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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Biden: COVID Relief Bill A "Historic Victory For The American People"; Republican Sen. Mike Lee: Bill To Expand Voting Rights "Written In Hell By The Devil Himself"; CDC: Vaccinated People Should Still Avoid Travel. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 10, 2021 - 21:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's it for us. The news continues. Let's head over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris.

[20:59:56]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Anderson, its right to pick up on the composition of this jury. The first three jurors really indicated different things, in terms of the approach of both prosecution and defense to dealing with the obvious, which is "You're not going to find people, who don't know anything about this situation."

There's also, later in the show, a little bit of inside scoop on the controversy over this third charge. It was out. Now it's back in.

COOPER: Yes.

CUOMO: They're waiting on a court. We'll talk through why it matters as much as it does. Appreciate the coverage, as always, my brother.

I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Tonight, a huge sigh of relief!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The yeas are 220. The nays are 211. The motion is adopted.

(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The Democrats got you all kinds of relief. That's right. The Democrats. This is a matter of fact.

There was zero help from the opposition party. Every single one voted against, against a bill backed by a majority of you, including many of the opposition's own Republican constituents, against sending Americans $1,400 checks, against giving unemployed Americans a $300 a week boost in support, against cutting child poverty in half, against saving tens of thousands of jobs.

Now that it is done, some of the opposers are becoming posers, like this. Look at this tweet from Senator Roger Wicker, Mississippi, celebrating the money for restaurants. Remember, he wanted to starve you. He voted against this money for you.

Fact, President Biden owns this, good or bad, the first major legislative achievement of his presidency.

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JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This bill represents a historic, historic victory for the American people. I look forward to signing it later this week. Everything in the American Rescue Plan addresses a real need.

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CUOMO: Please focus on this. 61 percent of Americans wanted this rescue. Two-thirds of the country, think it will help our economy, among them, a huge number of Republicans. More than a third of working-class Republicans think the bill should have included even more relief.

So, you've got to be thinking, why was the opposition so opposed? More important to know is why they were so quiet in their refusal. They know many of their own wanted this. They're making a different bet.

Remember, these are the people who played to the denial of the Pandemic. They're betting that they can still make people angry, divide, and therefore be a safe harbor for the hostile, come election time.

So, they are going to be against everything Biden tries to do because they are opposing him. That's why they tried to pitch Pandemic relief as you paying for "Them and their kids." What's the message there? Ugly and obvious, division, by deception.

They only want a rescue plan for Dr. Seuss. And by the way, facts first, it was his Estate that decided not to publish more of certain books. No one else made that happen. "Rescue, Mr. Potato Head," they say.

"Rescue the Royals from any reckoning of racism, because you know, there's something about that Meghan Markle that seems oh, I don't know, dark." Yes, you mean like her skin? She forgetting her place? Is that why you're so upset about it? Everything they say about Markle is code for dividing us by color.

Remember this day. This was the chance to make up for the Pandemic denial that they enabled. Instead, they decided to double down. Period!

The House Chaplain today, made a plea to the Lord, for mercy, on those who turn their backs, in a national emergency.

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REV MARGARET KIBBEN, CHAPLAIN, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We pray Your mercy. Forgive them, all of them. For when called upon to respond to a once-in-a-century Pandemic that has rocked our country, they have missed the opportunity to step above the fray and unite.

The servants you have called to lead this country have contributed to the spread of an even more insidious contagion of bitterness and spite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Amen! But I argue to you, the real time for prayers isn't what's - what happened in the past. It's about prayers for what's about to happen.

[21:05:00]

That disease of denial and truth, the disease of denial that truth and justice don't exist, that's spreading faster than COVID. And the feverish effort to oppose, now extends to a new fight, to make MAGA stand for a return to Jim Crow voting restrictions. That is not hyperbole.

Over 40 states, over 250 laws, all making voting harder, especially for minorities. And the opposition party wants you to think they are suppressing the vote as the Lord's work.

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SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Everything about this bill is rotten to the core. This is a bill as if written in Hell by the Devil himself.

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CUOMO: When he's talking about that, is he talking about this guy?

(VIDEO - FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD JOHN TRUMP)

CUOMO: Must be because Senator Mike Lee said what he said on the same day that another shady recording of him, comes out, pressuring another Georgia official, to help him steal the election and nullify thousands of votes, including the Black vote. I have the tape, ahead.

He can't be talking about H.R.1, because the bill is designed to expand voting access. It's not an anti-security bill. It doesn't make things less secure. He couldn't argue that.

Surely the Devil would not create a bill to make sure all Americans of every color have the right to vote, and have their votes counted, right? You don't see that as evil, do you? Is it the Devil's work to employ diversity in democracy? I don't think so. Why would you say that? Ask Senator Lee. Ask the opposition party.

But I'll tell you this. H.R.1 is the only single-step way to stop a wave of wicked, wanton voter suppression from Republican-controlled legislatures, all over the country, including the battlegrounds of Georgia and Arizona.

Let's bring in the better minds on what lies ahead, Dana Bash, and Natasha Alford.

Good to have you both.

Dana, why was something that is so hard to vote against, giving the wants of your constituency, voted against anyway?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: It's actually part of a pattern that we saw during the Trump era that is bleeding into what we're seeing right now, which is, the Party is, at times, and this is Exhibit A, voting against the needs of many of their constituents.

And you just have to look at CNN's poll this morning, and every other poll about this bill, Chris, which I know you've seen. It's not just Democrats, who support the specifics of what is in here, the relief that is in this bill.

It's Republicans who do, which is why when you listen to Republicans, on the House floor, today, in their press releases, in their tweets, they're just - they're using kind of the cookie-cutter Republican language, which is "It's a socialist agenda. It's a liberal agenda."

And it is a big, big, big bill, there's no question. But it is, if you look into the bill, into what is in there, the core of it is addressing the needs of the people--

CUOMO: Right.

BASH: --many of whom are their constituents.

CUOMO: Right. You have more people who said there should have been more in the bill than people who said they're against the bill.

Natasha, I want to take a listen to Senator McConnell, get some context of what he's trying to put over on this.

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, VP, DIGITAL CONTENT AND SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, THEGRIO: Yes.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Spending dramatically more money than we obviously need, at this particular point, at which time, the economy is coming back, people are getting vaccine, we're on the way out of this. We're about to have a boom. And if we do have a boom, it will have absolutely nothing to do with this $1.9 trillion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, economically, he can't know any of that. But he does know, Natasha, we're 9.5 million jobs down, from where we were before the Pandemic. What do you think the play is?

ALFORD: If you can convince people that there's no real crisis, right, then action is not necessary. And I just listened to that sound bite with so much disgust because I

know that there are people who are still getting Coronavirus. We're still getting warnings that we are in the midst of this thing, and it is not over.

[21:10:00]

And it is so like Mitch McConnell to put the politics above the people, right, and just like we saw with the Trump administration, to put politics above our actual safety. They risked our lives to sell us this big lie that the Pandemic wasn't real, and also that somehow the election was rigged.

And so, I think the American people are going to remember this moment. Mitch McConnell is banking on folks, focusing on the politics. But the American people will remember that they stood up against stimulus checks, and unemployment insurance, and access to medical insurance. These are the things that actually matter in terms of getting things done.

But if the GOP can convince you, to focus on the culture wars and the politics, they don't have to engage in policy. They don't have to tell you what better ideas they have.

CUOMO: You know? I've been encouraged to let this moment breathe a little bit. This is a big win. Nope. The real fight is the next one, and not just because it's the next one. Not everybody thinks the way I do that success is only failure averted.

The H.R.1 fight, and these laws that are going to fan out all over this country, because the Republicans have been smart, they've been working these state races, they've been winning these state races, they own a lot of these state houses and governorships, now comes H.R.1, which is the only chance to stop the spread of those laws.

And just like the Pandemic bill was sold, sotto voce, by the opposition party as, "Do you really want to help them pay for their kids and get them out of poverty?" that was code.

Today, they dropped the code, my friends. Listen to what was said, on the floor of the Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. GLENN GROTHMAN (R-WI): Black Lives Matter had in this last election. I know it's a group that it doesn't like the old-fashioned family. Disturbed that we have another program here, in which we're increasing the marriage penalty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: What? And nobody said anything--

BASH: I have no idea.

CUOMO: --about him, Dana. Nobody said anything. No one in the Party stood up.

If I said anything, even like that, right now, both of you would start yelling "Whoa! Way wrong! I don't want anything to do with that. CNN does not deserve to be underneath that guy's name."

Nobody came out and said anything about him, Dana.

BASH: Yes, I mean, because this is what happens when you have the big lie, and then extensions, and tangents that come out of, of the big lie.

And so, when you look at what they're doing in Georgia, in Iowa, and other places, where they're - what they have, as you said, Republican legislatures, and they're working on rolling back, the really unbelievably open ability for so many voters, to actually go to the polls early, to have more opportunity, at different times, to vote.

One of the main reasons they're doing that is because, just look at Georgia. They don't want voting on Sundays. Why is that? That's Souls to the Polls.

CUOMO: They know, yes, they know. Souls to the Polls is exactly right.

BASH: I mean it's really transparent what they're doing.

CUOMO: They know who votes. Dana, you hear that, it's shock. Me?

BASH: They know what they're doing.

CUOMO: It's a sense of shame.

Natasha, when you hear that guy say, no irony, no sense of guilt, or anything. He's got the mask on. But you can see from his demeanor, he's fine saying it, that "Black Lives Matter, you don't believe in our idea of the family, old-fashioned," what the hell? How does that hit your heart and your head?

ALFORD: Well, as a Black-American, racism has never had to be hidden, right? So, I'm not surprised that he just came out and said it.

I think it reflects this country. This is the same country that emancipated enslaved people, and then was like, "Wait, here are some poll taxes. You know, here are literacy tests. These are all of these roadblocks to you actually accessing the vote." So, this is a continuation of the American tradition.

And we know that these restrictive voting laws, they don't have an equal impact on everybody. They always hurt the Black voters the worst, and the voters of color, who they don't want to engage. So, these voter restriction laws are really racism wrapped in a bow for 2021.

And everything that you would think would make America actually great is in H.R.1, automatically registering people to vote, expanding early voting, we know what it's like to stand in long lines, and making sure that you can't just randomly get kicked off the voter rolls. If we have a government for the people, and by the people, then why would the GOP be afraid of something like this?

CUOMO: Two members of that Party, one comes out and says that giving voting rights to everybody, and making sure those votes are counted is the Devil's work, another guy comes out and says that Black Lives Matter, which is just right - it's just a euphemism for Black people, don't like our idea of family, no one says anything to shut any or either of them down. That's where we are.

[21:15:00]

Dana Bash, Natasha Alford, thank you very much for helping the audience tonight. Appreciate you.

Now, major relief is coming. Good. To who exactly, how much, but most importantly when, and I can't answer that last one, and it's the big question.

But I will break down what's actually in there to give some sense of what the opposition party decided you shouldn't have. And my next guest is going to expose that they are making a play because what they just rejected in this bill, they used to like.

"Fake news," you say? We have the receipts. Democratic Senator, Tim Kaine, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: Now, by now, everybody pretty much knows the headline of the COVID bill, right? $1,400 checks, extended unemployment, more money for vaccines. But it's important to understand what else is included, and why.

[21:20:00]

The child tax credit, the changes there mean that millions of parents could soon get up to $3,600 a child. That alone could cut the child poverty rate in half. Now, on a purely economic level, that's expected to generate about $800 billion in benefits. But on a human level, it's incalculable, because poverty kills.

We don't even have the latest numbers. But we do know this. The Pandemic has caused at least 2.5 million kids, who were not poor, to become poor, that jacked up the number of kids going from hungry to somewhere around 11 million.

And we know there're more hungry in this country than at any time since the Great Depression. How do you not vote to address that need?

Restaurants, among the hardest-hit, more than 110,000 are gone. So now, instead of competing for PPP checks, there's money targeted to help save the small- and mid-size restaurants that remain.

There's more money, in fact, than the last two COVID bills combined, to finally give schools what they need to open safely. Like what? Reduce the class size, takes money, ventilation, takes money, janitors, staff, PPE, money, money, money. It's in there.

In the midst of a generational health crisis, this bill tries to do something else, prevent another one. How? Many of our fellow Americans are out of work, so we've seen a spike in people without health insurance, in fact, more than at any time, than during the Great Recession, OK, 2008-2009.

The COVID bill will mean more people will be eligible for subsidies to buy insurance. And it takes steps to lower premiums for poor Americans. Too many rural hospitals on the brink of collapse, Google it. There's money in there to make sure that there can be a hospital for people when they need one within reach.

There's specific help for Native American healthcare providers, why? You see the numbers on the Reservations? They have been among the hardest-hit areas by the Pandemic.

Now, here's the question we can't answer. We know what the bill will do. What we can't answer is how quickly can it do it?

Take schools. Some of that aid is spread over years. Schools need it now. And since it's not contingent on reopening this year, what could districts do? They could pocket the money, and still wait till next fall, to reopen.

The fact that it's a tax season, what does that mean? It could slow down the $1,400 checks.

The Labor Department has to get updated guidelines to states quickly, to make sure that there's no gap when the last unemployment extension ends, next weekend, or you could have people, who are literally broke not getting that extra help of unemployment in time.

So that's the question. Can they get it done? Lots to get after with a Democratic Senator from Virginia named Tim Kaine.

Senator, I told you I'd have you back. And I'll make another date before we even see how this one goes, because I do want to talk AUMF, but there's no reason to discuss it, when it isn't relevant, because people won't absorb it the same way.

So first, about the work of government, and then I want to go into the politics behind this.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): OK.

CUOMO: How can you make sure that the government does what it can, as quickly as it can, specifically on schools?

KAINE: Chris, we're going to have to really push this. Good news is we've done it already. We put school funds out in the CARES Act last March. In schools, we're using it. And so now we kind of - it's not like we're doing it for the first time.

Schools and states have to make decisions about the way they want to use it. And that's something that's tough. You pointed out janitors, cleaning, ventilation systems, broadband upgrades.

Some school systems may decide what they want to do is enhanced summer instruction, to help kids recoup the learning gap from the last year. Different school systems are going to make different uses of these monies.

But the size of the investment in K-12 schools, in reopening childcare centers, and in higher Ed, is going to give great flexibility for getting our kids back in classrooms, which makes it easier to get their parents back to work.

CUOMO: Now, you say you can make the case to expose the politics here that were played by the opposition party. How so? Where do you have - what do you have as receipts?

KAINE: Well - OK, so I've got the House version of the bill in front of me, and you can see all these yellow tabs. Republicans decided to vote against it in the House and in the Senate uniformly.

But I've gone through quickly, and just tabbed all the provisions in this bill that were initially introduced as bipartisan.

[21:25:00]

Support for keeping our Healers healthy, the Lorna Breen Act, which was mine, that makes sure that our health care providers get mental health that they need.

A Public Health modernization so that our state helps - local, state and federal public health agencies share data with one another.

Child care tax credit.

Support for restaurants, you mentioned this. The Republicans voted against supporting America's restaurants. But today, one of my Republican colleagues, Roger Wicker, in Mississippi, is already putting out in Mississippi, "Hey, we did this great thing for restaurants, you should apply."

Small business support, support for closed entertainment venues.

Direct checks to individuals, remember, President Trump said "The $600 Mitch McConnell check wasn't enough. We should do $2,000." It's now $2,000, with the $1,400. 8 million people in Virginia will get checks because of this additional - this additional bill that the Democrats passed.

State and local government aid, that was bipartisan, introduced in the House, in May. And finally, vaccination support.

So, this is the House Bill. All these yellow tabs are things that the Republicans asked for. We put it in the bill. They decided to vote against it. They're bragging about it now. It's popular with Republicans. It's popular with the American public.

So yes, they can play "Vote against it" if they want. But we're going to deliver results. We are. When President Biden does it, this will be felt in every zip code, in every house, in this country.

CUOMO: So, the focus is forward. Will you keep petting the snake? The snake will bite you. It bit you on this. It just couldn't kill you because you had too many people against it.

H.R.1 is the battleground, 40-plus states, 250-plus laws. You're the historian. But from my reckoning, we've never seen a wave of anything like this since Jim Crow. Minorities are disadvantaged in almost every one of those states and attempts. The only way for you to counteract it is H.R.1.

And you will never, I shouldn't say that, do you think you have any chance of passing H.R.1, with the opposition party playing the way they are right now?

KAINE: Chris, you raise a great point. I mean, this is going to be the biggest battle on the floor of the Senate since the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.

Because, you're right, after Joe Biden won, and after President Trump's big lie that he didn't win was revealed to be a sham, what's happening in states with Republican governors and legislatures, is a dramatic effort to rollback voting rights, so that we can - we can squeeze and choke the electorate, so they can't participate.

H.R.1 and S.1 are bills to make sure we protect people's rights to vote. And that bill passed out of the House, and now on the Senate. We are going to take it up in the Senate, in committee and on the floor. And we're going to let the Republican show what they think about voters and participation.

And look, if they decide that they want to block voters in participation, the same way that the filibusterers in the 1960s did, then we're going of have a moment of reckoning on the floor of the Senate, to decide whether Senate rules are more important than people's rights and ability to participate in this democracy.

CUOMO: That side of the aisle is calling H.R.1 "Devil's work." They had someone stand up on the floor of the House today and say, "You know, those BLM folks, they don't like our idea of what a family is about."

That's where they are. Nobody's checking them. The only real fight is within your own party to see what you do with the filibuster. Senator Tim Kaine, you're welcome back to talk AUMF, H.R.1 before that, and whatever matters in the state of play. Be well, Senator.

KAINE: Absolutely. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Great.

And to understand the psychology of "Come on, man, why are you ascribing all this animus to Republicans? They're not bad people," I'm not talking about people. I'm talking about politics. I'm talking about their play.

And if you want proof, about why they're playing it, this way, we have tape for you that captures what it's all about. And it's of the Head of their Party talking to a top investigator in Georgia, and he's asking them to do something that they know they can't.

You listen to it for yourself, and then we'll discuss what they're doing in Georgia right now, which sounds just like what you'll hear on the call. Next.

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[21:30:00]

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: This is the battle of a generation over freedom, these election laws. And here's where it starts. The former president, once again on tape, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, pressuring another Georgia elections official.

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DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, and I won Georgia. I know that, by a lot. And the people know it, and, uh, you know something happened, I mean something bad happened.

And if you can get to Fulton, you're going to find things that are going to be unbelievable, the dishonesty that we've heard from--

FRANCES WATSON, CHIEF INVESTIGATOR, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: Right.

TRUMP: --Rudy - you know, just good sources, really good sources.

WATSON: Right.

TRUMP: But Fulton, Fulton is the mother lode, you know, as the expression goes. Fulton County.

WATSON: Right.

TRUMP: When the right answer comes out, you'll be praised.

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CUOMO: That's what it's about. They want to rig the elections. That's what he was asking to do. He knew everything he was saying was a lie.

Few know the reality of voter suppression efforts better than Nse Ufot, the Executive Director of The New Georgia Project.

Nse, welcome to PRIME TIME. Good to have you.

NSE UFOT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE NEW GEORGIA PROJECT: Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: First of all, is it a done deal, what's happening in Georgia, this bill that passed the House and Senate? Kemp has been silent on it. Start - it makes it a misdemeanor to give food or water to voters in line.

UFOT: Yes.

CUOMO: It eliminates early voting on Sundays. Is this as obvious as it seems?

UFOT: It is absolutely as obvious as it seems. This is exactly what you think it is. An full-on full-throated attack on Black and young people's participation in Georgia's elections.

[21:35:00]

What we saw in November, and nine weeks later, in the January runoff, was Georgia's multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational sort of progressive majority, if you will, slim majority that it is, come out, in historic numbers, and participate, that because of the attention, the visibility of our elections, and because our elections are secure, that these barriers to participation had been removed.

And now, because the Republicans have been embarrassed, they're doing everything they can, to attack our elections infrastructure, and attack our democracy.

CUOMO: Because--

UFOT: It's exactly what you think it is.

CUOMO: Because you don't have as many voting centers in the communities that tend to be minority-dominated, and you don't have as much staff, so they're not as efficient--

UFOT: Right.

CUOMO: --you hurt Black people more, if you make it a misdemeanor to give people food or water. We saw people standing in line for three hours, five hours, seven hours, 10 hours, in 90-degree heat.

UFOT: Right. Yes, I mean, this is - and the thing is, while I am grateful for how Georgia's elections have been covered, and particularly Black voters who have overcome, Pandemic, overcome, again, extraordinarily long lines, massive voter purges, and we're proud of how, folks have dug their heels in, and said that they will not be moved, and that they want to participate, it should not be this hard to exercise the freedom to vote.

CUOMO: Early voting on Sundays, Souls to the Polls. For those--

UFOT: Right.

CUOMO: --who are not blessed with growing up around an African- American community, and understanding Church's culture, and understanding what that does, in terms of participation in community, who gets hurt by cutting early voting on Sundays?

UFOT: The attack on Sunday early voting is a direct hit on Black churches. It's a critical institution in the Black community. There's a long history of Black Americans, Black believers, voting and participating in public life, as an expression of their faith, right?

And so the idea that - and let's be clear, Republicans have been attempting to attack Sunday voting, in Georgia, for quite some time. And this is the latest in their effort.

CUOMO: Do you think Kemp goes for it?

UFOT: It's not clear for me. But his silence in this moment is deafening. We witnessed National Republicans bullying Brian Kemp, our Governor, bullying Secretary Raffensperger, Georgia's Secretary of State.

And I remember folks saying - giving them "Congratulations," patting them on the back, for defending our elections, and defending our democracy. And so, their silence, in this moment, again, is deafening. And it's peculiar.

We also watched while the Lieutenant Governor of our state, Geoff Duncan, refuse to preside over the vote for Senate Bill 241, giving us sort of another indication that there is a huge split between sort of Trump-supporting Republicans, who are continuing to push the big lie, and other members of the Republican Party.

But their silence is insufficient, that this is the moment. This moment calls for nothing less than a full-throated condemnation of these ridiculous attacks on our elections.

CUOMO: 10 times, Justice Kagan presented, 10 times more likely than White voters are Black voters to vote on Sunday. The proposition is easy. UFOT: Right.

CUOMO: Do you want to have the label of having brought back Jim Crow because that's how you'll be remembered, if you are for this?

Nse Ufot, you are fighting the good fight? Thank you for doing so on my show. Good luck.

UFOT: Thank you, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, let's turn to Pandemic messaging, got to get people to take the vaccine, got to assure them that it's safe, got to have the proof that it's safe.

So, here on the show, we start testing the new guidelines and say, "Seems like they're playing scared here, at a time that they have to give people confidence that they say they should have," we get beat up.

Our next guest says they should have done better, and now they're saying they will. The top health authority who believes that the clock is ticking once again, why? And what are the variables? Next.

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[21:40:00]

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CUOMO: Good news. The story of vaccination is a good story for now. 10 percent of us are now fully vaccinated. The numbers are rising. They're rising faster than they thought they would.

Still, the CDC, urging an abundance of caution, especially when you have states, like Texas, officially doing away with its masks mandate, today, and fully reopening. Wyoming, Utah, Maryland are some states saying that they're going to follow. It is hard to understand how that won't create cases, given the rampant growth of Variants.

But given that, is it still the right thing for the CDC to be so cautious about what vaccinated people can do? Even when it comes to traveling, OK? That's very important for people, right?

The CDC Director says vaccinated people shouldn't do it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: What we have seen is that we have surges after people start traveling. We saw it after July 4th. We saw it after Labor Day. We saw it after the Christmas holidays. Currently, 90 percent of people are still unprotected and not yet vaccinated.

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CUOMO: Right. But if you are vaccinated, what does the science tell you about how likely it is that you get sick when you travel, and how likely you can give it to somebody else?

Do they know? Do they know when they're playing scared? Do they not notice that they're playing scared? Let's get through the facts on this, and the science.

Dr. Leana Wen. Thank you for joining me once again, Doctor.

So, the idea of "No, you still shouldn't travel even with the vaccine," do you think that's the right call?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER, ER PHYSICIAN, PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSOR, GWU: I do not.

Look, I do understand the situation that the CDC is in. They want to be cautious. And I do have sympathy for that. They don't want to over- promise initially, and then have to dial it back.

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But I also think that there is a cost to saying things that don't meet the common sense test. Air travel, for example, alone is very low risk, when everybody's wearing masks. And if somebody is vaccinated, that risk is lower still.

The risk actually I would be concerned about unvaccinated people who are traveling, going on spring break, going to lots of bars, and hanging out and spreading it to one another.

I'm not concerned about the vaccinated grandparent, who's traveling across the country, just to spend time with their extended family. And I think that kind of nuance really needs to be spelled out, or else, it's not going to make sense to people and not meet the reality test.

CUOMO: So, you have messaging here being balanced with risk, because as you've laid out to me, earlier today, on the radio show, which is why it's so important for me to have you here tonight, to echo it, to this audience, we're in a race, you say, and that people, we won't always have less supply than we do demand that we're going to have to motivate people to want this vaccine. And it may not be as easy as people suspect.

What do you believe that race is, the variables are, and what the messaging should be?

WEN: My main concern is that we're not going to reach herd immunity because of vaccine hesitancy. And I know that's hard for a lot of people to believe, who desperately

want the vaccine right now. And they're thinking, "Oh, well, it's just a small percentage of people, who are actually anti-vaxxers." And that's true. There is the anti-science, anti-vaxxer contingent.

But I think that there are many more people, millions of people who, for whatever reason, have concerns about the vaccine, who just don't know what's in it for them. And we need to make it clear to them that the vaccine is the ticket back to pre-Pandemic life. And the window to do that is really narrowing.

I mean, you were mentioning, Chris, about how all these states are reopening. They are reopening at a 100 percent. And we have a very narrow window to tie reopening policy to vaccination status. Because otherwise, if everything is reopened, then what's the carrot going to be? How are we going to incentivize people to actually get the vaccine?

So that's why I think the CDC and the Biden Administration needs to come out a lot bolder and say, "If you're vaccinated, you can do all these things. Here are all these freedoms that you have," because otherwise, people are going to go out and enjoy these freedoms anyway.

And I fear a situation of coming into the form, where we never reach herd immunity, and then we get hit by the next surge of COVID-19, in the fall, something that we could have prevented, if we just got people vaccinated now.

CUOMO: Thank you, Dr. Leana Wen. Appreciate it.

All right, another big story that we will be tracking every day every time there's a development, all right, that's the Floyd murder trial.

Today, two more jurors seated. Sounds small, right, now they have five? It's not small, because the decisions that are being made here are really a profile of what this case is about, OK?

This third charge that you've heard about, it was out, it was in, a judge says they don't want to review it, why does it matter so much? I'll tell you, next.

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(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Almost half the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial has been selected. He, of course, the man charged in the death of George Floyd.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals just cleared the way for the judge in this case, Peter Cahill, to reconsider reinstating a third-degree murder charge against the former police officer.

This could be a very pivotal point in this prosecution, why? Cahill originally threw out that charge in October, why? Arguably, it does not apply as a middle ground between intentional murder and manslaughter. But last week, prosecutors got the Appeals Court to make him reconsider it.

The State Supreme Court declined to hear Chauvin's appeal, which means the Judge has a big decision to make tomorrow. Will he add a third- degree murder charge to the other two counts that Chauvin already faces?

Former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig, joins me now.

First Elie, let's look at the people, then we'll talk policy. We have a graphic here for the audience to see that there were some interesting choices made on the first three jurors.

They said that they knew about this. They showed sympathies for BLM. They showed skepticism about police. And yet, they were found amenable to both sides, somewhat of a nod to how hard it's going to be to find a complete tabula rasa, a clean slate, in anybody here.

What did you see in choices 4 and 5 today?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY, FORMER FEDERAL AND NEW JERSEY STATE PROSECUTOR: Yes, Chris. So, I think, looking at the jury, as we have it right now, the first five jurors, in total, if I'm the prosecution, I'm happy with this jury. If I'm the defense, I can live with it, inherently.

As you say, the only jurors who are going to get through this rigorous process, they all had to fill out a questionnaire, they've all been questioned in-person by the judge and the attorneys, are jurors who have open minds, and who have something that both sides like and dislike.

The two new jurors today, I think, are good examples of that. One of them said that he would tend to credit police officers a little more, but he would still scrutinize their testimony carefully. I think both sides have something to like there.

Juror number 5 said he felt like he could see that happening to himself. Now, prosecutors have to like the sound of that. I don't understand why the defense actually did not strike that juror.

CUOMO: Why?

HONIG: Because when you say "I can see that happening to me"-- CUOMO: Right.

HONIG: --that shows you can identify with George Floyd, right? So, if I'm the defense, I would use one of my precious strikes to remove that juror.

CUOMO: So why didn't they?

HONIG: They may be saving the strikes. They may have seen something else that they liked.

Remember, this is an African-American juror. The parties have to be careful here. They're not permitted, under our Constitution, to use those strikes, in a racially-discriminatory way. So there may have been some consideration of that important guideline.

CUOMO: So the tea leaves at this point are that the defense is pretty simple here, to the extent they even put one on. Of course, all of you at home, remember, only the prosecution has the burden here, not the defense.

But it's going to be "This guy had a lethal dose of fentanyl in the system. That's what killed him. And that's what they were trying to do there, was trying to get him into the hospital. He was fighting them. He was showing all the symptoms of somebody who was in like some kind of drug hysteria."

HONIG: Yes, Chris, I expect that to be a defense. I don't expect it to be a strong defense. Here's why.

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They have to show that the fact that Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds had nothing to do with this. If you look at the autopsies, and the forensics, in this case, that's simply not what the facts appear to be.

And if you just think about it, all the prosecutor has to show is that that eight minutes and 46 seconds of pressure, a man's body weight, on someone's neck, if that had some contributing factor to George Floyd's death, then the prosecutors are going to win. They're going to get a conviction. So I understand why that's going to be a defense. I don't think it will be successful.

CUOMO: Now that's why the third-degree murder charge is so important. Now you will observe at home, I'm not debating with Elie what should happen. You know why? That's not helpful in these cases.

Once we know what the Judge decides, we will discuss and analyze the impact. That's the way I'm going to cover this trial. There's no reason to engage in the speculation. It doesn't help anything.

Elie Honig, you help everything. Thank you very much, and be well, brother. We'll be right back.

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CUOMO: What wild times we're living in, they will be remembered for decades and decades to come. We are living through, a complete referenda, about what we want to be about. That's what Trump put us into. That's going to be his legacy, other than lying.

Thank you for watching this show. "CNN TONIGHT," the big show with the big star, D. Lemon, picks up the coverage.