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COVID Relief Bill Awaiting Final Vote In House, Likely To Pass Without Any GOP Support; Meghan Markle Says She Contemplated Suicide, Didn't Get Help From Royals; Jury Selection Set To Begin Tomorrow In Trial Of Former Officer Charged In The Death Of George Floyd. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired March 08, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you very much, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

A year ago, this week, everything changed. COVID came. And common sense in leadership left. Denial of the reality made us sick, literally. People got sick, often really sick, all over the country, schools and businesses closed, you know the story. You've lived the pain.

Jobs lost. Often, we had more people die, than should have ever happened all over this country, half a million and counting. And why? You know, and I, because of COVID. Period!

Right now, we have more hungry kids and adults than at any time in this country since the Great Depression. Why? Because of COVID.

Millions thrown into poverty, perhaps, the first time in their lives, millions of others already struggling, thrown into deeper desperation. I know that many of you watching are among them. And you know the reason for your pain. COVID.

The problem is so huge and so persistent. President Biden says the fix should be too. "Not so fast," say the Right side of the aisle. "A lot of this help for the poor, for the hungry, the desperate, not really about COVID. So let's not do it."

You think I'm making it up? Listen to the Leader of the Opposition.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Only 9 percent addresses the fight against the virus itself.

You get this massive bill with only 1 percent, 1 percent, for vaccinations.

That's stuffed with non-COVID-related spending that even top liberal economists say is wrong, for the recovery.


CUOMO: What caused the loss of the jobs and the wages and the businesses then?

Our economy still has 9.5 million fewer jobs than at this time last year. "At the rate that we're growing right now, because the recovery is so great," at the rate that he calls so great, it will take us two years to get back to where we were.

You think McConnell would go give that speech in Kentucky, with the people who are broke and hungry there? "You don't need this much help. It's not really about COVID."

Then what is it about? Tell them that that's why you delayed this process, despite the fast-coming deadlines, affecting millions, because you just don't think people need this much help. That is why the Democrats had to muscle this through with zero Republican support.

The idea that this is an abandonment of bipartisanship assumes that the opposition party wants to do anything with the Democrats. And you know that that is not the case.

So yes, it was a cram-down. And Biden will now get sole credit for bringing this country the biggest relief package for people, not just banks, in a very long time. In terms of timing, the bill should be on his desk, as soon as Wednesday, unless the opposition party finds yet another way to slow down the process.

This bill is huge for people in pain in this country. But it's more than that politically. It is a distillation of where things stand. This is metaphor for the moment.

The opposition party says it is for the working-class, but they refuse to do what most of you, in the working-class, wanted. Most of the country supports this bill.

And for those who say, "Well come on, Democrats would block the same way they are," wrong! Not on this one.

All Senate Democrats voted for Trump's first stimulus bill in March 2020. And in December, nearly every Senate Democrat voted for passage. Facts, no Republicans voted for this bill in the Senate.

Now, not only won't the opposition party help, they are now lying about the relief just to sow division. Witness.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): They had a chance on Saturday morning to stop checks from going to prisoners, from going to the Boston bomber, for instance. And on that vote, they declined.

Just goes to show how radical their ideas are.


CUOMO: No pushback, no pushback, no pushback. You know why? Because that's the agenda they want to get out there.

Senator Tom Cotton just admitted that he is a radical. He said those ideas are radical, right? He voted for the first two relief bills. And prisoners got money in the first two relief bills.


Two laws Trump signed in 2020, Senator Cotton voted for both. Neither of those bills contained any language prohibiting prisoners from relief funds. So, why does it bother him now? Division. Opposition is the position, especially when it comes to race.

Now, why give it to prisoners? Advocates will argue that the relief money will help those behind bars, when they get out soon, in an era of high unemployment. You like it. You don't like it. Fair, either way, you can make the argument. But Cotton has no high ground, except on Hater Hill, because he voted for the same thing he now says he opposes.

And what about the kids? The opposition party says it cares about kids, but it doesn't want to help them get out of poverty.

Listen to Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This plan is going to make it possible to cut child poverty in half. Let me say it again. It's significant, historic, will cut child poverty in half.


CUOMO: I mean just think about that as a proposition. McConnell, Cotton, the opposition party, they're opposed to cutting child poverty in half.

This bill would expand the child tax credit to $3,600 for each kid under six, and $3,000, for those under 18. Households could receive payments monthly rather than a lump sum once a year, which could make it easier, for families to cover their expenses. It's like forced savings or budgeting.

The headline has been the $1,400 stimulus check for many Americans, but this is also about helping the poor, the hungry, get schools open, get small businesses open, and yes, a ton for vaccine distribution.

Now, is there pork in this bill? Hell yes, there is. Like so many others. It is bigger, arguably than it needed to be. But be very clear. The opposition party had no problem with pork and unfunded tax cuts, when they did it for the rich, $0.83 of every dollar to the top 1 percent. That was their reality, then. Where are they now?

For this state of play, let's turn to the Senator that mattered, the most in all of this, West Virginia Democrat, Joe Manchin.

Welcome back to the show.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Hey, Chris, good to be with you again.

CUOMO: How do you feel about this? Do you celebrate it as the major success that the President and the other members of your party do?

MANCHIN: Absolutely. It was a big success. Everything you mentioned, I can't - I can't expand on that because you hit everything, Chris.

But the thing that we did, we targeted, there's an awful lot of money going out. And we were concerned, or I was concerned, about all of it going at one time, so we basically targeted in what we call tranches.

This is the first time that cities and municipalities, counties and the state will get money this year, and be able to attract money next year, and be able to take care of infrastructure, the first time that a city or a county will be able to fix a water project, sewer project, or internet without all of the - without all of the regulations and all the oversight, and all the bureaucracy, the hoops they have to jump through.

Tremendous piece of legislation is going to create an awful lot of employment all across this country.

CUOMO: Why isn't that all pork?

MANCHIN: And the child tax credits you - pardon me?

CUOMO: Why isn't that all pork, as the members of the opposition party say, it is? "That's all pork. None of that should have been in this. Not about COVID."

MANCHIN: Well, I think - I don't think - I don't think there's a - there shouldn't be a Republican or a Democrat doesn't understand or doesn't see the infrastructure needs that we have around our country. Just look in your backyard, wherever you may live whatever county--

CUOMO: "Yes, but don't do it now. Just do the vaccine and the health care stuff now."

MANCHIN: --if you have internet service.

CUOMO: "Do all that stuff another time." That's their argument?

MANCHIN: Well, the COVID relief is a lot more than just putting vaccines in the arms. Basically, we want to get people - that's the first and foremost thing that we have to do.

And the President said there'll be enough vaccine serum for us to have - get every adult in America vaccinated. We have to be ready to take off too. And we got to criticize a little bit about that.

But the economists have been telling us that the concerns that we may have is come July, that basically this economy should take off. Are we going to have the workforce ready to engage again?

CUOMO: Right. So?

MANCHIN: There were some concerns there that we talked about and tried to work through it.

CUOMO: So you - those concerns. I processed this weekend, in watching into the Sunday shows, how people were coming at you, and on what basis?


CUOMO: Unfair to me is you saying that we really don't know how much money should be in this bill in all these different forms of relief, because there's a lot of money that hasn't been spent yet and how we're making that calculation.

I don't hold that against you. You don't have to join the pack on everything. That is a legitimate argument. How much do you need to juice the economy when you haven't put on all the money?

The other part, I think, is fair criticism. But I know you have an explanation for it. I want you to offer it now.

You say "Hey, man, we got to work with the other side. That's why I'm against the filibuster thing because you got to keep working with the other side." Who, Senator Manchin?


Who, on the Right, do you believe, seeing how none of them would vote for this, who, on the Right, in the Senate, do you believe would work on H.R.1, or the minimum wage, or anything like that with Democrats?

MANCHIN: Well, I think that every Republican wants to raise the minimum wage. Everyone's just not in sync with Bernie Sanders at $15. A lot of the areas already have $15.

I agree with Joe Biden, when he says, anybody that goes to work every day and works full-time should be above the poverty guidelines. That's where my $11 comes in. This is stuff that we're just not making up, or I'm making up. Basically, I'm talking to people, as professionals who basically look into this.

And you say about the economists. The economists are the ones telling us that this economy is going to take off, let's get ready to go. And you said that "No, Republicans got involved at all the process."

I had 10 Republicans I work with, for about a month, and a lot of the things that I was able to get in the bill, were things we worked with them Chris.

CUOMO: But why didn't they vote for it?

MANCHIN: And the biggest thing we did is put the tranches. Well, it was higher than what they wanted it to be, I guess. You'd

have to ask them. But a lot of the things we talked about, they never thought it should be above a certain figure.

I think they would have gone $1.1 trillion, $1.2 trillion, or $1.3 trillion. But at $1.9 trillion, they might have thought it was bigger than what they would vote for or support. I don't know.

CUOMO: But what I'm saying is--

MANCHIN: I want to make sure that we're able to come out of this - come out of this COVID. And it's going to take longer than just this year. We're going to have to be facing this in 2022.

CUOMO: I - yes.

MANCHIN: And we have money that's spread out for that pork--

CUOMO: I don't disagree with that.

MANCHIN: This time (ph).

CUOMO: And I think it was sensible to be long-term on this, and not just to come up with a big number, just to impress people politically with a big number. I hear you making those arguments.


CUOMO: I don't know that you want to get caught being a proxy for Republicans, who aren't willing to vote for something, but will work through you to get it done. I mean, look at H.R.1. I really think that's going to be a tough - I've known Joe Manchin a long time. He's a tough guy. I've watched him handle tough situations.

This is going to be tough, because H.R.1, if you guys don't have federal legislation on it, Senator Manchin, you are not going to be able to stop a wave of what you know are really strict voter suppression laws all across the country.

Listen to what your colleagues Senator Graham said about this bill.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): So H.R.1 will come to the Senate. And it will - it will die in the Senate. Because we have the ability, as long as Democrats work with us, to make sure you need 60 votes, and not one Republican is going to vote for H.R.1, because it's a federal takeover of elections.


CUOMO: The Democrats are going to come to you and say, "We need this bill. Otherwise, you're going to set back voting 40 years, 50 years in this country." Now what?

MANCHIN: Well, first of all, Chris, I think you said I'm a proxy. I've been around this for a long time.

CUOMO: I did not say you are a proxy.

MANCHIN: No one's ever called me a proxy for anything.

CUOMO: I did not say you are a proxy.

MANCHIN: I know. I know.

CUOMO: I said you don't want the Republicans--


CUOMO: --to use you as a proxy, all due respect.

MANCHIN: No one - hey, Chris, you know me a long time. No one uses me at all. I'm my own person. I'm more of a moderate-centrist type of person, always looking to bring people together. That's where I come from. It's how I was raised.

With that being said, I believe I'm a pure optimist. I believe people want to work together. And they should. I believe everybody, and I will fight for everyone to have the right to vote.

But I believe voting is a state-by-state issue, always has been. 10th Amendment is there for a purpose. It's a state's rights. But we have to basically set, make sure that no one is denied the right or obstructed from voting. We've got to make sure.

Can we find that? I haven't seen - I haven't really dove into the - to H.R.1. I have not seen it yet. We've been so engulfed in this bill that we haven't gotten on it. I'm sure I'll be brought up to speed this week on it.

CUOMO: But I'm just saying you heard Senator Graham. And I'm sure he hasn't looked at the bill either.

MANCHIN: I understand that.

CUOMO: He's just saying he doesn't want to get involved with the states, of course.


CUOMO: But there's always been a federal override through the Voting Rights Act and other--


CUOMO: --jurisprudence on it that you can't pass laws that are designed to violate the Constitution, like Equal Protection.

MANCHIN: Correct.

CUOMO: And that's exactly what's happening--

MANCHIN: I agree.

CUOMO: --in waves across the street - across the country in these states. And what happens, if it comes down to the filibuster, and no Republicans want to vote for it, and they want to stall it?

MANCHIN: Well, the only thing I've said - let me tell you about from the filibuster that we are - we are an unusual body of government, Senate. It was designed to be unusual. And I think you and I have spoken about this before.

But the bottom line is, don't you - if you're going to have whether it's going to be H.R.1, or whether it's going to be infrastructure, don't you ought to think you ought to go - give us 30 days to go through the process, to see if they're basically going to be obstructionists or not?


MANCHIN: To see if there's any pathway for it?


MANCHIN: I think you ought to try before you go to reconciliation.

CUOMO: As long as it's not an emergency--

MANCHIN: We're going to reconciliation, Chris.

CUOMO: --I think you should give people time. I think you should be able to let them make their case. And then I think the numbers should rule. And that's the way I think it was designed.


And anybody who abuses the process beyond that, especially where - look, I know that you have a lot of respect for Senator Byrd, as West Virginia, and setting up the Byrd Bath in this rule.

But since Jim Crow, the filibuster is not exactly known for being used to do great things. But it is not fair to have you assess a bill that you haven't had time to digest yet, and I'm sure it's going to change.


CUOMO: Senator Joe Manchin, you are always welcome here to make the case.

MANCHIN: Chris, let me--

CUOMO: Yes, sir?

MANCHIN: Chris, let me ask you this.


MANCHIN: Let me ask you this, Chris. What - why does every state have two senators no matter how big it is, or how large or how many people was in?

CUOMO: Equal representation.

MANCHIN: Why are they treated the same?

CUOMO: Equal representation as a deliberative body.

MANCHIN: And the Senate was different. How come it's the only - how come it's the only body? Why is the Congress different? Based on population in certain areas.

CUOMO: Because it was assumed that like the House of Lords, there'd be better minds.

MANCHIN: We don't really care if you have 40 million--

CUOMO: They'd be more collegial and they'd be more active and compromise.

MANCHIN: Well, let's see if we can get there again.

CUOMO: I love the optimism.

MANCHIN: I'm hoping for it, buddy.

CUOMO: I'm just hearing what they're saying on the other side.

MANCHIN: OK, I'm going to keep--

CUOMO: But Joe Manchin?

MANCHIN: I'm going to keep trying, my friend. I'm going to keep trying.

CUOMO: I know you will. And this will always be a platform for you to make the case. I promise you that. Good luck.

MANCHIN: I know.

CUOMO: And congratulations on getting it done.

MANCHIN: Thank you my - thank you, my friend.

CUOMO: All right. So look, Joe Manchin was in a position. This, I do know, he was not looking to be in this position. I get it. It sounds like he might, right? "Wow, all this power to him. This is great." This is not a position he wanted to have.

And there is nothing wrong with being a romantic for bipartisanship, especially in the Senate. But you saw what just happened on this vote. Tough spot for Manchin. Tough spot for the opposition party.

So, let's bring in what we now know about the state of play, as we saw in this bill. Let's bring in the better minds and figure out where we are.









CUOMO: Very interesting dynamic unfolding in our Senate. And I think we're going to see a lot more of it, because there's some really big trials ahead.

Joe Manchin, Senator, West Virginia took a lot of heat. He's a centrist. Other centrists in the Democratic Party will become more relevant. What does this mean about what Democrats want to get done what they promised voters?

Let's get after it with our better minds, the Professor, Ron Brownstein, and Michael Smerconish.

First of all, Michael, big win for Biden. This is the largest package of its kind that we have seen in our lifetimes. How does it play politically in terms of getting it done?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think it plays to his benefit.

And, as I'm listening to the conversation with Senator Manchin, I'm thinking that if he didn't exist in the Senate, President Biden would want to invent him.

I think he is a great foil for President Biden, because he acts as a governor, in the sense that he keeps at bay those more progressive influences of the party that I don't know that President Biden is always on the same page with.

Another observation, if I may? It's fortuitous to be on with Ron Brownstein, whose work I have such respect for. And I remember fondly when, at the "National Journal," he used to take the ideological pulse of the House and Senate every single year.

Joe Manchin and what he represents used to be mainstream. There used to be a lot of Joe Manchins in the Senate and the House. Today, all gone. And isn't it nice, at least I say that power can be vested in the hands of an independent-thinker?

CUOMO: Now, a lot of Democrats want to beat Smerconish over the head right now, Ron, because they thought that Manchin was like dynamite, trying to blow up the process, making it about him. I think a lot of the criticism was unfair. But that's party politics. RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes.

CUOMO: So, what does this tell you about the state of play in the Senate, and the significance going forward?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first, I think the toll, the changes that Manchin exacted for his support, were really minor, by historic standards.

I mean, if you look back at the 1993, Clinton bill, economic plan, the 2009 Obama economic plan, or even the 2001 Bush tax cut, which may be the most relevant precedent, also in a 50-50 Senate, at that point, two Republican senators made him cut it by 25 percent to get their support.

Can you imagine if Joe Manchin had demanded, and Kyrsten Sinema, a 25 percent cut in this bill? So, I think he asked for only relatively minor changes. In the end, Biden proposed $1.9 trillion, got $1.9 trillion.

The big question is the one that you discuss with him is, is he willing to constrain the use of the filibuster. And I thought the signals he sent to you, as he did this weekend, were pretty clear.

He's going to try to work with Republicans, but he's not going to work with them indefinitely, if they look to be just simply obstructing, and I think that's going to cheer a lot of Democrats what they heard from him tonight.

CUOMO: Quick bounce, Ron, wasn't the original Byrd Bath and the Senator Byrd from West Virginia who, you know, obviously, Joe Manchin is showing some deference to, being a senator also, wasn't it different--


CUOMO: --and a lot more restrictive than the one is now?

BROWNSTEIN: I can't really answer how they've used it over the years. I mean, the reconciliation goes back to the 1974 budget bill. It was part of Congress reasserting control over, like with the War Powers Act, that era--

CUOMO: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: --of trying to undo the Imperial Presidency. But certainly, as the filibuster has become more common, Chris, you've seen both sides try to squeeze more and more into reconciliation.

CUOMO: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: And pretzeling themself, as people say.

But look, I think Joe Manchin is basically signaling the way out here. Rather than 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, he's basically signaling support for the 41 required to sustain a filibuster, what, Norm Ornstein, the political scientist, has been pushing.

And we will see if Republicans are willing to literally stand on the floor, hour-after-hour, day-after-day, on an issue like denying Americans an increase in the minimum wage.

CUOMO: Well you heard Lindsey Graham.

BROWNSTEIN: Or a reduction (ph) in the Voting Rights Act.


CUOMO: Let's see how reflective he is at the whole because the numbers on this one, Smerc, last word to you, the country wanted this bill. They want this relief.


CUOMO: They see the direct connection to COVID. They don't have to be convinced to that like Mitch McConnell. So what does it mean going forward?

SMERCONISH: Well, I think it's a very important win, just one-plus month into a brand new administration.

Look at it in the alternative. If the Biden administration had not been able to get this done, at this moment, I think it would have boded poorly for the way the next four years are going to unfold. It was a much-needed victory. And they're getting it. That's the point.

CUOMO: What do you think happens with H.R.1?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, as can be--

CUOMO: Not you, Ron. Let Smerc get the last word. I appreciate it.


CUOMO: I'm short on time. I owe you. Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: Not as popular. Will be caricatured from both ends of the spectrum, I think, much more in doubt than what we just saw with COVID relief.

CUOMO: Now that is a bill that may have to be trimmed to just the essential purpose of setting what is fair under federal law, and not, when it comes to voter guidance in states. We'll see. It's going to play out in pretty soon.

Professor, thank you, as always, Michael Smerconish, always a plus. Praise both.


CUOMO: A year into the pandemic, wow, a year into the pandemic, the CDC is finally offering a guide to how to deal with the vaccine. They're also giving you a guide on how to survive an apocalypse, which is almost the same thing, based on what we put ourselves through.

What is going on with the CDC, especially at a time when you know you have to give people assurances, and incentive, to take the vaccine? Did they make the right move? Let's unpack it, next.









CUOMO: For weeks now, people have been getting vaccinated, and they're pumped, right? And they've been wondering "What can I do now? What can I do now?" waiting for the CDC.

The CDC was taking a long time. Why? Part of it because it takes time to develop science, and this is all new territory. But maybe it was some politics also. But people wanted to know, "What can I do? What can I do?"

Now they have their answers, OK? What you need to know, what was in the meantime, how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse? The CDC had time to put that up.

Now, they've been putting it up since 2011. My point is they find creative ways to engage with people to know and think about what they want them to know and think about, right? So they'll play with the idea of how to get ready for a zombie apocalypse.

But where is that on this vaccine? Where is it? Look, they even - they created that, by the way, just to kind of engage you.

Now, you have to engage the public to want this vaccine, understand the science behind it, why it's safe, and what it does for you, other than keep you from dying. That should be enough. It won't be. People want convenience. How do you think we got into this pandemic?

So, the CDC finally came out with its guidance for them today. It was slow. But again, let's blame that on science. Let's discuss - science takes time. Let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta and talk about the guidance.

My criticism would be this, Sanjay. First of all, I love you. It's great to see.


CUOMO: The science is developing. I poked around our friends from Operation Warp Speed. And my reporting is this is the safe lane.

What they put out today, "You still shouldn't travel. You got to wear a mask around other people, who aren't vaccinated," they say it's not science. They don't know for a fact what the parameters are. But this is playing it safe.

Did they need to play it this safe when balanced against the equities of wanting people to want this vaccine?

GUPTA: It's a critical question, Chris. And I think this is as much about messaging as it is about the science.

I talked to Andy Slavitt today. You know well - you know him well. I think that's basically what they're saying is like, willfully admit, they say that we are under-promising and over-delivering. And that goes with messaging as well. They're being cautious here.

There's a couple things that really jumped out at me. One is that you heard the term "First step" over and over again, during that press conference, making it clear, there's going to be many other steps.

The other thing is that, you know, it's always been presented as binary, Chris, "Do this, not this." But now you're starting to hear a little change in language, "Low risk, medium risk, high risk," and it gives people more a sense of a little bit of autonomy, "I'm going to like gauge the risk myself, based on what I know."

And then finally, this idea ultimately, that as we get more people vaccinated, right now, we're at 10 percent, roughly fully vaccinated, once we get to 20 percent, which could be in the next 10 days to 14 days, the recommendations are likely to change again.

The recommendations are tied directly to the percentage of the country that is vaccinated. And that's, you know, we're going pretty fast, another 30 million people in the next couple weeks is quite likely. And I think the recommendations will change again.

CUOMO: That's how Slavitt shuts me up, by the way. He says that that's - these are the recommendations now, because you don't have enough people who are vaccinated.

Once we get to the part that I'm afraid of, which is convincing people to get the vaccine, who don't want it right now, he said, "We're nowhere near that. We have a supply issue right now. By the time we have a demand issue, we'll have different level of prophylaxis in the society. We'll know more about it. We'll be able to be"--


CUOMO: --"more certain about what you can do." You buy that?

GUPTA: Yes, I do. I really do. Because I think everyone's been sort of focused on this idea of herd immunity. And basically, that's part of this binary thing. Until we get to 70 percent, 75 percent, 80 percent of the country vaccinated, nothing changes. And I think people in the scientific community have been saying for a long time, that's not quite true.

It's sort of a curve, you know, or at least a downward slope in terms of the things that people can actually start loosening up the guidelines, as more and more people get vaccinated. It's not just we get to herd immunity, and the switch flips. All along the way we're improving.

So yes, right now, with vaccines, we are still in more of a demand than supply sort of frame. But even as that, changes, we're going to see a further liberally - liberalizing of the guidelines. People are going to be able to do more things long before I think we actually get to herd immunity.

CUOMO: Do me a favor, Sanjay. Stick around with me because I experienced something that I've never experienced before. I've never been a Royal watcher. I went there to cover the big wedding a bunch of years back. But I was doing this security angle on it.


CUOMO: But hearing Markle talk about mental illness, gave me hope of opening up a discussion that has been squelched in this society. I want you to stay and talk about what you heard and what it could mean, if you will.

GUPTA: Sure.


CUOMO: Look, everybody's talking about the interview. There are lots of reasons for that. But there are two that pop out to me.

Why is there so much pushback on what Meghan Markle said about how race played a role in the respect of that family toward their own child from the Right? Why?

And her talking about mental health, and her pain, and her husband saying how it was hard for him to accept that she needed help, what degree of openness could that provide to the rest of our society?

Let's talk tough stuff, the role of race here and mental health. Jemele Hill is going to join us with Sanjay Gupta, next.








CUOMO: The Prince Harry and, his wife, Meghan Markle, interview with Oprah Winfrey was a huge deal. That's not a big surprise. But what surprised me was what resonated with me. Everybody knows Oprah is great. And she put out great television, and it would be smart, and incisive.

But did you hear this part?



MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.

And I remember, I remember how he just cradled me. And I was - I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, said that I've never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn't that it wouldn't be good for the institution.


CUOMO: Right there. What an important thing to acknowledge? One, never easy, right? But to say that she wanted to ask for help, and that there was pushback, forget about the Royals, it happens in families all over this country all the time.

And I wondered, first of all, I just thought it was so authentic, and there was so much power in that. But I wonder if it could make a difference for the people, the millions and millions of you, who watched last night, about how it should be OK.

Let me bring back Sanjay Gupta for this. Thank you, brother. I know that you're not a mental health expert, but you are a brain doctor. And you know the stigma. You've been dealing on this issue for a long time.

What do you think it could mean to hear a "Meghan Markle" say, what so many in this country feel, and to hear her husband, by the way, the Prince say, "God, I didn't really want this to be true, you know? I didn't really know how to handle it, you know?"

GUPTA: Right.

CUOMO: That really goes to the root of our struggle here, does it not?

GUPTA: Chris, you sort of focused on the same thing that I heard and, and two things really struck me. One is that she said it, right, because there is so much stigma, against mental health.

One in five Americans roughly deal with some sort of mental illness. And almost all of them, if you like, look at organizations like the National Association - Mental Illness, they all have suffered some sort of stigma, as a result of it. It's really astonishing.

But it was that second part, you asked for help, and you couldn't get it, the institution, she said, did not want to allow that to happen.

So, I'm so glad you're talking about this, because I think that's the impression a lot of people are left with is that "OK. I know there's a lot of stigma around this. So if I ask for help, and then it is not given to me, that just exacerbates this problem." It is - that was - it's a really, really tough position to be in.

And frankly, Chris, I mean, I think that us talking about it, like this is so important. But the parity between mental health and physical health still doesn't exist. I mean, we don't think of mental illness like we think of physical illness. We don't think of it that way. And our policies don't reflect it that way.

I work in a hospital. I know there are fewer resources for mental illness than there are for physical illness. Fewer beds, you know, and fewer, just fewer resources, take care of patients. That's not parity. And that further exacerbates the stigma.

So, I think the media, like conversations like we're having right now, if we get something wrong, I hope people call us out on it, because if we do it unintentionally, in terms of language, people should call us out on it, because even if it's unintentional, we got to get this right.

CUOMO: Yes. I don't know about calling out, you know?

GUPTA: So, I'm really glad you brought that point.

CUOMO: Part of the problem that we have, and I know what you mean.

This, "Cancel everything that we don't like" is a mistake, especially when it comes to this issue, because people are so afraid of being judged on this. Example, I talk about a lot of different stuff on the radio show on Sirius radio than I do here.

I'll talk about all my aches and pains and all the different things, I'm getting physical therapy on all the time. I talk about my therapist, talk therapy, my psychologist, I get crushed. I get crushed. "I know you were crazy. I knew this. I knew that."

I'm talking about all other kinds of things, my prostate, my this, my that, everybody wants to chime in. You talk about getting talk therapy, I didn't even acknowledge an illness, they crush you. That's our culture. And it literally makes people sick.

She was talking about suicidal ideation. Not "I'm a little blue," or "I'm afraid to cross the street." This is heavy stuff and a lot of people are like Markle.

GUPTA: Yes, look Chris, I'm - first of all, I'm sorry that that happens to you that you are-- CUOMO: You should be because I knew you were one of those callers one time. You were using some other name, but I recognize your voice, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Recognize my voice, so.

CUOMO: And it hurts.

GUPTA: Right.

CUOMO: It hurts.

GUPTA: One of these days you'll get my name right, and then you'll be able to--

CUOMO: Sanjay Gupta!

GUPTA: --actually recognize.

CUOMO: Just like your mom.

GUPTA: Right. But look, the idea that people--

CUOMO: Same way she says.

GUPTA: --people who admit that they see their - people who are dealing with mental illness, oftentimes, they won't concede the fact that they're seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist.

They won't concede it because they themselves know that there's stigma and, in some ways, not intentionally again, I think that they are probably exacerbating that stigma because they won't - they won't admit it.

So I - look, I definitely was not one of the people calling you. I applaud you for talking about it. And I know it sucks that you get crushed on it. But I'm glad you do it still, because it makes it better for other people out there, Chris that you may be will never meet.

CUOMO: And me getting a proper therapist has freed up some more of your time, so that I don't call you with my problems all the time. But the reason I do it is the reason everybody does. It's not your specialty. But your specialty is people. You're a beautiful guy. You're a great friend.


GUPTA: Right, thank you.

CUOMO: And you do what all of us need to do, when somebody is hurting, and they reach out, or you reach out, see how people are doing, check in, make it all OK.

I've stopped talking about illness. I just talked about pain. Do you have pain? Maybe you have pain in your back, maybe you have pain in your heart, maybe you have pain in your pain in your head, they're all the same. It's all pain. We have to treat it the same.

I wanted to bring Jemele Hill in. She's having trouble with her connectivity. I'm going to pick up the conversation with Laura Coates, in the next segment, and move into some trial news also, about the "I Can't Breathe" case that's going on.

Sanjay, thank you so much. Appreciate you, OK?

GUPTA: Love you, Chris. Take care.

CUOMO: One quick thing. A lot of you are mocking Markle, online, for her suicidal thoughts. "Oh, so dramatic! Oh, like your life could be so bad, look how much your house costs!" Stop it. And I'll tell you why.

I don't care what you think about Meghan Markle. But think about who's reading and hearing what you're saying. People in your life are struggling. I guarantee it.

Now you'll say "Oh, well for them, I would mock them." How do you think they hear your words? How do you think they read your tweets? Think about it, because they may not reach out to you and that could make the difference in their own wellness. Think about it.

Also think about the jury selection that's going on in the death of George Floyd. Got underway a little bit, and then they added a charge. Now that may be a key case, in where this case will eventually go. These are very rare occasions. Why? What does it mean? What are the parameters?

We have our best. Laura Coates, next.









CUOMO: Two big court decisions on our watch.

The first already decided by SCOTUS, Supreme Court, rejecting another maybe final bid by former president Trump to nullify his electoral loss in Wisconsin. More than 60 losses and just one narrow win that really didn't have anything to do with the legitimacy of the returns, the move brings an end, hopefully, to that campaign. Meantime, a second legal battle is just kicking off in Minneapolis. We will cover it in-depth on this show. Jury selection in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on George Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes, became known as the "I Can't Breathe" case.

Top legal mind Laura Coates is here.

Laura, I have to ask something very difficult of you. Will you wear a political hat for me as well, because I don't want to ignore one thing that came out of this Meghan Markle thing last night? And I want your perspective.

Am I wrong?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SIRIUSXM HOST, "THE LAURA COATES SHOW": Chris, I have a Meghan Markle hairstyle today. I'll be happy to join you with that.

CUOMO: Well, listen.

COATES: Thank you.

CUOMO: Good to have you then.

The thing that struck me is the aftermath to Meghan Markle, I feel like so much of it is familiar to us here.

And we're just little freaked by it being the Royals, are like everybody else, in terms of how they regard the color of a skin. And there's all this discussion, even within the African-American or Black community, about color, and some kind of supposed superiority.

But the Right has been all over Meghan Markle in this country today. "I don't believe her. Why didn't she name names? She threw the whole family under the bus."

Why would the political-right, home to the "1776 again, baby!" why would they be protecting the Monarchy?

COATES: Well, it is shocking to think that, because we're talking about the fact that we did not want to, as a part of America, be beholden to a Monarch, the idea that we're going to protect the colonialism.

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: The idea of the history, the reason why you do so is shocking. But I think this is really death by 1000 micro aggressions.

And the idea that every Black woman, watching Meghan Markle last night, I hate to generalize, but could see a bit of themselves, in what she was saying, and the idea of being told "No, what's happening to you happens to everybody else, just someone's being rude to you."

But there is a distinction. And there's an added layer we recognize in the law about when racism aspect of it, in politics as well, and the idea of how it can exponentially increase already-existing tensions, existing - exacerbate existing problems.

So, I looked at that, and thought, why on earth would people go so far as to dismiss her and dismiss her credibility in a world where we're often talked - talked about and told that we must believe women, that we must have the credibility lead, and have the idea of leading with the opportunity to speak and use one's voice?

But when it came to Meghan Markel, I guess she needed to be silenced, because she had the audacity to point out the very things that our Founding Fathers rejected, when they came across the old pond, and "Founded" the United States of America. And I put the word "Founded" in quotation marks, for obvious reasons.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, also, why would she lie? To me, I thought she did them a favor, because - I mean, look, it's not a favor for her to talk about this issue to the Royals. I get that. But she didn't name names. She could have.

Most people across from Oprah Winfrey would because she's so compelling in terms of how comfortable she makes you feel, and how she can do this, or - her greatness was on display here. Very interesting.

All right, I just want to get your take on that. We know it's--

COATES: Well yes it's just - I will tell you. I think she went out of her way, by the way, just add that - underscore that point, she went out of her way to point out and say that who she thought was a good person--

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: --they'd be very damaging to them.


COATES: She could have easily done so. And the fact that the truth can be inconvenient does not automatically make it a lie.

CUOMO: Yes, 100 percent. Look, I just see a race play in it. I do. I'll put it out there. You can attack me for it.

Forget about the Supreme Court thing. We know what that's about. People, you know, that that should be over now.

The third-degree murder charge in this Chauvin trial to me was huge. One, I don't know why they removed the charge in the first place. But adding that is very important, why?

COATES: Well, first of all, the reason they took it out in the first place is because there was - it was unclear whether the precedent in Minnesota would allow for somebody to be charged with third-degree murder.


And if they directed their reckless behavior to a single person, the classic case of this sort of a third-degree charge would be driving down a sidewalk, in a car, because you don't have an intended victim. It's just general wreaking havoc.

But once you have a focus person, the case law and precedent suggested that perhaps it wasn't intended for that, and use something else.

Well, now it's important to add in, and the sense that first of all clarifying what is meant by the statute, could you use a statute for people who have an intended victim, and engage in reckless behavior. And it also, it provides some ability to give a jury options.

As a prosecutor, you want to be able to give your jury of course, beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements to be satisfied. But you also want to give juries, who can be really unpredictable, at times, fickle, and other times empathetic, in the way that you would not expect, and say, "I'd like to have some middle ground."

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: "If I can't prove this higher charge, the lower," they put this, nestling in between as a contingency of sorts. And so that's an option available to them as well.

CUOMO: All right, Laura, thank you very much. We'll see how it unfolds. We'll cover it here in-depth. When I can have you, great. When I can't, please send me your notes, so I'm covering things the right way.

Laura Coates, thank you.

COATES: Of course, thank you.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.


CUOMO: Thank you very much.

Big things to discuss, so we must go to the big show, "CNN TONIGHT" and its big star, D. Lemon.