That's somebody just sort of following where the base is.

CABRERA: He did confess, I guess, to "The New York Times" that he is walking, quote, "the tightest tight rope anyone has to walk." So he's trying to have it both ways, I guess?

CHALIAN: I don't even know that he's trying to have it both ways anymore.

The Kevin McCarthy that said President Trump bears responsibility, which it's pretty clear he bears responsibility for that insurrection at the capitol. I don't think we're going to see that person come again.

I don't think he's necessarily trying to have it both ways. I think that was a moment where he thought maybe the party was going to move in a different direction. It didn't.

Now you see Kevin McCarthy doing what he can to keep that Trump base enthused. That's where he sees the power inside his party.

CABRERA: One person that's been consistent is Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Asked who the leaders of the Republican Party are and she answered Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, adding she thinks our elected leaders are the ones in charge of the party.

Wishful thinking?

CHALIAN: Yes, that is Liz Cheney taking a very literal interpretation of the question about leaders of the party, and using it, oh, yes, Mitch McConnell, the leader of Republicans in the Senate, Kevin McCarthy, the leader of Republicans in the House.

Donald Trump is the leader of this Republican Party. Liz Cheney doesn't want it that way. She's made that really clear. She doesn't think he should have a role in leading the party.


But she understands she is in the much smaller slice of the Republican Party right now in thinking that way.

CABRERA: OK, David Chalian, thank you so much.

CHALIAN: Thanks a lot.

CABRERA: Let's go live now to Merrick Garland, the attorney general.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- and associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

They are leaders of great ability and integrity. And I am happy they have returned to serve again at the Justice Department. The department is stronger for their presence.

The United States Department of Justice is a federal law enforcement agency, comprised of thousands of law enforcement officers who collaborate with and support our colleagues throughout our nation's police departments.

We are uniquely aware of the challenges faced by those who serve as police officers. We see their commitment firsthand every day. And we recognize the complex issues that make their already difficult jobs even harder.

The Justice Department is also charged with ensuring that the constitutional and federal statutory rights of all people are protected.

As I explained last week, Congress has authorized the department to conduct pattern or practice investigations to help it fulfill that responsibility.

Those investigations and the recommendations and actions that ensue do not only protect individual rights. They also assist police departments in developing measures to increase transparency and accountability.

Those qualities are necessary to building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. And community trust is essential to making policing more effective, and less dangerous for officers on the street.

Today the Justice Department is opening a civil investigation into the Louisville Jefferson County metro government and the Louisville Metro Police Department to determine whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of violations of the constitution or federal law.

Today's announcement is based on an extensive review of publicly available information about LMPD conducted by the Justice Department Civil Rights Division.

The investigation will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities.

It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.

It will also assess whether LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race or fails to provide public services that comply with the Americans with Disability Act.

The investigation will include a comprehensive review of the Louisville police department's policies and training.

It will also assess the effectiveness of LMPD's supervision of officers and systems of accountability.

As in every Justice Department investigation, we will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead.

If there's reasonable cause to believe that there's a pattern or practice of constitutional or statutory violations, we will issue a public report of our conclusions.

If violations are found, the Justice Department will aim to work with the city and police department to arrive at a set of mutually agreeable steps that they can take to correct and prevent unlawful patterns or practices.

If an agreement cannot be reached the Justice Department has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit seeking injunctive relief to address the violations.

The investigation will be led by our Civil Rights Division and will be conducted by career staff of the division and the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Kentucky.

The investigators will seek input from every corner of Louisville. They will work with the community, with public officials, and with law enforcement officers.

All of these steps will be taken with one goal in mind, to ensure that policing, policies and practices are constitutional and lawful.

That is the same goal as that of our investigation in Minneapolis, and of every pattern or practice investigation that the department undertakes.


When we announced the investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department last week we received an immediate pledge of support from Minneapolis Mayor Fry and MPD Chief Arradondo.

We have briefed Louisville Mayor Fisher and LMPD Chief Shields on our investigation Louisville. They, too, have pledged their support and Cooperation.

Louisville has already taken some steps towards reform through its settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor as well as through other measures.

We commend those measures, and our investigation will take them into account.

It is clear that the public officials in Minneapolis and Louisville, including those in law enforcement, recognize the importance and urgency of our efforts.

We come to them as partners, knowing that we share a common aim.

There are approximately 18,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in our country. In each one, dedicated officers put themselves in harm's way to protect others.

Promoting public trust between communities and law enforcement is essential to making both communities and policing safer.

Our enforcement efforts, as well as our grant making and other support, will contribute to achieving that end, and to protecting the civil rights of everyone in our country.

Thank you.

CABRERA: You just heard from the attorney general, Merrick Garland, there announcing an investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department following the death of Breonna Taylor, calling for this investigation to increase accountability and trust when it comes to policing and within that community.

I want to bring in CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, and the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, Marq Claxton.

Thank you both for being with us.

Elie, first, you're familiar with these types of investigations. How will this work?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Ana, we call these pattern-and- practice investigations. What DOJ is looking for is a pattern or practice of discriminatory or un-constitutional policing by troubled police departments.

This is now the second one in two weeks. Last week, we learned about Minneapolis, now Louisville.

Think of it as a full-body audit of the entire police department's functions, from recruitment and hiring and training to use of force to internal affairs, all aspects of policing will come under a microscope.

And then these things take years. And ultimately -- and we've seen this -- they do result in meaningful change, and meaningful reforms.

CABRERA: Can you speak to that, Marq? What kind of impact could an investigation like this have?

MARQ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: These types of investigations, these pattern-and-practice investigations into police departments tends to focus on the internal rules and regulations, practices, training and reporting requirements.

Something that's usually significant that I think most people don't understand is that in spite of the stigma that sometimes attaches to departments that are being investigated, there's additional resources provided to those departments as well.

So it's not merely a -- to be looked upon as punitive. There's additional resource and opportunities for enhancement and improvements supported by the federal government given to these agencies to improve their response service to the communities.

CABRERA: And I just have to think about, you know, what has happened in the past. Because I was on the ground after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, when the DOJ came in and did one of these investigations and found some serious systemic problems within that police department.

Did it result in change when all of that was said and done? Elie mentioned this could take years for these investigations to run their course and for the changes to be implemented.

Does it make -- has Ferguson, Missouri, become better?

CLAXTON: Well, it does result in changes.

I think what's really required is something that people are talking about across the nation, and that are clear national standards, a national reform movement that incorporates a lot of principles that DOJ is proposing and let it apply to each and every department throughout the nation, small and large.

What's significant about this announcement today, and the prior announcement last week in regard to Minneapolis, is that it indicates that there's no longer this moratorium, if you will, on these pattern and practice investigations.


People should be mindful that during the previous administration, they had required some additional steps in order to conduct or open one of these investigations, which resulted in none of these pattern-and- practice investigations commencing during that administration. So it's hugely significant.

The current administration obviously is committed to a re-examination of patterns, pattern and practices of police agencies across the nation.

And there will be change. Whether or not that change is significant enough to have impact on the street or satisfy the concerns of the community is another thing. But without that, there will be change.

CABRERA: As you mentioned, I mean, this is something that was put off or ended these types of investigations, ended during the Trump administration. And so a lot of police departments have been left to sort of dangle, I guess, in how they are going about their business.

And, Elie, that leads me to pivoting to this new circumstance that we're covering in North Carolina, and Elizabeth City, this tragic case of Andrew Brown Jr being shot and killed by police.

It happened last week, about five days ago and there have been ongoing calls for the body cam video to be released.

And there's been a lot of controversy over that, even just today in which the family was supposed to view that video and we're told, hold on, we're not ready for it, we have to make some redactions to this police body cam video.

And this is after audio dispatch had revealed they believed the responders on scene when they were initially called to the scene believed that they had somebody who had been shot in the back that needed help, according to the audio dispatch.

And then add in today we learn from the death certificate that, according to the medical examiner, Andrew Brown Jr died with a gunshot wound to the head.

As you look at what's happening in this jurisdiction, Elie, what do you make of it?

HONIG: Policing is changing really, really quickly and I think the authorities in North Carolina have failed to keep up. And we're seeing this problem play out in real time.

They could have gone to a judge, the sheriffs. The law enforcement in North Carolina last week, under the North Carolina law enforcement has the quickest path to go to a judge and say, hey judge, we need to release this video.

And I think if you do that that's the best chance for a judge to agree.

Had they done that they could have headed off all these questions and problems now.

We're getting pieces of information from the dispatch report and another piece of information coming out piecemeal.

If they just released the video, "A," they would get the most complete information out there. And, "B," they would win the trust of the public, which really matters in law enforcement.

But by fighting and changing their story and dragging their feet they're not helping anybody.

CABRERA: Marq, when we talk about redacting body cam video, does that make sense to you? Is that common?

CLAXTON: It is not common. And it should not be done.

You know, there's such a thing as tampering with evidence. It depends on what phase of the investigation that piece of evidence is in, whether or not the state investigators have already the unredacted version of the video and are basing their investigation on that.

Listen, what's really disturbing is, in other professions, when you know better, you do better. Policing has become mired in the muck of toxicity within its culture that they know better and still won't do better.

Because they refuse to do better, because they refuse to operate in a way that provides a certain level of confidence from the community and the people they serve to protect, they just exacerbate tensions and make this much more difficult than it has to be.

Listen, transparency is the cornerstone of establishing these types of respectful relationships. And what's going on in North Carolina is significantly damaging to relationship.

And what's happening is, they are actually dirtying up the environment so people will start to believe and suspect cover-up as opposed to a real investigation.

It's horrible. And it's 19th century, 18th century policing. They're not ready for prime time there.

CABRERA: Well, Marq Claxton and Elie Honig, thank you both. I appreciate you both being here.

Up next, India is overwhelmed by the coronavirus. The Biden White House says it's trying to help.


Stay with us.


CABRERA: The images out of India are wrenching. The country of 1.3 billion people is in the middle of an excruciating second wave of the scorches.

Indian officials reported more than 350,000 new COVID infections today, setting a global record for the fifth straight day. Patients are dying as packed hospitals run out of oxygen and out of room.

The U.S. is now deploying vital supplies, including ventilators and test kits, but under pressure to do more to help.

CNN senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, joins us now.

Ivan, what is the biggest need right now?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Probably oxygen. Imagine having a sick loved one and going from hospital to hospital as that person gasps for breath trying to find one hospital that has oxygen to let your loved one breathe.


And that is a scene playing itself out day after day in different cities and towns across India.

Take a listen to what one resident of New Delhi had to say after his grandfather passed away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED NEW DELHI RESIDENT (through translator): The doctors warned us if we take my father to the hospital without oxygen support there's no guarantee he will be OK.

But we couldn't find an ambulance. In desperation, we had to take an auto rickshaw.

He was gasping for air and removed his face mask. He was crying saying, save me, please, save me. I could do nothing. I just watched him die.


WATSON: The oxygen shortages are so dramatic, Ana, that hospitals have also taken to social media, begging for help.

I can show you some tweets from one chain of private hospitals asking for help, saying, "SOS, 144 COVID patients life at stake, less than 40 minutes of oxygen supply left."

Now fortunately, this hospital said that they did ultimately receive their delivery a bit later.

But the country is in real crisis right now. The government says it's ramping up. But thousands of people are dying each day as they wait for these crucial supplies to come in -- Ana?

CABRERA: Just horrific.

Ivan, thank you.

And thank you all for joining me today. I'll see you back here tomorrow, same time. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

NEWSROOM continues with Alisyn and Victor, next.