Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Off-Duty Firefighter On Day Of George Floyd's Death Testifies She Repeatedly Asked Police To Check For A Pulse, But They Refused; Emotional Testimony In Trial Of Ex-Officer Charged In Floyd Death; Arkansas About To Become The 18th State Without Mask Mandate; WHO Report Says Lab Leak "Extremely Unlikely;" Georgia Capitol Police Officer Who Arrested State Lawmaker Says He Had U.S. Capitol Insurrection On His Mind At Time Of Arrest; Rep. Matt Gaetz Denies Relations With 17-Year-Old After NYT Report. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 30, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: A few weeks, in fact, and you're all over this important story we're watching. Heartbreaking to see those little kids in those conditions. Rosa Flores on the scene for us. Thanks very much.

And 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, powerful testimony in the case of the officer charged with killing George Floyd. The jury hearing from the youngest witnesses. Hear in their own words their reaction to seeing Floyd's arrest and the toll it's taken.

And the long-awaited WHO report on COVID's origin didn't even look in detail at the theory it could have come from the lab. The report says that's extremely unlikely without looking at it in detail. So the White House tonight says no way, that report is not good enough.

Plus, the officer who arrested a Georgia lawmaker for protesting a law that restricts voting says he feared another January 6th-style insurrection. But that just does not add up. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, emotional and heartbreaking testimony today from the youngest witnesses in the trial of the officer charged with the killing of George Floyd. One witness, only nine years old.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It felt like he was stopping his breathing and it's kind of like hurting him.


BURNETT: You could not see her on camera because she is nine, under age. We heard her voice and the voices of other young people there that fateful day, the day George Floyd lost his life. And we heard the toll that Floyd's death has taken on them. Each of them testified about watching George Floyd's final moments.

After then Officer Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes. Here's Darnella Frazier. She was 17. This is the video she took a Floyd's arrest.


DARNELLA FRAZIER, WITNESS: I heard George Floyd saying I can't breathe, please get off of me. I can breathe. He cried for his mom. He was in pain. It seemed like he knew it was over for him.


BURNETT: The jury also hearing testimony from a firefighter who broke down after revealing the police would not let her check on Floyd's condition.


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: When you couldn't do that, how did that make you feel?

GENEVIEVE HANSEN, WITNESS: Totally distressed.

BLACKWELL: Were you frustrated?



BURNETT: That emotional, powerful testimony driving many to demanding justice. But what does justice look like here? Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT in Minneapolis live tonight. And Sara, that was very emotional from the firefighter but also those young people, six very powerful witnesses today.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, the prosecution is putting on an extremely strong case with these witnesses one after the other after the other. Many of them crying, many of them detailing in excruciating detail what they saw and how they felt about it.



DONALD WILLIAMS: Good morning.


SIDNER (voice over): Eyewitness, Donald Williams, took the stand with a remarkable revelation, telling the jury what he did after witnessing George Floyd's body slump as then Officer Derek Chauvin continued pressing his knee down on Floyd's neck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: I did call the police on the police.

BLACKWELL: Right. And why did you do that?

WILLIAMS: Because I believe I witnessed a murder.


SIDNER (voice over): Williams could not hold back tears as his 911 dispatch audio played in court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, what's the address and the emergency?

WILLIAMS: Officer 987 kill a citizen in front of Chicago store. He just pretty much just killed this guy that wasn't resisting arrest. He had his knee on the dude neck the whole time Officer 987.

BLACKWELL: Whose badge? Which officer were you referring to?

WILLIAMS: The officer seen over there.



SIDNER (voice over): Late last year, the world saw Williams on the scene when police body camera video was released. The jury has yet to see this video.


WILLIAMS: Ya'll murders, bro. Ya'll murderers Thao. You going to kill yourself. I already know it.


SIDNER (voice over): In cross examination, Chauvin's attorney focus some attention on the harsh words Williams used against the officers.


ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You called them a tough guy.


NELSON: Those terms grew more and more angry, would you agree with that?

WILLIAMS: They grew more and more pleading for life.

NELSON: All right. After you call them a bum 13 times, you call them (inaudible).

WILLIAMS: Is that what you heard? NELSON: Did you say that?

WILLIAMS: Is that what you heard?

NELSON: I'm asking you, sir.

WILLIAMS: I'm pretty sure I did.

NELSON: Did you say that?

WILLIAMS: You heard it. I'm pretty sure you did.


SIDNER (voice over): Williams tried to counter the angry black man stereotype instead explaining he was trying to save a life.


But Chauvin's attorney was painting a picture of a scene that created fear in the officers, mentioning one officer pushing Williams' back.


NELSON: Do you recall saying I dare you to touch me like that, I swear I'll slap the (inaudible) out of both of you.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I did. I didn't mean to.


SIDNER (voice over): The next witness dissolved into tears for the fear and trauma she continues to experience.


FRAZIER: It's been nights. I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.


SIDNER (voice over): That is the voice of the teenage bystander who took the video the world saw. She was a minor at the time of the incident. A picture of her and her cousin was shown on the scene, but the court ordered cameras could not show them testifying and only use their audio.


BLACKWELL: What was it about the scene that caused you to come back?

FRAZIER: It wasn't right. He was suffering. He was in pain.


SIDNER (voice over): The jury then heard from the youngest eyewitness who was nine years old. She needed her memory jogged as to what Chauvin looked like.





SIDNER (voice over): But she did remember what upset her that day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw the officer put a knee on the neck of George Floyd. I was sad and kind of mad.


SIDNER (voice over): The jury also heard from an off-duty firefighter EMT who happened to be on a walk. This is Genevieve Hansen's 911 call on May 25th.


HANSEN: I literally watched police officer's not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man and I am a first responder myself and I literally have it on video camera.


SIDNER (voice over): Hansen was moved to tears.


HANSEN: There's a man being killed and I would have - had I had access to a call similar to that, I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities and this human was denied that right.



SIDNER (on camera): One of the things that paint incredibly obvious is that the humanity of those who were standing there who had never met George Floyd, didn't know George Floyd that they themselves whether they were nine years old or whether they were a trained EMT, they saw that he was in extreme distress.

And what came across from their testimony is that the police officers who were on him, including Derek Chauvin who was kneeling on his neck, did not see that same distress, did not respond with a humane heart, but all of these witnesses did and that is going to play very heavy on the jury's mind most likely.

And we have to remember that the offense also is going to bring up other things going forward, including his medical history and the fact that there were drugs in his system and we expect to hear quite a bit about that when the defense puts on their case, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Absolutely. Sara, thank you very much.

I want to go now to John Burris, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney who represented Rodney King. And Elie Honig, our Legal Analyst.

So John, let me start with you. It's been almost 30 years since Rodney King and yet here we are, 30 years later, with stunning similarities in so many ways. Bystander video showing the officers using force on a black man, nationwide protests as a result. In Rodney King's criminal trial, the result was acquittal for four officers. Do you think we could see the same outcome this time?

JOHN BURRIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE & CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: You can, of course. Whenever you're involving a police officer, particularly if there's a black person that's been injured, you can have an acquittal. These are very difficult cases for the prosecution. Surely in this particular case, I mean there's a lot of good evidence here that would suggest that Chauvin is guilty, perhaps, of one of different charges.

But a not guilty verdict would not surprise me in a case like this, even though there's powerful evidence. We had that in the Rodney King case. We had 67 wax (ph), many wax (ph), many. And then all four officers all walked out of there. In there they used a video against Rodney King, even though that video showed him getting beat up. They took every little movement that he made and suggested that in some way was his non-cooperation, like they're trying to do here.

In this case, they're trying to say he was uncooperative. He moved his shoulder to the left or to the right. Therefore, he was not cooperating. He was moving his legs and all of that at a time when he is essentially being responsive and he's trying to breathe.

And so innocent perfectly human reactions to being covered down or in fact interpreted in a negative way. That's certainly what the defense is going to do aside from this whole angry black man argument that took it on the crowd and the big black man that they're doing with Floyd.


These are stereotypes that are being played in this particular case.


BURRIS: And what the defense is doing is planting seeds around these issues for later to cover when they put on their own case and cheat. The prosecution is winning now, but at the same time they should be winning. And there will come a time when they, the prosecution, will have to respond to and overcome many of these stereotypical arguments that the defense is putting forward.

Rodney King in a criminal case could not, that did not happen. However, in a civil case (inaudible) to do so with the same officer, but then that was (inaudible) time of being in trial.

BURNETT: So Elie, let me ask you, one of the witnesses that we heard there at the top of the program very powerful was the firefighter, an off-duty firefighter happen to walk onto the scene. So you saw how emotional she was. And then she described how Officer Thao who was guarding the crowd, part of the team of officers there, but he was guarding the crowd, essentially told her to get lost. Here's what she said.


HANSEN: He said something along the lines of if you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved.


BURNETT: What do you think prosecutors gained from her testimony, Elie?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: An awful lot, Erin. She was a remarkably important and effective witness. And here's why, first of all, like many of the other eyewitnesses we've heard from over the last two days, this witness gave us a vivid, disturbing account of what exactly she saw happened right in front of her the way the police officers were brutalizing George Floyd.

But beyond that, that piece of testimony where she talked about she's a trained professional EMT and she offered to render the most basic life-saving aid and she was turned away by those police officers.

There's really only two reasonable conclusions you can draw from that. Either the police officers did not care in an inexcusable way about what happened to George Floyd or they wanted harm to come to him. That's really damaging for the defendant here.

BURNETT: So John, you witnessed firsthand how the country was torn apart after the Rodney King verdict. Obviously, we saw George Floyd's death caused nationwide protests. Ben Crump, the Floyd family's attorney is warning that upon verdict here, we could see history repeat itself with what we saw after Rodney King. Here's what he said.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: If people didn't have a result that they don't believe the process was fair and transparent, what we saw in May, in June with the protests were be child's play to what we will see in the aftermath of this verdict.


BURNETT: John, of course, the jury is going to make a decision and a verdict based on the facts that they hear. Does this warning from Crump worry you?

BURRIS: It worries me largely because I do not want to see African- Americans involved in this kind of protesting, because invariably they're the ones or we're the ones who get killed whenever these protests take place. I mean, the police use violence and use force and so I do not want to see the destruction of our cities and our communities nor do I want to see additional people killed.

It is possible. There's great expectations in a criminal justice system. Our view, patrolling this place, criminal justice system rarely ever is going to give the African-American community what they think they deserve, particularly in cases involving the police and unfortunately, it's the only process we have. I do think we're further along now than we were at the time of Rodney King, because the world and the community is so much more knowledgeable.

We've seen so many more cases that have taken place since Rodney King and so that part helps too. The jurors are well aware of this activity as well. So I'm hopefully it will not happen and I hope the verdict comes out in such a way that people understand that it's the product and the function of the evidence.

BURNETT: Right. And I think that's crucial, people can understand it.

Elie, let me ask you something really important because Sara was saying, look, now we're hearing the prosecution, we're going to hear the defense and she's saying, look, the defense we're going to hear a lot about drugs and George Floyd system. But one other thing that we've already heard from them, we know that they're going to say is - they're saying the crowd got really angry and it was therefore distracting to the officers.

So that all of these people we're hearing from that were so upset that they were just distracting the officers, the officers going to do what they were supposed to do. Let me just play for you that argument.


NELSON: Would you describe other people's demeanors as upset or angry?

HANSEN: I don't know. If you've seen anybody be killed, then it's upsetting.

NELSON: So again, sir, it's fair to say that you grew angrier and angrier.

WILLIAMS: No, I grew professional and professional. I stayed in my body. He can't paint me out to be angry.


BURNETT: Elie, what do you make of this strategy that they're trying to say the officers were distracted and all of these people are screaming and yelling and taking video and whatnot?

HONIG: This is an utterly terrible defense. It is completely unconvincing. I think it's self-defeating for the defendant. First of all, the video evidence shows this was not unruly crowd. This was a fairly orderly crowd.


And as the witnesses explained, they only got louder as the situation for George Floyd got more and more dire and it's such a ridiculous argument. What are we to believe here, Derek Chauvin couldn't possibly do his job because he was distracted by a handful of people on the street saying things? I mean, if so he's an absolutely atrocious police officer.

And it backfired too when the defense lawyer asked the EMT, well, what if you were trying to put out a fire and people were saying things to you, she said it wouldn't make a difference because I'd be focused on doing my job. That is called backfiring on a defense lawyer.

BURNETT: All right. John, Elie, thank you both very much for your analysis tonight as this continues.

And next, the long-awaited report on where the pandemic started is out formally but - well, wait till you hear the conclusion or lack thereof.

Plus, a Georgia officer says he fear this incident, State Representative knocking on Gov. Kemp's office to oppose the state's new voting law would turn into an insurrection. Thought that it would turn into an insurrection if he did not arrest her. The attorney for Rep. Park Cannon respond.

And Attorney General Merrick Garland taking steps to stop the rise in violent attacks against Asian-Americans tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, Arkansas becoming the latest state to rollback its mask mandate, the 18th state to now not require masks even as President Biden urges states to keep mandates in place or reinstate them in some cases. Biden is doing so as epidemiologists warned the United States is on the cusp of a fourth wave.


The seventh-day average showing nearly 1,000 American deaths round reported a day, ticking back up. And yet tonight more than a year into this pandemic, the world has still no idea where the virus came from and thus how to stop another virus like it or frankly worse.

The WHO's long-awaited report which China itself had a major role in writing concludes it's extremely unlikely the virus leaked from that Chinese lab. Keep in mind that half of the scientists involved in the report are Chinese and many reportedly work for the Chinese government.

The report says the virus likely jumped from animals to humans in nature, not at lab. Now, the problem with such a conclusion is that the scientist from the WHO today says they never even really examined the lab leak theory in much detail and the head of the WHO himself now says the report needs more data to reach robust conclusions. What?

So it should not surprise you that the White House today says the WHO report is not enough.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The report lacks crucial data, information and access. It represents a partial and incomplete picture. I think he believes that the American people, the global community, the medical experts, the doctors, all of the people who've been working to save lives the families who have lost loved ones all deserve greater transparency. They deserve better information.


BURNETT: She's right. And transparency and good information are two things that have not come from China during this crisis. The WHO frankly has looked too cozy with China that many times last February the WHO's Director General even tweeted, "I thank the Government of China for its cooperation and transparency."

You do not need me to sit here and say that that's false. Here's Dr. Anthony Fauci telling our Dr. Sanjay Gupta that china has never been transparent when it comes to outbreaks.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: They are not very transparent in the past. It wasn't out right lying, they just didn't give you all the information.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: How big a difference would it have been if our own investigators had been on the ground in China?

FAUCI: I think it would have been a significant difference.


BURNETT: A significant difference, because you do need investigators on the ground who are not corrupted by anyone or any government. Again, whether the lab leak theory is true or false, the report did not look at that possibility in any detail despite the presence of a lab in that city, Wuhan, that specialized in corona viruses. And it is a possibility the lab leak theory that some experts take as a crucial one.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory escaped.


BURNETT: Now, there's no solid evidence for what the former CDC Director is saying, of course, and there really can't be because China won't let outside observer spend any time in that lab. But Dr. Redfield is a virologist, this is his area of study. And U.S. embassy officials reportedly visited that lab in 2018, according to The Washington Post Josh Rogin, they sent back two official warnings claiming inadequate safety when conducting risky studies on corona viruses.

Well, more than 550,000 Americans have now died from this coronavirus in the United States. Across the globe, that number of people dead from this coronavirus is nearly 2.8 million known deaths. We deserve answers and the world deserves answers because if we do not get them, how will any government on this planet be able to stop another pandemic if we don't even know how this one started.


DR. ROBERT KADLEC, FMR. ASST. SECRETARY FOR PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE, HHS: As bad as this was, it could be worse and there will be another pandemic guaranteed.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Lawrence Gostin, Director of the World Health Organization's Collaborating Center on Global Health Law. He is also a Faculty Director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center. Also with me, Josh Rogin as I mentioned, the columnist for The Washington Post. So thanks to both of you.

Professor Gostin, today the Head of the WHO came out today and criticized his own team's report says the data needs to be more robust, did it surprise you that that happened?

LAWRENCE GOSTIN, O'NEILL INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL & GLOBAL HEALTH LAW, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It really did, Erin. I've worked with WHO extraordinarily closely for decades. I've never seen that happened. And I know Tedros, the Head of WHO, really well personally. And he's a diplomat. He must be really losing patience with China if he came out with that kind of rebuke.

And I think he's justified, I mean, we don't have all the answers. In fact, we haven't even scratched the surface and the world does deserve better. We've been through just a horrendous year and with much more to come and yet we have no explanation for it.

BURNETT: So Josh, the Head of the WHO said that the lab accident theory does deserve further investigation. The U.S. and 13 other countries are now calling for a 'transparent and independent analysis', free from interference and undue influence.


So as the Professor is saying, it's pretty incredible you have Tedros as the Head of the WHO willing to send that very clear rebuke of China there today in his criticism of his own report. But Josh, what's the reality here? Is there any chance that China actually allows anybody to look at the lab leak theory as an example in any more detail?

Sorry, we cannot hear Josh. While we work on that, Professor, let me just ask you to respond to this. Sorry, is China going to cooperate in any way?

GOSTIN: I think it's very unlikely. I mean you just have to go back and look at China's record. Right from the beginning, Erin, in your very first piece, you were talking about the fact that WHO had been trying to get answers right from the beginning. China claimed that this was not a highly transmissible virus that was patently false and it's taken over a year for china to even allow WHO limited access to its soil.

I have no idea how we can expect that china is going to change its behavior and all of a sudden become transparent and accountable. I think it's a very low likelihood.

BURNETT: Right. And Josh, I think we have you back now, even if China were to somehow respond to pressure which as the Professor was pointing out, there's no evidence they would or in any way. But even if they were to say, OK, now you can come in the lab. I mean, is there any chance that there's anything in the lab that would actually give you any real sense of what did or did not occur there?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. There's a ton of evidence that could be unearth if we actually forced or pressured the Chinese government to actually hand it over. But I just have to go back to your original point for a second to point out that Tedros is not just rebuking the Chinese government, he's rebuking the WHO team.

He's directly contradicting their report by saying that when they said we shouldn't look into the lab accident theory that they were wrong and he didn't want to do that. This is the Head of the WHO. It's unprecedented.

He did that because the WHO investigation report didn't have any credibility because the United States and the 12 other countries that rebuked it weren't willing to accept it because it was all controlled, and governed, and massaged and edited by the Chinese government. In other words, they wasted a lot of resources and time and that can't be gotten back and that's a terrible tragedy for our shared effort to find out what happened.

And now they've placed Tedros in this impossible position where he has to defend the credibility of his organization by rebuking his own team and we're back to zero. We're back to nothing and that's really terrible. And yes, of course, we have to continue to press the Chinese government for more access and more data.

And guess what, we're not going to be able to just leave this in the hands of the WHO because as you pointed out, Erin, so expertly they've done this before. They keep falling for the Lucy and football Charlie Brown trap where they go to China and think everything is going to be fine and they end up getting used by the Chinese government for its own purposes. BURNETT: So Professor Gostin, what can happen here? I mean the WHO is

deeply flawed as it now has shown to be, has lost so much credibility in all of this. But there isn't another institution that would even have the ability to get in and do an investigation. I mean, that is I think the great tragedy here that no one should be celebrating a takedown of the WHO.

GOSTIN: Oh, no. I mean, if we didn't have WHO, we'd have to invent it. I mean, it does an amazing good in the world. We don't want to bash WHO, but we have basically the world has the WHO it deserves. It doesn't give it political backing, it doesn't give it powers, it has no power to require China or any other country to conform to global treaty norms and just hasn't.

Just today, it's interesting two things came out today. One was the report on the SARS-CoV-2 origins report. But the other was a call from European leaders as well as WHO itself for a new pandemic treaty. And that pandemic treaty would have to have teeth and probably go above WHO to UN or other level so that we could really make sure that the next time we don't get blindsided and lack of cooperation and we can really verify things.

I mean, the world really does deserve this. I mean, this is a sad day for humanity.

BURNETT: It certainly is. I mean, and as we said what happens when a virus comes along that's half of 1 percent fatality rate as opposed to this one which is significantly less than that, less than half. You could just - it's terrifying to contemplate. I thank you both very much. I appreciate your time.

And next, the officer who arrested a State Representative because she refused stop knocking on the Governor's door is defending the arrest saying he feared another riot if he didn't stop her.


Plus, why some of the capital rioters could be facing lower-level charges and may avoid jail time altogether.


BURNETT: New tonight, a Georgia Capitol police officer says he feared an insurrection when he arrested a Democratic state lawmaker protesting Governor Kemp's signing of a bill restricting voter access. Lieutenant G.D. Langford saying in the police report that I felt if I did not take action, the other protesters would have been emboldened to commit similar acts.

The events of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol were in the back of my mind I didn't want the protesters to attempt to gain entry to a secure part of the Capitol. So, let's just be clear here. On the left video that you see there, that State Representative Park Cannon knocking on the door of Governor Kemp. There she is.

On the right, the violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly riot. In the lieutenant's words, there were, quote, several protesters in addition to Representative Cannon. So, that's true, there were several. Of course, compared to the other side of your screen, 800 people stormed the Capitol building, 10,000 rioters when the U.S. Capitol Police were on Capitol grounds.


OUTFRONT now, the attorney for Representative Cannon, Gerald Griggs.

And, Gerald, I really appreciate your time, and I know you are actually in your car. You're heading to see your client.

What's your reaction to Lieutenant Langford defending his arrest of her by saying that he feared a January 6th style insurrection?

GERALD GRIGGS, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGIA STATE REP. PARK CANNON: I think it's a false equivalence and I'm disturbed here to make that type of connection. Representative Park Cannon had every right to be in the Capitol, had every right to be knocking on the door to witness the signing of a bill that would affect her constituents and millions of other Georgians that she represents.

And then there were maybe five other individuals, another elected official and two voters, three voters or so. So, I just think it was the wrong characterization of what was happening there based on the facts and the evidence.

BURNETT: Well, you mentioned the numbers and the math. So, when I add up your number, that's eight people, eight people versus 800 who violently stormed the capital of 10,000 on Capitol grounds.

Dar'shun Kendrick, the fellow Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives spoke out about Langford's comments and here's what she said. Quote: I call B.S., they weren't threatened by insurrection of someone smaller than me with no weapons and no raised voice. They were threatened by a black woman, period, full stop.

Do you agree that race was a factor?

GRIGGS: Well, it appears that race may have played a factor. I think the way she was treated was unnecessary. I think that if we hadn't been dealing with a different complexion, maybe the treatment would have been different. But I think no one should have been treated in that form or fashion the way that she was dragged out of the Capitol for, merely doing her job. And I'm hopeful we can get to the bottom of the evidence and convince the district attorney to dismiss the charges.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you about what they are saying in terms of what happened. You know, the police report says the repeated efforts by Representative Cannon to resist arrests, including in the elevator. Langford says your client kicked an elevator panel, causing the doors to open back up and, you know, we do see her feet in the air at one point in the direction of where the elevator panel would be in this video. The police report also says she stomped on Langford's right foot which

caused him pain and bruising and another officer. There are multiple officers referenced in that police report. Here's some images from the Georgia police department that lieutenant says proves this occurred. So, he's showing his foot here.

What do you -- this is their report. What is your understanding? Did she try to resist arrest or injure an officer in any way?

GRIGGS: No, she didn't trying to resist or injure an officer. She didn't commit any felonious assault or any felonies for that matter. And we have witnesses and video who were there in real-time witnessing all of this.

So, I just think this is going to have to be squared away with the prosecution, showing them some evidence that we have. And if they don't dismiss it, then we'll go to jury trial.

But we are resolute in the belief that our client did absolutely nothing wrong as she did not injure a law enforcement officer and that we believe the facts will bear that out. So, we believe the police report is inconsistent with a fact as we know them.

BURNETT: And as I said, I know you are in your car going to talk with your client now. Obviously, supporters of Representative Cannon have hailed her, right, as a hero for civil rights after her actions last week. The current charges, though, you know, you said she didn't commit a felony and that's the crucial word, right?

There's two counts of felony obstruction or -- these charges if convicted could carry a sentence of years behind bars, right? I mean, this is serious stuff, these are felonies as you point out.

You know, talking to Representative Cannon, does she have any regrets? Which you have done anything differently last week? Or, would she do it all over again?

GRIGGS: To defend people's voting rights, she would do exactly what she did and that was knock on that door. You see it in the video, it was gentle knocking, was nothing that rose to the level of the way the police responded and the way it ultimately ended up.

We believe that the facts show that, the independent witnesses show that, the video shows that. And so, we look forward to our day with the prosecutor or our day in court to defend against these charges. And yes, they are very serious charges. We would also point to the Georgia Constitution that says an elected state representative should be free from harassed, except for those three exceptions. We believe that maybe the charges are upgraded because of the exceptions.

But again, we want to make sure that the prosecutor knows all of the essential elements and facts as we have them and talked with witnesses.

BURNETT: Gerald, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

GRIGGS: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, we have new details about why some of the rioters involved in the deadly insurrection may avoid jail time altogether.


And the vicious attack on a 65-year-old Asian American pushed to the ground and repeatedly kicked in the head. Tonight, the attorney general says he's taking action to stop this kind of attack.


BURNETT: Tonight, newly obtained mugshots of the of the alleged Capitol rioter who prosecutors say called for the lynching of a black police officer and the assassination of Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. So, he was arrested while wearing a tissue that reads, quote, I was there, Washington D.C., January 26 (ph), 2021, the date of the riot just under a picture of former President Trump.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT on the latest in the investigation of the insurrectionists.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another person who investigators have tied to the Proud Boys, Paul Rae of Florida, is accused of entering the building without lawful authority and engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct, legal speak for bursting into the Capitol and stopping the count of electoral votes.

His attorney did not return to CNN calls but court records show about 20 people associated with the Proud Boys have now been charged in the right, along with about a dozen linked to the Oath Keepers. Among the more serious accusations that some helped plan and coordinate the attack perhaps committing sedition.


On "60 Minutes".

MICHAEL SHERWIN, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY: I believe the facts do support those charges and I think that as we go forward, more facts will support that.

CARRIE CORDERO, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: There will be individuals facing significant prison times whether they were violent or engaged in a conspiracy or whether they were trying to prevent the certification of the election. Others will face much less significant penalty.

FOREMAN: With almost 350 people already charged spread across the country, the prosecution is complicated. Many are being released to await trial including Eric Munchel who authorities say was photographed in body armor carrying zip tie restraints.

His mother was picked up too.

ERIC MUNCHEL, CHARGED IN CAPITOL RIOT: I am very worried about our country.

They have pleaded not guilty and will now be under house arrest. Yet, even as prosecutors say one rioter called for the lynching of a black officer, former President Trump insists his follower meant no harm.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It was zero threat right from the start. It was zero threat. Some of them went in and they're hugging and kissing the police and the guards. You know, they had a great relationship.

FOREMAN: The response from the mother of a Capitol police officer badly injured in this --

TERRY FANONE, MOTHER OF INJURED DC POLICE OFFICER: It's so dehumanizing, it's so devaluing. And it's outrageous.


BURNETT: So, Tom, I want to go back to what the former attorney said about the sedition charge, which was such an incredible thing to say. With the rioters, could any of the rioters face that charge?

FOREMAN: Yes, potentially, any of them who actually tried to interfere with Congress. You don't have to overthrow the government, you just have to keep the government from operating. And if anybody is convicted of that, Erin, that afternoon of the Capitol could cost them 20 years in prison.

BURNETT: Wow. I think we can all know the facts that this overall did disrupt and stop the work of government, right? That's a fact.

FOREMAN: It certainly did not go on.

BURNETT: So, those who are there, I mean, it's -- right?

Thank you very much, Tom.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

BURNETT: And next, another gruesome attack on an Asian-American caught on camera.

Plus, the children of the officer killed in the super market mass shooting remember their father.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, our unsung hero, you risk your life at work and guard and care for the welfare of the needy.



BURNETT: Tonight, Attorney General Merrick Garland pointing to an alarming rise in violent attacks against Asian-Americans, launching a 30-day review to improve the Justice Department's ability to combat hate crimes. It comes amid disturbing new video of a man assaulting a 65-year-old Asian American woman in broad daylight, and what New York City police are calling a hate crime.

I want to warn you that the video I'm about to show you is graphic.

Brynn Gingras has the report.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In surveillance video released by the NYPD, you see the vicious attack unfold. A woman whom authorities have identified as a 65-year-old Asian American is pushed to the ground, her attacker kicking her in the head again and again.

Police say the man allegedly yelled expletives at her, saying you don't belong here.

DERMOT SHEA, NYPD COMMISSIONER: It's very disturbing. It's really disgusting when you see the video.

GINGRAS: The video appears to be coming from an apartment complex in midtown Manhattan. It shows onlookers watching the attack outside, seemingly not coming to the woman's aid. The company that owns that building says its staff members who witnessed the attack are now suspended while it conducts an investigation.

Police are hoping to talk to this man, they say is wanted in with this hate crime assault and was seen walking away from the scene.

SHEA: We are not going to tolerate Asian American New Yorkers in New York City being targeted.

GINGRAS: Monday's brutal attack echoes multiple alleged assaults against Asian American men and women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

GINGRAS: Some who say they've been told to go back to the country, have been beaten, spit on, even slapped a New York City streets and subways.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We can't just stand back and watch a heinous act happening.

GINGRAS: The disturbing trend against Asian-Americans came in full view after the Atlanta area spas shootings were 6 of the 8 victims were Asian women. Police are still determining a motive for the killings.

Across the country, the violence heightened throughout the pandemic, a time when former President Donald Trump referred to the coronavirus as --

TRUMP: Chinese virus. China virus. Kung flu, yeah.

JON CHU, DIRECTOR, "CRAZY RICH ASIANS": We all knew it would get to this point. I think it shows the reality that words matter. Words matter, you use them on the playground, to the workplace, to politicians.

GINGRAS: In San Francisco last, month a surveillance video shows a 67 year old man beaten and robbed in a Laundromat. And in another, attracting investigated by San Francisco authorities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you got to see, she is extremely terrified.

GINGRAS: A 75-year-old woman left bloodied and bruised after a brutal assault two weeks ago. Nearly 3,800 anti Asian hate incidents from March 2020 through February have been reported to stop AAPI hate, and advocacy group adding that this represents only a small fraction of incidents.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It must stop. It's on all of us, all of us together to make it stop.


GINGRAS (on camera): And here in New York City, the NYPD has formed an entire task force to combat these crimes. It includes adding patrols to predominantly Asian American communities, to the subway systems, including using undercover cops that are Asian Americans themselves, and the hope the NYPD says is that other communities all across the country will be able to use their model as an example to help combat this violent trends -- Erin.

BURNETT: Brynn, thank you for your report.


And next, breaking news, the New York Times reporting Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz is under investigation for possibly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old. His response is next.


BURNETT: Breaking news, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz denying he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, claiming he's the victim of an alleged extortion plot after "The New York Times" published a stunning report that says he's under investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with the girl. The report raising the possibility that Gates violated sex trafficking laws by paying for her to travel with him. "The Times" also reporting that the probe indicates, a very close ally of former President Trump's, began under Trump's Justice Department.

Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.

And, Ryan, this is a stunning, sick report. What else do you know about this investigation?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, so far tonight, the congressman is strenuously denying that he had a relationship with an underage girl, as "The New York Times" is reporting. It's at the core of this investigation by the FBI.

He said in a series of tweets tonight that, quote, over the past several weeks, my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name. Gaetz goes on to say that he's been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and his father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI's direction to catch these criminals.

Now, Gaetz went on to say that in the past, he has had relationships with women and his paid for them to travel with him to different events. And what "The New York Times" is reporting tonight is that this could be part of a broader investigation into sex trafficking, which could lead to a serious legal repercussion, as you might, Erin, if he is traveling with a companion who is underage from state to state and paying for that travel and sex is part of the arrangement. That could mean serious legal repercussions.

But, again, the congressman strenuously denying ever having had a relationship with an underage girl -- Erin.

BURNETT: OK. And, obviously, this investigation began under Trump's Justice Department, which is important to note. I want to mention it again.

What else is Congressman Gaetz saying right now about all this?

GAETZ: Yeah, I mean, that is the peculiar part of all of this. Congressman Gaetz from Florida is one of President Trump's most strongest supporters. He is somebody that's supported his false claims about the presidential election, someone who regularly defends President Trump, even traveling to Wyoming to attack Liz Cheney, the congresswoman who voted to impeach President Trump.

The congressman says there's DOJ officials that are out to get him and this is part of an extortion attempt. He said he is cooperating with these investigators and he's asking the DOJ to release all the information they've collected into this investigation, including tapes and all the surveillance that's come out having to do with this investigation. And again, he denies that he did anything wrong -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Ryan. Thank you very much on that breaking news.

And thanks to all of you for being with us.

"AC360" starts now.