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Outrage Over Rep. Steve King's Tweet Supporting Geert Wilders; New Video in Michael Brown Case. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired March 13, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:43] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King is answering critics this morning over a controversial tweet seen as attacking foreigners and immigrants. Referencing a far- right Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, King tweeted this over the weekend, "Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."
That sparked outcry - shocker -- even among his own party. His House colleague, Republican Congress Carlos Curbelo, tweeted right back at King this, "Steve King, what exactly do you mean? Do I qualify as somebody else's baby?" Note the hash tag, #concernedgopcolleague.
This morning on CNN, King was not backing down. He explained himself this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CO-HOST, NEW DAY: These people are either all equal or they are not, in your view, a Muslim-American, an Italian-American, German-American. Like you, and your blood, your roots, they are either all equal or they are not in your own mind. What is the answer?
REP. STEVE KING, (R), IOWA: I would say they're all created in the image of God and they're equal in his eyes. And if they're citizens of the United States, they're equal in the eyes of the law. Individuals will contribute differently, not equally to this civilization and society. And certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will. That's just a statistical fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: The panel is here, CNN political commentator, former Bush White House director for black outreach, Paris Dennard; CNN political commentator, former Clinton White House aide, Keith Boykin; and CNN political commentator and George W. Bush White House official, Margaret Hoover.
Margaret, I wish there had been a still photo of your face when Steve King was talking. What is Steve King saying?
BOLDUAN: Can you translate, please?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I can't. You know why? Oftentimes people think, because I'm a Republican, I can translate that.
I can't. Let's be clear. Steve King is on the outer fringe of people who call themselves Republican. He's from western Iowa, who comes from a very different part of the Republican Party, who was part of the conspiracy theory bandwagon about Birtherism, that questioned Barack Obama's birth certificate. Let's get rid of this farce that he characterizes mainstream Republican thought about the philosophy of America, about American individualism, individuals who contribute to the productivity, and frankly, the halls of history in terms of what makes for human advancement. He doesn't characterize it. So, nope, can't explain it.
BOLDUAN: Steve King has also, since the campaign, been in a unique position. He was a supporter of Donald Trump's. He was right along there with him.
Paris, what's your reaction when you hear Steve King stay this stuff?
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It just talks about how the Republican Party is pretty diverse in its opinions about how we view nationalism, how we view American exceptionalism. I think that there are a lot of people in this country who feel that because of illegal immigration, the country as we know it is under attack or under threat.
But the thing that I think we should --
BOLDUAN: How is Steve King -- is Steve King helping himself? Is Steve King helping the Republican Party with these --
DENNARD: No. The chairman of the Iowa GOP came out and decisively condemned what he said and said we're a nation of immigrants, a nation of diversity. But there's a way to articulate his message. If Congressman King is saying that those who come to this country should come here and learn English because I want them to advance, because I want them to contribute to society in the best way they can do that is by learning the language and having a better job, I get that. But some of the things that he says or the way he says it comes across as insensitive and outside the mainstream.
BOLDUAN: He had multiple opportunities to clear it up. Maybe this is a 140-characters problem. I would argue absolutely not. It is not a 140-character interview he did with Chris.
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know if Paris is agreeing with Steve King or spinning for Steve King. I'm a little confused about what he said. But --
BOLDUAN: Paris, are you spinning or agreeing?
BOYKIN: He seemed to be saying he agrees with him. Maybe you're fact checking what you said earlier, a few minutes ago?
DENNARD: No. What I'm saying is, I'm a Republican. What I try to do on this platform or every platform is highlight what people are saying about my party. And so if there is some truth to what he might be talking about in the greater context of immigration and the greater context of what it means to assimilate into American society, then I can try to explain that to the audience.
BOYKIN: OK. You're spinning.
BOLDUAN: It sounds like he's siding with Geert Wilders.
[11:35:08] BOYKIN: Yes, he's siding with the far-right nationalist, Dutch nationalist. This guy, Geert Wilders, is a part of the problem, actually, and an international problem that goes from Marine Le Pen and here Donald Trump. Which is part of why I disagree a little with Margaret. She's saying Steve King is an outlier. But Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is saying this same sort of racist things. Steve Bannon, a white nationalist, is chief strategist to Donald Trump in the White House.
BOLDUAN: You're not going to say with a straight face that Steve King is a mainstream Republican.
BOYKIN: I'm saying Steve King is now just as mainstream as Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. They're part of the Republican administration in the White House. You can't distance yourself. Once you align yourself with a guy named Donald Trump, who has said the most racist, xenophobic, outrageous statements over the course of the past two years, you can't start picking and parsing which Republicans are acceptable and which aren't acceptable.
BOYKIN: Because Steve King has said nothing worse than what Donald Trump and Steve Bannon has said.
HOOVER: You make a very fair point.
BOYKIN: And David Duke, by the way, is on the side of Steve King. He came out and endorsed what Steve King said. He's endorsing him. And Paris, a black man, won't even condemn what Steve King is saying.
DENNARD: Hold on, hold on.
BOYKIN: Who is being endorsed by David Duke, a Klansman.
HOOVER: I'm not going to argue with anything you said about Steve Bannon and Donald Trump and Steve King and putting them all together. The fact that they are leading a Republican White House and Republican administration. What I am going to push back about is the characterization that they represent mainstream Republicans, that there's a long history of that.
BOYKIN: The president of the United States doesn't represent mainstream Republicans? The Republican Party supported him. They nominated him. How can he not represent the Republican Party?
HOOVER: There are so many Republicans, as you know.
BOYKIN: And you're defending --
BOYKIN: No, I'm not defending him. Do not put words in my mouth. I am not defending him.
BOYKIN: You're not defending Steve King but you're defending --
DENNARD: I am not defending Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: Hold on.
HOOVER: There are diverse Republicans across this country. Yes, you're right, 90 percent of Republicans voted for Donald Trump, but it doesn't mean 90 percent of Republicans are racist or anti-immigration or anti any of the things Donald Trump has talked about.
HOOVER: What you have to do is be a little more nuanced, because the American people do and all of us do.
BOLDUAN: Paris, you get to respond?
DENNARD: I defend, and I support, President Trump. I don't believe he's a racist, as a black man. This is a person I do not believe is those things that you describe him to be. I don't believe it's. And I can believe him because I don't believe that it's true. I believe the 8 percent of African-Americans and the 13 percent of African- American males who support him don't believe that to be true either.
Now, as relates to the Republican Party, yes, we elected him. But so did a lot of Democrats. So did a lot of Independents and a lot of people who don't look like Donald Trump, that look like me, who crossed party lines to support for this man.
DENNARD: For you to say -- for you to say -- making baseless claims and talk about the president has said something that was racist, he's said no one thing about African-Americans that was disparaging, rude or racist --
BOYKIN: That's just not true.
BOYKIN: He said African-Americans live in hellholes. He spent five years attacking the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama. He has a history of racial discrimination in housing in New York City. He attacked the Central Park Five, who were exonerated, and accused them of being involved in a rape they did not commit. This is the guy who also appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. This is a guy who has a history -- he even said, this is recorded in a book, that he didn't trust black people he didn't trust because he didn't want them with his money, he would rather have Jews handling his money than black people. That's nothing -- he said laziness is a trait in blacks. That's not a characteristic of somebody who I think is not racist. And you, Paris, known as an African-American Republican, should have as much courage as Margaret hoover, a white woman, who is standing up to Donald Trump, and you're not even doing that.
BOYKIN: And David Duke is standing with you. Where does that put you, Paris?
DENNARD: You should caution yourself on how you categorize me as a black man --
BOYKIN: Because the only time I get debated to any type of credibility are liberals like yourself. David Duke is so irreverent. He is not a part of the Republican Party. He doesn't have a following. He doesn't have a base. He doesn't have any type of support. He's not --
BOYKIN: And yet, Donald Trump wouldn't repudiate him until 48 hours after he endorsed him in the campaign.
BOYKIN: He can repudiate Meryl Streep and "SNL" and Alec Baldwin in second in a tweet but he can't repudiate David Duke, a white nationalist, until he's pressured to do so. There is a distinction. They man is not serious about reaching out to black people.
[11:40:54] BOLDUAN: We've talked about Donald Trump. But back to Steve King, though, is Steve King's message the direction you want to see this Republican Party go?
DENNARD: No, it's not. But the point I'm making is, we have to understand that the Republican Party, and a lot of people in this country feel that the illegal immigration problem is a major problem that's affected the economy, that is affecting jobs.
BOLDUAN: Paris, isn't it just as easy to say it like you're saying it?
BOYKIN: Thank you.
DENNARD: I wish he would say it. That's the point I'm making.
DENNARD: I'm not defending him.
DENNARD: Run off the list of your talking points. What I'm saying is --
DENNARD: Let me finish. Let me finish.
BOYKIN: He said nobody has contributed anything to society except white people.
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Paris.
DENNARD: What I'm saying is that I wish the congressman would change the way he messages about something that a lot of people genuinely care about.
Now, what's going to be a rude awakening is the browning of America. More Americans will look like me and less like Maggie over here.
HOOVER: I'm very comfortable with Maggie. DENNARD: Because that's the way the country is going. That makes
them no less American or Republican. It makes them no less people who want the best for this country.
BOLDUAN: Again, nuance is lost, often, OK?
HOOVER: By the way, I wasn't asking for nuance about admittedly blatant racism, but let's not create the opposite sin, which is characterizing all Republicans as racists.
BOYKIN: Not all.
BOLDUAN: We have Carlos Curbelo standing up and saying, what are you talking about?
BOYKIN: It's disturbing when some people don't condemn him immediately. But when Donald Trump has been going around saying make America great again, this is what he means --
BOLDUAN: Margaret, in your view, is Steve King relevant, what he says?
HOOVER: As long as we're talking about him, we're making him relevant, right? He is tapping into -- and Paris is right, he taps into a discomfort about immigration and all these things. But he gets press when he says crazy things, right?
BOYKIN: So does Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: Steve King is an elected and re-elected member of Congress and --
HOOVER: From a safe district. And that's what's wrong with safe districts. He will never have a competitive primary challenge, unless he goes against Donald Trump and Donald Trump will hand select the person who campaigns against him and then campaigns for him.
HOOVER: Only 35 districts across the country are competitive seats. That's it, 35. 35 out of 400. So Steve King will have a seat as long as he wants to. So will equally Democratic members from Los Angeles and Chicago and New York City. BOLDUAN: And the immediate question is, as you're saying, more people
need to speak out against this and speak out quicker. Do you think this is a scenario when Steve King was so close with this president when he was campaigning, is this an incident where Donald Trump should speak out?
DENNARD: I think we can't go down the line and say every time --
BOLDUAN: I truly want to hear.
DENNARD: I don't think so because --
BOYKIN: The answer is yes, he should speak out.
I'll answer the question for you because you don't apparently have the courage to do it for yourself, Paris. Yes, Donald Trump --
DENNARD: You do a great job of reading your talking points. But this is --
BOYKIN: There's no talking points when I say that.
HOOVER: What you are doing is demonizing each other personally when you may just disagree politically.
BOYKIN: I'm saying he should have the courage to speak out against a man engaged in racist, xenophobic behavior.
BOLDUAN: Paris? Paris, speak out.
DENNARD: If I believed President Trump was a racist or a xenophobic person, I would speak out against him, but I don't believe it. Just because I don't agree with that doesn't mean I'm a bad person or any less black.
DENNARD: But the point is this. When President Obama weighed -- I didn't think President Obama should weigh in every time some crazy lunatic liberal says something that was bad or crazy just because they might have been on his campaign.
DENNARD: And I don't think that President Trump should do the same thing.
If it rises to the occasion, if the speaker of the House says something or the Republican Party passes a platform that is totally out of the mainstream, then he should say something.
DENNARD: But if every single person on the fringe says something, President Trump would be speaking all day long, because millions of Americans have different opinions that are outside the mainstream.
BOLDUAN: OK, quick, quick.
BOYKIN: One quick distinction. President Trump is saying some of the same things or types of things that Steve King is saying. That never happened with President Obama. He wasn't saying the far-left things that people were criticizing other people for saying. President Trump has more of a responsibility to speak out about those things because he has himself contributed to that atmosphere.
BOLDUAN: Thank you guys very much. Thank you, thank you.
HOOVER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
BOYKIN: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up, new video, new questions, new outrage surrounding the deadly police shooting of Michael Brown. A filmmaker defending unreleased video that he's says proves Brown did not rob a store before the deadly encounter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:44:54] JASON POLLOCK, FILMMAKER: I am personally hurt by the offensive comments from the radical right to destroy this young man's character. That's what's the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Outrage and protest in Ferguson as we learn new details in the shooting death of Michael Brown. New surveillance footage included in a documentary is raising questions about what happened before Michael Brown's death. The video appears to show Brown inside the Ferguson market and liquor store, the same store he was accused of robbing hours later. CNN cannot confirm the video's authenticity, but the filmmaker says that the video contradicts the narrative that Brown robbed the store before his death. Jason Pollock is standing by the film and responding to critics who
say the new video released is unfairly edited. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLLOCK: You see the whole event. Michael walks in the store, throws the bag. You see him walk in the store and throw the bag. We cut to the back angle so you can see the counter because we wanted to make sure you could see the counter. You couldn't see the counter from the side angle. So we show the back angle. Once the bag hits the counter, we cut to the back angle to see the whole back angle, which is a much better view. You then see the exchange. You see them hand him the stuff. Why would they hand him the stuff? You don't steal a store by being handed stuff from the clerk. This is a shady store. We've asked a lot of people in the community. You can buy weed at the store.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:50:42] BOLDUAN: Here with more on this is CNN's Miguel Marquez.
Miguel, you have seen the report, the video and Jason Pollock's defense here. What are you hearing?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a few things. Look, people in Ferguson are upset still. There were some protesters that went to the store last night. There are more protests planned tonight. Police are on high alert there. There is great tension over this video and the claims made by the documentary filmmaker.
What is not clear is what this video actually means. The lawyer for the store says it was selectively edited, doesn't show everything. At one point, Michael Brown gives the cigarettes back, the cigarillos, that he traded the bag for, back. At some point, the store employees throw the bag back at Michael Brown. Both things could be true. There could have been a friendly transaction and then it could have turned more negative later on.
The other thing is the police say, look, none of this matters because Michael Brown was picked up initially, that had nothing to do with the store. That came to life after he was picked up and the incident with the officer. So all of this is conjecture, it really doesn't really matter because Michael Brown was picked up because he was acting suspiciously when Officer Darren Wilson saw him -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Miguel, thanks. I appreciate it.
Let's talk more about this and what Miguel is leading to. Paul Callan is here, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; and also with us Joey Jackson, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney.
Thank you for coming in.
A few things here. You both take a look at the video. The filmmaker basically says this video shows the police intention was to make Brown look bad in the narrative they put out, and also the filmmaker says shows a suppression of evidence.
Is that what you see here, Joey?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I see a crisis of trust and confidence. To be clear, talk about the legal implications. Will there be a grand jury in this? No? Has the case failed (ph)? It has. Will the federal government alter proceeding? Of course, not. It was about the community's right to know. The community being involved. It was about whether the local D.A. should be handling the case or if it should be handled by a special prosecutor. So why do we have the shaping of the narrative? The police say it's irrelevant. Of course, it's not irrelevant. Everything is relevant because the community, being concerned about the case, wants to know all the details. Why hide details and why have a filmmaker as opposed to an investigator reveal it two and a half years later. It's disturbing in that regard.
BOLDUAN: Piggy backing off who Joey said, the police said they weren't going to confirm the authenticity of the tape. They did tell CNN, if it did occur, this video, "The incident is still irrelevant to our investigation because the encounter between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson."
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Let me begin by saying Michael Brown's death is always going to be a tragedy for his family, the community and everybody else. The police are looking and saying hey, it didn't have anything to do with what happened the day before or the evening before. It had to do with what the officer confronted on the street at the time he fired the fatal shots. The grand jury -- by the way, it's a 13-volume piece that was released after the investigation concluded that Darren Wilson, the police officer, fired the deadly shots in self-defense and he acted properly.
I want to add one thing that I'm confused about with this. The person who was with Michael Brown that day, Dorian Johnson, said in his testimony that Michael Brown committed a crime in the convenience store that day. That testimony has been publicly released in the past. So, what crime did Dorian Johnson, who was with him, think he committed? Obviously, maybe he was unaware himself that something had happened the night before. I think you have to look carefully at the film before you jump to some global conclusion that the grand jury did the wrong thing in making their decision.
JACKSON: I don't want to jump to that conclusion. It's not about the grand jury doing the wrong thing. It's about the police officer sharing information. Why were they quick to share that he was aggressive and he engaged in criminality, and marijuana may have been involved. If you are going to tell a story --
JACKSON: -- don't shape the narrative. Tell the public what happened, don't sabotage it.
[11:55:21] BOLDUAN: -- dealing with the fallout and the crisis of confidence. This video coming out from the filmmaker doesn't help much.
CALLAN: You'll remember, though, when the film was first released, they were criticized for even talking about what happened in the convenience store, the police, so this thing - -
Independent prosecutors, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.
BOLDUAN: This just in for us, folks. A source telling CNN the attorney general gave no hint that is he would ask dozens of U.S. attorneys to resign just 48 hours before he did. We are going to have new details on the fallout of this, ahead.