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NY Times: Rep. Matt Gaetz Sought Blanket Preemptive Pardon From Trump White House; Biden Moves Up Deadline For All Adults To Be Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine To April 19; Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon: We Are Going To Continue To Raise Our Voices. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 06, 2021 - 21:00   ET



MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Don't forget that every day that the media reports on 3 million more people being vaccinated, almost half of those are people who are just getting a second dose, not a first dose.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Appreciate your expertise. Thank you very much.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You don't got to look forward to find somebody who's got long-haul symptoms. You work with one, brother.

And I think we have to call the whole class of it "The Untreated," because they don't know what this is. They don't know whether what I sense, in terms of my mental acuity, is age, not understanding how I was before, or some type of fog, or whatever you want to call it.

The lung issues, the heart issues, people have soft tissue issues. They're just starting to learn. There's only a handful of centers around the country that are even studying it, because we're in crisis.

I believe that long-haul, or whatever you want to call it, is actually going to be the story a year from now, and ahead of that, because that's when we'll really have time to start focusing on it kind of weed out, whether people are just wrong about it, or was something else.

We got a long way to go on that. But it's good to be keep talking about it, because I'll tell you, it's what I hear about most. So, appreciate you bringing it up, Anderson. I'll see you soon.

I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have breaking news on our watch from "The New York Times" tonight. If Congressman Matt Gaetz has nothing to answer for, if the federal investigation of alleged activities may be involving prostitution, even underage females, if it's all a sham, why would he ask Trump for a pardon?

That's what "The New York Times" is reporting tonight, that Gaetz privately asked Trump, and the White House, in the ugly final days of that presidency, for blanket preemptive pardons for himself, as well as for unidentified congressional allies.

Now remember, a preemptive pardon means "For any crimes that I may have committed, I'm pardoned."

CNN hasn't confirmed the story yet. But if true, you have to ask, do innocent people seek out preemptive pardons.

Sources tell The Times, top White House lawyers and officials viewed the request as a non-starter, because they didn't want to set a precedent of giving pardons preemptively.

Also, tonight, the Congressman has no shame in his game. He is fundraising off these allegations.

Think about what that means about our political climate, that the mere suggestion of wrongdoing can be weaponized, and said, "See? They're coming after me now because they're really coming after you." And it works. He's raising money against what he calls lies about his quote, dating life, spread by the Left.

Let's just be clear. We don't know what he did or didn't do. That's going to be about the investigation. And anybody asking for action before that, I believe, is playing politics.

But the Trump Justice Department started this, not the Left. I never heard of it before any of this came through. I never heard of it in the media. I never heard of it from any Lefties. They were never pitching this.

And whoever came forward about the photos that Gaetz showed, on the congressional floor, pretty sure they weren't Democrats, because they would have gone bad on him right away.

So, if you're looking at it that way, it was Barr, who was in charge. And who was in charge of Barr? Donald Trump. You know who hasn't come forward to defend one of his most loyal servants? Donald Trump.

Even Gaetz's fellow Re-Trump-licans seem to be secretly turning on him. Remember, those nude photos were leaked from someone that he showed? And who else did he show them to, right?

Now, whether you care about the photos or you don't, I'm talking the politics of this. You know what Gaetz has that is very interesting aspect of this? You know what he's doing on Friday? I'm not kidding. He's going to be speaking at a "Women for America First" event at Trump's Doral club, in Florida. A woman's event at a Trump club!

Now, to be clear, I don't want to talk about Gaetz. I want to talk to Gaetz. He is invited on this show, OK? He's taken his shot at me, which was completely unfair. And he's still welcome on this show. And he is declining, which he had never done before, and had told me many times, he never would.

He always wants the opportunity to defend himself. I think he's entitled to that. I think he's entitled to due process, like everybody is here. And I think our politics gets ahead of it too often.

But I have to ask, why would you, prospective donors, want to pump an embattled Representative with cash, when he won't even take the opportunity to answer the questions before him? Interesting!

Now, the Congressman evidently saw our exclusive last night that blew a giant hole in his "Extortion" explanation about all this. That's what he says. "Don't look over here. Don't look over here, where all these investigating is going on about the women and the activity. It's really about this extortion plot that's going on."


One, the two things have nothing to do with each other. But he retweeted a link to the interview with a key figure last night that he is accusing of extortion. Take a look.


BOB KENT, MET WITH REP. MATT GAETZ'S FATHER: I don't have anything to do with the investigation into Matt Gaetz.

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

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


CUOMO: That's Bob Kent, a former Air Force Intel officer. He says what you heard him say.

Gaetz says "No," and says if the wiretap - not the wiretap, if the secret recording is put out, it will all be right there, and he's asking for them to be released.

He put out a tweet. And in that tweet, he called on the DoJ to release the tapes of the alleged extortion attempt, and says all of it is there. Kent, whom he is accusing, says he hopes that it was taped, so that you can hear what he said to Gaetz's father.

It's a really interesting part of this story, because remember, it is a big part of the defense that Gaetz has. "It's all a setup." They're all coming after him. "Look at the extortion."

I got to tell you, Bob Kent did himself a favor by coming on and answering the questions directly, but Gaetz won't take the same opportunity. So there's a lot to take apart tonight with that, and we have former number two with the FBI to do it.

But first things first, we're two days into week two of the George Floyd murder trial. We've seen 20 witnesses, up on that stand, for the prosecution.

Week two has an interesting focus on the training here. What were you supposed to do? But more importantly, what was Chauvin doing? Was that right or wrong? The knee on the neck for that duration, was it ever taught? Is it ever OK, and if it is ever OK, under what circumstances? 9 minutes and 29 seconds, does that fit into any sense of right?

Among the witnesses today, a Minneapolis Police Department Lieutenant, who trained Chauvin, on use-of-force, take a listen.


VOICE OF STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Sir, is this an MPD- trained neck restraint?


SCHLEICHER: Say, for example, the subject was under control and handcuffed, would this be authorized?

MERCIL: I would say no.

VOICE OF ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And how long, based on your training and experience, does it typically take to render a person unconscious using a neck restraint?

MERCIL: Now, my experience is under 10 seconds.

NELSON: Under 10 seconds?



CUOMO: So, which side did today's police testimony help or hurt or both? And if how so, how is it apportioned?

Let's take it to the better minds. You have Van Jones and Mark O'Mara. You may remember him as the lead defense attorney for George Zimmerman, in the Trayvon Martin murder trial.

Good to have you both.

So, let us start, Mark, with one of the pieces of sound today about specializing in use-of-force training, and what those people have to say about what Chauvin was doing, and in this context, how it should be judged. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHLEICHER: Once the subject is handcuffed, and compliant, or not resisting, is the officer to remove their knee?

MERCIL: That would be an appropriate time.

SCHLEICHER: Why would you roll someone into the side recovery position after they've been handcuffed and are compliant?

MERCIL: Several reasons are there. But one would be to prevent a potential situation where they might be subject to positional asphyxiation.


CUOMO: Now, this testimony backed up Chauvin's direct supervisor and the Police Chief, who both said basically the same thing.

Now, let's look at it a little in reverse. We understand why that is effective for the prosecution. What can the defense do with it, Mark?

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY, FORMER LEAD DEFENSE FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Well, what they can do is they can sort of show what the different people are saying about the different events, you know?

They're going to try and get across the fact that Chauvin was under stress, whether it's the crowd, whether it's the people, whether it's the stress of the moment.

What he's really trying to do is suggest Chauvin had a reason for doing what he did. And he didn't do anything with any intent.

And that's why we're hearing about the shoulder blade instead of the neck. And that's why we're hearing that Chauvin may have been distracted by bystanders and whatnot.

Don't forget that what the defense is supposed to do, with any case like this, is throw out enough information that may lead to some reasonable doubt, so that he can argue to a jury, in closing arguments, and through the rest of the case, that there's not enough here for you to be convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, all 12 of you, that what he did, what Chauvin did, was truly a crime, as opposed to poor training, misunderstanding of training, and everything else that we now see the defense starting to put together as little peppering of the state's case.


CUOMO: So, they were traumatized, Van, or they had some case of reckless disregard because officers knew he didn't have a pulse, didn't render aid.

And when you look at so much of the footage of Chauvin, when he has the knee on the neck, he has his hand in his pocket, which is a very unusual posture, for someone in a police situation, one, they tell you never have your hands in your pocket--

O'MARA: Right.

CUOMO: --because you got to be ready to - especially if you're under stress.

So, what is your play on how the approach of training is playing in this trial?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think that the prosecution is doing a great job. I do wonder if they're doing too much of a good job.

O'MARA: Yes, they are.

JONES: I mean you already had the Police Chief come out. And this guy made every police officer on Planet Earth proud.

If you are a Police Chief, or Police Commissioner, or a police officer, please look at the testimony from the Police Chief. He was a - he absolutely had command of both sides of the issue, the need for law and order, but also the need for trust and respect.

And I don't know why there - we are still talking. I'm starting to get - why. What more do we have to prove and say, and what you saw today was now there's a fine little - tiny little things to pick at--

CUOMO: Well they're nervous.

JONES: --and you get some.

CUOMO: Van, they got to be nervous.

JONES: Yes, well I--

CUOMO: The prosecutors have to be nervous. If they don't do anything, that after the fact a Van Jones, or an O'Mara, or anybody can say "I can't believe that they didn't push this part," they don't want to be in that - in that position.

That takes us to a big element of this, the epithet of what has been here with "I can't breathe," OK?

Now, there is an ugly, I would suggest, mythology about that. "You know, if a guy says, O'Mara, "I can breathe," you know what that means? That means he can breathe because he's talking."

O'MARA: Right, talking.

CUOMO: Now, that sounds right. But it's wrong. But it came up in the trial. Listen.


SCHLEICHER: Do you train officers that, as part of your training, do you train officers that if a person can talk, that means that they can breathe?


SCHLEICHER: Right. Why not?

MACKENZIE: Well, that would be incomplete to say, because there is possible, you know, there's a possibility that somebody could be in respiratory distress, and still being able to verbalize it.


CUOMO: Impact, Mark?

O'MARA: I think very, very important, because that's - I'm not sure where law enforcement got that training from, where they can say "He's OK, because he's screaming." We know many cases that have ended up in death, where that has happened, another very famous "I can't breathe case," of course.

So, the problem with it is that it actually is this sort of mantra that they say, and they seem to believe that "If he can tell me he can't breathe, I can keep the pressure on."

And unfortunately, for Chauvin, one of the training officers who said "No, no, no, we would do the opposite," you can scream with your - or speak with your last breath before you pass that you can't breathe, speaking, not breathing appropriately.

CUOMO: Something we've already learned in this trial that I think we should accept as progress, subject to your approval, Van, if it - because I'm asking you the question, so we'll see if you agree.

You said that the Chief gets your endorsement in terms of acquainting himself well. I have never seen police come forward and testify like this. Everybody talks about the "Blue Wall."

JONES: Right.

CUOMO: And you know what? In a job like that, it is good to have one another's back. However, it's about the righteous cause.

I've never had an officer tell me that he would have done what Derek Chauvin did in this case. They've talked to me about different things that also have to be involved. It's not as simple as it looks, and other things that I'm sure they believe, are helpful to point out.

But what does it mean to you that you've had a number of police officers involved in this trial, nobody grudgingly - nobody trying to shut up and just say what they need to say to get a brother out of trouble?

JONES: Yes, look, it is unusual. And I think about 1992, with Rodney King, and that was, I think, for my generation, that was the first time we had seen a videotape incident. And we had a criminal trial of police, and police on trial. And that whole idea of the "Test a lie," that cops don't testify, they test a lie, to help each other, all that sort of stuff got baked into the culture, in terms of folks in Los Angeles, where I am, and other, that you just can't trust the cops to do the right thing, when a cop is in trouble.

And yet, you're seeing it now. You are seeing police officers doing what they should do. They are telling the truth. They are talking - they're speaking honestly about what the actual training is. And I think that it should be encouraging.

However, if we get in a situation, where a test - a case this terrible with this much videotape evidence, this many community people, and the police coming forward saying "This is wrong," if the jury still can't find a way to convict, I think it's going to be very disappointing to a lot of people.


But you have to say today, you have to say that the police who have been testifying, been doing the proper job, the job that you want them to do. It doesn't happen in most cases, in my experience, what's happening in this one.

CUOMO: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate you. Appreciate the help to the audience, Van Jones, Mark O'Mara.

Now, we're looking at this Matt Gaetz scandal. I'm not paying a lot of attention to the political dynamics. I will when we need to. But it's about peeling back the layers of what we can understand as fact, OK?

Now, did the Congressman ask the Trump White House for a blanket pardon? He's on Twitter all the time. Did you, Congressman? If so, why? I'm sure you'll have an explanation. Please offer it. Don't have people filling in answers for you. There is new reporting tonight that suggests that you did.

He may have been under investigation, at the time, by the Trump DoJ, for a whole host of allegations that could involve child sex trafficking.

So, we're going to come back with a former FBI insider. And we want to take a look at the exclusive interview we had last night with a man that Gaetz claims is trying to extort him. Did the interview set off any alarms for brother McCabe? Let's see, next.









CUOMO: New information about Congressman Gaetz on our watch from "The New York Times." They are reporting that the Congressman pushed for a preemptive blanket pardon for himself and unidentified congressional allies, in the final weeks of Trump's term.

It would have happened not long after Gaetz was on TV, saying stuff like this.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): President Trump should pardon Michael Flynn. He should pardon the Thanksgiving turkey.

He should pardon everyone from himself, to his administration officials, to Joe Exotic, if he has to, because you see from the Radical-Left a bloodlust that will only be quenched, if they come after the people who worked so hard to animate the Trump administration, with the policies and the vigor and the effectiveness that delivered for the American people.



CUOMO: So, is that the reason?

It's just politics, and he was saying that everyone's going to get attacked, so he followed through with what he said on TV, and went and asked for a pardon. A Gaetz spokesperson tells "The Times" this is just quote, entry-level political operatives, conflating his television comments with an actual push for a pardon.

Well, the White House reportedly would not consider this, which means that seems to suggest from the reporting that there was a request.

What we know for sure is that Gaetz's misdirection play, when it comes to the sex trafficking investigation, took a beating here, on CUOMO PRIME TIME, last night, in the form of the man at the center of the allegation, Bob Kent.

Now, few know the reality of what that investigation looks like better than a former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.

It's good to see you. What is your general take, Andrew, on the idea of asking for a preemptive pardon, maybe while you are under investigation?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: Well, I'll say, Chris, that Congressman Gaetz's hyperbolic comments on television aside, anyone involved in this process knows that the acceptance of a pardon carries with it the presumption that one needed a pardon.

And so, people who weren't in any sort of jeopardy would not ever be interested in actually getting a pardon, which brings us back to Congressman Gaetz.

I think it's incredibly incriminating, that he actually approached the White House, if we believe "The New York Times" reporting, there's no reason not to, two sources in the White House can - apparently indicated that he had those conversations. So, it's very, very curious.

CUOMO: Now look, he may have just done it for political reasons. Who knows? We're not going to know anything until that investigation comes out.

My interest in the extortion side of this is that, I think it could be a clever misdirection play. And while two things can be true at the same time, right, which is he's got issues on one side, with his own behavior, and maybe one of his friends, and there is this DoJ investigation of extortion, but it doesn't mean that one would clear up the other.

So, I want to play you a piece of sound, and see if this squares with your understanding. So Kent says, I ask him, "The FBI have been in contact with you?" Here's what he says.


CUOMO: You say the FBI has contacted.

KENT: Yes.

CUOMO: 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: Now, I've always been thrown by this. I guess if a Congressman comes to the FBI, and says, "I'm being extorted," you can't do nothing.


CUOMO: But what did you think about the man last night and his demeanor? And what do you think about the idea of the FBI bringing him in, but just having a general conversation, if they are thinking about extortion?

MCCABE: Well, Chris, the FBI is not necessarily going to sit down at that conversation and say, "OK, before we get started, Mr. Kent, you should know that you're the subject of an investigation about a possible extortion."

But what they will do is ask him very detailed questions about the meeting that was at the heart of that alleged extortion effort. And that was the meeting between he and Don Gaetz. And it was clear from his interview with you, his responses to your questions, that they did exactly that.

They've asked him about the meeting he had with Don Gaetz, what he said to Don Gaetz, what he was basing those claims on, whether or not he had any actual insider information about the DoJ investigation of Matt Gaetz's conduct with minors.


So, they got right at the heart of the issue. And my guess is that they probably resolved any concerns that an extortion was actually taking place.

CUOMO: Now look, he's a pro. He's an Intel guy. But he betrayed no concern about any of my questions. And I asked him all the questions like three different times, trying to get him, just to see if he would change his demeanor.

What is your sense that this isn't going to wind up being about Kent, or about extortion, but that's - it's going to be about another guy named Joel Greenberg --


CUOMO: --who they really have right now.

They indicted him. They got him on charges. He's got a status conference later this week. He's got an arraignment on a new set of charges on him, on Friday. He is in trouble for exactly what they're looking at Gaetz for.

MCCABE: Yes, no doubt. Kent is a sideline to this story. I thought his answers to your questions seemed credible. He was consistent in his responses.

Seemed pretty clear that this guy was picking up on some rumors that he had heard, about the Gaetz investigation, which apparently, were well-known in the North Florida area, by many people, and he was trying to take advantage of it as an opportunity to pursue his own interest in getting Bob Levinson back.

Greenberg is a totally different character. Greenberg has a lot on the line here. He is currently facing very serious charges, extensive time in jail, and he is a desperate man. And desperate men talk to the authorities to try to get themselves a better deal.

And if Greenberg flips, and provides evidence against Matt Gaetz, the expanse and the possibility of that evidence is really endless. That could turn this into a much, much more serious situation for Congressman Gaetz.

CUOMO: You're not a politician. But it was an - it's interesting tactical play by Gaetz. He has been very aggressive in coming out.

He picked a dummy forum to come out, and have his TV interview, just to get his message out there, wasn't asked any of the right questions, because the guy was on his heels, talking to him the whole time. But he's never mentioned Greenberg, never. And that may be the name that matters most.

Andrew McCabe, to be continued.


CUOMO: And thank you.

MCCABE: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, let's switch to the pandemic. We have news there for you tonight as well. President Biden moves the vaccination goalposts for all adults up, not back, and he says no more confusing rules and restrictions. But there is still a lot of confusion nationwide on how to get immunized.

So, we're lucky. We have a key White House COVID Response player here tonight. Let's talk truth to power, next.









CUOMO: The President is moving up the deadline to make all adults in America eligible for the COVID vaccine. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm announcing today that we're moving that date up from May 1st to April 19th, nationwide.

But beginning April 19th, every adult in every state, every adult in this country is eligible to get in line to get a COVID vaccination.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Being eligible is good. But it doesn't mean you will be able to get vaccinated. And that's what we need, especially when you see the trend in new cases up almost 10,000 in the last two weeks.

Let's discuss with the White House Senior Adviser for COVID Response, Andy Slavitt.

It's good to see you. I hope you had a good Pesach at the family.



SLAVITT: I'm myself here, but it was good celebrate.

CUOMO: Good. Got to get them vaccinated, not just in line. Kaiser Foundation says half the adults who try to make an appointment fail. Four in 10 are still in wait-and-see mode. The harder it is to get an appointment, the longer people won't get it. How do you fix it?

SLAVITT: Well, let's just see exactly where we are today. We've got, it's about 76 percent of seniors that have had their first shot. And we're on track, so that by the weekend, half the adults in the country will have had their first shot.

So, that's - let's take stock (ph) of where that we've come from. When we got here on January 20th, we were at about 8 percent. So it's getting easier, part of it's because there's more supply. Part of it is because it's in more places. Part of it is because there's more vaccinators.

Now what's going to happen in the next couple of weeks, is we really need to make sure that more seniors get their shots, because starting on the 19th, we're going to have some more floodgates, again.

We're going to have more people coming. We really got to keep pushing, because we got to get closer and closer to that point where every adult who wants one can have a shot. And we think that's going to happen as we get into May, as we get towards the end of May.

CUOMO: Now, I know you only want to look forward, but I think it's important for the record.

How big a mistake was it, and how much better off would we be today, if the prior administration had said "No, no, no, we're going to own this. We're owning testing. We're owning the vaccines. We are going to head up the entire effort. We will work with all the states. We are best-equipped to do this. It will not be "State first" with us as an echo."

How big a difference would it have made?

SLAVITT: I think we're seeing the benefits of having a, I'll call him a General-like President, who is very calm, very clear, very decisive, who is talking to the states every day, and pushing to get dates moved up more quickly, who's working collaboratively, and diplomatically, even where we know there's governors that disagree with the administration.

And we find that a more effective route than I think your question, which implies, which is a year ago, when we were looking at testing, their regimen was, "Hey, let's leave states to be responsible. That way, if it doesn't go very well, we don't, you know, we won't take the blame."


I think we've come in with a philosophy, and the President has pushed us to say, "Look, whatever happens, we need to take accountability. If things aren't going well, take accountability and fix it. There's no one else to blame."

CUOMO: You got New York on pace to hit 85 percent in two months. Alabama won't hit 75 percent until October. Georgia won't hit 75 percent until November. There's just so much randomness across the country.

And yet, there is something that is growing to be a universal truth that I think is the biggest challenge. And it doesn't get discussed enough. So, let's start tonight.

People are done, Andy. They've had it. They know there are more cases. They know the variant is the real deal. They know it spreads faster. They know it spreads even to kids. But they're not seeing people die at any kind of scary rate. And they're done.

States are opening. Many don't even feel that they need to get the vaccine because things are opening up anyway. And there is no big benefit to getting the vaccine.

There's no such thing as a vaccine passport. You don't get any privileges. You don't get to go back to work sooner. You don't get to go to places that you want to go any more easily. So, why even deal with the headache?

How do you take that on? The passport thing, I've asked you about before, but that people are done, Andy--


CUOMO: --and states are opening up--

SLAVITT: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: --anyway.

SLAVITT: Well, look, you're not wrong, Chris. I mean there's a couple things that I think we have to reckon with and understand.

The first is that it's very hard to keep in our heads, good news and bad news at the same time. And we've dealt with so much bad news that "Guys, wouldn't it be nice to just take a breather and say it's done, it's behind us?" And we'd be less than honest if we led people to believe that just because we're making progress that we're done.

The second thing is that once people get vaccinated, it really is an incredible relief for people who are watching. It's a wonderful thing after all of this time.

But we do have to remember that there are 100 million-plus adults that still haven't been vaccinated. They're not there yet. And you don't win the war until you bring everybody over with you.

And that's the spirit of this country. When we're at our best Chris, I like to think we're the country that says "We are going to bring everybody there with us," and even if that means "We've got to slow down a little bit, or we've got to prolong some of the things, we're really eager for a little bit, that we're going to have to do that."

For our part, either way, our job is to get it done as fast as possible.

CUOMO: Right. But what I'm saying is--

SLAVITT: So, that's why you keep seeing the President accelerate timeframes.

CUOMO: --you are not in control of access, right?

So what happens is, you say, "Just hold on a little bit longer, wear the mask. Be smart." And people say "No. And my state's opening up anyway. So I appreciate the advice, Andy, but take a hike." And they go out. They go to their restaurants. They live their lives.

Schools will open. Tony Fauci said, "Get the schools open, keep them open." And now you got Osterholm saying, "Ooh, I was wrong about going back to school." People listen - forget the mixed messages. The science isn't there.

"I want my kid in school."


CUOMO: "If you get sick, she gets sick, they get sick, they're not going to die. And we've had enough." I think it's a really big problem.


CUOMO: And I think the horse is out of the barn. I don't think anybody's going to mask-up and live any harder than they did in the past.

SLAVITT: Well, we're not powerless. I don't - see, I don't feel like that's not a situation we can affect. And I'll give you an example.

You talk about schools. The President decided at the beginning of March that we were going to vaccinate teachers and daycare workers. And we just announced that at the end of March, 80 percent of teachers and health care workers have been vaccinated. So, there are tools we have.


SLAVITT: And I think we can sit around and say, "Oh, the public's tired," and all those things. And those things may be true. But none of those things means we don't have the tools to try to accelerate and to try to make a difference.

We know we're racing against both the variants, as you've discussed, but also against fatigue. That's very much a reality. And we're going to - and we're going to race. That's what the President keeps pushing us to go faster.

CUOMO: We've talked about the vaccine passport. I know it's not a reality right now.

And I know you got all these Big Brother faux Libertarians, who were really just Trumpers on the other side, attacking that you can't make someone get a vaccine. Of course, not. But imagine if there were perks, I think it's an interesting topic. And I'm always willing to pursue it.

But I really appreciate you taking on these questions, Andy. I know you don't get them asked everywhere. But I hear it from people. And I just want to give you a chance to address what I hear coming at me. So thank you for doing it. I appreciate you.

SLAVITT: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, be well.

Mitch McConnell is in a twist again, why? He doesn't like, that, corporations are speaking up for voting rights.

Listen to what he said. "Shut up and stay out of politics. Oh, but I don't mean donations." Just think about that for a second. "Shut up. Stay out of politics, but keep donating." Why?

I'll tell you why. I'll tell you exactly where McConnell is on this, and why, and you need to have open eyes about it, next.








(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Senator Mitch McConnell issued a new warning for big businesses against Georgia's voter suppression law.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): My warning, if you will, to Corporate America is to stay out of politics. It's not what you were designed for.

Republicans buy stock and fly on planes and drink Coca-Cola too. So, what I'm saying here is I think this is quite stupid to jump in the middle of a highly controversial issue.


CUOMO: Yes, unless they're saying what he wants them to say. Look, just because he says it with a straight face doesn't mean he's playing it straight. He's playing the game.

This comes after he accused businesses, on Monday, of economic blackmail, calling them vehicles for far-Left mobs to hijack our country. Really? Because Major League Baseball pulled its All-Star Game out of Atlanta, now people are watching other big companies to see if they'll follow.

The Minority Leader says "Businesses should stay out of politics." "But shouldn't that mean their money too?" "Oh, no, no, no, no, not the money." Listen.


MCCONNELL: I'm not talking about political contributions. Most of them contribute to both sides. They have Political Action Committees. That's fine. It's legal. It's appropriate. I support that.



CUOMO: But if you want them to stay out, and they don't, then, why don't you refuse to take their money? Come on!

McConnell himself has benefited from corporate involvement in politics. Over the last five years, his campaign got more than $4 million in corporate cash. A Super PAC he's aligned with also reportedly took in, ready, $475 million from the likes of Chevron and Koch Industries. How's that square with his past?

In 2003, he personally filed suit against laws that limited how much companies could spend in elections.

In 2010, he praised the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United case that allowed big businesses to spend freely in federal elections. Cash is speech.

2014, he called Democratic efforts, to set limits on corporate campaign spending, in federal elections, a threat to free speech. Yet here he is threatening the free speech of businesses willing to speak out against Jim Crow 2.0.

Lawmakers like McConnell are OK if voting rights are suppressed. Others, like Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, are fighting to save them. And she was arrested for it, now could face serious time.

She's here tonight with her attorney, why? Next.









CUOMO: Mitch McConnell and other Republicans have made their message to corporations quite clear. "If you cosign these calls for protecting voting rights, or any so-called Leftist agenda, be prepared to face consequences."

Consequences, which seem to expand - extend to Democrats, like Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon, who was arrested while knocking on Governor Kemp's door, during the signing of their state's controversial voting rights bill, why?

Well, some said "They were afraid of a riot, if they let her stay there, and keep knocking on the door." You buy that?

Cannon's lawyer says she now faces eight years in prison. She and her attorney Gerald Griggs join us now.

Thank you for taking the opportunity.



CUOMO: So, Rep., I see that your arm's in a sling? I have heard reports that you injured it during the arrest. Is that true? If so, how did it happen?

CANNON: That is true. And I do want to thank you for having me, and for everyone, who's reached out, as it relates to praying for me, and also just realizing this moment is important because we are going to keep knocking. We are going to continue to raise our voices.

And at this moment, I do not have a full medical report, but look forward to being healed.

CUOMO: All right.

The police say "You are a foot-stomper, who refused to leave when asked to, when you were knocking on the door." And by foot-stomping, I'm saying that they say you stomped on an officer's foot?

Did you stomp on an officer's foot? And did you refuse to leave when asked to, while knocking?

GRIGGS: Well, Chris, there are witnesses and video evidence of everything in this case. And so, we believe that the police report is factually inaccurate. And once the witnesses are able to be interviewed, by law enforcement, and by the prosecutor, I think the truth will come out.

CUOMO: That's the legal point.

The political point is why did you do what you did, Park? What mattered to you? You knew it wasn't going to go well, when the police came up. What were you doing there?

CANNON: I'm 29-years-old, and I'm elected to the district where Dr. King's birth home is, The Carter Center, even the state capitol. I'm also internally elected as the Caucus Secretary.

So, it is doubly my job, as the state legislator, and the Secretary, to attend bill signings, as well as follow the process through, so that the public can understand what is happening.

Senate Bill 202 has had an irregular process from the start. The hearing dates would move around. I would get a Post-it Note, on my desk that would say "We were going to hear you in the morning, but we'll hear you in the evening." Then the hearing wouldn't happen.

So, when I was notified irregularly, that the bill was being signed, I went and I knocked on the door, like I regularly would.

CUOMO: Counselor, you spoken to the D.A., I'm told, that they would dismiss these charges, seeing it's seems to be a little bit over eight years, for this, and certainly not within the spirit of what this law is about.

Georgia's constitution says lawmakers shall be free from arrest, no matter the statute, during meetings of the General Assembly, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace.

What do you think's going to happen on the legal side?

GRIGGS: I'm hopeful that the D.A. will review all the evidence we presented to her and dismiss the case.

And you're correct, as the Georgia constitution says, and none of the facts and circumstances in this case fit that Park Cannon should have been arrested, or should be even charged.

And so, we are hopeful that the D.A. will apply the constitution to this case, and dismiss this case, so that Park can go back to serving her constituents, and serving the people of Georgia, the way she's done for the last five years.

CUOMO: It's always easy to ask people, Park "Hey, would you do it again?" when things get sticky politically.

But having been arrested and knowing that this is a little bit of a dicey proposition, you don't know which way the D.A. goes on this, do you have any regrets about the situation?

CANNON: That day, it was my intent to do my job, go home to my family, and come back the next day. But I do recognize this moment in politics, because I have mentors.

Congressman John Lewis took my hand, marched with me, in 2016, to the Fulton County Government Center, and spoke with me about why it was important to fight for the right to vote.

Martin Luther King, the third, his family has sat with me and talked with me about these difficult times, but why it is so important that we keep knocking.


So, I look forward to being back at the state capitol, when redistricting happens. In just a few months, the same legislators, who voted on this bill, will draw our state's maps for 10 years. And I look forward for all of us being a part of that process.

CUOMO: Well, as you know, may he rest in peace, Congressman Lewis would have called this "Good trouble." And he knew well the price that could carry it on, and what a legacy of pain he brought into a sense of purpose in the House. And I understand that being impressive to you as well.

So, I'll end on a political thought. Senator McConnell says corporations should stay out of politics, except for the donating.

Are you worried that there's a message being given right now, that what the Georgia House did, with the move of removing the rebate for gas from Delta that corporations may be told to shut up, and may listen, because it's bad for business?

CANNON: I think it is so interesting that someone would be wanting to receive the privilege of privacy, in this moment, when they are taking away the voting rights of every single Georgian, Republican or Democrat.

So, I stand for corporate accountability. I look forward to hearing more about what my constituents think about Coca-Cola and Delta and the other organizations implicated in this moment. It's time to stand up, all of us. I reached out to these organizations, when the bills were being

introduced and discussed. And yet today, we finally hear action. So, we're ready for this moment. Georgia is not afraid of this moment. We understand economic boycotts. We understand corporate accountability, and we understand protecting voting rights.

CUOMO: Representative Cannon, thank you for taking the opportunity. Heal and good luck going forward. Counselor Griggs, appreciate you. Thank you very much.

GRIGGS: Thank you.

CANNON: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.


CUOMO (on camera): Yes, I went too late, and I'm sorry. "CNN TONIGHT" is the big show and here is the big star, Don Lemon.