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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump To Speak At Alabama GOP Dinner; Trump Pleads Not Guilty Twice In 24 HoursRise And Fall Of "Co-Conspirator 1," Rudy Giuliani; Suspect In Brooklyn Hate Crime Investigation Turns Himself In; Simone Biles Set To Compete For First Time Since Tokyo Olympics; A Swift Surprise. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 04, 2023 - 20:00   ET


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The president carried Michigan by nearly three percentage points and has visited often, including a stop at King Orchards where owner John King has endured high labor costs, supply chain challenges, and inflation.

He said his Republican neighbors blamed Biden, he does not.

JOHN KING, KING ORCHARDS OWNER: I'm not disappointed in the president. I just think there's so much to overcome.

ZELENY (voice over): Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Charlevoix, Michigan.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Thank you so much for joining us.

AC 360 starts now.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360: Twice in two days another not guilty plea from the former president, as another Republican opponent comes to his defense. Why the GOP won't or can't quit him.

Also Rudy Giuliani's slide from America's mayor to unindicted co- conspirator with steps along the way.

And for the first time in two years, Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all time is getting back on the floor. Bob Costa joins us to talk about the abuse she and others suffered and how she is coming back.

Good evening. I am Pamela Brown here for Anderson on this Friday night, and we begin with the former president expect you to speak shortly in Alabama.

Already today, he has posted a threat on his social network which doesn't bear showing, but reads in all caps: "If you go after me, I'm coming after you!" Earlier today in a court filing, he pleaded not guilty to the additional charges Special Counsel Jack Smith recently tacked on to the documents case, and in case you're keeping track that's twice in two days and four times since April.

As for yesterday's election related charges, there is new polling out today showing nearly two-thirds of Americans believe those charges are either somewhat or very serious. Yet somehow some of the very people who would directly benefit from his downfall, his Republican opponents again today rushing to defend him.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott accused the Justice Department of weaponizing their power against Donald Trump; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who Mr. Trump has viciously mocked, even suggested he should be pardoned.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've said for many weeks now, I don't think it's in the best interest of the country to have a former president that's almost 80 years old go to prison. And just like Nixon -- or Ford pardoned Nixon, you know, sometimes you've got to put this stuff behind you.


BROWN: CNN's Kristen Holmes starts us off tonight from Montgomery, Alabama where the former president will speak shortly.

So Kristen, what do we know about the former president's state of mind heading into his speech tonight?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, this is exactly where he wants to be, in front of a crowd of adoring fans and about thousands of people here. And of course, we are in a southern state of Alabama and just to give you an idea of who is here, we just heard from the producers of "2000 Mules," which, of course, is that movie which perpetuated the conspiracy theories around the 2020 election, and alleged widespread election fraud. So that's the kind of group of people that he will be speaking in front of tonight.

Now, I am told that he is going to rail against Jack Smith, that he's going to say that his first day in office, he is going to appoint his own special prosecutor to continue the investigation into Biden's family that Congress has already started, as well as that he is going to say that they waited -- they being liberals -- of course, as we know, he is making these legal charges political until his poll numbers were higher and that's why they brought the charges at this time.

The biggest argument that we're going to hear from Trump and his team is going to be this election interference. When I've talked to a lot of his advisers, they really believe as the campaign ramps up that they're going to have firmer footing with this argument, particularly if he remains the frontrunner. They are looking at that polling that shows that he is still leading especially in a head-to-head match off with Ron DeSantis. They believe there is an argument to be made there that this is political. But of course, they want to play this out in the court of public opinion. They want to convince voters not necessarily talking here about their legal strategy -- Pamela.

BROWN: And have the former president's aide said anything about the schedule? I mean, how do they plan to build his campaign schedule around three looming trials, one state and two federal?

HOLMES: Well, I think that's the big question here because it's going to become harder and harder to balance. I mean, we are looking at just a few weeks before the first GOP primary debate, and Trump's team is expecting and bracing for a potential another indictment in Fulton County, Georgia.

So you're looking at becoming a back and forth back and forth, just like what we're seeing now. He was in court yesterday. Today, you have a campaign event; tomorrow a campaign event.

So they have to figure this out, but that is part of why they believe this argument about election interference could work and could potentially help them delay some of these trials by saying this is actually interfering with us being able to campaign and in fact, when they believe that he might be arraigned for this last indictment on Friday, and they had a campaign event, they were looking at ways to spin that, to talk about how he going to be arraigned on the same day that he had a campaign event and what that would mean.


Again, of course, that didn't end up happening. He was arraigned on a Thursday, but it just gives you some insight here into how they are looking on fighting this just at least again, to the public, to the voters.

BROWN: Yes. How they are looking to reframe it as in their benefit, giving the voters -- their voters -- the base what they want to hear.

Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

And joining us now, two former Republican House members, CNN political commentator, Mia Love and Joe Walsh; also CNN political commentator, and former Obama special adviser, Van Jones.

Great to see all of you on this Friday night. So Congressman Walsh, I want to talk to you. The polling is so interesting, because you know, as we mentioned, there's this new ABC polling that is showing that 65 percent of Americans believe the charges in this latest indictment are serious. That's higher than in the classified documents and hush money cases.

However, according to a CNN poll among registered voters who say they cast a ballot for Trump in 2020, seventy-five percent say they have doubts about Biden's legitimacy as president. How do you reconcile those two numbers?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: Pamela, I think it's easy, and maybe my vantage point is skewed because I hear from Republican base voters every day.

And look, I think there's credible evidence that Donald Trump committed crimes to overturn the election, but Republican voters, Pamela don't see it that way. They really do truly believe -- and this is what I hear every day -- that the government, the deep state is after him.

Trump is a martyr. He's a victim. That is such a powerful narrative with Republican voters, and I don't think it's a narrative that any of his Republican competitors can overcome. And I think he'll be fairly formidable in a general election and that scares me.

BROWN: And his opponents, many of them are kind of going along with this idea of deep state government being weaponized, DOJ having two tracks; one for the former president, one for Hunter Biden. They're not even going after Donald Trump with this latest indictment. Now, some are, but many aren't.

Congresswoman Love, I want to go to you to play this sound with Speaker McCarthy and what he said last night, comparing former President Trump's election lies to the way Hillary Clinton and Al Gore dealt with their election lies.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): And I can say the same thing that Hillary Clinton says about her election that she lost. I can say the same thing about the DNC who said it about the 2016 race. I can say the same thing about those in the Democratic Party from the leadership on down about George Bush not winning, that Al Gore did. But were any of them prosecuted? Were any of them put in jail?

When Hillary Clinton said it, nothing happened to her. When they said it in Georgia's election, nothing happened to them either. You know what? When the DNC said it, nothing happened to them either.


BROWN: Adam Kinzinger told Anderson last night that he believes Speaker McCarthy, he knows the comparison he is making, they are false and that he is starting to get visibly mad at having to publicly carry water for the former president.

You know the speaker, do you think that's what's going on here?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He sounded a little exasperated like he wanted to talk about something else. I believe that Kevin would rather talk about policy, he would rather talk about what we are doing to put Americans lives ahead of politics.

And you have to appreciate the position that he's in. I mean, he is looking at the polls, and yes, some of this indictment is starting to hurt the former president a little bit, but it looks like he may be the Republican nominee and he still has to work with former President Donald Trump.

And as you all know, and I've said this before, if you are not 100 percent in lockstep with the former president, if you aren't 100 percent loyal with every single decision that he makes, then he doesn't -- then he considers you a traitor.

So he has to -- he is being careful not to get on the other side of somebody he is most likely going to have to work with again, very closely.

BROWN: Van, do you agree with that assessment?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's what it looks like. You know, it's interesting, you know, hearing Kevin McCarthy talk about the fact, it is true. People have criticized election results and criticized -- Democrats have done that and nothing's happened to them.

Also, Republicans criticized Barack Obama, said he didn't have the right birth certificate, said -- and you know, legitimated him. They also were not prosecuted. Nobody has been prosecuted on either side criticizing election results, except for Donald Trump in either party, because nobody has done what he did, which is to go above and beyond criticism, and to actually conspire criminally to overturn the election.

And so you know, Kevin McCarthy knows better than to make this kind of false comparisons. It is true, Democrats criticize election results, Republicans criticize election results, it is just American pie, but nobody did what Donald Trump did, and that's why he's the only one being prosecuted.


BROWN: What do you think, Joe?

WALSH: Well, I think Van is spot on, and this is such an important point.

Donald Trump was not indicted because of what he said, he was indicted because of what he did and with all due respect to my friend, Mia Love, I don't appreciate at all the position McCarthy is in.

McCarthy is a coward. He sold his soul to become speaker, so he will say whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene and the base wants to say. I think America -- look, this is so clear by now, American needs to wrap their arms around the fact that my former political party is a cult, the leader of that cult is a criminal, and the party will not abandon him. We've got to accept that.

BROWN: I'm wondering what you --

LOVE: I take some issue to calling the Republican Party a cult. That's not going to bring us all together, I can tell you that right now. Republicans don't appreciate that.

There are some Republicans that have gone against Donald Trump and those people want to be brought in to. They want to be appreciated and they want to be noticed for the fact that they want to talk about policies that help Americans, that help with the inflation problem that we've been dealing with, putting food on the table. Those Republicans need to be heard and they need to have someone validate their concerns.

BROWN: Let me ask you, though, to follow up on your point, Congressman Love, because the ones who have done that, that are currently running for president. I think of Asa Hutchinson, I think of even Mike Pence and his statement after this indictment, I think of Will Hurd. They are all not doing so well in the polls, compared to Trump and compared to Ron DeSantis. So the ones --

LOVE: If you look at my race, Trump was a big factor in my race and it didn't turn out well. I had to answer for every single thing that Donald Trump did and other candidates today are going to have to answer for every single thing that he did and has done.

And you're right, Van, I wanted to say that the big difference here with the indictment is January 6t and what happened on January 6th, that's the big difference and we have to make sure that that's clear.

Republican candidates are going to have to answer this question. They are going to have to -- they are going to have to answer the question of whether they believe Donald Trump should be indicted. Every single one is going to have to answer that, and that's not right. We really should be talking about issues that matter. What about things like small issues like cancer and eradicating cancer? Supporting President Biden when he says he wants to get rid of that. That's something that Republicans and Democrats can actually hold hands on, and America would applaud them for it.

Why can't we come together on important issues that touch every single Americans live?

BROWN: All right, we will leave it right there. Mia Love, Joe Walsh, Van Jones -- thank you all so much for that discussion.

And up next, Republican election lawyer, Ben Ginsberg on the Trump charges and those comparisons Kevin McCarthy made. We're going to dig a little bit deeper into that.

Also later, what and who were behind the utter chaos today in New York's Union Square.

We'll be right back.



BROWN: We spoke about it before the break, supporters of the former president trying to paint his latest felony indictments as politically motivated attacks on his First Amendment rights.

Before we bring in a prominent Republican election lawyer to talk about this case, though, we want to do a quick factcheck, Keeping Them Honest.

Here is that claim again by House Speaker McCarthy trying to paint an equivalence between the man he actually once said bore responsibility for January 6th before quickly recanting -- and Democrats.


MCCARTHY: I can say the same thing about Hillary Clinton says about her election that she lost. I can say the same thing about the DNC who said it about the 2016 race. I can say the same thing about those in the Democratic Party from the leadership on down about George Bush not winning, that Al Gore did.

But were any of them prosecuted? Were any of them put in jail? Were any of them held with no response be able to get out? The answer is no.

You shouldn't be prosecuted for your thoughts, and the difference here is, when Hillary Clinton said it, nothing happened to her. When they said it in Georgia's election, nothing happened to them either.


BROWN: So for starters, let's break this down. No one that he mentioned at any time in any race instigated a violent mob to attack the seat of government nor did anyone else invite said mob to Washington. With the words big protests in DC on January 6, be there will be wild, nor has anyone else ever entered into a conspiracy to overturn an election, as is alleged in this indictment.

Bottom line, what the former president did, lawful or not, cannot in good faith be compared to what any presidential candidate of any party in any race has ever done.

So when it comes to deeds, again, lawful or not, that is not for us to decide. There is no comparison.

As for words, here's what Hillary Clinton and Al Gore said at the end of their campaigns. He, after a bruising but peacefully conducted court battle, and she just hours after the election.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.

This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I am sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.

Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don't just respect that, we cherish it.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the US Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.



BROWN: Their words in defeat. And now, here is just one sample of the many things Donald Trump said after he lost, after being told he lost and having been defeated by then in dozens of court cases.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have. Because we won the state.


BROWN: The former president, January 2, 2021, talking to Georgia election officials after being told point by point that, no, he did not win the state.

Joining us now, Republican election lawyer, Benjamin Ginsberg, who played a key role for the Bush campaign in that 2000 Florida recount.

Good to see you, Mr. Ginsberg.

So what goes through your mind when you hear Speaker McCarthy try to equate what Donald Trump did with the aftermath of the 2016 Clinton and 2000 Gore campaigns?

BENJAMIN L. GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: I guess on a human level, I could appreciate why I got angry there because he's got such a weak argument. And he's conflating the basic principles that you talked about.

Any candidate has the right to contest elections, there are laws for that. But the deal is that when you go to court, and after the recounts are decided, then you have to accept that and what Donald Trump is being indicted for is his actions afterwards.

They are not his words. They were as you said, what happened at the Capitol, what happened with the fake electors, what happened with going to state officials essentially trying to take away the vote of the people.

BROWN: You heard Mia Love earlier in the discussion say the thing that separates Donald Trump from the others January 6, what happened there, the insurrection at the Capitol. But I'm curious, if that hadn't have happened, do you still think that this indictment against Donald Trump would have moved forward? That there is enough evidence against him?

GINSBERG: Well, I think that there is an awful lot of evidence in the indictment itself that points to really things that happened on the state level, and in Congress in trying to stop the vote beyond the rioting, but I think that what happened on January 6, in the Capitol is a singular occurrence in American history, and probably without that this would have been handled in a different way.

BROWN: Are you surprised then that the former president wasn't charged with incitement?

GINSBERG: Well, I think first of all, this is an initial indictment and it is not to say that he won't be afterwards. I think incitement is a much different sort of a case to have to prove. And I think after an investigation, which clearly was a thorough investigation, it may be that the incitement would have been sort of a sideshow to the much more fundamental stopping of the peaceful transfer of power.

BROWN: On January 6, 2021, former President George W. Bush released a statement that said the insurrection was "... how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not our Democratic Republic, and that the rioters were people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes." Is the Republican party still the party of Bush and Reagan, Romney and McCain? I mean, do they have a place in the party? Or is it just indefinitely wholly the party of Trump?

GINSBERG: I think you can't look at this in just this moment and that in point of fact, there's going to be a really important referendum in November of 2024, and between this trial and Donald Trump potentially the head of the ticket, what happens down ballot is really going to answer your question. In other words, if Donald Trump brings down to defeat a lot of Republican candidates, lose the majority in the Senate, lose the majority in the House, lose some governorships, then that is a pretty clear mandate for the party to change, to go back to its basic principles that started with Ronald Reagan that has sort of been completely lost in the Trumpian years.

But overall, the future of the Republican Party hinges on what happens with Donald Trump right now, and so this trial combined with the election is going to be sort of a confluence of events that is going to answer your question about who the leaders of the Republican Party are in the future.

BROWN: I want to talk about the defenses we've heard so far, two of the likely defenses the Trump team will attempt to argue, continue to argue perhaps argued during the trial, that first of all, he was just exercising his right to free speech and that even though his own attorney general and White House lawyers told him he had lost the election, he was just relying on advice of counsel.

After all, as we know, from that indictment, there are these unindicted co-conspirators.


Five of whom have been identified by CNN, and they are all attorneys. So, you know, is his attorney going to argue, look, he was listening to attorneys.

GINSBERG: Well, I'm sure they're going to answer -- they are going to argue everything they can possibly argue, and that will be one of them.

But the point is broader than that, because no matter what his attorneys were telling him, there were the verdicts of the courts, and we know from January 6 committee testimony, that there were other lawyers who were telling him he had flat out lost.

So what's really interesting about the unindicted co-conspirators, plus Mark Meadows, is what the conversations really were right before January 6th and really right after January 6th.

Plus, you have to think that the special counsel has gone in and talked to the Navy steward who was pouring him Cokes and bringing him Hershey bars on January 6th. What was he saying? What was going through his mind? What were his phone calls? What were the instructions that went out?

And that's true for the discussions about the election, and how things got put in motion and what the ultimate results will be. But there was certainly ample evidence that a special counsel can counter with that Donald Trump knew had to have known that, in fact, he lost the election.

BROWN: Yes, and you heard his former attorney general, Bill Barr tell our Kaitlan Collins the other night that, yes, he knew he lost the election.

Ben Ginsberg, thank you. We are going to continue this conversation.

Just ahead with one of the many questions about this indictment, how did Rudy Giuliani go from being a mob fighter, and a man known as America's mayor to someone now identified as co-conspirator one in the special counsel's case against the former president?



BROWN: This week's federal indictment against the former president says he began what prosecutors call his, quote, criminal scheme to overturn the 2020 election. The day after his campaign attorneys conceded he had lost the vote count in Arizona.

And on that day, November 14th, the indictment says Trump turned to someone listed only as Conspirator 1. This person, he announced would spearhead the efforts to challenge the election. Conspirator 1 we know now is Rudy Giuliani, a one-time political star whose reputation has fallen far for the man once known as America's mayor.

360's Randi Kaye has more on the rise and fall of Rudy Giuliani.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: What happened to there's no black America, there is no white America, there is just America? What happened to it?

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rudy Giuliani at the 2016 Republican National Convention. This was not the kid from Brooklyn that America had come to know. Giuliani had earned a reputation for being tough on crime as a young assistant U.S. attorney. At 39, he was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, zeroing in on organized crime and white collar criminals.

GIULIANI: I, Rudolph William Giuliani.

KAYE (voice-over): After becoming mayor of New York City in 1993, Giuliani took credit for making Manhattan safe. Then came 9/11. Giuliani was the picture of strength, with some calling him America's mayor.

GIULIANI: The city is going to survive. We're going to get through it.

KAYE (voice-over): And Time magazine named him Person of the Year. Giuliani failed in his own 2008 presidential bid.

GIULIANI: Today, I'm officially announcing my withdrawal as a candidate for president of the United States.

KAYE (voice-over): But in 2016, he was back on the campaign trail as a surrogate for Donald Trump.

GIULIANI: He will be the leader of the change we need.

KAYE (voice-over): Soon, Giuliani became a regular on Cable News.

KAYE (voice-over): Shut up. Shut up. You don't know what you're talking about.

Bill Clinton asked me what's this guy Romney like? You know what I told him? He's our Al Gore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Rudy, hold that thought.

KAYE (voice-over): Giuliani also began peddling outlandish conspiracy theories. He insisted that Hillary Clinton had some mysterious illness.

GIULIANI: Go online and put down Hillary Clinton illness. Take a look at the videos for yourself.

KAYE (voice-over): His behavior prompted this politico headline, "Is Rudy Giuliani Losing His Mind?" Things only got more strange from there.

GIULIANI: There you go, my dear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. KAYE (voice-over): In October 2020, he made a bizarre cameo in Sasha Baron Cohen's second "Borat" movie. That's Giuliani in a hotel room outfitted with hidden cameras. On Twitter, he defended himself, calling the hidden camera video, a complete fabrication.

After Trump lost the 2020 election, Giuliani claimed Trump won and pushed false claims about voter fraud. It all reached a bizarre crescendo at this now infamous November 2020 press conference. Flanked by Trump's legal team and held in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping outside Philadelphia, Giuliani didn't offer any proof the election had been stolen, as he promised.

GIULIANI: There are dead people voting. No question about it.

KAYE (voice-over): In a later news conference, sweating and with hair dye running down his face, Giuliani still offered no evidence of voter fraud and instead made a random reference to a popular movie.

GIULIANI: Did you all watch "My Cousin Vinny?" You know the movie? It's one of my favorite law movies.

KAYE (voice-over): And just as Giuliani railed against nonexistent election fraud, he learned the race had been officially called for Joe Biden.

GIULIANI: Oh, my goodness. All the networks. Wow. All the networks. We have to forget about the law.

KAYE (voice-over): After Trump's election loss, Giuliani faded a bit from the spotlight, aside from hawking cigars and gold coins.

GIULIANI: Give them a call and tell them Rudy sent you.

KAYE (voice-over): But Special Counsel Jack Smith hadn't forgotten about him and his closeness to the former president. Smith's team has interviewed the former mayor as part of the investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and he's a target in the Fulton County, Georgia investigation into election interference.

Giuliani is also being sued by both Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for defamation over his election fraud claims. And his law license has been suspended in both D.C. and New York. America's mayor, it seems, has a lot of explaining to do.

GIULIANI: I don't know about it. I didn't hear it.



KAYE: And Pamela, we know that Rudy Giuliani is co-conspirator one as listed in the indictment. And here's just a few of the things that the indictment accuses him of doing. Bullying state officials in four different states, pushing for the slates of fake electors.

Also falsely claiming to some state officials that thousands of dead people voted, which we know wasn't true, calling to ask lawmakers after the attack on the Capitol to delay the vote certification, and, of course, falsely claiming that the Vice President, Mike Pence, at the time, did have the power to overturn the election. Again, we know that's not true.

It's also worth noting that Rudy Giuliani has not been charged with anything yet when it comes to January 6. But, of course, Special Counsel Jack Smith says this investigation is still ongoing, Pamela.

BROWN: All right, Randi Kaye, thanks so much.

And just ahead for you on this Friday night, we have an update on the search for a suspect in the murder of a professional dancer, training for Broadway who was killed at a Brooklyn gas station last weekend. Police are investigating it as a hate crime.

And our Jason Carroll is at a vigil for the 28-year-old with that new information.


BROWN: An outpouring of support and grief tonight in New York, following the murder of a young man at a Brooklyn gas station last weekend. O'Shae Sibley was a 28-year-old professional dancer, who, according to the New York Times, was preparing to audition for The Lion King.


It was one of his favorite Broadway musicals. But Sibley was stabbed in the torso after a confrontation with a group of males who, according to one of Sibley's friends, had been shouting gay slurs. There is new information tonight in this case and CNN's Jason Carroll joins us now from that gas where a vigil was held tonight. Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Pamela, I can tell you that the suspect in this case, 17 years old. He turned himself in along with his attorney to police earlier today. Those who gathered out here at the very same gas station where Sibley was stabbed for a demonstration, for a memorial, say that that suspect should be charged with a hate crime.



ALL: O'Shae Sibley.

CARROLL (voice-over): They gathered here at this gas station in Brooklyn to memorialize and to take a stand against hate.

LAURA BERTH LIMA, ATTENDED VIGIL FOR O'SHAE SIBLEY: We stand here today, tomorrow, and will continue to until black, queer, trans, non- binary lives are respected. And it's not a debate. We shouldn't have to debate our existence. CARROLL (voice-over): This is where O'Shae Sibley, a 28-year-old professional dancer, was stabbed to death last Saturday night. Police say the trouble started when a group of young men shouted anti-gay slurs at Sibley and his friends because they were dancing, vogueing to a Beyonce song. One witness at the gas station described what he saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy came from inside the store, he left and he saw them dancing. He's like, why are you dancing? He is like, I'm Muslim, stop dancing. So that's where the fight all started.

CARROLL (voice-over): Surveillance video showed at one point Sibley appeared to walk away. The situation escalated and police say one of the men stabbed Sibley in the chest.


ALL: O'Shae Sibley.

CARROLL (voice-over): His death has sparked outrage across social media. Beyonce paid tribute and posted, "Rest in power O'Shea Sibley" on her website.


CARROLL (voice-over): Iquail Shaheed has been friends and colleagues with Sibley for more than a decade.

SHAHEED: Unfortunately, someone with bigotry and hatred still took his life. And my heart broke and it's still breaking.

CARROLL (voice-over): Sibley was a member of the modern dance company Ailey Extension. He performed at Lincoln center and got his start dancing as a teenager in Philadelphia. He stayed in touch with his dance instructor who he lovingly called Aunt Joan.

JOAN MYERS BROWN, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC ADVISER, PHILADANCO DANCE COMPANY: I just couldn't believe it happened for the reason that it happened, because here we are in America. I said, being black in America is being black in America. But this was for other reasons, you know, his sexuality. The fact that he was just dancing, pumping gas and dancing.

CARROLL (voice-over): Sibley's death has drawn attention to the number of hate crimes directed at gay and trans people, especially those of color. According to the latest FBI statistics available, there was a 70 percent increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ people in the U.S. from 2020 to 2021.

No surprise to community leaders who helped organize Friday's demonstration.

SEAN EBONY COLEMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DESTINATION TOMORROW: When I tell my young people that they need to be safe when they leave the center, when I tell my young people they need to be safe going downtown, that's an everyday reality to us. These moments show us that there's still so much work to do.

CARROLL (voice-over): Those who knew Sibley will remember his love of dance and his loving personality.

MYERS BROWN: He was loving because he was always giving love to get love.


CARROLL: Pamela, one of the things that we kept hearing over and over tonight, voguing not a crime. They shouted, dancing is not a crime. They say that Sibley's death is just another example of how gay and trans people in this country continue to be targets of hate. Pamela?

BROWN: Jason Carroll, thank you for that.

And up next, sportscaster Bob Costas on Simone Biles return to championship gymnastics. We'll be right back.



BROWN: Simone Biles is back. Two years ago, the most decorated gymnast of all time stepped away from the sport to see to her mental health needs, making this video that much more welcome. Seeing her back in action, practicing for this weekend's competition near Chicago, her first since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and her last opportunity to qualify for the U.S. gymnastics championships later this month. That's an important step on the way to the 2024 Paris Games.

More now from CNN's Carolyn Manno.


SIMONE BILES, AMERICAN GYMNAST: I guess I would describe myself as confident.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flying high after five Olympic medals in 2016 in Rio and an unprecedented ascension to the top of the sport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm always in awe when I watch her. Sometimes I just think she's unhuman just because she's just so amazing.

MANNO (voice-over): Simone Biles life took an unexpected detour that fall USA Gymnastics was rocked by revelations of sexual abuse from longtime team Doctor Larry Nassar. Biles went public with her own story in 2018, tweeting a statement which read in part, "I know that this horrific experience does not define me".

At the 2021 Tokyo Games, with the world anticipating another superhuman performance, Biles showed her strength outside of the competition. Suffering from what she describes as the twisties inexplicably losing her bearings in the air. BILES: The girls saw me in training, my coaches saw me in training. Like, I physically couldn't do it safely, and it's because I was getting so lost in the air.

MANNO (voice-over): The superstar gymnast withdrew from five events at the Tokyo Games, prioritizing her mental health over her medal count.

BILES: To bring the topic of mental health, I think it should be talked about a lot more, especially with athletes, because I know some of us are going through the same things and we're always told to push through it.


MANNO (voice-over): After returning home from Tokyo, an emotional Biles testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the FBI's handling of the sexual abuse case against Nassar.

BILES: To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.

MANNO (voice-over): Biles says she's been in therapy weekly since stepping away. Now she's ready for a comeback. This weekend marks her first elite competition since 2021. She's aware of how influential she continues to be.

BILES: At the end of the day, we're not just entertainment, we're humans. And there are things going on behind the scenes that we're also trying to juggle with as well on top of sports.

I think gymnastics has helped shape me and the people around, but I'm really excited about life and what's to come and how I've changed and evolved as person.


MANNO: Pamela, I'm told that Biles is planning on competing in four events in this Saturday's Core Hydration Classic, which has been sold out for weeks ever since this news broke that she would be coming back to the sport. And her return to elite competition is also widely viewed as the first step towards a potential return to the Olympic stage. That would be in Paris in the summer of 2024. Pamela?

BROWN: All right, thanks so much.

Joining us now, Sportscaster and CNN Contributor Bob Costas. How exciting is this, Bob? This return of Simone Biles? And what will you be watching for this weekend?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's very exciting. She's the best of all time by acclamation. There's really no dispute. Some athletes established their position historically, cumulatively. Even if she never competed in another Olympics, what she did in Rio in 2016 at the age of 19, not just winning the events, but executing maneuvers that other gymnasts couldn't even try, let alone do half as well. She was, by acclamation, the best ever. Now, when we talk about the twisties, as Carolyn mentioned, there are a number of overlapping aspects here, and that also connects to mental health. There's the abuse from Larry Nassar. There's all the pressure put upon her as the face, with all due respect to Katie Ledecky and others, expected to be the American face of the Tokyo Olympics and those expectations.

And then there's the mind body disconnect that may or may not be affected by mental stress, but it stands to reason that it does, at least to some extent, that it played a role. And it's just too dangerous when you have that disconnect, you could sustain significant bodily injuries. So all those things came into play at once in Tokyo.

Now the best to ever do it is back, assuming she can qualify for the Olympic team. And there's something else here, Pamela. Nothing against Tokyo as a site for an Olympics, but we know that it was in the midst of COVID and there were no spectators in the stands. That also applied in large part to Beijing, but there were also misgivings about the IOC going back to Beijing for a second time and all the human rights implications.

So a lot of the joy that surrounded the Olympics wasn't there. Now this is a chance for the Olympics to get its mojo back. Paris, what a wonderful setting. And an American audience, I think, will look forward to this more than the last few Olympics. And among the reasons will be that Simone Biles is possibly back on that Olympic stage.

BROWN: Yes, she creates so much of the anticipation, right? And as we know, Bob, since the Tokyo Olympics, I mean, she's gotten married, she's building a life with her husband.


BROWN: What are the benefits, but also the challenges for a dominant athlete like Simone Biles taking that kind of break from competition?

COSTAS: Well, everyone's individual circumstance is different. I think she needed that time away. It's pretty clear. I haven't been in touch with Simone for a while, but I knew her pretty well since I hosted the Olympics in 2016 and kept track of her leading up to that. And subsequently, we were at events together. She's a very bright young woman.

It should be said that this is clearly the last go round. 27 is an advanced age for a modern Olympic gymnast. Katie Ledecky, the other most famous American Olympian, will be 27 next year as well, but that's not such an advanced age for a swimmer.

So Simone was 19 when she did it in Rio. She'll be 27, assuming she gets to Paris and we'll see what she is capable of doing. But it's pretty clear that she needed the time off just to get herself together in every respect and then prime herself for what may happen a year from now in Paris.

BROWN: Yes. She just had so much courage to be as open as she was, to take the time she needed, right? And she did receive backlash, some backlash, of course, for her decision in Tokyo, but also received a lot of praise --


BROWN: -- for putting her safety and her mental health first. How impactful is her voice amongst this generation of athletes and beyond?


COSTAS: I think it is impactful, as is Michael Phelps, who's been very candid about his own struggles with depression, or Kevin Love in the NBA, or Naomi Osaka, the tennis player. There's less stigma attached to it. There are still some people who react with kind of an old school reaction. Hey, an athlete never quits. Tough it out.

I think that there's an evolution now in our understanding and empathy for these situations, and it's moved forward by those prominent athletes who are willing to acknowledge their own circumstances publicly.

BROWN: Yes, good for them. Bob Costas, thank you. Great to see you too.

COSTAS: Pamela, nice to see you too.

BROWN: Coming up, Taylor Swift and the late Kobe Bryant's young daughter make it a little magic on stage. Wait for this moment after this break.


BROWN: A truly touching moment at a Taylor Swift concert in Los Angeles. She has been giving her hat out at every stop on the Eras tour to someone in the crowd while she sings her hit song "22". Well, last night's lucky fan, the late Kobe Bryant's daughter, Bianka.

Not only a hat, but also a big hug. Look at that. She wore it, along with the biggest smile and videos taken by her mom, Vanessa. The six- year-old, along with her sisters and mom, even got to meet Swift after the show. It was a bit of a full circle moment for all of them.

Eight years ago, Kobe surprised the singer while she was on her 1989 tour with a championship banner for the most sold out performances at LA's Staples Center. Very heartwarming.

The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.