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U.S. Seeing Increase in Crime; Bill Bratton is Interviewed about the Crime Surge; Transcript of McGahn Testimony to Congress; Union Calls for Pittman's Resignation; Big Inflation Jump. Aired 9:30- 10a ET.

Aired June 10, 2021 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: from gun violence this year alone. There have been at least -- or 260 mass shootings.

Our Omar Jimenez is following all of this for us this morning.

And, again, Jim was on literally out all night on the streets of New York seeing this firsthand last night. We're going to have the former NYPD commissioner on in a moment.

Do you have any sense of or are these leaders telling you what they attribute the sharp uptick to?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing from police chiefs and a number of law enforcement experts is it's coming from a number of factors. Specifically, economic hardships that people have seen over the past year, strained resources in police departments they say from protests over the past year, the sheer number of guns on American streets.

When you look at the first three months of this year alone, across more than 30 cities, the murder rate is up 24 percent compared to this time last year.

And New York City, for example, shootings are up more than 73 percent in May compared to May of last year.

In Atlanta, murders up 38 percent compared to this time last year.

In Chicago, murders are up, but also shootings up 17 percent compared to this time last year.

And when you basically ask what needs to be done, they've identified some of these factors and how do you make an inroads into it? There are a number of different, potential solutions.

But listen to Atlanta's police chief and what he says he believes his department needs to do a better job of. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF RODNEY BRYANT, ATLANTA POLICE: One of the things that we continue to see is the number of handguns that we find and -- in a number of our youth, and as well as people who just should not have guns, in their -- in their hands. One, we believe that we have to intercept that. We have to do a better job of being able to find out where these guns are coming from and cut that avenue off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIMENEZ: And those are issues identified in departments across the country, they say, they need to hone in on the guns on the streets. But it's also going to take more than police and it is why a lot of cities are trying to incorporate community groups and others to try and send this trend in the opposite direction as we head into what is historically been the most violent parts of the year.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

JIMENEZ: Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Omar Jimenez, thanks so much.

Joining me now to discuss all of this is Bill Bratton, he's the former commissioner for the NYPD, as well as the Los Angeles Police chief. He's also author of a new book, "The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race and the Arc of Policing in America" gets at a lot of these issues cities are facing today.

Commissioner Bratton, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

BILL BRATTON, FORMER POLICE COMMISSIONER, NYPD: Great to be with you.

SCIUTTO: I was out with the NYPD on patrol last night in the south Bronx. We're going to go out again tonight. They're seeing crime rates in the city like they haven't seen since the '90s. And this is happening, as you know, in a number of cities around the country. Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta marked rises in violent crime. Tell us what's behind it in your view.

BRATTON: There are a number of things. You have to look at each city independently, but there are some things central to all of them. Certainly the COVID virus issue and its impact on the criminal justice system, courts closed, et cetera, a lot of prisons emptying out people early into the streets and they are literally on the streets.

Thirdly, the attacks on the police profession, the loss of trust in the profession that put the police back on their heels in many respects. A number of departments have seen the defund movement impact on them. Los Angeles being one. Minneapolis, New York City -- New York City has lost several thousand officers. So there's many factors creating what is effectively a perfect storm at the moment that takes me back to the early '90s in America when I first went to New York and began, with many others, the turnaround of crime that reduced crime for 25 straight years, till 1919 (ph), when it all came roaring back again.

SCIUTTO: Yes. That was -- that was the New York I grew up in. I remember those days. It was not pretty.

You say that movements such as defund the police have taken away, not just resources but respect from officers.

BRATTON: That's correct.

SCIUTTO: And I've heard that from officers as well. They feel targeted in their own communities here.

Given your experience, both commanding and being a law enforcement officer yourself, what effect does that have in terms of the day-to- day of officers?

BRATTON: Well, you're riding around with officers in the 46 precinct up in the Bronx --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BRATTON: One of the toughest precincts.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BRATTON: One of the most crime-ridden. They've got a great precinct commander up there. He used to head up my security detail.

As you'll see, as those cops engage in even the most minor encounter, often they're immediately surrounded by hostile groups with their cell phones trying to catch the cops in a bad moment. And the lack of respect, the lack of fear, if you will, of the police and police ability to interrupt crime and disorder, that's epidemic in the United States at this particular point in time. And it's something that, moving forward, as we try to regain trust in those communities, is going to be very problematic because it's -- I've never seen it as bad as it is now.

[09:35:10]

And I've been around for 50 years.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BRATTON: I write about it in the book. And the book that I co-wrote with Peter Knobler, the idea in the book is to show leadership in terms of how to use leadership in these tough times, as well as some things that can work moving forward.

SCIUTTO: OK.

BRATTON: But, again, we're in for a long, tough summer, unfortunately.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because, yes, officers like Derek Chauvin, for instance, and you address that as well, saying that he, in that case, the George Floyd case, in particular set back community relations really for decades.

But some policing policies, we've seen this repeatedly, such as traffic stops for minor offenses, have repeatedly led to the excessive use of force. Again, I'm not saying by the majority of officers, but we've seen this more than once. And I wonder, in your view, do policies like that need to change? Are they -- have they gone too far to lead to instances like we saw in Minneapolis?

BRATTON: Well, you have to understand that the laws are not passed by the police. The police are asked to enforce them. So if government, state, city want to pull back on traffic enforcement, seat belt enforcement, unregistered vehicles, uninsured vehicles, if they want to pull back on a lot of the quality of life offenses that make city streets so fearful, a lot of what you'll see riding around up in the Bronx tonight, that, well, that's up to the politicians. The police basically don't make the laws themselves, they enforce them.

The challenge for the police and the challenge for police leadership is to enforce them constitutionally, legally, compassionately, dealing with human beings, and consistently. Not policing differently in a poor neighborhood than a rich neighborhood, black neighborhood and a white neighborhood. That's the challenge going forward.

(INAUDIBLE) New York City was doing quite well until the legislature got into the mix in 1919 (ph). The reforms that everybody's calling for, New York was engaging in them. Crime down 90 -- 80 percent, homicides down 90 percent, prison population down. Police enforcement actions down dramatically in New York. Why? People were obeying the rules. And that's not what's happening at the moment. But if you don't want police to enforce laws, then do away with those laws.

SCIUTTO: Let's speak about one in particular because this relates to the current legislative effort for police reform being negotiated -- some progress we're hearing from The Hill -- and that is qualified immunity. And you have -- that is one change where you've come out to say that that does need to be limited or restricted.

Tell us why you would support that change.

BRATTON: I would suggest 99 out of 100 people haven't the faintest idea what qualified immunity is and have no ability, including most of the politicians who are debating it, how to describe it. Starting on age 460 in my book I think you'll see the best explanation of qualified immunity that is out there as it gives some practical examples of what it is and what it is not.

It comes down to two words, lawfulness and reasonableness. Is the officer's action lawful in the sense that is he enforcing a law.

SCIUTTO: Right.

BRATTON: And in the enforcement of that law, is he doing it reasonably? It -- can be reformed? I think it can, because it is not law basically at the moment. It's basically judicial interpretations. And can it be modified? I believe it can. And that's what Congress is debating. Let's see what they come up with if, in fact, they are -- and hopefully they are able to pass the George Floyd bill.

But qualified immunity is -- it's like defund the police. It's a political hash tag in some respects that is driving policy.

SCIUTTO: Right.

BRATTON: But most people, including lawyers, politicians, (INAUDIBLE), police themselves would have a hard time explaining it to you. It has to start first off with a violation of the Fourth Amendment. It's a federal situation more so than local but the local states and city municipalities are getting into it.

SCIUTTO: Right.

Well, we'll see. We know that that's one of the -- one of the deepest issues of disagreement on getting to a bipartisan deal on police reform. We'll see if they're able to settle it.

Bill Bratton, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

BRATTON: Have a good night tonight out there.

SCIUTTO: I'm looking forward to it.

BRATTON: OK. (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:43:33]

HARLOW: In just released transcripts of his closed door testimony, former White House Counsel Don McGahn tells Congress he felt trapped, his word, under former President Trump.

SCIUTTO: Yes, McGahn says that he called one of Trump's requests, quote, a point of no return. Relates to the firing of Robert Mueller.

Lauren Fox live on Capitol Hill this morning.

Lauren, I mean this was an essential question is why, by the way, Democratic lawmakers were seeking McGahn's testimony during the Trump administration, you know, blocked, finally it happens. But tell us the significance of that.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this has been a two-year court battle. And this testimony behind closed doors, of course, reveals some of what we already knew, which is that the Mueller report was accurate, that this was someone -- McGahn was someone, of course, who testified five different times before Mueller's counsel and his team.

And I think that one of the things you have to keep in mind about this testimony is that this really reveals that he viewed being asked to pressure Rod Rosenstein to go ahead and try to fire Robert Mueller as really a point of no return.

Like you said, he also viewed this as just being a difficult place to be in. That he thought working for President Trump was becoming more and more difficult, especially because he felt like sometimes he was being used not just as the White House Counsel but also the president's personal lawyer. And that, obviously, is an uncomfortable place to be because that is not the role of the White House Counsel.

[09:45:03]

He sort of laid out in more detail exactly why he felt like he was so uncomfortable in what the president -- or former president, Donald Trump, was asking him to do. I want to read you part of the excerpt from this closed door testimony. He says, quote, if acting attorney general received what he thought was a direction from the counsel to the president to remove a special counsel, he would either have to remove the special counsel or resign, MaGahn said. We are still talking about the Saturday Night Massacre decades and decades later.

And, of course, he was referring to that critical moment in the Nixon administration. Something that he argued he did not want to happen under his watch. And I think that this was really just a culmination of this bigger fight that Democrats have been having to try to prove exactly what was going on when former President Trump was in office.

Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: It's a remarkable revelation, right? Another Saturday night massacre. And, you know, frankly, attempt at least.

HARLOW: Attempt, yes.

SCIUTTO: Lauren Fox on The Hill, thanks so much.

Well, the U.S. Capitol Police Union is now calling for the resignation of the acting chief, Yogananda Pittman, and the senior leadership who they say, in their words, failed them.

HARLOW: So this call for resignation comes after two Senate committees released this report, you'll remember earlier this week, outlining evidence of intelligence failures, critical miscommunications and unheeded warnings.

Our Whitney Wild joins us now.

Whitney, good morning to you.

Where does this go from here?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's anybody's guess. So the process on The Hill right now is that they are looking for a new police chief. That, you know, process is well underway. Applications were actually submitted by possible applicants through May 17th. So now you'd expect that they're in the phase where they're actually assessing possible applicants.

So the question is, are these leadership members at Capitol Police going to keep their jobs? And that is the open question.

The union has been very involved in, you know, this selection for the new chief. They were actually directed by Congress -- the people searching for the chief were directed by Congress to say, hey, you really need to make sure that you're talking to the rank and file officers and get them involved in this process to, you know, to find the best possible applicant. So the union now calling for Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman's resignation, as well as others.

This, Jim and Poppy, actually comes after they had done this vote of no confidence, a story CNN first reported many, many months ago. So they have been actively critical of her for months now following this January 6th insurrection.

Here's what they're saying in this most recent press release. The time has come for those in senior leadership who fail us to stand aside. It is not enough to scapegoat others. Those most responsible, including Acting Chief Pittman, who was in charge of intelligence prior to the insurrection, need to step aside for the good of the department. As the Senate report found, our leadership failed us and we paid a horrible price.

Jim and Poppy, again, highly critical of their leadership. So, you know, the question is, as the Capitol Police board assesses these candidates for police chief, we know Yogananda Pittman has put in for that, what kind of weight this is going to have in those conversations, that's something that we'll probably learn a lot more about in the next couple of weeks.

HARLOW: OK. Whitney Wild with the reporting in Washington.

Thank you, Whitney.

Well, a new report out this morning shows prices for, well, pretty much everything, will be going even higher this summer. Why it matters to you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:52:59]

SCIUTTO: As the economy roars back to life, demand for a lot of things, inflation growing back too, rising 5 percent in the last 12 months. That is the biggest jump since August 2008.

HARLOW: It was faster than economists had predicted and it shows a core inflation rate, this really matters, higher than we've seen since 1992.

What does it mean for you? Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with more.

So, Romans, the White House -- White House official thinking on this to me is, we still believe that the uptick in inflation this spring is, in their words, transitory, that his is temporary. How do we know with numbers like this? CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we won't

know for sure until we know, right? But Wall Street right now, the stock market at record highs this morning. You had the bond market saying, don't worry about this, this is a sign of a sustained recovery in the American economy.

This is a sign of opening, reopening, people rushing out to start their lives again. And that's driving prices higher because of those supply glitches in parts of the economy where, honestly, you can't make the stuff as fast as people want to buy it and so prices start to rise.

SCIUTTO: That's a question, though, because Republicans argue that this is about the Biden administration and Democrats pumping too much money into the economy, stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, et cetera. You're saying that a big or bigger portion is just a shortage of the stuff people want to buy.

ROMANS: You know, and they're hoping that this will start to work out and you'll see some of these glitches go back down. Like, look for autos, for example, in this report. Double digit year over year growth in auto prices. Well, that's -- that's because they don't have enough chips to put in the cars to make them. Used car prices up really strongly. The average price of a used car is something like $25,000. We've never seen that in this country.

So, you're right out there, all of you are saying, my paint and diapers and everything is going up. It is. The question is, does that become a problem for the recovery further on? And so far the indications are it won't. This is just a sign of vigorous reopening and a blooming economy.

HARLOW: Quickly, can you explain to people what they need to look out for that would indicate to you that, yes, this is more than temporary?

ROMANS: You'd have to look for the parts of the economy that are hard to reverse, like wages.

And here's the double-edge sword, right?

[09:55:01]

You want to see wages rise because that's good for people.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

ROMANS: But when wages rise, that puts a lot of pressure on businesses. So we'll be watching the wages, that part of it.

And we'll look to see if it doesn't smooth out over the next few months. So far, again, most of the big economists, they're saying, yes, this is a problem right now. But, longer term, they think this is going to work itself out.

And, remember, inflation was really low for a really long time. This is the first taste of inflation we've had really in recent memory, isn't it?

HARLOW: Yes, it is.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's true. I always use the slice of pizza in New York measure, right?

ROMANS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I mean it basically hasn't moved.

HARLOW: How much are they? Did you have one last night?

SCIUTTO: It was like $1.50.

HARLOW: All right.

SCIUTTO: I mean it hasn't moved since I was a kid.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: That's my own scientific method.

Christine Romans, thanks very much.

In minutes, President Biden has a high stakes meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. We're going to be live in England, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:05]

SCIUTTO: A very good newsy Thursday morning for you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow.