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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Protesters Gather In Park Near White House, Attempted To Tear Down Statue Of Andrew Jackson; White House Defends Trump's Use Of Racial Slur To Describe Coronavirus; Rep. Demings On Possible VP Job: "I'm Not Sure I Want The Job As Much As The Job May Want Me". Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired June 22, 2020 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00]

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, back to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Randi Kaye, Randi, thanks very much.

And to everyone just joining us, Chris Cuomo is off tonight.

We have breaking news. Reporters have been asked to leave the White House. We want to go back to our Kaitlan Collins, who's just now across the street.

Kaitlan, if you can, just for viewers, who are joining us at the top of the hour, explain what - what's been happening in the last couple of minutes?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Anderson, we're standing in front of Lafayette Square. That's of course in front of the White House.

And here, just about maybe a half hour ago, protesters put ropes around a statue of Andrew Jackson in the park. They were trying to topple that statue. And then very quickly, you saw police try to move those protesters back.

They were using some kind of chemical irritant. We're not exactly sure what. And now they've been pushed back, and the park is closed.

And we are back here standing, of course, exactly where you saw the President do that walk, where he came, and posed, in front of St. John's Church, not so long ago.

And they pushed protesters back. And now, protesters are somewhat facing off with the police.

You can see they are literally face-to-face with several officers, who are standing here behind their bikes, after that happened, just a few moments ago. They were chanting things like "Hey ho, Andrew Jackson's got to go," several things like that.

And the reason I'm out here is first, we were inside the White House. And Secret Service officers came around to the reporters, and said that we had to leave the White House grounds.

Now, someone listening at home may not think that's that unusual. But it actually is incredibly unusual. And I don't think we've ever been asked to actually physically leave the White House at a time like that.

But instead, officers are coming around, telling reporters they had to get off the White House grounds at that moment, though it's not clear why because, of course, if you're even looking at Lafayette Square, the Andrew Jackson statue is probably a good 100 yards back from the White House.

So, it's not certainly clear why. We're reaching out to Secret Service to try to get some kind of explanation for why the White House reporters had to leave.

But what we are seeing now is these - are these protesters clash with police here, again, in front of the White House, this time, over that Andrew Jackson statue that is in Lafayette Park.

COOPER: So, there are still protesters there. Obviously we can hear people talking. Those are people in front of you, I assume, or around you.

COLLINS: Yes.

COOPER: You're by the - the old church, which is where the President had gone several weeks ago.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Protesters--

COLLINS: Yes. You can see, Anderson, it's getting emotional. These are people talking to the police officers that - they've been standing here. It's probably about a 150 protesters, 200 protesters here in front of the White House if I did the skew of a count from where I'm standing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --the White people--

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And Kaitlan, the Lafayette Park, that's - is that policed by D.C. Police or is that Federal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once we go to--

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: These are Metropolitan Police right here.

COOPER: OK.

COLLINS: Just MPD standing here. There are - and it's - it's interesting because, you know, if you're familiar with how, in front of the White House it works, it is very certain slots of officers that are in charge of the President.

Some of them are Federal officers, like you saw the National Guard standing in that park not too long ago. But I believe, when you hit here, where we are standing right now, it is Metropolitan Police. And that is who's standing here on these bikes.

But, of course, if you look back, you see Park Police in the actual park. I'll see if Albert can get up here. You see them in the white shirts with the blue hats. Those are the Park Police back there.

Those are the ones who cleared the protesters out, so aggressively, when the President came over to make his walk in front of St. John's Church, using rubber bullets, using those pepper balls as projectiles, of course, that they were using.

And so, the question is here, you know, we saw some people. They had gotten some kind of chemical irritant on them, as they're being pushed back to here.

For now, you're just seeing the protesters chanting and standing in front of these officers. And a lot of the officers are just standing here. So, it's not clear if they were just moving them back to this line or where that's going to go from here.

But this time, this was the first time, I believe, since everything that's been going on, in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, as you have seen those statues, and those monuments come down across the country, that we've seen someone actually try to take one down, in front of the White House, that Andrew Jackson statue, of course, where he is on top of a horse, right in front of the White House in Lafayette Square.

COOPER: And how long were people trying to remove that statue from because the images were from - from earlier. Do you know how long that process was - was continuing before they were cleared out? Because it looks like they had gotten--

COLLINS: It was long enough for--

COOPER: --ropes around the statue.

COLLINS: Yes, it was long enough for them to get those ropes around the statue. But it doesn't seem clear they made any progress with that before they were pushed back by the officers in the area.

It's not really clear now how quickly that materialized. But it was pretty quickly that then the White House is telling reporters, they actually had to leave the grounds.

And I just - I've got to stress that it's so rare. I don't think that it's ever happened, at least not since I've been covering the White House where reporters have been asked to leave the grounds.

Typically, there's a security threat, you know, someone jumps a barricade, there's a suspicious package, they just tell reporters to get off the lawn, and go inside, and they'll lock the doors. [21:05:00]

They don't normally ask you to actually leave the grounds. So, we're still trying to get explanation from Secret Service, from Park Police, on why that was the move that they made, given it's - it's not a massive crowd here. It's probably fewer than 200 people.

COOPER: OK. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thank you very much. We're going to keep coming back to you, as the situation warrants.

Now, to the racist name the President used for the virus that has killed more than a 120,000 Americans, said in Tulsa, on Saturday, was supposed to be a packed arena, wasn't quite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: By the way, it's a disease, without question, has more names, than any disease in history.

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I can name, Kung Flu.

(CROWD CHEERS AND LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I can name, 19 different versions of names.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Today, when asked about it, by several reporters, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany first tried to say the President doesn't use racist phrases like that that he doesn't say what you just saw and heard him say.

She was then pressed on it, first by an Asian-American Correspondent for CBS News, and then by CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEIJIA JIANG, CBS NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kayleigh, "Kung flu" is extremely offensive to many people in the Asian-American community. To be clear, are you saying the White House does not believe it is racist?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: To be clear, I think the media is trying to play games with the terminology of this virus, where the focus should be on the fact that China let this out of their country. The same phrase that the media roundly now condemns has been used by the media.

COLLINS: You don't even have to answer this. The media has never called it the "Kung flu." Calling it a "Chinese Coronavirus" and calling it the "Kung flu" are very different things.

MCENANY: The media - the media and your network, specifically-- COLLINS: The New York Times and CNN called it the "Kung flu"?

MCENANY: The media and your network, specifically, have repeatedly--

COLLINS: They called it the "Kung flu"?

MCENANY: --used the term "China virus"--

COLLINS: "Kung flu."

MCENANY: --and "Wuhan virus," and then gone on to deride the President as somehow using a term that they themselves have never used. So we can go through CNN's history--

COLLINS: "Kung flu" is not a medical term, Kayleigh. You know that.

MCENANY: I'd be more than happy to go through CNN's history. On February 9th, you guys talked about the "Wuhan Coronavirus." On January 23rd, you guys talked about the "Wuhan Coronavirus," on January 22nd, the "Wuhan virus." I can write it all out for you and detail it for you in an email.

COLLINS: That's not the same as calling it the "Kung flu," though, Kayleigh. You've got to admit that.

MCENANY: Yes, Justin.

COLLINS: It is not the same thing as calling it the "Kung flu."

MCENANY: Yes, Justin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Even as she was making excuses for what the President said, we were learning that two more campaign staffers, who went to Tulsa, for the President, have tested positive for the disease the President was mocking. This brings the total number of infected staffers to eight.

Joining us now, Emergency Room Physician, George Washington University Medical School Visiting Professor, and former Baltimore Health Commissioner, Leana Wen, also, former Kansas Governor, and former Obama Administration Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

Dr. Wen, you told our producer that every time you're on air, talking about Coronavirus, you experienced backlash over your ethnicity, firsthand. Can you explain what's been happening?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, VISITING PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Sure, Anderson. This is the first time that I've talked about this because, you know, just hasn't seemed like something I wanted to talk about before, but important to.

Every time I write a paper, or am on your Town Hall, or otherwise am speaking about Coronavirus, and giving advice, on reducing risk for people and their families, I get messages calling me a "Bat-eater," telling me to go back to my own country, saying that I should admit that it's "My people" who are causing this virus.

And I have friends and colleagues who are Asian-American, doctors and nurses, who are - patients are spitting on them, and refusing to be treated by them, because they're the ones who are apparently are carrying this virus.

Now, all of us, as health professionals, we do our jobs. We move on. We do our best. We internalize this. And we don't let this bother us as much as we can. But I think the fact is that this doesn't have to be this way.

We see leaders and other countries, our own state and local leaders, many of them step up, and speak out against racists, racism, and xenophobia. And really, the President of the United States should be doing the same.

COOPER: Does it - I mean, his words, you believe, they matter. I mean, they still matter to a lot of people. I mean, many people are kind of numb to what the President says.

But clearly, many people in this country still listen to him, and it gives license to a lot of words and behaviors that - that are unacceptable.

WEN: There are millions and millions of Americans for whom the President is the most credible messenger. And they will use his words, and unfortunately, it will impede our efforts, when it comes to public health.

I mean, I worry about those patients, who are not following their doctors' or nurses' advice because they're Asian-American. I worry about the use of these words that go against all of our public health standards.

I mean the World Health Organization has an entire Committee that's dedicated to naming new diseases to avoid this fear and stigma and racism.

And I wish that the President would just use the name of the virus, SARS-CoV-2 and this disease, COVID-19 that the World Health Organization and all the public health experts are calling it.

[21:10:00]

COOPER: Secretary Sebelius, you were actually the first person who really put this on my radar, pointing out that way back when the President visited the CDC, and made the, you know, now kind of equivalent comment to George Bush saying, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," one which he said, you know, "If you want a test, you can get a test anywhere in America," which wasn't true then, not - maybe not even true at this stage.

But you were the one who early on, when you were on this program, at some point, pointed out to me something else the President said that where he talked about his numbers going up.

He didn't want his numbers going up, meaning the number of positive Coronavirus cases in America. The President said, just tonight, in an interview with CBN News that all the testing in America has put ourselves at a disadvantage.

He still continues to push this absurd notion that the only reason we have so many cases is because our testing is just so darn good and widespread, we just know about it more, when, if anything, all epidemiologists say is "We're still woefully undercounting things. And the reason people - more people are getting positive, and going to the hospital isn't because there's more tests."

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HHS SECRETARY, (D) FORMER KANSAS GOVERNOR: Well I think that's absolutely right, Anderson.

I think the first time he talked about not wanting his numbers to be bad was early March, when he was finally just admitting that there might be a problem, and we're still in that same loop.

Now, mind you, the President makes sure that every single person, who gets anywhere near him, daily in the White House, on the plane, dealing with his clothes, dealing with his rally, they get tested constantly.

So, he believes that testing is good to make sure he doesn't get the virus. He just doesn't believe that testing is good to make sure that the rest of America can be safe and secure. That's really unconscionable.

So, saying that somehow the rise in cases is because we're doing more testing, yes, we're finding more cases. That's good news. We're still way behind the virus. Any public official, health official will tell you that. We are still reacting. We're not ahead of it.

The only way to get ahead of the virus is to way tamp down the cases, in any area, any - and then test like crazy when a case appears, contact trace, and make sure you quarantine.

We can't do that yet because we're still finding all kinds of people who have the virus. We have documented cases that continue to grow, day after day. And hospitalizations and deaths are continuing in the United States at a pace well beyond any of the European nations. So, we are still not testing enough.

But he's a man, who doesn't want his numbers, whatever those are, those are patients as far as I'm concerned, people - people who have lost loved ones, if we find somebody, particularly who's asymptomatic, they may be able then to protect themselves, protect their family members.

COOPER: Yes.

SEBELIUS: Protect their vulnerable relatives. Without the tests, they cannot do any of that. COOPER: And again, so hypocritical to be pushing that message when you yourself are surrounded by people, who test everybody around you, and everyone around you has to wear a mask, but just not in public.

SEBELIUS: You bet.

COOPER: It's incredible.

SEBELIUS: Right.

COOPER: Doctor - Governor Sebelius, thank you. Doctor Wen, thank you as well.

Coming up next, we'll talk to the first U.S. Attorney for the Southern District for New York, the President fired, about the latest U.S. Attorney he fired, about why he thinks the Attorney General is the one who really needs to go.

And given all that's happening in Lafayette Square, outside the White House, surrounding the statue of Andrew Jackson, I'll talk to Congresswoman and potential Biden running mate, Val Demings, about the whole issue of statues, symbolism, race and justice.

[21:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's a saying. Maybe you have heard it. "Crooks hate cops." Tonight, it's again being used by the President's critics in the wake of his firing of Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

It began, late Friday night, Attorney General William Barr announcing that Berman was resigning. But in a statement, about as scathing as it gets in Washington, Berman refused, and the President then fired him, while initially claiming he had nothing to do with it.

Today, the White House admitted that he did. Berman's office, as you know, prosecuted former Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, and, according to CNN sources, is currently conducting investigation to involving Rudy Giuliani, and his former associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

Joining us now, the first U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, the President fired, Preet Bharara. He's a CNN Senior Legal Analyst. Also with us is CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

So Preet, you wrote in The New York Times that Attorney General Barr should have lost his job this weekend, not Mr. Berman. Why?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well look, the saga, dating back to Friday, is incredibly unseemly.

You have now, I think, multiple people who understand that the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Federal Law Enforcement Officer, in the country, made a misleading statement, some might say a lie, in an effort to oust Berman in a convenient way. As you pointed out in the intro, he put out a statement, saying that Geoffrey Berman was stepping down. That turned out to be false. Geoffrey Berman was not stepping down.

We also have a report, and I don't know if it's true or not. But I credit the source, Talking Points Memo, which is - has a lot of sources in the U.S. Attorney community, going back to 2007, when I, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, helped to investigate the political firings of U.S. Attorneys back then.

They have a report that the New Jersey U.S. Attorney, Craig Carpenito, who was supposed to come in, and oversee the Southern District of New York, two jobs at the same time, says that he was told by Bill Barr that Geoff Berman was stepping down.

And the only reason he agreed to, to do this dual role, was because he was told that Geoff Berman was stepping down voluntarily.

So, you have a President of the United States who is worried about, clearly, investigations that touched upon a prior personal lawyer, and a current personal lawyer, from reports, who has said, over and over again, including to President Erdogan of Turkey that he has problems with the Southern District.

Geoff Berman wasn't doing anything wrong. There's been no criticism of what he was doing. He was, in fact, offered two other big jobs in Washington.

And then you have the Attorney General going about it in this way that looks like he was telling flat-out falsehoods. I think, at a minimum, he needs to be accountable for that. He needs to answer questions about that.

By the way, Jay Clayton, who's the person who the President says he intends to nominate, to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, I have nothing against him.

[21:20:00]

I think we should ask that individual whether he, too, is lied to by the Attorney General so that he would agree to take over the job, and agree to be the nominee, under the false premise that Geoff Berman, who is doing a very good job, in upholding the integrity of the Office, was stepping down. That's not a small thing.

COOPER: Jeff - Jeff Toobin, I mean, is there - is there - I asked this to - to Andrew McCabe earlier.

I mean is there any other explanation that makes sense other than this was just something done, late on a Friday night, ahead of, you know, this rally, when they hoped not many people were watching, to just get rid of somebody who's investigating the President's cronies?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I don't see any explanation other than that. And remember, there's a pattern here. You know, the Attorney General tried to get Roger Stone's sentence

reduced. The Attorney General has tried, and is trying, to get the case against Michael Flynn thrown out. He also has started a criminal investigation of the origins of the Russia investigation, to see if he can prosecute FBI people in connection with it.

Over and over again, there are these efforts to do the President's personal bidding. And now, here's an attempt to install John (ph) Clayton, this completely unqualified crony of the President, golf buddy of the President, instead of Geoff Berman, who has demonstrated a measure of independence.

It - it's just, you know, any one of those would be an embarrassment and - to the Department of Justice. All of them are a scandal.

COOPER: Preet, do you see any other explanation?

BHARARA: I don't. And, by the way, that was a long litany.

And there are others, including the way he spun the Mueller report, before the Mueller report was released in somewhat redacted form. So, and by the way, for which he got in trouble with a Federal District Court Judge.

It is clear, as I put in that Op-Ed, that the President of the United States doesn't like his allies to be investigated, and he likes his enemies to be investigated. That's the basis of what happened in impeachment, right?

So, you have a track record of, over and over again, trying to get leniency for people who are close to him, as Jeffrey mentioned, with respect to Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, and investigations, even mere announcements of an investigation, against adversaries.

So, you take common sense, you take the fact that nothing was going on that was - that was incompetent or problematic, even by the DoJ's own admission, and then the weird way this went down, this past weekend, late on a Friday night, there's no other plausible explanation.

And if there was one, they're free to give one, and explain it away, and they have not done that.

COOPER: Preet Bharara, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you.

Just ahead, John Bolton's criticism of the House impeachment effort, when he refused to testify before.

I have an extended discussion with Member of the Intelligence Committee about those remarks, as well as her thoughts on police reform, and the report she is on Joe Biden's short list for Vice President. Congresswoman Val Demings, when we return.

[21:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: As we reported earlier, protesters are gathered near the White House, many trying to topple the statue of Andrew Jackson. Those protesters now been moved back by police.

The controversy over which statues of historical figures should come down or be removed is just one of the topics I discussed earlier tonight with my next guest, Congresswoman Val Demings.

Her career arc puts her at the nexus in many of the major stories that now consume this country. We discussed her thoughts about police reform, she was a former Orlando Police Chief, and the reports about her being on Joe Biden's shortlist for Vice President.

We started tonight with a discussion about the role that brought her national attention, earlier this year, as a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, during the impeachment of President Trump, and what John Bolton, who refused to testify, during the House investigation, said today, in an interview about the way Democrats conducted the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I was fully prepared if I got a subpoena.

I think the way the House advocates of impeachment proceeded was badly wrong. I think it was impeachment malpractice.

MARTHA RADDATZ, CO-ANCHOR OF "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS," ABC NEWS, ABC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You could have been that person providing that testimony.

BOLTON: And it would not have made any difference.

RADDATZ: How can you say that? How do you know?

BOLTON: Because minds - because minds were made up on Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Congresswoman Demings, John Bolton is calling what you and your fellow House Impeachment Managers did impeachment malpractice. I'm wondering what you say to that?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): I assume you're talking about the man whose book is entitled "The Room Where It Happened." That's quite interesting because the National Security Adviser sat there in the room, and allowed the President to break the law and obstruct justice.

He had an opportunity to put his country first, as opposed to his wallet, by coming before the impeachment trial, before the Senate, and testifying under oath. Mr. Bolton chose not to do that, Anderson. And I'm very disappointed in him, and his lack of patriotism.

But, you know, he's going around, selling his book, so he made his decision.

COOPER: Bolton wouldn't say if he will testify, if Democrats subpoena him now. Do you think he needs to come and testify before Congress?

DEMINGS: I would think that John Bolton would want to testify under oath. I mean, those who want to read his book can run out, and get it, and read it. He can continue to travel on the circuit, promoting himself, and his book. But it's not under oath.

It would be great for the American people to hear John Bolton's testimony under oath. We're still waiting for that.

[21:30:00]

COOPER: The President calling the Coronavirus the "Kung flu," over the weekend, his Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, defending it, at the briefing today, I'm wondering what message it sends, not only to Asian-Americans, but frankly, to all Americans that the President throws around racist terms so freely.

DEMINGS: Well, you know, Maya Angelou said, "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."

And this President, long before he was elected - elected, really demonstrated who he is. This is nothing new.

I remember this is the President who demanded that the first African- American President prove that he was born in America, in addition to all of the other racist things he said, like S-hole countries, for example.

And so, it does not surprise me. But what we have to do, people who care about this issue, about racism and discrimination in America, we have to speak out, and speak up, and not defend the President's racist attitude, as we've seen those persons around him try to do.

COOPER: The pictures of the rally this weekend, essentially, you know, not a lot of people wearing masks, the Administration, I mean, other than wanting to get re-elected, and the President - I mean, the only thing I can interpret what is going on with the Administration, and their attitude, toward COVID-19 now, is that they want to try to put as much distance between the President, and any information about this virus as possible.

Because there's no - I mean, there's major surges in cases around the country, in your Home State of Florida, for instance.

And the President and his allies are acting like the virus isn't a concern, and that wearing a mask, which the least any of us can do, especially if we want things to reopen, that has now become, in their eyes, a sign of weakness.

DEMINGS: You know, Anderson, the President's primary responsibility is the health, safety and well-being of the American people. But since day one, his response to COVID-19 has been pitiful. And as we experience an increase in cases around the country,

remember, we're talking about a President, who is planning an in- person convention, in Florida, where we've seen 4,000 additional cases over the last few days.

And so, look, this President has time and time again demonstrated that he has no interest in putting the health, safety and well-being of the American people first. His primary responsibility is to win re- election. And he is not going to let anything, any virus, any group of people, anyone get in his way of doing that.

Watching the rally in Oklahoma, this weekend, was just shameful. And it just really amazed me, the number of people, who attended, and would not wear masks. As you said, that is the least that every individual can do.

But quite frankly, we didn't see that this weekend, but again, with the President's permission.

COOPER: I want to ask you about the Attorney General Barr firing U.S. Attorney, Geoffrey Berman, Friday night. Is the House Judiciary Committee planning to investigate that?

DEMINGS: Well I'll tell you what. There are a lot of questions around that firing, as we have seen multiple times, with this President, as he deals with anyone, who tries to hold him, and his enablers, accountable.

We know, first, the Attorney General said that Mr. Berman was stepping down. We later found out that just simply was not true. And then, the Attorney General said that the President made the decision to fire him. The President said he doesn't know anything about it.

There are a lot of questions surrounding this firing. And I do think that Congress has a role to play, in terms of getting to the bottom of it.

COOPER: We need to take a quick break.

When we return, I want to talk to you about your job as a former Chief of Police in Orlando, about the Black Lives Matter Movement, and reforms that you think Police Departments need, and - and what you think will be acceptable to folks who are in the street.

We'll be right back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[21:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Back now with more of my conversation with Congresswoman Val Demings.

Short time before, protesters gathered near the White House tonight, trying to tear down the statue of former President, Andrew Jackson. We discussed her thoughts on the history of racism in this country, the question about what statues should come down, and what real police reform might look like.

Demings is a former Police Chief of Orlando. Few days after the death of George Floyd, late last month, she penned an Op-Ed for The Washington Post. The title, "My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing?"

In it she wrote, quote, "Everyone wants to live in safer communities and to support law enforcement and the tough job they do every day. But this can't go on. The senseless deaths of America's sons and daughters, particularly African-American men, is a stain on our country. Let's work to remove it."

Here's more of the conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Congresswoman Demings, do you think that that real change and real police reforms are possible in this moment? I mean, what tangible steps, do you believe, should be taken? You're a former Chief of Police in Orlando.

DEMINGS: Well, Anderson, certainly, as you've indicated, I spent 27 years as a Law Enforcement Officer. I had the honor of serving as the Chief of Police. And yes, quite frankly, there are reforms that need to take place.

[21:40:00]

First of all, starting with enacting laws, that really give Police Chiefs and Sheriffs the authority that they need to really hold personnel more accountable, as it pertains to firing, as it pertains to discipline, in many instances, to training and due process.

But certainly, you know--

COOPER: Because what - is it that - is the problem on that--

DEMINGS: --as I called on--

COOPER: --Police Unions having, you know, contracts, stipulate what happens to officers. They basically, it seems like, often get shuttled around.

DEMINGS: Yes. I mean, certainly, Unions have a role to play. And I am a staunch supporter, in supporting Unions, who look out to make sure that their employees are in safe workplaces, that they have proper pay and benefits and those issues.

But certainly, some of the laws around the States have prevented Law Enforcement Executives from being able to really exercise, and demand the accountability that they have, and that's why - or that they need.

And that's why I'm so pleased to support the Justice in Policing Act, starting out with a national database. We have heard stories of police officers who were fired from one agency, going to another agency and being hired.

Also, banning chokeholds, I'd like to say banning neck restraints, of all kinds. Any restraint above the shoulders should be banned.

Also looking at training, and making sure that - and Police Departments, all over the country, should already know that the use of deadly force should be a last resort, but also, focusing more on de- escalation training that will hopefully prevent officers from ever having to go hands-on or using force of any kind in the first place.

COOPER: A lot of that though, it sounds like, I mean, it costs money for their training, better quality of officers.

You know, Black Lives Matter is talking about defund police, and whether there's a lot of different meanings of exactly what that might look like. You know, City Council in New York is looking at taking a billion dollars out of a $6 billion police budget.

DEMINGS: Well, I think what we need to do is to get serious about addressing the social ills that cause decay in communities in the first place.

You know, and I'm reminded of the words of former Dallas Police Chief, David Brown, who said, when he had five officers, who were executed, said that "Every time society fails, we call on the police to fix it."

Not enough mental health money? Give it to the police. Not enough drug addiction funding? Let the police handle it. Education fails? Call the cops. They'll take care of it."

And what I believe we need to get serious about is giving significant funding, appropriately funding mental health training - or counseling, money for mental health counseling, drug addiction and drug treatment programs.

We've got to look at poverty, wages, and jobs, and properly fund programs in communities that have been underserved.

And it's, by doing that, by hiring the brightest and best police officers, making sure they receive the best training, making sure that the Departments reflect the diversity in the community, but also funding those social ills that need to be addressed in communities all over the nation.

COOPER: Where do you stand on Confederate statues, around the country, coming down? You know, the President has been saying, you know, they're trying to erase our heritage I believe it's the phrase he used. I'm not sure who the hour is in that.

But - but where do you draw the line between, you know, history, honoring history, and the statues of people, who terrorized parts of American society?

DEMINGS: Well, it is interesting the language the President used. He just can't help himself. I know he obviously was not talking to someone who looks like me.

Anderson, you know, when we look historically, in this country, for the past 400 years, racism has been the ghost in the room. And we know African-Americans have been beaten, tortured, hung, and a whole lot of other bad things have happened to African-Americans in that 400-year history.

We're talking about representatives, who basically committed treason, by fighting against their own country, to keep slavery the law of the land. Now, quite frankly, the President can defend that, if he would like.

But I do think we need to take a serious look at reminders of the darkest days in our history that are proudly displayed in government buildings.

[21:45:00]

Now look, our history is what it is, right? And for those, I'm not saying that these statues should be removed and destroyed. Perhaps, they would be - serve better in museums, or in parks, or some other place, other than government buildings.

But I do think it's time for us, if we're serious about what we're saying, to address racism in America, in a most serious way, then it is appropriate to move around some of the most painful reminders.

COOPER: We got to take one more break. When we return, I just want to get your take on, well a number of things, but one of them being potentially Joe Biden's Vice President pick. We'll be right back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign team is now vetting his top choices for a running mate. He recently made clear that Congresswoman Val Demings is in contention.

Biden says she among - she's among a group of quote, really qualified and talented women who are on the list. That possibility is where we pick up the conversation that I had earlier with Congresswoman Demings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[21:50:00]

COOPER: Congresswoman Demings, former Vice President Biden has said that you are on his list of potential Vice Presidents. Do you want the job?

DEMINGS: Wow, Anderson, that's a really good question.

COOPER: I'm not the first who's asked that.

DEMINGS: I'm not sure.

COOPER: I'm sure.

DEMINGS: Well, if I want the job, that's a - that's a different way of asking the question.

I'm not sure I want the job as much as the job may want me. And I say that because I think that people are chosen, I believe, at certain times, to address certain things.

And if we look at what is going on, in our country, right now, you know, I've - I have worked - I mean, number one, I grew up the daughter of a maid and a janitor in the South. I know what discrimination feels like. I know what racism feels like because I have been subjected to it.

I chose jobs where I could work directly with people to help improve their quality of life, as a social worker, as a Career Law Enforcement Officer, Chief of Police, and now, a Member of Congress.

And so, if given that opportunity, and that's clearly Joe Biden's decision, or if I'm not the one chosen, I will continue to work hard, to unify this country, bring us together, and improve the quality of life for individuals, all people, regardless of the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, where they live, or their parents' last name.

I'm committed to that now. I will continue to be committed to that.

COOPER: I hope this isn't too personal. But I hope your parents lived long enough to see all that you have accomplished. It's extraordinary.

DEMINGS: Anderson, my - my parents were there when I was sworn in as Chief of Police in 2008. They both died eight weeks apart in 2009.

They did not see me sworn into Congress. I think they would just be beside themselves to have me serving in Congress, because Congress was something they watched on TV. To be considered as a Vice Presidential candidate, you know, they would just be so proud.

COOPER: There's a number of people in the Black Lives Matter Movement who have been asked about you as a potential Vice President. And there doesn't seem to be, among some of the people, I've seen interviewed, much enthusiasm because of your police background, because you were Chief of Police.

In a system which, even though there maybe, in their opinion, you know, good people who are trying to do a good job, as police, many in the Black Lives Matter Movement simply feel the system itself, whether it's the policing system, but also, you know, the healthcare system, education system, there is systemic inequality and racism in the system.

And even if you are a good person, trying to do a good job, the system is geared against Black and Brown people. So, what do you say to those who, within the Black community, who are

young, and protesting, and may have doubts about you as a Vice President?

DEMINGS: Well what I would say is this is a critical issue. And I thank God for the Black Lives Matter Movement and the young people who are out there protesting.

If we want to change policing, for the better, and I believe the young people, who are protesting, are totally committed to that, I know that Members of Congress, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, are totally committed to that, then we've got to change it with people who understand the system, but not just that for me.

I have been a victim of the system. What day do you think I went to work at the Orlando Police Department that I was not reminded, either by people outside of the people - or people inside - or outside of the Department, or people inside the Department that I was Black, or that I was female?

But I pressed my way through that, and made a difference every day in my community. I still have that commitment, Anderson. And I will sit down with people, like I said, whether I'm selected or not, I will continue to do the good work that needs to be done to move our nation forward.

I look forward to being a part of that. But I can't do it by myself. I'll do it working together with the - the community that I serve.

COOPER: Congresswoman Val Demings, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up, the emotional vigil for Rayshard Brooks, the man shot and killed by Atlanta Police, how his death, and a part of Dr. Martin Luther King's life are now intertwined, next.

[21:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The funeral tomorrow for Rayshard Brooks, the Black man shot and killed by a White Atlanta police officer this month will feature Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, the Reverend Bernice King.

Public viewing wrapped up this evening, and it too had a touchstone with Dr. King's legacy.

Brooks' coffin was brought to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. That's also where tomorrow's service will take place. Dr. King was a co-pastor at Ebenezer, alongside his father, in the final eight years of his life.

The Senior Pastor at Ebenezer says while Brooks was not a member of the church, he considers Brooks, and his loved ones to be part of the church's family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. RAPHAEL G. WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: None of us are safe until all of us are safe. Your children are not well unless my children are well. And this is about all of our children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A Brooks' Family Attorney says Tyler Perry has offered to pay for the funeral arrangements. A Church spokeswoman says the family has asked Atlanta Police not be involved in handling security.

The news continues. Want to turn things over now to Don Lemon and CNN TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon.

We have breaking news for you this evening. Protesters who were trying to pull down the Andrew Jackson statue, in Lafayette Park, pushed out by police tonight, using some kind of chemical agent.

You're about to look at now a live shot of that area. And, in a few minutes, we're going to go live to our reporters there on the ground there. You can see Lafayette Park, and our Kaitlan Collins, getting into place for a report for us.

Reporters told by the Secret Service to immediate leave the White House property.