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Floyd's Family Urges Police Reform One Year After His Murder; "Washington Post:" Grand Jury Convened In NY Criminal Probe Of Trump; Ex-CEO Who Admitted Relationship With Convicted Russian Operative Now Helping To Bankroll Arizona "Fraudit". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 25, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It is very interesting to note, my friend. Everything that we just heard from the former president is all but meaningless, in the forum, before which he now finds himself.

Those are all political statements, and they're well and good. But at court, you only know what you can show. And that is what we are about to begin in a way we never have before, with respect to Donald John Trump.

Good to see you, Coop.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Here we go. It is time for the people to decide whether former president Trump should face justice. The Washington Post says that Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance convened a grand jury for six months.

Now, this move tells us many things. First, Vance is now on the clock. But he has a long time. They must expect to show a lot to the jurors, after two years of investigation, because six months is a long time to impanel a grand jury.

The Post also says that this move suggests Vance believes he has found evidence of a crime, if not by Trump, then by someone potentially close to him, or by his company. Well start with the base presumption. If you know you have no proof of anything, of course, you wouldn't go to a grand jury.

But this could be different things, why? Vance could be playing it one of two ways. It is assumed that Vance will not be running again. His term is ending. This could be a way to leave it to the jury. So if they come up short, it doesn't look like it was on him, at the end of his term.

We see this strategy occasionally in cop cases. Even when there's videotape, they'll go to the grand jury, why? Put it on the people to decide whether or not we move forward.

Or, and this is more likely in this scenario, Cyrus Vance is ready to make a run at one of the most evasive targets we have seen.

The grand jury with its many advantages for the prosecutor, and we will go through them for you tonight, including extensive subpoena power, to demand evidence, to indict one or more people, is very, very significant, especially because of this key element.

In a case like this, an economic case, a white collar case, as we used to say, when you indict somebody, you are able to keep the proof behind the charges secret. Remember, a grand jury is a secret proceeding.

So, in a complicated case like this, the prosecutor goes before the grand jury. They can keep it simple. They keep using words that will resonate. And if that grand jury hands down what they call a true bill, an indictment, you'll see the charges against you, but you won't know what they have behind it.

Prosecutors have been looking into whether the Trump Organization misled lenders and insurance companies about the value of properties and paid appropriate taxes.

In basic, what does that mean? Well, when you were going to lenders, you were saying, "This is worth a gazillion dollars!" When you had to pay taxes, you were saying, "It's worth like 50 bucks." That's what this is about.

We also know that he recently reached out, Cyrus Vance, to the New York Attorney General for more resources. That makes the grand jury move look much more like a sign that Vance believes he has a case to make.

Now, they got Trump's tax returns, in February, after the Supreme Court blocked the ex-president's attempt to stop a subpoena. The big takeaway is starting with this process you may actually see Donald Trump get indicted.

Let's get a reading from the better minds. We have former SDNY prosecutor, Preet Bharara, who famously was fired by Trump, and Tristan Snell, former Assistant Attorney General for New York State.

It's good to have you both.

Preet, we heard at the top, at the end of Anderson's hour, what his response is, there are - from the president - former president, "Political, this is all political."

What does the move mean Preet, six months grand jury, by Cy Vance, after going to the New York A.G. to ask for help with the case?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, I agree with those people who think it's significant.

I think there have been previous stories with respect to other people, where folks get all bent out of shape, and yell from the - from the rooftops, when there's the suggestion that there's some grand jury involvement in something in some way.

Grand jury involvement is to be expected. Subpoenas are called grand jury subpoenas in this context. I assume and believe that the grand jury, in some way, shape or form has been used before.

But if "The Washington Post" reporting is to be believed, and is corroborated, it's very specific as to the nature of this grand jury, as you pointed out, the length of this grand jury, specific as to how many days a week there'll be hearing testimony. So, I think it's significant.


I think that a combination of what you mentioned with respect to Letitia James, the New York A.G., who not only is contributing resources, but - and she made an announcement that what had begun as a civil investigation was now a criminal investigation, and they were cross-designating people to work in Cy Vance's office, it means that they must have come across some evidence as to somebody's state of mind--


BHARARA: --that the misconduct they were--


BHARARA: --investigating does not seem to be the product of negligence, or recklessness, or mistake, but intentional criminality.

I also think it's the case that the grand jury move, in combination with the hiring of a very well-respected outside lawyer, to come into the fold, Mark Pomerantz, combined with the other thing you mentioned, that Cy Vance is leaving office, the primary to replace him takes place in three weeks or four weeks, he's gone by the end of the year.

Knowing what I know of Cy Vance, and how prosecutors think about these things, it seems to me that this is the end game.

And that whether there's a charge against Donald Trump himself or not, that the decision about that, I suspect, is one that Cy Vance wants to make on his own, and not saddle his successor with. That's only a few months to go. And so, if there's going to be a charge, I expect it to be under Cy Vance's watch, not under the next person's.

CUOMO: Tristan Snell, you went and - you have investigated and brought a case against the former president in one capacity or another. What does this size up to as you? You've been nodding along, as Preet has been speaking. Fill in some of the blanks for us.

SNELL: Preet nails it on the head. You've got a case where not only did they just elevate it to going criminal, and then right after that you find out about a special grand jury. If you had one and not the other, maybe you could think that it didn't

really mean that much. But I think when you take the two of them together, yes, we're going to see, I think eventually you're going to find out that there was at least some evidence bearing on intent.

Is that enough to ultimately get pleas or get a conviction? We don't know yet. Are we going to see indictments? I would imagine almost certainly, yes. I think if they've taken it this far, it's because they believe that there is going to be enough there to indict.

Are there instances in which grand juries do not indict? Of course, that does happen. But it's rare, as everybody knows.

There's the old line about how a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich. Is Donald Trump a ham sandwich? I don't know. The statistics, I've seen, say 98 percent to 99 percent indictment rate by grand juries. So, this is very likely going to go that way.

One thing that's interesting about the special grand jury is that they don't actually have to bring indictments. So, they could just use this to further the investigation.

But I think that what Preet just said about not wanting to leave this for his successor that, rings true to me, I think, with the fact that you're going to see Vance leaving office in January.

I still hold by my prediction last week that we would not see indictments by Christmas. I think we might see them, January.

I think that we might see them right before Vance leaves office. You'll actually see that happen. They'll actually draw this to a conclusion. Maybe it'll also mean that we see a slight extension of the six months. They can go to a judge and get it extended.

CUOMO: Right. And Preet, you said something early on that will be in the weeds for most people, but I happen to agree with you. I do believe that we've seen indications that they've already been using a grand jury, but it doesn't mean it's this one, you know that, you know, two things can be true.


CUOMO: They used a grand jury for some other subpoenas.


CUOMO: But this is now a special one, as Tristan said, that will be impaneled and stay continuous for the six months. What does that mean to you, in terms of whether this is about charges or just learning more?

BHARARA: Yes, I mean, I agree with what Tristan said, and further to what I said before. And look, we're all on the outside. You stressed in your opening remarks correctly, that a lot of what's going on is secret, is legally-kept secret. It's a crime for them to reveal what's going on behind closed doors in

a grand jury. It's a sacrosanct kind of black box. So, we're reasonably intelligent people, who have had jobs in the arena. But we're speculating a little bit.

But again, the sum total of actions taken, and the seriousness with which Cy Vance has been proceeding, and the seriousness with which I think he conducts himself generally, and also someone, he's a human being, who thinks about what his legacy is going to be, and he's been in office for a number of years, and there have been ups and there have been downs, just pause for a second to reflect on what we're talking about here.

After years and years of seeing impeachments and other kinds of proceedings, as you said, Chris, at the beginning, this is not the kind of proceeding we've seen before. It's not a pure political proceeding.

If there's a trial, if there's a charge and a trial, there are judges, there are defense lawyers, there's open press, there are rules of evidence. It's a strict kind of proceeding. And no former president has been in this position ever before.

And so, when Cy Vance - we like to think that every case is the same, and you bring the same amount of sort of sensitivity and deliberation to every case. I think that's generally true.


This is a thing different from any other case, if it gets brought, ever brought in the history of the United States of America.


BHARARA: And if you're going to do it, you got to do it right.


BHARARA: And I have a word of empathy, for the prosecutors in the case.

If there is a charge against the former president, based on the things that he's done before, and the way he speaks out against his adversaries, in the legal field, they need to - they need to eat some serious breakfast.

Because they're going to become household names, and be attacked, mercy - just for doing their jobs, mercilessly, by the former president and his minions, every day, for a long time.

CUOMO: Tristan is a good-looking guy. But he bears the scars of exactly what you just talked about, Preet Bharara.

You've taken a swing at him before and realized how he hits back. What's the insight? SNELL: I mean I got lucky in that by - at the time that, all that was happening, he wasn't - not nearly as high profile. He did not have all of those minions, as you call them.

So, the attack on - and I wasn't, you know, I was the - I was the line prosecutor on it, so I wasn't as out front. My name was on the court papers. But it's not like being the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, as Preet was. It's not like being the Attorney General of the State of New York. So, I escaped the worst of that.

But there were, in the court papers, they actually said that they were going to - they threatened to subpoena me, and the other attorneys on the case, and accused me, in their court papers, of falsifying witness testimony.

They said that I made it up and that the consumers who said that they had been ripped off, and baited and switched by Trump University had not been, and that I concocted it all. Those were pretty serious professional charges that they were levying.

But yes, he has a pattern and practice of lashing out at the people that are trying to actually bring him to justice. He's been doing it for years. We've been seeing it.

Yes, the folks that are working on this case, this is a 1000 times bigger than anything else that has been brought against anybody of this stature. This is going to be what it is. It's going to be one of the most - this could be one of the most high-profile cases in American history.

And yes, these people are going to get attacked. I hope they're ready for it. I also know just to turn that on its head, it does mean that these people are going to be proceeding with the utmost caution.

And that's part of what makes me think that they really do have something, because when you're taking on a high-profile case, like this, and we felt this, even with Trump University, which is, microscopic in comparison to what this is going to be.

We felt the burden of bringing the case against a public figure like him, and knowing how litigious he had been in the past, and how much he was going to attack us. And he wasn't president yet. He didn't have the power and the sway that he has now. So, we were still operating with that kind of caution and prudence.

You know that the people that are bringing this case now are doing that. And so, if they are taking these overt steps, to further this case, it's because they believe they have something.

CUOMO: Although, as we all know, the former president doesn't control this game. These are regular men and women, who are not beholden to him politically. And they only need a majority to bring charges.

And just to put a fine point on it, when I investigated the former president's net worth, at ABC News, Christopher Vlasto, who's now the Head of Investigations, over there, and I, got a letter that was supposedly from a lawyer, but sounded a heck of a lot like the President, Preet Bharara.

Not only did he threaten to sue me, but he threatened to sue my parents saying that he was effectively damning me back to the womb for the reporting that I had done. That is the way this guy rolls. How will it work here?


CUOMO: We will all see, because this is the beginning of the process.

Preet, thank you.

Tristan, appreciate it, as always.

All right now anyone who thinks so called mainstream Republicans, OK, because now we're going from this, where like, "Whoa, Trump really has no control over this, secret proceeding, regular," now we look at the other end of the spectrum, which is what his response to the law was about tonight, politics.

We now have new evidence to prove the game to you. The Wizard of Odds has numerical proof of how disinformation, the game, is polluting the Party of Trump. Next, the numbers.









CUOMO: It's an ugly game. You're in it. I'm in it. The Left, the Right, the reasonable, all of us. But if we see it for what it is, the best chance to change it.

For instance, an investigation into January 6th, the infamy, all that should be obvious and learn from? It's not going to happen. Why?

GOP leaders are pulling the rug out from their own party's negotiators, publicly announcing their opposition to a bipartisan commission. Today, Mitch McConnell called the prospect a purely political exercise.

New polling may give insight into why they're stonewalling, because it works for them in the game. Take a look at the numbers. Most Republican voters say the rioters were peaceful and law-abiding. Of course, that's what they keep being told. But it's also what they want to believe.

There is more that you need to know within the numbers, and that's why we've got the Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten, here.

Harry? They said it was peaceful. But they also say Trump supporters are not responsible.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: This is the most craziest thing in the world. So, they say they were peaceful. But if they weren't peaceful, the violent ones, those the claim is that they were Left-wing agitators, right?


A majority of Republicans say that the violent ones were Left-wing agitators, according to the new polling data. 54 percent of this, this is a claim, this is obviously fugazi. It's false. It's not true.

The first thing you said false not true, but somehow they're holding these two things up. They're like paradoxes, yet Republicans seem to believe both of them.

Either they're peaceful, either they're right - they're Left-wingers, if they're violent, or they were mostly peaceful. And yet Republicans seem to be holding these two opposite views, but they're managing to hold both of them. It's honestly crazy, Chris.

CUOMO: And if you look at that, with the next piece, which is how they view Trump's responsibility.

ENTEN: Right. This - none of this is Donald Trump's fault, right? How much Trump does - Trump - how much blame does Trump get? Just 24 percent say a lot, or some. 72 percent, on average, say little or none.

So, if there's any blame to go around, it doesn't - it doesn't lay at the feet of Trump. It lays at the feet of the Left-wingers. That's what these Republicans seem to believe, at least a majority of them. Obviously, there's some that disagree with it.

But overall, it's very, very clear that Republicans in the electorate do not want to blame the former president of the United States. They're willing to blame anybody else, even if it is to believe a conspiracy theory.

CUOMO: How many still believe the big lie about the election?

ENTEN: So many of them believe the big lie about the election. I think this number really tells sort of everything that we need to know.

Look at this. Who is the true president right now? Among Republicans, 53 percent say "Donald Trump is the true president right now," just 47 percent say "Joe Biden." I don't really even know what the heck this statistic means, except that it's really, really scary.

The true President, Joe Biden was sworn on, on January 20th. Joe Biden got the most votes in states, collecting up over 270 electoral votes. The true president is Joe Biden, yet 53 percent of Republicans say "Donald Trump." They are out to lunch. It's one of the scariest numbers I've ever seen.

CUOMO: The only good news would be if that the people who will own being Republican now are just all Trumpers. And that people who used to just be Republicans no longer call themselves that, and wouldn't respond to the poll that way. Otherwise, you got a real problem on your hands.

And very interestingly, running again, McConnell might not want it, but the majority sure seems ready for it. Among Republicans, yes, 63 percent.

And very interestingly, on the idea of the grand jury, people are saying, "You know, Trump's going to float that he may run again to deal with this." So what? The one place that doesn't matter is in a grand jury, and in a court of law.

You can play politics, everybody - everywhere else. And I know, even the media wants to play the game. "He's going to say he's going to run again." It doesn't matter when it comes to the grand jury. And as we see though, you get out of the grand jury, he's got a lot of support.

Harry Enten, appreciate you, Wiz.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: All right, I flagged as a BOLO last night, but you know what? It's even bigger than and more important than I made it, OK? You have to look at who's behind the "Fraudit" in Arizona. And that's why I call it "Fraudit" because the more you learn, and the more you look, the worse it is.

It may be crazy, but it is real and happening. And there is a new conductor helping to drive the Crazy Train. It should tell you everything you need to know about the legitimacy of this effort to try to overturn the presidential election results in the state's largest county of Arizona, seven months after the vote.

The Republicans say they did it right. They looked at it twice. The people who were on the Board overseeing it, who are all Republican, don't understand why this is happening. But now you will.

This man is former Overstock CEO, Patrick Byrne. He has turned crazed Trump sympathizer, very, very passionate about it. He is helping bankroll this clown show in Maricopa County with a group he runs called "The America Project."

His group is apparently helping not just raise money, but to decide who counts the ballots. They are recruiting the volunteers, as a liaison with the Republican-controlled state senate.

He's launched a website that aims to raise nearly $3 million, for the sham, and claims to have already raised well over half that, to prove Trump was the rightful winner. Now, you may be thinking, "So what Byrne? I like Overstock. What's the big deal?"

Byrne is the guy who says he was present at that bonkers meeting at the White House, in the final days of Trump's presidency, about martial law, the one attended by that kraken, Sidney Powell, and the disgraced former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.

There was allegedly a clash over talk of martial law, and seizing voting machines, to try to overturn the election. Byrne was there.

Byrne is the guy, who came on this program, a couple years ago, with one of the wildest allegations I've ever heard, saying the so-called Deep State was directing him, before the last presidential election, to pursue a romantic relationship with convicted Russian operative, Maria Butina.

You remember this?


CUOMO: The FBI wanted you to continue your association to get information. They never told you, you needed to have a romantic relationship with somebody.


PATRICK BYRNE, FORMER OVERSTOCK CEO: Well eventually, yes, they did. I know they--

CUOMO: They told you that you had to have--

BYRNE: That's where I'm getting.

CUOMO: --a romantic relationship?

BYRNE: That's where I'm getting to.

This gal Maria, oh my Gosh, highest national priority, and they said, and the very honorable men and women, the men in black, they said "We want to be clear. This never happens in the United States. We are the good guys. Oh, we're not - we don't work like the bad guys. But we need to ask you to rekindle a romantic relationship with Maria Butina, and - and discover"--

CUOMO: Members of the FBI that you're sure were members of the FBI asked you to do this? And you know--

BYRNE: And--

CUOMO: --their names?

BYRNE: And I know their names.


CUOMO: Here's the problem. Former top FBI officials said, "No, he doesn't. There's nothing to this." Then Byrne kind of flamed out into oblivion, resigned from Overstock,

over the conspiracy talk. But now he's back again as one of the main forces behind what's happening in Arizona.

The "Cyber Ninjas," it's a funny name. But the fact that this is the man organizing this situation, picking or helping to pick the people, who are going to count the ballots? BOLO!

All right, it took nearly a week. House Republican leaders are now condemning QAnon kook, Marjorie Taylor Greene's latest insanity. What was it? She compared mask mandates to the Holocaust. Was stupid, was cheap, and it was dangerous. They know all that. But they didn't want to say anything. Why say something now?

Let's bring in a better mind, on the Right, next.









CUOMO: All right, here's what you need to know, the latest with MTG, the QAnon kook in Congress. Her offensive, ridiculous comments comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust, took five days for her party's leadership to come out and condemn.

She knows what she's doing. They all know what they're doing. Because that's part of the game. She knows what she said was wrong, but it also gets you attention. And that's part of the game.

How do I know? Well, here's some video from 2019, uncovered by our KFILE team, where MGT, or MTG, whatever it is, explains the problem herself. You see, back then, she was shaming AOC for comments she made comparing Trump's migrant camps to the Holocaust. Listen.


MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: It's just so disturbing that AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could actually compare that, that concentration camps, the murder of six million Jews, the murder of more than 5 million other people, because of their skin color, because of their religion, because of their culture, because of their ethninticity.


CUOMO: "Ethninticity!" That's a key word!

Look, she knows the game. She's playing the game. She knows better. But she did it anyway. "Migrant camps? How could you have?"

First of all, you compare nothing to the Holocaust. And we know why. We know why you don't qualify it, because that degrades it. She knows that. She just showed you she did. So, why did she do it? Because that's the game.

And why didn't they go after her, and condemn her, and say "She is not us?" Because they, like the people, who she wants to like her, who are the base, who like the anger, the animus and the division. That's what's going on.

And that's why guys like Charlie Dent, former member of Congress, true Republican, is on the outside, and trying to figure out what to do.

Look, they don't want to talk about her. They want her to make her noise. And they're OK with that. And even when they address it, Charlie, they do it with an immediate turn to how this is really the Democrat problem.


I've watched Speaker Pelosi, Speaker Boehner, and Speaker Ryan, deal with members of their own parties, who became embarrassments, or scandals, and they forced them out.

They forced them to resign, because they felt it was important to maintain certain standards of conduct. And when Members of Congress brought discredit upon the House, they knew they had to do something.

So now we have Taylor Greene, and her anti-Semitic comments. Look, I'm glad that the leadership pushed back on her belatedly. That said there has to be a consequence. And that consequence should be expulsion from the House Republican Conference.

CUOMO: Never going to happen.

DENT: Well, I said that at the time she was nominated for that seat in Georgia, that she should never had been welcomed into the Conference and not assigned any committees. I think they - they - think they should do it.

I am sure that the Leader McCarthy is feeling some pressure, from some of his members, in those marginal districts, who do not want to have to explain or answer to her insanity, any longer.

CUOMO: Look, but Charlie - Charlie, hold on a second.

Even if he's getting pressure, they still want him to wind up in the same place where she is, which is you use any ugly tactic you can, to blame something bad, on Democrats. "At a time when the Jewish people face increased violence and threats," true, "anti-Semitism is on the rise," true, but where does he say it's on the rise? "In the Democrat Party, and is completely ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi." This is who you guys are now.

This is not about Pelosi and the Democrats. That's not where the anti- Semitism is coming from. But that's what he says. How does that show pressure from real Republicans?

DENT: Well, look, to be fair, there are Left-wing agitators, who are anti-Semitic, just as there are these Right-wing folks like Taylor Greene, and others, who spew anti-Semitism. We saw it during the Insurrection with that one guy wearing the "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt.

But there comes a time, when you're a leader of your Caucus that you have to stand up, and bring the hammer down on your own members. It's not fun. It's not easy.

Look, Kevin McCarthy did it to Steve King. When he made his racially incendiary inflammatory comments, he kicked him off the committees, and they worked. They found the primary opponent for him. They got behind that primary opponent and they defeated him.


Taylor Greene, by failing to go after her, by just kind of - just kind of really they're not tacitly approving her, but at the same time, they're not doing enough to push back, she's been able to monetize this notoriety.

And it's gotten so bad and so horrifying that some of the numbers we saw suggest that her favorability ratings are higher than those of Liz Cheney among Republicans, and Mitch McConnell. That's what's happening.

The extremists are too often being stood next to, and the rational members are being marginalized, like Cheney, and Kinzinger.

CUOMO: You know what he--

DENT: That's what's wrong.

CUOMO: The only people who realize the game is ugly, and has to be destroyed, are people on the fringe, Charlie.

And we need the people who are reasonable, and in the middle, and the centrists, who want progress, to realize there's a game, and try to stop playing it. Because otherwise, this is the only way it changes. The crazier you get, the more popular you'll be.

Charlie Dent, I appreciate you coming on, trying to speak to the reasonable. But right now, I don't think it's getting a lot of resonance.

DENT: Right. CUOMO: All right, now, let's talk about something else that we should all agree on, all right?

It is one year since the death of George Floyd. It is a horrible marker to have in our society. But it should be at least motivated into a position of relevance so that we can remember the risk, remember why we want to be better, and remember the cost of being worse.

His family met today with President Biden at the White House.

Look at this moment captured by photographer. A Marine opening the door for Floyd's young daughter, Gianna, who once said her daddy, changed the world. Remember that?

So, how is that going? What is the chance of any real reform in the Biden administration? One of the key players in Congress joins us next.









CUOMO: Marches and memorials, all across the country this evening. We're marking one year since the murder of George Floyd, and what followed, which was supposed to be the nation's reckoning with racial injustice.

Over the past year, we've seen it on a local level, city, state lawmakers have passed more than 250 policing bills, designed to address police behavior, accountability. What about on the federal level? There's a bill named after George Floyd yet to pass. Negotiations are underway in Congress.

The Floyd family met privately with the President today. After it, they renewed, their calls, for lawmakers to act.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: We just want this George Floyd Policing Act to be passed.

Because this - this is the thing. If you can make federal laws to protect the bird, which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color.


CUOMO: Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass is the lead house negotiator of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. She also met with the family today.

It's a good point that he made, you know? "You guys can pick a bird. But you can't help us!" Now, obviously, a lot of policing is state and local level. But do you believe you'll be able to get something done?

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): I absolutely believe that we'll be able to get something done.

And it was very moving to meet with the family today. And I was really pleased that they were not disappointed that we did not produce a bill today. They were far more concerned about the quality, as opposed to us rushing, and having something symbolic, which is unacceptable.

CUOMO: What is the state of play?

BASS: Well, the state of play is, is that the negotiations are continuing. I'm working very closely with Senator Booker, Senator Scott, Josh Gottheimer, Pete Stauber, Brian Fitzpatrick in the House.

And I do believe that we are going to get there. It's going to take us a little bit longer. We needed more time. But we are all having discussions in good faith.

CUOMO: What is the major point of opposition?

BASS: Well, everybody knows that holding officers accountable is one of the most important things we can do. Because frankly, Chris, we are tired of seeing video after video.

And so, qualified immunity, reducing the standard for prosecuting officers, raising the standard of policing in the United States, banning chokeholds, banning no-knocks, all of those are very important features. Holding police accountable is definitely a contentious point. But we're still working it through.

CUOMO: Anything in there to insist with some kind of funding mechanism that police departments comply and have a uniform standard for reporting on - just reporting?

We were reading the other day, about one of the states in play, only a fraction of the police departments, in the entire state, even report up to the federal level, about arguable uses, or abuses, of force. Anything in there about that?

BASS: Exactly. Yes, it is. I mean, there's an entire section of the bill that looks at data, because you're exactly right. We have 18,000 police departments around the country, and no national standards.

You tell me a profession that has the power of policing, where police can take away your freedom, and take away your life, but have virtually no transparency, very little accountability, and 18,000 different ways of going about their job.


BASS: No other profession functions like that.

CUOMO: How hard is it for you on your side of the ball here? Progressives are pretty hard on not wanting a compromise bill. They did not give you good leverage with all of that "Defund the Police" talk. So, how do you make them happy and find a deal in here beyond - between extremes?

BASS: Well, first of all, understand that in the House of Representatives, in the Democratic Caucus, we have over 200 members. Now, we do have members that support the concept of "Defund the Police," but it is a very small number.

But I view it a little differently. I mean, the way I say it is we need to refund communities.

Because Chris, you know that, over the years, we have shredded the safety net, and we've dumped society's problems on policing, to pick up the - pick up the pieces, so mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, a lot of issues that should be handled because they are social health and economic issues.


So, we need to refund communities. And in that regard, there's a part of the bill where we provide grants to communities to re-envision policing.

Mental health is huge. If you look at the number of people that were killed since George Floyd was murdered, and it's well over 100, and I looked at many of the cases, and a number of them involved people that were having a crisis.

Now, if we provided proper health care, people wouldn't deteriorate to the point of a crisis. Why is it that we have the police responsible for that? Why don't we have the police partnering with social workers?

There are best practices around the country. But those practices need to be centralized. And frankly, they need to be expanded nationally.

So, you know we're only looking at federal policing. But we do control the purse strings. And so, we can influence state and local efforts, by conditioning grants to reforms. And we're looking at all of that.

CUOMO: I must say, Congresswoman, I think you are the first Democrat player, I've had on the show - the crew will tell me, if I'm wrong, and then I'll have to call you and apologize.

But I think you're the first one to mention that policing has gotten harder, that as there has been social net break down--

BASS: Yes. CUOMO: --more and more things are being put on them to deal with that they were never trained with, that they didn't envision doing. Now, I'm not saying that doesn't mean that the things they should do right--

BASS: Right.

CUOMO: --they do right all the time. Frankly, you said, we're getting tired of seeing the video. I'm getting tired of not seeing the video, of having to fight for it, and finding these crazy state laws that should not exist.

BASS: Well!

CUOMO: But I think it's a really important point to make, that I think will win a lot of favor with reasonable minds that it's not just about police being bad. It's about police being put in bad positions. And it'll be interesting to see what you can come up with.

Congresswoman Karen Bass, you are welcome back here anytime to tell us the state of play.

BASS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Be well.

BASS: All right.

CUOMO: All right, we're going to stay on these questions about how we fix policing, how we get things better, things that are creating division through disinformation.

Like what else? COVID. Where did COVID start? Do you know? I don't know. I do know that everybody is now saying it had to come out of this lab, which somehow is a suggestion they did it to us on purpose.

So, let's go back to zero on this, because I'm trying to make it better. And I actually think I was adding to the confusion. Let's go back to zero.

Let's bring in a top COVID researcher, who will tell us "If you want to know the answer to this, here's how you go about finding it." Next.








CUOMO: We put some rare air out there. I don't know what caused COVID. And I don't think anyone else does in this country, if they're being honest. And I do believe we owe it to the almost 600,000 Americans that this disease took from us, and their families, and loved ones, to figure out the reason.

See, but you know what's easier than figuring it out? Making assumptions, playing with little bits of fact, to forward an agenda. On the political-Right, you'll certainly see it. But you may see it on the far-Left as well. We just haven't.

But on the Right, they're all about it. Why? Because the more this is about China being sneaky, the less it is about our leadership failing under Trump.

So, the byproduct of that is what? Fueling hate, toward innocent people, of Asian descent. You know that that's a reason why we've had an uptick in the assaults. But it's all about the game.

On the global stage, you heard us discuss China's cover-up on the show last night. Dr. Fauci says we need to know. He never thought he did know. He hasn't changed his mind. He hasn't come around to anything. He wants to know just like everybody else. And he doesn't.

Even as the World Health Alliance meets right now, they're not even thinking about this question. Why not?

One of the scientists joining the push for answers is my next guest, Akiko Iwasaki.

It's good to have you. Professor of Immuno - Immunobiology, at Yale. I can't even say it, let alone study it! That's why I need you.

So, we need to know why, well, why not? We should know where it started. So, if we want to find out, what are the real questions to ask?

AKIKO IWASAKI, PROFESSOR OF IMMUNOBIOLOGY, YALE, INVESTIGATOR, HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE, SIGNED LETTER PUSHING FOR INVESTIGATION INTO COVID ORIGINS: Right. So, we still don't have a clear answer as to where the virus originated, whether it was a natural transmission from an animal or it was a lab leak.

The WHO did conduct an investigation into the origin of this virus, and released the report at the end of March. However, the report did not contain enough data to conclude one way or the other. That is why we need to have - we need to have further investigation of the origin of the virus, so we can prevent future pandemics from happening.

CUOMO: Do you believe it is knowable, whether discoverable, whether this was by animal intermediary, bat to something else, to us, or from a lab accident?

IWASAKI: Yes, we believe it is a knowable fact. We just need the data. We need to be able to have access to the data to be able to know whether it was an animal transmission or a lab leak.

CUOMO: Now, is it suggestive to you that the Chinese have not said "Yes, it was an animal transmission," because obviously that would be a beneficial fact for them, and instead, they have just stonewalled? What does that mean?

IWASAKI: So, in the report, they did investigate 80,000 different animal samples for possible evidence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 pandemic, and have not found it.

They also have not found any evidence of lab leak either. And they really didn't report on the lab leak part of the investigation very well. So, we really need more transparent data to really conclude either one way or the other.

CUOMO: So, we had Peter Daszak, on the show, early on. And he said, "No way, it came from the lab. We were in the lab. We were using the lab. I know what was in the lab. It wasn't in the lab."


You have a letter that is much more open to that possibility.

The one in The Lancet, The Lancet statement was drafted by Daszak, he says that is a conspiracy theory.

Why do you believe you are in better footing than Daszak and The Lancet?

IWASAKI: Well, first of all, if it wasn't a lab leak incident, then we would really want to see the data that really there is evidence for no lab leak. We really haven't seen any evidence to support either one way or the other, as I mentioned.

So without evidence, how can a scientist conclude that it wasn't a lab leak? And that's where we differ, I think. We are basically calling for a unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation, so that we can understand better where it came from.

CUOMO: And you believe the proof is still there? It's just to be discovered?

IWASAKI: We believe, yes, there should be a lot more information that we can have access to.

CUOMO: Right.


CUOMO: Professor, thank you very much. We will stay on this. Please feel free to contact us, and let us know where it's going, or where it isn't, and why it matters. Appreciate you. And thank you.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now with its big star D. Lemon.