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Biden: Wearing A Mask Is A "Patriotic Responsibility"; Rudy Giuliani: FBI Took "All My Files" Regarding Trump; Paul Ryan: Debate Over Fealty To Trump "Is Going To Fade". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 30, 2021 - 21:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnny did a later version called "Carnac the Magnificent."



CARSON: Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT" premieres this Sunday 9 P.M. Eastern and Pacific on CNN.

The news continues. "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts right now, Michael Smerconish. Michael?


I am not Chris Cuomo. I'm Michael Smerconish, in for Chris, who is off tonight. Excited to be here! Welcome to PRIME TIME, a load to tackle this hour.

In our fight to crush this Pandemic, amid all our recent gains against the virus, a new major travel ban is about to go into effect. Starting Tuesday, the Biden Administration will be restricting travel to the U.S., from India, where cases are absolutely exploding.

This won't apply to permanent U.S. citizens or humanitarian workers. But on May 4, at midnight, non-U.S. citizens won't be able to come to America, from India, until this ban is lifted.

The country is in dire straits, reporting more than 300,000 COVID cases for the ninth day in a row. Crematoriums are overflowing with bodies. Hospitals are out of oxygen for patients. And multiple variants are circulating there. Only about 2 percent of India is vaccinated right now.

Here in America, we can't afford any more setbacks. We're so close to some semblance of normalcy.

The White House just announced today 100 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. That's 30 percent of the U.S., which is amazing. But what would be more amazing is if the other 70 percent would join in, or even 50 percent more, to achieve herd immunity.

26 percent of Americans right now say they will not get the vaccine. Among Republicans, that number is 44 percent. So how do you change minds of folks like this?


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're getting vaccinated?

ROB GREGORY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No, I don't need a vaccine. I had COVID last March, sick for all of five hours.


GREGORY: I don't need a vaccine for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're the independent freedom people of America, and we make our own decisions.


SMERCONISH: We're at a tipping point now, at our lowest number of cases daily, since October. But now comes the hard part, convincing the vaccine-hesitant to go and get their shots. Supply is now outweighing demand, in many parts of the country.

On Thursday, in my hometown of Philadelphia, at a mass vaccination site, there were 4,000 extra doses. The same situation exists on the opposite coast in Los Angeles. L.A. County has more vaccine than people who want it. They're down at least 50 percent in filling appointments at all county sites.

So, what do we do about those we need, to help us stay safe, who aren't joining the fight?

An interesting opinion today from a former federal prosecutor, Michael Stern, it was published in USA Today, in which he says "It's time to start shunning the "Vaccine-hesitant." They're blocking COVID herd immunity."

And also, "Businesses should make vaccination a requirement for employment. A COVID outbreak can shut down a business and be financially devastating. And failure to enforce basic health and safety measures is not fair to employees who have to work in offices, factories, and stores where close contact is required.

Things should get personal, too: People should require friends to be vaccinated to attend the barbeques and birthday parties they host. Friends don't let friends spread COVID."

I think he's right. Let the shunning begin. But I'm concerned that not even that would reach people in rural areas. They're already leading their lives, as if the Pandemic never happened.

And I have to say this. While well-intentioned, the President's messaging, of late, is not incentivizing. I see and hear conflicting messages.

This week, he announced the new CDC guidelines that if you've been fully vaccinated, you can take your masks off, outdoors, unless you're in a big crowd, and if you're indoors, with others fully vaccinated, the same.

But even when the President himself is outdoors, we still sometimes see him in a mask, like today. And I can't help but think that he missed a great teachable moment.

Imagine if at the beginning of the speech, Wednesday, to a joint session of Congress, with some dramatic flair, he turned to the Speaker of the House, and the Vice President, and they all removed their masks in unison, assuming of course that others in the room were all vaccinated. In other words, maybe the way to reach the unvaccinated is to show them those who are protected and returning to our normal lives.

The President was asked in a new interview if he'll take his mask off more often. Here was his answer.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sure, sure. I mean, but what I'm going to do though, because the likelihood of my being able to be outside and people not come up to me is not very, very high.


So, it's like, look, you and I took our masks off, when I came in, because look at the distance we are. But if we were in fact sitting there, talking to one another close, I'd have my mask on, and I'd make you to have a mask, even though we both have been vaccinated.

And so, it's a small precaution to take that has a profound impact. It's a patriotic responsibility for God's sake.


SMERCONISH: Bottom line, it's time to close this out. Maybe we need a better carrot, and a bigger stick.

Joining me now, CNN Medical Analyst, former Baltimore Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen. She has a brand-new Op-Ed out today in "The Washington Post" on what the vaccinated should be able to do now.

OK Doctor, let me cut to the chase. Are we getting to herd immunity in 2021? DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I am very concerned that that's not going to happen.

I mean, I think it's great that we now have 40 percent of adults in America, who are fully vaccinated. That's fantastic and credit to the Biden Administration for doing that. But those are the people who are really eager to be vaccinated.

There are a lot of people, who I think are - will still get vaccinated. We need to convince them. We need to help make sure that they understand the incentives for vaccination.

But when you look at the numbers, there are what, 30 percent of Americans who say they're not going to get vaccinated. And given that children are not yet eligible, at least children under 16, are not yet able to receive the vaccine, I just don't see us reaching the numbers we need to, to get to herd immunity this year.

That said, I still think that we're--


WEN: --going to see a decline in the level of infection over the summer.

SMERCONISH: So, can we sell this? And if so how?

WEN: I think there is this pervasive narrative that we have to overcome. And that narrative is, "Why should I get vaccinated? What's in it for me?"

And to some people, who were so eager to get the vaccine, they can't really understand that question, because they said, "But the vaccine saves your life," except that there are a lot of people, who don't think that COVID poses that much of a threat to them.

Maybe they're younger or healthy. Maybe they've had COVID before, and survived it. They don't quite see why they need to be vaccinated. So yes, we need to address their concerns.

But I think we also, as a country, starting with the President need to do a lot better job at demonstrating these are all the things you now can do, as a result of being vaccinated.

"You can see your friends, your family. And if you so choose, you can remove your mask, and go to indoor settings, and do these things that you couldn't have done before." We need to do a lot better at selling those incentives.

SMERCONISH: I'm parroting you, when I say that there was a missed opportunity, earlier this week, when perhaps that address to a joint session of Congress could have been delivered with no one wearing a mask inside the well of the House of Representatives.

Now, of course that would presuppose that everyone who's in there had been vaccinated. Speak to that issue. WEN: Yes, I think that President Biden could have decided, and I recognize there's political risk here involved too, but he could have decided that he was only going to have fully vaccinated people, who had proof of vaccination, attend that joint session.

And then, in return, they could enter, by the way, they could also get a negative test, to be extra sure, but in return, they can go into the chamber, take off their mask, have no distancing, hug one another, and essentially return to 2019.

And then imagine if President Biden had started his address that way, and said, "Look at where we are now. This is where the country can be at too. Let's please get vaccinated."

I think that would have sent such a strong signal, because frankly, presidents are role models, they role model public - good public health behavior. The former president Trump really did a poor job of this. And I wonder if President Biden is trying to overcorrect and be overly cautious here.

But I think over-caution, also has a price, and that masks somehow become a performative act, rather than a life-saving act, when it's really needed. And also, it's really underselling the power of the vaccine.

SMERCONISH: So, let me go back to that provocative essay, in "USA Today," this morning. Do you believe that shunning is an option?

WEN: I don't think we are there yet. So, there are a lot of people, who are still unable to be vaccinated. They actually want to be.

But we need to make vaccination the easy and convenient choice for them, including having vaccinations now be distributed from these mass vaccination sites that aren't now being used as much, to doctors' offices, to churches, to schools, to workplaces.

So, we need to find people, who actually want to be vaccinated. Then, I think we can add a lot more incentives. I do think that personal incentives are appropriate.

You can say, "I'm having a dinner party or, a wedding, that's indoors. And in order to do that, without masks, the only way to do that safely is to make sure that everybody is vaccinated." Something like that personal incentives, I think, can also be really - be really of help.


And maybe, instead of asking for a vaccine passport, which has all kinds of negative connotations, we can see proof of vaccination as an extension of a health screen.

Other people have to do symptom questionnaires and testing. But if you're vaccinated, you can bypass that. So, in a sense, it's like an easy pass or a carpool lane, you can get to do the things that you want a lot faster.

SMERCONISH: Quick final question. Is the CDC communicating with appropriate clarity?

WEN: I think the CDC is in a tough place. But no, I don't think that they have been as clear and practical with their guidance.

SMERCONISH: What should they be doing?

WEN: As they really should be.

SMERCONISH: What should they be saying?

WEN: I think they should be telling people, at this point, "If you're vaccinated, you are extremely well-protected from getting Coronavirus yourself, and from spreading it. How you go about things, at this point, is up to you."

There actually is no right or wrong answer. There are some people, who are going to say "I still want to be really cautious and hunker down. I don't want to take any risks at all." Other people are going to say "I want to go back to all of my pre-Pandemic life." And I actually think that that's fine.

We should focus our energy on the unvaccinated. The people who are vaccinated are not a major public health threat. Let them do what they want to do to regain normalcy in their lives. That's what's going to give incentive for those who are not yet vaccinated.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Leana Wen, thank you so much for that expertise.

WEN: Thank you, Michael. Great to join you.


Coming up, the new concern in Trump-world, over the Rudy Giuliani raid. Plus, those new allegations against Congressman Matt Gaetz, how seriously will prosecutors take the word of his indicted friend?

We'll discuss with former FBI insider, Andrew McCabe, next.









SMERCONISH: Our newest reporting tonight is that allies of President Trump are worried Rudy Giuliani could look to cut a deal. A Trump adviser tells CNN that with regard to the raid on Giuliani's

home and office this week, it was a show of force that sent a strong message, to a lot of people, in Trump's world, that other things may be coming down the pipeline. They see the same pictures you see, of the FBI taking things out of Giuliani's apartment, and office.

Asked for what the Feds have, well, the former mayor himself answered that question, on his radio program.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: They went all the way back to the day I started representing the President. So they basically took all my files regarding my representation of President Donald J. Trump.


SMERCONISH: Here to help us sort out what the FBI is looking for, former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, what does this mean for Donald Trump?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first, Michael, welcome to Friday night. Good to see you here.

It's a very serious--

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

MCCABE: --it's a very serious development, certainly for Rudy Giuliani and anyone that Rudy Giuliani may have been involved with, in activities that could have crossed the border into illegality. And if a former president is one of those folks, he should be very concerned.

I think there's no question that the federal agents, and prosecutors, likely had a very, very strong case to make, on the FARA charge that we've heard about, from the search warrant. They would never have gotten authorization to search his office and home without that.

It's what they get from the search warrant. That is the big question right now, for Rudy Giuliani and, literally, for everyone else who's come within his orbit, over the last few years.

SMERCONISH: To your last point, I would think that in order to be able to execute, to get permission to execute, a search warrant, on an attorney, an attorney, who was, at the time, representing a sitting president of the United States, you would have to document probable cause, times six?

MCCABE: At least, Michael at least, right? It's incredibly serious thing to execute a search warrant, at an attorney's office, any attorney's office, and for that attorney to be the attorney for the now-former President of the United States.

I mean, it's hard to imagine, a scenario, in which the leadership in the Justice Department would have required a higher level of really substantial allegations, solid evidence, and a case that is undeniable, so I have to imagine that the case going into that search warrant was probably pretty strong.

SMERCONISH: If the focus of the investigation, Andrew, is whether former mayor Giuliani was acting as an unregistered agent, is that a failure to check a box, and fill out a form, or something much more nefarious?

MCCABE: It's, listen, it's certainly a - it's a serious issue, right?

There's the United States government, has a strong interest in understanding, who exactly is representing the interests of foreign governments, when they come and lobby the U.S. government, so it's a serious thing. But it is typically handled in a very administrative way.

So normally, if DOJ finds out that someone may be representing the interests of a foreign government, and hasn't registered, they'll typically send them a letter, and bring that to their attention. And usually, those matters are resolved without a criminal prosecution.

So, in this case, the DOJ must have some reason to believe that there was a flagrant violation, or a particularly important one, to pursue it with a criminal investigation.

SMERCONISH: Let me turn your attention to another federal investigation, the Gaetz-Greenberg case.

The question all political observers are wondering, if true, that reporting from "The Daily Beast," why would Greenberg have put in writing the story of what occurred, and in multiple drafts?

MCCABE: That's a great question, Michael. And I think we can only speculate as to what Greenberg was thinking, when he - when he drafted that letter.


But from my perspective, as an experienced investigator, from my time in the FBI, this looks a lot like an individual, who is desperately trying to negotiate his way, into a plea, and who knows that, on his own, he probably isn't worth it, isn't high enough profile, isn't important enough to generate that sort of interest, certainly from the President of the United States.

So, throwing Matt Gaetz's name in there in the context of, "Hey, this is someone, who is involved in the criminal activity, I've been charged with, and therefore someone who I could take down with me," is a way to increase the pressure on granting him a pardon.

That's my guess, as to what Greenberg was trying to accomplish here, looks like it probably was not successful.

SMERCONISH: Don't you think that the Feds, however, in looking at Greenberg and that which is in the public domain, are saying to themselves, "We got to have more than just this guy's word?"

MCCABE: Absolutely. Greenberg is not a guy that you would feel comfortable going to trial with, and putting the success or failure of your case on his shoulders. You have got to corroborate everything that Greenberg tells you, which is one of the ways that this letter is significant.

It is a consistent recitation of his culpability that took place before he was cooperating with the investigators.

So, in other words, he told this story to Roger Stone, long before he was trying to attract the attention of prosecutors and agents, and therefore could be seen as a consistent prior statement. So, it could actually be used, to bolster his credibility in that way.

SMERCONISH: Andrew McCabe, thanks so much.

MCCABE: Thanks, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Almost six months since the election, there are new numbers out on how many Americans actually still believe "The Big Lie." Harry Enten, the Wizard of Odds has the numbers, Charlie Dent unpacks. They're next.









SMERCONISH: New CNN polling is bringing to light major divides, among Americans, on everything from COVID vaccine-hesitancy, to whether President Biden actually won the election fair and square.

The numbers not only show a major gap between Democrats and Republicans, but among members of the Grand Old Party itself.

For a deeper dive on the numbers, and division within the GOP, let's bring in "The Wizard of Odds" that would be Harry Enten, and CNN Political Commentator, and former Republican congressman, Charlie Dent.

Harry, to you initially, even with all those lost court cases, there's a huge divide on whether Joe Biden won legitimately. Three in 10 Americans, what did the numbers tell us? HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Exactly what you said is that nearly one out of every three Americans do not believe that Biden legitimately won this election. 30 percent say he didn't.

I have this sort of Mendoza Line, in my mind, right? You can get 10 people - 10 percent of people to believe basically anything, right? 10 percent of people believe that we didn't actually land on the moon, and that's false.

We're well above that now. 30 percent of Americans believe that Joe Biden didn't win this election? My goodness gracious, what the heck is wrong with some people? The evidence is so clear.

Of course, I'm an optimistic guy. And I will note that still two- thirds of Americans believe that Biden won the election legitimately. So, I guess that's something to hang your hat on.

SMERCONISH: Harry, a follow-up to you. When you look at those numbers, and look specifically at the GOP, and see how many believe that Biden didn't win fair and square, doesn't that alone tell you, it is still Donald Trump's party?

ENTEN: Yes, to me, it definitely does. I mean, this is a crazy number. I mean, put it up on the screen right now. 70 percent of Republicans do not believe that Joe Biden legitimately won this election with enough votes. That is nuts! That is insane!

And it shouldn't be surprising, although we don't have these numbers for you that Donald, when you ask "Who is your favorite for the 2024 Republican nomination?" Donald Trump is the overwhelming leader among Republicans right now.

This is still Donald Trump's party. That doesn't mean it will be a year from now two years, three years, when they ultimately hold the Republican primary in 2020.

But the fact that 70 percent of Republicans do not believe the election results, from six months ago, is honestly one of the scariest statistics I've ever seen. And I've seen many of them.

SMERCONISH: OK, Charlie Dent, a question for you. I want to put on the screen something that former House Speaker Paul Ryan just said. It's totally at odds with what I was just describing with Harry.

The either-or debate over fealty to Trump "is going to fade," he said. The 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate laid this out in an interview with "The Associated Press." "I think circumstances, ideas and new candidates are going to ... overshadow that whole conversation."

Is he right, Charlie?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I do think he's right that Donald Trump will become a more diminished figure over time. That said Donald Trump can cause a lot of problems in the 2022 midterms and the presidential election in 2024. He can still cause a lot of problems, even though, look, he's not on social media anymore. We're hearing a lot less from him.

And if you're a Republican, and you're running in the midterm, in 2022, the last thing you want is for Donald Trump to be making a lot of noise, because you want this election to be a referendum, the midterm, to be a referendum, on Joe Biden, and the Democrats, not a choice election between the Democrats and Trump Republicans.

So - but Trump is going to cause problems, but he is - but he will be more diminished.


SMERCONISH: Hey Charlie, a question about the way in which President Biden is being perceived in your old congressional district.

"The Wall Street Journal" just conducted dozens of interviews in the great Northampton County. And what they found, interestingly, is that feelings with regard to the President are only warm or very cold.

In other words, they don't find a lot of real love for him. It's largely though one extreme or the other. You surprised by that?

DENT: No, I'm not. And the reason why is because Northampton County is a classic swing county. I represented it.

But remember, many people voted for Joe Biden, because they did not like Donald Trump. They wanted Joe Biden to stabilize the functioning of government, to bring some sense of normalcy back to the way the White House was running, and to deal with the COVID virus, which he's done.

But I think this agenda of the President is very big. There's a lot of sticker shock. And I think many believe that the President has misread that mandate.

And I don't think a lot of voters voted for this kind of transformational change that they might see coming, at least with respect to the role of government, in people's lives, after the Pandemic has abated.

SMERCONISH: Harry Enten, you know the history. The president's party usually loses in a midterm election. So, here we are, in these first 100 days, the Biden Administration, they are going big or going home.

Do you think that the go-big mentality is to enliven the base for the midterm election? Or is it premised on the belief, "Hey, we might not have control of the Congress, for those next two years. We better shoot for the moon now?"

ENTEN: Why can't it be both, right? The idea of being that - look, historically, the president's party almost always loses the midterm elections. There have been three, I believe, in the last century and a half, in which the president's party has not lost seats in the House of Representatives.

So, why not go big now? You have majorities. They're thin majorities, but they're workable majorities. So put forth the legislation you want. Go big. And maybe, as a wonderful side effect, you may in fact, be able to get more of your voters to turnout in the midterm election.

And you know what? If you're a Democrat, you definitely welcome Donald Trump, because that will only pump up the base even more.

SMERCONISH: Charlie Dent, quick, final question. Do Republicans care about debt anymore?

DENT: I think they do. And I think most Americans do. Sure, Republicans have a problem, on fiscal issues, right now, in terms of their credibility, but that doesn't necessarily justify a Democratic spending blowout either.

So, I do hear more people - and you're hearing even some Democratic Members of Congress, who are concerned about the sticker shock of some of these proposals. So, I do think it matters.

There is risk associated with this level of expenditure, maybe not in the short-term, but we still talk about inflation from time to time. The laws of economics are still alive and well, and I don't think they can be ignored.

SMERCONISH: Harry Enten, chicken is in short supply. On a different night, we'll get you to talk about that.

ENTEN: That's awful news! Don't bring that up. You're going to make me sad. I thought we had a wonderful segment, now you're making me sad, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Harry. Thank you, Charlie. Appreciate you both.

ENTEN: Thank you.

DENT: You bet. Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: So, this is interesting. Up ahead, they helped convict the murderer of George Floyd. And now, money appears to be pouring in for some of the witnesses, who testified at the Chauvin trial.

How come? And could it have wider implications for the justice system? A former top federal prosecutor takes it on, next.









SMERCONISH: More than 23 million people watched a jury find Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd. It was the first trial that Minnesota ever televised. The witnesses in the case became known all around the globe.

We're now seeing multiple online fundraising efforts for folks like Darnella Frazier, who shot the video of Floyd's death, or Charles McMillian, the witness who wept on the stand, and Donald Williams, who told you on this show that he wasn't going to let prosecutors present him as an angry Black man.

The GoFundMe page, set up by his cousin, which has raised more than 15 grand, says its mission is to help him, "Get his life back on track," while Frazier's page, with it's almost $700,000 raised, says, "This fund is to support the healing and the restoration of hope for Darnella Frazier, whatever that means to her."

Here to help us sort out what this means for future high-profile trials is former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams.

Counselor, this is what I would call a case of first impression. I've never seen it before. And I'm trying to wrap my head around it. I get that they provided an invaluable service. They stood up. They took note. They were willing to testify.

But are we somehow setting a dangerous precedent here?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, Michael, like in the grand scheme of things that ail our criminal justice system, this is not the hill to die on, I think.

And just increasingly, our world is seeing crowd-funding as a way of people giving money back and forth to each other. Think about all the people you've heard of who've had cancer, or lost a job or something like that, and it's just becoming a Norman (ph) society.

Now, with respect to witness testimony, there's a lot of ways to ensure that the law ensures the witnesses are being honest, and candid, and truthful on the stand.

Number one, if a witness lies, they can be charged with perjury. Number two, if someone is seen as bribing, or paying off a witness, they can be charged with a crime. And number three, if it turns out that somebody has behaved improperly, in the process, then you just they - the whole thing can be thrown out.

So, there's any number of ways to correct what might appear to be misbehavior, but really isn't. It's just people engaging in almost a new kind of economy that like you said, it's a case of first impression. We're just beginning to see it for the first time. SMERCONISH: Well, I fully acknowledge that if you were to say it's a problem, I don't know how we'd police it.



SMERCONISH: I mean, I don't - I don't know how you prevent it. But I'm worried - I'm worried about the future high-profile case, where maybe there's a witness, who's going to offer testimony that is against popular sentiment.


SMERCONISH: And now, they think to themselves "Boy that could ruin a later - a later payday." I mean, I get it if they lie, and you could prove it, you could - you could charge them with perjury. But that's a hard thing to prove in many instances.

WILLIAMS: Yes, the issue here is crowd-funding. The issue here is not crowd-funding in trials, right? It's this new, unpoliceable mechanism that exists in society. And we just don't know how to deal with it.

But here's the thing, look, you can draw a pretty clear line. If somebody says to somebody else, "I'll raise $50,000 for you, if you get on this jury and acquit this individual," now, that's obviously a crime. If somebody says, "Here's $50,000, because of the fact that you're a juror, this is the outcome," then of course, that's a crime too.

But it's merely the act of raising funds for a person, even though that's tied to their having engaged in this important civic act, you're just you're not going to be able to find anything unlawful, or even police it unless, again, somebody who's directing someone, to engage in funny business, with respect to their own testimony.

SMERCONISH: OK, let me come at it from one different angle. Does it matter to your opinion, whether the GoFundMe page is set up before or after the trial? What if it's a high-profile case?


SMERCONISH: The whole world knows that this witness' testimony is going to be key, and boom, there all of a sudden, is the page, maybe because people totally independent of that witness want to keep them honest, and on the side of popular sentiment?

WILLIAMS: No. See, this is why talking to Michael Smerconish is fun, because this is a very first year of law school kind of debate, right, where you sort of dig into what the hypothetical might be. You would have to look at the facts of that, and why are they raising money, right?

Now, look, there's no question that someone's life is significantly upended by being on a jury, life is significantly upended being on what is clearly, right now, 21 years in, the trial of the century, right?

So, the expenses that this person is going to lose, by being a juror, might be something that could be perfectly lawful to raise funds about, if it's "Let's put him on the jury," and you're going to have to gather evidence to find this out, but "Let's put him on the jury, so he can convict this horrible defendant," then of course that's going to be unlawful.

But it's just going to be something that we could have to take case- by-case. As in look, again, any other crowd-funding matter merely raising $50,000 for someone, because they lost their job isn't unlawful.

Raising $50,000 for someone so they, you know, because they lost their job, so that they can then use that money to buy, I don't know what Sherman tank, and take up arms against the government, then that's unlawful.

SMERCONISH: Elliot, we're each being awarded two CLE credits for this conversation, so thank you for participating.

WILLIAMS: Oh, love it! Anytime, Michael! Great talking!

SMERCONISH: Ahead, has there been any transformational change with regard to policing, in minority communities, since the Floyd murder? We're going to take a step back with a wise voice.

Kamau Bell is here, next.









SMERCONISH: Funeral services were held today for Ma'Khia Bryant, the Black 16-year-old girl shot and killed by a police officer, during an April 20 confrontation in Columbus, Ohio, after she was spotted lunging at another young woman with a knife. You saw the police bodycam video in that case.

But the public still hasn't seen the bodycams from this month's deadly shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. by deputies in North Carolina.

So far, two family members say they've gotten to see only 20 seconds of just one of the four body cameras. And another relative, who was at the scene of the shooting, disputes the prosecutor's claim that Brown hit deputies with his car.

The tension in America over policing and race is something that Kamau Bell explores, Sunday night, in the season premiere of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," in his hometown of Oakland, where some activists are pushing the controversial "Defund the Police" idea.


W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA: Wait a minute, why don't we take some of that money back, and like give it to people, who are, you know, qualified to deal with those issues, without killing folks in the process?

But at the same time, why don't we put money back into systems that build long-term sustainable public safety and build an economy for everyone?

That's Defund 101.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this was a business?

BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're giving 50 percent of our budget to one department that was failing across the board, and killing people--

BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --while they did so--

BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --we would defund them immediately.

BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Defund the Police" means we're taking money away from this current system, where it's failing, and investing in other systems--

BELL: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --that we think will succeed.


SMERCONISH: Kamau Bell joins me now, to discuss. Thanks so much for being here. Good luck on the new season.

Is there a messaging issue with "Defund the Police?" In other words, I love that chart. I love that explanation. But do folks need to take a lesson from Frank Luntz, who said to the Republicans, "Estate tax? No. Got to be the "Death tax," because then you can sell it?"

BELL: Well, I think a lot of these slogans come from out of just trying to get people's attention, initially. So, I think, a lot of times, as Black people in this country, believe

me, we've tried to be polite, about things like "Please don't, stop being racist to us, please stop killing us," and that hasn't worked.

I mean, let's be honest, Martin Luther King, Jr. was basically advocating, we all should get along, and he was assassinated. So, it makes sense that eventually advocates and activists are like "We have to be less polite."

Now, having said that, call it powdered donuts for all you want. That chart that we just showed, that you just showed, is hard to argue against.

SMERCONISH: The thing is, when you say "Defund the Police," I think that it conjures up an image, in some people's minds, that you're going to send folks out there with a badge, and not much more support, to do a very deadly job.

Here, I thought of one during the commercial break. You ready for this?

BELL: Sure.


SMERCONISH: How about "Unburden the Police?"

Because what you're really saying is like, like here's a mental - here's a mental health crisis that's unfolding. Why send somebody out there, with a gun, if a gun isn't necessary in that case? I think we could sell that. "We're trying to unburden the police and empower a mental health professional."

BELL: Yes, I mean, I think when you do this, like people - I want to be clear, Black people had lots of different ways to say "Pay attention to what the police are doing in our communities." And we tried "Reform the police." We've tried "Community policing."

There have been lots of different slogans. The fact that "Defund" is getting so much attention is a good thing. And the fact is, once you get past your fear, but as I say, in the episode, at one point, I was nervous about it, and just pay attention to it.

But I think a lot of us love to get caught up in an argument about the rhetoric, and don't actually want to talk about ways, in which we can create a safer society, for our Black and Latino communities.

SMERCONISH: I know. But you're giving - you're giving folks a talking point. It becomes just like the border issue. "Is it a crisis? Is it not a crisis?" I don't want to - I don't want to beat it to death.

I'm just saying that it's always struck me that the word choice, "Defund the Police," as inspiring as it might be, who want to rein in cops, I think it also fuels those who want to be supportive of law enforcement.

BELL: Well--

SMERCONISH: Tell me about the first episode of this season show.

BELL: Well, we can do that.

But also, I want to say "Unburden the Police" is a thing that is about the police, not about the community. So, I understand what you're saying. But as a Black person, "Unburden the Police" may sound like bringing more tanks to my neighborhood, so they don't have to do as much work.

So, I think you're also about which perspective are you looking at? The perspective of the impacted community, or the perspective of the community that's not impacted, and wants to get involved?

The first episode is about talking about the history of policing, and how the origins of policing, as I'm sure you know, come from the Barbados Slave Code, and which is - which it says "Slave Code," so we know that comes in racist.

And we talk about the Kerner report, which in 1968, said, "White racism has led to division in America, and a lot of that goes through law enforcement." But the Johnson Administration didn't do anything with that. A few years later, Nixon started the war on drugs, which is targeting Black and Brown folks.

So regularly, in this country, we talk about how do we make this better, but it ends up with police getting more power, more military equipment, and less community control.

SMERCONISH: Final question, how confident are you that in the tragic aftermath of the killing, the murder of George Floyd, there has now been monumental change?

BELL: Zero. We know that since George Floyd, since Derek Chauvin was found guilty, more Black and Latino people have been killed by cops. That happened even in Brooklyn Park, with Daunte Wright.

And so, I don't - there is no confidence until we actually have the bravery to look at the system, and say, "How do we fix the system of policing in America and redo it completely from the ground-up," because we cannot just keep talking about these things around the edges.

And like I said, let's call it chocolate banana doughnuts, for all I care. Let's actually redo the system.

SMERCONISH: Kamau, best of luck with the new season.

BELL: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: And catch the season premiere of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," Sunday night, 10 Eastern, right here on CNN.

We'll be right back.









SMERCONISH: Big weekend here on CNN, including the premiere of the original series, "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT," you're going to learn all about the comic greats, who reshaped TV, through generations.

Beginning of course with "The Tonight Show," names like Steve Allen and Johnny Carson. Here's a preview and one of an unforgettable Carson moments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep your arm extended and put only one revolution on the--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once around on the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The classic, Ed Ames tomahawk, the fact that that was live, unexpected.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drove them nuts. Spectacular! It was spectacular!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as Ames goes to retrieve the tomahawk, Carson grabs him by the arm, pulls him back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Ed Ames threw that tomahawk, and Johnny wouldn't let him remove it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To watch how he works with Ed Ames to keep him in the moment, and extend the laugh, is just great stuff.


DAVID BIANCULLI, TV CRITIC: He just milks the laughter. He just waits.

CARSON: I didn't even know you were Jewish.


BIANCULLI: I think Johnny Carson became Johnny Carson in that moment.


SMERCONISH: Watch "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT" beginning Sunday at 9 P.M. Eastern, only on CNN.

Thank you so much for watching. And please, join me for "SMERCONISH" tomorrow, and every Saturday morning, at 9 A.M., Eastern.

"CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" starts right now. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: I watch every single weekend. And you know what? I have to tell you. My favorite was Johnny Carson.

When I was a kid, my - we would - I would get into an argument with my sister. She would try to take the remote, or before remote, she'd try to change the channel, and I wouldn't let her, and we had to watch Johnny Carson every single night, in the summer. On school nights, I couldn't do it.

And then, she said, once I moved out of the house, and she moved on her own, she found herself watching Johnny Carson, because of me, and she fell in love with him. He was the best!

SMERCONISH: Look at you. You're consistent. You were staying up late then, and you are staying up late now.

LEMON: And I learned from them. You know what you learn from Johnny Carson, especially Johnny Carson? Timing, timing, and that silence is not the enemy in broadcasting, because usually anchors are people who do radio, as you know, sometimes they hate silence.