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Floyd Family Speaks After Meeting with President Biden; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Compares House Mask Rules to Holocaust. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 25, 2021 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

BENJAMIN CRUMP, FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: And he wanted to check on them on today of all days to see how they were doing. To reiterate that they are still doing everything to make sure that his legacy is respected.

And that involves us going to meet with Senators, in just a few moments to continue to press forward for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that he says he is ready to sign any day. He said that he doesn't want to sign a bill that doesn't have substance and meaning so he is going to be patient to make sure it's the right bill, not a rushed bill.

Also the family encouraged the president to continue to meet with the civil rights leaders and advocacy groups who have been working on this for decades, like Reverend Al and the NAACP and the National Urban League and many others. So, with that, I will present to you Philonise Floyd.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: How are you all doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?

PHILONISE FLOYD: I'm doing great. Just -- we met with the president and the VP. It was just for the remembrance of what happened to my brother because this was his day that he was murdered. It was great. He's a genuine guy. They always speak from the heart. And it's a pleasure just to be able to have the chance to meet with them when he we have that opportunity too. And we're just thankful for what's going on and we just want this George Floyd Policing Act to be passed in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any way -- could I ask you really quickly, sir.

FLOYD: No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- do you want the American people to know. FLOYD: Because this the thing. If you can make federal laws to protect the bird, which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the fact that you don't have --

CRUMP: Now we will have his brother, Rodney Floyd.

RODNEY FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: How are you guys doing? Today is about the remembrance of our brother, George Floyd, father, uncle, friend, cousin, and Mr. President and Vice President gave us our condolences, and just keeping up and touching back on what happened last year, reiterating everything.

They asked how we're doing? Are we taking care of ourselves, healthy counseling, and asking us all about how we're feeling about what's going on about today about with our brother. And we're thankful that they showed great concern and -- you guys --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Floyd, did President Biden offer any reassurance that he would personally make sure --

CRUMP: Now you will hear from Terence Floyd. We may take one or two questions at the end. Maybe.

TERENCE FLOYD: Hello, everyone. Hello. Hello. You know, being here today is an honor, you know, to meet with the president and the vice president and for them to show their concern to our family and for them to actually give an ear to our concerns and how we feel on the situation. And I feel it was a very productive conversation and I'm grateful for it. And I thank everybody for the love. Thank you.

CRUMP: Now you'll hear from Brandon Williams, the nephew of George Floyd, who was like a son to him.

BRANDON WILLIAMS, NEPHEW OF GEORGE FLOYD: How are you all doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, how are you doing?

[15:35:00]

WILLIAMS: I'm great. I think it was it was a very great meeting. We're very appreciative and grateful that the president and vice president invited us here. I think that the meeting went well. He showed concern, and I think genuinely he wanted to know exactly how we were doing and what he could do to support us, and he did let us know that he supports passing the bill, but he wants to make sure it's the right bill and not a rushed bill.

He also said that -- he said that the deadline -- he's not happy about it not being made, but all in all, he just wants the bill to be right and meaningful and it holds George's legacy intact. Thank you.

CRUMP: And now you'll hear from my co-counsels. It's always a team effort, and we have a great team that's standing with the family, a great legal team. Attorney Chris Stewart. CHRIS STEWART, ATTORNEY FOR FLOYD FAMILY: On behalf of Roxie, little

baby Will, Justin Miller my partner, the president actually interacted and played with Gianna. She had an absolute ball. That's why this may be a sad day across the country but this was a super happy day seeing her smile. Like she's still smiling. So if everybody can just come together, Democrat and Republican, and pass the bill. If you care about policing and the people, it will get passed.

CRUMP: Now we will hear from attorney Tony Romanucci, another great co-counsel.

TONY ROMANUCCI, CO-COUNSEL FOR FLOYD FAMILY: Good day, everybody. Nice to see you all. I think what's important about today commemorating the one-year date of George Floyd's death is that we need this bill passed. Here's why we need it passed.

We need to protect lives as opposed to take life. We need people saved on the streets of our country as opposed to being unnecessarily shot by police. That's what's so important about this day. That's why I'm so proud to be standing with the Floyd family today, being a representative, and fighting for this bill to make sure it is meaningful and substantial. Thank you all.

CRUMP: Now we will hear briefly from attorney Justin Miller and we have one more speaker after that.

JUSTIN MILLER, ATTORNEY FOR FLOYD FAMILY: Good afternoon. The important thing to remember -- and I think everyone has spoken on different things -- but the important thing I want everyone to remember is this. There have been other bills that have been passed in the last three months protecting different groups of people.

This group of people needs to be protected, too. And this started a long time ago. There are some things that started a lot sooner that got presented a lot faster. And so we just ask that you, if you're out there watching, you know, urge your Congressmen, urge your Senator to pass this bill because it's very, very important. Thank you.

CRUMP: And then finally, before we take a question or two, is National Bar Association President, attorney C.K. Hoffler.

C.K. HOFFLER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION: Good afternoon. Justice for one is justice for all. On behalf of the over 66,000 mostly African-American lawyers in this country and globally, we must support the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We don't have a choice. Unless we want to see the carnage that we've seen happen over and over and over again. And that's not acceptable. So, please, call your Senator impress upon everybody in your community that we've got to do this. We've got to pass it. Thank you.

CRUMP: We're just going to do this one time for his family back in Houston and North Carolina who couldn't be here. We're going to all raise our fists and say, say his name, Gianna, Chris. You all come up here.

Say his name, put your fist up, Chris. Say his name. GIANNA: Say his name.

CROWD: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say it again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say it loud, baby.

GIANNA: Say his name.

CROWD: George Floyd.

CRUMP: Thank you all. That's for his family that could not be here today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ben, I have a question. Ben, GOP is trying to get buy-in from policing organizations on the George Floyd Policing Act. That's one of the reasons why we're hearing that it's stalled and that's reason why it was not signed into law by the president today.

What say you about the fact that they're looking for police organizations to buy in? It looks like it's civil rights versus qualified immunity. Civil rights versus policing.

CRUMP: We're going to leave here and go meet with Senator Booker and Senator Scott, two of the lead negotiators in the United States Senate to continue to talk about a bipartisan bill. We don't think that there has to be one against the other. It should be that we all want better policing.

[15:40:00]

We all want just policing where George Floyd will get an opportunity to take a breath without having a knee on his neck, where Breonna Taylor will get to sleep in peace without having her door busted open and executed with six bullets in her body. Their blood is on this legislation so we're going to continue with this family and this legal team to continue to press to say, yes, we have to respect the spilled blood that's on this legislation. It must be meaningful and we can do this together.

This is an American issue. This isn't police issue or civil rights issue. We have to look at this as a national issue that we have avoided dealing with far too long.

I think, Chris, C.K., it has been 57 years since we've had meaningful legislation. And we look back at history, we remember Jimmy Lee Jackson being killed in Alabama and Martin Luther King and John Lewis in Selma using that as the impetus to get the Civil Rights Act finally passed after years and years of trying.

We pray that history can repeat itself and that the death of George Floyd will help propel us to finally get meaningful police reform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did President Biden offer any --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you have anybody in the GOP or any police union?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did President Biden --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, guys. We're going to wrap it up. Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody from the GOP or police union on your side?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK. You've been listening there to George Floyd's family and their attorney, Benjamin Crump. They just emerged from a long meeting with President Biden and Vice President Harris.

And, you know, I just have to say, Erica, this family's tone from the very beginning has been, I think, an inspiration for a lot of the coverage. They have -- even if their darkest hours of grief, they have been nothing but open-hearted and I think graceful in terms of calling for what they wanted.

What they've always called for were peaceful protests. They wanted justice for George Floyd, which I know that they feel they have received in part because of the conviction of Derek Chauvin. And then they wanted police reform and they're still fighting for that, but you've never heard them express hatred or revenge or call for violence or anything like that.

They are just soldiering on through their grief and going, you know, on Washington, now they're going to meet with the Senators who are leading the charge here, and they're just making their personal appeal for what it would mean to their family and what it would mean for the country.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Yes, it's you know, as you pointed out when you spoke with George Floyd's cousin, Tera Brown, just in the last hour, and I know you pointed that out to her, just how hopeful they have been as a family in the midst of so much that they've had to deal with. And I think to your point, too, we did hear that today.

And the other thing that I think really stood out, and we just heard this from Benjamin Crump, their lead attorney there, talking about this is really when we look at this issue of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, this bill, he pointed out, this is not civil rights or policing. It's not a one or the other issue. In his words, he said it's an American issue.

And I think you see that in the humanity of this family, right? As they talk about this is, yes, about George Floyd, but there are so many others who are involved here. And this is about the greater humanity at stake. And that conversation, to your point, Alisyn, has really inspired a lot of people.

CAMEROTA: I mean, here they are taking a big group shot this the afternoon with Nancy Pelosi. Yes, as they just pointed out, when Congress wants to, they can come together to pass things that I think the family would say are of equal or not as great import as what they're asking for in terms of some police reform. And they just want the same treatment. They want Congress and lawmakers to be able to come together on this

because so many lawmakers say they want this, say this is the right time, and they want -- I mean the deadline has passed today but they're still hopeful that they will be able to have some bipartisan push in all of this.

HILL: And a lot of that comes from, right, holding their feet to the fire. And it comes from the family continuing to speak out and continuing to say, look, this is what we're asking for. This is what the country needs. This is what, frankly, people have been asking for, for generations at this point. But it's important not to let that conversation end and an important moment too as we saw Gianna there, who I think captured so many hearts, including, as we know, the president's own as we saw her that saying there, say his name, George Floyd, her father.

CAMEROTA: We will continue to follow their journey through Washington today and beyond and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:45:00]

CAMEROTA: A Democratic senior aide tells CNN that Democratic leadership discussed whether it was legally possible to get a restraining order against Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for her aggressive behavior towards Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Pressure continues to mount on Republican leadership to take action against Greene for her appalling comments comparing mask mandates to the horrors of the holocaust. It took five days but this morning a few GOP leaders tepidly condemned her comments.

[15:50:00]

Rabbi Steve Leder is the senior rabbi for Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the author of the book "The Beauty of What Have Remains and How Our Greatest Fear Becomes Our Greatest Gift." Rabbi, thank you very much for being here. Great to see you again. I just, you know, we always wrestle with whether or not to play her appalling comments, but I think that we need to hear them again because I want to get your reaction to them, and I don't want people to forgot what she has said. So here is Marjorie Taylor Greene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second class citizens so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: What do you hear in those comments, rabbi? RABBI STEVE LEDER, SENIOR RABBI FOR WILSHIRE BOULEVARD TEMPLE: I hear

a trivialization of the Holocaust, a manipulation of the Holocaust, a misrepresentation of the Holocaust. I hear extraordinary and disgusting disrespect for the 6 million Jews for whom that yellow star meant they were getto-ized, shoved into boxcars, gassed and incinerated including 1.5 million children who went up chimneys in smoke.

I hear disrespect for all the victims of all the genocides that humanity has had to endure. And to compare a yellow star which was used to objectify and devalue the lives of so many millions of people, to compare that to a mask which is used to sanctify life, to value life, to protect life, yours, mine, everyone else's, I have to say I could not think of a worse or more false analogy. It's absolutely mind-boggling, and there are no words.

CAMEROTA: Rabbi, do you see this as part and parcel of the spike in anti-Semitic attacks and hate speech and crimes that we're seeing across the country or is she in a category all of her own?

LEDER: Well, I don't think she is. I think there's very dangerous anti-Semitism on the far right and there's very dangerous anti- Semitism on the far left, and I think that we really need to call it out when we see it.

You know, I was just listening to that very moving conversation with George Floyd's family. I happen to be from Minneapolis. My father's business was about three blocks from where he was murdered, and I think it's very, very powerful when we say his name.

What I would like to do is call on all of our woke friends with whom the Jews have marched against racism, against bigotry, against hatred, against violence. I would like all of our woke friends when they see anti-Semitism, and we know when we see it, to say its name, say its name, say its name. It's very real. It's very dangerous. It's very deadly, and anyone subjected to it deserves support and compassion, and Marjorie Taylor Greene is the antithesis of support and compassion for the Jewish people.

CAMEROTA: One of the board members of the Holocaust Museum has suggested in a tweet basically what's wrong with you, he asks? And he also says that he'd be happy to give her a tour of the Holocaust Museum to educate her. If you could do the same, if you could give her a tour, what would you show her?

LEDER: I would take her to Auschwitz Birkenau where I've been, and I would walk her through the process that Jews went through right into the gas chamber, and let her feel it, and let her understand the difference between the yellow star and a mask. The difference between objectification and devaluing life and sanctifying and valuing life, everyone's lives.

CAMEROTA: And rabbi, I mean, that's so powerful. Do you think that some people are just, you know, sort of beyond repair? I mean, you are a man of the clergy. You are, you know, a faithful man, a forgiving man. What is wrong with her, and how are we supposed to treat those people among us who seem hateful?

LEDER: Well, she's incredible ignorant for one, and lacks empathy, you know. Without empathy there is no kindness.

[15:55:00]

There is no understanding. I -- I have no idea what her childhood was all about or her upbringing, but I suspect it was pretty grim in some way. Because people who lack empathy usually lacked it themselves when they were young, but I have no idea. But I have to say that there is a certain point at which it does not behoove us to be in denial about people who hate. It does not behoove us.

I remember 1981 when the then Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin, was asked by a group of Americans, what the lessons of the Holocaust were for him. And the first thing he said was number one, when your enemy says he seeks to destroy you, believe him. And so there's a certain point at which we have to really accept the fact that some people are so filled with hatred that they simply, simply cannot be repaired, and we have to protect ourselves in every way that we can from them and we have to protect society from them.

CAMEROTA: Rabbi Steve Leder, we always appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much. Even in the hard times, it's an inspiration to talk to you, and we'll talk again.

LEDER: Thank you. It's an honor to be with you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Erica.

HILL: Alisyn, I know we have another story, but I just want to say I think that was such an important and such a good conversation, and he is remarkable.

CAMEROTA: Agreed.

HILL: And it was just really, really powerful and important.

Also powerful, also important is the discussion we're having right now about police reform, and it's playing out not just in Washington where there's a lot of focus today but in nearly every state in the country.

In Texas, for example, Governor Greg Abbott taking a stand on calls to defund local police departments. Monday, he tweeted he's about to sign a law preventing Texas cities from doing just that saying Texas won't tolerate this.

CAMEROTA: And it's just the latest in a series of moves that align him with the far right of his party, also signing a law that bans most abortions after six weeks, and he's set to sign another bill that would allow people to carry handguns in public without a permit.

Ron Brownstein is a CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic." Ron, great to see you. OK, your thoughts on all of that. RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, I think what

we are seeing across the board is a spasm or even a convulsion in red America in backlash to the Democratic victories that gave them unified control of the federal government in Washington. As you noted half a dozen states have passed laws that would ban abortion by no more than six weeks, sometimes completely.

We are seeing the permitless -- a permitless carry bills allowing people to carry weapons without any permit.

The bills limiting the ability of transgender kids to play in high school sports or even to access medical care. And of course, the wave of voter suppression bills that are passing, all of this combined with the point that you mentioned in Texas increased efforts by Republicans who run these red states based on their dominance of rural areas to override decisions being made in their increasingly blue metros like Houston and Dallas and San Antonio and Austin. And in all of these ways you are seeing red states very dramatically lurch to the right in this legislative session.

HILL: It means also the antithesis in so many ways of what we hear and have heard from Republicans. It's always about less government. This is the exact opposite.

BROWNSTEIN: And not only that, the argument about federalism. Remember when Bob Dole ran for president in 1996, he said he carried a copy of the Tenth Amendment in his pocket because the argument was that authorities should devolve down to the local level.

But you are seeing this across the board. Look at what happened in Arizona and Texas and Georgia and Florida during the pandemic when Republican governors overrode decisions by local officials, mostly Democratic, on limiting hours during the pandemic. They overrode mask requirements. And now we see Georgia the latest today moving to block any requirements for showing the vaccination and consistently this is really one of the key dynamics that's happening all across the Sunbelt states that are change politically, Erica.

The metros consistently are growing more Democratic. Biden won all four of the big metros in Texas, the first Democratic President to do that since Lyndon Johnson in '64.

And part of the response from this Republican controlled state legislature which is dominant because of its dominance and exorbitant in the rural areas is to expand their efforts to override what those local governments are doing.

Even the voter suppression bills are important in that regard. Georgia giving them the authority to throw out county election commissions. And in Texas trying to limit the ability of these counties to open the polls as they see fit.

CAMEROTA: Ron, we always appreciate getting your perspective on all this. We could talk to you for so much longer, but we're running out of time. Great to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Four more days.

CAMEROTA: Yes, there will be. Thank you very much. Thank you, Erica, for helping me out with my allergy congested voice. It's been great to be with you.

HILL: I am here for you any day, as you know my friend.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. And The Lead starts right now.

END