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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Vigils & Marches Mark One Year Since George Floyd's Murder; President Biden & VP Harris Meet with George Floyd's Family One Year Since His Murder; Prosecutors Looking at Communications Between Giuliani and Former Ukrainian Government Officials; Trump Responds to Insurrection Lawsuit, Claims "Absolute Immunity" as President; Secretary of State in Middle East; GOP Leaders Finally Condemn Marjorie Taylor Greene Over Holocaust Comments. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 25, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And, thank you, Erica, for helping me out with my allergy congested voice. It's been great to be with you.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: I'll be here with you any day, as you know, my friend.

CAMEROTA: And THE LEAD starts right now.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: One year ago, nine minutes and 29 seconds changed the nation.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Memorials and marches planned nationwide the year after the murder of George Floyd. His killer, a former officer headed to prison for Floyd's death, but what else has changed in that time?

The House Republican leader finally condemns the, quote, appalling comments from Marjorie Taylor Greene comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust. If there was only someone with the power to take action against her for it? Hmm.

Plus, Donald Trump claims immunity in a lawsuit over the Capitol riot saying he was just doing his job as president.


BROWN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.

And we begin with the national lead and the murder of a black man one year ago today that ignited a movement. This afternoon in Minneapolis, a moment of silence for George Floyd killed by a police officer who kept Floyd pinned to the ground with his knee on Floyd's neck. The act amplified by a teenager's cell phone video and seen around the world. His death sparked protests, conversations about race and debates over patterns and practices in policing. One year later, a more solemn tone with memorials, not just in the

U.S. but also overseas. We saw demonstrations today in Britain. A crowd took a knee to remember Floyd in Scotland.

And in Washington, D.C., the Floyd family discussed the need for police reform with members of Congress, and just moments ago the Floyd family also came out to talk to reporters at the White House after meeting with President Biden. His daughter Gianna led what's become a rallying cry since her father's murder.




CROWD: George Floyd.


BROWN: We start this hour with the events today marking Floyd's death and efforts nationwide to keep up the momentum.

CNN's Omar Jimenez has more from Minneapolis.


DEMONSTRATORS: What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year after George Floyd's murder was captured on camera over several agonizing minutes, America is still searching for change to last generations.

In Minneapolis, a day of celebrating the life and legacy of Floyd was mixed with somber reflection.

BRIDGETT FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S SISTER: We are here, and it's been a year. It's been a troubling year, a long year, but we made it.

JIMENEZ: She and others later paused for a moment of silence.

The mayor of Minneapolis joining in.

MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS: George Floyd is going to save the world. He's going to change the world. He's going to make sure that we look internally at ourselves, acknowledge our shortcomings and make sure that we all do better from here.

JIMENEZ: It's not just in Minneapolis. Places across the country like Atlanta, Dallas and more honoring the sobering anniversary. The symbolism is unquestionable. The long-term impact remains in question.

B. FLOYD: So my message to the president, get your people in order so that is my reap for not being in D.C. today and it's okay because I have no doubt in my mind that that bill is going to get passed, and when it gets passed that's when I'll make my way to D.C. PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: I think things have changed.

I think that it's moving slowly, but it's making progress. I just want everything to be better in life because I don't want to see people dying the same way my brother has passed.

JIMENEZ: Minnesota State Representative John Thompson's friend Philando Castile was shot and killed by a Twin Cities police officer in 2016. That officer was found not guilty of manslaughter charges the following year. Thompson feels the pace of policy change hasn't kept up with reality.

JOHN THOMPSON, MINNESOTA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Nothing has changed. Just names, and there will be another name added to this long list of names until we get real accountability pieces put in effect.

We could have saved George Floyd's life in 2016 when Philando was murdered. We could have saved Daunte Wright's life when George Floyd was murdered had we just like looked at police accountability pieces seriously and say we're going to put an end to this right now.

JIMENEZ: But others who have tried to work with police for reform say the momentum from the year that's passed could lead to a meaningful future.


What is different here in Minneapolis, and what is different in the fight that you all are trying to wage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference now is that there is more awareness of the atrocities that the Minneapolis Police Department has been getting away with for decades. That's the difference.


JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, the community group that particular pastor represents says and tells us that he and his group have been reached out to by the Department of Justice's ongoing probe into patterns and practices at the Minneapolis Police Department. Meanwhile, downtown the celebration of life for George Floyd continues with art, music and speakers, some of whom have been directly impacted by police violence.

And, of course, all of it comes as we expect a vigil late they are evening later at George Floyd Square, the intersection, of course, where he was murdered a year ago today -- Pamela.

BROWN: OK. Our thanks to Omar Jimenez.

And turning now to the White House where George Friday's family just wrapped up their meeting with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

CNN's Phil Mattingly joins me now.

So, Phil, what do we know about the president's conversation with George Floyd's family behind closed doors? PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Pamela,

there's obviously a lot of focus in Washington right now about the policy and that was certainly an element of a more than hour-long discussion that the president and vice president had with six of George Floyd's family members but it was also personal as well. The president according to two of George Floyd's brother recognizing that this is obviously the anniversary of a death, and there's clearly loss there and that's something that the president focused on.

Take a listen.


P. FLOYD: A genuine guy. They always speak from the heart, and it's a pleasure just to be able to have the chance to meet with him when we had that opportunity to. We're just thankful for what's going on.

TERRENCE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: Being here today is an honor, you know, to meet with the president and the vice president and for them to show their concern to our family and for them to actually give an ear to our concerns.


MATTINGLY: You know, Pamela, the president has repeatedly referenced Floyd's daughter Gianna Floyd on the campaign trail, in White House events in the wake of meeting her a few days after George Floyd was murdered and in his family members said the president took time to play with Gianna Floyd -- Gianna -- or George Floyd's daughter inside the Oval Office bringing a smile to her face. But as I noted, there is a policy element here. The family is in town, is talking to lawmakers, not just the president, trying to urge forward the police reform and acknowledged that the president said he was disappointed.

The deadline of today have been missed by the lawmakers but in their words, the president wants a right bill, not a rushed bill and, Pamela, to just note, the president just put out a lengthy statement on the anniversary of George Floyd's death and kind of underscores there's still an urgency to get that bill to his desk as quickly as possible saying, quote, last month's conviction of the police officer who murdered George is another step towards progress but our progress, Pamela, can't stop there.

BROWN: All right. Phil Mattingly live for us from the White House, thanks so much, Phil.

And I want to bring in our panel further to discuss this.

Van Jones, I want to kick it off with you.

First, you know, after Floyd's murder one year ago today, we saw scores of people joining protests calling for change. One year later, I'm curious what you think. How much momentum does the movement still have at this point?

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the president of the United States just sent an hour with a grieving family. Just think back in 2009, President Obama just mentioned that a police officer had acted poorly in arresting a famous plaque professor in his own home for no reason and the roof collapsed on him. It was the first time his poll numbers went below 50 percent. He couldn't even talk about the issue.

So that's how far we've come. This movement is not going away. Any human system that does not have adequate checks and balances will have corruption and abuse. That's why we have meat inspectors, not because we hate butchers, well, because somebody has got to be looking over their shoulder. That's why we have building inspectors, not because you hate construction workers.

So, the policing system is going to have to come into conformity, with every other human system and this movement is not going to stop until we have the right outcome.

BROWN: And, Alfiee, I want to get your views on this question. It wasn't just black people out there protesting. So many Americans, so many races saw the injustice, but you're not seeing that same overflow of activism and protesting now that you saw a year ago. Why do you think that is?

ALFIEE BRELAND-NOBLE, PSYCHOLOGIST: In a word, I would say racial battle fatigue. I think for those of us who are black specifically we're tired. Just think about my day today and how it occurred to me later in the day in part why I'm so toured. And my sentiments about fatigue are echoed by Van, by you, by all kinds of folks in this world who are just frustrated and tired with the really slow pace of progress.


So, to Van's point, we have seen progress and we would like to see it go a lot faster and the fatigue of dealing with racism. Racism-induced stress disorder, and I would say there's some part of it and for other people of other races, they are probably frustrated because they care for black people and they are tired as well. So, it's just fatigue overall, emotional and physical.

BROWN: Van, you know, you'll recall in the wake of Floyd's death, scores of businesses vowed to change their own diversity and hiring practices. How do you think corporate America can still play a role here? What more should they be doing?

JONES: Well, the private sector made a bunch of comments. They posted a bunch of stuff on their website. A lot of CEOs made statements and middle managers across the country were shocked to hear it because there was nothing planned to actually follow up.

Some companies have done better than others, but the private sector has a tremendous opportunity here to go beyond just, you know, the statements that have been made on websites and to actually change hiring. You're seeing real pressure now. It's not just nice to do. You're seeing pressure from consumers that want to see brands match their money to their words. You're seeing pension funds and big investment pools of capital saying if you're not doing right on race and gender and the environment, you can't get our money.

So the private sector I think is going to be pushed forward to do more. We are in a moment of real awakening. You mentioned, you know, people of all races marched and all races stepped forward. Even Dr. King never had a summer where 20 million to 30 million people came out and marched with him. So you don't go back to doing nothing from that.

We have -- we're in the middle of a process, both in the public and private sector, but the pressure is moving in one direction and that's forward.

BROWN: And, you know, Alfiee, you had mentioned just the a teeing among black Americans, calling out these injustices for decade, but if change is going to happen, you know, this one group can't carry the mantle alone as van sort of pointed out there.

BRELAND-NOBLE: Absolutely, 100 percent. I think that it really is going to take. I mean, you think about when we talk about training people about cultural competence, when we teach people about things like critical race theory, even though we know that's a bad term for some people right now, when we teach people about diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, one of the key things that we talk about is it cannot just be the people who are opposed. They can't just be black people out here fighting because black people don't own everything, right?

So to Van's point about companies and organizations many of those are not black-owned, so it's going to take people in power. It's going to take what we call authentic allies to take up the fight because sometimes people can't hear Dr. Alfiee or Van Jones express these sentiments. Sometimes they need to hear somebody who looks like them, so it's going to have to take a multi-racial coalition of people globally for us to see change, real authentic change.

BROWN: I'm just curious going back to the point that you made about Martin Luther King and now. What do you think is behind the change and momentum that we're seeing? Why do you think people of other races in this country are sort of being more awakened to this issue and wanting to be more engaged with it? What's changed, in your view?

JONES: Two things, technology and demography. You know, you -- I don't know if there's more or less police brutality or more or less murder but it's more visible than ever because of the cell phones and because of the camcorders that the police are bringing. The dimmer switch is moving in one direction and making more visible what's going on.

And then demography, I don't think people understand. You go to any kindergarten in America, you might as well go to the United Nations. The younger generation is so diverse in America, below 30, it's so diverse in America. You don't have to be African-American to have an African-American friend or relative or lover or spouse, or child.

And so, you have a big demographic receptivity to this. You have technology. You also have people, frankly, just willing to speak out more. The Ava DuVernays and other people in the culture, the NBA players speaking out. So, you just have a bigger capacity to sustain this movement, in order to state this movement that I've been a part of for 30 years. I've never seen it this big, and because it's this big it makes it more frustrate when we don't have the outcomes that we deserve from coming but we're going to prevail.

This is not a movement that can be stopped. There will be another video and another march. We are -- this system cannot stay the same. There has to be accountability

BROWN: All right. Van Jones, Alfiee Breland-Noble, thank you both for that really important discussion.


BRELAND-NOBLE: My pleasure.

BROWN: President Trump suddenly all about immunity, but not from COVID. Why he claims he's not responsible at all for the Capitol insurrection.

Plus, another ballot audit with much less insanity than the one going on in Arizona, and being used at new ammo by Trump to push the big election lie.


BROWN: Turning to our politics lead now, the federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani is growing. A new court document unsealed today reveals prosecutors have seized material from a wider array of individuals than previously disclosed, including e-mails from two former Ukrainian government officials.

Let's get right to CNN's Kara Scannell.

So, Kara, what kind of information was picked up and from whom?


So, we learned today in a new court filling that had some faulty redactions to it that prosecutors have expanded this investigation and the number of people that they sought search warrants on.


So, what we learned from the filing that prosecutors had obtained emails and iCloud account information belonging to three Ukrainians. Now, the most prominent of them is Yuri Lutsenko. He was the prosecutor general of Ukraine. He is someone that Giuliani met with numerous times.

Now, the reason why he's interesting is because he had falsely said that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch has spoken negatively about then President Donald Trump and he also falsely said that she provided him a do not prosecute list, a suggestion that she was somehow corrupt. Now, he's interesting in this because this investigation into Giuliani is very much focusing on his effort to push for the removal of Marie Yovanovitch.

And we also learned that prosecutors had gotten search warrants on the email account of the former head of Ukrainian fiscal service, a man named Roman Nasirov, as well as the iPhone and iPad of Ukrainian businessman Alexander Levin.

Now, these searches all occur in the late 2019 and early 2020. That was just weeks after Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested at the airport on their way to Vienna. Now, this comes to light because there's a big fight over the search warrant for Giuliani's office and home, and Parnas' lawyer is seeking to ability to obtain any documents that relate to his client and some of these other defendants -- Pam.

BROWN: And President Trump also facing legal trouble as we know responded today to his role in the January 6th insurrection from a lawsuit filed by Congressman Eric Swalwell. What's his defense? What is he saying?

SCANNELL: Well, Pam, former President Trump is saying that when he spoke to that crowd of supporters on January 6th and encouraged them to head to the Capitol and encouraged them to push to stop the certification of the presidential election for Joe Biden, he was saying that he is protected from that because of his First Amendment rights to speech and also because when he made those comments that day, he was the president of the United States and therefore he said he should have absolute immunity from this lawsuit -- Pam.

BROWN: The absolute immunity has been the case that the Trump administration and lawyers have been making for quite some time on other issues as well.

All right. Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Preet Bharara, former attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Great to see you, Preet.

So, let's start with what the former president is saying. Trump's attorney says Trump's speech was a constitutionally protected act of the presidency. What does that mean?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, everyone has a -- there are two issues going on here, both of which Kara mentioned in passing. One is that as a citizen of the United States of America you have First Amendment protection to speech. There are limitations on that right to speech. You can't incite a resurrection, can't engage in conspiracy and other things.

But it's a serious right, it's a serious invocation of a defense and he's saying given the nature of the speech he made that he can't be held liable based on Eric Swalwell's suit. The second thing is a distinct defense, and also, from where I sit, not a frivolous defense, unclear whether it will past muster. And that is, because he was acting according to his lawyers within his job description as the president, within his job description as the president, you know, the leader of the country, that he can't be sued for things he did in good faith in that capacity.

That is a reasonable argument made by government officials all the time. It depends on how you view activity. In a very different context in a different case, President Trump made this argument with respect to a defamation claim by E. Jean Carroll, he has made claim the things he said were within the scope of his duties and on obligations as president and one judge has rejected that, and said the things that he did were outside the scope.

So, depending on the response by Eric Swalwell, which I'm interested to see and how the judge views the argument, they could be decent arguments to dismiss the case or they could not.

BROWN: You have Giuliani as well, his former personal attorney, defending his comments on January 6 when he told the crowd to contest the election with, quote, trial by combat. What kind of legal liability does he have?

BHARARA: Well, I don't know that -- there have been a lot of attempts and speculation about whether or not certain kinds of people who are high up in the food chain like Rudy Giuliani and President Trump will be held accountable in some way with respect to January 6th. There was an impeachment proceeding. It failed ultimately in the conviction of Donald Trump.

We have an impasse with respect with the creation of a January 6th commission, which might not hold people accountable but might bring out the truth and everyone's full participation. There's the question of what the DOJ is doing.


So, you know, it's unclear. The language was certainly not good language. I think that Rudy Giuliani because he was a private citizen is in some ways in a better legal position than the president, in some ways in a worse legal position than the president, because the president is the one whose election was at stake and he was making all the comments about marching to the Capitol, and clearly his intent was, in some way, probably in a dramatic way, to cause the election not to be certified, and that's the basis for the argument, even though he was not explicit has he might have been that his words were protected free speech but were cause for incitement.

BROWN: I'm going go back to that federal investigation into Giuliani that Kara was laying out for us. This investigation has been going on for more than two years. Are we closer to the end than the beginning? What is your view on it?

BHARARA: It's hard to say. I would get this question all the time when I ran that office. And sometimes an investigation takes a year, sometimes two years, sometimes even longer. You know, part of the reason the investigation is delayed, according to the reporting, I think this has been confirmed by multiple sources, that prosecutors wanted to get information from Rudy Giuliani's devices and premises for a while, back when Bill Barr was attorney general, so a number of months was lost because they couldn't get that information because the request to execute the search warrants was denied or obtain the search warrants were denied.

Other reporting suggests that there are 18 devices that were taken from Rudy Giuliani, and now the current reporting we're talking about now shows a broad scope of material that the U.S. attorney's office and FBI have obtained. It takes a long time to go through. So, I've dodged your question about predicting the end of timetable, but these things take time.

There's an issue of attorney/client privilege. There's a special master that will likely be appointed to shift through the things that are privileged versus not privileged. That causes a delay as well. So, it will be sometimes still I think.

BROWN: Yeah, I've covered DOJ long enough to know when you think is an investigation is wrapping up, it could be prolonged because new evidence surfaces, new people you want to talk to. So, I know how difficult it is to put a timeline on it.

Preet Bharara, thank you so much.

BHARARA: Thank you.

BROWN: Condemnation, but no action. The House leaders finally weigh in on Marjorie Taylor Greene's vile comments comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust.



BROWN: Turning to our politics lead: It's about time.

House Republican leaders have finally condemned Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene five days after she compared mask mandates to the Holocaust.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying in a statement: "Marjorie is wrong. And her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling."

We should note Greene still insists she said nothing wrong, claiming on Twitter today: "I never compared it to the Holocaust, only the discrimination against Jews in early Nazi years."

Well, that clears it up. McCarthy used the rest of the statement to attack Democrats, alleging without any proof that anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democratic Party.

Let's discuss this.

We have got Scott Jennings, Chris Cillizza.

Scott, I'm going to kick it off with you.

Do you think Republican leaders went far enough in condemning Greene's comments? SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I certainly think

there condemnations were appropriate. They already stripped her of her committees earlier this year for some other inappropriate commentary that she made.

So, she's already been marginalized within the conference. I think the question that Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team have to ask themselves now is, do you even want to sit in the same room with this person? And by room, I mean the conference room.

I think voters and districts should choose their representatives. And I think the people of Georgia should get somebody different, just like the people of Iowa did when they get rid of Steve King last cycle.

But I think Kevin McCarthy, being the leader of the Republicans, could take a stronger stand here by saying, you know what, I know you ran as a Republican, but you are not welcome in this conference and you're not welcome in these conference meetings.

And that way, he could say, look, I don't want her here, and Republicans in Georgia, send somebody else that isn't going to espouse these ignorant, flippant, reprehensible, silly, stupid remarks that stain every Republican that has to be near her.

BROWN: And the bottom line, though, Chris, is that this statement didn't come out until five days after Greene made the comments about the analogy.


BROWN: I mean, and, since then, she has made other analogies comparing these public health measures to the Holocaust two more times after that initial statement.

Why did it take so long for leadership to come out and at least condemn her?

CILLIZZA: Short answer, I don't know. And it shouldn't have.

And another thing you even mention, Pam, that I do think is worth mentioning is, it's not as though Marjorie Taylor Greene has spent the first few months in Congress sort of like being a backbencher and learning her ways.

I mean, they kind of know, they, the leadership, McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, they sort of know Elise Stefanik (sic) has a track record here. This is not a first time that she's said something controversial, offensive and wrong.

That strikes me as reason why they might have acted a little quicker. I'm with Scott. The only thing I will say is, when Scott said they already stripped of her committee assignments, the House did. Kevin McCarthy didn't. He had the opportunity to do so. The House broadly voted on it.

[16:35:04] I would think there are options open to them short of expulsion. There's censure. There's a slightly less nasty reprimand. I mean, there are ways that this can be done. It has been done.

Dave Schweikert in 2020, Arizona congressman, was censured. Charlie Rangel in 2010 -- excuse me -- was reprimanded. Charlie Rangel in 2010, New York Democrat, was censured.

So it's happened. It can happen. Actions speak louder than words. And I think they have to do more.

BROWN: It's interesting seeing sort of the waterfall of condemnation seeming to start this morning, with this tweet from one of the top fund-raisers for former President Trump.

Jeff Miller tweeted: "WTF is wrong with you? I think you need to pay a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. I'd be happy to arrange. Then, maybe going forward, you wouldn't make any more disgusting, ignorant and offensive tweets. If I'm wrong, and you're not ignorant about Holocaust, then you are disgusting."

So what do you think, Scott? Is that what it took for Republican leaders to finally condemn Greene?

JENNINGS: No, I think it was just the realization here that you have people from every corner of American politics who immediately realized this was wrong, this cannot be a viewpoint that's espoused by either major political party.

I'm sure you had donors and other activists calling up Kevin McCarthy and the leadership team over the last few days. I'm sure you have had other members of the conference calling up the leadership team, saying, listen, I don't want -- I don't want to be associated with this. Your job, as the leadership team, is to take care of this for us when people get out of line.

And so I think it was most likely a cascading of calls for condemnation that ultimately got them there. I do think Chris is right. There are certain things the House can do.

To me, just speaking as the Republican analyst here, I don't want any other Republicans stained with these remarks. That's why the condemnations are good. But the action here, to me, is to physically say, we are not going to allow you to be part of our Republican meetings.

You're not going to be part of any strategy talks. You're not going to be part of any policy talks. You're not going to be in the room when we discuss what we as a party are planning to do for this country this year and as we head towards the midterms.

I think that, to me, is a vital thing, because you don't want any voter out there believing that, if the Republicans take the majority, this is going to be somebody that has an influential voice in the conference. BROWN: But I just want to ask you, Scott, because Marjorie Taylor

Greene does have growing influence in the party. Just look at her fund-raising numbers.

After she has said controversial things in the past, her fund-raising numbers went up. So, clearly, she is appealing to a wide swathe of GOP voters here. I mean, isn't she representative of sort of where the GOP is heading right now?

JENNINGS: I totally disagree that she's -- that her comments regarding the Holocaust and the vaccines are...

BROWN: Well, I'm not saying the -- but her in general.

I mean, she is -- she -- look at her fund-raising numbers. Look at her fund-raising numbers.

JENNINGS: Oh, listen, listen, there is a clear evidence, and she is the current poster child for it, that the incentive structures for getting money in politics are all wrong.

You want to go out and work hard, become a policy expert, pass a bill, get bipartisan support, and do your job, there's no incentive. The incentive is in generating the outrage that she has generated. Look at her. She doubled down on all this...

BROWN: Right.

JENNINGS: ... because I'm sure somebody said to her, hey, there's a marketplace for even the most reprehensible thoughts.

The incentive structure is all wrong. And that's why I think McCarthy, he can't fix the incentive structure overnight, but he can distance the rest of the conference from her and the rest of the Republican Party from her.

And I would hope even former President Trump is watching all of this and saying, I don't want to be associated with this either.

BROWN: Right.

JENNINGS: If -- by the way, if he came out and condemned this and said something on this, I think it would matter to a lot of those people that are willing to throw in 25 bucks every time something outrageous happens.

CILLIZZA: I agree with Scott.

I also think there's no chance that will happen, because Donald Trump is sort of the ur-example of what Scott is talking about, which is performance as politics, politics as theater, politics as an outrage machine, because that generates more money.

It generates more TV time. It generates more attention. And that's why Marjorie Taylor Greene, in her mind, is winning in this.

BROWN: Right.

CILLIZZA: Now, is she losing...


BROWN: ... the victim, the victim of the left, right.

CILLIZZA: Right. She's become -- right, exactly.

Is she losing? She has no congressional committee assignments, right?


CILLIZZA: She could eventually be censured, that sort of thing. It doesn't matter. She doesn't care about that.

This is a platform to help her get what she really wants, which is more brand recognition. And that's -- I'm with Scott -- politics is broken in that regard.

BROWN: All right, Chris Cillizza, Scott Jennings, thank you both.

JENNINGS: Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: Halfway there -- the vaccine milestone the U.S. just crossed that may make you want to throw a big party.

We will be back.



BROWN: In our world lead: This afternoon, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it's no secret Israel and the U.S. have their differences on the Iran deal, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged him to stay away from the deal this morning.

In Ramallah, Blinken promised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas $5.5 million in immediate aid to Gaza.

CNN's Kylie Atwood examines Blinken's attempt to pave the way for peace in the Middle East after the deadliest conflict in years.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A delicate cease-fire between Hamas and Israel remains in place, as Secretary of State Tony Blinken visits Jerusalem and Ramallah, making clear that the U.S. opposes any move that could shatter the peace.

TONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: That includes settlement activity. It includes demolitions. It includes evictions. It includes incitement to violence. It includes payment to terrorists.

[16:45:01] ATWOOD: The ceasefire coming after 11 days of violence, leaving more than 200 Palestinians dead and taking the lives of more than a dozen Israelis.

Blinken called the losses on both sides profound.

BLINKEN: Casualties are often reduced to numbers, but behind every number is an individual human being, a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a best friend.

ATWOOD: Blinken meeting with leaders from both sides with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas committing to rebuilding the U.S.- Palestinian relationship announcing the U.S. will be reopening its consulate in Jerusalem which serves as a diplomatic post for U.S.- Palestinian relations in which the Trump administration closed and saying the U.S. plans to send more than $38 million in urgent humanitarian support to Gaza and the West Bank.

But Secretary Blinken called the violence symptomatic of a larger set of issues, saying this during her meeting with Abbas.

BLINKEN: Asking all of us to help rebuild Gaza only makes sense if there's confidence that what is rebuilt is not lost again because Hamas decides to launch more rocket attacks in the future.

ATWOOD: With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary Blinken discussing Israel's right to defend is self.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Thanks to President Biden and you for firmly supporting Israel's right of self-defense.

ATWOOD: And replenishing Israel's Iron Dome defense system that Israel says intercepted more than 1,000 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel.


ATWOOD (on camera): Now, another subject that came up today was Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu making clear as he stood next to Secretary of State Tony Blinken that Israel is opposed to the U.S. re-entering the Iran deal. Of course, that comes as the U.S. continues to be engaged in a diplomatic effort to try to salvage that deal -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Kylie, thanks so much for the latest there.

Well, Trump world now seizing on ballot issues and one small town to push election lies. That's next.



BROWN: In our politics lead, first, it was Arizona and then Georgia, and now New Hampshire where an audit of the 2020 election results is under way. This review is based on an actual issue with the paper ballots used last November in a statewide race, but Trump allies are using it as an excuse to claim the presidential election was stolen from him -- as CNN's Sara Murray reports.


SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Windham, New Hampshire, a week-long audit of a 2020 race for state representative is wrapping up, but the election conspiracies persist.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now, you saw that, because this was a rigged election.

S. MURRAY: Despite the early read from expert auditors.

HARRI HURSTI, INDEPENDENT AUDITOR: There's no evidence that this would be a malicious act or deliberate act. This looks like human era.


S. MURRAY: Former President Donald Trump and his allies including Windham resident Corey Lewandowski are clinging to the down ballot audit to cast doubt on November's election results across the country, even though Trump lost New Hampshire by nearly 60,000 votes and still would have lost the election even if he had won the Granite State.

LEWANDOWSKI: This isn't just about the town of Windham, which we're lucky enough to live in this community, OK? We're seeing things take place across this entire country.

S. MURRAY: On Monday, Trump baselessly claims the voting discrepancies were orchestrated by Democrats. Unlike other post election audits pushed by conservatives around the country, New Hampshire's bipartisan reviews stems from a tangible gap in vote tallies.

Democratic State Representative Kristi St. Laurent started this saga after requesting a recount. It showed her tally dropping by 99 votes while the Republicans saw theirs rise by roughly 300.

KRISTI ST. LAURENT, NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Pretty much the whole room was shocked.

S. MURRAY: The discrepancy led to an a audit and a fight among residents about who should lead it.

TOM MURRAY, WINDHAM RESIDENT: I got to tell you, the people were pretty riled up.

S. MURRAY: Hundreds piled into a town meeting earlier this month booing town leaders and chanting resign.

CROWD: Resign! Resign!

S. MURRAY: All of this after the town selectman chose an audit expert who criticized Arizona's deeply partisan audit to help lead the Windham review. Unlike Maricopa County shadowy review in Arizona, Windham's audit is independently livestreamed, open to observers and auditors regularly explain the process under way.

HURSTI: Saturday, we ran 32 mock elections.

S. MURRAY: Auditors and their conservative critics seemed to agree on one issues skewing the count, improperly folded ballots to think a ballot bubble were shaded when it was actually a blank bubble with a crease running through it.

HURSTI: Even when this doesn't change the outcome of the election, they're finding why it happens, so it will never happen again.

S. MURRAY: But Tom Murray and Ken Eyring, local activists who pushed for an audit, say they still have questions.

KEN EYRING, WINDHAM RESIDENT: Why are they not properly sealing the boxes, you know, with the tape and the answer was, well, you know, they are going to be under camera anyway and the doors are locked. Well, the cameras went out two nights in a row.

S. MURRAY: Auditors apologized for the camera outage but say the ballots were secure. Still, local conservatives are pressing for a statewide audit. One Trump allies say should include the top of the ticket.

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm here to count every single vote and every vote matters. How come we're not counting presidential race in this election?


S. MURRAY (on camera): Now, they're not counting the presidential race in this election because there's no indication there's vote discrepancy in the presidential race.


Donald Trump lost the state of New Hampshire by seven points but he remains fascinated by this audit and is calling his allies on a daily and weekly, sometimes daily basis to check in on how it's going.

Back to you.

BROWN: All right. Sara Murray live for us from New Hampshire -- thanks so much.

The United States hitting a major vaccine milestone today. That's next.


BROWN: Great news in our health lead. As of today, more than half of all U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated, a major milestone for U.S. vaccination efforts. This as the White House says anyone who is fully vaccinated should be able to relax and enjoy their Memorial Day weekend.

I'm Pamela Brown in for Jake Tapper.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer and "THE SITUATION ROOM".