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Witnesses Share Feelings Of Guilt Over George Floyd's Death; Dr. Fauci On When U.S. Can Start Vaccinating Young Kids; Biden Unveils Sweeping $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 31, 2021 - 21:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: The attack was caught on video, outside a building in Midtown Manhattan. It is difficult to watch.

Today, building owners released a new statement, saying the two lobby workers remain suspended, pending investigation. And the company is committed to strengthening internal training. You see them just standing by there.

The news continues. Let's hand it over now to my good friend, Chris, "CUOMO PRIME TIME."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The reporting is that that guy was out on parole--


CUOMO: --after killing his own mother.


CUOMO: How did that happen? There was a lot of explanations for why he was on the street, how it was handled on the street, and why this keeps happening.

Jim, appreciate you doing the story.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The whole world is watching the George Floyd murder trial. And today, we heard from his accused killer, for the first time.

Derek Chauvin was captured on video, during event, defending his actions. Now, you have to pay attention to the words he chose, because those are going to matter to the jury, but also his tone, because that may matter even more.

We also learned today about how this all started. Why? Because there's new video that it was introduced into the case, different angles, including what you're seeing right now.

New police body cam footage that shows the moment Floyd was first approached by officers staring down the barrel of a gun. That was the initiation to it is what you're seeing right now.

We also learn more about how George Floyd was pleading with police, on scene, how long, and to what degree? Why is that relevant? Because it goes to what they should have perceived about him, and how they should have acted.

But for the jurors, the more important perspective may be the mundane. For the first time, we all saw what happened inside the store that Floyd had entered, Cup Foods. That's what you're looking at.


CUOMO: Before the cops were called. Floyd is the tall Black man you see there wearing all black.

Do jurors see signs of the level of intoxication, of excited delirium that will be explained later in the case that would be suggested by officers?

And to correct some internet nonsense, Floyd was in the store, by all accounts, to buy cigarettes. Cops were called because the $20 bill he used was suspected to be counterfeit. There was no other suspected criminal activity. Police mentioned none. The store employee mentioned none.

We heard that testimony today from the 19-year-old cashier, who took that questionable $20 bill from Floyd, and then reported it to his manager.

That young man on your screen is Christopher Martin. And like other witnesses, he is now dealing emotionally with his own actions, questioning what he did, in the chain of events that led up to Floyd's death. Floyd was not described by Martin as armed or dangerous.

This trial is not about why Martin suspected the $20 nor is it about his role, and what led to his death. That is guilt, and it's understandable, given something so tragic, but it's not relevant. Nor is it relevant whether or not the crowd was angry. This trial is simply about why George Floyd died.

The questions are simple. Was the forced use during the arrest reasonable, especially after he was cuffed? Should the officers, specifically Derek Chauvin, have known that what he was doing was hurting Floyd significantly? Did he continue with that level of force anyway?

Then the key issue, was the force used by Derek Chauvin a substantial causal factor in George Floyd's death, substantial causal factor? That means one of the main reasons, not necessarily the only reason. That is from the law. What Chauvin did doesn't have to be the only reason. It has to be a main reason. Remember that.

We were reminded that this situation, and what happened, was obvious to many who watched in real-time. It was almost too much for one man to express on the stand. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



FLOYD: I'm not a bad guy. Oh, man! I wasn't trouble (ph) please!


FLOYD: Officer Thao (ph). I'm not going to move (ph).

I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll grab that. I think we get him (ph).


FLOYD: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.


FLOYD: I can't breathe.


FLOYD: Mama, mama, mama, mama.




I felt helpless. I don't have a mama either. I understand him.


CUOMO: Also, a note to people who are watching this, and trying to understand.

If you don't understand why Charles McMillian, the man on the stand there, feel such a connection to what Floyd went through, you don't understand why this case matters as much as it does to people of color.

And McMillian is on the stand not just because he's a Black man. He is on there because he lived near Cup Foods. He witnessed everything that happened.

And he was so traumatized that the 61-year-old confronted Officer Derek Chauvin, after he saw Floyd, take his last breaths. And this was a very critical moment, not his emotion. It was Chauvin's response, not just described by McMillian, but caught on video. Derek Chauvin, in real-time, answering questions about what had just happened, as Floyd lie motionless. For the first time, the men and women of the jury, those who will decide Chauvin's fate, saw how he reacted in real-time. Watch.


DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: That's one person's opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But - but no, no, no. I've got to - I've got to get in - I've got to get in there--

CHAUVIN: We got to, we got to, control this, we got to control this guy because he's a sizeable guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And I've got to - I've got to get in the car and get--

CHAUVIN: And it looks like, looks like he's probably on something.


CUOMO: How will the jury weigh not just the words, but the tone? Remember, feel can matter as much as fact, with a jury.

Did Chauvin take the stand? Does he describe himself in terms of how he felt that day, in a way inconsistent with what you just heard? This moment that you just heard will matter in this trial.

Let's take it to the much better legal minds, Elliot Williams, former federal prosecutor, and Mark O'Mara, the head defense attorney for George Zimmerman. He helped Zimmerman get acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin.

Good to have you both.

Mark, it's been a minute. Good to see you.

Elliot, what was the biggest moment for the prosecution today?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Oh, I think Charles McMillian's testimony. Now, here's the thing. It wasn't the most consequential testimony. He didn't really prove or disprove any major fact in evidence. But he's such a compelling character.

Look, to put this in real terms, for people who watched the television show, "The Wire," I don't know if you did, Chris.


WILLIAMS: But this is the kind of individual who Detective McNulty would have called "A citizen," a member of the community that is universally respected by whether the rich, whether poor, whether White, whether Black people, are just going to find this guy credible.

And he put a face. He put people there. He was compelling. He was real. And there's really not much that the defense could have done to poke holes in his testimony. Some of it wasn't, like we talked about last night, some of it wasn't entirely relevant. But it was powerful. And it gotten jurors' heads and hearts, I think.

CUOMO: Now, O'Mara, the first part of the trial is supposed to go the prosecution's way. This is them laying out the different elements as they see it. And they do have a plethora of people to pick from here, to deliver obvious and poignant moments.

From a defense perspective, what did it mean today, specifically, Chauvin, in real-time, dialoguing with a citizen, as Elliot suggests, about why he did what he did?

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FORMER LEAD DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, I would tell you, the most striking thing that I saw, and I think that jurors saw, and it's going to be reminded by the prosecution, is this, and Chris, you know this, and Elliot, there is a concept in the law, called "Cold and calculated and premeditated."

It's actually an aggravating factor in death penalty cases, but it's very relevant for how to look at a person. And if you listen to what Chauvin said, the way he said it, the lack of humanity, I would suggest, it was cold. It was cold to deal with what was going on.

And then the calculated part, if you really think about it, what he was really just explaining away was, "I would do anything that I needed to do. He's a big guy. He might have been on drugs," and basically explaining away, in a very, non-emotional way, the fact that this had happened to Floyd.

And let's remember that the EMTs, they already told him they couldn't find a pulse on Floyd. So, even with that knowledge, even after the breath is taken, you relax, and you get a balance for what's going on, he had no emotions and seemingly no care. And I think that's going to strike with a jury.

CUOMO: One more question for each of you.


Elliot, to the extent that you have a defense strategy here that "It's all about the toxicology, Floyd had a broken wing when he entered this situation," what did it mean seeing him in the store today, on that footage?

WILLIAMS: Seeing Floyd in the store, well, again, it's important that the prosecution put it out there. It's the difference of saying, you know, it's called fronting.

It's where you have a fact that is bad about your side that you put out there. It's like saying "Mom, I broke the vase," rather than having your mom find the vase. So, it was important to put it out there. And it puts Floyd at the scene. I don't really think that that fact is going to be material to this question as to death. More importantly though, and back to this question of both McMillian's

testimony, and Chauvin's demeanor, it also, and this is backing up what Mark said, debunks this idea that the scene and the hysteria in the crowd was so intense that the police officers were distracted or diverted from caring for Floyd.

If anything--

CUOMO: Right.

WILLIAMS: --they were completely nonchalant, and almost sarcastic and mocking, and not people, who were in distress, and unable to care for the victim, who was on the ground.

CUOMO: Right. I also think it has a constructive value for the prosecution, that mundane footage, because Mark, it shows where is this incredible level of intoxication and delirium that they're going to argue later on? He looks like a guy, who's pissed off that he's not been able to buy his cigarettes the way he wanted to.

What did today mean in terms of the need to put Chauvin on the stand, Mark?

O'MARA: It is always a very dangerous call for any defense team, defendants to have a great benefit, the beyond a reasonable doubt standard, and the fact that you never have to help the state prosecute you.

But unfortunately, in self-defense cases, and in a case like this, that jury is going to want to hear why Chauvin thought for every word - every second of those 9.5 minutes that he had to do or - what he did.

And realizing that balance, that everything is going to go against Chauvin, to begin with, if he doesn't get up and say that, even though the jury is not supposed to consider it, we're all human, those 12 are human, they're going to want to hear an explanation for why they should let Chauvin go for 9.5 minutes for that knee on the neck.

CUOMO: What do you think the key moment is that has to happen tomorrow and in the days ahead, Elliot?

WILLIAMS: Oh I, you know, I don't think there's a key moment whatsoever. The prosecution should keep doing what they're doing. And humanizing the scene, these videos, were real. They were graphic.

And again, this all comes down to the credit - at least with - in the prosecution's case, it comes down to the credibility of the witnesses. "Do you believe them? Do you find them compelling?"

And if you notice, the defense hasn't been really aggressively cross- examining witnesses, just because the folks that have been put up would be cross-examined at the defense's own peril.

CUOMO: Right. But you remember what we learned right?

WILLIAMS: And this is--

CUOMO: Early on, in litigation, you don't blame people for pain.

O'MARA: Yes.

CUOMO: And if they're expressing pain, and you doubt their pain, it can go bad fast. And I think this defense team got a taste of that.

Mark, how quickly do you think the prosecution should set up its own version of what the toxicology means, the autopsy means?

O'MARA: Yes. It is time. It's good they spent a couple of three days, putting the humanity of it, and the horror and terror of it. But it is now time for them to get to and address the intent. Did he intend to do what happened?

And like you said, the toxicology, because that's going to be there, because you know the defense team is going to come out and say "He had very little to do with the actual outcome. It was the Fentanyl. It was the"--

WILLIAMS: Chris? Chris? Quick point.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

WILLIAMS: On this intent point though, this, 9 minutes, and the shouting of "Mama, Mama, Mama," at a certain point, it's clear that this individual isn't posing a threat anymore.

And I think they're real - they're going to - the defense is going to have a really hard time, overcoming this intent question, on account of just the length of the video. And, at a certain point, you cannot say that there's any objective reason for restraining Floyd, in the way that they did.

It's just, like Mr. T would said "I Pity the Fool," like I pity the defense attorney, who has to try to overcome that aspect of the evidence.

CUOMO: But remember where Mark's coming from.

O'MARA: Yes.

CUOMO: The job of the defense is to spread doubt.

WILLIAMS: Oh no, I agree, yes.

O'MARA: Yes.

CUOMO: And if they can get people focusing on what he's saying about--

O'MARA: True.

CUOMO: --what kind of shape was Floyd in that the officers couldn't have known that could be very important with this jury.

O'MARA: I think--

CUOMO: All right, let me jump for time.

O'MARA: Yes.

CUOMO: We'll keep doing this.

Elliot Williams, thank you.

Mark O'Mara, it is a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for adding your expertise--

O'MARA: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: --to the benefit of my audience. I appreciate you for that.

O'MARA: You're welcome.

CUOMO: All right, now, one of the common themes, from so many of these witnesses, is guilt. And that is pain. They're not on trial.

Nobody did anything wrong here, except maybe the officers, OK? That's what this trial is about. Yes, I'm making it open-ended because this is a question of fact and law, and we have to decide it.

But that pain, Mr. McMillian identified, with what Floyd was going through, I want Van Jones to come in and talk to us, about what happens, if those 10 - 12 men and women say "No, doesn't meet the standard?" What does it say about where we are? Next.









CUOMO: Three days of pain, people who stood by, watching George Floyd's final moments, and feel a sense of loss, but also a sense of connection to his fate and guilt that they weren't able to do something, helpless, regret. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This, you'd watch farther over towards the scene?

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, WITNESS: Correct. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was going through your mind during that time period?

MARTIN: Disbelief and guilt.


MARTIN: If I would have just not took in, the bill, this could have been avoided.

GENEVIEVE HANSEN, WITNESS: In my memory, I offered to walk - kind of walk them through it, or told them if he doesn't have a pulse, you need to start compressions, and that wasn't done either.

It's what I would have done for anybody.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when you couldn't do that, how did that make you feel?

HANSEN: Totally distressed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you frustrated?


DARNELLA FRAZIER, WITNESS: I've stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it's like it's not what I should have done. It's what he should have done.


CUOMO: This is a very unusual situation to have these kinds of witnesses, this kind of video, a lot of it, in thanks to the last witness, you saw there, Ms. Frazier, and this contrast of all this pain, all this connection, to Floyd's anguish, except from the accused.

Let's bring in Van Jones.

People keep saying, "Listen, it's about facts and law." And I don't have to tell you. You went to Yale Law School. But that's not true. This isn't just about what happens in court.

George Floyd is a metaphor for how many men and women feel about what can happen to them in society. And we're seeing that in their faces and in their pain, are we not?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, we are. And to see children have to sit up and explain what they saw, you know?

There's a 9-year-old - 10-year-old that testified. That child will never ever forget that. They live with that the rest of their lives, seeing a police officer strangle the life out of a Black person, in their own community, while they were trying to go get a snack.

So, I don't think people understand the pain that there's - most Black folks walk around with this, a kind of survivor's guilt anyway, because we've seen so many people, who look just like us, not get a break.

Like that - well you mentioned Yale Law School. When I was at Yale, I taught at Princeton, I was at MIT, as a fellow, I saw White kids do terrible stuff every damn day.

I saw White kids on drugs. I saw White kids who were disrespectful. I saw frat boys doing stuff that it would make a gang member ashamed, in terms of the level of disrespect and disregard.

And the cops were never called on a single one of those kids. Those kids got the benefit of the doubt. They got a second chance, a third chance, a 15th chance. And those kids are out having good lives.

And yet, you see, blocks away from some of those campuses, in the Housing Projects, kids doing less bad stuff, getting 15 years, 20 years, in jail, or winding up killed, sometimes by each other.

And you walk around, as a Black person, with a constant sense of both dread and guilt. "Am I doing enough for my community? Am I doing enough to help?"

And also, I spend a lot of time in prisons, helping folks. You go into a prison and you've done it yourself. It's wall-to-wall, African- American men, Latino men. And let's be honest. Chris, some of these guys, they're smarter than me and you.

They're better leaders. They're better-looking. They made a mistake that I saw kids making on Ivy League campuses. They're never going to be able to come out here and compete in the job market. They're not going to be able to be the dads they want to be.

And you live with this every day, and then something like this happens. And you saw a grandpa - father, I assume, just break down and cry, because what are we supposed to do? How can we - how can we live?

And this grandpa, by the way, was tough on George Floyd, when George Floyd was acting up, and telling him "Hey, back down. Do what the cops say."

But then he saw him falling, he saw him dying, and he did his best. And he feels his best was not enough. Most Black people feel that way every day that our best is not enough for our communities. It's not enough for the country. It's just not enough.

And now we have to deal with this. And so, this is a deep, deep wound that's being pried back open, again and again, every time we show these things, and I just could - I felt so bad, Chris, for that - for that grandpa.

No man is, you know, I mean tears - I've cried on TV. And you hold them back better than most. No man wants to do that. He was broken down. He was broken down. And he's not by himself. There's a lot at stake here.

I don't care who you voted for in the last election. Just understand the humanity of what's going on for people, every day in this country that may escape your view. This is an opportunity for us all to learn from each other.

CUOMO: Help, in terms of what should be learned, I hear things from White people that you probably don't, right, as empathetic as you are, and relatable as you are.


"Listen, this wasn't a good guy. Do you hear what he did to the pregnant lady? Do you hear about this? Did you hear about that? And you know, let's be honest, he was in there committing a crime, and he didn't listen to - if they just listened to the police, none of this would have happened."

What am I supposed to say in that? Because I wind up getting in a - I get into nothing but arguments, where I tell people "I don't want to talk to you about this."

JONES: Right.

CUOMO: But I'm not getting it done.


CUOMO: What is the right response to somebody who wants to look at George Floyd as the seed of the problem?

JONES: The reason we have police officers is to show up, when people are making bad decisions. That's their job. He made some bad decisions.

What you want from your police officers is then for the police officers to make good decisions. You don't get a great society when you got some people without wearing uniforms, making bad decisions, and then people with the uniforms make worse decisions.

I'm from, as you know, from law enforcement family. My dad was a cop in the military. My favorite uncle is a police officer. I like - I'm from law enforcement family. But the police, I got a radical idea, the police should obey the law. The police should obey the law.

And that law says you can't - excessive force is the only legal concept, you don't have to go to law school to understand, force beyond what's necessary to affect the arrest, force in excess of what you need to do to affect the arrest is excessive force.

And if that if - when somebody is down, and they're handcuffed, and they're crying for their mom, and they're peeing on themselves, if you still are applying brutal force against them, that's excessive.

You don't have to be a liberal. You don't have to be a bleeding heart. You just have to be somebody who respects the rule of law, and respects that badge to say, "We don't want people with badges acting that way against anybody," and certainly not given this incredibly bad history with Black folks.

CUOMO: And to be fair, in my experience, thus far, I don't hear a lot of cops. In fact, I really can't even name one that I know personally, who are defending what happened in this situation.

JONES: They are not going to defend this.

CUOMO: And we'll see how it plays out in court. But that is not where it will end, no matter the verdict.

Van Jones, I appreciate you, brother. Thank you for helping us find a way through this.

JONES: Yes, let's still stay together. We'll get through it.

CUOMO: Always. Always.

The trial coincides with a sweeping attempt to suppress the Minority vote nationwide, and that is connected to systemic inequality and the fears of the same, and the mandate for the same on the Majority.

So, let's take this conversation to Georgia's first Black senator. He calls it "Jim Crow in New Clothes." Raphael Warnock is here tonight. What is this about? Where do we go? Next.









CUOMO: Is it going to be private businesses that make politicians do the right thing, again? "Unacceptable," "A step backwards," that's what Coca-Cola and other companies are calling Georgia's new voting law.

Republicans were clear on the sweeping legislation that goes so far as to ban giving water to voters as they wait in line. So, why speak out now against a law that Democrats say will disproportionately affect Black voters?

Is it fear of boycotts, or even the multitudes of conversation, and emotion, about racial issues in our country, surrounding the George Floyd trial? It's all related. Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, freshman senator, but long in the game of social justice, joins us now, to discuss this, and more.

It's good to see you, Senator.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Good to be here with you, Chris. Thanks so much.

CUOMO: Senator, let's discuss something that's not as well-known, and then talk about something that is painfully obvious.

In the relief bill, though a freshman senator, you got a provision, put into the bill, to help your constituents, specifically Black farmers, as part of the relief bill. What did you get done? Why did it matter so much?

WARNOCK: Well I'm very proud of the American Rescue Plan. And, as you point out, one of the provisions that I specifically fought for was relief for farmers of colors. The farmers of color debt relief bill, we inserted it in the American Rescue Plan.

It will provide $5 billion of debt relief and support to farmers, who have historically experienced discrimination, even at the hands of our government, the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This is a long-standing problem. And what COVID-19 did was it both illuminated and exacerbated these long-standing disparities. Here was a chance to help folks, who have been disproportionately impacted, both by this virus, and the virus of racism.

CUOMO: What did you learn in that process?

WARNOCK: Well I learned that change is hard. I've understood that for a long time. As you point out, I was an activist, before getting into the work of politics, an activist preacher.

It wasn't my first time going to the Capitol, when I was sworn-in. I've been to the Capitol many times, usually stirring up what my parishioner - my late parishioner, John Lewis called "Good trouble."

CUOMO: "Good trouble."

WARNOCK: It's good now to be able to operate in, on this side, to turn my activism and agitation into legislation, my protests in to public policy.

I think representation matters. And as we engage the debates, around COVID relief, around voting rights, criminal justice reform, a whole range of issues, I think it matters that there are diverse voices at the table, and in the conversation.

CUOMO: So, what do you say, to proponents of the laws, in Georgia now, who say that this is being fair - unfairly smeared that they kept Souls to Polls provisions on Sundays, and that they just made it safer, by reducing the number of drop boxes, because they're tough to police, and you have to be careful about harvesting, and that not allowing people to give food and water, that's just about electioneering that there will be provisions for the poll workers to provide those things to people. They just don't want people gaining advantage by giving food and drink to people in line.

Do you accept those defenses?


WARNOCK: Oh absolutely not. This is voter suppression, pure and simple. These are politicians, who are so focused on maintaining their power that they're willing to do anything, to stay in power, including undermine, the basic tenets of the democracy itself.

We have to push back hard. This is a 911 emergency for our democracy. And while it is playing out in obvious ways, in this moment, in Georgia, it's really happening in capitals all across the country.

The violent insurrection that we saw, visited upon our United States Capitol, has now been spread out to state capitals, all across the country. There are folks who are just hell-bent on taking the votes and the voices of the people that they don't want to hear.

And that's why I'm a proud sponsor of the "For the People Act." And I'm also pushing hard to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We have to do it, not only to protect Black voters, but to protect young voters, to protect elderly and sick folks, anybody that some voters don't want to hear from.

And I really believe in democracy, Chris. I think that the four most powerful words in a democracy are "The people have spoken." And if we don't do anything, in the Senate, we certainly have to make sure that the people's voices can be heard, in all of the great debates that we will take on, in the days ahead.

CUOMO: What are your thoughts about what you've seen so far in the - briefly because we're just early in the trial, but the Floyd trial so far, the murder trial of George Floyd, what's your reaction so far?

WARNOCK: It's heartbreaking. And there really are no words. I'm thinking about the Floyd family, praying much for them. Our hearts go out to them.

Too often, we've seen human beings turned into hashtags. I'm tired of hashtags, Chris. We've been dealing with this for a long time.

Early on, in my career, as a preacher, I was a seminary student, finishing up my doctorate, in New York City, when an African immigrant named Amadou Diallo, was shot several times by New York's finest, by the New York Special Elite Unit of the New York Police Department.

And as a seminary student, I went down with throngs of New Yorkers protesting, offered myself for the first time for arrest. That was in the late 1990s.

And then, we looked up, this past spring, and we saw a whole generation of young people, who don't remember Amadou Diallo, who don't remember Rodney King. And we're still dealing with this issue.

We've got to pass the George Floyd Act. It's past time, to do something about criminal justice reform in this country.

CUOMO: Sadly, they don't have to remember Amadou Diallo, or any of the others of our time--


CUOMO: --because they've got a fresh slate of their own victims, that are searing images in people's minds as young as 9-years-old, as we're watching right now.

It'll be interesting to see if leaders like you can get people on the same page of just wanting to stop the pain. Not about blame, but about pain.

Senator Raphael Warnock, congratulations on getting something into this first relief bill, targeted to communities of color, and farmers, in your constituency. That was a good pull, especially early on in your tenure. Be well, and thank you.

WARNOCK: Thank you. Great to be with you.

CUOMO: All right.

Let's take a break. When we come back, Dr. Anthony Fauci is here.

I got the vaccine. I want to talk to him about how my wife and I are feeling, the next day, and what he can recommend others for what to expect. I want his reaction from the big news today about how the vaccines work on teens and younger.

And let's talk about accountability, and looking backwards, as a way to do better going forwards. Next.









CUOMO: Today, the CDC confirmed that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death last year. They had heart disease, cancer, COVID.

The news comes as cases continue to spike, across the United States, thanks to tougher variants, and mask mandates are being struck down, in places like Wisconsin, thanks to reduced collective resolve to fight.

Let's discuss with the President's Chief Medical Adviser himself, Dr. Tony Fauci.

Always a pleasure to see you, Doc.


CUOMO: Got the Pfizer vaccine yesterday. Cristina and I went. You may have seen me in the tabloids!

So, I felt fine yesterday, just a little soreness at the spot. Today, I had a little bit of a fever, and felt almost a little flu-ish. Cristina, same kind of stuff, malaise. Normal?

FAUCI: Yes, absolutely. What you're feeling is your body's reaction, the immune response you're getting, particularly for you, Chris, because you've been infected, and you've had COVID-19, which means you probably have a lot of immune memory in your system.

And when you get a vaccine, you're really going to rev it up. I'll bet if we measure your antibody levels, a couple of weeks from now, you're going to be sky-high--

CUOMO: Well.

FAUCI: --which is really good. It's good.

CUOMO: And I hear that the second shot can also make you uncomfortable. But it's better than having COVID.

You say I have immune memory. I also have, you know how we say, in Italian dialect, the (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). I got nervous today when I started to get those fever symptoms again, because it reminded me of being sick, but it's a very different deal this time.


CUOMO: I just want people to know that what I'm feeling--


CUOMO: --I'll be honest about it. And honest from you that this is not that abnormal, but it's better than being sick.

All right, so let's deal with what's making us sick.

FAUCI: Absolutely.

CUOMO: This reduce, in resolve is real. I don't think you're going to get people to mask up again. I don't think you're going to get governors to be more restrictive. What does this do in terms of our timetable?


FAUCI: We really have to be careful, Chris, because, as I had mentioned to you, multiple times, we've come down to a level that plateaued, and is not continuing to go down. And we're right up to around 60,000 new infections per day, which puts you at considerable risk of rebounding up, essentially what they're seeing in Europe.

With the vaccines coming in now, we're vaccinating about 3 million people a day, every day that goes by, we get closer and closer to a greater degree of protection. So, now is just not the time to pull back and declare premature victory. It's just not the time.

Hang in there a bit longer. We're going to get through this. As more people get vaccinated, there's going to be a greater umbrella of protection over society.

That's why we're saying over and over again, just hang on, continue to do the public health measures, and then we could pull back later, when we get a greater degree of protection, from the vaccines.

CUOMO: Doesn't sound like the states are going to listen, but we'll see what that does, in terms of the state of play. Balancing--


CUOMO: --balancing that out--


CUOMO: --on the positive side, Doctor, is that we have information that the vaccines are working on younger people, in testing. What does that mean in terms of timetable for them being able to get the vaccine?

FAUCI: Well, that's really good news. And the companies, Pfizer, and Moderna, and others, are putting a lot of effort in, to show that the vaccine is safe, and effective as in young kids.

The announcement that came out yesterday was they did a randomized placebo-controlled trial, in a little bit over 2,000 people, from 12- years-old to 15-years-old. And they show that the vaccine was highly efficacious, like literally 100 percent. There were 18 cases of COVID- 19 in the placebo group, and zero in the vaccine group.

What they're doing now is that they're now testing it in kids younger and younger. It's called age de-escalation testing. So, it will go from 12-year-olds to 9-year-olds, then 9-year-olds to 6-year-olds, 6- year-olds to 2-year-olds, and then 6-months-old to 2-year-old.

So, we hope that by the end of this year, we'll have enough information that we could safely vaccinate children of any age, by the beginning of the first quarter of 2022.

CUOMO: Tony, all this talk about Dr. Birx, and how she now says, "It was - this stuff was avoidable," and that, "Trump was doing what everybody knew he was doing. He was pulling a hoax," and all this other stuff.

You think she should have said more, when she was there, especially given that she had a White House position?

FAUCI: Chris, she was in a tough situation. You really need to understand, she was living in the White House. She had an office in the lower level of the West Wing.

I mean, I guess, obviously, you say she could have done more. But it was really tough on her. She was a military person. She understands the chain of command. And I think if you ask her now, she probably would said she should have done more.

But you really need to cut her some slack, the way I do. You really have to, because she was in a tough situation.

CUOMO: Then I'll put it on you. You think you should have said more earlier on that you think you should have, even if it would have meant that maybe you would have been removed, do you think we'd be in a different place, if you had said about the President, and to the President--


CUOMO: --"This guy's lying to you?"

FAUCI: Well, I don't think you can just come out and say "This guy's lying." I don't know how good that would have been. But I certainly clashed with the President. You know that.

We had a considerable amount of stress and tension between us, when I spoke out against him, with Hydroxychloroquine, when he said that "This is going to end tomorrow, it's going to go away," and I said, "No, it's not just going to go away."

There are a lot of things that we did that was contradictory to him, which obviously caused a lot of stress and strain. But I just want to put that behind us and look ahead.

CUOMO: Well, look, the only reason to bring it up is so that we learn to do better going forward, if it ever happens again. We've all learned a painful lesson about--

FAUCI: I agree. I agree.

CUOMO: --how important leadership is. And I'll be open about it. I was worried about you at that time. You obviously know it, but the audience should also, that they will get rid of you because that's all that mattered to him was fealty.


CUOMO: Not loyalty to the job or the cause.


CUOMO: And hopefully we do get to a better place together, and soon.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, appreciate your candor, and I appreciate you taking the opportunity.

FAUCI: Good to be with you, Chris. Thanks.

CUOMO: Always. Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter in advance.

We'll be right back.

FAUCI: Yes, you too.










JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And here's the truth. We all will do better when we all do well. It's time to build our economy from the bottom up and from the middle out, not the top down.

So, today, I'm proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work, not just rewards wealth.

It's the largest American jobs investment since World War II.

Is it big? Yes. Is it bold? Yes. And we can get it done.


CUOMO: We'll see!

A new push by President Biden, to go big, this time, infrastructure, price tag $2 trillion, geared towards not just rebuilding bridges and roads, but reshaping the U.S. economy, while addressing climate and racial inequities. That'll be the catch-point on the Right.

The issue of infrastructure has long been bipartisan. Division is in the details. Here's what Biden is proposing in the first of a two-part plan.

More than $600 billion towards transportation, what does that mean? Fixing 20,000 miles of roads, at least 10,000 bridges.

$580 billion toward manufacturing, research and development, and job training. Now, part of that would restock our supply of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, to prepare for future pandemics.

$400 billion toward home care services for the elderly and disabled.

More than $300 billion, toward building, more schools, and housing, and making them more energy efficient. It would also modernize the power grid, making it less susceptible to blackouts, like what we saw in Texas.


More than $100 billion would be invested in clean drinking water, replacing the country's lead pipes and service lines. Think Flint, Michigan, about why this is crucial.

Another $100 billion would also deliver universal broadband.

How do you pay for it? Biden says make large corporations pay their fair share. What does that mean? More, taking the rate from 21 percent, to 28 percent that would still - it would still lower - be lower than what it was under Obama, Bush and Clinton. Think about that.

Still, Mitch McConnell calls this a Trojan horse for tax increases. The Chamber of Commerce slammed it as dangerously misguided, arguing it would slow the economic recovery.

Biden, of course, urging people to see this as an investment. But not only will he need Republicans to buy in, he's going to need to convince some Democrats as well. We will be watching.

And we'll be right back.


CUOMO: I want to thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with the big star D. Lemon starts right now.