Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Mattis Denounces Trump, Cotton Calls for Deploying Troops Against Protests: A Closer Look

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-The nationwide protests over George Floyd's murder

have been incredibly successful in swaying public opinion.

And now even military leaders are speaking out

against the president's attempts to suppress them.

For more on this, it's time for "A Closer Look."


The country has been convulsing with outrage over the brutal

murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police,

and the president has decided to respond with chilling

authoritarian threats to unleash the military

on American citizens in American cities,

a threat he repeated yesterday in an interview

with his former press secretary, Sean Spicer.

-Will you send in the military

to any cities in particular to restore that law and order?

-Well, it depends. I don't think we'll have to.

We have very strong powers to do it.

The National Guard is -- is customary,

and we have a very powerful National Guard,

over 300,000 men and women.

And we can do pretty much whatever we want.

-First of all, no, you can't.

Second, it's nice to see Sean Spicer

somewhere other than the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble's.

Sorry, holding up the wobbly leg

on the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble's.

I guess this is what's left for you after you flunk out

from "Dancing with the Stars."

I'd hate to be this guy's agent.

"Well, I never got a call back from 'Naked and Afraid,'

but how would you like to interview

the guy who fired you?

All right, pays scale."

It's clear the mass demonstrations,

which have been overwhelmingly peaceful,

are having a major impact.

Just last night, Trump's former defense secretary,

General James Mattis, expressed support for the protests

and denounced Trump's use of military police

to patrol D.C. and tear-gas protesters

for his church photo op, which of course,

led Trump to lash out with a bunch of cuckoo tweets.

-"When I joined the military some 50 years ago,

I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath

would be ordered under any circumstance

to violate the Constitutional rights

of their fellow citizens."

We must reject and hold accountable

those in office who would make a mockery

of our Constitution.

-Last night the president tweeted,

"Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I

have in common is that we both have the honor

of firing Jim Mattis, the world's most overrated general.

I asked for his letter of resignation

and felt great about it.

His nickname was 'Chaos,' which I didn't like,

and changed to 'Mad Dog.'"

-Okay, first of all, he resigned.

You didn't fire him.

Second, you didn't come up with the name "Mad Dog."

He's had it since at least 2004.

And we know you didn't come up with it

because it's a cool nickname, and your nicknames suck.

Sorry. Sorry, dude.

If you'd come up with a nickname for him, it would have been

something like "Lame James" or "Jumpin' Jim."

[ As Trump ] "Jumpin' -- Jumpin' Jim Mattis.

You want to jump on up to the microphone?

Always jumpin'. Jumpin' Jim."

Mattis' decision to speak out is yet another indication

of the truly precarious moment we're in.

Trump and the police establishment are obviously

threatened by the widespread popularity of the protests,

which have been both effective and everywhere.

-Protests continue nationwide today,

pleading for drastic changes in America's law enforcement.

[ Gunshot ] Over the weekend,

demonstrations were reported in all 50 states

and the District of Columbia.

-The map is finally all red, but not for the reason Trump wants.

His aides probably had to mute the TV

to keep him from losing his mind.

"Look, Mr. President, the election's over

and you won all 50 states.

Now you can go back into the bunker

and stay there for the next four years."

"Okay, but if anyone asks, I'm not hiding in the bunker.

I'm just checking to make sure the light switches work, okay?

That's all."

And the demonstrations have already clearly had results,

specifically in swaying public opinion.

They're proving that direct mass action in the streets works.

One poll found that a majority of the American public

says that the anger that led to these protests

is fully justified.

And another poll found that 64% of American adults

were sympathetic to people who are out protesting

right now.

A little more than half of rural residents said

they were sympathetic to the protesters,

while seven out of ten suburbanites agreed.

Damn, usually the only thing you can get that many suburbanites

to agree on is their favorite shopping mall food chain.

It's always Auntie Anne's. And if you say Sbarro, you know,

just like a long look in the mirror.

If you're missing Sbarro right now,

just take some Styrofoam and melt some string cheese

on top of it. There, boom.

There's your Sbarro's. Sbarro's!

That said, I would give anything right now to go to a mall,

eat some Sbarro's and browse one of those random kiosks

that sell calendars with puppies on them.

Oh! You guys, I miss going outside.

And even when it's just to, like, go right back inside.

The point is, the protests have

profoundly swayed public opinion.

And this kind of massive, sustained political mobilization

represents a direct threat to the unjust system

of predatory policing we currently have,

which is why the people who benefit from that system

are lashing out so aggressively, one after another.

We've watched countless videos of local police departments

arresting or violently attacking peaceful protesters,

and reporters lawfully exercising

their First Amendment rights.

In Ft. Lauderdale, for example, an officer was caught on camera

shoving a protester to the ground who was peacefully

kneeling with her hands up.

And now "The Miami Herald" reports that that officer

has been reviewed by Internal Affairs for using force

79 times in his roughly 3 1/2 years on the force.

79 times in 3 1/2 years.

I haven't used shampoo that much in the same time period.

And, granted, I probably should have.

But how many times do you have to get in trouble

before you get fired?

No other job works like that.

If a commercial airline pilot had been investigated 79 times

for flying upside down and doing barrel rolls

while hammered on Goldschlager,

we wouldn't be like, "All right, man.

80 strikes, and you're out."

Of course, if it's more than three strikes --

if it's ever more than three strikes,

it's just not strikes anymore.

It's tee-ball rules.

No one's getting sent back to the dugout.

They just get sent off to first base thinking,

"I'm pretty good at baseball."

And then there's New York City, where there have been countless

videos of police violently escalating encounters

with peaceful protesters and inflicting abuse with impunity.

On Tuesday, the NYPD trapped thousands of protesters

in a dangerous situation on the Manhattan Bridge

for hours before letting them enter Brooklyn.

-In New York City, thousands of protesters,

trapped on the Manhattan Bridge for hours,

police using barricades to prevent them from leaving

either side of the bridge,

a controversial tactic known as "kettling."

-All right, first of all, nothing that dangerous

should have an adorable name like "kettling."

"Kettling" sounds like something Ms. Doubtfire would make up

on the spot to trick the kids into thinking she's British.

"What are you doing, Ms. Doubtfire?"

[ As Mrs. Doubtfire ] "Oh, just some 'kettling.'

Oh, a bit -- a bit of the old 'kettling.'"

And, yeah, I have run out

of modern television shows to watch,

so I've been watching old movies that seemed

normal at the time, but in retrospect are kind of insane.

Your husband puts on a wig, and you don't recognize him?

Okay! All right!

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right.

Second, why the hell are you trapping people

on the Manhattan Bridge?

Are you cops or the Green Goblin?

Again, Green Goblin, madman, access to high-tech weaponry.

You can't kill a teenager in a unitard? Okay.


The only time anyone should be trapped for hours

on the Manhattan Bridge is when they decide to take a cab home

during rush hour.

And when that happens, you're technically not trapped there,

you live there.

The last time I took a cab across the Manhattan Bridge,

I was stuck so long, I started getting mail there.

[ Taps ]

Good rimshot, buddy. Thank you.

The scenes we've all watched of police violently attacking

protesters are more typical of authoritarian regimes

than liberal democracies, And of course,

some of the most harrowing examples have come from D.C.,

where we've seen military helicopters

descend on protests to scare them away,

armed guards blocking the Lincoln Memorial,

caravans of military vehicles rolling down streets,

DEA agents authorized to conduct

covert surveillance on protesters,

and unidentified law enforcement officers

without insignia or name badges refusing to identify themselves.

-Today we're about 60, maybe 70 yards further away

from the White House than we were yesterday,

pushed back from that fence.

And part of the story here today is

the increasing militarization

and federalization of the protest response

on Washington, D.C.'s city streets.

These men behind me are with the D.C. National Guard.

They were brought out here a little bit earlier.

They relieved a group who wore no insignia,

just federal law enforcement officers

who wouldn't identify themselves,

wouldn't tell me where they were from,

what agency they represented.

-The worst part of this is that every stoner

who cornered me at a party in college was right.

We are living in a police state.

So, retroactive apologies, Scooch.

And of course the most shocking example in D.C.

was the violent attack on peaceful protesters

near the White House to make way for the president to participate

in his dumb photo op where he walked over to a church

and held up a Bible that wasn't his

like a teacher who just found a porno mag

in the back of a classroom.

"Guys, who is this? Fess up or I'll have no choice

but to conduct an investigation and inspect it myself.

You're better than this, guys. You're better than this."

Attacking peaceful protesters exercising

their Constitutional rights just so the president

can have a photo op is a heinous crime

against the Constitution.

And as with all authoritarian regimes,

they can only get away with it

by warping reality and lying about it.

Yesterday, the White House tried to claim

they hadn't actually used tear gas,

but other chemicals that just happened to cause tears.

-No tear gas was used, and no rubber bullets were used.

-Chemical agents were used. -So, again,

no tear gas was used, no rubber bullets were used.

-Why are you making that distinction?

Chemical agents were used. -Let me back up and --

-We talked to an Episcopal priest who said she was gassed.

Others say they were tear-gassed in that area.

-Well, no one was tear-gassed.

-Officials from the administration claimed

that they did not use tear gas.

All right, well, they used pepper balls

and smoke flashbangs, which caused these images

that you're seeing right now.

So, all right, if you want to split hairs there.

It's a distinction without a difference, right?

Pepper balls and flashbangs share many similar effects

of tear gas, including excessive tearing, lachrymation,

which CNN's team on the ground witnessed.

They experienced this.

You can see the folks here in front of you experiencing it.

The president wants a correction from the media that tear gas

was not used, but in fact by his own CDC's classification,

it was tear gas.

-If the CDC says it's tear gas,

he's definitely not going to listen to them.

The CDC also says sticking Tide to-go pens up your nose

won't cure coronavirus, but I'm almost certain

Trump's at least tried it.

"I can tell it's working because my brain is on fire."

But the lies are not working, and you can tell because

even Trump's Defense Secretary Mark Esper

is now distancing himself from the photo op,

although he's doing it

with one of the most laughable excuses imaginable.

Esper, who accompanied Trump to the church

after the protesters had been attacked,

told NBC News, "I didn't know where I was going."

Esper said, he believed they were going to observe

the vandalized bathroom in Lafayette Square.

Well, in his defense, anytime you follow Trump anywhere,

you probably expect to see a bathroom get destroyed.

[ Taps ] Oh, even better!

You're getting really good at it.

All right, just don't overstay your welcome.

Seriously, you thought you were going to go see

a vandalized bathroom?

You don't need to gas protesters for that.

Just go to any rest stop on I-95.

In fairness to Esper, I can definitely see Trump

wanting to take a field trip to see a vandalized bathroom.

"The wall said to call this number for a good time.

Should we? I mean it feels like we're living in a bad time.

Maybe a good time is exactly what we need

to turn this thing around. Should we just call?

Use the White House number.

I don't want to use my cell phone minutes."

This is what authoritarian regimes do.

They defend violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters

by spreading lies and disinformation.

And yet the Republican Party is in most cases

either idly standing by or openly embracing

calls for military violence towards American citizens.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton wrote a chilling op-ed

for "The New York Times" called "Send in the Troops,"

in which he lied repeatedly about the demonstrations

and called on the president to invoke a law known

as the "Insurrection Act"

to send the military into American cities

to put down the protests.

Cotton wrote, "One thing above all else

will restore order to our streets, an overwhelming

show of force to disperse,

detain, and ultimately deter law breakers."

Holy [bleep], dude.

Did you steal that line from General Hux?

These guys want to tear up the Constitution so badly

because they want to be ruled by a dictator so badly.

Nothing would make them happier than to throw a party

celebrating the end of democracy and load a confetti cannon

with scraps from the Bill of Rights.

But as sinister as this op-ed is, the more shocking thing

is that the "Times" opinion page chose to run it.

I mean, what are you guys doing? Our democracy is on a precipice,

and you decide to give it a push?

I mean, just because it's a terrible opinion

doesn't mean it deserves

to be on the "New York Times" op-ed page.

I mean you wouldn't want to read "Baby seals are asking for it,

club away."

A fun joke to tell with no live audience.

It definitely would have groaned for it.

And yet here, the same sound all the time.

The "Times'" editorial page editor James Bennett

responded to backlash over the op-ed writing,

"'Times' opinion owes it to our readers to show them

counterarguments, particularly those made by people

in a position to set policy.

We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton's argument

painful, even dangerous.

We believe that is one reason

it requires public scrutiny and debate."

Wait, so your argument is you had to print a bad column

in your newspaper so everyone would know it's bad?

I mean, that logic makes no sense.

If you go to a five-star restaurant, the chef

doesn't serve you Arby's first just to make sure

you know it tastes like [bleep].

You're not legally obligated to run fascist calls

for military occupation in your newspaper.

Tom Cotton is a senator.

He has plenty of ways to get his opinions out there.

C-SPAN. All right, that's a bad example.

But if your policy is that you're going to run bad columns

full of lies for the sake of hearing counterarguments,

then I'm officially requesting that you run my op-ed,

"James Bennett's favorite movie of all time is 'Cats.'"

I dare you to print it.

Or, are you too afraid of my controversial opinions?

The president and the police establishment are lashing out

at nationwide protests because those protests threaten

a racist, unjust system that serves the powerful.

They're deeply invested in protecting that system

because at the core of it is the belief

that the people in charge...

-Can do pretty much whatever we want.

-This has been "A Closer Look."


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