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E.R. Doctor Testifies George Floyd Likely Died From Lack Of Oxygen, Heart Attack Unlikely; Key Figure In Gaetz Extortion Claims Responds; Good, Bad & Ugly: U.S. Vaccinations Hit New Highs As Experts Warn Of Variant Surge Driven By Young People. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 05, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Sources tell CNN that investigators are pursuing allegations that Gaetz may have used cash and drugs, in his dealings with young women, also that they have looked at whether any federal campaign money was involved in paying for travel and expenses.

This new Editorial comes the same day that Gaetz added a new attorney to his defense team, John Lauro, who has significant experience in white-collar cases.

The news continues right now. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Coop, good to see you. I hope you had a good Easter. We have a key player in the Gaetz situation tonight, so people are going to want to see that. Always good to see you.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Whether you celebrated Easter or not, may the seasonal promise of rebirth, and renewal, fuel better days for all of us.

Now, I was supposed to be off tonight. But we were able to bring you something special. And it is critical to a big story. In fact, both big stories that we're following in the news tonight, the George Floyd murder trial, and the scandal surrounding Congressman Matt Gaetz, offer very rare and surprising aspects today.

Gaetz, as you heard Coop say, wrote an opinion piece, denying he's paid for sex, denying he's slept with a minor, as an adult himself, and vowing to stay in office.

While he was busy invoking "Drain the swamp" language, and playing the victim of the media, including me, what was very surprising is what he barely mentioned, the extortion plot against him. He said that was what this situation is really all about. Tonight, you may learn why he's gone quiet about the extortion case.

In a TV exclusive, we have the man accused by Congressman Gaetz of extortion. That man's name is Bob Kent, and he tells a very different story about his dealings with the Gaetz family, and about how serious the allegations are against the Representative. That's coming up, and you will want to hear what he says.

But first, we already saw and heard something shocking today. And it happened at George Floyd murder trial.

The accused, former officer Derek Chauvin's own former boss, the Minneapolis Police Chief, the man who fired Chauvin, and three other officers, the day after Floyd's death, actually took the stand, and called their actions completely wrong and illegal.

In a moment that I've never seen by another top cop in a trial, he refused to give Chauvin any cover for the 9.5 minutes Floyd laid dying, under his knee.

The Chief testified Chauvin "Absolutely," that's his word, violated the Department's neck restraint policy. And he called what we have all seen on that tape, "Murder."


CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force, to a person, proned-out, handcuffed behind their back, that - that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy, is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.


CUOMO: How big was that for the prosecution? How will the defense deal with it? We'll take that up.

We also got the first real look at what this case could come down to, which is the science. Prosecutors are trying to get a jump on any doubts, by calling an E.R. doctor to the stand, who worked on Floyd, and got briefed by paramedics when they brought him in.


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Did they say to you, for purposes of caring or giving treatment to Mr. Floyd that they felt he had suffered a drug overdose?


BLACKWELL: Did they tell you in information they gave that they thought that Mr. Floyd had had a heart attack?



CUOMO: The takeaway there is "Not an overdose" says that doctor and "Not a heart attack." That's also key, because a heart attack can happen, when there's a blockage problem around the heart, which the defense may argue.

Now, here's what the doctor found instead.


LANGENFELD: There was no obvious significant external trauma that would have suggested that he suffered anything that could produce bleeding sufficient to lead to a cardiac arrest. And so, based on the history that was available to me, I thought that hypoxia was one of the more likely possibilities.

BLACKWELL: And hypoxia, as an explanation for his cardiac arrest, meaning oxygen insufficiency?



BLACKWELL: And Doctor, is there another name for death by oxygen deficiency?



CUOMO: "Lack of oxygen," says the doctor, who declared George Floyd dead, or as Floyd put it so many times, "I can't breathe."

Let's turn to the law enforcement and policing specialists, the better minds, Elliot Williams, and Anthony Barksdale. Good to have you both.

Elliott, how big a deal for the prosecution, is it to have the Chief of Police saying "It wasn't right? It was illegal. It was murder?"

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, Chris, even starting with the fact that the Chief of Police is even testifying in the first place is itself significant. Very rarely does someone at that level of the police force ever testify in a criminal trial. So number one, that's profound.

And then, of course, the fact that he laid out what the standards and policies were, for the Minneapolis Police Department, and said that they were clearly violated, is itself significant.

Now, Chris, as you and I have talked about, this is early. The defense still has to present their case. And we're just seeing the prosecution's case here.

But I have a hard time believing that the defense could at any point put forward a witness as, certainly not the Chief of Police, or a witness of that level of stature. So, this was - this was big. We never know how these things are going to come out. But that was incredibly credible, incredibly believable testimony today.

CUOMO: One of the attempts of pushback will almost certainly be "Look, they had to do this. The way George Floyd was, they had to use force to actually de-escalate."

The prosecutors anticipated that, and the Chief took it on. Listen.


ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sometimes de-escalation, again, includes the use of force, right? The use of force can be a de- escalation tactic.

ARRADONDO: I was, Counselor, I was thinking of your example of displaying your weapon. And so, I don't have a lot of knowledge in terms of physical force being used to actually de-escalate a situation. But a threatening use of force or threatening verbally, that's, I'm more familiar with that.


CUOMO: See, that was the defense, trying to say "Maybe they had to do this." The Chief gave them no help. Significance, Elliot?

WILLIAMS: Well, it's the question that didn't show up there, at the very, very end, the prosecution comes back on redirect, and says, "Well, look, yes, sometimes you need to escalate to de-escalate, but you actually have to be safe, right? And so, a police officer can't escalate a situation without actually paying attention to the safety of the circumstances around them."

So, for instance, one of the examples they used today was, you might pull out a gun, which is itself an act of escalation, but you're not going to fire it at the person, as a means of just making everybody safe.

CUOMO: Right.

WILLIAMS: You might use a neck restraint, but you're also not going to use it to a point that you put the person's own life in danger.


WILLIAMS: So, it was - it was a poorly used analogy by the defense, and the prosecution exploited it, when they had a chance to come back and clean it up.

CUOMO: You've gotten several head nods from a man who knows the job very well at the highest level.

Former Acting Police Commissioner, in Baltimore, Anthony Barksdale, always a pleasure to see you, sir.


CUOMO: Seeing the Chief on the stand, is that something that you can ever remember seeing in something of this magnitude?

BARKSDALE: Chris, I'm saluting the Chief. His testimony was magnificent.

The prosecution is guiding their ship very well. The defense, I think, they need to look for a plea deal. I really do. The effort to try to make the Chief appear that he doesn't know the street, doesn't know the job, it backfired today.

CUOMO: Now, on the medical side, Commissioner, I wanted your take on this. Obviously, the prosecutor is worried that there will be doubt spread that Floyd was not as strong inside, as he appeared to be outside.

And they had an E.R. doctor there, and they were really trying to get to this idea of "What could have killed him? What would have made his heart react the way it did in this situation?" Let me play a piece of sound about this.


BLACKWELL: Was there anything that you looked at to determine whether or not the cardiac arrest was likely or unlikely to be related to Mr. Floyd having had a heart attack?


LANGENFELD: A lot of that is based on the history that we received from paramedics. There was no report that for example, the patient complained of chest pain, or was clutching his chest, at any point, or having any other symptoms to suggest a heart attack, that information was absent.


CUOMO: Commissioner, the E.R. doctor left open, rightly so, the door, a couple of times, on the idea of "Information I was presented with. Information I knew at the time."

Do you believe the defense has an opportunity there to say "But if you had known that his heart was like this, and if you had known that he had all these things, in his system, might you have felt otherwise about it?"

BARKSDALE: Chris, we could guess at that. But what we do know is that Chauvin kept his knee on the man's neck. That's what we know. Let's use the body cams. You and I talked about this before. The body cam is a wonderful tool. Let's look at what we all saw on that body cam.

So, they can try to play the shell game and say, "Oh, this caused it or that caused it," but I am a firm believer that it was the knee on the neck, for 9 minutes, that caused Mr. Floyd's death.

CUOMO: So, if the officers respond, "Commissioner, we had to. Excited delirium! Excited delirium!"


CUOMO: "They teach us about this. The drugs, the drugs made him almost superhuman. He was going into a state, where it took all of us, just to keep him calm."

BARKSDALE: Chris, they got handcuffs on him, handcuffs. When you're cuffed, it's over. If they wanted to move to hobble him, then so be it. Get the - get the leg shackles there, hobble him. But that's not what happened. When he is cuffed, when a suspect is cuffed, you have won.

All we had to do, if they couldn't control him, at that point, is hit that radio, say "Sarge, we need you up here. Can I get more units up here?" That's it. These excuses, these games, that they're playing, I'm sick of them. Let's get this trial done. Let's get this conviction.

CUOMO: One of the officers mentions excited delirium. He was a more junior officer.

Elliot, you do a little homework on it, you get the Brooks Institution. The Brooks Institution did an analysis and said that the idea of excited delirium has been disproportionately applied to Black people, first used 1985, to explain a series of sudden deaths, in cocaine users, while primarily in police custody.

What is the force of it?

WILLIAMS: Well again--


WILLIAMS: --the only--


CUOMO: Commissioner, let me get Elliot, you get last word. Go ahead.

WILLIAMS: Well, the only people who seem, to be believing that are the defendants here, or at least, the defendant here.

Every single individual who, you know, eye witness testimony is inherently unreliable, but every single eye witness now you have, how many, I think 21 people have testified, in total, in this trial, not all of them eyewitnesses, but every one of them is saying remarkably the same thing. And so, and no one is seeing this question of excited delirium.

So yes, the defense ought to put forward their best case, to the extent they can, but it's just - it's flying in the face of reason. This is, as the Commissioner's saying, every individual who's testifying is saying pretty much exactly the same thing.

And all of these failures to care for Floyd, all of these questions, about his condition, they're going to weigh on the reasonableness, which as we've talked about, Chris, is the legal term here. It's where the action's reasonable.

And the mere fact that it's clear that the officer's conduct or at least is appearing that the officer's conduct is so outside the bounds of reasonableness, starting with the Commissioner's testimony, and on through, it's just hard to see how the defense is going to overcome that.

Again, they just have to win over one juror, but it's hard to see it from here right now.

CUOMO: Commissioner, last quick word to you.

BARKSDALE: Excited delirium, we started training for that in the 90s here in Baltimore. If somebody is complaining, and they're cuffed, you sit them up, you get them up, so they can breathe.

It was clearly, clearly excessive force. And they did not do the right things, in this horrible, horrific incident.

CUOMO: Elliot Williams, thank you, as always.

Commissioner Barksdale, always a pleasure. Good to see you, the best for the season.

BARKSDALE: Chris, thank you.

CUOMO: Be well both.

All right, the Matt Gaetz scandal has been so bizarre, and until now, confusing.

Who is Bob Kent? Who is the man accused by Gaetz as being the real wrongdoer here? Remember, that's what Gaetz was telling you, not so much in his Op-Ed today. "Really, you got to focus on this guy? It's not me. It's really about him."

So, here he is. Why is he going on TV, if he's in so much trouble? What's his deal? Where did he learn all these details about what Gaetz may really be facing? His first TV interview, next.









CUOMO: We have a CUOMO PRIME TIME exclusive for you now, an insider, in the Matt Gaetz story, talking for the first time, on television, a man who had details of the sex crime investigation that still aren't public, and told the Gaetz family, before any of it had made the news. He's also the guy the Congressman now says was extorting his family.

Bob Kent, who is he? He's a former Air Force Intel officer. He says he's risking his own career that depends on him flying below the radar by even putting his name in the middle of this, but he has nothing to hide. Let's get after it.

Bob, welcome to the show.


CUOMO: Let's just take it head on. Did you believe that Mr. Gaetz would give you money for your cause in finding Bob Levinson, because he thought you could fix the case against his son?

KENT: No, when I met with Mr. Gaetz, he was very clear that he was not interested in funding the project. But he did offer to have his son contact the President's office for us.


CUOMO: And when he said to you "We get extortion attempts like this all the time," do you believe that Gaetz believed that you were threatening him with details of what you knew that would be exposed, if he didn't help you?

KENT: No, because I didn't have any details about his son. I stopped him immediately, and explained that this was not an extortion attempt. And I said, "Look, this is a legitimate offer to help rescue Robert Levinson."

I showed him the two videos that I took last summer, or that my team took last summer, of Robert Levinson. I explained how we tried to rescue him in June - in July, and said, "Look," I said "That operation fell apart. I lost four people."

I said, we had low budget, but we believe there's an opportunity to get him out from the top-down this time, but it would cost quite a bit of money.

CUOMO: Now, you put a lot of this in writing, which would have been very dumb, especially for somebody with an Intel - Intelligence background, if you were trying to extort.

You say the FBI has contacted. Have they made it known to you that you are under investigation for extortion?

KENT: They have not. They brought me in to discuss the situation. And I am cooperating.

CUOMO: When you say "the situation," what situation?

KENT: They asked me about a meeting that I had with Don Gaetz.

CUOMO: Did they also ask you about what you knew about the Congressman and his behavior? KENT: They did. And I said - told them the same thing I told you. I just heard rumors about the Congressman. I didn't have any specifics about his behavior. I hadn't seen any videos about him or pictures about him. But we - I did hear rumors about his activities.

CUOMO: I'll ask you about that in a second. Let's go to the direct proof here, so you can explain it.

"Mr. Gaetz," text message from you, "I would like to talk with you immediately about the current federal investigation, and the indictment that is about to be filed against your son. I have a plan that can make his future legal and political problems go away."

You sent that text message?

KENT: I did, yes.

CUOMO: Why did you put it that way that there was an indictment about to be filed against his son, and why did you tee up the legal problems?

KENT: Matt Gaetz was in need of, or if the allegations are true, he's in need of some goodwill from the government. I'm in need of a sponsor to fund the rescue project.

CUOMO: Saying the indictment that is about to be filed, what if people take that to be an implied threat?

KENT: There is no threat. I don't have anything to do with the indictment. I don't have anything to do with the investigation into Matt Gaetz.

CUOMO: What was your point in telling Gaetz's father about what you had heard about the trouble that his son was in? You could have just went to him, and said "Help Bob Levinson. If we find him, it'll be good for your son." You could have left it at that. You didn't. How come, Mr. Kent?

KENT: I wanted to meet with Matt Gaetz. I believed that he had the ability to raise the money quickly. And yes, I did put that in there, as a teaser, because as I said, Mr. Gaetz was in need of some goodwill.

And we've worked with multiple people over the - over the years. And all of them have been in similar situations. I mean, a lot of them have been facing indictments or all looking for goodwill from the U.S. government.

CUOMO: One of the things that you have circumstantially, without getting too in the weeds, going against you, is that one of the guys, who you were working with, on this, in approaching the Gaetzs, has a criminal record for being a fraudster.

KENT: Yes.

CUOMO: Why would you be associating with somebody like that? KENT: So, I was contacted by David McGee, in October. And he asked me to meet with somebody, with Stephen Alford, because Alford wanted to help with Levinson, and believed that he can get him out.

Now, after the rescue attempt fell apart, in July, I had no contact with Dave after that. And I said, "Sorry, it didn't work out." We went forward. He wished me best of luck in my future endeavors.

And then, when he contacted me in October, he asked me, "Is it possible to rescue - is Levinson still alive? And is it possible to rescue him?"

So, I went back to the network, and I asked the question. And they said, "Yes, we think he may be alive, but can't do it the way you did it last time. You have to go from the top-down this time."

So, and when Dave vouched for Stephen that was good enough for me. I've worked with Dave for a long time.

CUOMO: Now I know, Mr. Kent that you find some of these questions, frustrating.

But you do understand Gaetz has put you in a pickle here because he has taken the situation, of your soliciting help with the father, as the indication of what the scandal really is here, that people are missing the ball.

It's not about him. It's about you, and your associates trying to extort him, with behavior that you know isn't criminal. Your response?


KENT: My response is if Mr. Gaetz really believed that, he could have kept this quiet, and gotten to the FBI. Instead, he exposed the Levinson family to additional grief. And he's capitalizing off that, and trying to direct attention from himself.

The entire time I've been involved in this, I've never once met with the Levinson family, spoken to anybody from the Levinson family. And the agreement that I had with David McGee was that our work will remain confidential and secret, specifically, not to cause any additional stress to the Levinson family.

Robert Levinson is a constituent of Matt Gaetz. And the Congressman just made Levinson situation worse. If he is alive, he is directly impacting his predicament right now.

CUOMO: In a letter that you sent, you said "The FBI became aware of compromising pictures depicting Congressman Gaetz and an election official involved in a sexual orgy with underage prostitutes, in Maitland, Florida during an unrelated investigation into political corruption and public integrity in another criminal case.

Subsequent information has resulted in Congressman Gaetz becoming a target of a widening investigation into serious underage sex trafficking, political corruption, public integrity and other criminal allegations."

Gaetz makes this seem like it is much more narrow than you suggest here. How confident are you in what you were told?

KENT: So, you could never be confident of rumors. Those are just rumors that are rampant in North Florida, among the legal and journalist communities.

CUOMO: Pretty specific!

KENT: That's what I was hearing.

CUOMO: I hear you. But were you surprised that you had such detailed information of a federal investigation before it was ever made public?

KENT: I don't have any information on the federal investigation. Those were just rumors that were circulating.

CUOMO: And again, for the audience, why did you pass them along to Mr. Gaetz? What was your intention? You said it's a teaser. What does that mean?

KENT: I believed that Don Gaetz had - I believed that gave Don some motive to want to work with us, to try to get back Levinson.

The person that gets back Levinson would get a tremendous amount of credit from the U.S. government. I wished, you know, wanted to stay anonymous, and thought maybe Matt Gaetz could be the face of this thing.

But I needed to raise a large amount of money in a short period of time. And again, Don Gaetz is a person that has that ability.

CUOMO: Gaetz says his father was wearing a wire. Are you concerned about what he has on you, on tape?

KENT: I hope his father was wearing a wire.

CUOMO: You hope he was wearing a wire?

KENT: Yes.

CUOMO: Were the federal authorities interested in your description of what was going on, in terms of what you knew about the investigation?

KENT: They did ask me what I knew. And I don't know anything about the investigation. Everything I knew was based on rumor.

CUOMO: What do you want people to know, if they are assessing the Matt Gaetz situation, and your name is coming up, as a possible mitigating factor for him? What do you want people to know?

KENT: As a possible mitigating factor for who? Matt Gaetz?

CUOMO: Like maybe it's not so bad for Matt Gaetz, maybe these guys were out to get him, maybe that's a big as big a part of this as anything else.

KENT: We weren't out to get Matt Gaetz. We were out to rescue Bob Levinson.

CUOMO: And there was no attempt to extort, there was no threat, there was no demand?

KENT: There were no threats. There were no demands.

The opposite. When I left, the last thing I told Don Gaetz was that "You'll never hear from me again. I'm not a threat to you or your son. I won't talk to the press. I'm not going to say a bad word about him." I thanked him for his time.

The next day he sent me a text, you know, re-offering to have his son contact the President. I texted back, "No, thank you." And a week later, he was calling up to meet with David McGee.

CUOMO: Have the federal authorities told you "Don't leave town," asked you to surrender your passport, told you to stay in contact with them, on any kind of regular basis?


CUOMO: Do you anticipate any problems coming your way because of your dealings with the Gaetz family?

KENT: I do not.

CUOMO: Other than having to come on a show like this!

Bob Kent, I understand, and I appreciate you taking this opportunity. You didn't have to do it. And I'm thanking you for doing it, to help give some clarity to a very confusing situation.

KENT: One thing that I think is important is that Don Gaetz sincerely, I mean, he knew that I was sincere, and that I believed that Levinson is alive. I showed him the videos. I explained what happened in the past. And he, knowing that, they still went forward and did what they did, and exposed the Levinson family.


CUOMO: Understood. And again, thank you for taking the opportunity.

KENT: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: All right.

So that's Bob Kent. Who do you believe? Him or Gaetz? Which may feel the bite of the law sooner? And will Matt Gaetz's Party save him from the jaws of political fate?

We're going to bring in a better mind, who knows this story well. There he is, Smerconish, next.








CUOMO: Now remember, as we've said from the beginning, two things can be true at the same time, when it comes to Matt Gaetz and this scandal.

He could have a legitimate investigation going on, as to whether or not Bob Kent, and these other men were trying to extort him, or the DOJ felt compelled to look at it, because they had a Congressman saying that's what it was.


And at the same time, he has real problems of his own, subject to the findings of an investigation, which I have always said, and criticized politicians, who said otherwise, is the basis for understanding. You have to know until the investigation comes out, you don't know, all right?

Now, let's get a great mind in here. Michael Smerconish knows the law. He knows the story. In fact, he is the one who told me, "You should take a look at Bob Kent. I think there's something for him to say."

Smerconish, you were right. I find him credible on these points because he'd have to be crazy, to put these things in writing, and come on TV, and stay the same, and do the dance with the Feds, if he was trying to extort these people.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I think it was a phenomenal interview.

And I think that your cross-examination did viewers a service, and actually did Kent a service, because to put him through the paces, is to let people really draw a determination, of their own, in terms of whether they find him credible.

Here's what I think might be going on. Kent is caught up in a search for Robert Levinson. He has reason to believe that the former FBI agent has not passed, as the Trump administration apparently told the family, but he's alive, and being held captive in Iran. And as he's working on that, Gaetz gets himself into trouble.

The two have nothing to do with one another. But Kent sees opportunity in Gaetz's father being a deep pocket, who could write a check. He's willing to give Matt Gaetz the glory if in fact, Levinson comes home alive. Meanwhile, Gaetz sees opportunity. In trying to conflate all of this, in the minds of Americans, goes on Tucker Carlson, points a finger at the guy that you just interviewed, and hopes that people can't keep their eye, on exactly where the Three-card Monte lies.

CUOMO: Right.

SMERCONISH: But it seems to me that one really doesn't have anything to do with the other. Kent has nothing to do with whether Gaetz is involved in some sexcapades.

CUOMO: Right. But he does have a lot to do with whether or not you should pay attention to anything else.

One thing that I'll highlight, in the text, from him to Gaetz, I accept your theory. "I have a plan that can make his future legal and political problems go away." Is there any legal reckoning of where that is an implicit threat?

SMERCONISH: No, I don't think so. An implicit threat would be "I have photographs of the young woman with the hula-hoop, who's naked, and I'm going to drop those unless you do X, Y or Z." I don't see any element of extortion in this.

Look, this Project Homecoming script that your guest had a hand in devising, if you and I went to Hollywood, and pitched this thing, they'd say it was too fantastical.

CUOMO: Right.

SMERCONISH: But there's a story here, they were trying to say, "Matt Gaetz, you can be politically rescued, if you're the hero in Bob Levinson." But I don't see an implied threat if Gaetz doesn't go along with it.

CUOMO: Now, in terms of implied threats, those photos that Matt Gaetz supposedly showed, on the floor of Congress, to colleagues, he got ratted out by his own. We know they weren't Democrats, because if he had shown them, the Democrats, they would have ratted him out, a year ago, whenever he showed them.


CUOMO: So, is this the first time--

SMERCONISH: Great point.

CUOMO: --that we're seeing the Republicans actually go bad on one of their own?

Not the QAnon lady who, by the way, QAnon, a big thing is sex trafficking, wild ideas about sex trafficking, she's backing Gaetz, who's accused of sex trafficking. I don't know how that makes her a QAnon loyalist.

But do you think that Gaetz may have pushed the bar, or pushed the line too far, with his own Party?

SMERCONISH: I don't think anybody's going to throw him under the bus, not within his own Party.

CUOMO: Well somebody ratted on him about the photo.

SMERCONISH: I think they're going to stand--

CUOMO: That could allow them to do an--

SMERCONISH: Right. Someone--

CUOMO: --around the entire investigation, and get him out on an ethics violation.

SMERCONISH: Your observation is excellent. You wouldn't think that he would be crossing the aisle, to show whatever photographs may or may not exist, on his phone.

I think Republicans are content to let it happen, but do not want to have fingerprints on it. Why Chris? For fear of the base. They don't know. This guy has been so close to President Trump, they don't want to antagonize the base by being someone who played a role in taking down a GOP flame-thrower.

CUOMO: That's fair point. And as Michael, and I have, both been saying from the beginning, you know nothing until that investigation gives us the facts, unless they can be independently verified. Any politician who asked for action before the investigation is playing politics.

But you know what silence is deafening right now? From Trump.


CUOMO: The mentor for his protege, Matt Gaetz. Let's see when he weighs in, or if he weighs in.

Smerconish, thank you for the tip. Thank you for the analysis. Appreciate you.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right.


Tonight, we're learning interesting news about COVID. That variant first spotted in England is now in every state across the country. We are still in a war with the virus. People are going to get sick. They're going to die, and they don't need to. However, there is encouraging news in this fight. Next.








CUOMO: All right, listen up. More than 4 million Americans got a COVID vaccine on Saturday alone. That brings the average to more than 3 million shots a day.

Nearly 19 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. More than half are over 65. So, we can catch up to other countries, who started off right, like Chile, which has vaccinated about 20 percent of its population, and Israel fully vaccinating more than half.

But we also see what happens if we stray. The U.K. began vaccinations a week before the U.S., but only about 8 percent of the people there are fully vaccinated.

With the good, there's also the bad and the ugly. Experts say the more dangerous U.K. variant is now in every state here. More than 15,000 cases are fueling a new surge.

For the fourth straight week, COVID cases are up, the big hotspots, Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts. What does that mean for another surge? Unclear.


MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: At this time, we really are in a Category Five hurricane status with regard to the rest of the world.

In terms of the United States, we're just at the beginning of this surge. We haven't even really begun to see it yet.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I don't think it's going to be a true fourth wave. I think we've probably delayed the point at which we can get this behind us for the summer. But we haven't forestalled that opportunity.

I think with the rate of vaccination that we're having right now, we're vaccinating, as you said, 4 million people a day. I think that's probably going to reach 5 million people a day.


CUOMO: Look, here's what's clear. Rising cases are being driven by younger people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We are learning that many outbreaks in young people are related to youth sports and extracurricular activities. According to CDC guidance, these activities should be limited.

I understand that people are tired, and that they are ready for this pandemic to be over, as am I. Please continue to hang in there, and to continue to do the things that we know prevent the spread of the virus.


CUOMO: Problem is we developed the opposite COVID culture, right? We thought the kids were less vulnerable, so we were less restrictive on them. You've seen the scenes at the beach. Venues are getting more crowded. Too many of these people are still without masks.

Spring travel is likely making things worse. The TSA is seeing new records, screening more than 6 million people since Thursday. Remember, the CDC says "Even if you're vaccinated, travel should be avoided."

New research offers added perspective on why we can't be reckless. Nearly 40,000 kids have lost a parent, because of COVID. Black kids disproportionately affected. No one, especially a child should deal with the reality of irreparable loss. Isn't that enough for us to do our part?

Do you know who is suddenly a fan of cancel culture? ReTrumplicans! And who just got into a fight with them? Corporate America! Since when? Chris Cillizza says there is a truth that's not being told here.

What is it Cillizza? With your good looks! Next.









CUOMO: "Economic blackmail to spread disinformation," that's what Senator Mitch McConnell is calling the choice by some U.S. corporations to oppose the GOP-sponsored law, curbing voting access in Georgia.

His comments follow MLB, the Major League Baseball decision to pull its All-Star Game out of Atlanta, this summer, because of the law.

On the surface, looks like Corporate America has fallen out of love with Republicans. But looking deeper may reveal a Truth Not Told, TNT, because it's dynamite.

Chris Cillizza is here. How so?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE: OK, so yes, it is clear there is some break between Corporate America and the Republican Party, long considered allies.

No question there's some break there. We saw it after the January 6th riots, Chris. We saw it on immigration with Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not the Chamber of Commerce's version of a Republican.

But let's not get too far over our skis here. Because why? Yes, Delta eventually supported the MLB pulling out, but that's only after they faced significant pressure. And it's not clear, what if anything, it's going to do to affect their corporate giving.

Coke, all the corporations that condemned January 6th, that they would never - their corporate PACs would never give money to Members of Congress, who voted on the Electoral College, who voted to object to it, my view here is that you're getting - what you're getting from corporations is they're doing the PR thing.

They're under public pressure. They're doing it for that reason. They're not doing it out of the goodness of their heart. They're doing it because they come under public pressure, and they do it.

Watch what they do, not what they say. And I'll combine that cliche with this one, follow the money. Let's see how much money winds up being given or not, Chris, to these candidates. Because remember, that is the way these corporations buy their access, buy their window into lawmaking lobby.

I'm skeptical that Corporate America and Republicans have made a final incomplete break, though I do acknowledge the Trump version of a Republican is very different than let's say the Paul Ryan version of a Republican, which is a lot more business-friendly.

CUOMO: Well, when Biden, if and when President Biden--


CUOMO: --tries to raise the corporate tax, the only home these businesses have is the Republicans.

CILLIZZA: And that--

CUOMO: Mitch McConnell may be talking the talk right now. But he's not going to walk the walk of raising taxes on businesses.

CILLIZZA: And that - that to me is the thing. It's a - we can talk about the corporations and Republicans falling out of love with one another. And we should. It's a perfectly fine storyline. Truth not told in that though, is rubber meets road, follow the money.

And when that happens, you're going from 21 percent corporate tax rate to a 28 percent corporate tax rate, to fund Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, trust me corporations, bottom line or any big corporations are not going to say, "Well, there was that immigration thing, and the January 6 stuff, and MLB."

No. They're going to look at their bottom line. And they're going to say, "Wait, our tax rate is going up 7 percent under the one guy, and the one Party, and the other Party is fighting that infrastructure bill, and saying that they shouldn't raise the corporate tax rate? You know, I hate to be so bare-knuckle bottom-line oriented, but that's how politics and business works."

So, give it a minute. Hit pause on the Corporate America, and the Republican Party have fallen out of favor.

Let's see what it looks like in three months, and six months, as Joe Biden is trying to get that infrastructure bill with that big corporate tax hike included, because Mitch McConnell's going to be on the side of corporations then, and my guess is corporations are going to be on the side of Mitch McConnell.

CUOMO: Is it also a TNT, a Truth Not Told that cancel culture is bipartisan that the--


CUOMO: --as is often the case, the Right does a better job of beating the Left with its own stick than the Left does beating the Right with its stick of choice. But aren't we seeing the Republicans very much in cancel culture mode right now?


CILLIZZA: I mean, I always thought the most ironic thing about Donald Trump putting sort of wokeness and cancel culture up front in the Party, which you've seen continue, even after he's not president, is no one called for more people to be canceled, more corporations to be boycotted, than Donald Trump. I mean, that was his MO. It was - he would tweet out--

CUOMO: I think we both got canceled by him.

CILLIZZA: --"Boycott this, boycott that."

CUOMO: Didn't we? Didn't he come after both of us?

CILLIZZA: Right, exactly. Italian Chrises getting canceled.

Yes, I mean, look, that's the thing. It's only cancel culture when it's a thing that you think should be part of the culture, right? It's all situational.

It's a good call, if it goes for my kid's baseball team. The umpires are biased if it goes against my kid's baseball team. Not that much changes from middle school and high school, Chris, and this is a prime example of that.

It's good when it works rhetorically for you, and it's something you don't like. It's bad when it works against you politically--


CILLIZZA: --or something you disagree with. It's just not that complicated.

CUOMO: I mean, we just heard Senator Mike Lee, Republican, Utah--


CUOMO: --going about "Corporations are punishing their political opponents," although I don't really know that Republicans are really corporations' political opponents. I don't buy that. I think it's a PR thing that when you do.

CILLIZZA: Neither do I. Yes.

CUOMO: But then Georgia does what? It pulls its fuel discount from Delta for what they did.

CILLIZZA: That's right.

CUOMO: That's a Republican Governor that did that.

CILLIZZA: And Mike Lee, and by the way, Mike Lee, who you just mentioned, from Utah, tweets today that MLB should have - Major League Baseball should have its antitrust exemption re-examined by Congress. I mean.

CUOMO: That's also canceling.

CILLIZZA: Come on, man!

CUOMO: TNT, with CC, the Truth Not Told--


CUOMO: --TNT, because it's dynamite. Cillizza, thank you.

We'll be right back.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, my friend.



CUOMO: Time for the big show, "CNN TONIGHT," the big star, D. Lemon.