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Cuomo Prime Time

FBI Finishes Search At Home Of Gabby Petito's Fiance; Pfizer: Low Dose Of Vaccine Safe & Effective In Kids 5-11; Newly Obtained Memo Shows Trump Lawyer's Six-Step Plan For Pence To Overturn Election. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 20, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: They're going to continue to share these inspirational stories all this week. You can tune in, Saturday, at 8 P.M., Eastern, for the "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE," one-hour special.

The news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson.

We have new information on the Gabby Petito investigation that people haven't heard yet. So, welcome to PRIME TIME, all right?

Now, as you may have heard, new 911 audio has surfaced that may shed some light on this mystery. Assuming the FBI is right about the body, they found, the need to find her fiance has become paramount. That of course, is Brian Laundrie.

The FBI closed in on Laundrie's home, in Florida, earlier, after executing a court-authorized search warrant. They hauled out items fairly normal in this type of situation.

Despite reports, the family was not interviewed. Now, that is a key distinction. I'll have more on that, in a second. As to where things stand, Brian Laundrie has not been named a suspect, in Gabby's disappearance.

Now, I know this offends commonsense to many of you. But remember, this is about criminality, OK? Not canceling someone. There is a burden of proof here. And as we're going to show you, the investigation will not be as simple as it may see.

And yet, the fiance is obviously someone, who has to know something, about Gabby's last whereabouts, despite leaving her, and returning alone from a summer-long road trip. So for now, he is a person of interest. Now, that designation doesn't allow police to limit someone's movements, which is why he was able to go wherever he wanted.

Now, here's something else. There is a lot of hype surrounding the planned presser, by the Laundrie family attorney, tomorrow. I'm telling you do not expect a lot of new information.

And that is not necessarily because the family doesn't know anything. They have been instructed to remain silent in the face of police questioning, about Petito, by their counsel. Why? We'll get into that in a second as well.

But there is something that the family did offer, according to the attorney that has been at least misreported. This stems from the shocking news that we all learned, Friday night, when I had Gabby's stepfather, on the show.

It was this news, from the police, in North Port, Florida, when Brian was last seen.


CUOMO: The Laundrie family asked police to come to the home. Is that accurate?



TAYLOR: They are now claiming that they have not seen their son, since Tuesday.

CUOMO: What were the circumstances, surrounding their understanding, of where he had gone, and why they had waited three days?

TAYLOR: Some of this, we're still trying to figure out.

We've been trying, all week, to talk to his family, to talk to Brian.

Certainly, we would love for them, to share with us what he shared with them.


CUOMO: Now, I'm going to bring in an expert, to discuss why an attorney, would instruct the family, not to speak to an attorney, if they had nothing to hide, if they've done nothing wrong.

But today, the Laundrie family attorney told me, the family did tell what he termed, authorities, last Tuesday night that their son had not come home. Who exactly? Hopefully that gets answered tomorrow.

Now tonight, the North Port Police spokesman denied that it was them, who was told. "The family told us nothing Tuesday. We briefly talked with them last Saturday, and to my knowledge, not again, until Friday."

So, who knew? Hopefully, we get an answer to that. And it is really important because it may shift a little bit of the understanding about how this guy was able to be out of pocket for so many days. Another question in an intensifying investigation to be sure. So, the discovery of a body that the FBI believes to be Gabby may have been helped by a tip from YouTubers. There was a family that post videos, of their travels, and they captured what looks like Petito's van, in the Spread Creek camping area, in the early evening, of August 27.

They remembered it, when they heard about Petito's van, on the news, this month, and reported it to the FBI. Authorities searched the Spread Creek area. That is where they found the body, on Sunday.

Another key piece of evidence, or at least, a key piece of the puzzle, OK? And it may offer some insight into Gabby and Brian's relationship. Why is that important? Well, it's fundamentally important, in understanding the circumstances that may have led, not only to their separation, but her demise.

The August 12 incident, when Petito and Laundrie were confronted by police, after engaging in some sort of altercation, according to authorities. We now have the bystander's call, a 911 call that led to that stop.

Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're driving by and I'd like to report a domestic dispute from Florida with a white van, Florida license plate, white van. Gentlemen--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is it at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just drove off, they're going down Main Street. They made a right onto Main Street from Moonflower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what were they doing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was slapping her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes and then we stopped, they ran up and down the sidewalk, he proceeded to hit her. Hopped in the car and they drove off.


CUOMO: Now, if believed, that's called an assault, also known as a crime. The caller said "Laundrie slapped Petito." But the police report said it was Petito, who slapped Laundrie.

Now, did the witness get it wrong? Or is this the way it was reported to the police? And if so, could there be an explanation, for why you would hear a lie, from Gabby Petito, about her own assault? The answer to that is yes.

Very often, in domestic situations, women will deny what happened. Women will say they did it. Why? Because they're afraid. That's why. Is that what happened here? We don't know yet.

Now, investigators obtained a search warrant, for an external hard drive, found in the van that could also shed more light. Did someone kill Petito? If so, how would prosecutors prove it?

Now, you say "What do you mean? Of course, they did. They just found who they believe is her body." We don't know why she died yet. There is going to be a process here. The investigation is not going to be as simple. I promise you that.

Let's get confirmation on that from a better mind, CNN Legal Analyst, and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

You know what? It's been a minute. It's good to see you, brother.


CUOMO: I hope all is well. Thank you for helping me now.

JACKSON: Yes, Chris, always.

CUOMO: Now, first, you heard what I was reporting.


CUOMO: That the attorney is saying. The two big things that stick out, is, "They told authorities, Tuesday night." "Who?" "I'll tell you tomorrow." So, that's a reason to watch the press conference. That, and "I told them, "Do not talk to the police."


CUOMO: People are going to hear that and say, "Whoa! Something's shady!"


CUOMO: What's your take?

JACKSON: Well, my take is this. So understand that there's two imperatives. There's the Public Relations' imperative. Everybody wants to hear Chris, you to go out in front of the cameras, "I miss her so much. Bring her home. I don't know what occurred."

Wrong move from a defense perspective, why? Because what you want to do is you want to exercise the right, we all have, and many don't use, which is to remain silent. In the event you say nothing, no one can ever say that you're inconsistent, with respects to facts that you gave.

CUOMO: "It's because you're shady. And you must know something. Otherwise, you'd talk because you'd have nothing to hide."

JACKSON: Listen? The public can believe what the public believes.

What I know, and what I will tell a client is that there's a courtroom. That's the forum by which we determine whether someone's guilty. What the public perception is is often, different from the facts, as they come out in the courtroom.

And here's the case in point. You indicated, right, that the family says, "Well, we didn't notify the police on Tuesday." What's been reported? That they delayed it until Friday. Who's right? Who's wrong? That's what forms a courts of force. You tell your client.

And the family, of course, they want their measure of justice, Chris. I get it. There's a wonderful woman, who's not here, who had a life to live, and they want answers. However, that's again, in the realm of public perception.

I want to operate as an attorney. In the realm of a court, you tell your client, "Do not say a word." And that is exactly what he did. Mr. Laundrie, the fiance has not spoken.

CUOMO: Even if he did nothing wrong?

JACKSON: Even if you do nothing wrong. What good shall come? In the event you say something--

CUOMO: You help find out who may have hurt your fiance?

JACKSON: Exactly. And I think the public wants that. Everyone wants that. But when you're the accused, and you're going to be in a courtroom, and there are going to be eyes on you, and accusations thrown at you?

I always know Chris, what I said. I don't know what Chris Cuomo heard. And so, words can be misinterpreted. Words can be twisted. When you remain silent, it does not allow an opportunity for that. And that's why we all, all of us lawyers, say "Keep your mouth shut."

CUOMO: I get the answer. You certainly would get an "A," on the written exam, of how to practice, as a defense practitioner.

However, have you ever had a case, where somebody's loved one went missing, and they would not participate in the search?

JACKSON: So, it's not a matter of missing. Understand this.

I've had cases, where people are dead, at the hands of, arguably, my client. Whether it was that they were missing, whether it was a result of a sexual assault, whether it was the result of any particular facts, the end result remains the same.

Everybody wants their measure of justice, and in a courtroom is where we find it, right? We can't find it here. Although we search, we look, et cetera, we find it there, because it's these cases turn on many nuances, which the public never gets to know. CUOMO: I spoke to several different investigators, federal and state side experience.

And they said, "You know, this is not so easy." And I was like, "What do you mean? You know, they have a universe of one that they're looking at." He said, "It's not going to be that easy."

Why? So, why didn't they bring him in right away, when she was missing? There was no proof of a crime, right?

JACKSON: At that point, correct.

CUOMO: We just knew that she was gone.


CUOMO: So, now you have a body. "Ah, you have a crime!" Not necessarily. They have to determine why, if that's Gabby, why she died, right, before they can say it's a crime, a homicide, meaning death by a person?

JACKSON: Not necessarily. So, understand this. It's important for everybody to know this.


Chris, when the police arrest you, it's not because we know you're guilty beyond the reasonable doubt. It's not because we know you're guilty with absolute certainty.

It's because of two things. There's reason to believe that a crime was committed, number one, and that the accused committed it, number two. We call that "Probable cause." People talk about that every day. And it's known to everyone out there sitting on the couch.

And as a result of that, all you need is what we call "Prima facie," right? Not to get Latin on you, but the prima facie case. So, you don't need all the proof. You just need that small scintilla of proof, which establishes something's amiss, "I think you're responsible. Sir, you're coming with me."

CUOMO: So, you don't need an eyewitness. You don't need forensics.

JACKSON: Do not.

CUOMO: You can just do it on circumstantial.

JACKSON: Correct. So understand - this is another common misunderstanding. Circumstantial evidence is evidence.

If I came in here, right, to have the pleasure of your company, right, during the show? And when I came in here, it was completely dry outside. I go back outside, and it's wet everywhere, but it's not raining. What could we reasonably conclude? We can conclude that it rains. "Well, I was talking to Chris." That's the bottom line. What can we conclude about this? We know that it occurred. Don't know. But it stands to reason, in an area, where not a lot of eyes were, right?

She's found in a park, OK? The result of that national park, she's there, shrubbery, everything else, it's the difference from the city, where there's surveillance, all over the place. People could see interactions.

Again, circumstantial, you left with me. That was back in June. We went on a trip. We cataloged every day, in Instagram. Where we were? Who we were? What we were with? What we were doing? You did it repeatedly, and then the trail went cold. One person's dead. You're home. And then you go on the run.

Circumstantial evidence, not direct eye witness, but there's reason to believe, you know what? To fulfill the analogy, it was raining outside, when I was talking to Chris. That's circumstantial evidence, which is powerful.

CUOMO: So, they didn't arrest when she went missing. Now, they have a body. They don't know where he is.


CUOMO: But they could arrest. The question is, could they keep him, and make a case? We'll see. That goes to the evidence.

Ordinarily here, someone says, "It wasn't me. I had nothing to do with it." They find that person's DNA, or other forensic material, they say, "Ah, now what?" That's not the case here because of course, he was with her.


CUOMO: So, it gets a little bit more challenging.

So far, the worst fact, for Brian, other than the existence of the relationship, Laundrie, is that car being seen, in the same location, where the body was found. He returned in that car to his home. That takes us to the timeline.

JACKSON: That's right.

CUOMO: What stands out to you in the timeline, Joey?

JACKSON: Listen? There's a number of things that stand out. All of it is bad. When you look at the timeline, August 12th, police in Utah make the stop. Petito talks with them.

CUOMO: Oh, hold on. Should they have arrested him, if they had a 911 call that said "I saw him smack her," may be twice, according to what I hear on that tape?

And then they see - they find them. They stopped them. Both say that they had an altercation. She says, "I hit him." But they had a 911 caller--


CUOMO: --who said the opposite. Could they have arrested?

JACKSON: So look, the answer to the question of, "Could they have," is absolutely.

You and I both know that police have a tremendous amount of discretion. "You're coming with me. You're not. I'm going to give you a break. Stay at a hotel. You guys separate." That's what they opted to do.

But listen? I go up against the police, all the time, professionals out there, doing their job. And what I will say to you, if someone is motivated to kill, for whatever reason, right, we get into an argument, someone has that gene to get you?

Whether the police arrested her or not, cannot blame the police. It's his alleged actions that led to her death, not that the Utah police did not arrest him, on that particular day.

CUOMO: Fair point.

JACKSON: Period!

CUOMO: So, what stands out to you here?

JACKSON: Look, there's a couple of things. We know about the text messages. We know about the video. We know about the last text, and everything else.

I'm going to tell you what stands out to me. What stands out to me are a couple of things. Number one, you're with me. We catalog every step of this trip, Chris, every step, all of these things.

And then all of a sudden it goes cold. And guess what? Guess what? You're home, with your family, in Florida. You don't say anything with respect to where your fiance is. And now, you're on the run.

Why is that important to me? Because it goes to consciousness of guilt. In the event you did nothing, what are you running away from?

And therefore, given the nature of their relationship, given the closeness of relationship, given the Utah interaction, could have been isolated, right, or it could have been happening all the time, if you did nothing wrong, why are you in the wind?

And the defense is going to have to explain that, should they find him. The family has made, know, Chris, is he in hiding? Or is he missing? There's a big distinction.

CUOMO: So well, if the family is in - if he's in hiding, and the family had something to do with it, now they have exposure also.

But can you arrest, because the person, who was last known to be with the decedent, the dead person, ran?


CUOMO: Or seen to have run.

JACKSON: So, here's what it is, Chris. It's not you're arresting predicated upon that. It's sort of like a number of facts that build up. Those are what - that's the circumstantial evidence that's going to be powerful, in this case.


We would like every case, where there's four eyewitnesses to say, "It was Chris Cuomo. I saw him. I know what he was wearing, the tie, the shirt."

No, you don't have that. So, police have to do their work in order to build the case.

And you tell me, anyone listening out there, you're traveling with me cross-country. All of a sudden, right, you come home to your family. I'm missing. Someone's found dead. You're gone. What does that look like?

So, does it get you to guilt? To your point, it doesn't get you to proof of guilt, beyond the reasonable doubt. But does it get you to my point, reason to believe that a crime was committed?

CUOMO: Probable cause.

JACKSON: And you did it.

CUOMO: So, there are probable cause.

JACKSON: Probable cause.

CUOMO: The next big hurdle is going to be, are there areas for reasonable doubt? We are nowhere near that point in the investigation. But that will be the huge hurdle for prosecutors in making the case.

And if it winds up being that Brian Laundrie is the defendant here, this is what his whole lawyer situation will be about. Joey, we'll be back for that.

Thank you very much.

JACKSON: Always.

CUOMO: Appreciate you.

JACKSON: Always.

CUOMO: Always, always, a credit to the audience.

JACKSON: Thank you, Chris. CUOMO: All right, now, we're going to be following this. We're also going to follow the story that is on top of all of us, all right? This is the COVID Command Center. And our kids are obviously our biggest concern. And we have new information.

A major vaccine announcement, from Pfizer, today, with more children hospitalized than ever before. We're up 240 percent in kid cases, since July. Now, of course, they're back in school. But how are they doing in school? Could shots start for our kids? Could it be by Halloween?

Let's bring in a former Biden COVID Adviser, to figure out what we know, what we need to know, and his concern, next.









CUOMO: The promise of vaccinating younger kids, against COVID, growing tonight.

Pfizer said it will soon ask the FDA, to authorize its vaccine, for kids, ages, 5 to 11. The company says clinical trial data, the first of its kind, to be released on kids, showed that a low dosage, of Pfizer's vaccine, is safe and effective.

Remember, kids that age will not get what teens and adults get. That's going to be a key distinction, in the following conversation.

If the timeline holds, the hope is that kids could be vaccinated as early as Halloween. So, the good news is we're not too far off from that date. But the unfortunate reality is cases among kids are still going up. And by up, I mean over 240 percent, since July.

Now, that's over the past few weeks, you're going to see more and more kids getting hospitalized. Why? Well, because they're back in school, and the Delta spreads more quickly among children. It was different earlier on.

So, this is more hospitalizations that at any other time, during this pandemic. They're all in school. And Delta is tougher on them than the earlier iterations, OK? So, a shot down the line won't help the surge that we're in right now. What do we do?

For more on this, I want to bring in Dr. Zeke Emanuel.

It's good to see you, Zeke. I hope the family is well.


CUOMO: Now, getting me to take a vaccine? Not easy. Getting me to give one to my kids? Really, not easy.

So, people are going to hear this data, they're going to say "Yes, but it's not peer-reviewed. And they've never given anything like this to kids before." And this is new for them. I know there are hundreds of millions of people who got the vaccine, as adults, but not kids.

Should they be concerned parents?

EMANUEL: Well, look, we've tested the vaccine on 2,300 or so children, 5 to 11 years old.

They got, as you point out, one-third the dose that's been given to adults. At higher doses, they had more fever and transitory side effects. But this seemed to produce a very good antibody response with very few side effects.

They should definitely go with it, because, as you point out, we've had 225,000 kids with COVID, in the last week. In August, we had 30,000 kids hospitalized, because of COVID. It's a serious issue among children. And the best way to protect them is with this vaccine.


EMANUEL: There is parental hesitancy.

CUOMO: Yes, let's talk about that, Zeke.

EMANUEL: Whole show that--

CUOMO: Let's talk about the parental hesitancy. This is from a Kaiser Foundation poll.


CUOMO: The Kaiser Family Foundation. "When are you going to get your kids vaccinated?"

Please put up the poll.

"Right away," only a quarter, 26 percent, "Wait and see," 40 percent, "Only if required, Definitely not," 9 percent, 25 percent.

Not good numbers, actually not as good, as we saw even early on, with the vaccine, during Trumpdom. What does this mean to you?

EMANUEL: Well that it's going to be hard to get these children vaccinated, just as hard as adults, to get them vaccinated, unless we have mandates.

The fact is, if 40 percent of adults are not going to get their kids vaccinated, are going to take a wait-and-see attitude, that's going to be trouble. That means you won't get the vaccine out.

Out of 28 million kids, between 5 and 11, who could get the vaccine, 10 million don't get the vaccine, we're not really going to be protecting our schools, and protecting the larger community, by vaccinating children.

Again, we seem to be hitting this somewhere between 40 percent and 60 percent of the population, willing to get a vaccine. But moving beyond that seems very, very difficult.

And I think the Biden administration is going to end up having to try to persuade people through mandates. They've done education. They've made it free. They've just done about everything they can, short of a broader mandate.


The good news is that states like Mississippi, for all other vaccines, have very high coverage. And let's hope that they see the light, to protect children.

CUOMO: The bad news is you got states like Alabama, where you're losing more lives, than you are gaining new lives, largely because of the pandemic. This thing is literally killing us. And we've seen that a majority can get vaccinated, and the minority can keep you in a pandemic.

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, thank you for the insight, as always.

EMANUEL: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, look? The "Big lie," it's part, of why, the pandemic is killing us, OK?

There is poison politics. "Everything is false. Don't believe it. Don't listen. Don't do." Now, it is not a coincidence that this is being promoted by people who are not in power, OK? Trump, namely, is still trying to get the election overturned. It's been a year.

We have new details tonight, about an attempt, by a lawyer, tied to Trump, to get the Vice President, to help, back in the day, a six-step plan, to over throw democracy. I will reveal it to you, next.








CUOMO: Tonight, a newly-revealed memo, from one of former president Trump's lawyers, adds to the pile of damning evidence, showing just how far Trump and Co. went to push the "Big lie."

Now, you may remember, this guy, John Eastman. There he is, speaking at Trump's rally, on January 6.


CUOMO: According to the new book, "Peril," by "Washington Post" journalists, we now know, that two days before that, Eastman handed then-VP Pence, a two-page memo that detailed how Pence could overturn the election, through a six-step scheme.

It essentially called for Pence, to throw out electors, from seven states, so that Trump's remaining electoral votes, would outweigh Biden's, allowing the GOP majority, in the House, to reelect Trump.

Olivia Troye is a former Pence adviser.

It's good to have you here.

The idea that he would accept this memo put with him calling Dan Quayle, to say, "Is there any way around this? Is there any way around this?" What's your feeling about all that?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY & COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER TO VP PENCE: Well, first of all, the fact that this document exists is outrageous.

I mean, this is so disturbing on so many different levels, and on full display just how close we came, to a moment, where there would have been the impeding of the transition of power, and the full undermining of our democratic process, by this group of individuals.

And so, I have no doubt that I'm sure Mike Pence, in reading this document, starts to make these phone calls. Now we have more, context, on why perhaps he had the conversation with Dan Quayle. And I wonder if he went through the document, and discussed it with them.

But I also wonder, Chris, how many other people knew about this document? It looks like Senator Lee did. Lindsey Graham did, apparently. How many other elected officials, knew that this plan existed, because this is the Republican playbook firsthand.

And my concern, reading this document is that, to me, I'm concerned about this being the Republican playbook, for future elections here. They've laid it out, in terms of the way they've been behaving, in terms of the "Big lie," and the fact that this continues, this legacy lives on.

CUOMO: The Mike Pence that you knew, and served, the idea that he would entertain this plan?

We should put the plan up, for people. Put this full screen up, of this.

"Open and count the ballots."

"Throw out the Electoral College votes of seven states by alleging they have competing electors." Now, that is a very arcane thing, by the way, but we know why that's in there.

"Declare Trump the winner with 232 votes to 222."

"In the face of "Howls from Democrats," destroying democracy will do that, "send matter to the House."

"Demand normal rules so GOP majority can re-elect Trump."

"Do this without asking permission from Congress or Court."

The Pence that you knew, can you imagine him, reading something like this, not telling people openly that it was given to him, and then making a call like that to, Dan Quayle, looking for counsel, of how to get away from his constitutional duty?

TROYE: No, I can't, to be honest. I think it just goes to show you what people are capable of, when they're in a position of power. And I don't know what was going through Mike Pence's head, at the time.

But like the fact that he still hasn't come forward, that he hasn't actually addressed the fact that "Oh, by the way, this document existed, and the "Big lie," and the election integrity lies," to live on, and that he hasn't acknowledged that, knowing everything that he knows that happened, is just appalling.

And I think it should be disqualifying, honestly.

CUOMO: When you--

TROYE: If he does find to pursue 2024.

CUOMO: When you think about, "Why would he not have blown the whistle?"

You talk about how you do your constitutional duty. But then you look at this poll, Republicans and the "Big lie," CNN-SSRS poll, 78 percent don't believe Biden legitimately won the election.

And could that be the reason why you don't say anything about this memo? You even try to help after the former president sends people to hang you at the Capitol?

TROYE: Yes, it's about retaining power. That's what it is, for all of these individuals, unfortunately. And it's at the expense of our democracy, because that is what's happening here.


And it's also at the expense at the security of our country, because it is creating divisions, and it's creating constant threats, on the homeland, honestly, from that perspective, in terms of what we're seeing here, because people believe that this election was stolen, still today.

And this is how we are going to continue to move forward, as a country right now. This is what we're facing. It's a threat.

CUOMO: Not only--

TROYE: An ongoing threat.

CUOMO: Not only do better than three out of four of the people Trump - Trump or Pence would want to vote for them, but over half of them to believe there's solid proof. And there is none!

Olivia Troye, thank you very much. Appreciate you.

TROYE: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: All right, next story we have to get into is hard. And it demands more answers.

Images that are causing controversy, about how Haitian migrants, were trying to cross the border, from Mexico, into Texas, are being treated. It really looks like a throwback to a kind of barbarism that we have to be better than. Even the White House is calling these pictures, "Horrific."

The truth behind the pictures, and why, it's more than it looks like, at the first glance, next.









CUOMO: We really are in the throes, in this country, of figuring out who we are, and what we're about.

And I was taken aback by a single image that should make you pay attention to a problem. This one, there's a lot here.


CUOMO: Yes, as an image, to me, it does smack of a bygone era, of slavery, aided by reports of people being beaten, whether with a riding crop, or the reins, most likely, you may be drawn, to the desperation, of the man trying to escape.

Others, in the desperation of keeping our borders safe, of what I believe the former president tried to depict, as a "Brown Menace," at our border. None of this, none of it, is new. And it is not isolated.

Some 12,000 souls are living in makeshift camps under the Del Rio Bridge, in Texas. They aren't hiding. They're looking for asylum in this country.

Each one of them, a puzzle that this administration, like those of both parties, for decades, does not have any good answers for.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have seen some of the footage. I don't have the full context. I can't imagine what context would make that appropriate. But I don't have additional details.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should they be fired?

PSAKI: And, certainly - I don't have additional context, April. I don't think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.


CUOMO: Well, somebody did, right? Because that's how they decided to deal with the situation. So, the question becomes, get to the bottom of it. Find out who said it was OK? Why was it OK? Tell us.

The statement from DHS says, they don't, quote, "Tolerate the abuse of migrants in our custody and we take these allegations very seriously." That's called a stock statement. What else are they going to say?

They also say they're investigating, and will have people on scene, to make sure their rules are being followed. What are the rules?

But this is more than just a picture. It's a reality, people crossing, clinging to food. That's what they're holding over their heads, it's food, not bags of drugs.

The agents, trying to turn them around, and send them back, across the border, look, that is their job. But it's what is being done to allow this country to process the need. We can't do better than horseback?

You see the video. But you need to see the confluence, all right? Everything going on at once, all captured in this one image, OK, see the horse, their use is common and necessary along this part of the border.

The horse is there because a wall was never going to be enough. Sounded simple because it was simplistic. We were never a wall away.

We've spent billions on technology drones, helicopters, sensors, blimps, cameras, even yes, fencing. But given the terrain, the work of patrolling often has to be done on horseback.

Look at the agent's face. What do you see?


CUOMO: Frustration. Anger. They've been put in a bad position. They are overwhelmed. The system is overwhelmed.

I've been to the border many times. I've sat overnight, in Ajo, Arizona, means "Garlic," watching people come overnight, trying to figure out what is drugs, what's migrants, how do you coordinate?

These guys patrol tens and tens of miles alone. No backup. And then, if they do catch people, doing the wrong thing, illegally? You don't have the agents. You don't have the courts.

You don't have the resources. You don't have the judges. You don't have the places to put them. You don't have the support for their health. You don't have the caseworkers. You don't have any of the things that you need, nor do you have the laws.

What is asylum? Who can decide it? What are the circumstances? Where should it be done? Nobody wants to do the hard work.

They just want to pander to "Don't you care about these people? Look how they're being treated?" And the other side says, "Do you really want these people coming, to take your jobs, and kill your women?" And we're stuck there.


And we're stuck there, because nobody wants to make a change. Nobody wants to die on this hill. And nobody wants to do anything small, an incremental measure, just change those laws, just change the support staff.

They want it to be big, impressive. So, we're nowhere. And that picture tells us that. Could have been taken 100 years ago! And here we are today! And we're not going to get anywhere better until you demand it.

We'll be right back after this.







CUOMO: Next month, families and friends, far and wide, are going to travel, to Washington D.C., to honor our fallen Law Enforcement officers, whose names were engraved onto the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall.

Of the 394 officers, who died, in line of duty, and whose names were added to that wall, a 182 of them died COVID-related deaths. One of those officers, who lost his life, to the deadly virus, is Charles "Rob" Roberts.

You remember his name? We spoke to his family last year, in the aftermath of his death.


His son, Gavin, decided to do something just so interesting, and brave. To honor his dad, for his 12th birthday, he said he wanted to get vaccinated.

Gavin and his mom, Alice, join us now.

Happy birthday, little man! I know that this was hard. But, boy, oh boy, your mom must be so proud!

And, as a dad myself, to know that you want to do something that you think is important, in your dad's memory? That gets a lot of respect, young man, a lot of respect.

Why did you do it?

GAVIN ROBERTS, FATHER DIED OF COVID-19 LAST YEAR: I did it to just like help our community and other communities, to get out there, and help fight the virus.

CUOMO: How did it feel?

G. ROBERTS: I feel pretty good about myself. My arm doesn't hurt too bad. And I don't feel that bad. I have a headache, sore throat.

CUOMO: Good for you.

Mom, what did it mean to you, when you heard your boy say that that's what he wanted?

ALICE ROBERTS, HUSBAND DIED OF COVID-19 LAST YEAR: I was saying before, there wasn't really ever a time when we didn't think that would be what he would do, for his 12th birthday. It just is a pretty big sense of relief. It's not that we'll do anything really different. But it's a sense of relief, because he's the final person, in our family, who needs to get vaccinated.

So, it was a sense of relief. And just, it's the right thing to do. So there was never a question that that's what he would be doing.

CUOMO: How are you doing? I see the picture of your husband behind you. I see the flag. How are you holding up? How's the family coping?

A. ROBERTS: I mean we move forward every day. You just take it a day at a time. I'm back at work, teaching.

It's nice to be around the kids again. It's nice that they're really appreciative of being in school. And I think they feel differently about learning now. When it was taken away from them, you kind of don't realize that you miss it until you miss it.

So, it's good to be back. But the days are full, lots of laundry, lunch-making, running to sports. But it's good. The days go by fast.

CUOMO: What does it mean to you, to take the family, to see the wall, next month?

A. ROBERTS: Well, it's funny, my husband and I had visited the wall, either we were just married, or right before we had been married. And it was so special to him. And I went along, and I thought it was cool.

But I never thought that his name would be on it. And I don't think he thought that either. But we never had a burial. So, this is part of closure, for us. It'll be nice to see his name. I think the vigil will be very nice. It'll just be one step towards, I guess, closure. But I don't know if that's the right word.

CUOMO: The last time we talked, your words, were so poignant, that so many were moved. Who knows how many people you may have changed, in terms of their ideas, of how serious this is?

But there was one person, who probably surprised you, when they called you to talk about it.

A. ROBERTS: That's for sure.

So right after, I guess, when we were in the interview, last time, Mr. Biden had left me a message. And I had called him back. And he answered, which shocked me. And he had invited us to the White House, and said, "You know, when I become president, I want you to be our guests."

So, we're hoping that can happen. I know now he's a little bit busy. But we do hope, at some point, during his, hopefully, eight years in there that we'll get to visit, because my kids definitely remember that promise.

Governor Phil Murphy called me today, when I was teaching. So, he left a really kind message as well. So, I really appreciate the empathy shown, in these political leaders. And it's really touching to me, and extremely meaningful.

CUOMO: Well, the White House watches the show. And I'm sure they're seeing this right now. And I would bet that I'm going to get a message, and you probably will, too. And when you're down there, I hope you get to have a special tour, and a special day.

Gavin, I was going to tell you this in the break. But you know what? I'm going to tell you now. Hopefully, my kids will hear it as well.

All any parent wants is for their kids to believe that life is about making a difference, and helping those around you. And when you decided to get the vaccine, you didn't just help yourself. You're sending a message about what matters to you about helping other people.

Your father committed his whole life to helping other people, in one of the most dangerous ways. And that is amazing that you did that. If people do it at 52, it's amazing, let alone at 12.


So, happy birthday, and God bless you.

G. ROBERTS: Thank you.

CUOMO: And thank you, for giving a gift, to everybody else, by showing, that, you know, what's the right thing, to do.

G. ROBERTS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Alice, God bless you, and good luck, to you and the whole family.

A. ROBERTS: Thank you. Thanks for having us on today.

CUOMO: All right.

G. ROBERTS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Let's see who gets a call first, shall we? We'll be in touch.

We're going to take a quick break, so Alice can talk to the White House, and we'll do the handoff.


CUOMO: I have news for you. The Laundrie family attorney just reached out, and says, on the record that pursuant to a conversation with the FBI, there will be no press conference, tomorrow. Why? I guess it'll be up to the FBI to tell us what comes next.

Thank you for watching. "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts. I'm sure coverage of Gabby Petito--

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes, indeed.

CUOMO: --and that investigation will be part of his show.


CUOMO: And that is the latest piece, brother.

LEMON: Yes, you got the breaking news here. Things can always change. But you got - I mean, that's it.

This story, I mean, we talked about it a little bit today. Chris and I taped our podcast today. We talked about it a little bit today.