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Biden to Announce Steps to Reduce Racial Wealth Gap During Tulsa Trip; Police Searching for Three Gunmen Accused of Killing Two, Wounding 21 in Florida; Ex-National Security Adviser Flynn Appears to Suggest Military Coup in U.S. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired June 1, 2021 - 10:00   ET

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


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POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Good morning, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Very soon, President Biden will leave White House bound for Oklahoma. Today, he becomes the very first president to commemorate the anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, a terrifying, long ignored chapter in this country's history.

On May 31st, 1921, a white mob attacked what was then the thriving the black neighborhood of Greenwood. It was known as Black Wall Street, this in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Angry crowds went block by block, door to door, they looted, they killed. The destruction lasted until the next day, June 1st, the devastation much longer.

HARLOW: The very heart of that community was burned to the ground. Thousands were left homeless. As many as 300 black Americans were killed. And today, President Biden meets with three of the survivors of that massacre a century ago, those survivors now, we should note, between 101 and 107 years old.

Let's begin this hour at the White House with our White House Correspondent John Harwood. Can you talk to us about that meeting that the president is going to have with survivors today and descendants of survivors but also the initiatives that he's going to announce.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, both the meeting and the initiative the president is going to highlight are a microcosm of the shifting political dynamics within the United States. The president who represents Democratic Party that increasingly has nonwhite voters as a power setter within that party, he's going to go meet with survivors, as Jim mentioned, that long ignored massacre of Black Wall Street and announce some steps to provide some redress, financially, try to narrow to some degree the racial wealth gap.

So, there are new regulations on federal contracting designed to push more money into the hands of minority-owned businesses. There are fair housing regulations that he is going to promote. And there is also some money, community revitalization money, $31 billion of aid for small businesses. But that money, the community revitalization and the aid of small businesses requires action in Congress.

Democrats are pushing for that through the president's infrastructure plan and American families plan, but it's facing fierce resistance from Republicans. Again, a microcosm of a minority-driven and energize Democratic Party, a Republican Party that is largely mobilized at this point by white grievance. And they are resisting. And the question is going to be can the president hold his party together to push this forward at the same time you've got Republicans who are pushing in states measures to restrict voting rights after an election which black voters helped provide in key cities, so I put President Biden over the top.

The president yesterday said, democracy is under assault, this is a reflection of the changing nature of American democracy and a test of where the power ultimately, the center of gravity of power is ultimately going to lie.

SCIUTTO: Yes, a republic, if can you keep it. John Harwood at the White House, thanks very much.

Joining me now is Bobby Eaton Jr., he is a Tulsa area business owner and the grandson of a massacre survivor. Mr. Eaton, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

BOBBY EATON JR., RADIO HOST AND TULSA NATIVE: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: You know, we talk today about that time, 100 years, but this event is still very much alive in the memories of people like yourself and in people several of whom the president is going to meet with today who saw it themselves, people well past their -- well in into their hundreds. Your grandfather, he was a survivor. I just want to ask you, because of that personal connection, what does this day mean to you?

EATON: Well, it means a whole lot to me and the people here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the people across this country, that this horrific act took place during a time when blacks were very prosperous. We had had everything that we needed within our own community and it was all destroyed.

And it's a day of me really looking at the elders who came before me, because I'm standing on their shoulders right to this day and nothing has never -- has ever been done about the massacre. The city of Tulsa never said nothing. Everybody tried to keep it hush-hush. This information about it never was talked about throughout our country.

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And now, it's like a pimple that's come to a head and now it's burst, and so the world is looking at us.

SCIUTTO: I do find it amazing that this was swept under the rug for so many years, even not taught in schools in Tulsa. How did you learn about it? Was it in family stories? How did your family keep that history alive?

EATON: Well, it wasn't talked about. Even in my grandfather's barbershop, those who knew about it would talk about it. But if you were a stranger and you came in that barbershop, they shut it up. It wasn't taught. I didn't learn about it until became an adult, you know? It wasn't taught in the schools. It wasn't taught. Nobody was talking about it. And I think the reason why is because the elders didn't want it to reoccur.

SCIUTTO: Interesting. That's -- I hadn't thought about it that way.

I want to talk about you mention your grandfather's barbershop. Today, you own a radio station, housed in the very same building where your grandfather opened that shop, you know, many decades after 1921. And you're committed to rebuilding what was destroyed that day 100 years ago, right, you know, this prosperous black neighborhood full of black businesses. What needs to happen today to accomplish that?

EATON: Well, I think economic development is so important. My grandfather was an entrepreneur. He was an iconic black man here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Joe Eaton is his name. And I want to shout that out because he made it possible for me to even be where I'm at. My grandfather, my dad, Bobby Eaton Sr. and Jerry Eaton, they worked inside that barbershop and then that's where the civil rights movement for North Tulsa even started was in that barbershop. And many black men got arrested for protesting, restaurants that wouldn't allow blacks to even eat in there.

So when we get that economic development party because blacks in our community, we need funding and we need money. That's what we need, you know? It's been taken away from us and destroyed our property and has never been given to us. Those survivors that are surviving right now, they need funding. They need money. And people need to understand that they are the ones who suffered first.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

EATON: Before you start having all these big festive and all this stuff going on, you need to take care of them first.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Let me ask you this, because President Biden announced some policy initiatives today to help, for instance, directing federal contracts to minority-owned businesses. There is some other money at redevelopment that will require congressional approval. Do you see in these steps progress, the possibility for progress?

EATON: Well, I know people can talk a lot of talk. You can talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. But until we start seeing the truth and start seeing the funding and all of these policies starting to change, it's just a bunch of talk.

SCIUTTO: Understood, you want to see action. Well --

EATON: I want to see action, man, that's what I want to see for my people, and especially those who suffered. I want to see action.

SCIUTTO: And some of them still living today all these years later. Bobby Eaton Jr., thank you so much for joining us this morning.

EATON: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Other news we're following this morning, police are hoping that surveillance video will help them identify and catch the three suspects who opened fire into a crowd outside a concert venue in the Miami area on Sunday. They killed two people. They wounded 21 others in seconds.

HARLOW: So take a look at this video, because what it shows is the gunman jumping out of this white Nissan Pathfinder and then they returned just ten seconds later.

Authorities say the shootings stem from an ongoing rivalry. The grieving father of one of the people killed in just, again, that ten seconds, spoke out at a press conference showing the raw pain that this has all caused.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- ruining families, harming mothers who are here today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all killed my kid. You must burn. You've got to burn. You hear me? You killed a good kid for no reason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's the pain that you see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to burn. You've got to find out who killed my son. You all promise to take care of me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the pain that affects our community right there, right before you.

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HARLOW: It certainly is. Our Natasha Chen joins us this morning in Doral, Florida.

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I mean, look at that grieving father. Any answers for him, for all of them this morning?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy. Investigators here at Miami-Dade Police Headquarters have been working on this obviously around the clock. Police do want to point out something in that surveillance video that you showed. Not only do you see the three gunmen getting out of the car using assault rifles, handguns to fire at this crowd standing outside of a lounge where a scheduled concert was happening. By the way, some of those people did fire back.

Notice police said that there is a driver of that car as well to help them get away so quickly, like you said, within seconds. So they're looking for those three gunmen. They're probably also looking for that driver. You know, you mentioned this grieving father who interrupted the press conference, I want to show you some video from the day before that press conference when we were at the scene of the shooting. That same father, Clayton Dillard Jr., along with extended family, showed up to that scene and were just visibly distraught because, of course, they were just finding out about their loved one being killed. That is Clayton Dillard III, 26 years old. He had a two-year-old son. And the family was just trying to get more information and trying to figure out why this happened.

You know, when CNN interviewed the police director this morning, talking about how this is the result of an ongoing rivalry between two groups, here is what the director said about the parties involved.

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ALFREDO RAMIREZ, DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: I can tell you about these groups is they're cowards. They're murderers and they're killers. And they don't care about anybody. They don't care about life. And if you see that in my tone, it is angry because I am. I'm angry hearing that father yesterday, as a dad myself, is heartbreaking and this has to stop.

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CHEN: Two people dead, 21 wounded. The police director yesterday during the press conference also made it clear that a couple of factors are making their jobs especially difficult in this era of gun violence. One is this culture of a cone of silence where people don't tell on someone else and the other problem is social media. He said that this rivalry is intensified, exacerbated by people posting things on social media and people retaliating based on those messages. Poppy and Jim?

HARLOW: Natasha, thank you for that tragic reporting.

Also this this morning, a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed Monday while trying to pull over a motorcycle without a license plate.

SCIUTTO: Investigators say, 43-year-old Sergeant Dominic Vaca, and other deputies, pursued the driver who refused to pull over. The man eventually ditched the motorcycle and ran away.

HARLOW: Authorities say, as deputies approached the abandoned motorcycle, the suspect shot at them, deputies returned fire killing the suspect. Sergeant Vaca died at the hospital. He had been with the department for 17 years.

Still to come, the former national security adviser of the United States, Michael Flynn, is now denying that he would back a military coup to put Donald Trump back in power, but listen to his words ahead, it were recorded over the weekend at a QAnon event in Dallas and you'll hear otherwise.

And new court documents show the founder of the group, Oath Keepers, that stormed the Capitol wanted a bloody civil war. We'll have the latest on that.

SCIUTTO: And this just into CNN, scientists still cannot rule out a second volcanic eruption in the Congo. 400,000 people have been forced from their homes. We're live. If you haven't seen these pictures, you really want to see them. That's just ahead.

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SCIUTTO: President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, attempting to walk back comments he made about his support, it seemed, for a military coup here in this country. For months, QAnon and Trump-supporting groups have celebrated the deadly military coup in Myanmar. That's right. By the way, he was a general. He served at the highest levels of the U.S. Army.

HARLOW: So, here is what happened. This weekend at a QAnon event, Flynn appeared to suggest something similar could, should happen here in the United States. Our Donie O'Sullivan explains.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why, what happened in Myanmar can't happen here?

LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (RET.), FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No reason. I mean, it should happen, no reason.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A former U.S. Army lieutenant general and former national security adviser appearing to endorse a military coup here in the United States.

FLYNN: Trump won. He won the popular vote here and he won the Electoral College vote.

O'SULLIVAN: Michael Flynn spent memorial weekend at a conference in Dallas, attended by QAnon supporters, so too did Sidney Powell, who is part of the former president's election legal team.

Powell, who has represented Flynn, said Monday that the media had grossly distorted Flynn's comments. She denied Flynn had encouraged violence or a military insurrection but she didn't explain what Flynn had meant. Powell, herself, spoke of removing Biden from office over the weekend.

SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY WHO CHALLENGED 2020 ELECTION RESULT: We're definitely in uncharted territory. There are cases where elections have been overturned, but there's never been one at the presidential level, which everybody will jump to point out. That doesn't mean that it can't be done though.

It should be that he can simply be reinstated, that a new inauguration day to set and Biden is told to move out of the White House and President Trump should be moved back in.

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O'SULLIVAN: The heavily-criticized Republican-led audit in Arizona has given followers of QAnon and the big lie hope that the election could still be overturned. And some are finding inspiration in the deadly military coup in Myanmar as a way to put Trump back in power.

Flynn's comment were seen as an endorsement of a coup by some QAnon followers, they were welcomed overnight by prominent peddler of QAnon who has more than 70,000 followers on telegram, writing, General Flynn says the quiet part out loud.

Earlier this year, Trump supporters in California also cheered on the coup.

BETH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Biden is just -- he's like a puppet president. The military is in charge. It's going to be like Myanmar. What's happening in Myanmar, the military is doing their own investigation, and at the right time, they're going to be restoring the republic with Trump as president.

LEIANNE JENKINS FORTMYER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: What's going on in Myanmar right now? The government took over and they are redoing the election, correct? That's supposedly happen here, possibly.

O'SULLIVAN: Would you like to see it happen?

FORTMYER: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see it happen.

O'SULLIVAN: Really?

FORTMYER: Do you know why? Because the election was stolen from us.

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O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And Flynn now walking back these comments, in fact, saying his words have been twisted and that he did not, in fact, called for a coup. But this sort of is what has been floating around the world, the QAnon big lie conspiracy theory world that Flynn and Sidney Powell have been living in for months.

And I will say, Jim and Poppy, we spent a lot of time -- I spent a lot of time speaking to Trump supporters, QAnon followers around the country. We hear a lot of misinformation, a lot of troubling stuff. But of everything, I think this talk and hearing Americans wanting a coup, cheering on a coup, it's one of the most surreal, chilling and scary things we hear out there.

SCIUTTO: Well, the other Flynn said very clearly on tape is that Trump won the Electoral College vote and popular vote, two lies which have now -- I mean, by the way, as you know well, and Poppy and I , we talk about in the air a lot, it's not fringe. You have got a good percentage of Republican voters who say Biden is not the legitimate president. It's remarkably broad.

HARLOW: Donie, thanks so much.

O'SULLIVAN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Go ahead, Donie. Sorry about that.

O'SULLIVAN: No. What I was just going to add to that, Jim, was that the big lie that Trump is peddling, it enables all of this, enables all of this violent rhetoric.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Your reporting on this has been so important, Donie, for the better part of the last year to show people exactly what is happening and how it makes people believe in the big lie and the danger that that can cause. So thank you very much.

Well, several members of the Oath Keepers are expected back in court today. This comes as new court documents show leaders of the group wanted an insurrection months before the attack on the Capitol.

According to court documents, quote, person one, who The Washington Post identified as Oath Keeper Founder Stewart Rhodes, allegedly began discussing plans to keep Trump in the White House by force just six days after the election. Rhodes has not been charged but has been accused of giving direction before and during the insurrection. He denies those accusations.

SCIUTTO: In an online conference call that day, Rhodes allegedly said, quote, we're going defend the president, the duly elected president and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don't, guys, you're going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war and a bloody -- you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or a fight.

CNN Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild joins us now. All those words there notable, right, because those words live on. Four more people have now been indicted bringing the total number of Oath Keepers charged to 16. Tell us about these new charges.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're learning is that there are, you know, so many details that are emerging from these court records. But today is a very important day. There are dozens of riot defendants set to appear in court today, and that's significant because as we get more details from court filings, we're also getting more details from what people are saying in open court.

So, a very busy day here in D.C., it could be a very newsworthy day, depending on what come out of these court hearings that are set to take place just about right now.

Several alleged Oath Keepers, that far-right extremist group, are among those on the docket today. And new this morning, three named alleged members have been charged. 51-year-old Joseph Hackett, 44- year-old Jason Dolan and 21-year-old, William Isaacs, they have been charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and destruction of government property and other charges related to the January 6th riot. There was a fourth alleged Oath Keeper's name but that was kept secret in the most recent court filing.

Prosecutors say Hackett, Isaacs and Dolan joined with others wearing Oath Keepers patches, insignia and battle gear. And on the day of the riot, they joined with other members, other alleged members of this Oath Keepers group, formed a sort of column and then snaked through the crowd with each member, quote, keeping at least one hand on the shoulder of the other in front of them, again, on the day of the riot.

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That's a quote from the most recent court filing.

Investigators are also revealing new details about alleged efforts by Oath Keepers to transport weapons. Prosecutors say someone they refer to as person three walked a long object covered by a sheet, possibly a gun, into a nearby hotel where the Oath Keepers were gathered. Isaacs, Hackett and Dolan were each arrested in Florida last week. Attorneys for Isaacs and Dolan didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. And attorney information for Hackett wasn't immediately available, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Remarkable, and it's hard to prove those things in court. They need evidence. And it's -- so it's interesting to see that proceed in court, right, with all these wild claims elsewhere. Whitney Wild, thanks very much.

Coming up next, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to cling to power there to scuttle a deal to remove him. He is getting a last minute expression of support from a key American senator. We'll have a live report just ahead.

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