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CNN NEWSROOM

Netanyahu Responds to Ouster Attempt: Calls Rivals "Dangerous"; QAnon Candidates Beginning to Flood Local, State Races; Minneapolis Begins Reopening George Floyd Square; Guardian: Docs Reveal Royals Discriminated Based on Race. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 3, 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]

PETER BEINART, AUTHOR, THE BEINART NOTEBOOK, SUBSTACK.COM: They're lacking basic rights. So it may be easy for the government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid to say let's just not focus on them, right. But they are going to try and get Israel's attention some way or another, as would any other group of people who are being denied basic human rights. And so, sooner or later I think the government would have to respond to that.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: So Benjamin Netanyahu says the reporting is that he's not going to go down without a struggle. What are his options, if any?

BEINART: Well what I think he'll probably try would try to do is peel off some of the very right-wing members of this coalition, by saying, you know, you can't go into a coalition that's going to include some more progressive Jewish political parties. You can't go into a coalition that has the de facto support of an Arab Palestinian party.

It's going to destroy your political career because you are abandoning the political right. I mean, that's some play that they are making and they have a little bit of time to try to do that. But I think that so far the leaders of this coalition have shown that such a desperation to get rid of Netanyahu and not go to through a fifth election, which is what would happen probably if this coalition ever didn't work. But they're holding together for the moment.

BLACKWELL: We've got new video of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meeting with the Israeli defense minister. What does this now -- this change mean for the U.S., as you have up first a hard right leader and considering the criticism that the White House got over the last couple of weeks about its handling of the conflict, its lack of simply calling for a cease-fire, what does this change mean for the U.S.?

BEINART: I think it's going to -- it'll exacerbate the movement that we've already seen, in which people are saying, wait a second, there's a total disconnect here. The United States keeps claiming that it's supports a two-state solution with a Palestinian state. You now have an Israeli and a new Israeli Prime Minister in Naftali Bennett who is even more unequivocally, even more vehemently opposed to the idea of a Palestinian state. So what's the United States going to do about that? Right?.

If that's really America's policy to support the Palestinian statehood, we have then to be in conflict with the Israeli government. If we're basically just going to accept Bennett's agenda, then it means that in fact it's bogus. That the United States wasn't really supporting a Palestinian state and the people on the left may think beyond that towards supporting one equal state, that includes Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. So I think that emergence of a political leader even further right than Netanyahu will bring those conversations even more to the fore amongst progressives in the United States.

BLACKWELL: All right, Peter Beinart, thank you so much.

BEINART: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, not to this. The spread of QAnon at the ballot box. Candidates who believe in the conspiracy theory have made their way to ballots in local elections across the country. CNN's Sara Sidner has tracked some of them down. Wait until you see this.

[15:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The political clout of people that support QAnon conspiracies is growing. They are popping up in local and state elections.

BLACKWELL: Candidates across the country and even those who are elected posted or openly sympathized with QAnon theories. Sara Sidner, CNN national correspondent, shows us what happened after they took office.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TITO ORTIZ, FORMER UFC CHAMPION: I'll keep speaking--on Q.

SARA SIDNER, CNN, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From a world champion ultimate fighter turned Mayor Pro Tem.

ORTIZ: Let's hang all these m*therf**kers, that's what I'm talking about.

SIDNER (voice-over): To a school board member with a curious take on climate science.

AMY FACCHINELLO, GRAND BLANC SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: It's more of like a religious cult.

SIDNER (voice-over): To a state representative pushing a deep state conspiracy.

MARK FINCHEM, (R) STATE REPRESENTATIVE ARIZONA: A pedophile network and the distribution of children.

SIDNER (voice-over): QAnon conspiracy embracing candidates are now making headway in local, state, and national races across America.

ANGELO CARUSONE, FOUNDER AND CEO, MEDIA MATTERS: There's a higher rate of candidates embracing QAnon and its tenants now than there was last cycle, at least at this point.

SIDNER (voice-over): Angelo Carusone with the liberal watchdog group Media Matters tracks QAnon's political clout. He says their research shows the January 6th insurrection didn't kill the Q conspiracy. It's emboldened it by broadening the movement. So far the group says for the 2022 races 19 Congressional candidates, 18 of whom are Republicans have shown support for QAnon conspiracies. Listen to Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem.

FINCHEM: There's a lot of people involved in a pedophile network and a distribution of children, and unfortunately, there's a whole lot of elected officials that are involved in that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow --

SIDNER (voice-over): The conservative news anchor may not have challenged him but some of his constituents have. They were also shocked by this tweet he sent on January 6th while he was outside the Capitol. Unlike hundreds of others, he says he never entered the building. But Finchem is undeterred, he's now running to become Arizona's top election official, the secretary of state. Some voters are all for it.

HERBERT BORBE, MARK FINCHEM SUPPORTER: The term conspiracy theory is used to ridicule some good ideas.

SIDNER (voice-over): Others dead set against it.

NATALI FIERROS BOCK, ORGANIZER, "RECALL FINCHEM": Somebody like Representative Mark Finchem being in charge of elections, holding a seat like secretary of state is one of the most dangerous things that could happen to democracy.

SIDNER: We wanted to give Finchem a chance to explain his beliefs but our calls and emails weren't returned so we waited outside the State House.

[15:40:00]

He's one of the last cars in the parking lot now, the security for the legislature is now driving Finchem's car away.

SIDNER (voice over): Two thousand miles away in the small Michigan town of Grand Blanc a first-time school board member is under fire for social media posts saying things like, "QAnon confirmed by Trump" and "they can delete our social media but they'll never break our spirit or stop what is coming, God wins."

LUCAS HARTWELL, GRAND BLANC HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: I think she was elected because she refused to genuinely expose what she believes in.

SIDNER (voice-over): As a high school student and first-time voter, Lucas Hartwell did his homework and discovered Amy Facchinello's now- deleted post.

HARTWELL: If we cannot have an education system that is run by people who care about the truth what is education?

SIDNER (voice-over): He and others want her to resign. But some of his high school friends and their parents support her 100 percent.

CARA MCALISTER, AMY FACCHINELLO SUPPORTER She's a conservative so they're attacking her.

SIDNER: Because it's purely along political lines, not having anything to do with QAnon?

MCALISTER: Exactly.

A.J. SMITH, GRAND BLANC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Well, I think personally QAnon, parts of it are real, I mean, people say just conspiracy but some of it's pretty real.

SIDNER (voice-over): We wanted to ask Facchinello what she believed. She did not respond to our requests for an interview but she was at the school board meeting.

SIDNER: You have a big Q that was burning on fire and it says, "We are pissed." Was that something that you believed in when you posted it?

FACCHINELLO: I don't even remember that tweet.

SIDNER: There were several others, and there's also things about science that you don't believe in human-caused climate change, is that also true?

FACCHINELLO: I believe that science is a method, and it's not a belief system. And that this adherence that you have to believe scientists is more of like a religious cult.

ORTIZ: You don't mask the healthy, you mask the sick.

SIDNER (voice-over): In Huntington Beach, California it is the science surround COVID that has been called a conspiracy by the man elected mayor pro tem.

ORTIZ: Thank you much -- very much.

DOMINICK IZZO, RANTS OF IZZO, HOST: Are you thinking that COVID-19 was a little bit of a conspiracy theory?

ORTIZ: 100 percent.

SIDNER (voice-over): That's former UFC champion, Tito Ortiz. A Trump supporter Ortiz is like many of the candidates we've followed getting widespread support for being a political disrupter. BILL PRITCHARD, HUNTING BEACH RESIDENT: He seemed to me to be somebody who I thought might mix things up for us and change things around.

ORTIZ: I'm not wearing a mask.

SIDNER (voice-over): He is mixing things up by spending lots of time spewing and posting conspiracy theories.

ORTIZ: Say this right plandemic or pandemic.

SIDNER (voice-over): And less time dealing in policy and council business, his critics both Democrat and Republicans say.

MIKE POSEY, (R) HUNTINGTON BEACH CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, the first day when he was sworn in he referred to the pandemic as a plandemic.

SIDNER (voice-over): He also refused to wear a mask at council meetings at the height of a deadly pandemic in California. Nor did he want his children to wear masks to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The boys are not going to be wearing their masks today and let's see what they say.

SIDNER (voice-over): It all came to a head just this week at the first in-person council meeting since January.

ORTIZ: As of recently the attacks against me have moved to involve my family.

SIDNER (voice-over): After just five months on the city council, Tito Ortiz resigned effective immediately.

ORTIZ: To put it simply, this job isn't working for me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, and Sarah Sidner joins us now. Some of this is really chilling, Sara. And so when confront them, when you're trying to reach out to them and talk to them and to reason, and they don't want to. And then when you confront them with a microphone, do they back down? That school board member, was she trying to say she wasn't a QAnon supporter once you found her?

SIDNER: What you often get is a nebulous answer. They will neither confirm nor deny it fully. They will say things like, you know, I have an open mind, or I don't remember that. But then you start asking about the conspiracy itself and they start to confirm some of those tenants of the conspiracy itself.

What I found really telling in some ways, Tito Ortiz, we reached out to him several times, and then we went to a city council meeting. No one, no one had any idea that he was going to resign that day. We were the only camera crew that was there. I mean, it was supposed to be a regular city council meeting. So he asked to have a statement, and he read it and everyone sort of looked at each other. But what he said in his statement was that his family was being

threatened -- and nobody should be threatening anybody's family. But if you look at what they have done over time, and they are the ones, him and his girlfriend, put their children full-faced, didn't cover them, they were easy to see on social media for thousands of people to see publicly. Refusing to wear a mask.

When California was going through a horrible time when people are dying by the hundreds a day, and then putting that out on social media so they can be ridiculed. They did that on their own children putting them right in the middle of this debate that they are having. And so this has been really difficult to watch how some of these candidates and some of the people getting into office -- but I do want to mention one thing.

[15:45:00]

There were about 19 candidates who are running for Congress -- this is not local or state -- who have espoused some of the QAnon talk, and kind of retweeted or said something. And what's happening is the people who follow QAnon are very fervent. They are a group of people that are suddenly just there to support you if you give any kind of inkling that you might be interested, and they raise money. They raise a lot of money, and so that's one of the reasons why this is seeping into politics a bit.

BLACKWELL: We've seen that from Marjorie Taylor Greene -- 3.2 million in the first quarter. Here's what I don't get about Q. They said the storm was coming in January, didn't come. Then it was coming in March for a new inauguration day. Didn't come. And now there's some, you know, talk about August. Why are they still holding on if what they say this big day is coming several times has not come?

SIDNER: Now that is the million-dollar question. What has happened is, every time one of these conspiracies does not come true, and the first one was that Hillary Clinton was going to be arrested in the next couple of days, it never happened. But what happens is, then they say, oh, the deep state has caught on to us, and so now they morph.

And what happened in November during the election, stop the steal, that whole rally, that helped them say, you see, the deep state -- see even they know. Because they're not necessarily a part of QAnon. Even they know the deep state is in on this and trying to stop this from happening and President Trump is really the president. So they're able to morph constantly and that's why it's continuing to grow.

CAMEROTA: I'm so glad you are highlighting it. Sara Sidner, great to see you.

SIDNER: Thank you guys.

BLACKWELL: All right next, the Minneapolis Square that has been the site of George Floyd memorials and protests the last year is opening back up to traffic, and the city says it's time but the activist who have been gathering there say they were blind-sided by this move.

[15:50:00]

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BLACKWELL: Now to Minneapolis where city officials are reopening the area known as George Floyd Square.

CAMEROTA: For more than a year the intersection of 38th and Chicago was surrounded by barricades and occupied by activists who transformed the area into an unsanctioned memorial site. Now, in a surprise move, city officials have begun clearing out the corridor, reopening it to traffic and normal operations. The mayor says it can still honor Floyd's legacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JACOB FREY, MINNEAPOLIS: The foundations of community healing, of celebration and of gathering that has been created in beautiful fashion at 38th and Chicago over this last year must continue. This can be a critical location of gathering not just for our city, but for the entire world, and through a phased reconnection, we can also find a way to provide the necessary social services and city service that has been missing at times over this last year. We can make sure that patrons are able to visit their local business and have full access.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is there now. Adrienne, how is this decision going over?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Victor? This is division among the divided community. For example, one gentleman says he wants to see that intersection reopen and the area at 38th and Chicago get back to what he calls normal. But on the other hand, he said he wants that area preserved, especially after some of the healing he says he has witnessed over the last year. And when we heard from the city's Mayor, Jacob Frey, in the last hour, he says the city's goal is to preserve that space.

For example, the mayor says they will work their hardest to make sure tires never run over the area where George Floyd was killed. The mayor also says he's not giving an exact timeline at this area, but he's concerned about businesses in the area. Some of those business owners say their business has suffered.

Now, city leader ss and some members of the community have been in discussion for at least the last six to eight months. I spoke with a local pastor earlier this morning who said he has talked to the mayor, the chief of police and other community leaders about reopening the area. By contrast, there some in the community who say when city crews showed up this morning, removing those barricades, they were surprised. Listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANELLE AUSTIN, ACTIVIST AND CARETAKER OF GEORGE FLOYD SQUARE: People tell us, well you know, well you had a year. But no one seems to take into consideration that even in the midst of our activism, just maybe, just maybe that we might be black people grieving, too. And that maybe, just maybe that the cross is heavy to bear. Reopening the streets does not help our community to heal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS (on camera): The reopening at 38th and Chicago, an intersection known beyond the Twin Cities, quite frankly an intersection known around the world. The reopening has started. But at this hour, barricades are back up. Those barricades were put in place by members of the community. And Victor and Alisyn, I do want to share the mayor said some of the artwork that's there along with the solidarity fist at the area that has been dubbed as George Floyd Square will remain. Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: Sounds like this will be a tough transition, obviously, Adrienne, you'll keep watching if for us. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Next, the royal family is facing new accusations of racism after "The Guardian" newspaper uncovered a trove of old records from Buckingham Palace. What they reveal and what the palace is saying now.

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CAMEROTA: More trouble for Britain's royal family after "The Guardian" newspaper dug up some old records showing a history of racial discrimination at Buckingham Palace. The documents from the national archives revealed the palace banned, quote, colored immigrants or foreigners from holding clerical positions until at least the 1960s. They were, however, allowed to be domestic servants.

BLACKWELL: Now the palace told CNN in a statement that claims based on a secondhand account of conversations from over 50 years ago should not be used to draw or infer conclusions about modern day events or operations.

And the story all has adds significance after Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan came forward with accusations that they had experienced racism inside what they called the firm.

CAMEROTA: Back in March, the royal family said it was considering hiring a diversity chief but that has not happened as of yet. It sounds like they need to really fill that position I would say.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, watch this space. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts now.

END