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Protests After Ex-Cop Acquitted In Death of Black Man; Britain: Another Attack May Be 'Imminent ' After Subway Bombing; Trump Attacks ESPN After Anchor Calls Him a White Supremacist; Trump: Options Are "Effective And Overwhelming". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: What's happening now?

[21:00:04] RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we've been with these protests since 11:00 this afternoon. This is the largest gathering that we've had so far. And in fact, they are right next to a hospital as a clinical meet point, obviously. One of the things they have done, though, is when an ambulance tried to get through, they didn't move out of the way for the ambulance to get to the hospital. But you can feel the energy and the vibe from these protests.

I want to say, for the most part, it hasn't been violent protest. We did have some moments of violence earlier when some protesters were being moved in front of a bus that was carrying police officers. That got very tense. In fact, there was pepper spray used on those protesters. People kind of push back, officer pushed back. You know, 13 arrested today, four officers were assaulted. But the real thing here is, you look at the crowd. Look at it, look, how diverse this crowd is.

I don't think when we were covering Ferguson that we would ever imagine that a majority crowd of white people would be carrying signs that say Black Lives Matter. So there's a big mix (ph) here. We're talking how are walking amongst everyone. Having a conversation about how they want justice serve.

We're going to flip around a little bit, Anderson, so you can see this works, because, look, you can see the medical campus breezeway right there. You can see these signs. There's obviously a large number of young people here who have started to participate in this. They definitely want to make sure that their voices are heard.

COOPER: Ryan, --

YOUNG: -- they say they want changes and they believe to the good end.

COOPER: Ryan, if you can tell us in terms of the police presence now, it seemed like earlier they were kind of taking hands-off approach which is -- we've seen often these kinds of mobile marches that, you know, don't necessarily have permits. That the police often do that so they're not trying to, in any way, end up with some sort of confrontation. Is that the strategy right now with police? YOUNG: Yes, that's what it seems like. In fact the only confrontation we had was at that moment when the buses were being stopped. Outside of that, we haven't had that back and forth between police officers and protesters. In fact, when they tried to go to the interstate, they just kind of stood there and kind of waited to see what was going to happen. They yelled at the officers. The officers stood their ground but there was no pushing and shoving at all. That only happened when the bicycle cops came in earlier and try to remove people.

At this point we are just marching. I heard Dan talking earlier about there was no plan here. I will tell you around 12:00 we were told they were coming to the suburbs, that they wanted people in this neighborhood to feel the pain of poor people on the other side of town. They definitely believe that if you're poor or have some issues or you're urban that you're not going to be represented in the city of this country. And they want to make sure their voices are heard. So you're seeing this happen in real time with the shirts and the people with signs. And this has been going on, look, you can hear a guy right now with a cane who's walking with these protests. It's been very interesting to watch the mix of people who shown up here tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Brian, appreciate that. We'll continue to check in with you. Also I want to check in with our Dan Simon who is also at another part of the protests. I'm not sure how close you are to Ryan. Dan, what have you been seeing?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, Anderson, the crowd has been very peaceful. We're seeing people of all ages, a lot of young people also some seniors as well. And right now police are not impeding their progress. And they're taking a hands-off posture. And we're just walking with this crowd.

Quite frankly, we have no idea where they're going. They're holding signs. They're chanting slogans. You see people with the Black Lives Matter signs. And this is the central west end part of St. Louis. There are a lot of restaurants and bars down the street that they're walking onto now. This is Euclid Avenue, a preferred (INAUDIBLE) the St. Louis area.

And obviously, there is the concern about what may happen tonight and what may happen this week. And I can tell you that authorities seem to be very prepared for any type of violence that might break out. Obviously they've drawn lessons with what happened in Ferguson. We know that the Missouri governor, the National Guard on standby. And obviously lots of police out here. Police are working 12-hour shifts instead earlier. Many have their vacations or personal days canceled. But for now, this crowd just walking totally an imputed. And one person told me that they plan on staying out here all night, Anderson.

COOPER: And Dan, you're saying they were walking towards Euclid Avenue. That's an area where there are lot of bars and restaurant. So, it seemed like Ryan was saying earlier that they had -- maybe been wanting to go more suburban area. This is more of a business area? SIMON: This is a business area. There's a lot of night life on this street. And perhaps that's why they're going here. And, hold on let's listen to what this guy is saying. He's saying that there are some people in wheelchairs, to slow down. I just lost the IFB, Anderson, so I can no longer hear you, but I tell you what, there are several hundred people out here and looks like this is going to go on throughout the night, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Dan, we'll check in with you. With me now is Former St. Louis Alderman, Antonio French, and Former Missouri GOP Chairman, Ed Martin.

[21:05:03] Antonio, give me the facts of this case. I mean, are you surprised at the verdict of not guilty? Because, again, for people just following, this was a shooting that took place in 2011, prosecutors brought charges. This person left the police force. Prosecutors said that there was some kind of new evidence that led them to bring charges. There were allegations not only of the officer shooting this person five times but also planting a weapon, because of his claim on shooting was that he believed the person was -- the driver was reaching for a gun. So were you surprised by the verdict?

ANTONIO FRENCH, FORMER ST. LOUIS ALDERMAN: Yes. Well, you know, given the history of these kinds of cases and what the Missouri law is right now, I'm not surprised by the verdict. I am disappointed, though. The prosecutors felt they had a strong case, especially given video evidence, the audio evidence, the DNA evidence. And so we were hopeful that the system would work this time. What you're seeing now is people taking to the streets to voice their displeasure and feeling that once again that the system is not working for average citizens.

COOPER: Ed, this incident was captured on video --


COOPER: I wonder, are you surprised that increase of police body cams and video -- you know, do you believe it's going to lead to more convictions, do you think it's going to lead to more vindications for police officers?

MARTIN: Yes, I sure hope more cameras lead to more transparency. I think that's really a good thing. I don't want to make one observation. I think Antonio might agree with this. There has been a different kind of presence with the law enforcement and the National Guard here. I think there's a lot

more room for the protesters to be peaceful and all, but, look, I was Republican chairman you mentioned. The judge in this case was a Republican appointee 28 years on the bench. If you look at the case, the law, I mean, excuse me, the ruling, you know, he lays it out. As Antonio said, maybe your (INAUDIBLE) was a different decision. It's not outside of what the facts were. And I think the story here is that the prosecutor who charged this as murder one, this guy was a bad -- the guy that was killed had some records. He was clearly had been in trouble, and was not choir boy perhaps, but she charged it wrong, I think Antonio might agree. And prosecutors set this up where she put all her chips in the center and said, you pick the murder one and the judge said I can't do that. And then may have been other possibilities, but frankly, she played politics I think to play to the Black Lives Matter kind of movement in St. Louis and she lost that case because of it -- part of it.

COOPER: Antonio, I want you to be able to respond to that.

FRENCH: Well, I disagree a little bit with Ed about those facts, but I'll say this, is that the circuit attorney's (ph) office is part of the system as well. And so, if you think that there was a mistake made on the circuit attorney's part, the people in the streets, response is the same, is that the system did not work. And, while it was careful to point out the faults of the young man who was killed, Anthony Smith, this officer also we need to agree was a bad cop. This is a cop who shows up to the scene with an AK 47, an officer who makes statements that we were going to kill this mf before he does kill this guy. And he was released from the department, not fired, but allowed to retire. But this was a bad cop, and we need to be able to say that. And what people are asking for is a level of accountability. When a bad cop takes the life of a citizen, there needs to be some way we can get some accountability.

MARTIN: Let me just say, we don't get to call someone a bad cop based on your description. I mean, the guy that was killed, the 34-year- old, he wasn't a kid. He was convicted twice of gun crimes and twice a drug crime. And this cop was accused of a crime and was acquitted today. Other than that --

FRENCH: -- released from the Police Department and the city of St. Louis had to pay almost $1 million for what this cop did, so lets not forget those facts.

MARTIN: I just don't think you can call him a bad cop.

COOPER: I want to bring in Jeff Roorda of the --

FRENCH: -- that's the problem, we can't even agree on that. This is how far we're apart.

COOPER: Stay tuned, stay with us. I want to bring in Jeff Roorda from the St. Louis Police Officers Association. First of all, Jeff, just in terms of the protest like this and the strategy for police, it does seem like that it's very much kind of hands-off, kind of let the protests continue whether they have a permit or not and kind of avoid any confrontation unless they're trying to shut down a highway or something like that. Is that basically the strategy?

JEFF ROORDA, BUSINESS MANAGER, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Yes, I mean, I don't want to say users -- let them have their space but, you know, when -- if they're gathered on the street and traffic can get around by other arteries, you know, why not let them just have that space where you can contain them and monitor them and keep things safe? I think that's the approach. And, you know, the cops on the ground, they have ever-changing tactics that are really dictated by the behavior of the crowd.

COOPER: And Jeff, I'm wondering were you surprised by this verdict? ROORDA: I was not, you know. I sat through almost the entire trial. If you read the judge, he's very well-reasoned, extensive decision. You not only understand why he found Jason not guilty, you should be able to understand why, everyone should, find him free of guilt in this case.

[21:10:13] COOPER: So Jeff, when, you know, when the officer said, you know, I'm going to kill this mf, and then actually does, I think the counterargument to that is, well, look, a lot of people say anything in the heat of a moment and the heat of a chase, and this was a chase that went on the vehicle chase. Was that the sort of the explanation for those comments?

ROORDA: Yes. And, you know, the judge makes the comment that people say things in the heat of the moment and you have to take them for what they're worth and what happens afterwards. But, you know, the comments the cops make in the car as they chasing him are after the suspect has already tried to run over he and his partner. And they seen a gun inside of his car and he's engaged in some very dangerous driving on pretty populous city street, you know. So, he was trying to get his partner, his young partner, no long out at this academy's head in the game. And they can understand this is a serious situation. And the words that probably proceed to that were, if he does this again or he points that gun at us, we're probably going to have to do this.

COOPER: So Antonio is that -- I mean, sort of, is that the evidence you saw.

FRENCH: No not at all. And, you know, when you read this judge's opinion, it seems that he goes to great lengths to try to rationalize some of the language that this officer uses. You would not imagine the judge would use the same kind of leeway when it comes to an average citizen. If an average citizen said I am going --

ROORDA: Come on Antonio, you know that's not true.

FRENCH: -- to kill somebody and then kills them one minute later, we would say that that was premeditation. And so it is tough to imagine now that -- how you prove meditation, if you disregard the person saying I am going to kill you before they kill you. So what is premeditation there?

COOPER: Jeff, I want you to able to respond in a way up to you.

ROORDA: Well, it was self-defense as Antonio well knows. The subject was armed with a gun, wasn't showing his hands to the officer as reaching for the gun that the officer knew was there. If that's not self-defense, I don't know what is.

COOPER: All right, gentlemen, thanks very much. We're going to keep an eye on St. Louis.

Up next, British officials are warning another terror attack could be imminent after today's London subway bombing. The latest from London in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:15:59] COOPER: Today a terror attack in London and tonight a new warning for Britain, a massive manhunt is underway in that country after an explosion on a crowded London subway train. Britain's prime minister is saying another could be imminent.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The joint terrorism analyst center that's the in dependable organization which is responsible for setting the threat level on the basis of available intelligence has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical. This means that their assessment is that a further attack may be imminent.


COOPER: Well, the explosion came from what's being referred to as a bucket bomb. The video shows it's still burning there. Officials say they're lucky the bomb did not detonate properly. If it had the damage obviously could have been much worst. At least 29 people were injured, though, this morning. Thankfully, no critical injuries. You may know this is fifth terror attack in Britain this year alone. And so far, there have been no arrests in connection with this attack. Our Matthew Chance joins us from London.

So what is the latest on the manhunt? There are so many surveillance cameras in the subway system on the streets in England. They must be looking over all of that to track down this person who, obviously, was bringing this large device onto a subway.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's almost certain that the individual, the individuals that planted this device would have been caught on surveillance cameras at some point during their involvement in the transport system in London. There are 12,000 CCTV cameras just in the London transport system alone. And then, of course, there are thousands more on the streets around every that metro station, every tube station, and in other streets as well. It's one of the most closely scrutinized cities in the world.

And so, (INAUDIBLE) there are specialized officers who will be poring over those images, over the course of the past -- what is it, 17-18 hours now, trying to build up a picture of what happened, trying to identify suspects.

In terms of that investigation, the police are keeping their lips very tightly sealed about what progress they're making. They say they're making excellent progress but they're not saying exactly what that is, because of the nature of the investigation, much of it has to be done covertly. So they don't want to come out in public and say what progress they're making and what inroads they're making.

And, but, you know, obviously this is massive manhunt. And the authorities say they put hundreds of extra police on the streets of London to try and track down the individual, the individuals concerned with this. Try to make Londoners feel a bit more secure this evening.

COOPER: And certainly, I mean, the announcement that the threat level is being raise and other attack could imminent. I'm assuming -- and I think, I think it was Chairman Rogers who said this in the last hour. If this attacker or attackers or bomb maker or bomb makers are still on the loose, haven't been apprehended which we have no reason to believe they have already, it is very possible that they, if not others associated with them, could try to strike again.

CHANCE: Absolutely. And that's exactly why I think the terror threat level has been increased from severe to critical in the way that it has because it implies that a terrorist attack is possibly imminent. And that's obviously linked to the fact that the individuals who carried out this latest attack or the individual, are still on the run. We saw a similar situation in June after the Manchester attacks in which 22 people were killed following an Ariana Grande pop concert. The threat level was raised to critical then as well until the suspect was identified and those around the suspect as well.


CHANCCE: And so I think we're seeing a similar situation here tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: And obviously after the Charlie Hebdo attack, I mean, just -- comes to mind where the attacks happened earlier the week and it wasn't at the later in the week that the terrorist were finally apprehended. Matthew, appreciate that. Thanks very much.

[21:20:05] The president didn't waste any time responding to the attack on Twitter. British Prime Minister Theresa May said his speculation wasn't helpful. Anthena Jones, joins me now.

So the president spoke out about the attacks before departing for New Jersey. What did he say, what's the latest?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. That's right. This was at Joint Base Andrews right before he got on a plane to come here at New Jersey. He said he wanted to begin by saying that our hearts and prayers go out to the people of London after they experience this vicious terrorist attack. He said that he had spoken with British Prime Minister Theresa May calling her wonderful woman and saying he expressed to her America's deepest sympathy as well as America's commitment to eradicating the terrorists from our planet. He said radical Islamic terrorism. It will be eradicated, believe me, so some pretty strong words starting off his remarks at that speech to Joint Base Andrews.

COOPER: The tweets that he was saying earlier today about the attacks weren't exactly appreciated by British officials that said, you know, earlier on called it a terror attack and said that this, you know, the terrorist was known to Scotland Yard.

JONES: Right. He said the suspect or suspects were in the sights of Scotland Yard and they seem like that the law enforcement, British law enforcement maybe knew who was involved. That got some strong pushback from London Police who said it was pure speculation and they didn't yet know, as we grow in now, who was involved in this incident. We also heard similar criticism from the prime minister herself, Theresa May who said, I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.

So Anderson, this is just the latest example of the president's Twitter habit causing a bit of confusion and consternation when it comes to international relations.

COOPER: He followed up that tweet with a tweet about his immigration ban saying it should be stronger but -- because of political correctness, essentially that's holding it back.

JONES: That's right. This is, of course, during the campaign he called this a Muslim ban later on when the administration introduced it. They did not call it a Muslim ban, but the current version targets six Muslim majority countries and nearly all refugees. That ban is going through several legal challenges. But clearly here today he's coming out and using this terror attack to try to push for that ban. And he did so before in June after one of the terrorist attack in London. He made a similar argument on Twitter, and so it's not surprising to see him do that again.

COOPER: Yes, Athena Jones, appreciate that. We're going to talk about this with the panel next. We'll be right back.


[21:26:06] COOPER: Our breaking news tonight from London. British officials raised the terror threat to critical saying there may be a imminent attack after a bombing on the London subway train this morning. Twenty nine people were injured. A manhunt is under way for the bomber or bombers. Meanwhile, Britain's prime minister says the way President Trump tweeted about the attack was not helpful. Joining us is Mike Rogers, Tara Setmayer, Scott Jennings, Jennifer Granholm, and Alice Stewart.

Chairman Rogers, you know, if there was a terror attack, God forbid, in the United States and Great Britain, the prime minister there tweeted out version after, you know, attackers were known, on the FBI radar, I think there would be an outrage here about that sort of comment, do you think so?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Yes, clearly it was -- you should have been more proactive. I think he actually said that in the tweet. It's just hard to get where that's a good idea in the middle of an attack where they're still trying to access who actually did it, where the manhunt goes, who else was involved, are there other attackers, all the things that you go through. I mean there's a file that you can pull out that gives a very quick and internationally accepted answer, hey, we're with you, our hearts and prayers go with you, and oh, by the way, anything you need will be with --

COOPER: Which he later on said.

ROGERS: Yes, after somebody handed him the file later on, it said, here, you say this. And my argument is, this was a very avoidable issue for the president, very easily done by just saying nothing until he had the opportunity to make an official statement.

And again, it doesn't help because they are in the middle of it. Nobody likes to be poked at all let alone in the middle of trying to assess the damage.

COOPER: You know, the damage on the president weighing in so early on Twitter is, especially like early in the morning where he's just seen something about it on television or read something about it, early information is often wrong. You know, when there was an attack in the Philippines, he went on Twitter saying it was terror, you know -- I think he said it live on television that it was a terror attack, turned out to being a robbery. You know, there's no harm if it's not something the American people have to know about instantly and waiting all of them.

TARA SETMAYER, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, ABC NEWS: Right, I mean, he's acting as if he's the casual observer as opposed to president of the United States. You know, like he woke up at 6:00 a.m. and saw the alert that there was an attack in London, and he just tweeting about it. He's the president of the United States and those tweets and those words have consequences and the fact that he continually does this is a problem. We've seen this and it doesn't seem that it's going to subside at all.

I mean, Britain is our oldest and most important ally. They're part of Five Eyes, an intelligence. Why would he go after them in armchair quarter whether doing in the middle of a terrorist potential investigation? It's just not responsible. But this is going to get him in trouble internationally at some point if it hasn't already, just we haven't seen it quite yet but it still continues to be a concern. And I'm sure that General Kelly, the chief of staff, was looking at this going, you know, Mr. President, please can you just wait until we know the facts? I'm sure that his National Security team hadn't even briefed him yet. I believe it was 6:20 in the morning with this happened. It's your responsible.

ALICE STEWART CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is another case of -- I think for quite some time since Kelly has taken over as chief of staff the president has been relatively disciplined with regard to Twitter. But this case, when these reports out -- so, so. But, another network morning show reported on this very thing about whether or not this was in sight of Scotland Yard and 23 minutes later is when the president tweeted about this.

So, he not only speculated about the cause of it, he said that these are sick and demented terrorist, loser terrorists. If that's the case, yes, that's absolutely true. But for him to say that Scotland Yard should have been more proactive on that, clearly that is a problem. And then to follow that up with -- using this as an opportunity to push for his travel ban is a problem. When we're talking about Britain who is not just an ally but an intelligent pattern and we need to be working together with them. I think McMaster has a good job to try and to clean it up saying, look, all terror threats are -- in scope of everyone and the Scotland Yard does a good job and the FBI does a good job.

[21:30:07] SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the president has visceral reactions to these things. And why wouldn't he. I mean, we've all seen the string of attacks in London and we're sitting here wondering -- what are they not doing that's causing this, and are we doing everything here in the United States that we're supposed to be doing to stop it from happening here? Yes, he got some diplomatic blowback today. And I think his visceral reactions sometimes manifest himself in him jumping the gun, but he's not worried about being popular diplomatically. He's worried about communicating to the American people. We are vigilant against these kinds of attacks. That is his primary, I think, mission when he's tweeting about these things.

Yes, do I think he should wait some time? Absolutely, but I think communicating vigilance to the American people isn't a bad motive.


SETMAYER: -- 140 characters on tweeter, though, Scott. So do you think that that should be something, you know, the first reaction should be, you know, we support Britain and let's see what's going on. And then later in the day like when McMaster came out and -- if they have a press (INAUDIBLE) or whatever today, then you can say, you know, we're going to be vigilant here, these are continuing problems, we're monitoring this. I just don't think the context is proper.

COOPER: -- is sort of interesting that it is the action of someone almost who still views himself as an observer of an event, not the leader of the free world who is intrically (ph), I mean, who could -- instead of sending that tweet, have immediately gotten the briefing --

SETMAYER: That's right.

COOPER: -- on what exactly went on. And then 30 minutes later, you know, tweeted out something like, you know, we're devoting all our resources, we've offered all our help this appears to be a terror attack, you know, people on the loose. Whatever, whatever may be --



SETMAYER: -- an observer.

GRANHOLM: Why does it -- I mean, I just don't understand why he still has access unobserved to his Twitter, to his phone like that. I mean, I know he's the president and he can do it. But I just want to go back. Do you think that this was ill advised today?

JENNINGS: Sure. I would have waited. Look, I worked for a president who didn't tweet and he typically waited and most presidents have done that. But we have to acknowledge this president doesn't act like any president we've had. He tends to put his visceral emotions on the table. He does connect himself -- GRANHOLM: So stop right there because right before you said that last

thing, I think this is one moment where actually I agree with four Republicans on the panel. I just want to observe that.


GRANHOLM: It never happens. But there is one other thing that troubles me about this tweet today. I mean, as Anderson said coming in, there has been a whole series of terrorist attacks in London. He has tweeted after every one of them but one. The one terrorist attack he did not tweet after was when a group of Muslim were run over by a van. Same thing when -- I mean, and he went after, of course, the mayor of London in one of these and tied it to the travel ban. He did not tweet after Muslims were attacked by terrorists in Minnesota. He did not tweet directly after the Charlottesville terrorist acts. So what troubles me about the way this is interpreted is that it's simply that he finds it OK to tweet when it ratifies his agenda. But when it involves other things, he's not going to tweet. And that, I think, is really troubling.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. More with the panel after the break. When we come back, the latest media target for President Trump's Twitter comments, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, what she said to upset the president and a lot of the ESPN viewers next.

We'll also go back to St. Louise where protesters have been on and off all day since the police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of an African-American man back in 2011.


[21:37:28] COOPER: We've been covering protests tonight in St. Louis over the shooting death of African-American man by police back in 2011. We've seen this same kind of night over and over in this country over the years. Racial issues obviously not going away anytime soon, and for many people in the streets who are out tonight, they feel like they are not being dealt with enough, especially after the president's response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.

Now the president has turned to a new target in the media ESPN anchor, Jemele Hill. It started when Hill tweeted, "Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacist." That lead to immediate criticism from conservative media for ESPN's political leaning have been quite contention now for several years. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called for the ESPN to fire Hill over her comments, or she said that it was a fireable offence. And this morning President Trump tweeted, "ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!" I want to bring back in the panel.

Tara, I mean as a Republican, does it concern you if the White House, you know, weighing in on a private company's hiring or firing decisions? SETMAYER: Of course. This is not something that the president of the United States should be weighing in on directly. Some would argue it's a free speech issue. You know, Jemele Hill whether you agree with her or not has the right to say what she wants to say, ESPN has the right to discipline, how they so choose. This is not a communist country where we have state run media and where the president that, you know, central power comes in and dictate what people get to say and do. In media we have first amendment rights here however you feel about what she said. I just feel that this is one of those areas where the president continues to step in it. You know, there's a racial divided in this country and the president has been going on for a while. But the president of the United States is not helping to heal this in any way. He continues to open the wounds with this.

COOPER: You know, one of the things that Sarah Sanders pointed out and other had pointed is that, look, ESPN did fire Curt Schilling when he made comments that, you know, other people found offensive. There were story that he disciplined a woman named Linda Cohen when she criticized some business decisions that ESPN made, and also commented on the effect of any political leaning that they may have.


SETMAYER: Yes, conservatives -- just really quick, just a quick point on that. Conservatives were very upset during the Obama administration when they claimed that the left would go after religious organizations or religious free speech in those areas. So we can't have it both ways. So what the president is doing is definitely not a Republican nor a conservative principle by any means.

[21:40:05] STEWART: I do agree with Sarah with regard to ESPN as a company if they're going to have a standard with regard to free speech that needs to be across the board. She is entitled to free speech, God bless America. She's also going to face some backlash just like Curt Schilling did.

COOPER: Right.

STEWART: And I do think if ESPN is going to have a standard with regard to political speak whether it's on Twitter or on the air, it needs to be across the board where the talking conservative -- here's the problem with Donald Trump weighing in picking this as a battle, which I don't think he should, now we have Al Sharpton coming out tonight saying, look, if ESPN pushes back on her, they're going to face the wrath of the civil rights community. And I don't think this is a battle that the president --

COOPER: -- but does make sense -- I mean, attacking somebody in the media is obviously something the president has done, you know, time and time again. He clearly enjoys it or feels like -- I mean, he's not doing it by accident he clearly believes this does something for him. And a lot of people, you know, certainly don't like what she said and a lot of people don't, you know, like media organizations who he also goes after.

GRANHOLM: He's actually -- I mean, just to Tara's point from before, he's acting like, though, a citizen rather than the president. We have North Korea threatening to nuke us all. We've got a potential terrorist act or, you know, a threat in England, and they are spending time at the president podium talking about the personal tweet of a woman on ESPN. It's just -- it's not presidential. It's not healing. Is it kind of ironic that Donald Trump the man who's never apologized once in his life is demanding an apology? I don't know. It's like Donald Trump asking to see somebody's tax returns. It's just wrong.

JENNINGS: Conservatives, though, I think, are legitimately concerned about the double standard at ESPN. And you see what happened to Schilling, you see what happened to Cohen. She's getting a slap on the wrist but now they have a memo out tonight saying, well, we're not a political organization and we're just going to move on from there.

SETMAYER: -- three offenses --

JENNINGS: I think the -- OK, I think -- I mean, she said the president -- what she said the president was largely surrounded by white supremacists. She didn't attack just the president. She (INAUDIBLE) the character of anyone else staffer --


JENNINGS: So I think conservatives are right to be worried about what's going on there as a matter of programming. But I also think that the White House shouldn't weigh in on this. I mean, look, it's a free market issue. If I were ESPN, I would want my Sport Center anchor make the half the country, man, their job is to attract eyeballs and she probably driving people away.

SETMAYER: And the free market will decide. I mean, people boycott with their dollars, with their eyes, with their viewership all the time. If this is something that the country doesn't want, then they won't watch ESPN. And ESPN will make whatever adjustment necessary if this is what they think they should do. I just felt -- this is not an issue for the government to be, the president particularly, to weigh in on.

COOPER: Well, right there. Thank you all.

A programming note, a new episode of Mike Rogers documentary series, "Declassified", airs tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN. I love the series.

ROGERS: Thank you.

COOPER: I really. Up next.

ROGERS: Go watch it.

COOPER: Yes. The latest from protest in St. Louis.


[21:45:50] COOPER: We're following breaking news in St. Louis tonight, people protesting the acquittal of the former police officer in the shooting death of an African-American man in 2011. I want to go back to Dan Simon. Dan, walking -- following these protesters reporting on the protest, what's been the happening right now?

SIMON: Well, Anderson, we're still following this guy named Trendy area (ph) in St. Louis. And still, hundreds of protests out here. We're walking by -- you see this Mexican restaurant right here. This is an angry crowd, Anderson, but they're not militant. They've been totally peaceful and the police have just been letting them go where they want to go. We do see some people wearing some masks, and that could -- to be honest, could spell some trouble for later. So we're going to have to wait and see what happens tonight as the night goes on. But I can tell you that there is a heavy police presence out here, but they're not interfering with the protesters at the moment. But just letting them go where they want, Anderson.

COOPER: And explain the genesis of this. Because there were -- once this verdict came through which was a closely watched trial in St. Louis, the protests kind of sprang up immediately right after that.

SIMON: That's right, right outside of the courthouse you had a couple hundred people come to the courthouse almost immediately after the verdict. And there were some people in that crowd who were throwing rocks and throwing water bottles at police. We saw a violent clash. Police used some pepper spray to get the crowd under control, and a number of people were arrested. And then things started to calm down after that, and then word spread. There were questions like where should we go, where should we go and march? And the consensus apparently goes come to the -- let's go at the central west end of St. Louis and that's where we still are tonight.

COOPER: All right, Dan Simon, appreciate that. We'll continue to check in with you. Joining me now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey. Chief Ramsey, there was a lot of evidence against this officer in this case. He was recorded saying during this car chase which proceed (ph) his killing. He said we're going to kill this mf. The gun found in the car had DNA on it only from the officer, the police officer not from the suspect. I'm wondering were you surprised by the verdict or is all of that explainable because clearly to the judge it was?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I wasn't surprised after I read the judge's verdict, the 30 pages. I was concerned, there's no question about that, and certainly it doesn't look good. The comment that the officer made during the chase is certainly inappropriate. I've been in car chases. It is highly stressful. You're subject to say just about anything. That doesn't mean, no, that you're guilty of murder. And so there are a lot of things that he did that weren't consistent with policy. I mean, he had an unauthorized weapon, he handled evidence inappropriately, all those kinds of things. But again, he was charged of first-degree murder and you've got to be able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt and the state did not do that.

COOPER: During the initial confrontation, officer Stockley's partner yelled the suspect had a gun, so that was certainly in his hand --


COOPER: -- and as he approach to vehicle, you know, his defend seem pointed out that his gun wasn't out of his -- whole story, he just had his hand on his weapon heading up there, the idea of being -- if he was really, you know, premeditating wanting to kill him, he would have had the gun out already.

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, you know, that's kind of hard to say. First of all, if you go back to the church's chicken incident, I mean, this suspect did ram the police car a couple times, drove off at a high rate of speed. They were engaged in a chase that lasted two or three minutes, I guess, before they actually confronted the individual the second time. Now if he had his hand on his gun at the ready, maybe he felt comfortable that he could draw quick enough. I probably would have had mine out if I thought the guy was armed. But, again, there was a lapse of time because from the time he actually approached the car to the time he fired the shots.

Listen, anytime a life is taken it needs to be closely scrutinized and I understand how people feel because they just don't trust the system. If the decision is anything other than what they wanted to be then you're going to have protest and you're going to have issue. It's a lack of trust.

[21:50:09] COOPER: And Chief Ramsey, it seems like on a protest like this it's got to be very difficult for police because again it seems somewhat spontaneous. People not really even -- I'm not sure everybody really knows where they're going to go. I guess a small number of people are making the decision sort of ad hoc. It's got to be hard for police to kind of strike the balance between, you know, letting people protest even, you know, with or without a permit and then trying to stop them from doing certain things.

RAMSEY: Well, it is, but we're kind of used to that now as a profession where you have these spontaneous protests. You monitor, you try to re-rout traffic. The more troubling thing, though, Anderson, is what I saw earlier today because Missouri is an open carry state you saw some people or few, not me, openly carrying firearms. We saw that in Charlottesville and we actually saw a bit in Dallas before those officers were shot. That is very dangerous and that's just a tragedy waiting to happen. To have people at a protest it's hardly charge to begin with and you introduce weapons on top of that, not much good can come from it.

COOPER: As a backdrop to the protests tonight the Department of Justice announced they're scaling back the Obama administration's program to reform local Police Departments. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that and what kind of message it sends.

RAMSEY: Well, you know, I coached every President Obama's task force on 21st century policing in this commission in Philadelphia. I actually asked for the Justice Department to come in and take a look at our department. I thought it was very helpful.

Listen, I understand that there's no one way of doing things, but I do think having an outside body come in and take a look at a department, make recommendations is something that can benefit both the department and the city that that department is in. So, I have mixed feelings. I'd like to see exactly the model that they are proposing and how it actually works, because sometimes, you know, you do need that outside look at a department if you're going to really make reforms.

COOPER: Charles Ramsey, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Coming up, what President Trump said today about North Korea's latest missile launch. We also have a exclusive rare look at life inside North Korea, a preview of the CNN's special report, "Secret States: Inside North Korea", which starts at the top of the hour.


[21:56:26] COOPER: President Trump is talking tough on North Korea after its latest missile launch. The president says the U.S. has effective and overwhelming options against North Korea. Will Ripley joins us from Tokyo tonight.

This missile launch, it was the second to fly over Japan in less than a month. What more are you learning about it tonight?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: North Korean state media, Anderson, just in the past few hours released images of the missile. And as we suspect it was the Hwasong-12, North Korea's intermediary range missile. The same one that they launched over Japan a couple weeks ago causing air raid sirens to go off again for many residents in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. It's the first time since World War II that people in Japan are hearing air raid sirens and being told what to do in the event of an attack. Very, very troubling for many people in the region.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, talking about the fact that diplomatic options may be running out which when she was speaking from Washington just ahead of the emergency U.N. Security Council snap meeting. And she also said that there are plenty of military options and, of course, President Trump alluding to that as well. But I can tell you when I was in North Korea just last week, chatting with officials, none of that rhetoric from Washington is intimidating them. In fact, they say these sanctions and the pressure from the Washington and the U.N. just makes them want to accelerate their weapons program further and test more missiles like this.

COOPER: Will, you've spent so much time in North Korea over the last couple years. You've got a special coming up in just couple of minutes on CNN. You've got unprecedented access inside the country. What are we going to see tonight?

RIPLEY: You know, we spent 15 days in North Korea and there have been so many times, Anderson, I've been there and we're heading to a shoot and I'm looking out the window of the van just wishing that we could stop and pullover and actually talk to people and ask them about their lives and for the first time ever we had an opportunity to do that. You know, we're constantly under the supervision of government minders. They had an agenda. Things that they wanted to show us, but some of the best moments that you're going to see in just a couple of minutes were these unscripted moments where we were able to stop and kind of in an unplanned way approach people and ask them questions. So like these young people that we found in the clip that you're about to see.


RIPLEY (voice-over): In North Korea government minders watch our every move and restrict what we can film, even if this is what we want to see. High school students horsing around at the beach. I can't help but wonder what do they actually know about America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No. I just wear it to play sports.

RIPLEY (on camera): Have you ever heard of Portland?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Haven't heard of it.

RIPLEY (on camera): Have you ever seen any American movies or heard American music?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No.

RIPLEY (on camera): Ever heard of Facebook or twitter or Instagram.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No, not at all.

RIPLEY (voice-over): These teens have been told Americans act and look scary.

RIPLEY (on camera): What would you expect from an American? What would you expect an American to be like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Big nose with a hairy chest.

RIPLEY (on camera): Big nose and hairy chest, huh? Well, I don't have a hairy chest, you tell me, do I have a big nose?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): With a nose like that, it is sort of.

RIPLEY (on camera): Have you guys ever met an American before?

(voice-over): They become visibly uncomfortable when they learn I'm an American. I'm the first one they've ever met.

(on camera): Well, I won't interrupt your game any longer. Thank you very much. It was nice to meet you guys.


RIPLEY: When you listen to these North Koreans you really need to read between the lines because everything that they're saying is what their government has been telling them from cradle to grave. Everything that North Koreans hear is a message that has been vetted and approved by their authoritarian government. But still, to be able to travel from the southern border, you know, the demilitarized zone all the way up to the border near China, the first time CNN has ever been there really unprecedented and the pictures are truly extraordinary, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, I look forward to that. Will Ripley, thanks very much. Will's special report "Secret State: Inside North Korea", starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The following a CNN's Special Report.