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Cuomo Prime Time

GOP Senator Ron Johnson Defends Racist Comments About Fearing Black Lives Matter More Than Capitol Rioters; Interview With Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Chauvin Defense Asks For Trial Delay, Venue Change In Wake Of City's $27 Million Settlement With Floyd's Family. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 15, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Right now, let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Happy Monday.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

I say "Happy Monday" because we do have good news, OK? The vaccine, it's making its way around the country. The rate is accelerating, and the effectiveness is solid, even against the variants over time.

But here's what I want to go deep on with you tonight. Look within the numbers, and we see a clear indication of what is also making us sick, not just the Pandemic, toxic opposition.

Look who does not want the vaccine. Look at the number on your screen. Trump's main base of support, why? No number. I promise you it's there. We're doing a whole segment on it tonight, OK? They have over 40 percent within the number of Republican men, 41 percent don't want to take the vaccine. It is staggeringly high. You hear all this talk about how, "Hey, minorities don't want the vaccine," as if that's the big problem.

Well, first of all, it is, OK? And there are good reasons within minority communities to be wary of vaccines, but it's about information. It's about messaging. And most importantly, it's about access. That's not what we're talking about on the other side of the ball.

Why don't they want it, these White men, who by and large were Trumpers? Trump's whole game was the vaccine, when it came to fighting the Pandemic. Remember? "The magic pill! This is it! The Vaccine! Operation Warp Speed!"

If you look at it more closely, Trump has always pushed his base, and that's what that demographic is, to believe only him. And now, for some of them taking the vaccine, is oddly, compliance, surrender, a nod to Biden being President.

And also, Trump won't tell them any differently. He won't tell them to take it. He got his in secret. And now, he is the only living past president, who refused to be part of a PSA to push the effort.

Think about that. Why? Why wouldn't he tell people to take the vaccine? He wants credit for the vaccine. Why doesn't he want to tell people to take it? Because he is pushing the disease of division.

The position is opposition. And it is making us sick. The fever of this, the fervor for openly playing "Us and Them," is frightening. And the name of the symptom that we have to deal with right now is Senator Ron Johnson.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I've made the comment that on January 6th, I never felt threatened, because I didn't. And mainly because I knew that even though those thousands of people that -- that were marching to the Capitol --


R. JOHNSON: --were trying to pressure people like me, to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break a law. And so, I wasn't concerned.

Had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election, and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.


CUOMO: This is about "Us and Them," and it's about race. Period!

I wonder, Senator Johnson, you think Brian Sicknick was concerned, when he was assaulted? Glad you weren't concerned. It's because people like him, who gave his life to make you not have to feel any more concerned.

So Senator Johnson, do you stand with the two suspects just arrested and charged with assaulting now-deceased Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick? Here they are. 32-year-old Julian Khater of Pennsylvania, 39-year-old George Tanios of West Virginia.

They are alleged to have worked together to spray toxic chemicals at Police, including Officer Sicknick, who died the day after the attack. Not charged with murder. But they are charged with assault and both appeared in federal court today.

But what is this really about? "Just patriots," Johnson calls them. And who knows how many others in his Party agree with him because they are sitting silently as he says this?

They're not saying he was wrong to say that he'd be OK -- is OK, because they're White. If they were Black, "Oh!" you know, because that's what BLM is, right? It's just little code, right? Just Blacks, right? You forget about all the allies, you forget about all the White people who believe in systematic justice, equality.

But just think about it. He is willing to call people, who assaulted and maimed over 100 officers, who came almost a thousand strong to the Capitol, hunted for blood and chanted "Hang Mike Pence!" "Patriots, law-abiding citizens."

He should be ashamed. And all those, who are quiet, in the face of what he says, are complicit in it. But he says "No, no, no, you got it wrong. The shame is on you and me."



R. JOHNSON: There was nothing racial about my comments, nothing whatsoever. Now, this isn't about race. This is about riots.

But it's still pretty shocking that it would take, what I consider, completely innocuous comment, and turn it into, you know, use the race card on me and, you know, say there's some kind of racist comment involved in that. There was none.


CUOMO: By the way, that works for probably three quarters of the people who voted for him. Know that. That's the scale of what you're dealing with.

Now, take a step back. He may not get it. He may not get it. He may think it is innocuous, harmless, to say, "White protesters, I'm good. Black protesters, I'm not good." He may not get it. To him, that may be a completely honest statement, because he is race-sensitive, when it comes to what he perceives as a threat.

White protesters, who come and try to take out lawmakers, you say nice things. "They're mostly patriots. They love law enforcement," except the one they killed and the ones that they maimed, you know, losing an eye, some fingers, except for them. But if they were Black, "Oh!" It is by definition, Senator, racist.

Now look, I have zero interest in falsely promoting what seems obvious here. So, I invited the Senator on this program. He used to love me. He used to come on with me in the morning, all the time.

I wanted him to explain why he would be more afraid of Black attackers than White ones, and then we could get into whether or not that had anything to do with race. But he didn't want to come on. That's his choice.

He came out today and made it clear that this is not about race for him. It's just about defending the Trump mob. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) R. JOHNSON: The vast majority of people here were here, exercising the First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and protest.

So, the vast majority of Trump supporters, respect law enforcement, would never even think about rioting or committing any kind of illegal act.


CUOMO: First, the Department of Justice says this is likely the largest and most complex criminal investigation, in U.S. history. The number of defendants could surpass 400 people.

I've said this many times, and it is just as true, and needs to be said tonight. Are all Trump supporters violent? Of course not. But are all the people, as far as we know, who attacked the Capitol, Trump supporters? Yes. Why is Johnson ignoring it? That's the point.

"This has nothing to do with race." Why distinguish between rioters by race?

"Has nothing to do with race." Why say that the places where the election was rigged, which it was not, are predominantly minority areas? Why would you bring back the most odious laws suppressing the Black vote almost by design since Jim Crow?

You want a nice activity? Google "Jim Crow laws" in states where they existed, and compare them to the language, the phraseology, and the intention of what's being sold in over 40 states right now, some 250- plus bills. Take a look and be shocked at the similarity.

Look, he and anyone in that Party, who is for these laws, are welcome to come on the show. Explain how these are about keeping the elections safe, and that's what you have to do is limit access to the polls. Tell me how that makes it safe.

Tell me why you call H.R.1 "The Devil's work." Because it is the only single act that can stop this wave of legislation. And here's what I think. I've never even heard you use that "Devil's work" thing about Obamacare. Why about this? My argument is this is becoming some kind of perverse "Holy War" for you guys.

Hopefully, once again, Democrats will find a way to fight off the obvious intentions of people like Senator Johnson. They did it back in the day with a better Johnson. And here were his words about what they tried in the 60s.


LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color.

It is wrong, deadly wrong, to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship, regardless of race.


CUOMO: I used to hear that and be like, "Yes, no kidding. Boy, have we come a long way." Have we? Have we? Let's take it to the better minds, Natasha Alford and Michael Smerconish.

Good to see you both.


Natasha, what is your take on why Ron Johnson says what he says, and then is dumbfounded when it's taken for what he said on his face.

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, VP, DIGITAL CONTENT AND SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, THEGRIO: Well, Ron Johnson wants people like me to come on your show, Chris, and to be mad, and to be outraged, so he can say "There goes the Left-wing media trying to pull the race card."

But the reality is it's Ron Johnson, who is pulling the race card. This is the oldest trick in the book.

He prefaces racist comments by saying "This is going to get me in trouble." And then what does he do? He says the comments. And he raises for the backlash, and he wants to play to his base. We saw this with the former president as well.

We're seeing it in a lot of aspects of society, where people bring this energy, where they speak their mind, and they're actually honest, I think Ron Johnson is being honest about how he sees the difference in protesters, but then they say "Those were innocuous comments. I didn't mean anything by it. It's the gas-lighting of America."

But really quickly, let's get to the heart of his comments, right? Ron Johnson is validating some White people's fears that Black protesters are actually scary, that somehow they're less patriotic, they're less loyal, that they are loved -- less loving of law enforcement.

Well, we saw with our own eyes, Capitol rioters literally attacking democracy, trying to stop a legal vote, and law enforcement losing their life, right?

So, the last thing I have to say about this is this irrational fear of Black protests, in the United States, we saw Black protesters, allies, dressed up in their Sunday best, children were still sprayed with fire hoses, right? They were still beaten by law enforcement. We saw what happened in Selma.

And so, that respectability, whatever fear he tries to play into, about Black protests, or protesting in the name of Black life, respectability did not protect us then. And it doesn't protect us now.

Black protesters, Black Lives Matter are exercising their fundamental American right to protest, and they should be protected doing so. They should not be differentiated. Ron Johnson should apologize, but he won't. And that's exactly what he

wants to do, stand his ground, and make it seem, as if he's winning this culture war against the Left.

CUOMO: And Michael, as we say all the time, you want to protest? Protest. Nowhere does it says -- of course, you have to have peaceful assembly.

But you don't have to be all about peace when you're there. You can be angry. You can yell. You can be -- but as soon as you touch me, as soon as you touch property, now you've become what you oppose. Now, you're not a protester. Now, you're a rioter. That's the line.

But it seems to me, there is a new line, in the party of opposition. If you're White, you should be outraged about what's going on, and you'll get protection from us. And the proof to me is not Johnson, Michael. It's all the men and women who are quiet after he said it, in that Party.

What's your take?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I think you're right. And also, I think the proof lies in the widespread acknowledgement of what Johnson's saying, the very shallow show of police force on that particular day.

Remember, that was a day not only where it was well-known that there was going to be this protest, inspired by then-President Trump, but there was also this risk that it might be a day, when we faced some type of retribution by the Iranians. And still we were at the sort of lowest DEFCON possible.

What I find significant, not my original thought, Aaron Blake noted this in the Washington Post, is that today, Senator Johnson is saying, "Wow, I'm really surprised at the reaction to what I said."

But as Natasha points out, when he first said these things, last Friday, there was a preamble. "I know this might get me in trouble. But here is what I think." So, there was full acknowledgement on his part as to what he was doing.

Final thought, if I may? Former Vice President Mike Pence, Chris, he's been the most quiet of all, amidst this backdrop. If there's one person, you would think would want to speak up, because they were calling for him to be hung, it would be the former Vice President. And yet, he says nothing.

CUOMO: That's an interesting play on his part. It will reveal itself.

I got to tell you, Natasha. You know what's upsetting to me? A lot of things. But I'm getting to know you, love having you on the show, reading stuff on "theGrio."

I get that you're right to make the -- have the attitude that you have tonight, that they'll expect a certain kind of outrage, and all this, and you got Left with the canceled culture and all that stuff. So you got all that on your back when you come to make this argument. But I don't like that you have to put an even face on it, and not play

to -- but he gets to do what he does, and he gets to say what he says, and you can't be outraged?

Well, let me tell you, I don't know that I've ever covered anything in this country that is more outrageous to me than what we're seeing with this slate of laws because of their potential. I am frightened by the potential.


And I know people keep saying I'm being theatrical. I am not a theatrical person, OK? I have no shtick. This is me. I just don't curse as much on television as I do often. I'm frightened by this. And it is outrageous. And we all know it.

But Alford, you make the case well, and thank you for making it here. And Michael Smerconish, you are always a plus. Appreciate you.

We're going to be talking about this a lot. We're going to be talking about this a lot with the better minds, because this is the battle line. MAGA has always been a regressive suggestion. You guys who thought that you get rid of Trump and it's gone, I've always told you it is about who and what remains.

And you have got one shot at nipping a new generation of Jim Crow in the bud. It is absolutely about race. And I take no comfort in saying that. A Senate Democrat joins us next with what the chance is.

Senator Merkley, as you know, like so many others, he lived January 6th. What does he think about why Johnson is saying what he's saying because he knows it's BS. And what does this mean for the ability to save the voting rights of minorities? Next.









CUOMO: Racism is as old as this world. I've never been in a society, where it didn't have an ugly effect one way or another. And it's always been here in America. But when encouraged, either by quiet, or by applause, it ramps up fast. And now, we're seeing it more and more and uglier and uglier. An Army Reservist charged with storming the Capitol is a well-known white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer. Federal prosecutors say that's what the Navy found, look at this guy, look at his moustache, when it investigated Timothy Hale-Cusanelli.

The Navy is involved because this guy worked as a contractor to base. It's not just his choice in facial hair. The NCIS talked to dozens of colleagues, many of whom say he repeatedly promoted racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic views.

Now look, you can believe what you want, no matter how ugly or perverse. But when you act on it, in ways that are hurtful or harmful, to the rest of us, you got a problem. And guys like him seem encouraged to do exactly that by guys like Senator Ron Johnson, right?

He wasn't concerned about him coming to get him. But how about his colleagues? They were concerned, concerned enough, smart enough, to evacuate. Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley was there. I guarantee you he wasn't looking for a big warm hug from guys like that guy with the Adolf moustache.

Senator, thank you for joining us on the show.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: What Senator Johnson says is not frightening to me, nor is his defense. He will get good buy-in on the Right, by blaming the race card, cancel culture, the Left, that's going to work.

No one came out from his Party, in the Senate or House, and said "Shut up, Johnson. We're not about that." That's your problem. How do you think you can work with people who will stand by and be quiet in the face of what he said?

MERKLEY: Well I'll tell you I -- the comments made me immediately think of Willie Horton ad from --

CUOMO: Massachusetts.

MERKLEY: --presidential campaign past. No, it just -- it's basically saying, "Hey, if somebody has dark skin, they're scary. Be afraid of them. They're not like us."

And I just I would like to think that Ron Johnson wasn't thinking clearly, when he says these kinds of things. But it seems to be a record that keeps being replayed. And I would hope my colleagues come out and say, "Any sort of race-baiting, deliberately cultivating divisions in America just is unacceptable."

CUOMO: But that's not what they need to say.

MERKLEY: "We're one America. We make this nation great together."

CUOMO: That's not what they need to say. Adam Kinzinger is getting a name for himself. I don't know how he's going to get reelected. But he's getting a name for himself, on the House side, as a

Republican, who will say not just, "We don't like any violence, you know, we should never talk about race." You got to say "What Ron Johnson said, is wrong. What Ron Johnson said is wrong."

In the Control Room, I don't understand what you're telling me. Did Adam Kinzinger use his name?

Yes. Good. Thank you.

So Adam Kinzinger did. But not on the Senate side. And here's my point. I've been making this point to all you guys, Senator. I think I've made it to you before. I don't know where your optimism is about working with them when they've showed the opposite inclination every chance you've given them.

But here's your bigger problem. Do you recognize H.R.1, as the only way to stop this wave of legislation that will absolutely limit the voting rights of minorities across this country?

MERKLEY: Absolutely, of course, in the Senate, we prefer to call it S.1. But it is essential that we use our constitutional power.

The Constitution says that for congressional elections, we have the ability to lay out the parameters, in which those elections are conducted, and it is our constitutional responsibility to defend the ballot box.

I mean, the journey of our nation has been a journey of knocking down the barriers of that ballot box that were posed by race that were posed by gender that were posed by Jim Crow. And we made it to the Voting Rights Act of '65.


And here we are with this massive, massive campaign, essentially unleashed by the Supreme Court, by the way, with their decision to gut the Voting Rights Act, this massive effort to attack the ability of Black Americans, poor Americans, college students, and Native Americans, to cast a ballot.

And it's absolutely wrong. It's absolutely unpatriotic. It's absolutely just a corruption of our constitutional responsibility.

CUOMO: The only way you get rid -- S.1, the Senator's right, it's "S" on the Senate, "H.R., House Resolution" on the House side, the only way you'll get rid of it is by getting rid of the filibuster, which by the way, was born in the Jim Crow era, as well, and born of people in that part of the country, as elected representatives, who wanted a way to slow down progress.

I don't know if you guys will have the votes within your own party. And that will be some assessment of the Democrats. But we don't know now. So let's put that on hold. Let's talk about something we do know.

You have a problem at the border. We always have. The flow is increasing, because the Biden Administration rolled back a lot of the Trump restrictive, arguably, inhumane restrictive practices. But by removing them all at once, you increase the flow without having the capacity to handle it.

Does the Biden Administration have to own that they made it too easy for too many to come, and they're not equipped?

MERKLEY: Well, I think they were immediately moved by their human decency to say that the restrictive measures that have left thousands stranded, across the border, are so vulnerable to the gangs that could attack them is wrong, and we have to give them safe harbor. That's what our international responsibility on the Refugee Convention is all about.

They also probably didn't take into account that those who recruit those, to come to the border, were out there running advertisements saying "Now is the moment."

CUOMO: Right.

MERKLEY: "Biden Administration is so decent, they won't turn you back."

So, they do have a big challenge. And that challenge is created out of them doing basically the way we should treat refugees, which is to recognize that we provide a safe harbor, we have an expedient process for determining whether they qualify for asylum. And if they qualify, they're able to stay. If they don't qualify, it's difficult. They're sent home.

But you're right, the -- our facilities and our processes, were not in shape to handle this kind of flow.

CUOMO: Yes. We need to hear more out of the administration about how they're going to address that. Otherwise, the accountability is going to get greater because when you encourage people to come, you better be able to handle it. It's not a problem of their own making.

MERKLEY: They --

CUOMO: But many administrations have made these problems that we are living in real-time.

Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you for discussing the issues. Appreciate you.

MERKLEY: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Politics are holding us back from crushing this Pandemic. That's all it is. The vaccine resistance now is on the Right. And concerns about variants are growing. Let's look inside the numbers to see the reality, OK, in terms of what stands between us and an end to this nightmare once and for all.

The Wizard of Odds has the answers, next.









CUOMO: The Party of Trump is purposefully prolonging the pain of the Pandemic. They never miss a chance, to crank up the outrage over masks, and demand everything open immediately. Yet, you hear any of them telling MAGA-nation to roll up a sleeve, and get a shot?

Fact, the number of cases, a big drop in cases, take a look. Looks good. But look closer at the last few weeks. The line is no longer dropping nearly as much. How? How? We keep setting records for the number of vaccines. How? How?

Too many states are throwing open the doors, opening everything back up. People are starting to see the end in sight. More of you are getting on planes, more in the last four days than any time during the pandemic. I'm not telling you, don't fly. I'm not telling you not to do what you want. But you have to do it the right way.

More than that, it's about the variants. Right when the experts said the middle of March, ask Caesar what today is, the Ides of March. Google it. We don't have time for it.

Bottom line, we still have a long way to go until we get to herd immunity. One of the biggest hurdles to getting there remains the opposition party saying stuff like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you get the vaccine or are you planning to get vaccinated?

R. JOHNSON: No, I had COVID. So, I don't believe, you know, I think that probably provides me the best immunity possible, actually having had the disease.


CUOMO: I got to tell you, you take this, and the stuff that he said about the "White rioters don't bother me, but the Brown ones do," I think it's just ignorance. I really do.

He can't not know that having COVID doesn't remove the need for the vaccine. But he's not alone. At least three other Republican senators are making it known that they are not vaccinated. Now, you may have medical reasons, right? But if it's just like out of will!

Here's the truth. Cases of people getting reinfected are well- documented. I'd been hearing about them more and more. I could show you that the CDC specifically addresses this by clearly saying "If you had COVID, you still need to be vaccinated."

But we're learning just how much the opposition party, the Trumpers, torch the CDC's credibility. An internal review by the agency found, quote, a variety of issues with how the agency handled scientific data, during the Trump administration, including putting out guidance that wasn't even authored by the CDC.

The reality is there's one person who could make a difference, if he really started to be loud about the need to get a shot. He's the guy, who insists he deserves all the credit for the vaccine, yet didn't tell anybody when he got one, then "No-showed" on the former presidents' PSA promoting it.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think it would make all the difference in the world. He's a very widely popular person among Republicans. If he came out and said "Go and get vaccinated. It's really important."

He has such an incredible influence over people in the Republican Party. It would really be a game-changer if he did.


CUOMO: Why isn't former president Trump telling people to take the vaccine that he made possible? The Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten, says the numbers backup Dr. Fauci.

How so, Wiz? I like that you got your ears lowered.



Look, here's the situation. The situation is, if you look at the polling, and you look at breaking it down by Republicans versus Democrats, who say they've either gotten the vaccine, or will get the vaccine, what you see here is a very clear indication.

72 percent of Democrats say they have gotten or will get the COVID-19 vaccine. Just 48 percent of Republicans. And what I should note, Chris, is that this type of gap was much smaller, used to be much, much smaller.

But we've heard over and over again, the rhetoric from Democrats, saying, "Get the vaccine, it's trustworthy," versus the rhetoric from Republicans, a lot less noteworthy in terms of positive reinforcement to get the vaccine. And what you see now on your screen is a perfect indication of what that has caused. CUOMO: You say, when it comes to hesitancy versus resistance, you have to look at the "Hard-core Nos." What have you seen over time?

ENTEN: This is so important, which is that if you look, over the last six months, go back from September 2020, to March of 2021, what we've seen is that those people, who are hesitant, those who said, "Yes, I'll get it, but I'm going to wait a little bit to get it," that has dropped from 64 percent to 24 percent.

While in the same period, the percentage of folks who said "I've either gotten it, or I'm going to get it ASAP" has jumped from 13 percent, all the way up to 54 percent. So those people who were hesitant, had decided to move back into that column saying "No, I'm going to get it immediately."

But here's the key nugget here. The key nugget here is the percentage who say that they won't get it. That was 23 percent back in September. That number hasn't moved, Chris. It's now 20 percent.

So, the people who have been resisting all along, not that hasn't in people, the people who just say "I'm not going to get it," those people are still "Hard-core Nos."

CUOMO: Is there anything that you can glean from the data about what are best chances to get people to want to take the vaccine?

ENTEN: Yes, two things. Number one is the more you get to know somebody, who has a vaccine, right, someone that you know, has been inoculated, look at this, amongst those who say that they know someone who's gotten a vaccine, and they themselves have not yet get it, 50 percent say that they want to get the vaccine as soon as possible, versus those who don't, in fact, know anybody who's gotten the vaccine, just 33 percent.

So, for me, there are two key things that need to be done. Number one, people need to know people who've gotten it, which is one of the key things with Trump, right? Why should you get him out on the air, is because if you know someone who's gotten it, you're far more likely to get it.

And if we go to slide four here, I think this is the other important thing, is if you look at the reasons why people say they're not going to get it, what it really comes down to is they just don't have enough knowledge of the vaccination.

There are concerns about side effects. There are people -- they want more info, just generally-speaking, those are the top concerns. It's not like they think, "Oh, you know, I'm anti-vax, generally," that's very, very low on the totem pole.

So essentially, what you really want, Chris is you want people to have a lot of knowledge that these vaccines work, and they want to know people who have in fact, used it successfully.

And if we're able to push that forward in the press, and the politicians at large, that I think will in fact, alleviate some of that vaccine hesitancy, and get those people to want to take the vaccine immediately.

CUOMO: Very helpful, Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: All right. So, talking about setbacks, the George Floyd murder trial, a $27 million settlement. That's on the civil side. Now, will that stand in the way of a fair trial for the officer Derek Chauvin on the criminal side? His defense attorney thinks so.

This is not an unusual situation, or is it? We're going to take it to our top prosecutor, next.









CUOMO: There's another wrench in the Derek Chauvin trial, the man accused of killing George Floyd. The defense attorney for the former officer, charged in Floyd's death, is asking the Judge, overseeing the case, to delay the trial and move venues.

Why? The lawyer argues last week's historic $27 million settlement between the City of Minneapolis and George Floyd's family could taint the jury pool.

Laura Coates joins us now.

Is it more common for a settlement to follow a criminal trial? Yes. Have we seen them come before? Yes. The idea of delaying or changing venue, what is the chance that time, will dissipate the knowledge and feelings that the people in that community must have about this situation?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SIRIUSXM HOST, "THE LAURA COATES SHOW": I would say 0 percent chance. Remember, this is not even a year after George Floyd was killed. That was back in May of last year. And you see this is very much fresh on the minds of so many people.

And the idea of delaying it, with what end, Chris? I mean the idea of delaying it or trying to move it, as if someplace else in Minnesota, people may not have heard about it? It made national and likely international news, given the amount, the historic settlement as a pre-trial, actual settlement.

The idea of having time come in the way of dissipating somehow people's memories, or the influence of it, is probably going to be a 0 percent chance. And the Judge can take into account thinking about what the possible solutions are.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, look, if you can get Chauvin, on the outside, for the entire time, then obviously we get why he'd want to delay.

Now, the idea of what this settlement means, for those who have followed this situation, Mohamed Noor was a really important case in Minnesota. That was a $20 million settlement, announced after his conviction, which is more likely.

Noor, very important, because, it set a Supreme Court precedent, in that state, to use the main charge, that they just added here, this third-degree murder. But it could cut both ways, Laura.

You hear that there's this big settlement, we heard one potential juror said "Whoa! That definitely makes me think that he did something wrong." But you could also hear $27 million, and say, "Wow! Well they already took care of the family. I mean, you can never bring back, George. There's already been punishment here."

COATES: Absolutely. I mean the idea here that a settlement is going to influence or aid only the prosecution, the defense really is a fallacy.

On the one hand, if you're the prosecution, having that culpability in the form of a financial accounting, may buttress the arguments that at least the City Council also felt this way. Remember, he was also fired almost instantly by the Police Chief in Minneapolis as well.


You have all the ideas of being aware of the potential, last year, of even a plea to the third-degree murder charge as well. All that holistically comes into the minds of jurors who, are already made aware, before they were even summoned, back in December.

On the other hand, however, it could yield itself a benefit to the defense. People might be, because it's not as if they're -- the settlement's coming out of the Police Union's dollars, or the Police Department. It comes out, in part, out of taxpayer dollars, I believe.

CUOMO: Oh, yes.

COATES: And so, taxpayers may look at this and say, "Come on, you've got to be kidding me here. We've got part of our town burned down." There was backlash based on those who hijacked the otherwise righteous protests and committed crimes. That factors in as well.

And you have the idea "Well, you know what? I don't know if all the elements are met here. But $27 million is quite a statement. Why must we go the extra mile and give somebody a prison term as well?" That's why normally these things come afterwards chronologically. It's not required.

But it's also in part why the federal government, Chris, starts as oftentimes a civil rights backdrop, for all of these things, to take into account, what would happen at the state level, to avoid having a state level jury look at these, with a personal touch, thinking about what they themselves, as taxpayers, as community members, might think about, and it's had broadened out the federal civil rights legislation as well, so all of it could actually cut both ways.

But ultimately, we see here, from the jurors that had been selected already, they seem to be aware of it, number one, and also, are having some -- somewhat disagree or some opinion of Chauvin already, based on what they know, some opinion of George Floyd, based on what they have heard as well. It's all holistically going to combine to factor in how they ultimately are going to liberate and rule.

CUOMO: 8 and 9 was seated today. 8 is a Black man in his 30s. He believes Chauvin did not set out to murder anyone. 9 is a White woman, in her 50s. She has a somewhat negative impression of Chauvin. So, you can see, color doesn't always tell the story.

Laura Coates, I usually understand what you're going to say, but it never sounds as good, as when you say it. Laura Coates, thank you very much for making the case. I really hope to have you as much as possible as we go through this.

COATES: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: This is the easy part. Once we get into this trial, it's going to get sticky, and it's going to get quick. It'll be good to have you. Thank you.

COATES: Let's get after it. Thanks.

CUOMO: Oh, well said.

All right, from tragedy to triumph, you want to know why you get the vaccine? You know why we want to be in a rush? To get back to family. Do you see this scene? The hug felt around the world a year in! How many of these moments have we missed?

A grandma, a grandson, and the mom, who recorded it all, we are all jealous of this family you're going to be meet next, and for great reason.








CUOMO: I want to be our next guests. And you do too. I want to show you a video that's going to hit you in the heart. And it is exactly why we've got to get the vaccine when we can.

This is the moment a 3-year-old boy, in Pennsylvania, got the surprise that literally the family's been waiting so long for, a chance to see Nana Jean, his grandma, for the first time in months. Take a look.



JEAN CHVALA, VACCINATED GRANDMOTHER: Hey, sweetheart? Come here. Oh, my goodness! Oh, I missed you so much.

K. CHVALA: Who is that Trax? Who is that?


CUOMO: Oh only 3, but he knows, he knows. Kelsey Chvala was the one you heard speaking there, recording the reunion video, her son, Trax, great name, and her mother-in-law, Jean.

Thank you so much for being with us tonight.

Oh, look at him, whoa, good-looking boy. I like those jammies, by the way. I have the same ones. Yes, yes, yes, hide your face. I got the same little animal.

Kelsey, that is such a beautiful thing to have. And tell me what it's been like, waiting for this moment.

K. CHVALA: I mean, what do you say about it? We just -- we're just holding on to hope, as much as we could, you know? Calls and FaceTimes just were all we had, and just they weren't cutting it anymore.

We were just so ready to go, and constantly from him, you know, "When can we go see Nana and Papa? I miss them." And it was just a truly precious moment. Words can't explain.

CUOMO: You can let him do whatever he wants. He wants to yell? Let him yell. He wants to walk around? Let him go. I got three of them at home.

Jean, you guys are living the dream right now, for so many of us, families that thank God, have each other that want to be close, the moments that we haven't been able to make. What did it mean to you to get vaccinated and be able to come and say hello to your grandsons?

J. CHVALA: Oh, it meant everything to me. I have to thank Klingensmiths Drugstore, Ford City and Dave Stipple (ph), for finally calling me with the vaccine. I'm just so grateful that I got it that so we could be together again.

CUOMO: You went to the pharmacy?



K. CHVALA: The local pharmacy.



K. CHVALA: In our town.

CUOMO: Yes, it's an important part of the story that's emerging. As pharmacies get it, people have a different comfort level. They understand where to go. They know their pharmacists. And it's --

J. CHVALA: Oh yes.

CUOMO: --it's really getting a lot of people in the game. So, you've been seeing your grandson. You're right around the corner. But what was it like to hold him? How has he changed since the last time you had him, Jean?

J. CHVALA: Oh, when I went to pick him up, I thought "Oh, I thought I was going to drop him. He's big."

CUOMO: I could see it in your face!


J. CHVALA: It just moved my heart.

CUOMO: Boy, I'll tell you, you guys, there's so many of us, who want to be the Chvalas, right now, and have that. I am -- I can't wait. I mean, my mother now is fully vaccinated.

But the same thing that you were balancing, Kelsey, that's why I really want to get you guys on tonight. Kelsey works in health care. She's been vaccinated for a while.

Watch out kid. Watch out.


Her husband is waiting for his phase to come. So, he's not vaccinated. And so many of us are in this situation.

Ha-ha, look at him. Look at him go. Hit the cameraman! Hit the cameraman!


CUOMO: I think it's great. I'm so happy for you guys. I hope your husband can get vaccinated.

That's all right. We got to end the segment anyway. Let him take us right off.

Kelsey, thank you for letting us share this memory. Jean, thank God that you're healthy and well. I'm glad you got the vaccine. I know your husband had been dealing with some lung issues.

J. CHVALA: I'm so thankful for that (ph).

CUOMO: So, I'm glad he's safe as well. And you've got a beautiful boy. Trax is a good-looking kid.

K. CHVALA: Thank you.

CUOMO: And I wish you well.

J. CHVALA: Thanks, Chris.

K. CHVALA: We're very blessed.

CUOMO: Thank you so much, huh? Enjoy yourselves. Enjoy family.

J. CHVALA: Thank you.

K. CHVALA: Thank you.

CUOMO: That is the American Dream. How much do you want to be the Chvalas? Thank God for them. And thank God there'll be a lot more of us, and hopefully soon, if we do the right thing.

We'll be right back. I got to call my mom.








CUOMO: Got to get the vaccine, got to get the information, got to track the science, and we have to be smart. And we'll have moments like the Chvalas. Thank you for watching. Time for the big show, "CNN TONIGHT" with the big star, D. Lemon.