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Erin Burnett Outfront

GA Gov. Warns of Vaccine Hesitancy Among White Republicans; Biden on Mission to Open Vaccine Access to All by May 1; Trump Silent on His Own Vaccination Amid Hesitancy Among Republicans; Biden Admin Ends Trump-Era Immigration Policy to Combat Surge; 3,700+ Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Border Patrol Custody; Senators Schumer and Gillibrand: "Cuomo Should Resign"; Manhattan D.A. Leading Trump Probe Won't Run for Reelection. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 12, 2021 - 19:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we may hear next week.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. We'll continue to follow the story. Thanks very much. Max Foster reporting from the U.K. for us.

To our viewers. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Biden's big push to make sure every adult is eligible for the vaccine in just 50 days. But will politics stop Biden from getting shots in just about every adults' arms?

Plus, both New York senators now calling for the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. How long can Cuomo remain defiant?

And we first introduced you to a mother of three. She lost her husband to coronavirus almost one year ago and moved all of us with her strength in the face of such unthinkable loss. Tonight, she's with us again. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Biden's sprint, the President on a mission to get every adult eligible for a vaccine by May 1st. That is just 50 days away. Well, as of tonight, more than 10 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated. And to get to herd immunity though, we need 70 percent to 85 percent of the population vaccinated then you can do the math, even at the very lowest end of that range we are nowhere close right now.

And one major challenge is people choosing not to get vaccinated. And like everything else in this country, unfortunately, right now, a lot of that choice comes down to politics. Just listen to the Republican Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, today.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): We are seeing vaccine hesitancy, really. As the pharmacists and I were talking about Macon south, and a lot of that is dealing with white Republicans, quite honestly.


BURNETT: Macon south, white Republicans quite honestly. The Governor of Georgia came out and said it. And our latest poll shows exactly what he says, 36 percent of respondents do not plan to get the vaccine. You can do the math, by the way, in the whole herd immunity. That in and of itself would stop that from happening. But of that group, nearly 60 percent are Republican.

So just imagine if Trump had made a big public showing of his vaccination, stuck his arm out there, done it on video, just like his predecessors all did here.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've lost enough people and we've suffered enough damage.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order to get rid of this pandemic, it's important for our fellow citizens to get vaccinated.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm getting vaccinated because we want this pandemic to end as soon as possible.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we urge you to get vaccinated when it's available to you.


BURNETT: But Trump did not do that. There was no picture of this. He was not in that PSA with his predecessors because there was no image of him or the former first lady getting their shots. In fact, he's never even said he got one. Trump was actually though vaccinated in late January while he was president. But he never said a word to anyone publicly.

In fact, it was only on March 1st that Americans heard the news. Again, not because Trump ever said because he never has, but because of good reporting. So, all Americans were kept in the dark on the crucial issue of their president and even then former president, but at the time president that he got vaccinated even Dr. Anthony Fauci was in the dark.


BURNETT: Were you aware at the time that he got the vaccine, Dr. Fauci?


BURNETT: He could have made a big difference for those people if he had talked about this, couldn't he?

FAUCI: Certainly. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that former President Trump is very, very popular among his constituencies who numbers in the 10s of millions of people. That would have been an extraordinarily good opportunity to get a signal to the people who would clearly have listened to him.


BURNETT: An extraordinary opportunity missed because people would have listened to him. Tens of millions of them. By his count, goodness knows, it would have been 70 plus million. You get the point. Trump showing his vaccine, telling people to get the vaccine would have saved lives and right now 1,400 people a day are dying on average from the virus still every single day.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House. Kaitlan, the White House acknowledging today that they do need help from Republicans to get the message out that getting this vaccine is crucial.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They seem to be taking a pretty realistic view saying that yes, they understand that hardcore supporters of the former president are not necessarily going to listen to President Biden when he's giving a prime-time address like he did last night, urging all people to do their part and get vaccinated when it's their turn. And we are seeing this not just from what the Georgia Governor was saying about there being vaccine hesitancy among white Republicans in his state, but also other polls that have shown Republicans are much less likely to be eager to get the vaccine when compared to Democrats when they talk about when it's available, whether or not it already has been to them when they talk about what's going forward.


And so I think that's why you saw Jen Psaki at the briefing earlier call on these other figures saying it's important for people who aren't just political people to urge people to get the vaccine, others need to do that to other community leaders as well.

Of course, former President Trump plays a very big role on this and I've talked to several of his advisors who worked with him at the White House or still speaking to him now who do acknowledge that, of course, he could have played a much bigger role in this pandemic. Masks for example, of course, is one big aspect of that. And so, I think the question now is how this is affecting the Biden administration and what they're doing going forward with this rollout.

Because what they've been doing since they got into office is really focusing on ramping up the supply of vaccines. But at some point, we are going to get to the point where there is enough vaccine supply for everyone. The question is going to be whether or not people are actually eager to get the vaccine. And so that's going to be the next challenge facing them. And so, you

saw President Biden roll up his two dates last night, of course, that July 4th one being one that stuck in a lot of people's minds about a potential semblance of normalcy at that point. But they will not give a date of how many people they want to see vaccinated by that point.

And I think part of that, of course, has to do with the fact that they don't know how hesitant people are going to need to get the vaccine and whether that changes.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. I want to go now to Gloria Borger and Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

So, Gloria, it's pretty incredible Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp. I mean, he was very clear. I'm talking about Macon and South and a lot of that dealing with white Republicans quite honestly and - go ahead.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, he's just stating what the poll numbers have shown us, which is that about 50 percent of Republican men say they're not going to get the vaccine. A third of Republicans say they don't want to get vaccinated. And just imagine what a difference not only Donald Trump would make, but Republican leaders generally would make if they would tell people, you know what a mask is not a symbol of a culture war, that it's not a matter of freedom. Go get your vaccine and save your neighbors and save yourself.

But they show no inclination to do that because they'd rather have the culture war politically quite frankly.

BURNETT: I mean, Dr. Reiner, how dangerous is it for this to be such a political issue right now? I mean, Gov. Kemp has been in the middle of the crosshairs with President Trump for quite a while. He said this because it's true and he said it because he wanted people to hear it. He wanted people to hear that white Republicans are hesitant to get the vaccine in Georgia.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. This can be the difference between this country attaining herd immunity and not. That data that Gloria spoke about ask the question, if you are offered a vaccine, will you take it. Eleven percent of Democrats said no, 41 percent of Republicans said no, but almost 50 percent, 49 percent of Republican men said no.


REINER: Now imagine the sort of Uber Republican man, the former President of the United States making a personal appeal to those men. It would make a gigantic difference.

Think about last spring, the president basically begged the country to take hydroxychloroquine, a drug with no data. But when the vaccines were approved, he was silent. He was cloistered on the second floor of the White House, whining about the election results. He's been silent about it. It would make a gigantic difference. It would make a big difference now.

So, if you're listening, Mr. President, Mr. Former President, get your people out. Get your people to get vaccine.

BURNETT: Gloria, what's the - yes, go ahead.

BORGER: Well, you know what he has done which is sort of bizarre, because he wants to get credit for the vaccine. And he sent out one of his little emails, I don't know what you would call it, former presidential declarations, saying everyone is going to want to give Joe Biden credit but remember me. And in that he talked about take your vaccine, but that's it. It was a throwaway line in this pathetic email in which the purpose was remember, it wouldn't have happened for five years, I think he said, if it weren't for me.

BURNETT: Right. Which by the way, just in terms of vaccine development, that is untrue?

BORGER: Right.

BURNETT: It had sort of 18 to 24 months, so I think that they deserve a lot of credit and that's important, but the way that he is presenting it would be inaccurate.

But Dr. Reiner, I just want to ask you why, if you're going to go out and say, get me a vaccine, get me a vaccine, do the whole warp speed thing, and get rightful credit for that. But then at the end of the day, when you could show it going into your arm and get everyone to actually do it, but you don't do it, I mean, it's like self-sabotage.

REINER: Yes. But if you look at the whole history of the management of the pandemic by the former administration, it shows that they were interested taking credit for an achievement, but not an outcome.


So, they create the test, but they outsource the test to the states, because any problem with implementing testing then falls on the states. Same thing for vaccine. They want credit for approving a vaccine and any problem with actually vaccinating Americans became the problem of the states. This happened over and over again. Same thing with PPE. We'll make PPE available, it's up to the states to get it out to the hospitals. All right.

So, the president was never interested in vaccinating people. He was just interested in getting credit for the vaccine before the election.

BURNETT: So Gloria, let me ask you one final point here, though, because obviously you see the partisan nature of this and you see people like Gov. Kemp trying to make a difference by putting a stake in the ground to say this is a problem, we have to deal with it and yet you see partisanship everywhere. At the Rose Garden event today, that Biden had all surrounded by Democrats, not a single Republican in sight.

Now, of course, none voted for it even though some, of course, are very happy with certain elements of it and had been very vocal about that, ironically. But this seems to be, Gloria, a hugely missed opportunity by both sides to not make anything by partisan.

BORGER: Well, look, I think you can't make something by partisan, if the other side is intent on opposing you at every turn. And I think given the fact that the Republican Party is so split right now, the only unity they can find is in opposition. And it's an opposition to everything that Joe Biden does.

Now, the next thing that comes down the road is going to be infrastructure reform. And we all know that members of Congress like to have a new bridge and may need a lot of new bridges and roads in their states and in their districts. And if earmarks come back, maybe you will get some Republican support.

But I think that to throw this at Biden and say as Republicans are, well, he didn't reach out to us. Well, he did. And they didn't give him even half of what he wanted, and he won the election. And we'll see what happens down the road, but I'm not optimistic about it to tell you the truth. Not at all.

BURNETT: No. Well, I'm not either because now you just spent all this money and you're going to have people on both sides who are going to demand things get paid for. So as usual, I don't know what we're going to do with infrastructure. It's a big crisis and they don't seem to realize it. Thank you both very much.


BURNETT: And next, take a look at this video from our Ed Lavandera. This is on the Rio Grande. Take a look at this, our reporter just film this so you can see it. We're investigating the surge of migrants at the southern border on OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can see that this is a serious operation. There are dozens of migrants. There are still some above the hills there and it is quickly moving.


BURNETT: This is just stunning. You're going to see the full report next.

Plus, New York's two senators are now calling on New York's Governor to resign. This is the first time they've done it. Have we reached a tipping point?

And the New York prosecutor investigating Trump says he will not run for reelection. So, does this make it more likely he will charge Trump? He's got to make a decision pretty soon.


[19:17:23] BURNETT: Tonight, the White House trying to reduce the dramatic surge

of unaccompanied migrant children at the southern border by terminating a Trump-era policy that it says discourage potential sponsors of these children from coming forward out of fear they'd be reported to immigration officials because maybe they were undocumented.

The move comes as a record number of unaccompanied children now more than 3,700 are in Border Patrol custody. We have a special investigation tonight with Ed Lavandera OUTFRONT.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): As the sun sets on the Rio Grande, our boat winds its way through the deep bends of the river that separates Texas from Mexico near the town of Hidalgo.

That's when we stumble across a group of migrants loading into a raft.





LAVANDERA: Our group eases the tension, a few men appear to lead the raft full of parents and young children to the U.S. side.


LAVANDERA (on camera): The Rio Grande Valley has been ground zero of the latest surge of migration. And here you see the operation unfolding right in front of us.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): After the first raft crosses the river, the magnitude of this moment reveals itself. Dozens of migrants emerge and walk down to the river's edge.


LAVANDERA: You can see that this is a serious operation. There are dozens of migrants. There are still some of the hills there and it is quickly moving. A handful of guys move people back and forth on these rafts. They have life vest for the migrants.


LAVANDERA: It's a highly organized system. We'll watch the raft make about six trips back and forth. Scenes like this are escalating in the Rio Grande Valley. There's the growing perception among migrants in Central America that the Biden ministration is more welcoming even though many are still being turned away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CABRERA, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: And these are really, really high numbers. I've never seen it this busy in 19 years.


LAVANDERA: Chris Cabrera is with the National Border Patrol Council. The union that represents Border Patrol agents. He warns the agency's frontline field stations like this massive tech facility are being pushed to the limit with migrants in custody.


CABRERA: We're crowded. We're overcrowded. We don't have anywhere to put people, but we have them in our custody and the system is bogged down and there's no place for us to send them because the next level is not open yet.


LAVANDERA: This is a rare view of the field station set up about a month ago by the Border Patrol. The tents are used to handle the initial field processing for the tens of thousands of migrants apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley.


There are bathrooms, first aid care and migrants are removed from the area by a steady stream of buses. While some migrants cross illegally, some are allowed to cross legally.

Sandra is overwhelmed as she recounts living in a tent city with her son for the last year on the Mexican side of the border. She worked as a teacher in the camp. She's allowed to wait out her asylum case in the United States. The 38-year-old mother says she fled Honduras after years of threats from a family member.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Then, one day he finally showed up at her house with a gun and started firing into her house. And that one of her older children and some others tackled the man and prevented him from killing her and that's the reason why she's seeking asylum here.

She said she can live in Honduras and she would have to find someplace else to live.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): That desperation is what we heard from the migrants on the rafts crossing the Rio Grande.


LAVANDERA: I'm a journalist. How are you? Where are you from? CROWD: Honduras.

LAVANDERA (on camera): How long have you been traveling?



LAVANDERA (voice-over): Some tell me they're escaping crime, have lost their homes. The last father on the raft tells me he's here with his wife and daughter.


LAVANDERA: What will you do now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to search for a new opportunity.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): They're searching for a new opportunity, he says. Back on the other side of the river, another group waits their turn.


BURNETT: I mean, Ed, it is extraordinary as we watch this. You're saying that you watch them go across, and I believe you said you watch some sort of ferry migrants over at least six times. I mean, it's incredible videos. I just want to show it as you're speaking again here. So tell me how this happen, you're just sailing along and you come across this and then what happened to the people that you saw crossing over illegally?

LAVANDERA: And to be clear, we're being told by immigration officials that this is something that is happening nightly and routinely. In fact, Border Patrol officials here in the Rio Grande Valley have been tweeting out pictures of massive groups of people that they have captured over a hundred in some cases. This group that we saw was probably around 75, before we kind of felt like we had to leave the area.

And we were told - we asked them what they were going to do and they said that they were going to start walking and essentially try to find Border Patrol agents that usually are not stationed that far away from the river's edge there and turn themselves in. So the likelihood of them getting very far is very low and that tent facility that you saw underneath one of the bridges that we showed that nighttime video of, that's probably where that group ended up.

I don't know exactly where they ended up, but it's very likely that that's where they ended up after being apprehended by Border Patrol agents.

BURNETT: Again, though, to the point you're saying, they're saying this is happening nightly. The Border Patrol is telling you that. So tell me when you were out on the river, I mean, did you just stumble upon this pretty quickly or - I mean, it is just pretty stunning for all of us watching this to imagine that you're just out there and all of a sudden this happens. It's incredible.

LAVANDERA: Yes. That particular scene was probably, I'd say, a little less than a mile from where we launched into the river. And so it didn't really take that long, I can't remember off the top of my head how long it took. But we had gone to one end of the river, we come back.

And then after we left that particular scene and we were on our way back, because the sun was about to set for good and we saw another raft. And as we approached, the people who were in that raft, they all jumped out and started running up the hill, so we weren't able to get any good shots of that moment. But it really kind of speaks to just the intensity of the moment there, because these are people who have spent weeks and months navigating their way through Central America into Mexico as well.

And they're literally 25, 30, 40 yards away from the United States and the intensity for them having survived all of that, because you can't over stress enough just how treacherous this journey is for thousands of these people and how dangerous it is. They feel that they're so close to something so promising for them.

BURNETT: I mean, it's so incredible. And Ed, I'm sorry, but I just want to ask one other question because I just find this really amazing and I'm sure all our viewers do as well. But when you talk about they're doing months, the desperation that it takes to get to the point they get but also how hard it is to get to that point that the people that are operating the rafts. So do you have any idea who they are or how these migrants even get there? I mean, they're obviously, I presume, some paying for this or - I mean, that's a pretty powerful position, the person operating the raft.

LAVANDERA: Right. We kind of essentially told them that we were friendly. We just never know what kind of situation that your unfolding, so we were very kind of anxious to just make sure, hey, we're friendly.


We're here just to do our job. But by and large I think it's very fair to say that everybody is basically spoke in the wheel and this is one part of the smuggling operation. These are people and I've spent the most of the last month talking to dozens of migrants and they described the various ways that they get to the border. Many of them coming by bus through smuggling operations.

And the area that we were in, Erin, is very remote from the closest city. So, you have to be taken out to this location on the Mexican side to make that walk in that raft ride across the river. So, all of this, as I mentioned in the piece, highly organized. All of the people that you saw moving people across as part of that of that system that gets people to the U.S. border.

BURNETT: Absolutely incredible to be able to put those images and people to see it. Ed Lavandera, as always, thank you so much.

And next, the calls for New York Governor to resign growing. New York's two senators now urging Andrew Cuomo to step down, breaking their silence on this. So, he hold on?

Plus, it's been almost a year since we met a mother of three who lost her husband, 42 years old, to coronavirus. Her story of love and lost touched so many around the world.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks for being the most amazing husband.


BURNETT: Tonight, she's back with us.



BURNETT: Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have now become the latest Democrats to go for Governor Andrew Cuomo's resignation in New York. It comes as an overwhelming majority of House Democrats for New York are now calling for him to step aside.

Cuomo, though, who had national aspirations and, of course, was a household daily figure during the coronavirus, is to finally refusing, and hitting back during a call with reporters, saying that politicians to reach conclusions without the facts are, quote, reckless and dangerous.

Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I did not do what has been alleged. Period.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterating he's innocent amid mounting allegations and ongoing investigations into his alleged misconduct. The governor also saying he isn't going anywhere. Even as New York's two senators, Schumer and Gillibrand, and the majority of the state's Democratic congressional delegation are calling on Cuomo to resign.

CUOMO: People know the difference between playing politics, a bowing to cancel culture and the truth. Let the review proceed. I'm not going to resign. Part of this is that I am not part of the political club. And you know what? I am proud of it.

GINGRAS: Cuomo now facing three separate ongoing probes, the latest one from state lawmakers who launched an impeachment investigation.

ZOHRAN MAMDANI (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: At a time when the state and New Yorkers need is the most, we are unable to focus on the issues at hand, because we have a governor who is lying to the public and a governor who's refusing to face up to what he's done.

GINGRAS: The judiciary committee's investigation is the first step towards possibly removing the governor from office. Lawmakers will be able to subpoena the documents, request records, and conduct interviews. The attorney for Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment says Bennett would testify in those proceedings.


GINGRAS: Bennett is one of several women in the last month who publicly made allegations of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment against Cuomo. The New York attorney general's office is leading that probe and has set up a website calling for tips to help with its investigation. Cuomo maintains he didn't do anything wrong and apologized, saying he didn't know he was making anyone feel uncomfortable.

CUOMO: There are often many motivations for making an allegation. And that is why you need to know the facts, before you make a decision. There are now two reviews underway. No one wants them to happen more quickly, and more thoroughly than I do. Let them do it.

GINGRAS: And in a separate probe, CNN reports that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and the FBI are scrutinizing the handling of data surrounding COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. A senior adviser to Cuomo said in February, the administration has been cooperating with that inquiry which started last year.

CUOMO: We are talking about a public out emergency.

GINGRAS: Three investigations prove what a difference a year makes, when this time last year Cuomo was on the rise. As one of the nation's leading voices in the early days of the pandemic.


GINGRAS (on camera): And, Erin, tonight, another accusation coming from a former Albany reporter who covered Cuomo back in 2014. She penned an article for "The New Yorker", and in it she says he sexually harassed her. And she said she never get the feeling that the governor wanted to sleep with her, but she says that it wasn't about sex and it was above power.

Now, it is unclear tonight which accusation, which investigation has all the lawmakers turning the tide. However earlier today, Cuomo said that any politician that does come forward in calling for his resignation before the investigation plays out is just politics at its worse -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Brynn, thank you very much.

You know, just thinking about the quote there that Brynn had from Governor Cuomo, whatever you think of it, I'm not part of the political club. That would be pretty far from the truth.

I want to bring in Manu Raju, our chief congressional correspondent.

Manu, of course, the governor New York is an essential member of the, quote-unquote, political club and in that front there's been an extraordinary development tonight. The majority leader Schumer in the Senate and Senator Gillibrand now both senators from New York joining 16 of 19 House Democrats from New York all calling on Cuomo to resign.


They had really been refusing to do this, Schumer and Gillibrand, and now, they are saying he's got to go. What are sources telling you about what is happening behind the scenes?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the pressure is just mounting on those two senators. Remember, Chuck Schumer started the day even asking about Cuomo on national television earlier today. And he would not go as far as calling on Cuomo to resign.

And a couple hours later, that's when one Democrat in the House delegation after another started calling on Cuomo to resign. And the pressure just began to mount. I've been reaching out to his office all day long. They were not saying what he planned to do.

And Kirsten Gillibrand herself was on the forefront and calling for Al Franken's ouster in the Senate, ultimately leading to his resignation from the Senate, calls of allegations of his sexual harassment as well. She pushed for it.

And I asked her earlier this week what is different between the Al Franken situation and the Andrew Cuomo situation? She would not answer that question, refusing to say, instead pointing to the statement saying that this is an investigation that needs to take place, and the allegations are serious, but stopping short of calling on them to resign. Ultimately coming to the conclusion like the rest of her colleagues, 16 members of the delegation have come to now, that he should in fact stepped down.

But one person we have not heard from is the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She has been raising concerns about the allegations and calling for the investigation. But she hasn't called on him to resign and through Democrats, then within the delegation that have not gone that far, have left some level of nuance, saying there should be an investigation, recent concerns, saying he cannot do his job appropriately. But it's clear support is completely collapsing, Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thank you very much, Manu.

And OUTFRONT next, the New York prosecutor investigating Trump has announced he won't seek reelection. So, this could be crucial for when or if Trump is charged. We will tell you exactly what it means.

And it was roughly one year ago that we met a mother of three who lost her husband to coronavirus. A story of perseverance has touched so many of us. Her pain, tonight, she is my guest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I played our wedding song for him, and then that was it.




BURNETT: Tonight, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, the prosecutor who is leading one of the most significant criminal probes into former President Trump, said he's not running for reelection. So people familiar with the matter tell CNN that he is likely to decide whether to bring charges or close the investigation into Trump's finances by the end of the year when his term ends, right? This is really significant because if he was going to run for reelection, it would imply he would keep it on. Or say he'd handed off. But he's making it clear, sources say, that this mean charge decision made this year.

Vance, of course, is a prosecutor who successfully obtained Trump's tax returns following Supreme Court rulings weeks ago.

OUTFRONT now, Elie Honig, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, and David Cay Johnston, investigative reporter covering Trump and his business for more than 40 years.

So, Elie, Vance has confirmed he's departing at the end of his term. This has been one of the most closely watched decisions, right? There is a question of if he stays on doesn't continue? And the amount of stuff he's looking through, the tens of thousands of pages in the tax returns they got, it is a herculean task over any timeframe.

Do you think it makes it more feasible for charges to be brought against Trump?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do, Erin. I think it makes more likely, more feasible. Here is why: no matter what Cy Vance and the Manhattan district attorney decide here, indict or not, it will surely bring accusations the rip political motives have play. Now that he is not running anymore for this office, or any other office, that is a harder accusation to make stick.

Now we're going to end up in this interesting situation where you have a series of people who are running to succeed Cy Vance, and be the next to, I think it will be well-advised to be careful with they say about the case. Until they see the files, they are not going to know all the facts. Second of all, it could backfire. There is a legal defense that you can make that I was singled out, prosecuted for political reasons. They should not give Donald Trump any ammunition to make that offense.

BURNETT: So, David, what do you think it means for the investigation?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Well, I think Elie is right. It's a good thing to remove the political claim. Once Donald Trump is indicted, I'm confident he will be indicted, you can rest assured that you will see the mother of all pretrial fights to try and prevent this from coming. Any argument that Donald can come up with he will, or his lawyers will. And so, that will be quite a fight. It will probably go on for some time, about actually bringing it to trial.

BURNETT: So, Elie, you know, we've learned that among the people that Cy Vance is speaking to, Michael Cohen is on the list, right, the former consigliore for Trump, an attorney, spoke with Vance's office seven times now. Last month he told CNN, sorry, you told CNN that Cohen could be a star witness in the case.

He tweets back at you saying that the star witness will be Michael Cohen, as I vowed to continue to speak.

What does it tell you that he's now spoken to prosecutors seven times?

HONIG: Yeah, Erin, look, clearly Michael Cohen is interested in being the star witness. The question is does the Manhattan da see him that way? I can tell you that there is no way any prosecutor brings in a witness and interviews them seven times for no reason.

I talked to some of my witnesses, some of my cooperators that many times or more. But only if I believe them and not because someone like Michael Cohen is a great person or pure person, but because they're corroborated, because they're backed up by financial documents and remember they have the tax returns now, or by other witnesses.

So, it tells me the Manhattan D.A.'s taking Michael Cohen seriously and see him as a potential witness.

BURNETT: David, I want to play something that Cohen said about Trump and lawsuits. Here it is.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: When he's the defendant he hates it. He knows, basically, loses every single case that he's a defendant in, because he lies, and you cannot give a deposition because his lawyers won't allow it, because you know the entire deposition is going to be filled with untruths.



BURNETT: You know, so David, this is something Cohen can speak to. He knows Trump so well. He lied for him, to people like me for a long time. People like -- all reporters, right? Until he stopped.

And how damaging can he be as a witness?

JOHNSTON: There are people fast lee worse than Michael Cohen who have been affective witnesses, people who have committed multiple murders. You are looking for very nice folks walking down the streets as witnesses, they need to be participants. Michael Cohn, remember, made tape recordings of many things. He has

documents, memos, and one of the reasons why he's been interviewed 7 times, and there will likely be more is that there is a lot of nuance, and subtlety, and learning the records in where there may be some hole that would turn out to be a problem the defense could exploit when they get to the trial.

BURNETT: So, Elie, what's at stake for Trump? I mean, we are in a long way from possible charging decisions, and any possible sort of verdict. But what is at stake?


BURNETT: Go ahead, Elie, finish, sorry.

HONIG: Yeah, look, this is history. This is everything. We've never had a former president charged before, and Donald Trump is very -- not only his political future, but his own liberty at stake, if he is charged.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate both of you very much, thank you so much, David and Eli. We just have a bit of a delay there.

All right. Next, more in the winter. A mother of three, losing her husband to coronavirus nearly a year ago, and her story, a profound loss that she was so generous to share touched all of us. Tonight, she is back with all of us.



BURNETT: Tonight, a 7th juror was selected in the trial for a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the neck of George Floyd for nearly 8 minutes in May of 2020.

Today, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a $27 million settlement with Floyd's estate, which had sued the city for fostering a culture of excessive force among other things. Meanwhile, is site serving as a memorial since last May. Now, though, it is surrounded by barricades, as Sara Sidner reports.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The place where George Floyd took some of his last breaths is both sacred space, and at times, a battlefield.


SIDNER: On any given day, at any given hour, if the situation changes here. When we arrived, caretakers were cleaning up. There was nothing but calm, and black joy.

But, this past Saturday, gunshots rang out. A man was killed, steps away from where Floyd suffered. Business owners, and some residents, complain that the sound of gunshots are not uncommon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have anytime. Yes, definitely, one o'clock in the afternoon, 20 shots fired.

SIDNER: In order to get into George Floyd square, which is what they've done in the area where George Floyd took his last few breaths, you need to pass through barricades on every single side.

There are also resident appointed guardians of the square. Sometimes, refusing entry. None of it sanctioned by the city.

AUSTIN: Predominantly white neighbors who were not allowing the police in, because there are protecting the black community because they saw what happened 3 weeks earlier.

SIDNER: Resident Jeanelle, has spent nearly a year collecting, and preserving, every single memento for George Floyd Global Memorial art installation. She says, no trust as been built between the community and police.

While she, and, others like Billy Briggs, are busy making a space for art, other citizens have taken up the role of policing, and even medical services, in the area.

BILLY BRIGGS, SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS RESIDENT: The square is open to anyone who wants to come, but we don't dictate freewill. However, we are going to look out for the safety of our community members, of the visitors.

SIDNER: What do you say to people who say, look, this is the police job, this is the EMS job.

AUSTIN: We work with EMS. EMS, we work with.

SIDNER: The police?

AUSTIN: The police? They need to work on themselves. There is a distrust. They have not corrected themselves, the way the police work for some people and are not for others.

SIDNER: The police chief, less, may prayed at the intersection of the city raged over Floyd's death says it is time for the square to open again.

CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE: If there is anyone who is over in that space saying that that is truly about uplifting the intersection in his name, but yet, the violence is continuing, the homicides are continuing, I would disagree vehemently with that position.

SIDNER: That will not happen easily. The community has given the city 24 written demands, in exchange for opening up the square.

AUSTIN: If you lift those barriers without first providing restorative justice to the community, people will forget about the harm, and the trauma caused to this community. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And thanks to our Sara Sidner.

Well, it has been almost one year since we told the story of Joe Lewinger. He was a 42-year-old teacher in Queens, in New York, who passed away last March at the beginning of the pandemic when so little was known about COVID, and a panic across the country, was really, just sitting in.

We spoke to Joe's wife Maura, who moved so many of us with the memories of her husband and her eloquence in describing her unthinkable loss. She just -- she told us all what really happened, and what she really felt. And she spoke about what it was like to lose someone to a mystery virus, what it was like to say goodbye to the love of her life through her phone, because of the fears that he could spread the virus to her.


MAURA LEWINGER, LOST HUSBAND TO CORONAVIRUS: I think he's the most amazing husband, for making me feel cherished, and loved, every single day. Every single day, my husband wrote me beautiful love letters in my lunch box.


Not just have a great day, but just beautiful letters about what I meant to him. I thanked him, and then I prayed, and then the doctor took the phone and he said, I'm sorry, but there's no more pulse. And then I played our wedding song for him. And then, that was it.


BURNETT: And Maura is with me again tonight.

Maura, your story has stayed with me, and so many, over the past year around the world. Is it -- is it even possible for you to believe that a year has passed? Almost a year has passed, since you lost Joe?

LEWINGER: Hi, Erin, it is so unbelievable that it's been an entire year. Today, actually, marks the day he became symptomatic. And this morning, I struggled so much to get ready to get out the door, packing lunches, because I thought about last year being our last, normal morning on March 12th. Like the typical, and then he came home, not feeling well from there. It just snowballed.

BURNETT: And you talk about packing lunches today. I mean, gosh, when we first spoke, of course, you know, Maura, you said it didn't feel real. You know that it would feel like Joe was going to walk through the door, you know, that he was maybe working light.

And it was -- it was so raw, and, yet a year later, does it still feel that way? That he could still come home?

LEWINGER: Not that he can come home, but the rawness, definitely, presents itself at times. Sometimes I find myself looking at him in a picture and just yelling at him for not being here, because he supposed to be here when we are planning for events. I mentioned one of the times that I was on with you that pretending that he is going to be here from all of the events he's going to miss, and now, they're all starting to happen, and we planned for, and that realization is very difficult to deal with.

BURNETT: We have a picture there of your kids with Joe, and a birthday cake, and the 3 kids you have together, your twins are 15, your daughter is 7.


BURNETT: Birthdays have passed without their dad.

You know, Maura, your kids are incredible, and you've told me how strong they've been. And it's just amazing, at different points, you talk -- you know, just how they have -- how they have buoyed through this.

Have they shared, I guess I'm trying to think of the way to ask you this, but what have they done that has helped you through this? Because I know they have, in so many ways.

LEWINGER: They have. They're just amazing kids, like I've always said. They always have been before this. They just bring this light to a room. They make me smile. They make everyone smile just like their father always did.

Jack is always singing, and they are always dancing altogether. Maeve is funny, and Maddy is witty. She's so witty. And they just -- they just cheer you up. You can't be sat around them.

If I am said, they let me be sad. They are just so supportive, and they are just so good. And I can't say enough good things about them. They just -- a lot of us, though, is spent being distracted. That gets us through the day.

Maddy with her schoolwork, and friends. Jack with his friends, and school. And he's keeping themselves very busy, making these cardboard creations that are just incredible. And Mauve, too, she's constantly busy. She wants to be outside with her friends, she wants to be playing Roblox and on FaceTime with her friends, and her cousin's.

They just always want to be doing. They are looking for pity. They are looking for people to be sad for them. They love the support they get, and we are so supported by our community, and our family. At they just are always these bright lights, like I've always said.

BURNETT: You talk about your community, and I know Joe taught at The Mary Louis Academy in Queens, a girl school, where he was so beloved. They have started a fund in his name.

I know it matters a lot to you, so tell me would it means to your family? LEWINGER: Just to keep his legacy alive, and to know that so many

people care, and love him. Not only does the Mary Louis Academy have a student life fund in his name, but also, the college we both graduated from, St. Joseph's College, established a scholarship in his name for future educators.

Different awards have been through the athletic association and other things he has been a part of our things in his memory. Even a student reached out, a New York City remembering COVID victims this Sunday, and a former student of his reached out and asked if he could be part of it, and she filled out the application with his name, and picture. It's all of these little acts of kindness and remembrance of him, it means so much to us because all I want to do is honor my husband.

All -- I feel like I can't do enough. His birthday is in February 2nd. And to honor him, I established an email that was dedicated just to stories --


LEWINGER: -- that people could tell about them and Joe. And the impact he's had. It is the smallest thing from using their first name in an email, or when he would talk to someone on the phone, checking in with them, seeing how they were, not just getting down to business.

And the impact he made on students, his stories, laughing and laughing reading these emails, and also, crying, and crying because such stories and just such an amazing man that --

BURNETT: I just want to thank you because you have buried your grief in a way that so few would have the ability to do. And there is no right or wrong way to handle grief, but the way you've chosen to share yours as bright and all of our lives. It really has. I know it's the gift of him, but it's also the gift of you.

LEWINGER: Yes, that's the gift of him.

BURNETT: And I thank you.

LEWINGER: Thank you, Erin. Good talking with you again.

BURNETT: Thank you, Maura.

And thanks to all of you.

Anderson starts now.