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Japan's Fourth COVID Wave; Weak Jobs Report; Derek Chauvin Facing Federal Charges in George Floyd Death. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired May 7, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. Good afternoon. I'm Victor Blackwell.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.
The prosecution of Derek Chauvin is far from over. More than two weeks after his conviction on state charges for killing George Floyd, a federal grand jury has indicted the former Minneapolis police officer on charges of violating George Floyd's rights.
The indictment reads that Chauvin is charged with depriving Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, which includes unreasonable use of force.
BLACKWELL: Also charged, the three other ex-officers now who were with Chauvin on the day that Floyd died last May. Two of the officers are also accused of not intervening to stop Chauvin's use of force.
And federal prosecutors are coming down on all four of them for allegedly not giving Floyd medical aid.
CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us.
Omar, Derek Chauvin is still awaiting sentencing -- that's coming up in a couple of weeks -- for the state conviction. Talk us through the indictments.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor.
So, when it comes to this indictment, there are three counts listed out of federal civil rights violations. And on that first count, it specifically singles out Derek Chauvin as it reads that, over the course of this, he held his knee across George Floyd's neck and his right knee on Floyd's back and arm as George Floyd laid on the ground, handcuffed and unresisting, and kept his knees on Floyd's neck and body even after Floyd became unresponsive.
That second count listed singles out Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, two of the other former Minneapolis police officers, and says they were aware of what Chauvin was doing and did not make any attempts to intervene.
And then the third count encompasses all of the former officers, including Thomas Lane, and says they were all aware that George Floyd needed a medical aid and none of them made the attempt to do so in a timely manner.
Now, we have reached out to the attorneys for all four of these officers. We haven't gotten a response back, though former Officers Thao, Kueng and Lane were in court this morning, where bond was set at $25,000.
I should also note this is separate from the charges and the cases playing out at the state level and separate from a recently announced Department of Justice probe into the patterns and practices at the Minneapolis Police Department.
CAMEROTA: And then, Omar, there's this other element to this. The federal grand jury also indicted Derek Chauvin for this separate incident in 2017 against a 14-year-old? What was that?
JIMENEZ: That's right, Alisyn.
So, on top of the federal indictment announced encompassing all those four officers, another federal indictment was announced against Derek Chauvin stemming from a 2017 incident where he responded to a domestic assault call involving a 14-year-old boy.
And, as that indictment reads, the count one alleges that, on September 4, 2017, Chauvin, without legal justification, held the teenager by the throat and struck the teenager multiple times in the head with a flashlight. Count two charges that Chauvin held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager even after he was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting, also resulting in bodily injury.
According to court documents, that teen needed to be taken to the hospital after that. And state prosecutors actually wanted to include that incident in the Chauvin trial, but it was thrown out by Judge Peter Cahill. Again, this comes as we still await the trial at the state level for the other three former officers in this, and just weeks after Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder.
BLACKWELL: Omar Jimenez for us from Chicago.
Omar, thank you.
Areva Martin is a CNN legal analyst. Charles Coleman is a former New York prosecutor and trial attorney.
Thank you for being with us.
Areva, to you first.
This charge against Chauvin, depriving Floyd of his right against unreasonable seizure, how common of a charge is this?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we see these kinds of charges being brought by federal prosecutors in cases involving police use of force. However, it's not that common to see a federal civil rights case,
Victor, brought when there has been conviction in a state matter, like we have seen in Derek Chauvin's case. So, this sends a very clear message that it's a new day. It's a new day at the federal level in terms of how the Department of Justice is going to look at these cases.
And you can think back to Michael Brown, Eric Garner, so many other African-American men who were killed by police officers. We saw their family members and attorneys ask for these kinds of federal civil rights charges to be brought. But the charges were elusive.
So, the federal government -- and Merrick Garland said he was going to take the prosecution of police officers very seriously. And this is a big first step in terms of Merrick Garland living up to those promises that he made as he was being appointed as the new attorney general.
I think many people in the community, activists and advocates, this is the kind of justice that they have been calling for, so very significant charges that carry very significant penalties.
CAMEROTA: Charles, it's really interesting and, of course, troubling, I mean, deeply troubling, to hear about this other charge in 2017 against a teenager.
And I'll just read it again, although Omar just told us, because I just want to put a finer point on it. Chauvin allegedly also put his knee on the teenager's neck and upper back even after he was lying prone, handcuffed and not resisting.
I mean, there's that same M.O. again. So why does this charge get included in all of this indictment?
CHARLES COLEMAN JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, I think, to the point that Areva just made, this is about Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice making it very clear that there is a new day and a new message around accountability and law enforcement with regard to the abuses that we have seen with respect to people and communities of color.
I think that, with regard to Derek Chauvin and what we saw in his case with this 14-year-old and this indictment, what that tells us is that our eyes did not lie to us on the videotape that we saw around George Floyd, and that Derek Chauvin had a pattern and a practice of engaging in not only recklessly harmful, but also excessively forceful, use of behavior when it came to certain -- when it came to certain duties as a law enforcement officer.
And now you're seeing this accountability. But, Alisyn, really quickly, what is important for viewers to understand is that this is so powerful because, for years, we saw law enforcement in America execute ideas -- actions like this without being held accountable on the federal level. And so now that they're going backwards and they're looking at
something that took place in 2017, that sends such a powerful message that they're doing things differently and taking a different approach in terms of holding police accountable.
BLACKWELL: Areva, let's talk about these charges against, the indictment against officers Kueng, Thao and Lane, that by seeing George Floyd's need for medical assistance and doing nothing, that they acted with willful indifference, to a substantial harm to Floyd, any potential conviction or trial using that justification.
What's the message, the implication of the indictment of just standing by as George Floyd died there?
MARTIN: The message, Victor, is loud and clear, that you can't stand by and watch a fellow officer execute or cause bodily harm to a citizen. It is not going to be excusable for you to say you weren't the person that puts your hands on that particular civilian.
You have an affirmative obligation to take steps to make sure that your fellow officers are not harming individuals. And we saw this play out in the state trial, because the juror, the juror that's been in the news lately, said during his questionnaire, he asked the question -- or he was asked about his impression of police officers.
And he said, yes, he saw the videotape, but it troubled him as to why those other officers didn't step in. So, I think that's one of the questions that so many people that watched that videotape had, is, you had three other officers, four other officers, actually, on the scene, and no one took action.
So, this indictment is saying that kind of conduct is criminal conduct, and you will be prosecuted for it.
CAMEROTA: Charles, what do these federal charges mean for Derek Chauvin's sentencing, which is coming up on June 25?
COLEMAN: Well, I don't know how much they're going to impact the sentencing, because, at the end of the day, they are just charges.
And so the judge will have to consider whether they want to delay the sentencing or push the sentencing down the road to see how these charges play out. But, ultimately, he's going to be sentenced on what he was convicted for in state court.
But there are going to be a number of aggravating factors that prosecutors between now and then will be using to try and maximize the sentence and even go beyond what the normal sentencing guidelines would be.
So, it remains to be seen whether prosecutors may try to use the fact that these federal charges have now been added to his indictment as a means of presenting additional aggravating factors. But, as of right now, all Judge Cahill is going to do is to sentence him on what he has actually been convicted of in state court and potentially consider some of those aggravating factors that prosecutors are going to present.
CAMEROTA: Areva Martin, Charles Coleman, thank you both.
So, now to this. The family of Andrew Brown Jr. is expected to soon see that bodycam video of his killing. You will remember that deputies shot him multiple times on April 21.
A judge in North Carolina has now ruled that the family will get immediate access to the footage of that encounter with deputies. Up until now, the family had only been able to see about 20 seconds of Brown's final moments.
But now the judge says the family should be able to access all of the footage, nearly two hours in length. Officials say, before Brown was shot, he had moved his car towards deputies who were trying to execute a search warrant.
The sheriff's department says it's not clear if the family will be able to watch the footage today. We will continue to follow it.
BLACKWELL: Up next: President Biden's response to a pretty disappointing jobs report. He says that the country is still digging its way out of a very deep hole.
The debate over how to do that -- next.
CAMEROTA: President Biden is advocating for more assistance for middle-class families after today's disappointing jobs report.
The U.S. added only 266,000 jobs in April. That's a fraction of the million jobs many economists were expecting.
BLACKWELL: Now, there's a debate about how to revive this slow-moving recovery.
Some employers and lawmakers are arguing that workers are choosing increased unemployment benefits over a paycheck. Here's what the president said to counter that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know some employers are having trouble filling jobs. But what this report shows is that there's a much bigger problem, notwithstanding the commentary you might have heard this morning.
It is that our economy still has eight million fewer jobs than when this pandemic started. The data shows that more, more workers, more workers are looking for jobs, and many can't find them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly is with us.
So, Phil, did the president lay out solutions, a plan on how to get a better report for May, when it comes out?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think what you heard from President Biden today and what I have been hearing from White House officials all morning is that this just underscores that they are not shifting from their approach going forward.
Obviously, you talk about the $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan that they have already passed into law, the more than $4 trillion in economic and infrastructure proposals they have put on the table. They believe, while, no question, they expected the numbers to be significantly higher, they had expected, based on positive economic data, whether it be GDP, whether it be private jobs growth, whether it be weekly unemployment claims dropping, that the report was going to look significantly different, it doesn't change their approach.
I think what you saw the president do today is acknowledge that there's still a long way to go. Keep in mind, there was a two-month period where the U.S. dropped about 22 million jobs. We've never seen that before at that scale, but also using the remarks in the wake of that report to try and push back on some of the very significant criticism his administration has gotten from Republicans, but also from some Democratic economists, Republicans on what you mentioned, those expanded unemployment benefits, $300 a week from that $1.9 trillion package.
Administration officials and the president today saying they are seeing no signs that that is having an effect on work -- on disincentivizing workers from going back to work. Obviously, private employers think otherwise at this point in time, Republicans too, but also Republicans and some Democratic economists raising concern that the scale of the proposals the president has put on the table is going to lead to some type of inflationary cycle.
The president pushing back on that today. Look, guys, all this underscores the White House is very clear about how they plan to move forward with that legislative agenda, not moving off based on one economic report, particularly given the fact that data in the wake of a pandemic seems kind of perplexing at this point in time, and with very key meetings with congressional leaders and top Republicans next week at the White House to discuss those legislative plans.
CAMEROTA: OK, Phil, stick around, if you would. We have more questions.
We also want to bring in CNN economics and political commentator Catherine Rampell.
Catherine, great to see you.
What is going on? Why so many fewer jobs this month than expected? CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We don't know exactly.
Certainly, the numbers were much lower than had been expected.
The industry that did the best happens to be the one that had been complaining the most about being unable to find workers. That is accommodation and food services. We don't know, of course, how that industry hiring patterns might have looked in the absence of more generous unemployment benefits or other kinds of factors.
We don't know what the counterfactual is, right? But it's puzzling. I think there are a number of reasons to be concerned about labor supply being suppressed in some way, workers wanting jobs, but still being hesitant to take the jobs on offer. Some of that might have to do with -- of course, with the fact that they are getting more generous unemployment benefits.
But there are a lot of other factors too, including lack of access to childcare, public transit cutbacks, the risk of getting sick at work, the risk of, frankly, getting assaulted at work, if you tell a customer to wear a mask, et cetera.
So there are a lot of complex things going on here. And employers are certainly saying that they're having trouble finding workers. And yet there are millions of workers out there who say, hey, I'm trying to find a job, but I can't find one that will have me that also happens to suit my needs.
BLACKWELL: Yes, we know that the restaurant industry is being hit especially hard. We have heard that from restaurant owners across the country.
Catherine, let me stay with you for this one. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said today that she expects that the U.S. will get back to full employment by next year. Considering the numbers we have seen in this recent jobs report, is that a rosy assessment, or do you think that's realistic?
RAMPELL: It depends on whether you think the numbers from last month are a temporary blip -- and they may well be -- or they are a more permanent slowdown.
At the pace of hiring that we saw last month, it would take another two-and-a-half years before we got -- before we recovered, essentially, all of the jobs that had been lost since COVID. And we want more jobs than that, because the population has grown.
So, Yellen, the secretary of the Treasury, may well be right that things will speed up, particularly as more people get vaccinated and more restrictions on business are relaxed. But the April numbers are a cause for concern. And the question is, what do we do now to make it easier both for employers to feel comfortable hiring and for workers to decide, yes, it's a good choice for me and for my family that I may be worried about to go back to work? Some options that have been on the table beyond the ones that I was just talking about, like reopening schools and having greater access to childcare, might be some sort of reemployment bonus. So, you get rehired, and then, all of a sudden, you get a cash bonus of some kind.
And that could maybe tip people over the edge. That has been a popular idea in Republican circles. I could see Democrats potentially going for something like that, and that could potentially speed up or at least allay some of the hesitation that workers are expressing at this point about why the options on the table may not be great.
CAMEROTA: What about that, Phil? Because I think that that's what the governor of Montana has said that he's going to do. So, Montana and South Carolina's governors have decided that they think that the federal aid that workers are getting is a disincentive.
And here's the math. The average benefit in -- let's look at Montana -- that workers are getting with all the stimulus is $676 per week, and, minimum wage, you get $350 per week. So they're going to stop -- Montana's governor and South Carolina's governor is going to stop offering those benefits.
Here's what Mitch McConnell had to say. He's convinced that, in his state, the federal aid is a disincentive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We have been so generous with our plus- ups to unemployment insurance and the checks that we have been sending everybody that a great many Kentuckians on Americans look at the situation and find they're better off financially to stay home, rather than go back to work.
So we have inflationary issues, and we have difficulty in getting people to do the work to meet the new demand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So it sounded like Biden dismissed that out of hand in what you played for us.
MATTINGLY: Yes, obviously, the president and his top economic officials don't believe it's as pervasive as perhaps Republican lawmakers, governors, also private businesses -- look, the White House acknowledges or wilds officials I have spoken to acknowledge they are hearing from business owners who are making clear that this is an issue.
They're having problems luring workers back. And they are citing -- those businesses, people like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, obviously, Republican lawmakers believe that the disincentive is real.
I think, when you talk to White House officials, they try and point out that there's a bigger picture here, right? This is a convergence of several factors, most of which Catherine already laid out. Yes, it does seem, at first glance, that this is more of a -- this is a tight labor market type of situation.
But if you look at the rationale for why that would be, it's not just the fact that maybe people are scared to go back to work because of the virus. Maybe people are waiting to see, because they see the economy's coming back, to see what other types of jobs may be available going forward.
But you also, because of the pandemic, have severe supply chain issues that have led to dramatic work shortages by companies in the automotive industry, in the construction industry as well. So there's just a lot of things happening right now. And I think, when you talk to White House officials, they make clear that payment, that enhanced benefit was so workers could stay out of work essentially until they felt comfortable going back.
And White House officials say that point hasn't been reached yet, but they hope it'll be reached soon.
BLACKWELL: All right, Phil Mattingly for us there in Washington and Catherine Rampell, thank you.
CAMEROTA: So, the second wave of the coronavirus in India is only growing more dire.
Here in the U.S., some vaccine experts hope that this will convince skeptics here to get vaccinated. That's next.
CAMEROTA: The COVID situation continues to be dire in many parts of the world.
CNN has correspondents around the globe to bring you the latest, starting in Japan, where a state of emergency was just extended.
CNN's Blake Essig got rare access to an overwhelmed hospital.
DR. HIDEAKI OKA, SAITAMA MEDICAL UNIVERSITY (through translator): If two patients entered today, and another two patients are admitted tomorrow, and all cases turn out to be severe, then, the day after tomorrow, we will already be in a crisis.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A crisis that has the potential to explode in just a few months, when tens of thousands of people from more than 200 countries enter Japan to participate in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games.
It's a frightening scenario for chief nurse Kyoka Ioka, who has been treating COVID-19 patients since the beginning.
KYOKA IOKA, SAITAMA MEDICAL UNIVERSITY (through translator): I'm sorry for the athletes, but I'm terrified that the Olympics are going to happen. Is it really worth it? We are in the middle of the fourth wave. And what is the point of having the Olympic Games now?
ESSIG (on camera): The International Olympic Committee is not mandating vaccinations, but does encourage it.
The IOC says it expects a significant portion of participants to be vaccinated. Some countries, like South Korea and Australia