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Erin Burnett Outfront

Police Chief: Chauvin "Absolutely" Violated Neck Restraint Policy; Osterholm Warns U.S. At The Beginning Of "Category 5 Hurricane" For COVID; Texas Governor Backs Out Of First Pitch Over MLB Stance On A Georgia Voting Law; Rep. Matt Gaetz Defiant In Face Of Probe Into Allegations Involving Potential Sex Trafficking; Pentagon: U.S. Closely Monitoring Russia's Buildup In Arctic. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 05, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And his children and grandchildren lovingly called him Papa B. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

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, the Minneapolis Police Chief takes on one of his former officers testifying Derek Chauvin absolutely violated department policy in George Floyd's death.

Plus, 40,000 Texas Rangers fans tonight packed in a stadium. Is it a super spreader event or not? A top infectious disease expert who's now warning of a fourth surge is OUTFRONT.

And Congressman Matt Gaetz adamant he is not resigning, but he is beefing up his legal team. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the Chief takes on one of his own. Today, the Minneapolis police chief delivering a major blow to former Officer Derek Chauvin. This is the Chief who fired Chauvin after the arrest and death of George Floyd. Soon after calling Chauvin's actions murder and today explaining why he's taking on an officer he knows well.


STEVEN SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Is it your belief then that this particular form of restraint, if that's what we'll call it, in fact, violates departmental policy?

CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE: I absolutely agree that violates our policy. Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that that should have stopped.


BURNETT: The Chief went on to accuse Chauvin of also failing to care for Floyd once he was no longer responsive.

SCHLEICHER: And based on these observations, do you have an opinion as to whether the defendant violated MPD Departmental Policy 7-350 by failing to render aid to Mr. Floyd?

ARRADONDO: I agree that the defendant violated our policy in terms of rendering aid.


BURNETT: So that testimony came as we also heard from the emergency room doctor today who tried to save Floyd's life when he got to the hospital. He told the jury he believed Floyd died of a cardiac arrest due to a lack of oxygen.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT live in Minneapolis. And Sara, the Police Chief today joins three other members of his department now in condemning Chauvin's actions.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We heard from the most senior member of the Minneapolis Police Department, Lt. Zimmerman who testified that he did not think what Chauvin did was the right thing to do and certainly against policy. And now we've heard from the top cop, the Head of the Police Department going after one of his own.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The testimony you're about to give are going to be the truth and nothing but the truth.

ARRADONDO: I do, sir.


SIDNER (voice over): The prosecution's 21st witness in former Officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial was his ultimate boss, the Chief of Police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the officer supposed to do to a person in crisis?

ARRADONDO: To attempt to de-escalate that situation.


SIDNER (voice over): The Chief testified Chauvin violated the Department's neck restraint policy. And he detailed its use of force policy which also takes into account the severity of a potential crime.


ARRADONDO: Clearly, when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back that that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy, and it's not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.


SIDNER (voice over): We also heard from the emergency room doctor who treated Floyd when the ambulance dropped him off at the hospital unresponsive.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Did you pronounce him formally died?


BLACKWELL: Did you receive a report that he had received CPR from any of the officers who may have been on the scene on May 25, 2020?

LANGENFELD: No. It's well known that any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR markedly decreases the chance of a good outcome.


SIDNER (voice over): Dr. Bradford Langenfeld testified he believes George Floyd died from hypoxia or a lack of oxygen.


GEORGE FLOYD: I can't breathe.


SIDNER (voice over): The prosecution is trying to prove it was from the 9:29 Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck restricting his breathing. The defense is trying to refute that saying it was illicit drugs in Floyd system, coupled with his medical history.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Certain drugs can cause hypoxia, agreed?


NELSON: Specifically, fentanyl.

LANGENFELD: That's correct.

NELSON: How about methamphetamine?


NELSON: Combination of the two?



[19:05:04] SIDNER (voice over): But the doctor testified paramedics normally

report to him drug overdoses or extreme agitation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they say to you for purposes of carrying or given treatment to Mr. Floyd that they felt he had suffered a drug overdose?

LANGENFELD: Not in the information they gave, no.


SIDNER (voice over): The Commander who was in charge of police training back in May testified what she saw Chauvin do to Floyd was not consistent with their training.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how does this differ?

KATIE BLACKWELL, INSPECTOR, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: I don't know what kind of improvised position that is, so this is not what we train.


SIDNER (on camera): It is unusual to see officer after officer, after officer saying that what they saw especially on that bystander videotape and later on the videos from the body cam was simply not policy. And as you heard the Chief said, it was against much more than policy but their ethics as well, Erin.

BURNETT: Sara, thank you very much. And I want to go now to our OUTFRONT legal team, Elie Honig, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Areva Martin, Civil Rights Attorney and also with me tonight, Isaiah McKinnon, the former Detroit Police Chief. And I appreciate all of you.

Elie, let me start with you, Chief Arradondo today who was Chauvin's boss saying Chauvin's actions were 'in no way shape or form aligned with the department's training'. Now, we knew his views on Chauvin. Last summer he had called Floyd's death a murder when he saw the tape that we all saw. But he was his boss. He's the Chief, how damning was this testimony today?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Erin. That was crucial testimony on a central issue in this trial, whether Derek Chauvin's use of force was excessive. It was interesting to see the way the prosecution presented the Chief to the jury. I thought it was really effective.

First of all, they established his credibility. I mean, it doesn't get any more credible than Chief Arradondo. He has a long-established successful career in law enforcement. Forget about being an expert on the policy. He wrote the policy and he was smart, and calm, and measured and he engaged directly with the jury. I think his testimony really resonated with that jury and he looked

right at them and he said what Derek Chauvin did violated police training, police practices and police principle.

BURNETT: Now, today we've seen so much new video as part of this trial. Today, Areva, the defense used body camera video for the first time. They were trying to make the case that Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's shoulder blade, not his neck.

Now, this is a crucial distinction. Everyone has been saying every millimeter you get that knee below the neck matters for the defense. And the Police Chief was asked about this. He made clear that Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's neck until the ambulance arrived. And at that point, he think Chauvin's knee moved. Here's the moment.


NELSON: Would you agree that from the perspective of Officer King's body camera, it appears that Officer Chauvin's knee was more on Mr. Floyd's shoulder blade?



BURNETT: And then, Areva, he went on to say but that was when the ambulance arrived. That prior to that time, he does believe the knee was on the neck looking at the video. That changed, though, that the knee may have moved, that there's now this admission that it may have moved. Does this leave any doubt for the jury on what Chauvin did and when?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so, Erin. Obviously, the defense has to use whatever evidence it can to try to prove its point. But I think the compelling video tape that we've seen throughout this trial and the emotional testimony from those bystanders, remember, those bystanders were there, so we don't have to just rely on what's in the videotape.

We can listen to what those bystanders were saying. And those bystanders weren't saying get your knee offer, Mr. Floyd shoulder, that wasn't what they kept pleading with Chauvin and these other officers to do. It was get your knee off of his neck.

So I think the jurors are not going to forget that testimony. They're not going to forget the video evidence that shows the knee was on the neck for a substantial period of time, not to mention that he was never turn on his side, rendered aid and that Chauvin did not do anything to follow the substantial training that he was given, which was on display today in terms of the testimony as well.

BURNETT: So Chief McKinnon, what we saw today with the police chief is now multiple members of the Minneapolis Police Department taking the stand to - not one, not one has defended Chauvin's actions. In fact, they've been very specific against department training, this was wrong, here was the knee. How unusual is this? ISAIAH MCKINNON, FORMER DETROIT POLICE CHIEF: Erin, this is just a

monumental day for those of us in law enforcement who served for years and years and years. That blue wall of silence has been crumbling and this is the first time you have a chief, you have a commander, a lieutenant and a sergeant all saying that this is wrong.


I mean, they talked about critical decision making with the threat and risk assessment, the authority to act. They talked about the immediate threat to whoever it might be. There wasn't an immediate threat.

I really liked when they got into that and the severity of the crisis, think about that. How was it severe when a man is lying on the ground, he's handcuffed, there's three officers holding him down and one has his knee on his neck. That was important that what the Chief said and I think what the commander said also.

This is not in our training, this is above and beyond. So I think there are a great number of people that supporting what these offices did and are saying right now because we can't continue those kinds of actions.

BURNETT: So to the point that the Chief is making and Areva that you also made about this going against training. Elie, we heard the Chief say that it was Chauvin's responsibility based on department policy to provide medical care if someone needed it in an incident with the police where he was the officer. That testimony that Chauvin would have been responsible for providing care came after the jury heard the ER doctor say this.


LANGENFELD: It's well known that any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR markedly decreases the chance of a good outcome. Approximately 10 percent to 15 percent decrease in survival for every minute that CPR is not administered.


BURNETT: And Elie, of course, multiple minutes went by that CPR was not administered, Chauvin did not do that, 10 percent to 15 percent. All of a sudden that the jury gets this image of every minute your chances of life are dropping by that amount. Officer's responsibility to provide aid, officer failed to do so, how effective was this testimony from the doctor?

HONIG: Prosecutors love when you can draw a connection between multiple witnesses. Here we have in the morning, the Doctor describing very clearly just how crucial literally life and death every second, every minute is when you're in a medical situation like George Floyd was in.

Then in the afternoon, we have Chief Arradondo coming in saying his word was obligation. He said we as police officers have an obligation to render emergency medical aid. And it gets to sort of a central point here about Derek Chauvin's intent if he had any concern whatsoever for the well-being of George Floyd. Why would he not have, at an absolute minimum, rendered the minimal emergency medical aid.

Now, remember the EMT, the firefighter who testified last week said she came in and offered to help to take a pulse and she was turned away.


HONIG: So it paints a really damning picture of the intent by the cops here.

BURNETT: So Areva, the hearing today as Elie just said started with the doctor who treated Floyd in the ER. You just heard Sara's report where that Doctor said he believe Floyd died from a lack of oxygen leading to cardiac arrest and the whole question is what caused the cardiac arrest. But prosecutors have been trying to make this point that it was lack of oxygen, because of the knee on the neck. Here's how the defense then followed their argument.


NELSON: Drug use, certain drugs can cause hypoxia, agreed?


NELSON: Specifically fentanyl.

LANGENFELD: That's correct.

NELSON: How about methamphetamine?


NELSON: Combination of the two?



BURNETT: Do you think that's enough to create doubt for a jury member, Areva?

MARTIN: Well, we knew all along, Erin, we're going to hear a lot of testimony about Mr. Floyd's drug use, we're going to hear a lot about his pre-existing medical conditions. But under the law in Minnesota, all the prosecution has to prove is that what Chauvin did was a substantial cause of Mr. Floyd's death, not the sole cause.

And we also note that we didn't hear these officers tell the paramedics or do anything to suggest that they believe that Mr. Floyd was having or was engaged in some kind of drug overdose. If they believe that to be the case, again, like the Chief said in your custody, in your care, they should have taken some action to address what may have been if they believed it was happening, a drug overdose. So I think the drug issue for a lot of jurors is going to be a

distraction, a red herring. I think the focus is going to remain the knee on the neck nine minutes 29 seconds.

BURNETT: Well, I think it's significant to for everyone to hear what you said there. They only have to prove that it was a substantial cause, not the sole cause and that's where you get the doubt.

So Chief, the other thing Chief Arradondo said today that I found really surprising was that he said he did not learn about this, the severity of this from any of his officers that day. He actually learned it from a member of the community. Here's what he said.


ARRADONDO: A community member had contacted me and said, Chief, almost verbatim but said, Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 38th and Chicago.



BURNETT: Chief, what do you make of that? Police Chief did not hear about this until several hours after it occurred and he did not hear about it from anyone on his own force.

MCKINNON: Well, I think this is important to the credibility of the Chief, because it shows what a community person and the people in the community trust him. Someone had to call him probably on his cell phone. And think about this too, Erin, the Chief kept mentioning the sanctity of life and how to treat people. You mentioned that a number of time, how do you treat someone within your community, if you treat them with respect, they will treat you with respect.

I think those are things that really stand out in addition to the fact that he got this call from a community person who had seen this. Obviously, they didn't trust the police to call them and give this to someone, so they call the Chief who probably has a great deal of respect within the community and said we're going to give this to you, Chief. That's important.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all. As always, I appreciate you.

MCKINNON: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, an estimated 40,000 fans, this is live. This isn't one of those pictures from a year ago. This is right now shoulder to shoulder at tonight's opener for the Texas Rangers. These pictures coming in as doctors warn of a fourth surge in the U.S.

Plus, the Texas Governor takes on Major League Baseball, today refusing to throw out the first pitch because of baseball stance on Georgia's new voting law.

And the Pentagon tonight scrutinizing chilling new images of a massive, massive new military buildup from Russia.



BURNETT: Tonight, you're looking at almost 40,000 Texas Ranger fans. To be exact, we understand 38,238 people are there in that stadium right now. Sold out, they say. Crowded together for the first time since the pandemic began.

Global Life Field is the first major U.S. sports stadium to reopen at full capacity. And as far as we know, it is by far the largest attendance for a sports event in the United States since the country shut down.

It comes as doctors are warning of a fourth surge in the United States and as we'll show you more pictures of this, they're supposed to wear masks. It's haphazard as to whether they are. They don't have to wear them while eating and drinking. And, of course, they can be packed in next to each other, so that's what we're seeing.

One of the doctors warning of a fourth wave joins me now. Dr. Michael Osterholm is the Director for the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

So Doctor, I'm glad to have you back with me. First, I just want to give you a chance to talk about what we're seeing at Ranger stadium, 38,238 people strong. They said they sold 40,000 tickets, so pretty much everybody showed up. What's your reaction to these pictures?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, America appears to be done with the pandemic. Unfortunately, the virus is not done with us. And I think that it's this sense of not just being at the game, clearly being outdoors is safer than being indoors.

But just whenever you're with crowds, it could be indoors, whether it's up in concessions or whether it's in transportation, these people are going to put themselves at risk. And right now we're seeing particularly in the Midwest and the Northeast, a resurgence of this virus and particularly the new virus, the variant B117 and it's not long before it's going to sweep across the country.

BURNETT: So this is the concern you have that the U.S. is at the beginning of a fourth surge even as, of course, vaccinations are going at a clip of a few million a day. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA Commissioner, he disagrees with you because he thinks that rate of vaccination is should be enough to protect against another surge. Walk me through your thinking as to why you're so worried about a fourth surge.

OSTERHOLM: Well, I think Scott's arguments are already have been debased in a sense because of the fact. You just look at states like Michigan and Minnesota where you have high levels of vaccination relative to the rest of the country and already you're seeing the surge. I mean, Michigan's done a remarkable job getting its population vaccinated and yet last Friday, they reported 8,400 cases of new coronavirus infections.

So while vaccination is important, it is obviously a critical part of our long-term game plan. We're not going to have enough vaccine at the way we're going into the arms of enough Americans over the course of the next six to 10 weeks with this surge that we're going to stop it. It's just simply not going to happen.

BURNETT: So you say over the next six to 10 weeks and I know that's the concern you have for the fourth surge. At the current rate of vaccinations, Bloomberg saying it's going to take three months to get to 75 percent of the U.S. population if one assumes that is heard, which is an assumption.

One thing that you've suggested, Doctor, over time is that the U.S. should basically spread the first dose of the vaccine to as many people as possible. So on any given day, some of those several million vaccines we hear about our second dose. But you would have them all be first dose. So you get more people with one shot.

So I wanted to ask you about this, because I've been thinking about it.


BURNETT: Why do you believe a single dose is the right thing? Obviously, we know that efficacy can drop from 95 percent with two doses to 80 percent with a single dose. And then you have everybody on this very vaccination schedule, it's very difficult to know of when to track who got a shot and who didn't and how many months it's been since they got a shot.

Obviously, you've thought about these two things. So tell me what makes you comfortable with them?

OSTERHOLM: Well, actually, we put out a report about six weeks ago that actually detailed how many thousands of lives could be saved by going to the single dose now, but a deferred dose later. And it wouldn't actually have any impact on the programs whatsoever in terms of scheduling.

Instead of if I went in today and got my first dose, instead of having my next dose scheduled three to four weeks from now, it'd be scheduled eight to 10 weeks from now, which would give us time to really vaccinate additional people. We have clear and compelling evidence.

The British experience, first of all, showed us that a single dose could produce very high protection in the population when given. A CDC publication just came out last week showed that, yes, 90 percent protection with two doses after several weeks after the second dose, but we had 80 percent protection after a single dose in three weeks.

Now, think about this. If you have two people and I give one person both doses, they get 90 percent protection and the other person gets zero.

[19:25:03] I give each person one dose of two, they each get 80 percent, 90

percent plus zero and divide that by two is 45 percent, 80 percent for the other two. And right now with this surge that's about to occur, this is what we want to do right now is get as many people protected as we can so they don't get severe illness and hospitalization and even death.

BURNETT: Well, thank you for laying that math out, because I think that's really important for people to hear just as they consider the argument, the math that you just laid out there.

One other question because we keep hearing how much a vaccine is effective overall and then maybe against one variant, i.e. B117 versus another. We don't seem to know anything about 1526, which is both more transmissible and they say more deadly. That's in New York and we haven't heard anything specifically about vaccines with that.

Doctor, how likely do you think it is that any of the variants out there, and we're hearing about a new one every day, will effectively evade the vaccines?

OSTERHOLM: Well, the most important message to get out right now is the variant that is our most serious challenge which is the B117, the one that originated in the United Kingdom, is one that does definitely cause more severe illness and it also is much more highly transmissible, anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent more transmissible. But the great news is that the vaccines work very effective against it.

So if we can get people vaccinated even with one dose for now, we can have a major impact. As far as your question about the other variants, you're right on the mark. We are concerned about them. We need to understand the variants that also can evade the immune protection of the vaccine and our natural infection and then immunity that comes from that.

We don't believe that it just disappears, the immunity, but how much protection is there is still a question. And the final piece to this is remember that there are billions of people in low and middle-income countries that won't have any access to this vaccine over the coming years and that's where we're going to see variants fan out of. So that's where I'm concerned about over the course of the months ahead, where will these new variants come from that we couldn't even imagine today.

BURNETT: Right. Yes. If you do get one that evades a vaccine, it could come from a place where there is no protection whatsoever. Thank you so much, Doctor. I appreciate your time.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you. Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Trump calling for a boycott of Major League Baseball and threatening Delta Airlines and Coca Cola after their stand on Georgia's new voting law. George's Republican Lieutenant Governor response. And Matt Gaetz beefing up his legal team as he addresses serious

allegations, including the possibility that he slept with a 17-year- old.



BURNETT: Tonight, Texas Governor Greg Abbott protesting against Major League Baseball. The Republican governor backing out of throwing in the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers home opening tonight. His reason is the MLB's decision to move the all-star game out of Atlanta in protest of Georgia's new voting law.

OUTFRONT now, Georgia's Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan.

And, Lieutenant Governor, I'm glad to have you back with me.

So, let me just ask you about what Governor Abbott did? Do you agree with this decision?

GEOFF DUNCAN (R), GEORGIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Well, look, this is a difficult decision all the way around. I'm certainly a fan of baseball. I spent 6 years in the Minor League. So I love being a fan.

And certainly was looking forward to the all-stars game being here in Georgia. Certainly, if there was an opportunity to change MLB's mindset to be able to get them back here and work together, I would be all in favor of that.

BURNETT: So, you know, this is kind of -- what he's doing is something we're seeing more broadly, right? President Trump is also calling for a boycott of MLB. He's also threatening Delta and Coca-Cola as well, saying, you know, to boycott them. They're obviously Georgia-based companies that have spoken out against the law.

Do you think this is the right thing to do here? To boycott the companies that are upset with your law?

DUNCAN: Yeah, I don't think boycotting somebody who's boycotting is necessarily a good idea, and a good pathway forward. I'm one of those Republicans that want to find a solution here.

Certainly don't want to make a point, I want to make a difference. I don't agree with the messaging around a lot of this, I don't agree with maybe how some of these companies have gotten to their message -- gotten with their communications.

But, look, this is an opportunity for us to set the record straight. The process actually worked here in Georgia. There are some really bad ideas that started in the legislative process. They're really where the root of Rudy Giuliani walking into some committee rooms, and sowing doubt among some bunch of legislators. And there is some knee- jerk reaction.

The final was a relatively bipartisan bill and ideas. But, unfortunately, that's not what we're talking about now. We're not

actually talking the bill. We're talking about emotions and we're talking from partisan corners and that's no place to find solution.

BURNETT: So, let me give you a chance, and I know -- I want everyone to know, you were there, every day working on this bill. The Rudy Giuliani anecdote is both terrifying and fascinating.

But let me just ask you then, because, look, the law makes absentee than it was before in Georgia. Stacey Abrams has been a vocal critic of the Bill.

Now, I just want to be clear, Lieutenant Governor, she praised New Jersey's new voting law, which actually has fewer in-person early voting days than in Georgia, OK? So, there is an inconsistency there.

But she has specific reasons for criticizing the law in Georgia. She posted them in this video. So, I wanted to play them for you.


STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Senate Bill 202 is a power-grabbing and voter-criminalizing suppression bill. It is nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.

This Republican passed legislation was rushed through with an unprecedented speed to avoid public scrutiny. The bill makes it a crime to show passion by offering a bottle of water or snack to a voter with their child waiting in line. And the bill makes it much easier to challenge Georgians' right to vote.

Statehouse Republicans seize power of the state election board and gave themselves the authority to remove county election officials who don't do their bidding. They placed a limit on access to drop access, shorten the time frame to request a mail ballot and more.


BURNETT: How do you respond to these charges? These are the charges that move companies like Delta and Coke and the MLB to do what they've done?

DUNCAN: Yeah, to me, that video sounded like fearmongering, right? I didn't hear Stacey Abrams mention anything in that with the Democrat ideas that were actually included into that bill.


There was a number of ideas that we realized during the debacle, the 10-week debacle that was certainly centered on and started by Donald Trump, right? But the debacle showed us that there was some way to modernize and clean up the way that we deliver elections here in Georgia. And I was -- I was very proud to partner with a number of Democrats in our chamber in the Senate and help champion some of those ideas across the finish line. But look at the end of the day, this is not about Senate bill 202. The

unfortunate part is the outside fringes have decided to hijack this issue.

And look, to be honest with you, I think the outside edges are actually happy this is happening. It creates more divisiveness. It creates more tension. It creates more opportunity to create chaos.

And to me, that's not with this is about. When you're in a governing position, it's time -- it's time to try and move through this.

BURNETT: So, you know, one thing that Stacey Abrams raised was this issue of legislature. And on this, I want to -- I want to ask you, because the law removes the secretary of state as chair of the state board of elections. And we all remember your secretary of state, right, Brad Raffensperger.

He is one of the guys who stood up to Trump and said, no, 6,000 that people didn't vote. No, this didn't happen, right? We've all heard it.

Raffensperger refused to overturn the state election results. But in the legislature, which is now going to get bad authority, at least 68 legislators called for the special session to overturn the results of the 2020 election. And they now in this law have the power to appoint the majority of election board.

So, are you worried about this, Lieutenant Governor? That the law gives state legislators too much power?

DUNCAN: Yeah, I had spoken as loud as I possibly could against trying to go into special session to overturn idea, and I think that made sense. I think I did it with you several times.

And I'm also not supportive of trying to take punitive steps against Brad Raffensperger, who did nothing wrong except for becoming the president's scapegoat, the former president's scapegoat in this situation. I thought that was a punitive move, that didn't necessarily make any difference.

But look, there is a number of things in this bill that I think are common sense ideas, and there's a couple things in it that I don't necessarily think we're the right time to do this, because, Erin, at the end of the day, this is a timing issue too.

Look, there's other states that have more cumbersome election laws than we do, but it's just the timing of this. It would be like a professional sports team of being on a long losing streak and the next day raising their ticket prices.

It just -- it just doesn't sound and feel like the right timing on some of these things.

BURNETT: Which is the thing that you find most problematic in the bill, Lieutenant Governor?

DUNCAN: Yeah. For me, it was -- it was the steps around Brad Raffensperger, and the changing of, getting him off the elections board. Secondly, you know, there's two sides to the water and food in line. I understand the technicalities of it. I just thought the timing was insensitive and not timely.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Lieutenant Governor. Thank you.

DUNCAN: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, Congressman Matt Gaetz says he won't resign, and addresses allegations that he paid for sex and slept with 17-year-old.

Plus, Putin with a major move tonight that could keep him in power until 2036, this as Russia makes a major showed military might in the Arctic. We have exclusive new satellite images for you tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz declaring, quote, I am absolutely not.

The close Trump ally writing in an op-ed tonight, quote, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never ever paid for sex and 2nd, I as an adult man I have not slept with a 17- year-old.

Yet that is exactly what the Department of Justice is investigating tonight, and we're learning that Gaetz is now expanding his legal team.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT IN Washington.

So, Paula, what more are you learning tonight about Gaetz's legal moves.


Even as he denies those allegations in the op-ed today, CNN has learned that Gaetz is continuing to build a legal team to defend him as this moves forward. His lead attorney has added another lawyer who has extensive experience in white collar crimes.

Now, it's not clear exactly when that second attorney was added. But it suggests that they may be preparing to defend against financial transactions, in addition to any specific sexual encounters. But one thing that Gaetz did not address in his op-ed, is the separate set of allegations first reported by CNN, that he was showing nude pictures of women he allegedly slept with to other lawmakers, including when he was on or near the House floor.

Now, that conduct is not under criminal investigation, but is just another in a series of these escalating scandals surrounding the lawmaker.

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

And, you, know we also heard of them ask you one more thing here -- we're going to go to Harry Litman in just a moment. But we heard a former Gaetz staffer today, who actually says the FBI contacted him.

As we try to figure out how serious this is, how far along they are, we know we're many, many months into this, right, 8 or 9 months. What more are you learning about that, about the staffer?

REID: What was so interesting about this little press conference today is the staffer is Nathan Nelson. He is Gaetz's former director of military affairs. He held a press conference in Florida where he revealed that the two FBI agents questioned him at his house last week about Gaetz's alleged criminal conduct.

They asked if he left working for the congressman because of that alleged behavior, nelson denied having any knowledge of illegal activities. He said his departure from gates his office last fall was not related to the federal investigation.

Nelson was one of the few people, Erin, right, who's come out and tried to defend Gaetz. But when he was pressed by reporters on the specific allegations here, Nelson said he didn't actually have any specific knowledge about the investigation. He hasn't spoken to the congressman in months.

BURNETT: Wow, that says a lot.

All right. Thank you very much, Paula.

So, now, let's go to Harry Litman.

So, Harry, former U.S. attorney, former deputy assistant attorney general, you heard the reporting there from Paula. What does it tell you that a former Gaetz staffer, right, who hasn't talked to him in months and is kind of defending him, but says he doesn't know anything about this, says the FBI contacted him last week?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Right, when he says next to nothing, that's presumably what he told the FBI. The FBI is going around, knocking on the door of former employees. We'll see if they join, if they do the same thing with the communications aide who quit last week. That indicates in investigation in full flower.

As you said, this has been going on for 8 months, or more.


And it all started and comes back to, a Florida political ally and sort of pal, kind of a loudest frat boy pal with Gaetz's name, Joel Greenberg. And he is the one who supposedly was furnishing, young girls really, and who was using a website, who had the girls that Gaetz was parading pictures, of down on the House floor. BURNETT: So you know, obviously, Greenberg has a big decision to make

here, in terms of what he's going to -- is he going to turn on Gaetz? I mean, this has been going on for eight months, if it was nothing, this wouldn't be out there, right? Whatever happened or didn't happen, it's pretty sordid, whether it's illegal or not is the question. But Mr. Greenberg's decision is going to be crucial, aren't there?

LITMAN: Yeah, they are. Now, you might have thought that he was the higher of organizer. But maybe now, and late breaking flash, he has just had a hearing added to the docket for Thursday, that's called very bluntly, status conference. But that would be, its' going to be mugged because everyone is going to wait to see, will he have a so- called change of plead? And if he pleads guilty, that would be a very strong indication that he's going to give evidence against Gaetz.

So, yes, he has a big decision to make here and if the department wants him to plead it indicates that Gaetz is at least as big a player as Greenberg was.

BURNETT: Now, which is pretty incredible, I know you're saying, look, he could be looking at prison term here, Mr. Gaetz, of at least 10 years if any of this is proven. And obviously could be significantly more. I mean, this is not a small thing, for people to understand.

But Gaetz in his op-ed, you know, he said he won't resign. He also, Harry, went on to his op-ed to say, although I'm sure partisan crooks and Merrick Garland's Justice Department want to prevent the truth and the law to go after, I will not be intimated or extorted. You will see more drip, drip, drip of leaks to the media for the corrupt Justice Department when you do ask yourself why.

Just to be clear here, because, again, I got to put the facts out, this investigation did not start with Merrick Garland. It started with Attorney General Bill Barr, who is briefed on it multiple times.

LITMAN: And specifically approved it against Gaetz and made a point of not appearing in a photograph with him.

And so, it's a bald lie by Gaetz, and it really is sort of the refuge of a scoundrel, to try and say it's all political. That dog won't hunt except he hopes in the public eye. But, you know, he seems to have a very few friends in Congress, people are turning against him.

The charge -- it's possible that he could be looking at a crime, as you say a ten-year minimum or more, whether or not the victims are under 17, or over 18. But in any event, if he is now being tied by -- at the hip with Greenberg, he is in major, major trouble.

BURNETT: I think important you, just said regardless of the age of the women, he could be looking at 10 years.

LITMAN: It would affect the charge, but not the criminality. That's right.

BURNETT: Incredible.

All right. Thank you very much, Harry. I appreciate your time.

LITMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, the Pentagon right now looking at the Arctic. We have exclusive new satellite images and what it shows is that Russia is rapidly increasing a military buildup there. We're going to show exactly what we've seen.

And one gymnast nails his routine, but it may not be what he's most proud of tonight.



BURNETT: New tonight, Russia's military keeping on Russia's military buildup in the Arctic, and we're going to show you why. This is pretty incredible stuff.

We've obtained new satellite images that show exactly what Russia is doing. So, this is just one example. This is what an airbase on the island of Nagurskoye looked in 2015. Now we'll show you what it looks like now, then built up, more facilities added decorated in the colors of the Russian flag.

It all comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin moves to solidify his power. Today, he actually sign a law to run for president two more terms to allow him to stay in office until 2036, if you live that long.

Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT.

So, Nick, you got your hands on these exclusive satellite images and it is pretty incredible what we're seeing, where this money is going and what they're building. Tell me about them.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, it's important to remember, Erin, this is only possible because of the fast speed in which Arctic ice is melting. Below that is Russia's northern coastline and you can see in this map, we show you how a lot of bases popped up along Russia's northern coast.

Now, towards the east of this particular area, there are new radars near Alaska in a place called Provideniya and Wrangel Island and some new aircraft and jets in a place called Anadyr. Move a little more west, you start to see air bases like the one at Kotelny that sprung up in the last five years there are jets there, too. And then also, Nagurskoye, on Alexandria land like you were referring to earlier.

This other new base has grown up there fast too as well. There are new MiG-31 jets there and also MiG-31 jets at Rogachevo. All of this up near the Arctic Circle, on Russia's coast but still leaning towards the ice there.

And further out west is something called Olenya Guba, a storage facility which experts think may be containing things for a new Russian kind of super weapon if you'd like. They say it's torpedo, a stealth torpedo designed to go along the ocean floor, past defenses and possibly say one U.S. official cause a nuclear explosion which might cause a radio active tsunami that could swamp the U.S. Eastern coast.

Sounds terrifying, doesn't it? Many dismissed it at first as possibly a pipe drain but many experts think the testing happening in the months ahead may actually bring this to fruition. Part of an array of weapons and military hardware in the north because Russia wants to impose its will on the coast and also on what they want to see going along the north there, which is a sea route, a possible alternative for the Suez Canal even that Russia wants to try and monetize.


All this happening so fast leaving U.S. officials quite concerned as to how they fit into this. They sent bombers and marines to Norway, too, but fast moving territory up there with the ice receding so much quicker and causing this new I'm balance to leave everyone very nervous -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, tsunami in the East Coast.

All right. Thank you very much, Nick. I appreciate your time.

Nick, of course, as we said getting those exclusive satellite images.

And next, the unique method a college gymnast is employing to spreading the word about vaccinations.


BURNETT: Tonight, more than 62 million people have been vaccinated and many received that vaccination card. Many keep them in their wallet or pockets.

But not this guy. He's a gymnast Evan Manivong, a sophomore at the University of Illinois. So, look at this, he executes basically a flawless vault in a recent competition against Minnesota, and then flashed a vaccination card that he pulled out of his jersey. He had it on him.

So, of course, the vault and card went viral. He later tweeted go get vaccinated, everyone. Officials, of course, used verbal gymnastic to get the vaccination message across. Evan took it to a whole new level.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.